"" MaDDI: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trend Report: Matryoshka

Alex here. I typically report on trends I like, but today's trend report comes with some ambivalence. Regardless of my feelings, its difficult to deny that Matryoshka-inspired goods are an established trend in the design sphere.

Since russian dolls can tend towards the cutesie, I made an effort to round up some more "grown-up friendly" variations on the classic Russian souvenir. Here are a few images and products than caught my eye (I particularly like the unpainted dolls-- I would leave them raw):

Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Matryoshka Wall Paper, Wall and Deco (via Pinterest)
  2. Counting Matryoshka Wall Art, Modern Genes @Etsy - $15
  3. via A Paper Aeroplane, Tumblr 
  4. Sadness Reprieve C: Matryoshka Print, Benjamin Dewey @Etsy - $15
  5. Halloweenie Matryoshka, regansmithclarke @ Big Cartel (via Pinterest) - no longer available
  6. Matryoshka Measuring Cups by Carl Mitsch (2009) via MoMA Store - $12
  7. Blank Russian Nesting Dolls (5 set), Home and Crafts @ Etsy - $38

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Covet List: Cactus

Alex here! I'm on the cusp of a major life decision. There comes a time in every 20-something-year-old woman's life, I think, where she looks around herself and says, "hey! Check me out-- I'm gainfully employed, with health insurance to boot. I'm in a stable, loving relationship. I pay my bills on time. Could I be ready to assume responsibility for a life other than my own?"

Yup. You read it here first, folks. I am seriously considering adopting a house plant. Why now? Well, I'm glad you asked. I've always self-identified as a anti-houseplant person. For one, I suspected I wouldn't be able to keep one alive. And perhaps more importantly, most of the commonly available and oft-recommended plants for black thumbs didn't appeal to me visually. I was wary of imbuing my apartment with a "granny chic" vibe in exchange for some moderately purer air.

But then came an affection for and curiosity about cacti. I like them for their aesthetic qualities (in their myriad shapes and sizes), but I also feel a spiritual kinship. I like my personal space and, frankly, wouldn't mind a spiny perimeter for enforcing it. Particularly handy, I bet, during rush hour on the F train.

Image source: cinderellahope.tumblr.com

Here are a few more images of cactus that are fueling my enthusiasm for what I'm calling Plant Adoption 2013 (this is, weirdly, a big deal for me.) I might also entertain a few other plant varietals-- maybe some succulents or a baby jade plant. But the big kahuna on my covet list is the cactus.

Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Glass Terrarium, Heath Ceramics - $200 (image via 7x7SF)
  2. via Pinterest (original source unavailable)
  3. via Lotta Agaton (Blog)
  4. via Its Hard to Find A Friend (tumblr)
  5. via Chic Cham (Blog)
  6. Cacti, West Elm - no longer available

Correction to Yesterday's Post: I incorrectly spelled "complement" (about 6 times...) I apologize for any confusion. I did not intend to suggest that your color palette might lavish you with praise. Embarrassing. But on the plus side, I nailed palette vs. palate? We must celebrate our victories and learn from our defeats.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

complement | contrast: Photography by Elizabeth T. Jones

Alex here! For my second installment of complement|contrast, a series demonstrating helpful strategies for decorating around art, I'm excited to use the work of Brooklyn-based photographer Elizabeth T. Jones as my inspiration.

Enjoy! And please don't hesitate to comment if you'd like to suggest a piece of art work for the next Complement|Contrast. This series has been a blast so far and I'd love to try working from a reader selected piece.

complementary palette | contrasting style

Rooster by Elizabeth T. Jones

I like the idea of this rooster portrait (blown up into a large-scale print) in a bedroom. Since the spirit of the column is juxtaposition, there's something weird and wonderful about a farm animal in space as intimate as the bedroom. 
Complement | The room plays off of the mottled black, white and grey tone of the rooster's feathers. Citrine and red accents highlight the rubbery flesh of his feet and comb. While the floating night stand might seem off palette at first glance, it picks up the blue undertones of the piece's cool white background.

