New Spaces

Not only are we extremely close to opening our new space in
the Exchange District... we have moved our blog.

All the content from this blog has been moved to our new
address on the web. We will leave this blog up as a byway
to ...

See you there!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Can of Paint, A Brush and Wow!

I have a gallon of a luscious yellow paint sitting in the back of the truck as I type this. It is waiting for me to remove its lid, stir it gently and breath new life into the ChiChi Baby! room. We're making some changes, you see, and we think the final result - though it will not be an overnight transformation - will be something special. Its not that we didn't like that room. It was playful and cute and full of sweet little things. We just don't have a great number of people coming into the House looking for charming childish things of the past. We also have big plans for the SheShe room and, as it is the biggest public room of the House, need the space to incorporate larger pieces of furniture.

As I mulled over the selection of tantalizing colors at the paint store I felt a tiny bit sad that I would be covering the turquoise I custom mixed until it was just right. And then I found the perfect color.

There is something about embarking on a redecorating project which gives me a tremendous buzz. It starts with an itch. Whether its boredom from looking at the same four walls for too long or something that just hasn't felt 'right' about a room from the very begining, that little tingle grows in intensity until it positively *has* to be scratched.

But where to begin?

For me, purpose usually plays a factor in what becomes the starting point of any redecorating project. The 'purpose' may be to incorporate a new piece of furniture (as is the case in my home right now) or to change the function of a room altogether (as is the case with our Baby! room). The purpose may be to freshen a room or to create a different atmosphere. Once I've established my 'purpose' the real fun begins.

In the case of our House the purpose is to entirely change the function of the room. Our redecorating project begins with the paint. Doesn't it always begin with the paint? Nope. Following purpose is inspiration. It may be one thing, or several things, but inspiration comes from something you love. Sometimes it can begin with a vase. Or a piece of fabric. Or a light fixture. Or, as in my living room project, a piece of furniture.

From inspiration comes color selection. Is the inspiration to be the main color of the room? Will it enhance the room on the trim or is it to be used to pop in the room as an accent color? Once this is decided, selecting the remaining colors for the room is (relatively) easy.

The inspiration for our project is, essentially, a rainbow. As we will be featuring any number of colors, from deep hues to pastels, in the objects which come and go from that room our inpiration was to ensure that the color we chose would be complementary. That made the color selection a bit more difficult than many other projects I've tackled. The paint I've selected for the former Baby! room is a bright yet warm yellow. Every color placed next to the paint chit positively pops, from apple green to lilac. There isn't a color that won't work with it.

The next step is to actually paint the room. This is something many people dread though I look forward to it. It is the end result which motivates me. That's not to say I don't get bored at some point in the painting process or that I actually enjoy the prep work. Prepping your surfaces and taping off edges is essential to a clean finish. It can be tedious and it is most certainly boring but skipping steps here will most likely result in a sloppy finish you won't be happy with. Carefully cutting the corners with paint creates a frame to work within and the closer one gets to completing the frame the easier they know the work is going to get. A roller is embraced with much adoration by the time the cutting process is finished.

After that final stroke of paint is laid in place the real fun of redecorating begins. There, before you, lay a blank canvass. Once furniture is set in position your room is ready to show personality. I'd personally recommend leaving artwork leaning against the wall under the places you think you'd like to see it hanging. Live with it like that for a week or so until you are certain it belongs in that spot on the wall. From personal experiece, creating a hole in the wall, no matter how small, only to determine later that a particular piece would look better across the room is akin to getting that first ding on your new car. Especially after all of that tedious prep work.

When I finish painting the Baby! room today my greatest disappointment will be that it will not reflect my full vision. For that we have to finish sourcing and acquire the new products we wish to introduce. In the meanwhile, we will refurbish the room with an eclectic and stylish mix of modern and vintage as we currently have in House. And then I will step back and admire the end result. *That* is the final soothing scratch of the itch.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Heart's Afire

Another exciting arrival...

...the Lumen series.

Creator Adam Frank is an internationally shown artist and inventor whose body of work encompasses an ongoing investigation of light and interactivity. Lumen is an original series of stainless steel oil lamp shadow projectors. When the fuel cell is lit a soft shadow is cast upon the wall which moves gently as the flame flickers.

Lumen has been featured in Dwell, the New York Times, USA Today, the L.A. Times and has long been available for purchase at MoMA, New York where it has been a best selling item. And now you can find it in our House.

Romantic, beautiful and innovative we believe Lumen to be an ideal compliment to any decor and a perfectly unique gift for any occasion.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beautifully Recycled

Design With Conscience, Artecnica's campaign promoting social and environmental responsibility in design, is a collaboration between foremost designers and artisan communities in underdeveloped nations.

It is design promoting self-sustaining communities, generating global awareness and utilizing humane and earth friendly production.

tranSglass, included in the permanent collection of MoMA, New York, has become one of Artecnica's most desirable products.

