Friday File

I’ve got good news to report — my strep throat is gone! And it’s the weekend, and I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday (belatedly) with friends. Hope everyone has a great weekend too.

And now some links:


I feel strongly about overhead lights (ask my husband how much I dislike them). It delights me that David Sedaris feels the same. Seriously, this short story is lovely. I love how he describes his mother in candle light. Also, if you’ve heard Sedaris’ voice, is it possible to read a Sedaris piece in any other voice than Sedaris’? I think not.

In The Business of Fashion, Mark C. Oflaherty wonders if camera phones are killing fashion. I have to say, I agree with him mostly. I hate the crappy shots of fashion shows that appeared in my Instagram feed throughout the past month. Sure, every once in a while there’s a good image. But for the most part, the editors who attend them need a HUGE lesson in editing. Don’t post everything! And stop posting so many pictures of yourself. Seriously. It’s not just the fashion hanger-ons. Editors at major publications are just as guilty of terrible camera phone images and narcissistic selfies.

Robin Givhan examines how McQueen and Valentino have evolved since their founders left both fashion houses.

Oscar red-carpet fashion has a big economic impact on the brands who appear (or don’t appear) on celebrities. Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton break down who “won” Sunday evening. P.S. You need a subscription to read the article, but it’s free and totally worth it. Friedman is a really great critic, and I always love her analysis.

I never knew that arm knitting was a thing, but I totally want one of these “arm cowls.” They look so cozy, and who knows if winter will ever end in Chicago.

Friday File – Needing a Break

This week has been tough for the whole country, and so much tragedy takes a real toll. We need a respite from the news. There’s nothing I can say that can magically erase everything that has happened this week, but I am hoping things can turn around for all of us soon. Stay safe.

Some links from this week that can hopefully bring you a little break:

folding lamp by Issey Miyake, from Architizer Blog

Of course Issey Miyake created folding lamps made of recycled plastic. The man’s 2D to 3D-design concept cannot be contained to fashion.

I can’t believe the word fashionista has only been around for 20 years! Writer Stephen Fried coined the term in a biography of the model Gia Carangi. He was looking for a term that quickly referred to all the types of people who work in the fashion industry because he was sick of spelling out all their roles.

This article on the eight hour workday and modern capitalism really struck a chord with me. This theory that our work/life balance was designed so that we would be the ideal consumers is both disturbing and fascinating. It’s made me feel a lot more conscious of how I’m spending my spare time and my money since I read it.

Most of the time I wish they would just let old fashion design houses alone. There are too many revivals. Let the designers’ legacies stand, and don’t taint them by hiring a new designer to attempt to fill their shoes.

This is exactly how I’ve felt since it was announced that the house of Schiaparelli was going to be relaunched. Schiaparelli was an artist and extremely unique. I couldn’t imagine anyone reworking her designs and having anywhere near the same impact. But two days ago word came out that Christian Lacroix is going to design an haute couture collection for Schiaparelli. You know, I think that could actually work!

Bedroom Bones

Our bedroom continues to be a challenge. In most of the other rooms, we’ve arranged our furniture and personal affects with great success. Even with some incongruities that remain, we have plans about what changes we need to make. Hopefully I’ll get around to a home tour on the blog soon.

But the bedroom boggles my mind, and I’m not sure where to go next.

After painting over the bright teal accent wall behind our bed the beige shade of the rest of the room, things are looking much better.

We decided to supplement the lack of closet space with two Malm dressers from Ikea, which match our Malm bed frame. So far they are working better than I expected.

The problems that remain include the built-in shelves on either side of the bed. There are seven on the left side and six on the right. They aren’t deep enough for books, and while I’m sure I could buy plenty of knickknacks to fill them up, that doesn’t really fit with the clean and minimal look the furniture projects. I’m worried the room will feeling too heavy and cluttered on either side of the bed and too empty above the bed if I do fill the shelves up.

Next there’s the overhead light fixture. It’s a bit too ornate and old world for our tastes. I’m leaning toward replacing it with a globe pendant.

And then lastly, the room is uninspiring. This room is dominated by minimalist furniture. I love the minimalist look, but I’m not quite sure how to strike the right balance between simple and sterile. I’m sure the addition of art and a plant will help, but how does one decide what is the right amount?

Suggestions are appreciated. Have you done the minimalist look before? Any tips?

A Note About the New Apartment

Moving is never fun, and it seems like each sequential move gets harder. But I am happy to report the move itself is all done, finally, and we are almost unpacked.

However, it may be a little while until packing is complete. Our apartment is a bit short on storage. For instance we don’t have a closet in our bedroom (it is obvious that a man picked out our new home). So boxes will be employed for a bit longer for folded clothes until a solution can be chosen and purchased or built. We are thinking about building something like the garment rack below that I found on the blog You_Have_Broken_the_Internet.

handmade coat rack by Ryan E. Plett from You_Have_Broken_the_Internet

This apartment has a unique set of challenges other than the storage issue. The overhead lights in almost every single room are large and not to our taste (they do not blend in), nor most of the hardware here (while more subtle it does set a tone). There is a ornate, faux-vintage vibe going on, and our style is much simpler and minimal.

The apartment itself is traditional. It was built in the 1920s, and still has original crown molding, doors, and an awesome window above the back door with a nouveau-style design created out of frosted glass. I’m excited to find ways to incorporate our more simple style with the traditional space. It won’t be the easiest design dilemma to solve in all cases, but I definitely think it is possible if we take our time and make careful decisions.

And along the way, I plan to use this blog to document changes and seek your suggestions for the issues we encounter. So I hope a little interior design is something you’re interested in reading about in addition to what I already write about.

I’ve missed blogging over the past few weeks and am happy to feel more settled in order to get back to it. Thank you for giving me the time to transition to Chicago, and I’m glad you’ve come back.

Transforming Our Balcony

Ever since we moved to Fargo, we’ve had a balcony patio. In our first apartment, we overlooked a strip mall parking lot. Winter that year ran long, and we were only there until the end of July, part of which we were out of town getting married and on our honeymoon. Before that we were so occupied with finishing wedding plans that we never got around to making the patio a pleasant place to hang out.

balcony in our building, photo from HomeFinder.com

In our new apartment we face north on a residential, tree-lined street. It also has a balcony patio, and is dominated by concrete. As you can see above, I found a picture online of another condo’s balcony in our building. Need to get better about remembering to take before photos.

My husband, Travis, and I were up for the challenge of transforming our patio. We were going to make it an inviting space somehow on the cheap.

We had to start by sweeping up the dead leaves and dirt that accumulated over the winter. We already had a wood patio table and chairs, but they needed a good cleaning.

Then we spent a few hours at Home Depot, picking out plant boxes and finding a way to attach them to our railing. We found cedar boxes that match our table and chairs. Travis rigged up a way to keep them secure so they didn’t rotate with weather stripping and zip ties.

We found the cutest strip of mini-lantern lights at Target and hung them up across the space. They made everything look suddenly cheerier. Also, simple cushions made the chairs a little more comfortable.

Yesterday we went back to Home Depot. Together we picked out some pretty pink double impatients. They are supposed to do well in shade, which is good cause that’s pretty much all we get facing north. I think they look like little roses.

We covered the drainage holes in the bottom of the flower box liner with little rocks to keep the soil from washing away. Then I placed the plants equal distance apart and filled the liners with potting soil.

I gave them each a little water with the cute green watering can from Target and swept/vacuumed up the fallen dirt on the balcony.

The patio is complete and is ready for summer living.