Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)

For the longest time, I had been casually looking for a runner for our kitchen. You know, just a simple cotton rug, about 2′ x 9′? You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find. But it had been over four years, for goodness’ sake! I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to bite the bullet and pay $99 (plus shipping) to Pottery Barn for a rag rug runner (say that 15 times, fast!). But I kept pushing it off (I’m really good at that), and now it turns out that PB doesn’t even stock cotton runners anymore! Oh well, no matter, I’ve found an alternative solution — and a budget-friendly one, at that!

Enter the reliable, hard-working (and only $3.99!) SIGNE rug from IKEA (we have four others in our house, so we are well acquainted). Because IKEA’s stock of these little rugs is constantly changing, we find a different selection of colors and stripe patterns upon each visit to the store. On a recent trip, I spied a rug with kelly green, olive, and black stripes on the typical SIGNE-cream background. I quickly grabbed it, thinking, “this just might work in our kitchen!”. At that point, I was so excited to see a rug that potentially matched the kitchen, I didn’t even think of the runner idea. But a week or so later, it hit me, and we returned to IKEA, fingers crossed. Luckily, there were exactly three rugs left in that color combo!

I don’t have a sewing machine, so during a recent visit to my parents house, my sister Amy and I retreated to the basement and put the thing together. Here’s how we did it:

1. We cut the fringe off one side of two of the rugs, and both sides of one rug.

2. Then we ran the cut edges through a serger three or four times using black thread (we were trying to approximate the width of the black stripes on the rug).

3. The three pieces were pinned together so the serged edges aligned with an existing stripe on the rug.

4. Finally, we sewed the pieces together using a heavy-duty needle and a zig zag stitch. We used black thread for the top, and either cream or olive in the bobbin, depending on where the back of the stitch lined up. We did that so the rug would be reversible.

Lest anyone think this was a flawless process, here’s evidence otherwise.

In this case, we had black thread in the bobbin, but the bottom stripe was olive (not to mention the stitching was misaligned). Ugh, ripping out stitches…

Oh, well, it’s not perfect, but it looks good from here…and it cost a total of $12.69 including tax!!!


Welcome Home, Ida.

I’d like to introduce the latest addition to our family:

(Getting the typical inspection from Moxie…)

Her birth name is PAC-1 (sounds like a Droid, doesn’t it?). Actually, it was just Herman Miller’s abbreviation of Pivot Armchair with Cast aluminum (or Contract) base and 1-piece upholstery.

But I’ve decided to call her Ida… as in Ms. Ida Blankenship. Let’s pause here for a moment. If you do not know who Ms. Blankenship is, please do not Google her. Rather, I implore you to go and watch Mad Men (starting with season one — no skipping!!!). Like, now. I mean it.

For those of you still with me, based on a little research at the Eames Office, my guess is she’s from the early 70s. So she’s a little rough around the edges, but she’s still got plenty of spunk.

This is a bunch of iPhone shots I took of Moxie and Moo trying her out (okay, so I pretty much forced them to sit on the chair in attempts to get cute pictures… Doesn’t everyone do that???). Well, Moxie wasn’t really feeling it. But Moo has really taken to her. Unfortunately, for him, I’m pretty sure Ms. Ida will be taking her rightful station at the desk. I just hope she can catch on to all that advanced technology…

Pimp Their Crib + Baby Grass

Just a quick post to share one of my recent projects.

Our friends, Curtis and Tiffany, who will be having a baby soon (and very soon), asked me to paint the walls of their nursery-to-be with a tall grass motif based on their crib/curtain set.

This is what we started with:

I transferred the design onto the walls with the help of an overhead projector. Tim came to help paint one day. We mixed up a few greens for some variety.

I took this picture with my phone, so I’d have proof that I’d actually done it.

After I finished the walls, the parents-to-be installed new bamboo flooring, shades (nice choice with the brown!), an area rug, pendant light, and a comfy glider/recliner. Nice job, guys!

I couldn’t resist including a picture of the family’s cat, Pepper.

Do not be fooled by her seemingly peaceful appearance. I put myself in harm’s way to get this shot. She is the queen of her castle, and ain’t nobody messin’ with that! Good luck, baby S.!


In a semi-related note, our sod out back seems to be establishing itself. Yay! Plus, I over seeded the area with some old grass seed we had in the shed, and some of it has been popping up as well. So, it seems we also have some of our own baby grass!

Trash-Picked: Lane Coffee Table

As I’ve mentioned before, I am an avid (to put it nicely) trash-picker. Well, apparently, this has rubbed off on my husband. A while back, he text-messaged me, saying he had picked up a coffee table he found lying at a curb. On his morning drive from studio to work, something caught his eye, and he actually backed up to check it out (Did I train him well or what?)! The finish wasn’t perfect, and it was missing it’s glass top, but he saw the piece’s potential, and was wise enough to throw it in the back of the car before continuing on his way.

This is the picture he sent me from his phone when he got to work…

…and here it is sitting in limbo in our sun porch:

The finish needs to be cleaned up, and obviously, it needs a glass top. I initially thought I had a piece of plate glass that would fit (a previous trash-pick), but it wasn’t quite long enough for the 59″ long table. So, we’re still on the look-out.