Contrast | Where the subject's feather and flesh are soft, the wood and steel furniture is rigid. Where a barnyard animal is rural and of the land, the sconces add a posh note in brass while their design is faintly nautical. Where the feather's are mottled in color, the lines of the bed linens and rug are sharp and geometric. Where a rooster is a timeless symbol throughout history, the mid-century designs of the bed and bench distinctly "period".

  1. Iris Swingarm Wall Sconce by Robert Abbey, via Lumens - $363
  2. Stonington Gray, Benjamin Moore
  3. Slice Mint Wall Mounted Storage Shelf, CB2 - $149
  4. Draper Stripe Ash Duvet Set (and matching sheets), DwellStudio - $310 (queen duvet) + $300 (queen sheet set)
  5. Najavo Red Rug, One Kings Lane - $229 (No longer available. See similar here and here.)
  6. Andalucia Black Leather Bench, Overstock.com - $146.99
  7. Mid-century Bed Frame, West Elm - $599-$899

complementary style | contrasting palette

Croque Monsieur by Elizabeth T. Jones

This piece seems like a natural fit for the kitchen, although I visualize it in a stark, almost sterile white kitchen. I'm imagining high gloss white cabinets and subway tiling with black grout.

Funny side note: I was walking to my first night of class at Parsons yesterday when I saw this photo on the wall of a restaurant. Turns out Elizabeth took this photo for La Maison du Croque Monsieur, a cute eatery about a block from Parsons.

Complement | The artistic, grid-like arrangement of the toast pieces turns sandwiches into pop art. In keeping with the pop-modern theme, I chose a hyper-modern, almost futuristic, light fixture and stalactite-inspired chair. The natural color gradient in the butcher block's mimics the color variation in the toast, and along with the subway tile, echoes the photo's rectilinear configuration. The dot pattern in the tableware draws out the banana slices-- a fun focal point of the photograph.

Contrast | Where the photograph is packed with color and organic textural variation, I kept the kitchen sleek, glossy and predominantly white-- with a few black accents. In a slight bending of my palette contrast rule (see, this is why I avoid rules), I included subtle red accents to tie the photograph to its environment. The multi-colored vs. the monochromatic.


  1. 3x6 Ceramic Subway Tile - Bright Snow White, Home Depot - app $2/sq ft.
  2. City Chandelier 7, Schoolhouse Electric - $195
  3. Ikea PS 2012 Dining Chair, Ikea - $79.99
  4. Potter's Workship Tableware - Dot, West Elm - $8-$12
  5. Raw Wood Board - Large, West Elm - $59
  6. Strut Medium Table - White, Blu Dot - $699
Hope you New Yorkers are enjoying the heat wave (well, relative to the past week anyway.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Artist + Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth T. Jones

Elizabeth T. Jones is a Brooklyn-based food photographer who specializes primarily in food photography, but has a real knack for capturing the soul of her subject-- whether than subject is a person, a chicken or a deviled egg.

Elizabeth also authors the blog Good Good Eat. Charmingly written and dripping with mouth-watering recipes (all beautifully photographed, of course), you can hardly believe it's a 100% gluten-free and mostly dairy-free. Happily for me, a die-hard cheese lover, her recipes occasionally include small amounts of sheep and goat cheese.

My favorite Good Good Eat post to-date is her sweet holiday video, in which her videography skills are on full display. Definitely worth a watch. Can you imagine how many cookies she must have baked and photos she must have taken to produce the piece?

In light of her many talents, I'm so excited to collaborate with Elizabeth on a series of home tours for the blog. Stay tuned for our home tour debut in March!

To whet your appetite for our home tours (not to mention a grilled cheese sandwich), here's a round up of some of my favorite shots from Elizabeth's portfolio:


Image Source: elizabethtjones.com


Image Source: elizabethtjones.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Covet List: Nesting Season

When the holidays are over and the bitter cold sets in, I nest. I set my systems to clean, straighten and organize. Then I curl up on my freshly plumped couch cushions and stay put until it's time for a cup of tea or a warm bath. But lest I forget, Valentines Day is just around the corner. Card shopping is on the agenda.

