Category Archives: Architecture

Solaire Chairs for my Front Entry

When I bought my house, I thought of all the wonderful Mid-Century things I could do to it. The place was built in 1961 and is begging for a retro remodel.

One of my first projects was sprucing up the front (if you look back, the area to the left of the entry was soil, with a topiary-style tree and a yellow bush). I remembered an amazing style of chair from my childhood. I didn’t know the name of the chair, but several web searches later, I found out: The Solaire.

Solaire chair

Two Solaire chairs now sit in my front entry. As luck would have it, one of the few places in the country where I found the chairs was right here in Seattle!

two Solaire Chairs

I transplanted the tree and bush to the backyard, covered the soil with weed-inhibiting fabric from the garden store, and laid down a layer of pebbles. Now I have two sunny pops of color by my front door and a place for friends to sit. The backyard is quieter and more private, but it’s nice to people watch and catch the evening sun from the front.

orange and yellow Solaire chairs

I like the story behind the chair. The Solaire was designed in 1972 by Fabio Fabiano and Michelange Panzini. It’s a terrific representation of a clean, modern design. They were popular poolside in backyards and motels across Canada and the USA. I’m proud to have a piece of Canadian design history. And in case anyone else wants them, I chained them down! But if you’re in Seattle, you can buy them at Click! Design That Fits.

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Filed under Architecture, Decor, DIY

Visiting Fallingwater

Two years ago, I traveled to Mill Run, PA with my friend Donna to visit Fallingwater, an amazing home by Frank Lloyd Wright, built for the Kaufmann family. The Kaufmanns owned a department store of the same name and liked to spend weekend in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh. Frank Lloyd Wright is probably America’s most famous architect. He designed the house and built it in the latter part of the 1930s.

Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright

I’d always wanted to visit this home. Thankfully it’s a National Historic Landmark and is safe from demolition, unlike a lot of Mid-Century Modern architecture (including other houses by Wright). Who would tear down an amazing piece of history–art you can live in?

edge of house

The multilevel home is long and linear and seems to float over the falls. Inside, it’s exquisite, yet unassuming. The ceilings are low and the rooms are open. Light floods in and it’s hard to tell where the walls stop and nature begins. That was the idea: To bring nature in and enjoy living with the falls.

fallingwater architechture collage

The Kaufmanns were world travellers. They collected art from all over the world and the decor in the house reflects their eclectic style. You might see a modern Picasso painting in one room, a 200-year-old Persian rug in another, and a 15th Century Madonna statue in yet another.

fallingwater art collage

Donna and I drove from my parent’s house in Cambridge, Ontario through Buffalo, NY and on to Pittsburgh. After a fun weekend traipsing though galleries and shopping districts, we made the two-hour drive to Fallingwater. We wandered through the house and grounds on a guided tour, snapping shot after shot of iconic art, furniture, and the architecture that we’d only read about in university. It was an amazing experience.

fallingwater interior collage

The department store is now a Macy’s, and the Kaufmanns are long gone, but their legacy, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, will live on in the woods in Mill Run, PA. If you ever get a chance to visit, you won’t regret it.

multilevel home

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Homeward Bound

new home

I finally got a house!

I’d been looking for a place on and off for over a year–I had a failed offer this past spring–and finally, I got a cool little house. It’s a three bedroom rambler with a double garage, a family room, and a great backyard for Frankie. Mr. Jean of all Trades loves it too. He’s already set up the garage so he can work on his car.

This was a one-owner home, build in 1961–that’s a long time to live in the same place! Now we have it. As my colleague, Kim, said, it’s a great place to go “all Mad-Men crazy in.” You can count on a few mid-century modern interior design posts in the near future.

The acquisition stage of home ownership is proving to be pricy: inspections, appraisals, closing costs, down payment, movers, appliances–the list goes on. So sadly, clothes purchases have been at the bottom of my list.

My offer was accepted just before I went to Boston, so I had my last hurrah there. I’ll post my Boston purchases, and then you’ll see me remix my wardrobe until the house is in order. Don’t worry though–I haven’t even showcased all of my existing clothes on this blog, so things won’t get stale. And I’ll be hosting a clothing exchange when I get settled in. Where there’s a fashion will, there’s a way.

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Boston Trolley Tour

Here are some shots from the trolley tour I took in Boston. It’s a beautiful city with a rich history.

This is Trinity Church, the only building in Boston (and only church) honored as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Trinity Church Collage

Here’s the beautiful Boston Public Library.

Boston Public Library

Some people look like they can walk on water.

walking on water

Even a non-baseball-fan like me knows about Fenway Park and The infamous Green Monster.

Fenway Park

The architecture in Boston is amazing.

Boston residences

more residences

The Massachusetts State House is recognizable by its gold dome.

MA State House

A plaque dedicated to Paul Revere, patriot in the American Revolution.

Paul Revere plaque

Custom House, a skyscraper, near the waterfront.

