Eastern Market Sunday Fun

Before we begin, I just wanted to let you know that I tracked down the maker of those cool modern birdhouses featured in yesterday’s post. A link to their Etsy store is now at the bottom of that post.

Now let me tell you about all the fun I had and the Design Finds I spotted at Eastern Market in Washington DC this weekend! This is one of our favorite places to take the kids on a Sunday morning. There’s so much to see, and something for everyone – our whole family loves it. This is only a small fraction of it – I was having so much fun, I didn’t take as many pictures as I could have.

I saw two booths of beautiful handmade cutting boards. They were all lovely and make great gifts – especially for Mother’s Day (or a housewarming, or a wedding, or a birthday…)

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There was also furniture, including tables from reclaimed wood and even a headboard made from the facade of an old barn.

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There was also lots of home decor:

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Maps and posters:

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Random fun and funky stuff:

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And of course food:

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There was also tons of jewelry (both costume and artisan made) and art and photography and leather goods and scarves – so very many scarves! And of course, the interesting neighborhoods to Capitol Hill to wander around:

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Definitely worth a visit!

 

Time to Flea

It’s April – get outdoors and find a flea market this weekend! Wandering around an outdoor flea with a hot cup of coffee in my hand is my favorite weekend activity. Listed below are a few going on in the Washington DC area. If you don’t live nearby, find one near you. Wherever you live, I would love to know which flea market you visited and what you found! Comment below or send me a note from the Contact page. Happy hunting!

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Eastern Market Flea, Washington DC, Sunday 10AM-5PM (www.easternmarket.net)

District Flea, Washington DC, Saturday 10AM-5PM (www.districtflea.com)

Georgetown Flea, Washington DC, Sunday 8AM-4PM (www.georgetownfleamarket.com)

Lucketts Store Design House and Outdoor Flea, Leesburg, Virginia, Friday-Sunday 10AM-5PM (www.luckettstore.com)

Chartreuse and Co. Market Days, Frederick, Maryland, Saturday 9AM-4PM, Sunday Noon-4PM (www.chartreuseandco.com)

I’ve posted the times, but show up early for the best pickings! Also remember to bring cash or a checkbook – a lot of dealers take credit cards now, but not all of them.

A Little More Road Trip

As I mentioned yesterday, Culpeper Virginia had many lovely shops, but it also had two other things I love – a good old fashioned hardware store and a cozy independent coffee shop.

Clarke Hardware was packed from floor to ceiling with hardware, housewares, and gardening supplies. It reminded me of the hardware stores I visited with my dad as a kid – it even smelled the same.

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We bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer to replace the one we broke last fall. Every fall we go apple picking with the kids and make homemade applesauce, some of which we freeze to use at Thanksgiving. Last year we waited too long and there were no apples left to pick and the orchard was closed. So the kids “picked” them at Eastern Market in downtown Washington DC. And then I broke the peeler/corer/slicer by tightening it too much on our new marble countertop. At first I thought the noise was the countertop cracking! So last year was a little bit of a disaster. Hopefully this year will be better with our new vacuum base peeler!

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Next to the hardware store was Raven’s Nest Coffee House. It had a lovely interior with wood floors, exposed brick walls, and a beautiful reclaimed wood coffee bar.

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It also had good coffee!

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I loved these vintage mailboxes on the wall. I noticed they had papers in them and thought for a moment that they were actually still in use. I love the idea of having a mailbox inside a small town coffee shop! Then I walked around the wall and discovered it was actually being used for brochures and event notices.

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And speaking of mail, I also spotted this wonderful old mail sorting desk across the street at a combination vintage furniture/candy shop called My Secret Stash (which also had really fun candy including chocolate covered malt balls in amazing flavors like mint and pumpkin). Based on the city names, I think it may have come from New Jersey.

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Next stop, Charlottesville!

 

 

Road Trip Part One – Culpeper, Virginia

I’ve driven past the town of Culpeper, Virginia countless times over the years, but last Friday was the first time I ever got off the highway and explored the town. It was lovely! We had just planned to stop for lunch, but ended up spending hours poking around all the fun shops on the historic main street.

We had a fantastic lunch at It’s About Thyme – duck salad for my husband and Greek salad and roast chicken for me. (And no, I didn’t eat all that by myself!)

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There were so many wonderful stores, but I fell in love with Harriet’s General, which showcases entirely products made in the USA, all beautifully displayed on vintage furniture finds. They even have an Airstream on the wall!

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More road trip fun tomorrow!

 

Road Trip Preview

Hello! Happy Monday to you! My husband and I took a little road trip this weekend and I have some fun things to share with you this week. While I get myself organized, I thought I would share this fantastic mosaic love seat I spotted on the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia. Every inch of it was covered with vibrant colorful tile – what a showstopper!