Designed by Emma Woffenden and Tord Boontje, and created by Guatemalan artisans, the tranSglass collection features one of a kind vessels - from the lidded carafe to a two holed vase. Each piece is unique in size, appearance and color.

Adorning a shelf or a table with an original and unique piece of tranSglass does more than enhance your environment. Your astute design choice aids our environment and has a positive impact in the lives of the artisans who create these stunning and cleverly designed pieces.

We are proud to carry a number of styles from this collection so that we may all play a small part in making this world a better place for everyone.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vintage in the News

Trends come and go - remember the huge shoulder pads of the 80's? I hear tell there's a resurgence on the horizon. And that they're bigger. And square.

*Promise me you won't.

The vintage and mid-century 'revival' we hear so much about these days isn't so much a faddish revival as it is an attitude. Miss P and I have always collected vintage and we are both partial to things from different eras for different reasons. We love much of the housewares from life in the 50's for the colors employed. I am partial to some of the space-age-ish design from the late 60's and early 70's. There's just something about the Electrohome Apollo stereo system which, though audiophiles might pan for the sound, I embrace for the design.

One of the reasons mid-century design is being embraced with greater fervor today is because of the clean, modern lines. What was innovative then, is considered chic now. Dwell's Kitchen Blog touched on this awhile back. Kitchen design today is replicating modern kitchens of the 50's by embracing color in appliances and cabinet panels. The sleek lines and islands of the ultra modern home of 1958 are being incorporated into current kitchen design.

Take me there!

Our House isn't the only place one can find beautifully Up-cycled vintage furniture. Dwell Blog, again, featured an article earlier this year about an online store called Kanibal Home. Redesigning and reupholstering pieces is something we are well familiar with. How stunning the end result can be, and how worthwhile it is to salvage something otherwise destined to be discarded, is one of the reasons we chose this path to begin with. The chair shown here is very similar to the four chairs of a dining room set we refinished using the same color and the exact same fabric!
Take me there!

While we strive to make quality vintage furnishings modern and lovable I don't know that I'm feeling the next concept. London designer, Anna James, salvages and restores antique furnishings and then scrawls all over them in what the article refers to as graffiti. Now, don't get me wrong, I've seen some pretty amazing graffiti but the pieces shown simply look ruined, rather than cool, to me.

Am I missing something here? Would I want a large bureau reminiscent of a bus depot bathroom stall door? I'm not typically one to recoil at new and/or unusual ideas but I think I'd like to try this out on something smaller while reigning it waaaaay in. Bring it down a notch from punk to funk.

Up next - Modern technology wrapped in vintage.

No picture with this tidbit - go have a look see for yourself! While it defeats the convenience of freeing up floor space, it is altogether so retro cool that giving up that tiny bit of floor would be well worthwhile!
Take me there!

How green is your lawn? Rather, how green are you in the care of your lawn? It is estimated that, in the USA alone, 800 million gallons of gas are consumed by lawn mowers each year. Sara Hart of Dwell's Tech Blog cites even more alarming facts. Both the Dwell writer and Margaret Hartley of the Schenectady Daily Gazette tout push reel mowers as an alternative and a terrific way to reduce carbon emissions (and noise - and the pain in your wallet with gas prices being what they are today). Not only are push mowers powered by completely free energy (You!), they are a good source of exercise, something many of us simply don't get enough of. The Dwell article also recommends using electric mowers and that is tickety boo if your electric energy source is hydro based. Unfortunately, many cities throughout North America utilize electricity generated by coal consuming power plants which, as we all know, does nothing to improve our air.

For Margaret Hartley's article... Take me there!

On to the Dwell article... Take me there!

Next time you're about fire up that gas mower take a moment to think about seven new cars idling on your lawn. I don't want to come off as preachy, but we do have alternatives - from overseeding our lawns with Eco-Green seed, which requires little or no mowing, to picking up an electric mower. Or a sheep. There's always that.

*For the record, I found the shoulder pad photo posted with a blog entry from October, 2007. The woman is French Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld. The blogger suggested a 'trickle down' effect and that we'd be seeing fashionistas sporting this look in no time at all. What you actually see in that photo is a woman with an injured arm who fashioned herself a designer sling. Now, just for the fun of it, a real fashion faux paux which also employs shoulder pads......

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Woodn't You Look Nice?

Prepare to be wowed.

We have a new designer in the House...

Keri Jansen Jewellery.

I'm sorely tempted to let the pictures do all the talking here as I can't seem to find words distinctive enough to do these pieces justice.

Keri was born and raised right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her line is featured in several boutiques across Canada and is designed and produced locally. Her inspiration comes from furniture design and cabinet making.

