Archive for September, 2010

Great Ideas from Lowe’s

September 30th, 2010

As someone who works in the home decorating/improvement/upcycling/energ efficiency space, I get invited to a lot of fun events from different companies.   These events are usually attended by magazine editors and influential bloggers and it’s a fun and intimate opportunity to see new ideas and products.

The other day, I trained it into NYC to visit the Lowe’s “pop up” home on Fifth Avenue and left with some great ideas I thought you might like for your own home.

Is this an indoor or outdoor dining chair?   Actually, it’s both.   Can you imagine being able to open the patio door and bring in a chair for extra seating when needed?  

The fabric unzips from the chair for easy machine washing.   So, if a small child spills all over it or it gets a little dirty from being outdoors all season long, it’s a cinch to get it very clean.   You could even sanitize it by washing it in hot water and regular ‘ol laundry detergent.

Something new I’m happy to see: ebonized bamboo floors.    Dark floors are a great way to anchor a room and get it some modernity.   But now the marriage of dark floors with eco-friendly bamboo can be found at Lowe’s; all pre-finished and ready to install. 

A new idea: installing subway tile going up, instead of across. 

I’m on the fence about this idea, but I do see how it can make a small space feel taller.    I’m all for timeless installation whenever possible, but I think because the material itself is pretty classic, either install is really fine in my book.

The sickest (as in good) Whirlpool washer/dryer I’ve ever seen.    I don’t know about you, but having a state of the art washing machine can just change your life.    These are super efficient; Energy Star rated washing machine and the dryer even has an “eco dry” option on it.    They tell me you can load a full bottle of detergent into the washing machine and then use a touchscreen to deliver precise amounts.    Technology is not my forte, so I’ll stick with my Method Laundry bottle, but cool nevertheless.

Store Revisit: VintageWeave

September 29th, 2010

My heart nearly sank when I drove by a shuttered store in Los Angeles recently off of Fairfax near the Grove.   The store—Vintageweave–has been a secret store where I would pull lots of great home accessories to use in photo shoots.    But the depression barely lasted a second when I heard they moved to a larger location just around the corner.   

The store—run by Kathy Delgado—-is a wonderfully edited shop of handmade items, upcycled accessories and a treasure trove of true Parisian antiques she brings back from her trips abroad.    The store has those one-of-a-kind items I need to make any celebrity’s home a little less catalog-y and more home-y.

I mean, is Pottery Barn going to offer you a freshly chocolate dipped fig?

A vintage mirror with a mercury glass aesthetic.   Was thinking this would be great in actress Emmanuelle Chriqui’s home.

These upcycled bottles took vintage bottles and glass decorations on top, all hand-leaded into place.   I took them all.

Remember those large hotel silver charger plate covers?   She had them cut in half and made into shelves.  

Vintage fabric made into tote bags.   Kinda a great idea to give as a housewarming gift, full of bread, cheese, wine and ripe fruit.

Key chains made from upcycled heads of flattened spoons.    Confession: I took four years of French in high school and I could not tell you what any of these words mean.   I can, however, ask where the library is.  Ou est la bibliotechque, Pierre?

Vintage trumpet pieces upcycled into placecard holders.

Go visit VintageWeave the next time you’re in LA.   It’s right by the corner of Fairfax and 3rd and definitely worth the trip.  Tell Kathy you read about this on Daily Danny!

Newspaper Waste Basket

September 28th, 2010

One of my all-time favorite places to visit when I’m in Los Angeles is HD Buttercup.  It’s in Culver City, CA and a mega-home furnishings store in an old bakery that’s been retrofitted into a one-stop-shop for home design.    Not only does HD Buttercup carry gorgeuos furniture, rugs, lighting and accessories, they are also home to my Simmons Natural Care Elite by Danny Seo line of mattresses.    It is literally one of the most goregeous showrooms (Dream, it’s called) where the beds are set-up.  If you’re at HD Buttercup in search for a bed, I highly recommned you ask for Boris to help you out.  He’s the best!