Here are a few objects I'm coveting for the nesting season: a geometric fish print for wistful staring, a cheeky valentine's day card for my keeper, a floating shelf for displaying teacups, a beautiful clock for keeping my nesting activities on schedule, a cozy pillow for resting my head while I read, and the lushest bath towels on the market for keeping my body as warm as my feet (radiant floor heat, I love you.)

I even purchased one of the objects below! Can you guess which one?


  1. Fishes in Geometrics (Red), Society 6 - price varies
  2. Valentines Day Card, Sadshop @Etsy - $5
  3. 12.24.36 Wall Mount Shelf, Soapbox - $240
  4. Umbra U+ Suspend Floating Clock, AllModern - $79
  5. & Pillow, AllModern via Joss and Main - $89
  6. 802-gram Turkish Bash Sheet, Restoration Hardware - $43 (*on sale, standard price is $54)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

complement | conrast: "Me at 28" and "Ellie Sitting"

When you decorate a space, where do you begin? Well, I like to begin with art.

I'm not a fan of rules when it comes to decorating. I once read in House Beautiful that every room simply must have an accent that makes your eyes pop. Reading that made a blood vessel in my neck pop. Look, it's your house, do your thing. But in practice, strategies can be helpful. Not maxims or even guidelines, but strategies. I'm comfortable with strategies.

One of my favorite strategies is to use a work of art as a jumping off point. Why? Because look to your art collection and therein lies your aesthetic sensibility, signs of your roots, and clues to how you see yourself and how you want the world to see you. In short, the art you bring into your home is the special sauce that makes you you. Ok, so there's your daily dose of profundity. Moving on.

I use art as a diving board in 1-of-2 ways:

  1. Take cues from the palette, but contrast the style.
  2. Take stylistic cues from the piece, but contrast the palette.

A space I remember is usually one with a compelling balance of complement and contrast. To demonstrate how to employ these strategies in practice, I'm super excited to launch a recurring series called complement | contrast.

In each installation, I'll begin with two works of affordable art. One will be styled using the "complementary palette | contrasting style" strategy. The second will be styled with the "complementary style | contrasting palette" approach. If I'm feeling really crazy, I might even style the same piece two ways. Here goes.

complementary palette | constrasting style

Me at 28, by B.D. White (Acrylic Spray Paint, 36" x 36") via Artsicle.com

complement | The room plays off the teal, black & white palette of the piece, with a few brown accents thrown in.

contrast | Where the figure is masculine, the floral pillow is feminine. Where the figure's expression is very human, the light fixtures are sterile and robotic. Where the canvas is square and acrylic, the side table is  round and composed of natural materials. Where the piece's lines are organic, the vase is geometric and the rug grid-like. Where the street art inspired medium is urban, the cowhide chair is rustic.

  1. Aqua Floral Pillow, consuelastyle.com - $72
  2. Form Pendant Lights,  A+R Store - $120 for 3 
  3. Rolly Side Table, Design Within Reach - $300 (temporarily unavailable) 
  4. Stockholm Rand Rug, Ikea - $299
  5. 'Diamond' Vase, Bo Concept - $59
  6. Cowhide Butterfly Chair, Circa 50 - $425

complementary style | contrasting palette

Ellie Sitting, by Matt Capucilli (Acrylic on Canvas, 36" x 24") via Artsicle.com

complement | A graffiti pillow complements the street-art reminiscent piece. A concrete table complements the minimalism of the canvas. The bisecting diagonal lines of the kaleidoscope rug and arm chair complement the diagonal composition of the figure. A construction-site sconce complements the industrial, urban tone of the piece. A long, low credenza echoes the rectangle running lengthwise across the canvas.

contrast | A black & white canvas contrasts with color-block furniture, with gray thrown in as a unifying neutral. 


  1. Oh 23" pillow, CB2 - $39.95
  2. Element coffee table, CB2 - $399.00
  3. Brio Deep Charcoal Geometric Rug, 2' x 3' Jaipur Rug via Sears.com - $80
  4. Radar Sconce, Schoolhouse Electric - $159
  5. Sig Lounge Chair, TOO by BluDot - $220
  6. Framed buffet by moca, via betterlivingthroughdesign.com 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chime in, please!