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Instagram Anyone?

I’m sort of addicted to Instagram. I’ve never totally understood Twitter*, but I definitely get the “a picture is worth 1000 words” value of Instagram. I use it almost exclusively as a source for design inspiration. I won’t follow anyone who posts too many pictures of their cat (except you, cousin Emma)! I often share random photos I’ve taken of Design Finds there, thinking they’re pictures I probably won’t use on the blog. But it occurred to me as I looked over my Instagram pictures yesterday, even though I might not have enough to say about individual photos to justify a blog post, as a collection they are fun and inspiring. So here they are (some of them, anyway)! Sources, if I have them, are listed. If you like what you see, follow me @alexandradesignfinds.

My Inspirations:

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If I could own a piece by any artist alive today, hands down it would be Dale Chihuly. My house isn’t quite big enough for this, but I would be willing to make do with something smaller. His work takes my breath away. Every time.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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The hardest thing about vintage is knowing you’ll never know the story behind the beautiful patina of age.

Trunk above and storage boxes below, Ekster Antiques.

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Vintage Sideboard in a field. It could not possibly look as beautiful indoors as it does here. Could it?

Source: Rust and Feathers

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Vintage midcentury switchplate. Private home, Bethesda MD.

Architectural salvage is so photogenic:

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Sources: Reclaimed doors, Lucketts Store. Window from Philadelphia Civic Center, Teds Bulletin Restaurant.

I’m always taken with industrial style lighting:

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Lighting sources, from top photo to bottom: Flora’s Feathered Nest, Crate and Barrel, Ekster Antiques, Crate and Barrel.

Of course, I take pictures of chairs. Lots of chairs.

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Vintage school chairs at Ted’s Bulletin restaurant.

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Yogurt shop color pop.

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Sources: Houndstooth chair, Crate and Barrel, Blue Stools, CB2

Random Fun Things:

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Mirror with frame made from reclaimed flooring from a North Carolina textile mill.

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Day of the Dead decor – do you love it or does it creep you out? I can never quite decide.

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Mirror: Lucketts Store Market. Throw pillows, artwork: Dwell, London.

*I don’t understand Twitter, but I am on it! Follow me there @alexdesignfinds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choice Chairs

In London over the holidays, I paid a quick visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum to check out their furniture collection. I say it was a quick visit because no amount of time is long enough to fully appreciate the wonders of the V&A. On the top floor in the far corner of the museum, with the rain and wind literally howling above us, I got to be in one room with more original iconic chairs than I’ve ever seen in one place. It was a little piece of Chair Junkie Heaven (despite the weather). The V&A furniture collection is curated in the most amazing way – where an IKEA chair sits next to an Eames that sits next to a Chippendale. A $1 folded cardboard chair is given equal billing with priceless antiques. They were ALL wonderful – which ones inspire you?

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This last one was actually in the gift shop, not the exhibit!

 

 

 

 

Field Trip: Design by Harry Potter

Before I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour, I never thought it would be an outing that would turn into a blog post. But, oh wow, is it an amazing place. And I’m not really a Harry Potter person. I read the first three books to my daughter at her request (she then read the rest on her own) and I saw the first two movies way back when they came out in the theater with my sister in law, who was a big fan. So although I’d been exposed to H.P. and enjoyed it, I wasn’t into it the way lots of folks are. I’d also never visited a movie set before. The Studio Tour is located in Watford, just north of London, and is on the actual property where all 8 movies were filmed. I was there because I thought my daughter would like it. I had no idea how much fun it was going to be. I was able to see the actual sets, props and costumes – among other things – used in the film. They are amazing. I was totally blown away by the astonishing level of detail of every item and every set. It was a design junkie’s dream (except that none of it was for sale!). And once again, I was the crazy lady photographing the floors and the silverware…

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Dining table in the Great Hall, which was decorated for Christmas at the time. I loved the fiddlehead details on the flatware, the boar’s head pitchers and the lovely worn tables and benches.

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Beautiful floors in the Great Hall:

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Although the Great Hall was breathtaking when you walked into it, Dumbledore’s office was my favorite space:

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His cabinets were filled with captivating things:

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They even had the blueprints for his chair and the architectural model of the office on display:

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There were a zillion other things to see – here are a few of my favorites:

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The Hogwarts clock. Enormous and stunning in person! I felt tiny standing next to it.

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The Weasleys have a Thonet chair too! (See mine here.)

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I adored the wonky stained glass windows in the Weasley’s kitchen. (And the self-washing dishes!)

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Gorgeous deep green tiled walls in the Ministry of Magic.

