Friday, November 14, 2014

Estate Sale Treasure Hunt

One of the best things about living by Larchmont Village is the gorgeous neighborhood of mansions in Hancock Park. Just about any Sunday of the month, you can drive around and find signs pointing you to an estate sale.

These sales aren't your regular run-of-the-mill yard sales with castoff Ikea furniture and old VHS copies of The Money Pit. Since the hood has been historically ritzy (read: rich people live here), there's plenty of rich people stuff: antiques, collectibles, nice furniture...meaning it's score-central for treasure-hunters like me. I recently wandered into a neighbor's estate sale and found some of these delectable goodies:

This tall Shaker-ish ladder-back antique farm chair:

A chair for Yao Ming
And this cool leather tufted Chesterfield sofa.

This thing looks like a turn-of-the-century torture device...

I would've loved to take home this gorgeous Chippendale-style bamboo chair and repainted/reupholstered the seat cushion...but I'm outta space!

I would've liked to have done something along the lines of Jonathan Adler...

Speaking of Chinese Chippendale chairs, almost every estate sale I walk into has a ton of Chinoiserie. Dunno what's up with that...except maybe it's a thing that rich old people like. At least it's pretty to look at...
Like this blue and white floor vase (sold in a pair):

...these Asian tchotchkes:

Even these cool Louis XV French armchairs have...yep, you guessed it, little Chinese people embroidered on them.

Of course, one of my fave things about going to an estate sale is getting a peek into the houses of the rich and famous (in LA, it's not impossible)...

Antique iron twin beds for the creepiest of twins
 This weird dog painting is the only thing I regret not buying.

Well, that and this random magazine cover of Hillary Rodham Clinton dressed as a dominatrix. Don't ask.

Overall, lots of good stuff but I left empty-handed. Onto the next!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nature By Design: The Atlanta Botanical Garden

In Atlanta, I've been living close to Piedmont Park, home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. So on another day off, I took a solo stroll after breakfast and went for a 3-hour adventure through the lush and verdant grounds of this plant mecca.

The outdoor gardens have these giant plant sculptures, which are...well, weird.

Plant of the Apes?
Giant plant dog
Ummmm...okay. Moving on. I was pretty hungry by the time I got to the edible gardens. Here's a vertical herb garden, which was watered by an intricate vertical irrigation system that would drip through all the plants from top to bottom to reduce water waste.

Wait, you mean tea doesn't come from Starbucks?

But by far, my favorite was the Fuqua Orchid Center. It was basically a magical wonderland of weird and gorgeous orchids way beyond your regular ol' Trader Joe's phalaenopsis orchids.

Look at these cupcakes: 

Next to the orchid display greenhouse was the high elevation house, which showcased the diversity of plants in the Cloud Forest of the Andes Mountains in South America. Did I just make that up? No, but I wish I did. 

Check out these rare pitcher plants, which are carnivorous and eat insects and flies. I need ones of these guys in our house. Although I wonder if they have a taste for curious felines...

They also housed cool stuff like this curare plant, which is used for anesthesia and muscle relaxants during surgeries as well as a paralyzing dart poison by some indigenous tribes in the Amazon.


But let's get back to design, shall we? Check out these graphic prints that occur organically in nature, and the pops of color. On leaves, petals, flowers... Design inspiration is everywhere!

Love the graphic pop of white stem against the rich dark green....

These above two leaf patterns remind me of the Marimekko print and the general plant-motif we have hanging in our dining nook.

This plant reminds me a little of animal print...

...which, if used in the right way, is a great way to liven up a room and give it a little flair...

Image from   
Design & image from Charles Spada
This orchid is pretty, but it was the white against dark green polka dot leaves that caught my eye...
She wore an itsy bity teeny weeny petal polka dot leafy...
 ...a motif that would make for some cool walls on a nursery or kids' room.

And look at the balls of this flower, pairing pink/purple with green!

Check out the similar contrast pairing in Chrissis & Company Interiors' usage of pink against the 2013 color of the year, emerald green.

Yup. Mother Nature is a design trailblazer.

These little guys, who provided the soundtrack to the rain forest greenhouse, agree.

To top it all off, I ended my trip with a stroll through the skies in the Storza Woods tree canopy, 40 feet above the ground.

...and ended by communing with a 25-foot-tall Earth Goddess.

Got back to my hotel room just in time to witness a thunderstorm...from indoors.

Thank you, Mother Nature!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Atlanta Historical House Tour: Smith Family Farm (Part 2)

Continuing on from the Swan House, my 7th grade BFF and I continued onto the Smith Family Farm, also part of the Atlanta History Center. Built in the 1840s, the Smith Family Farm is a relic from the Civil War that was spared from destruction and fires during wartime. It provides us a glimpse of what a Civil War-era farm in the South looked like. Compared to the Swan House, this was stark and spare and even a little more modern-seeming in its minimalism.

Inside, some pretty gorgeous French blue china:

An old-timey shopping list...

Honey, don't forget the 4 bales of cotton and the 40 pounds of butter!
 A desk with slots for money to buy said 40 pounds of butter...

Cotton from the fields...

and a loom to weave the cotton into tapestries...

The bedroom was what we might call minimalist rustic by today's standards...

Compare that to this sort of thing today...

They even had actors playing characters from time period, which felt super weird and uncomfortable to me (see more on this below)...

Not to mention creepy dolls to add a cherry on top of that weirdness sundae.

Yike-o jike-o's!
Here's the guest quarters...couldn't you see that rag rug selling at Anthropologie for like $150?

Oh here we go. This one used to be for sale at Urban Outfitters:

The kitchen was housed in an entirely separate building to prevent fires. Herbs, chilis, and garlic hung from the ceiling to dry. There was also a smoke house to preserve meats (it was too dark to take a picture).

Last but certainly not least, my favorite part, THE SHEEP!

I forgot this guy's name.


His name was Maurice or something, and he was only four months old!
Lastly, this trip reminded me of a brilliant web series, "Ask a Slave." It's based on real questions that were asked by visitors at George Washington's Mount Vernon while actress Azie Mira Dungey worked there as a living history character. Check it out below: