The Chairs of Childhood, Part II

Have I mentioned how much I love it when readers send me their Design Finds? I do. So much.

Recently a reader in Texas sent me a picture of some wonderful chairs in the children’s area at their local library:


Made of one piece of plywood, these chairs have a really beautiful shape, and I just love how the back looks like a letter A – perfect for a library. (The overlapping color-changing circles pattern on the tabletop is also wonderful.)

Receiving this picture brought back memories of an amazing chair from my childhood local library. I have fond memories of curling up on the soft leather to read. (I also remember feeling frustration when some other kid was sitting in it!)


While I’m not sure our local library had an authentic Heller “Joe” chair, the one in my memory looks just like this one, a true 1970’s classic and a great childhood chair memory. I’m quite sure the hours I spent in this chair fostered both my chair obsession and my love of reading.

Thanks for the memory!


Joe Chair Photo:

The Chairs of Childhood, Part I



Flag Flattery

I love flags – they are the original modern art. I’m partial to the American flag and the Union Jack, because they’re from my countries. I was lucky enough to have an American mom and an English dad, so I got to grow up on both sides of the Atlantic. Flag inspired decor always catches my attention, especially when it has personality.

This fabulous flag-on-a-pallet hangs in my front hall:


I love that an old wood pallet can become something so stunning. It’s one of the only pieces of original art that I’ve ever purchased.

Upstairs, this Union Jack mirror decorates a funny little nook in the hallway:

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So this summer when I saw this for sale in a coffee shop, I was instantly smitten:

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Check it out close up:

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It’s a collage! I would have bought it on the spot, but the $2500 price tag was out of my budget. So I started plotting to make one for myself. I spent months collecting home decor magazines and catalogs – I wanted the pictures I used to say something about me.


Here’s just a few of what I collected. Last week I finally pulled out my scissors and got to work.

And here’s what I’ve got so far:

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It was significantly more time consuming and challenging than I expected. Believe it or not, red was the hardest color to find – that really surprised me. I have a long way to go to have enough to put together a piece as large as the one I saw in the coffee shop, but I’m pretty excited about what I’ve got so far. In the process, I gained a huge amount of respect for the artist of the original work. (And if whoever that is ever sees this, please know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)

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By the Book

I’m the child of a professor and a writer. The house I grew up in was filled with books. Every family vacation always included a stop at the local bookstore – The Strand in New York, Powell’s in Oregon, The Tattered Cover in Denver, Politics and Prose in Washington DC. Books were collected, given as gifts, revered and cherished. One of the possessions I hold most dear is a dictionary given to me by my late father when I was in high school.  What could be better to remember him by than the loving inscription he wrote? Written in a card, it likely would have been quickly forgotten. Written inside a book, it will always be held dear.

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So the idea that beautiful homes do not contain books bugs me just a bit. Houses in home design magazines never seem to have many books – real books, that is, not matching sets of leather bound books. The only books you usually see in magazine spreads are carefully displayed – always just a few, stacked by size and color and most likely never read. Bookshelves usually contain objects for display and not books. Sometimes a coffee table book will appear here and there.

But I say – books are beautiful – show them off! Let the world know you’re a reader. The books you choose to fill your home with will tell your guests volumes about you. (Sorry, I could not resist!)

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A Week of Design Finds: Functional Fun

When a functional object is also nice to look at, it’s a beautiful thing. When it’s silly and it makes you smile, that’s even better.


We bought this for my daughter last weekend. She’s ten and excited about learning to cook, but the oven is a little bit scary because, well,  it’s hot. This handy tool helps pull out the oven rack and also push it back in, making her feel more confident about doing it on her own. She named him Bob. They made chicken nuggets together the other day and it went great!

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I love this tool not only because it gives my daughter independence, but also because it’s handmade in the USA of cherry wood. We found it at a local art festival, and I think I would have bought several more of their wide variety of gorgeous and smart kitchen tools if we hadn’t been in a hurry. They had lovely wooden tongs that folded flat for storage and flipped open for use  and toast tongs with a magnet in them so you can keep them right there on the toaster. (Another great tool for kids.)  There were also ingenious wooden spoons designed with a special notch so they rest right on the edge of the cooking pot – in both right and left handed versions.  Awesome gift idea! (Especially if that gift is for yourself!)

Jonathan’s Spoons,