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Umbridge’s Ministry of Magic office.

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Gringotts vault door.

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The tattered elegance of the Gryffindor common room.

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The Potions Classroom had so many things to look at. The immense round table and ancient looking marble floors were both wonderful.

The Bridge had fantastic detail:

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Miscellaneous props and decor…

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Most of the faces in the paintings displayed at Hogwarts are of the people who worked behind the scenes on the movie!

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The scale model of Hogwarts takes up an entire room (a really big room!) and was covered in snow for the winter. Amazing is an understatement! See the clock?

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I took so many pictures of so many wonderful things but to share them all would make this post ridiculously long – this is really just a small fraction of what I saw. So let me put it like this – if you’re in London, go check it out. The amount of creativity that went into bringing this story to life is beyond belief. I connected to it all from a designer’s perspective, but every person can find something that amazes them. (I didn’t even mention parts of the tour like the walking down Diagon Alley or peeking into Hagrid’s hut or the Creature Shop or Quiddich Special Effects or drinking Butterbeer!) You may not be a Harry Potter fan when you walk in, but you will be one by the time you leave! I certainly am.

For More Information:

http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/

 

 

 

Field Trip: Skandium – Brompton Road, London

In London, I went to the most fabulous store. If you ever need to buy me a gift, go there and buy anything. Honestly – just close your eyes and grab something and I guarantee I will love it and probably write a blog post about how wonderful you are. There was inspiration in every nook and cranny at Skandium, mecca of modern design. I also learned that midcentury favorites are not the same around the world (see below). There’s no way I can show you everything, but here are some that caught my attention:

Trays – I am a huge fan of trays. On an upholstered ottoman, they make a great place for remote controls and coffee cups. On shelves or side tables, trinkets and framed pictures and candles seem more thoughtfully arranged if they’re on a tray. A tray is perfect to hold napkins and salt and pepper on your kitchen table. They are great for holding mail or just on their own. Of course you can also use them for serving too.

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These colorful modular trays can be arranged in any number of ways:

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There were also great stools and side tables:

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The top of the tray table at the front of the above photo can be flipped over to turn it into a stool. How cool is that?

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Amazing lighting:

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The Ribbon Pendants by Tom Raffield above are true show stoppers!

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And other fun and beautiful decor:

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And fabric and table linens too! Mostly by Marimekko – I love, love , love their fun colors and prints.

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And of course there were chairs. You know how I love chairs! Which is your favorite? The grey sheepskin one is on my wish list. My husband loved this colorway of the Eames rocking chair:

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Here’s a close up of the cozy graphite sheepskin on this Swedish Lamino Easy Chair:

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The curves of this GJ chair are impossibly wonderful:

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Here’s the newest design by Tadao Ando – the Dream Chair:

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I almost missed it because it was in the corner of the window display and I didn’t see it until we had already left the store!

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The thing that surprised me the most was this:

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(Sorry it’s not the best photo – there was a lot of stuff around the chair!) I saw this chair and immediately it looked different to me than my Eames Lounge Chair. (See mine here.) My daughter sat it in and declared that it was smaller than ours. I learned that this chair and several other Herman Miller items are manufactured by the Swiss company Vitra for the European market, not made in the US and imported to Europe as I had assumed. According to my research, there are indeed differences between the Herman Miller and Vitra versions in finish, materials and manufacturing methods (and also price). This Eames Hang-It-All is another example. This cool green colorway is not available in the US:

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And neither is this red/wood one:

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All the more reason to go back to London!

www.skandium.com

 

This is My Next Project

At the V&A Museum in London, I was totally wowed by this amazing installation of colorful glass lights in the lobby, several stories tall. My photographs cannot possibly do it justice:

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A week later, we went to the V&A Museum of Childhood across town and I saw this:

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While it wasn’t as mind-bogglingly amazing as the first installation, this paper lantern extravaganza was colorful and fun and (in my eyes) a perfect poor-man’s version of the original. I have no idea if either museum’s installation was intended to relate to the other, but I certainly saw a connection. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about how I can use colorful paper lanterns en masse to add color and fun to my home. I’m thinking about using them in my bedroom, which is very large with a vaulted ceiling and hardly any windows (and even after 6 years in this house, nothing on the walls!) I think these would brighten it up considerably. And with the lanterns only costing a dollar or two each, it won’t be too expensive of a project! They come in an amazing array of colors and sizes and you can even add remote-control lights inside.  I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

While we’re on the subject, check out the use of tiny paper lanterns and colorful paper chains on the Christmas tree at the Museum of Childhood:

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What a great way to add color and whimsy to a tree! Perfect for a children’s museum!