Friday, April 2, 2010

ALTER Alert: ReadyMade Magazine

The idea of a book club is so appealing: you find new books to read, you find new friends, and you get to sit around discussing it like the smarty-pants you know you are.

Unfortunately, so many of us are so busy that we don't have time to finish reading a Tweet, let alone a whole book! That's why I'm makin' like Oprah and starting my own book magazine club!

If you're into DIY (both the actual projects and the culture surrounding the DIY movement), you've got to be reading ReadyMade Magazine.

ReadyMade was founded in 2001 by chief editor Shoshana Berger and publisher Grace Hawthorne in Berkeley, California. It's a bi-monthly magazine that features projects in interior design and home improvement, furniture making, crafts and sewing, even metal- and wood-working.

Wine crate kitchen cabinets featured on their "Build It" section

ReadyMade also focuses on sustainability in both your projects and lifestyle. It goes hand-in-hand with their DIY message -- after all, if you're making your own things, you don't have to buy them, do you? They also have music and food features; their current issue (Issue #46) just so happens to be their food issue. Oh man, does that ginger ricotta tart with rhubarb and strawberry jam look good...

They also have blogs if you just can't wait for the next issue! Check out "Inside, Out" for their home and garden posts.

Even though a magazine is a quicker read (and it's got lots of pretty pictures), the ideas you'll get from it will keep you busy for a long time. So it's okay -- I'll forgive you if you can't come to my next magazine club meeting.

With additional information from Wikipedia and Charles & Hudson.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

B&D: Where the magic happens

You remember the show, "MTV Cribs?" How could you not? It was like old-school "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" on CRACK. The fast editing, the speeded-up walkthroughs of the houses, the insane blinged-out gadgets all those overpaid singers wasted their money on, and, of course, the catchphrase when anyone walked into their bedroom: "This is where the magic happens."

Giving you a peek into my new house has made me feel a little like I'm on my own episode of "Cribs" -- with less bling, unfortunately. But still, I'm excited to show you where "the magic happens": my studio and office!

Let me first clarify that there is PLENTY of magic goin' on in the bedroom. But let's leave that for a different blog. Today we'll see where the design magic happens.

The studio before

As you can see, the studio started out with dirty-white walls and that gawdawful flooring. Though I'm not done yet, I think It's looking a lot better with the hardwood floors and a bit o' cleaning. I still have to do some organizing within the built-ins: getting some colorful bins for my tools, rearranging my books. The walls n' windows could use some sprucing up with some artwork and window treatments, but hey, that's why this is a B&D -- it's still a work in progress!

The studio during

Another view of the studio with the doorway to the office

The office has seen some BIG improvement too, but I still have a few details to add. I'm thinking a fancy paint job in here, maybe some stenciling and/or chalkboard paint!

The office before

The office during

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter! You can become a fan of Alter here on Facebook, and you can send a Tweet my way at @altermyplace!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Q&A: Emulating Emerald City

Dear Jackie,

I need to add more color to my life! I live in a rental (with my little dog, too), and my landlord is a real witch. She won't let me paint or change the flooring, and everything feels so boring and colorless! It's all just black and white. I'm someone who loves rainbows of color! I love puttin' on my favorite pair of red heels and heading out to the city. How can I bring more color into my home?

D. Gale from Kansas

Dear D.,

Ugh, your landlord sounds awful. Someone should drop a house on her or something. Well, I'm no wizard, but I can definitely help you with your problem! There are tons of ways to add color to your place without painting, wallpapering, or putting down new carpet. You're a gal who loves shoes, so you'll understand when I say it's all about the accessories!

First off, the biggies: slipcovers, rugs, and curtains. While I wouldn't recommend getting a brightly-colored couch (as we discussed before, there's too big a risk of you changing your tastes with time), you can get a brightly-colored slipcover instead. You could also try a colorful area rug -- yes, you can put it over your existing boring carpet just fine. Finally, swap out dull blinds for bold-hued curtains. These items are large-scale and can really dictate the look of an entire room. When done well, you can almost forget that the walls themselves are hospital-white!

But there are more subtle ways of bringing the rainbow into your room using your accessories. Go for a patterned lampshade instead of a common white one. You can also take your objets d'art (vases, bowls, knickknacks) and spray paint them all the same, bright color. This works especially well when you've got several similar items whose original colors don't go together -- once they're all the same color, they can pass for a set!

And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't throw down -- with throw blankets and throw pillows, of course! Throws are probably the fastest and easiest way to introduce color to your place. They're a livingroom and bedroom staple, but they come in so many different shapes and colors the possibilities are endless. Pattern makers like Marimekko and Amy Butler are popular, but I've got another designer I'd like to recommend... ME! Yep, the ALTER line of pillows is in the works. As with everything here at ALTER, we're mixing the old and the new. We're using a lot of brightly-colored fabrics, and adding to it with things like dyed doilies, crochet flowers, sequins, fun button fasteners and unique stones... I may be biased, D., but I definitely think you should check it out when it debuts!

Well, D., I hope that helps with your color problem. Once you've brightened up your place, I'm sure you'll soon find that there's no place like home...

Pictures via Apartment Therapy: Los Angeles.