A Landmark's Birthday: New York Public Library

One hundred short years ago New Yorkers took their first steps up the grand stair passed Patience and Fortitude (those are the lion's names) into their very own public library. 

It was May 23, 1911. 

Sixteen years before an agreement had been signed combining the existing Astor and Lenox libraries with the fortune of Samuel Tilden to create the new free library and reading room. Based on a sketch by the new library's director the architecture firm of Carrere and Hastings designed the library.

It was to be the largest marble structure to be built in the United States.

At a cost of $9 million the New Public Library was complete in 1911. A system of elevators was used to deliver books quickly to the requester. Here is a section drawing of the library showing the stacks and elevator system:

The New York Public Library is an intrinsic part of the city's map, physically and socially. Over the years the city's people have come to know the building for its massive stone presence and as a symbol of the power of knowledge.

The Bryant Park facade of the library c. 1930s
But don't forget to go inside too; it is free after all.
The entry

Main Reading Room
 Map Room
In the mood to celebrate a birthday that doesn't involve getting a gift? Head on over to 42nd Street and 5th Ave. in New York City for their exhibit "Celebrating 100 Years." Make it part of your holiday plans if you aren't one to jump into making plans right away. The exhibit runs until December 31st. It showcases some of the six million items that are part of the library's collection. It's not just books!


Yep That's Right, I Said Calico Corners

When I worked at David Easton the name Calico Corners was NEVER part of my vocabulary. But now that I'm out in the burbs and I'm looking for some affordable fabrics to work with I thought I would at least step foot in the place and see what it was all about.

Calico Corners started in 1948 in Mt. Kisco, New York, and they sold seconds fabrics. Now it's a national chain with designers such as Thom Filicia and Dwell Studios (one of my favorites!) expanding their collections into the stores.

To be honest, it was not a shock that I wouldn't suggest many of the fabrics in the store, however a few fabrics caught my eye as something worth, well, a blog.

Burnet color Ink $44.99 per yard
City Square color Terracotta $54.99 per yard
Maze Work color Dove $20.99
Dotscape $20.99 per yard
Gate color Jade $44.99 per yard
Plus, you can save yourself the trip and order free samples from dear ol' calico corners right from your sofa or desk, or in my case sofa/desk. 


What Is It? The Rain Drum

Since we're all moving outside these days it's time to get some furniture to enjoy the outdoors (porch or not). One new item that I hadn't seen before was the rain drum.
Pottery Barn's Rain Drum $499 

It's a nice indoor and outdoor option but what is a rain drum? 

They date back to 2500 B.C. in northern Vietnam and Thailand, though examples have been found in China and India as well. The drums were made out of bronze using the lost-wax casting method. They are more properly known as Dongson drums but got the name rain drum because they were used by some tribes to beckon the rain, since the sound the drums made pleased the spirits in the nature surrounding them. 

As different Asian populations took these drums into their cultures various motifs were created. Some images found on the drums include stars, frogs or other animals, geometric designs, and even ships. The ships were part of images that represented the passing the dead to the next world.

This star with twelve rays represents the lunar calendar with it's twelve months

A frog motif is popular, so much so that the drums are sometimes called frog drums
There's a famous rain drum in Bali with a pretty crazy story:

"Pak Ketut Manta, a local guide, tells the legend of the Pejeng Drum: “In the old times, there were seven moons in the firmament. One fell down and landed on a coconut tree in Pejeng. The celes tial object illuminated the village nights, leaving bur glars jobless - until one of them climbed the tree, urinating on the moon to extinguish its light. The brave man did not survive the resulting explosion, but his mission was successful. The moon fell to ground, the light was extinct and night life could resume. Still today, you can see the breaks on the gong and the greenish patina from the burglar's urine.”*
The bronze drum on its side 
It's a sacred drum so no one is to touch it. Supposedly a man once struck the drum and fell ill the next day. We'll stick to the Pottery Barn version. 

*www.ubud-hotel-foryou.com Bali Online Information


New Shop (but with old stuff too!): Nightwood

I've been looking for some vintage lights for a project and came across this cool vintage shop (no lights, but a good find anyway). It's called Nightwood and they have some amazing furniture pieces. Some of the furniture are one-off items, mixing vintage pieces with new woods, and some are all new pieces. Here are just a few:

There are different ways to find Nightwood. If you're in the New York City area, come June you can find Nightwood in Williamsburg, NY. The exact address is 111 Grand Street between Barry and Wythe. 