Custom House

One of the last remains of the elevated arterial road that used to cut through downtown. The road is underground now, thanks to a project called the Big Dig, America’s most expensive highway effort.

steel post

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Visiting Vancouver

You might remember the girls’ trip I took with my friends last year. Well, we did it again. This time we chose Vancouver, British Columbia. It was out first international trip, even though it was probably the closest we’ve stayed to home.

The first thing we did when we arrived was check out the view from our hotel. We stayed at The Westin and it was wonderful. We were steps from Stanley Park (Cheryl ran its 6-mile perimeter during the trip), and we were only a few blocks from Robson Street, a popular shopping destination.

view from the hotel

The second thing we did was find a patio and get drinks and food. I loved being able to order a rye and ginger and have the waitress know exactly what I wanted (rye whiskey–like Crown Royal–and ginger ale). The brews were local and the food was spicy. Yum.

drinks

After sustenance comes shopping. We hit Granville Street (we were saving Robson till Saturday) and looked around stores like Bedo, Plum, and Spank. We found a store that was promoting the Beagle Freedom Project in the windows display but the shop itself was closed.

Beagle Freedom Project

Boboli had a unique stone entrance. They are a high-end boutique that carries Armani, Robert Cavalli, La Perla, and more. We thought just being near such designers made us more sophisticated.

Laura, Jean, and Cheryl at Boboli

The second day of our trip was also shopping-focused (which is why Autumn chose to visit Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium–sorry Autumn!). We fought through the crowds at Brandy Melville (one of the only non-Canadian stores we visited).

Brandy Melville

We visited the oldest commercial corporation in North America: The Bay. The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in 1670, and began as a fur trading operation. The Bay, and its quintessential striped logo are part of my childhood. Cheryl was going to buy some perfume but thought it might not fit in her suitcase.

Cheryl's perfume

Laura found great things at Bedo. Cheryl wasn’t as lucky. You can see her in the background, walking back to the hotel, empty-handed.

Laura's haul

Vancouver is a true metropolis and has a great mix of old and new buildings. We enjoyed the architecture and public art. Every time I visit Vancouver I vow to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery but the weather’s always too nice to justify going indoors.

old and new buildings

We got all dolled up for dinner and an improv show. On our way out, the valet offered to take our picture. I have three posed shots, but a funny comment from a passerby cracked us up and this last, candid photo shows us looking more genuine and happy. Can you believe we didn’t plan our outfits. Total fluke.

Jean, Laura, Cheryl, and Autumn dressed for dinner

On our third day we explored more along the waterfront. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and a lot of fun. People rode bikes, picnicked, and played games. The towering condos offer a luxe life for those with a lot of money. It’s an expensive city too.

flowers

hidden

waterfront

The public art brightened up an already fabulous day.

house in the sky

lego orca

metal couple

We even stumbled across the sculpture from the 2010 Winter olympics. I remember this piece from the opening and closing ceremonies. The flame is out now but it burned for the duration of the games.

Olympic sculpture

The trip to Vancouver was so fun, but much too short. I’ll be back again soon. North Vancouver, Kitsilano, and Granville Island await.

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Shadow Shot: Miami Beach at Dusk

I’m participating in another Shadow Shot Sunday. This time, I’m showing the walk I took down Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida. Ocean Drive is part of the South Beach neighborhood. It all sounds very complicated. All you need to know it that this area is hot, gorgeous, and features a lot of amazing art deco hotels and other buildings. The structures are in original condition and boast an array of pastel colors.

This hotel is a great example of art deco style, with its geometric shapes, sharp lines, and streamlined curves.

victor

This large building is illuminated with lights. The palms add softness and remind me that I was, in fact, in the tropics.

big hotel

This building had a subtle light show. The color of the facade slowly changed from green to blue to purple to red to orange.

green lights

blue lights

I loved the corner detailing on these two buildings and the beautiful palms that adorned its entry.

palms

two homes

People kept photographing this home and I finally learned what all the fuss was about. It’s a hotel now but was once the residence of fashion designer Gianni Versace. (Sadly, he was gunned down on the steps of his home in 1997.) This is one of the most photographed homes in America.

House of Versace

As soon as the sun disappeared, beautiful, wealthy people flooded Ocean Drive. They arrived in Lamborginis and Bentleys and were ready for a night on the town. That was my cue to head home. It’s a great place but it’s hard to keep up.

Don’t forget to check out all the other blogs posts about Shadowy Shots.

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Hat ‘n’ Boots: Big shoes to fill

These boots, together with a giant cowboy hat, make up the Hat ‘n’ Boots attraction at Oxbow park in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.

boots

The Hat ‘n’ Boots were built in 1954 as part of a Western-themed gas station. The gas station is long gone. Fortunately the City of Seattle relocated the buildings/sculptures to the park to preserve them. They are the largest hat and cowboy boots in America.

Sometimes you don’t need to travel far to find interesting things. I like exploring Seattle and discovering Americana from a bygone era. On this day, we wandered though Georgetown. Georgetown is a bit gritty. It’s industrial and residential. It has a thriving artist community and good bars and restaurants. It has a blue-collar feel and is really down-to-earth. Until you see the size of their boots!

