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:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Atlanta Historical House Tour: Swan House

This week, on one of my days off from shooting, I reunited with an old BFF from 7th grade, who happened to be visiting her parents in Atlanta. Having first bonded over having the same first name and a mutual obsession for Steven King and alien abduction stories, we went on many super-fun adventures together throughout our childhood and teens (blackberry-picking, long treks through suburbia, exploring New York City, wandering the halls of the Met). 

I was super excited to embark upon some exploration of Atlanta together Now That We Are Grown! Since she's also a design enthusiast, we decided to check out the 33-acre-large Atlanta History Center, where the historical gem The Swan House is located. 

The Swan House is a perfectly preserved house built in 1928 for the Inman family, designed by Atlanta-based architect Phillip Trammell Schutze. It's basically a time capsule that allows us to see what it was like to live in some pretty fancy digs in the 1920s and '30s. 

The grand entrance has a stunning winding staircase for one to make a grand entrance Norma Desmond-style, and some classic black and white tiled floors.

The dining room was pretty stunning. The wallpaper was hand-painted Chinoiserie-style - basically the original inspiration for my lust for this type of thing in Domino Magazine and my mounted wallpaper project.

It was pretty cool to see the original thing up close...

...and personal.

 Next, Mrs. Patmore's kitchen:

As much as I love vintage, I'll stick with a modern kitchen and a sub-zero fridge, thank you very much.

No thanks.

I mean, imagine the sour milk! Blech. Upstairs, the master bedroom...

Not really my style, way too floral and dainty for modern tastes, but beautiful nonetheless.

They even had bonafide detailed touches like this vintage talcum powder tin.

The view from the top...

Back downstairs, the parlour...LOVE those mint green walls!

Doesn't it sort of remind you of Lord and Lady Grantham's walls from Downton Abbey? Down to the Persian rug!

Downton Abbey set interior

The study...a decidedly darker, more masculine feel. Lots of deep colors, wood walls, books, and serious-looking portraits. Definitely the kind of place you can discuss serious Downton matters such as who owns what farm shares, and how heirs of fortunes should spend their money.

Outdoors in the garden, some pretty statues to entertain you on a stroll with your lover...

And of course, the magnificent cascading fountain view...

Look familiar? That's 'cause it was used as a movie location for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Wanna live in a place like this someday?