Anyway, on my latest trip to LA, I was doing pulls for a photo shoot and saw this incredible waste basket made entirely out of recycled newspaper.  

When you look inside, you can see each individually rolled piece of newspaper is tied together to create an absolutely gorgeous upcycled basket.  I mentioned to my pal who was with me—the brilliant stylist Jules Moore—that I could probably  make it.  She gave me this dead look like “I know you’re Mr. Crafty, but seriously…. just buy it.”

But we couldn’t stay long on our shopping spree since her two dogs were patiently waiting for us….

Having these two pups with us on an exhausting 3 day shoot sure made things a lot easier.

Fall at the Cottage House

September 27th, 2010

Last year, Natural Health magazine ran a fall decorating story shot at my other house that sits right above the Delaware River in Bucks County, PA.   I was going through my archives the other day and thought it would be fun to re-share these images since the air around here is turning brisk and the leaves are starting to change color.

I’ve always loved my screened in front porch and even in the Fall months, it’s decorated with pumpkins.   It especially looks great against the outdoor Smith and Hawken black bench!

The first fire is always a fun and momentous occasion, isn’t it?    What i love about my other house is that A: there’s no cell service, B: there’s no cable TV and C: there’s no wifi.   You are literally forced to either play board games, watch a great movie on DVD (on a TV with the world’s smallest screen) or read a great book.    I kinda like the fact I can go somewhere and disconnect from the digital world.

One of my favorite idea is to buy empty bean bag cushions and upcycle old styrofoam packing peanuts as the fill.  Just fill it up as full as possible and the packnig peanuts will settle and give you one comfy place to rest.

I call this my curated table.   It’s just full of curiosities I find at flea markets, junk stores and even in walks in the woods.  

The upstairs nook has an antique burlwood bed that came with the house.   I put one of my Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo mattresses on it recently and it’s become this wonderful place to sleep.   I’m spending more time at this house lately because it feels like a mini vacation from the world.   

Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past and happy Fall to all of you!

Dishwashing Tips

September 24th, 2010

Who would’ve though dishwashing would be such a hot button topic?

In this week’s The New York Times, a story about manufacturers coming out with almost phosphate-free detergents has gotten consumers in a tiff.   Apparently, since many states and communities are banning or severely limiting phosphates from being in automatic dishwashing tablets/detergents, major manufacturers are now being forced to reformulate their products.   This has led to consumers to write nasty reviews on product review websites complaining about spots and streaks on their dishes and glassware.

First, why do we care about phosphates and what are they?  Phosphates are added to detergent to help soften the water and to help lift dirt/debris off encrusted pots and pans and dishes.    They do a wonderful job at getting your dirty dishes clean, but can be hell to lakes and waterways.  When the dishwasher, phosphate-full water goes down the drain, it creates dangerous algae blooms in waterways and scary “dead zones” where nothing lives.    It’s so bad, that communities have no choice but to ban phosphates in order to save our precious waterways.

The solution is not to repeal the ban.   Definitely not.   The solution is to re-think how we use our automatic dishwashers.

First, we all know that a full dishwasher is far more energy and water efficient than washing by hand.  That’s the good news.    But if you still want sparkling clean dishes, try these tips:

  • Don’t overload the dishwasher.   Fill it, but don’t cram it so tight that the machine can’t do its job.
  • Scrape leftover food from pots/pans and dishes into the trash.  Scrape as clean as possible, but don’t pre-soak unless it’s something impossible to clean like caked on egg.    Dishwashing tablets are designed to attach grease and debris and need something to activate it.  Too clean dishes can make them ineffective.
  • Try the vinegar trick: Turn a cup so instead of face down in the dishwasher, it’s facing straight up.  Fill it with white vinegar.  This will help your machine run more efficiently and the vinegar will help clean all of your dishes more effectively.
  • Clean the food filter.  Yes, there is a filter under the bottom rack that traps large particles of food and other debris from clogging up your pipes.    Remove it, rinse it clean and replace it.

Got any other tips?   I also heard running a packet of Kool-Aid lemonade powder helps clean the inside; something to do with the citric acid?