If you are from some other cool place there is always www.nightwoodny.com

If you're in the Philly area you can find some of the pieces at Urban Outfitters' new shop Terrain in Philly.  

And last but not least Terrain is on line at www.shopterrain.com.

Happy shopping!


The Porch

The weather is gorgeous. I'm dreaming of a porch. Yes, one day I WILL have a porch.
A Bunny Williams porch
The real original porch came from the basic desire for an area that was covered but still outside, and the caveman got that one down pretty early.

Just enough of an overhang to keep the rain out
But the idea of the porch in an architectural sense came from ancient Greek times and the word portico. Through the years, different versions of the porch were built each with their own variation and according name, adding to the history of this versatile space.

Greek temple with front Portico

The Loggia in Renaissance Italian architecture
 Brunelleschi's Hospital of the Innocents in Florence
The Piazza is the idea of the porch on a grander scale
San Marco in Venice, Italy
West African early homes show front porch that are thought to have influenced early
American porches and the shot-gun style house

George Washington's home Mt. Vernon set the standard for American porches
For those of you with porches, please enjoy them for me, however you have it.

Right off the mudroom
With lots of plants

or if you are Sarah Jessica Parker and live in the Hamptons.


The Magazine Pile: Interior Design

I have a big old pile of magazine next to my sofa that I somehow think I read. I have a very similar pile next to my bed. Every once in awhile, usually when it's bright and sunny out and I start to see where the dust is piling up in my house, I feel the need to clean house. Somewhere in the process when the vacuum is out in the middle of the rug, the paper towels are scattered all over, and I'm half way under the sofa retrieving my daughter's toys, I come to THE pile.

I have high hopes of being Wonder Woman one day and only needing to sleep an hour a night so I have time to do everything I want to in a day. But until that day comes I need to start to cut down on the number of different magazines I subscribe to. One that I really love is Interior Design magazine.

It is not a decorating magazine like House Beautiful or Elle Decor. It has more of an architectural view of  interior design, mixing commercial and residential projects, which is what I love about it.

You can learn about new green products:
or products that have been out for awhile but are still very cool:


The magazine also features residential projects from around the globe (this house is in Croatia) for some truly inspirational (a.k.a out of budget) spaces:

and new restaurants with amazing interiors:

Bar Agricola in San Fransisco

Ready for another magazine?  Get Your Subscription Here


The Towel and The Shower: We Need Them Both

As a new Mom I now cherish the time I have to take a shower. I can't imagine not being able to enjoy these quick few minutes every day (OK, usually every day) but for a long time showers didn't exist.

Here is one of the earliest showers from the early 1800s that worked by dumping the same bucket of water over you again and again. I'd probably prefer the even earlier version of the shower, which was to find a waterfall, to this, but innovation has to start somewhere. (see left)

By the mid 1850s when plumbing started to move into houses the shower got closer to what we recognize as a typical shower. (see right)

One factor of the shower that makes it really good is the towel. You can't beat wrapping yourself up in a super soft cuddly towel after a hot shower as an inexpensive way to treat yourself to a little self indulgence. Well, you can beat it if you have a right-from-the-dryer-warm towel, but who has the extra time for that too?

In honor of showers and cuddly towels I offer you my choice in towels, which are from Restoration Hardware. Now, I have to admit part of this selection is also the colors that Restoration Hardware offers. They are subtle but still colorful and add a little life into any bathroom. Getting new towels is also cheaper than a bathroom renovation I might add when you're getting sick of the same old look. Even if you don't go for a color, the classic white towel always has it's place too.

Restoration Hardware towels in color Juniper

A cool bathroom but it could use some color

Classic white

Neutral towels do the trick to keep this bathroom's colors warm

Slate blue - my favorite
Just a little towel can do the trick

A light gray is just off the classic white

Now I kinda want to get new towels too.


How Far We've Come: The New Macs

The new iMacs are out! The new iMacs are out! My husband and I have been waiting for the new iMacs to arrive for a few months now so I am super excited to finally put down the plastic and get our new computer set up in the office.

We were secretly hoping Apple would've made a screen size between the small and large since we work with a lot of design files but we'll just have to live with the beautiful 21" (Oh, and a half inch, sorry, 21.5") screen. As much as I'd love the 27" that will have to wait until we win a scratch card.

Check out how far Apple has come - the power of good design:
The original Apple computer which sold in 2010 for $210,00 at auction
Remember these?

and the old screens

Yep, it's cool.

And how cool can a sleek computer make your office space look? I'd put it in the very category, desktop or laptop. Here are some ones that caught my eye for some good inspiration:

See ya at the Apple store.