Moo and Moxie inspect the new addition…

I haven’t been able to find out much about this table. I’ve seen other Lane tables here and there, but very few reference to this particular  one. It certainly seems to be less common than the Lane Acclaim line. As for it’s age, the curves of the legs remind me of our Brasilla breakfront by Broyhill, which dates from the early 1960’s. So that would be my rough guess at this table’s vintage as well.

Apartment Therapy, recently pointed to a post on Craigslist where a seller was asking $395 for the same table. Is it actually worth that much? I doubt it. Especially not in this condition. But we like it regardless of it’s value. Hopefully at some point in the (near?) future, I’ll post an image of it cleaned up, complete, and in our living room.

What’s your opinion on trash-picking? If you’re a fan, do you get self-conscious while doing it? or are you a proud picker? And, please share one of your recent / favorite finds!

Emeco in Our Home

Last summer, I posted about the legendary Emeco Navy® Chair. At the time, I was a bit obsessed, and after much ogling, I won one on ebay. Now it lives in our dining room!

The chair came from a guy not far from the Emeco factory in Hanover, Pa (also the home of Utz snacks). I liked his creativity with packing materials – he used gallon iced tea containers to take up extra space in the box. Most were Rutter’s, but there were a couple Turkey Hill ones in there, too.

This is a vintage chair, so, it’s not in mint condition. The finish shows wear and it has a few dings, but most noticeably, the back of the chair has the word “PLASTICS” etched into it. I’m sure this reduces it’s “value”, but I like that the chair has physical evidence of it’s history. I only wish I knew a bit more about it’s provenance. Anyone have any ideas?

What about you? Do you own any vintage pieces that have mysterious markings that hint at it’s previous life?

Classic Design: Emeco 1006 (Navy®) Chair

I have always loved this chair.

So, I was excited to find out that the company that has produced it for the past 65 years, is located only three hours from here, in Hanover, Pennsylvania!

Emeco, Inc. first started producing the No. 1006 chair during World War II, for use on Navy ships and submarines. The design was developed according to stringent requirements that the chairs be extremely light, non-magnetic (so as not to interfere with Naval instruments), and both fire and corrosion-proof. Another stipulation was that the chairs not be able to be dissasembled for use in weapons manufacturing by the enemy. The result was a practically indestructible, one-piece aluminum chair, that has clearly stood the test of time. Form + Function = Classic Design!

I admire Emeco for continuing to make this chair in essentially the same way as they did back then – their 77-step process has each chair passing through the hands of over 50 people from start to finish! I am dually impressed by their lack of complacency. They have not been content to rest on their past successes, but rather, have collaborated with designers such as Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, and Ettore Sottsass (at the age of 90!), to come up with new designs consistent with their vision. In addition, they now make their chairs out of 80% recycled (40% post-consumer) aluminum. But, with their lifetime quality guarantee, the folks at Emeco believe that their products have classic staying power and hope they will never end up in the recycling bin.

On the Emeco website, there’s a really sweet series of documentary videos that gives a nice peek into the people and processes that go on in the factory everyday. If you like the chairs, I’d suggest checking them out.

Perhaps this is old hat to you, but hey, I’m easily excited.

Before & After: McCobb Headboard

My use of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on my Pro-Keds was just a bonus side trip on the road to its original intention.

Last fall, we won a McCobb headboard on ebay for $50. We picked it up in Connecticut en route to our anniversary weekend spent in Concord, MA. While we were loading the piece into our car, the guy told us to just take it – no charge. It had been part of his mother’s bedroom set, and he was glad to see it go to a good home. Nice! (But, I do wish we had gotten a few of the other pieces of the set…)

The headboard is not in perfect condition (but, hey, neither is anything else in our house). Overall, though it’s a solid piece. The top had a lot of water rings (many bedtime water glasses) and scratches (more like graffiti), and the sliding grasscloth panels had some nonuniform staining. So, I applied Howard Restore-A-Finish in Golden Oak (the lightest shade available at our Home Depot) to all the wood, and Erased away with all my might on the sliding panels. And here are the results:

As distracting as that nasty wall paneling is, I hope you can see why I am so happy with the way the panels came out (not quite as happy as I was about my Pro-Keds, though!).

As for the wood – most of the water rings have been greatly reduced. But, I’m thinking we should have used the lighter Maple/Pine shade of Restore-A-Finish (the piece is maple, afterall). Because now, the scratches are more accentuated. Now, we can more clearly see that, at some point, someone really wanted us all to “Eat at Joe’s”.

Craigslist Find (One Down, One to Go!)

After a few negative experiences, I had sworn it off for a while. But in the past few months we have found a couple of good things at good prices, sold by good people.
I now have a somewhat renewed faith in Craigslist.

Just last night, we picked up this vintage butterfly chair from a couple in the Italian Market section of Philly. The wife said it was her favorite chair, but the husband didn’t like it. With space in their loft at a minimum, it had to go. And we were glad to take it off their hands!

The frame is in great shape, and the seat is a newer canvas one from Circa50. The only requirement was to give the cover a washing and a good once over with a lint roller (it was coated with black cat hair) – no biggie.

All for less than the cost of a new cover alone! Yay Craigslist!

So, thanks Lillian and Ed! Don’t worry, we promise to take good care of it!