29 March 2013

love: me

Yes! Yes! Yes! That is so right.

xo Lea Hart

28 March 2013

entertain: Breakaway

Art Garfunkel's Breakaway was my "gateway" album. You know the one you heard and as soon as you did, it opened your world to how awesome music could be? One day, when I was 12 or so, I found an old dusty box of cassette tapes in the garage. Thankfully these musical treasures were discovered after I my NKOTB stage (we all had that right?!), and I was able to really appreciate them. There were some really awesome tapes in that box; The Beach Boys, Yes, The Doors, and Art Garfunkel's Breakaway. I listened to and LOVED all of them.  But there was one that I played over and over... Breakaway.

My Dad told me that he gave it to my Mom in college before he left to go to school in Paris, France. So she would listen to it and think of him. It made such and impact on my musical tastes. For many years after that I wouldn't listen to any album recorded after the 70's. I fell in love with Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, America, the Beatles, The Who and so so many more.

Anyway, I though I'd share because I heard a great cover of the Boxer by Mumford & Sons today

and I wondered if kids today are exploring this great era in music? Or are they going "old school" with stuff from the 90's? Hmm...

I'm really digging Munford & Sons right now. They have soul. Maybe I'll start sharing more music regularly here, since its such a part of my life. I shared this one last year, and it still makes me dance as soon as I hear it!

What do y'all think?

xo Lea Hart

27 March 2013

design: High Style Low Budget Living Room

The title of this post could also be "How to Make that Ikea Couch Look...well, not like an Ikea Couch" 
Earlier this week, I showed y'all where to find some fun high style housewares that won't break the budget.  And, while I think the big retailers are great for making good design accessible for all, I mentioned that there are generally a few things I stay way from. Here is a living room I whipped up to illustrate my point.  

The slipcovered couch and chair are both from Ikea. They are pretty basic, but they have nice clean lines and are easy to work with.  The rug is a woven jute rug, which can be found all over for super cheap (Ikea has a really nice thick one). The coffee table is the biggest splurge,  but I think it's really important to have a few special, unique pieces in each room. A number of different styles would work as well, if that one was just too pricey. The side table and the lamp are pretty simple. There are a number of retailers that sell similar looking pieces, so you could probably find one in your price range. For the table, maybe something like this glass topped piece or this one from CB2 would work.

Crate & Barrel has some pretty inexpensive table lamps too. This one would be a good fit for our Living room. 

The floor lamp in the "room" is actually on the higher end, and its pretty fantastic. Its the Spun Light by Flos, but I honestly think the Kulla floor lamp from Ikea would look just as great too. 


The chest on the left could be perhaps a piece you already own or a funky piece that could be bought at a used furniture store,  yard sale or outdoor market like Brooklyn Flea or Chartreuse &Co. We just refinished a high boy dresser for our bedroom, I'll share all about that project soon! It has great brass hardware just like this Mid Century Modern piece above.  I love that use of warm metals but with different finishes. 

So now, we've identified all the basic major players. Whats left is the art and the pillows. I picked these art pieces to be representative of art that you could buy inexpensively or art that you could make. The piece over the chest is by Sugarboo Designs. I really love all of their pieces! I would rather see an original piece done by you than something mass produced. My friend and I painted these, it was fun to make and they are totally original. How fun would it be to have an art night and create something like the piece over the sofa? 

I say look for pieces you love or that make you smile, check out emerging artists, or just make your own. Original art is so much better! Now about the pillows, I really think these are the little details that really make a room. Generally, store bought mass produced throw pillows are not the best quality. They are usually too small, don't have a down fill, under stuffed, with a big zipper or no opening at all... and well... they just look cheap. Thats why I think custom made pillows and draperies  (more on those... later) really take a room to the next level. In the room above I selected all different patterns and sizes, none are matchy-matchy.  Sometimes they can be quite expensive especially if they have a lot of detail and embroidery. But just look at what a difference taking out the personality pieces makes!  