Utilizing gorgeous woods, primarily from end cuts which would otherwise be scrapped, Keri creates uniquely stunning adornments. Each piece is beautifully handcrafted and no two pieces, even of the same design, are exactly alike.

When we first met Keri we knew we wanted to feature her designs in the store. We love the thoughtful finishing touches, like the small wooden dangle at the end of the sterling silver chain and the lovely little sterling connectors which almost resemble flowers. We are smitten by the natural beauty of the woods.

The pictures simply do not do justice. You really have to come in and try on a bracelet or a necklace. We must warn you, though, trying on one of these stunning pieces may result in your refusal to take it off.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Table Stories

We all have tales to share every day. Simple little anecdotes concerning events of the day. Complicated chronicles. Juicy gossip. Lighthearted lexicons.

I've always found the best discourse develops around the table. There is something about the comfort of good food and in being surrounded by familiar people which make fertile ground for the development of interesting conversation. Some of the best times I've had in recent years have been at large dinner gatherings at the Lake Winnipeg cottage of my aunt and uncle.

They are collectors of people, Joan and Lionel. These events are always 'family' events but are never comprised entirely of relatives proper. Rather, there is about an equal measure of acquired 'family' - people who have come into our lives through Joan and Lionel and who have remained constant, some for so long that I can't be entirely sure they are not 'real' relatives. And that's nice, as motley and unlikely a crew we might all be at first glance.

At each gathering, especially during the big holidays, tables are added to tables until they take up the entire length of the cottage. Chairs are squeezed as tightly together as possible which makes for some interesting and creative movement coming and going from the table. When I was young all children were required to sit at the "kids" table, away from the adults, at the insistence of our parents. Today, all children are welcome at the main table - at the insistence of our parents. Something about becoming a grandparent mellows a person, I suppose.

Somebody always brings something, though Joan does most of the cooking (and is as terrific a culinarian as she is a hostess). The food is always good. The desserts, well... red velvet cake worthy of fighting with your favourite cousin for, pumpkin cheesecake like you've never imagined. But it is the company, above all, which make these events memorable.

And it is in these settings where the best stories unfold.

In honor of Joan and Lionel's 50th anniversary this summer, I can't think of a better gift than our newest edition to the store; glassware and a decorative plate from Tord Boontje's Table Stories collection.

Stunning, whimsically etched glassware, short and tall.                   Deco plate in subtle grey on white.

Don't you deserve something this special on your table?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Clean Slate

Yep, you've come to the right place. We know it *looks* different, but its still us.

When discussing the blog one day I was offered some template feedback. Busy, busy, said Miss P. Too dark, said she. Ah-yup. It was.

So we're trying something new on for size. Cleaner. Easier to read. Photos will positively pop. And they do! Not only do they pop, they actually fit the page better. Eliminating the side borders really gives us more room to play.

There will be a few more changes in the next week... The banner is going to be modified somewhat to reflect the evolving us and we'll have more flickr photos up.

We also expect to be alerting you to up and coming in-House changes as well as introducing some exciting new products as they arrive!

Love the clean look? Not feeling it? Tell us what you think ~ your feedback is important to us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who's Your Daddy!

From single dad Andy Griffith to the mother of all wise fathers Jim Anderson, TV dads in the fifties and sixties set the bar for fathers in households across North America.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson played fictional characters modelled after their real selves as did their real life sons, David and Ricky. Harriet, she who vacuumed in high heels, was the glue that held her family together. Ozzie was portrayed as ineffectual and bumbling in his attempts to steer his sons along the right path. Harriet would, more often than not, have to rescue him from from the consequences of his own overzealous behaviour. Oddly enough, in spite of (or maybe because of) Ozzie's portrayal of clown father, the Nelsons were embraced as the epitome of the average American nuclear family.

Father Knows Best

Another dubious head of household was Jim Anderson, as portrayed by Robert Young. Never intending the lead character to be taken too seriously, the production team of Robert Young and Eugene B. Rodney based the series on experiences they both had with wives and children which injected a sense of reality. Father didn't always know best, was actually capable of losing his temper and could also be proven wrong.

The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Taylor lost Opie's momma when he was "The least little speck of a baby". Having been raised by Aunt Bee himself, he and Opie share their home with her. They live the idyllic small town life where Andy works as Sheriff, afternoons are whiled away with Opie at the fishin' hole and evenings are spent rocking on the front porch. Andy Taylor was depicted as a fair minded and easy going law enforcement official and equally applied his folk-wisdom in his profession as well as in the raising of his son. Corny, but sweet, one often had the sense that Andy Taylor was modelled entirely after the lead actor - just as the town of Mayberry was modelled after Andy Griffith's home town.