Maybe it's because it's winter and it's quieter around our neighborhood in the Hamptons, but I am hearing my neighbor's wind chimes loud and clear. Our house is in an old development behind a small hamlet. The houses are not "NY apartment close together", but neither are they "estate far away" from one another. Does anyone have the right to inflict chimes on another? If a neighbor were to be blasting music, one would be within one's rights to phone and politely ask the volume be turned down. But complaining about wind chimes seems a bit churlish!


I have never really been in the thrall of wind chimes and don't remotely understand the appeal. I would love to hear readers' opinions about wind chimes and perhaps address the question of why one person's delight in the tinkling of glass or metal is another's fingernails on chalk. Chime in, please!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Look: Taking Flight

The last edition of "The Look" highlighted the off-center placement of square art over the bed. Today, I thought I'd show you a bedroom I spotted in Australia's Est Magazine that takes the more traditional approach of centering a square canvas over the headboard-- but still looks effortlessly cool.

A couple things I like about this bedroom:

  1. The art. The image of a plane on a runway conjures up all sorts of feelings-- anticipation, adventure, optimism.  Not a bad mood to be in when you drift off into dream.
  2. Thonet bentwood chair-turned-end-table. The Thonet chair is one of my pantheon favorites, for its design and its historical significance (the application of steam bending to furniture making was revolutionary back in the day). To see Thonet's masterpiece as an end table is a nice fresh look.
  3. Blanket duo. What a neat idea to layer contrasting blankets! I like how the yellow ribbed blanket pops against the more masculine grey tweedy one. Practical, too, if you and your bedmate have different temperature requirements for sleep.
  4. Tiny lamp. That lamp is so adorable I want to pinch its cheeks. The true genius of this room is how they echoed the shape of the chair legs, but flipped the dip-dye color scheme to create a size-distorted mirror effect between the chair and lamp.

The Inspiration

Bedroom styled by Nina Provan at Neometro, Melbourne, Australia
Photography by Toby Scott for Issue #5, Est Magazine

The Look


  1. Taking flight print, CB2 - $169
  2. Torna Table Lamp, Ikea - $69.99
  3. Dodu queen bed, Blu Dot - $1,499
  4. Italian soft-spun wool throw, Restoration Hardware - $119.99 (*final sale)
  5. Spreading Landscape Throw, Anthropologie - $168
  6. Vienna Sky Side Chair, Crate & Barrel - $129
For crisp white linens, I like Restoration Hardware or WS Home. For an original Thonet Bentwood Armchair try Bauhaus2YourHouse.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh, Cheerful Objects!

Weather and work has me feeling a bit glum of late. To bolster my spirits, I put together an assortment of objects that make me smile. I hope these bring some cheer to your Thursday.


  1. Iltavili Pillow Sham, Marimekko - $42
  2. Matchbox Illustrations by Krista Charles, via SFBayGirl - $25-$60 ea.
  3. DIY instructions for Faceted Wood Knobs, ManMade - cost of materials
  4. Toro Chair - Day, BluDot - $1,099
  5. Resin Coaster Set by Chen Chen and Kai Williams, via Mociun - $100/set of 2
  6. Colour Plaid Throw by Thomas Eyck, via Calypso Home - $595

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Colorful Encounter via a ZigZag Route

Last night I went to dinner with friends at Gabrielle Hamilton's New York restaurant, Prune. As I
was approaching the wide storefront windows, brightly lit from the inside, I noticed a woman sitting in the front of the restaurant wearing the exact same subtly sequined black and white zigzag top as mine.

This J Crew top, worn with the shirt under and black leggings and boots, has been my "go to" outfit throughout the winter. While, J. Crew clothing IS ubiquitous, I actually hadn't encountered a "twin" until arriving and being seated next to the same sweater at the very small restaurant.  The best surprise was that instead of being ignored, looking the other way or making a disparaging comments, Gretchen Schauffler of Portland, Oregon's Devine Color, embraced the serendipity by having her dining companions take this shot.