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Visiting Pike Place Market

Sometimes my husband and I pretend we’re tourists and visit popular spots on Seattle that locals often forget about and visitors frequent. Pike place is a very touristy spot, but there’s enough fresh produce to keep residents happy too.

Public market

Pike Place Market is over 100 years old and is one of the oldest continually operating public markets in the country. It’s a large expanse of a building with several levels. Flinging fish might have put Pike Place on the map, but I usually skip that section of the market (or hold my nose as I run past). The wonderful flower stalls are more interesting to me.

food and flowers

You can always count on fresh, local produce when you visit Pike Place, but there are tons of artisans too. Whether you’re looking for a watercolor paintings, ceramics, jewelry or textiles, you’ll find it here. The main arcade has rows of vendors selling their wares. Downstairs, the permanent  stores offer visitors everything from books to clothing.

The market sits on a hill overlooking Eliott Bay so it’s a great place for a photo-op. Across the water, you’ll see the shipyards, West Seattle and Alki Beach, and maybe even a passing ferry.

Elliott Bay

Seattleites are a bike-friendly bunch, and you’ll see just how many people cycle to the market when you pass by the make-shift bike racks on the railing near the market entrance.

bikes

The original Starbucks, opened in 1971, is right across from the market. It’s funny how long the lines are for an “original” brew. I can walk to at least two other Starbucks (and Seattle’s Best, Tully’s, and Peet’s, not to mention smaller shops like Cherry Street and Caffé Ladro), but this one started it all and I guess they think it’s worth the wait.

Original Starbucks

If you visit, don’t forget to walk along Post Alley. It is an alley, but it’s well-populated and safe, especially during the day. All along the alley are shops and other stops, like the Market Theater. There are restaurants too. We like to eat at The Pink Door and The Alibi Room, but there are many more places we have yet to try.

Post Alley

One of Seattle’s grossest attractions is in the alley too: The Wall of Gum. You wouldn’t think people would appreciate that, but they have their pictures taken in front of it (and contribute to it) all day long. Eww!

gum wall

Finally, enjoy the sounds of Pike Place. From a capella gospel and bluegrass to blues and ragtime, buskers around the market add to the vibrant atmosphere with their songs and antics.

jean and poster wall

Jacket: Guess via thrifted
T-shirt: Old Navy
Scarf: DIY
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity
Shoes: John Fluevog

What are the best tourist spots in your city? Do you frequent them or do you leave that for the visitors?

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Journey to the Center of the Universe

Fremont is known in these parts as the center of the universe. I used to live in this former hippy hangout. The hippy vibe might have disipated, but Weird is still a state of mind.

giant ant

In fremont, you can shop at trendy boutiques (much to the horror of the hippies, I imagine). You can wine and dine at a variety of restaurants and bars.

shops

There’s a fabulous outdoor Fremont Sunday Market where you can buy everything from food to antiques, socks to books. The indoor Fremont Vintage Market operates seven days a week. You’ll find everything from lava lamps (the originals) to roller skates in this wonderful bargain basement delight.

bike shop

Outside, you’ll find a 16′ tall statue of Vladimir Lenin. Strange but true.

Backstory: The statue was created by a Slovak Bulgarian sculptor under commission by the Soviet government. After the fall of Communism, the statue was removed from Lenin Square in Poprad, Czechoslovakia and destined for the scrap heap. A man teaching English in what was then still Czechoslovakia somehow brought the statue home to Issaquah, Washington. It ended up in Fremont, probably the only place a former Communist leader be tolerated—in bronze form or otherwise.

Another cold war relic is the salvaged rocket fuselage erected at the corner of one of my favorite shops, Burnt Sugar.

rocket

The Fremont Troll, who lives under the Aurora Bridge, is also worth a gander. This giant sculpture has a hub cap eye and has captured a real-life Volkswagon beetle under his hand.

A trip to Seattle isn’t complete without a visit to Fremont.

artsy newspaper box

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Rust and Gray and a Custom Necklace

When I went to Santa Fe, NM this past spring, I went a bit crazy with my jewelry-buying. There were so many cool artisans in New Mexico and so many unique materials and designs.

silver-wrapped stone

Two stone miners/jewelry designers working at a table at an outdoor art market made this for me on the spot. They had hundreds of stones to choose from and, after choosing one, they’d wrap it in silver “while-u-wait.” I wish I could remember the name of the stone. The guys, if you’re ever in Santa Fe, work at the tables next to the Inn at Loretto.

As a side note, Loretto is a chapel in the old part of Santa Fe. It houses a beautiful spiral staircase, to which a few miracles have been attributed. I hate to break it to you, but it looks like a case of fine carpentry and sound engineering. The only miracle I can think of is that no one fell off the staircase. It was built without a railing and one wasn’t added until ten years later.

stairs at Loretto

Anyway, skeptisism aside, after I got home, I realized the stone pendant would go nicely with my rust and gray tunic. So I wore them together with skinny jeans and ballet flats.

detail of pendant

the outfit

Top: JC Penneys
Jeans: JC Penneys
Pendant: Santa Fe street vendor
Cuff: Greenbelts
Shoes: Urban Outfitters
Bag: Nine West via thrifted

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