This room is fine, there is nothing wrong with it... but there isn't anything really special, either. It looks like random pieces that don't all quite work together...  The art is ok, but haven't we all seen something like that already? It just seems sort of flat an "undone". 

Anyway, I think you can save a lot of money on buying reasonably priced basic pieces. And by adding a few carefully selected pieces that really speak to you,  you can create a great looking room that is uniquely yours!

What do y'all think? 

xo Lea Hart

26 March 2013

design: chic & cheap home goods lines

Really great inexpensive design is more available than ever! I've come across a few great resources lately. Did you know Jonathan Adler did a super fun collection for JC Penny? Yes, you read that right, I said JC Penny... check out Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler. Here are a few of my faves from that line
Wood Triangle Floor Lamp
Lacquer Coffee Table
Greek Key Tray
Glass Globe Light
Ceramic Cube

Bleeker Four Poster Bed

I think everybody knows Target is a great source for good design. Their specialty Shops are so great for more unique regional collections. Too by Blu Dot is fun and mod

Platten Dining Table/Desk

Plop Counter Stool

Quad Console Table
Fix Salad Plates

The Threshold line is another winner. I think these new pieces are pretty great

Brass Hurricanes
End Table with Woven Top
Brass Animals

These are just a few of the places I look for high style on a low budget.  Overstock, West Elm, World Market, CB2, and Crate and Barrel are other retailers I always check out. A few tips for buying mass produced goods...
- I like to see if I can go to the store and look and touch the quality of the pieces
- I generally stay away from using store bought pillows and window treatments, that is usually where I inject some custom items so its not all off the rack and I think it elevates the design. 
- I always prefer original art, its adds so much soul and there are really affordable options out there.

I'll show y'all how I mix custom and retail to achieve a unique look... perhaps tomorrow :)

xo Lea Hart

ps- what did y'all think of my Kitchen reno? 

25 March 2013

design: the kitchen reveal

Ok so y'all saw what the kitchen looked when we moved in... and yeah... it left a lot to be desired.  Here is what it looks like now!

Looking good, riiight?! I love it, especially the arabesque tile from the Mosaic Tile Company. It's on Overstock now!

We have plenty of room for glasses, cookbooks, coffee and a microwave (that I never use) in this corner. 

Hi Dizzy!  He is on a moveable storage cart infront of the built in ironing board. I'd like to make that a pantry one day...

Here is the back door, and we hung a cool piece by Jen Adger, its of the Alabama Capital.  The colors look great! I painted the Kitchen Benjamim Moore Color Stories Sagebrush.  The description for this color starts with, "Wind whips through the New Mexican desert..." so yeah, I knew this was the color for us :)

The only existing cabinet has this little shelf just below, which is perfect for coffe cups and my sugar and creamer. I gotta have the coffee stuff easily to get to- I'm grumpy before my first cup.

I decided to to with a more "cottage-y' style for the cosmetic updates. I personally would have preferred more modern finishes, but were weren't changing anything else in the room and the cottage look seemed like it would work best with everything existing. We went to Ikea and worked with their kitchen "specialists" I have a really good idea of what would fit since I'd already worked up a scaled floor plan like this.

I used Sketch Up. Its pretty easy to learn and is an invaluable tool that I use for all of my projects. I would absolutely recommend doing a little research into the specifications of the components you want to use in you kitchen and drawing up plans first before visiting a retail cabinet manufacturer. The sales people at Ikea were nice and all, but they didn't really know their stuff... 
*also triple check the print out their computer system generates!!! We had to make 2 additional trips because of mess ups on their part. They were really nice about it and gave us a discount- but it was a hassle*

Because I had drawings I knew I would be able to do things like squeeze in the cabinet beside the stove and a small one next to the fridge. I also got creative with a few of the cabinets, for example

this cabinet is really a specialized wall cabinet. So we raised it up to match the height of the other base cabinets and even though its not as deep as the other cabinets, since its right next to the refrigerator, you can't tell! It's perfect for storing little things, in ours we have wine and tea.  

