Bubbles and Light

I am really inspired by the bubble chandelier in this month’s Readymade magazine by Jean Pelle.  It has a Christian Astuguevieille vibe to it with the rope that I think is a clever touch.   It’s a $75 alternative to those who might be longing for the Lindsey Adelman bronze bubble chandelier for a mere $13,400.  Adelman’s work is spectacular, but let’s face it, not in reach for most of us.  Jean’s take is more casual, but, frankly, I like it.  If you wanted to change the cord covering to a more formal material, by all means, put your stamp on it.  If you can’t find the magazine, the step by step instructions are available on Jean Pelle’s website.  Love, love Readymade magazine, but their website is really not up to scratch….pity.


This is old hat to the mod squad, but for those just dipping a toe into the modernist waters, this is the info you want.

Flashback to 1958, Poul Henningsen’s design for the Danish company Louis Poulsen is unveiled: the PH Artichoke.  Still made today – it is stunning in copper or any of the other metal finishes you may choose from…for $7000.00.

44 years later…..enter Simon Karkov for Normann Copenhagen – another Danish designer and company.  In 2002, the award winning Norm69 is released, and froogs like us snap them up…for $110.00.  The Norm 69 is made from lamp shade foil and comes flat packed in  – you guessed it- 69 pieces.  Have no fear, the Normann Copenhagen site has a “how to” video to assist you in assembly.

Year of the Ox

Monday, January 26th is the Lunar New Year and for those, like myself, who relish joining in the celebration, finding your party supplies or other such items can be tough if you like a “less is more” modern style.  Being a bit crafty, I do like simple things that can be made to my taste such as the plum blossoms that I found on Kaboose this year, but with my own modifications. I used real branches instead of chenille stems.   Group 2 or 3 of these in a nice vessel with some moss around the bases will look festive yet minimal. Gong Hei Fat Choi!

Hold On

Renovating a stairwell? Looking to replace an old, dated railing, but custom metal fabricating isn’t an option?  How about copper plumbing pipe?  This whole rail and support materials are found at big box home stores like Lowes or Home Depot. We used 1″ diameter pipe and In these photos, the copper was “aged” with 2 shades of a faux patina found in art stores.  Seal with buffed beeswax and then you’re done.  Make sure you mount at least 2 of your supports to a stud for stability. All parts cost about $60.

Brackets Secured to Stud
Brackets Secured to Stud
Full Rail in Stairwell
Full Rail in Stairwell

Nakashima Wannabe

I’ve always dreamed of owning a Nakashima table….maybe when I win the lottery.  In the meantime, I’ll settle for a tiny knock-off found at none other than TJ Maxx.  One of my better fashion bargain stops is slowly becoming a real contender in home decor.  Most urban areas have one and it’s worth sifting through the piles of ugly floral plates to find something like this.  It adds the rustic touch to a modern setting without screaming “log cabin”.  It doesn’t have the elegantly honed legs that a real one would have, but for $35 vs. $3,500…I can live with that.  If $295-$350 sounds like a deal to you, then Pearl River has a nice option.

Another strategy is to buy a slab top from someone like Newton Woods and adding your own legs.  For example, the piece below is currently selling for $249 – plus shipping. I have also seen slab tops on e-bay for a wide range of prices – many affordable.  Classic mid century turned legs or retro metal hairpin legs would make your table a showstopper.

E-bay, Sweat and Patience

NOTE:  This renovation was done in our last house and completed about 3 months before we found out we were getting transferred and moving. So, unfortunately, I can’t take any more pics! We got such good feedback on it that we decided to include it here anyway.  Apologies for photo quality.

It was time to redo the bathroom, so of course I start looking for ways to trim the budget so this can actually happen.  How much do I love Kohler’s Purist series wall mount faucets, but at $500 each (I needed 2) that was eating a lot into my budget  -  I had to replace the countertop, sinks, mirrors and floors too!  Enter my old friend e-bay.  I found really good knock-offs for $99 each (faucets_outlet).  So the rest of the renovation now revolved around them.

My better half had been chomping at the bit for a concrete project and here was his chance.  He did a bang-up job building the form and pouring the countertop and then we had to wait a month for it to cure.  The agony!  Details on his process are in the comments below.  All told, we pulled off everything you see in the photo of the complete vanity area for about $550.  The paldao veneer for the plywood box housing the faucet connections was one of the bigger splurges at $100. The undermount sinks (scottybsports) were also purchased on e-bay for about $50 each.

Here is how my crafty counterpart describes the countertop process:

“Used Quickrete 5000 concrete. Used super plasticizer, latex additive, powder pigment (use max pigment % weight allowed for the weight of concrete, if you want dark/black color). Used 3/8 rebar around edges, tied to sheet of 1/2″ hardware cloth with wire ties. Suspended the rebar/cloth from the top of mold with wire ties until after the thumping to release air bubbles…or it would have sunk to the bottom of the concrete and you want it in the middle.

Got supplies off ebay…from seller ‘concrete-fabricator’. Superplasticizer and latex additive help reduce the amount of water needed to mix the concrete. Less water = good for the concrete mix. Do a slump test – you want to make sure the mix is the right consistency. Mixing concrete with shovel is not fun…rent a mixer.

Used a palm sander with no sandpaper/cling film to release the air bubbles. Thump long time.

When cured and unmolded, filled holes with pigment/cement slurry (same pigment % by weight to cement as main batch). Grind/polished with diamond discs and a wet grinder. Wore a contractor bag with slits cut for arms and head…dirty water gets everywhere when wet grinding.

Sealed with concrete sealer, a few coats. Then beeswaxed to a beautiful hone.”

"Before" Vanity
Form With Reinforcements
Pouring in Slurry
Poured in Form - Now We Wait
Finished Product