I love the way Gretchen wore her black and ivory top with canary yellow. She told me she was going for a bumble bee look! There had to be a story to this enthusiastic gal. And yes, there is! Gretchen is the founder of a specialty paint company, Devine Color. An artist and creator whose website includes an online magazine, blog, color trends, how to's and more. 

Recognizing that selecting a paint color can be an tricky task, rife with second guessing and an overabundance of choice, Devine Color makes it simple by offering Color Collections. Browsers can select from color palettes in the categories, Trend-Proof Colors, Flora Fauna Colors and Well-Traveled Colors-- dramatically minimizing the chances of the all-too-familiar "painters' remorse." 

Since Portland is one of my favorite cities (after New York, of course!) it was fun to connect with Ms. Schauffler, and to learn that in addition to having zigzag sequined tops in common we share a passion for design, art and color. 

I hope we'll see one another in Portland sometime. Oh, BTW, Gretchen took time from her busy day to send this photo to me with a link to her site. Now that's friendly!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wallpaper for the Manly Man

An interest in wallpaper is a fairly new phenomenon for me. Much of my wallpaper-related anxieties stem from its permanency. As a renter, wallpaper never crossed my mind. That is, until I starting reading about the wide array of temporary wallpapers hitting the market (thanks for the hot tip, Apartment Therapy.) Can I get a "Hallelujah" for renter-friendly innovation?

One of my favorite sources for removable wallpaper is Spoonflower. Their self-adhesive, PVC-free wallpaper sticks on to your walls without any additional glue and can be easily peeled off when you tire of the pattern or move out of your apartment. I also love how affordable their pricing is ($5 per liner foot). One word of warning: Their selection is massive, so you practically need a holiday weekend to find the right fit (Hello, MLK day!). Also, since fabric is their bread-and-butter, many of the patterns are scaled according. A tiny repeat might be sweet on a throw pillow, but dizzying on your walls. Fortunately, most designers on Spoonflower will rescale a pattern for you-- just ask!

But even once over the logistical hurdle, heavily wallpapered spaces elicited a big "meh" out of me until recently. Which brings me to my second, more pervasive wallpaper-related anxiety: most wallpaper patterns you see in the design sphere are pretty darn girly. (As discussed ad nauseum in a prior post, I have a mild allergic reaction to overly feminine interiors.) While many textured or graphic patterns have unisex appeal, thematic wallpaper is usually involves some combination of fairies, butterflies, tropical birds, roses, or shepardess with curly-ques.
Nothing against Little Bo Peep, but when she's plastered all over your wall in a 4" repeat, it can be a little cloying. Yet, strangely, over the weekend, I couldn't stop thinking about this aggressively wallpapered loft to which Gilt Editor Chassie Post relocated her husband and son from Atlanta:

The Manhattan loft Chassie Post and Phil Costello share with their 8-year-old son (pictured).
Photography by Matthew Williams. Source: Hey Billie
Photography by Matthew Williams. Source: Hey Billie
It's so visually compelling, but HOLY girliness. I can't imagine my boyfriend feeling at home surrounded by these walls.

So what's the manly man to do? Is there no thematic wallpaper out there for him? I didn't buy it, so I made it my mission to comb Spoonflower's archives for thematic wallpaper with which man and woman can co-exist peacefully, no matter their interests. Granted, some of these get pretty funky-- but, you know, I like my wallpaper weird and I'm not ashamed to say it.


  1. Sawhet Owl - Pen & Ink Pointillism by ravenwoodstudiodesign
  2. Chestnut by ravynka
  3. Shark 1200 by wren_leyland
  4. Birds by brokkoletti
  5. Vintage Minerals by ravynka
  6. Moths by ravynka

The Nautically-Inclined

  1. Mousehole by scrummy
  2. Scatter by forest&sea
  3. Blue Herring
  4. The Deep Deep Depths by ceanirminger
  5. Semper Paratus by bowsprite
  6. Salting Table by donna_kallner


  1. Passport Stamps - Green by koalalady
  2. Blue Planes White by karinka
  3. Hot Air Ballons - Rust and Steel by ravynka
  4. Cartography by ravynka
  5. Vintage Airplanes by mbsmith
  6. Red Flight School Blueprint by holli_Zollinger



  1. These Little Piggies by marchhare
  2. Square Roots by weavingmajor
  3. Root Vegetables by countrygarden
  4. Tomato Polka Splat by coggon
  5. Red Onion Pattern by clairecaudwell
  6. Vintage Kitchen on Shortbread by vdyej
See also Bartlett Pears.