We were able to just fit in this pull out cabinet next to the stove, too. Its so great to have the extra storage, and it finishes off the counter nicely. I think it looks way better than walking into the side of the stove.  We keep all of our cooking utensils and all of the pet food in here. Its also really nice to have a little counter top on both sides when cooking. 
The rest of the cabinets that we used are just the standard base cabinets. We used one large corner cabinet, which holds all the pots and pans, large mixing bowls, small appliances, pretty much everything. This guy is the work horse of the kitchen. 

We also have one single wide cabinet, and two double cabinets. One of the double cabinets houses the biggest sink we could fit along with cleaning supplies and the trash underneath and then the other double cabinet to the left of the sink was retro fitted to open the other direction and is a large storage cavity. Its hard to access it completely, but its awesome storage for things we don't use often. 

I selected this faucet and these cabinet pulls. We went with the oak counter tops, I'm still on the fence about them as they aren't the most impervious substance... but they look nice and are "good enough for at least the next 5 years" which was our biggest factor for determining if anything was worth the splurge or not. 
We left the one existing cabinet in place, for a couple of reasons: we needed additional closed storage and it was built into the ceiling where it dropped and we didn't feel like creating even more challenges to work around. It is painted out the color of the other shelves and trim and serves our needs as the pantry. 

I designed the simple open shelving to use in place of additional new cabinets. We love them, I love the look and M likes them because they make clean up a breeze. One other major factor that helped me decide to do shelves was the fact the we have that lowered ceiling by the stove and for the bottom of the cabinet to be high enough above the stove to be to code would have meant that they would have been 6" H cabinets... so shelves it is. I keep everyday dishes and serving platters up there and it really works great. There is some grease from the stove, but I rinse off everything before using it anyway, so for me its not a huge deal. 

So there she is, my cute functional cottage kitchen on a crazy tight budget. 

There are three more items on the 
Kitchen TO DO  list:
- roman shades in a fun fabric 
- new lighting (I have no idea on this one... suggestions welcome!!!)
- paint the floors, something like this?

or this? I'm really digging the ones with a geometric pattern... 

OK, so what you you guys think?!?!? I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions! If you'd like more details about specifics- just email me at thecasapino@gmail.com

xo Lea Hart

22 March 2013

designed: my kitchen inspiration

The room that has seen the biggest transformation is the Kitchen. Its was old, outdated, poorly laid out and didn't have a dishwasher. I knew that it had to be updated to be livable for us, but we had an extremely tight budget. The main reason we didn't want to spend a lot of money is that in order to make the space a really great kitchen we would have had to undergo a major renovation to expand the space a few feet at least.  We may do that at some point, but it would probably involve us adding on upstairs, too. And we just weren't ready for that just yet. Because we decided this update was going to make the Kitchen "good enough for the next 5 years or so" we opted for Ikea cabinets and to keep most of the appliances because they were still in decent condition. 
The room now is just under 120 square feet and its full of design challenges. I snapped a few pictures with my phone the day after we moved in, don't mind the mess...

One issue was the ceiling and its two different heights. The lower part of the ceiling is where we planned to move the stove. So that meant we would lose the low overhead cabinets. It was a major concern because the storage space was already pretty limited. 

Another issue is that one whole wall in this tiny space is totally unusable. It has the back door, stairs up to the second level, a built in ironing board, and a radiator.

The space was so under utilized, and it was barely a kitchen one person could cook in, much less two. Here are a few of my inspiration pictures...  

I'll be back on Monday to talk about the space planning and show you pictures of the 95% finished space! It's a really great transformation. 

And since its Friday,  how about a fun cocktail to try out over the weekend? How yummy does this Satsuma & Pomegranate Campari look? I'll be mixing one up in my new kitchen, y'all! 

 via the Casa Pino  

xo Lea Hart