Leave It To Beaver

Oh, that Beaver! Unlike competitive family sitcoms of the time, Leave It To Beaver featured the children as the focal point for the show instead of the parents. If the Nelsons were epitomized as the average American nuclear family, then the Cleavers were the family to aspire to be. Ward and June were the selfless, loving parent team nurturing their children through small victories and many moral lessons. The boys would doubtless find themselves in one dilemma or another and by the show's end Ward would be tabling a kindly lecture while June was tabling dinner.

TV dads have changed much over the years. Bill Cosby is said to have portrayed the best TV father in family sitcom history. Cartoon character Homer Simpson is most often named the worst (though I don't think anyone, real or imagined, can be worse than the dad on Family Guy ). On television, just as in real life, dads will always be there. As breadwinner, as disciplinarian, as friend and mentor. As spoiler of daughters and buddy to sons. Through good times, through tears, a dad never stops playing his role. Its too bad there's only one special day in the year set aside to honor him. He probably deserves more for all that grey hair he claims you're responsible for.

Who's Your (TV) Daddy!

Which TV father is yours most like? Take the quiz and, if you want to share (we want you to share - we do!), reply with your result in our comments section!

Take me there!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting in Touch With Our Masculine Side

In case you hadn't noticed, Father's day is only one week away. I *know*! I can hardly believe it myself - it seems to be arriving far too early. That's easily explained if we notice that the first of June fell on a Sunday but I think it also feels too soon as spring is very nearly over even though it feels like it hasn't quite begun in earnest.

This week, in honor of Father's day, we bring you a series of posts about dear old dad...

Fathers - A History

Dads. Those old school guys who called caring for their children when their wives were out "babysitting" as opposed to "parenting". The fellas of my generation who are more involved, than ever before, in parenting their children. The men from the fifties who arrived home to find the children clean and shiny and their wife greeting them at the door in her best apron with the newspaper and a martini in hand.

Pre-industrial revolution a father's work was primarily home based as craftsmen or farmers and they typically trained their sons in their craft. Family involvement was crucial to earning a living and activities centered around dad's work with chores and responsibilities for all. Dad was the moral compass, educator and disciplinarian.

The industrial revolution saw men move away from home based jobs and into work at factories severing occupational ties between father and son. Fathers worked long hours away from the home and men were increasingly identified by their role as breadwinner. They had less contact with their children. During times of lay-off or work shortages they often left home to find employment. Their life on the margin of their families continued until the 20's.

Child and family experts in the early 19th Century promoted a new vision of the father's role in the family, bringing him closer into the fold as somewhat less the disciplinarian and moreso as role model and supplement to mom's emotional support and affection. Increasingly they were cast as 'home helper' rather than a primary parent.

The dirty 30's and the war years changed a father's role dramatically - the depression usurped his position as breadwinner and made his image of self, and his family life, exceedingly difficult. The war made him defender of the public. It wasn't until after the war that father's were reinstated in their roles as breadwinners.

In the 60's, as more and more women entered the workforce, men found their identities as breadwinner challenged yet again. Surveys at that time showed that men with working wives were unhappier, some feeling a sense of inadequacy as a provider. The women's movement threatened what was commonly viewed as the 'traditional' role of men in the family. Some men separated themselves from family life by marrying later, having fewer children or, in some cases, not involving themselves at all with the children they sired.

The other, more recent, spinoff of these changes has a happier result over the long haul. More and more men are likely to link their happiness with their level of family involvement. Increasing numbers are willing to sacrifice advancement at work in order to play a more active role in their homes and with their children. The role of 'breadwinner' is no longer the sole yardstick by which men measure themselves. And that is nothing but good.

Gift suggestion: Vintage Barware

Just because we're ChiChi doesn't mean we don't have cool guy stuff.

So dad doesn't walk in the door to be greeted with a martini anymore. We're sure he'd like that at least once in a while but we all know he's perfectly capable of mixing up his own cocktail. We have a whole range of options in house for the man who like to entertain with a bit of flair.

We have a fine selection of authentic vintage glasses, short and tall, some with caddies, all with remarkable colors or patterns or both! We also have a good selection of accoutrements to complement the ideal vintage bar from bottle openers and swizzle sticks to ice buckets and shakers....

We also have retro inspired and humorous barware from the Pink Martini pin-up girl clock to beer tumblers....

And, we expect, nay - we *hope* our order from the Canadian manufacturer of the original aluminum barware, Payne, will arrive on our doorstep early this week. Using the original tooling they utilized in the 1950's, Payne is making authentic new Vintage barware in original colors!

Next time....

Who's Your Daddy!

No Excuses.

Another lapse in posting.

No one was on bad terms with their muse. There wasn't a lack of things to ramble about. I don't know that we can chalk it up entirely to lassitude. And we haven't been so overwhelmingly busy that we can excuse ourselves. Aside from individual bouts of Strep on each other's heels we can only say we simply haven't kept up to speed with the blog. And that's regretable. And we are, once again, sorry.

Really, really sorry.


That's all.