Dog People


  1. Bulldog with Teddy Bear by ragan
  2. Le Chien by ragan


  1. A Boy's Own Arrow Collection by rhondadesigns
  2. Forest by arttreedesings

Literary Types

I hope this proved inspiring. I, for one, am exhausted and I fear I still only scratched the surface of Spoonflower's offerings. Check it out for yourself and drop me a comment with your top finds!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spotted in DWR: Ten Broeck House in Hudson, NY

I look forward to new DWR catalogs for a lot of reasons-- the furniture, of course, the little historical tidbits on design, but-- most of all-- the killer locations they use for shoots. I like to play a game with myself. I try to scour my memory to identify the locations (most of which are familiar from Pinterest, magazines and design blogs) before peeking at the notation, typically found near the seam of the catalog in tiny white font.

In DWR's most recent catalogue, I was happy to spot one of my favorite homes in the New York area. The Ten Broeck cottage in Hudson, NY was designed by architectural firm Messana O'Rorke. Messana and O'Rorke restored an historical cottage and expanded it to meet the homeowner's needs by adding a truly awesome modern addition. The best part? It's available for rent and just a short drive or train ride from NYC! Anyone for a winter weekend away?

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Look: A Neutral Sanctuary in Ibiza, Spain

I know I resolved to make 2013 a more colorful year, but resolutions were made to be broken-- right? Or at least suspended. Something about this neutral bedroom in Ibiza, Spain is calling to me. I suppose that living in a chaotic city, the idea of taking refuse in a restful palette of taupe and charcoal is appealing.

Lots of good ideas here too:

  1. A pair of swing-arm floor lamps flanking the bed, rather than the traditional wall sconce;
  2. pairing the steel side table with the lower wood stool for multi-level bedside surfaces; and
  3. hanging medium-scale art off-center over the bed.

So for today, a calm oasis of neutrals. And tomorrow, back to color!

The Inspiration

Home in Ibiza, Spain. Source: Elle Decor Espana via TheDesignerPad

The Look


  1. Vice-Versa Throw, Taupe, Calypso Home - $350
  2. Animal Locomotion (Plate 626), Galloping Horse by Eadweard Muybridge, 20x200
  3. Duken Bedframe, Ikea - $199
  4. P4304 Pharmacy Floor Lamp by George Kovacs, Lumens - $322.50
  5. Slim Round End Table, Natural Steel, Room & Board - $169-$199
  6. Mango Wood Light Teak Oil Pouf Stool, Overstock.com - $265 (Shown: Mango Wood Pouf Stool, Rotsen Furniture via Pure Home.)
  7. Patina Rug, Dark Gray, BoConcept - $689-$957
  8. Set of Decorative Pillow Covers, Mertakkul via Etsy - $45

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Leather (Pull) Fetish!

I am tagging on to Alex's theme of thinking or hearing about a subject, word or object and then seeing it and reading about it everywhere. Leather pulls first caught my interest when I was traveling in Uruguay for the first time several years ago. I stayed at the La Posada del Faro in the coastal resort town, Jose Ignacio. There in the simple, elegant rooms were little loops of leather set in a slim slit on the closet door; the ends attached to the inside of the closet. I recently returned to La Posada del Faro and was still enamored with the pulls. Uruguay has lots of ranches and therefore cows, so leather is readily available and inexpensive. Using the hides in clever ways makes sense.

Since I first saw those pulls two years ago, suddenly I am seeing "leather as hardware" everywhere for furniture, drawers and cabinets.

I, myself, am about to attempt a DIY leather pull project on two new sets of closet doors in my house. Watch for progress with pics and posts. In the meantime, inspiration!

Source: HardwareHut.com

Source: Remodelista.com

Source: CustomMade.com
Source: GNE Architecture