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Make Art! Bold Art For Your Colorful Home

I've always self-identified as a writer, rather than as an artist. Hence, I could tell you more about the Brontes than I could about the Bauhaus. But I've always loved art. Especially art in the home.


Maggie O'Neill's paintings are so pretty and feminine, but I love the fierceness of the woman in this painting. She looks like a Sun Goddess. You certainly would have to like some bold color stories to put this work on your walls.

Rtist Maggie Oneill

Art matters, and sense of possibility art provides to the world is so important. I try to let my kids be their own artists, and create what they want and not what I want it to be. I don't care that they become great artists only that they believe in their own creativity. We try to stay close to art, whether in the museum, in the street, or anywhere we come across and example of someone's self-expression.
Here are a few ways you can get closer to art:


1) Get Lydia Barry Kutko's great new book, Art Style Guide
2) Support politicians who support the arts (Obama does)
3) Check out these good organizations:
National Endowment for the Arts
Americans for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts
New York Foundation for the Arts

4) Visit your local museums! Artcylopedia.com has a treasure trove of locations in their database. Without people supporting them, they wouldn't be able to bring you the wonderful views of life that only art can provide.
Art is a nice outlet for the urge to acquire, and it goes a long way in helping you design your environment--who doesn't love a fabulous painting as the focal point of a room? If you're like me, you may be a little intimidated by the idea of buying art. Remember art doesn't have to be expensive, or even purchased. You can make lots of things into perfectly striking pieces of art right there in your very own home. Believe me, before I dreamed up the projects in my Eco Chic Home book, never would I have considered myself even verging on being an artist. But now I feel like I can actually create art--and the best kind of art for me just happens to be utilitarian objects around my home that are also aesthetically pleasing. I'm easy like that. See you later!

Curb Your Grid Addiction with a Passive House

Energy efficient home design is no longer the reserve of the yurt-dwelling earth lover--even traditional homes today have LEED details that were unusual just ten years ago. In fact, the home building industry is at the forefront of pushing what it means to be energy efficient. Even so, the average homeowner has no idea what to do When Changing A Lightbulb Just Isn't Enough (shameless plug--that's the name of my 2009 book about greening up your home.) 

What is energy efficiency anyway? Come to think of it, what is energy? How often do we think about this thing called energy--we think way more about what we need for or because of energy (food, petroleum, shoes for walking) than we do about energy itself.

Do you even understand why we need to conserve our energy consumption? Isn't it confusing that we have water everywhere, but we are told to turn off the tap. Why should I--because the Hudson River done run dry? I think more we need better information about energy--like an ad campaign. Seriously, I know those 32oz Sodas are bad for me, Mayor Bloomberg, but how about those blackouts? Maybe the energy companies don't really want us to reduce how much energy we use (Warning: Conspiracy Theory straight ahead. Just Kidding).

Let me break it down for you: Home energy is the amount of input needed to maintain the day to day living of the inhabitants of the home. It's what we need to keep the air conditioning and heating systems operational. What we use to dry our clothes, wash our bodies, keep our food cool. We need it to watch tv, turn on the lights, call our mom. Obviously we need it to use our computers, charge our iphones. Basically, we use energy for practically every single thing we do each and every day. But where does this wondrous energy come from? Do we grow it out back? Do Angels bring it down from Heaven? Does it come from a Giant at the top of a beanstalk operating some sort of magical wind turbine? Um, no. No it doesn't. We get our energy from "The Grid," a vast network of transmitters and wires which criss-cross the land to provide energy (essential and non-essential) to all of us. And, we're addicted to the grid. But we don't have to be. We have a solution--The Passive House building standard. Combining simple interior elements like insulation, air sealing, high performance windows, and exterior features like shade and sun sensitive landscaping, solar panels, compost bins, rain catchers, this approach makes reducing your energy consumption totally painless, and completely effortless (it is Passive after all). I'm game, how about you?



Pink Sparkle Studded iPhone Case

via www.etsy.com

Is this too much? I have a thing for brass studs, and the pink sparkles, well, that's a given. I would get this in a heartbeat IF I actually had an iPhone. Which I don't. Yet.

The Family Room as a Creative Multi-Use Spaces

Looking for Art Studio/Craft Room ideas, I came across some amazing spaces (I've put a few favorites on Pinterest). However, I've yet to find something that exactly matches my vision. What I want to design is a multi-purpose room where light flows through big windows, a soft cushiony floor is happily splattered with paint, and a long table provides the perfect surface for creativity.

The Art Studio Part 1


This, my friends, is the Creative Family Room. It's an art studio, craft room, and family room all rolled into one. Think about it--the Family Room is most often designed around watching t.v. but I think it should be more. Rather than banish those crafty projects to the basement, let's just make the family room a place where art happens. What do you think? Is your family room a creative space? Could it be?

*This idea board features "Blue Heron and Dancing Deer", a painting by Ellen Levine Dodd.

A Little Luxury: Cotton Towels From Japan

I just love using cloths instead of paper towels--it's so civilized. We have a stash of fabric napkins from IKEA on hand for the rather frequent water spills around our house. These are some nice Japanese cloths I snapped from the New York Gift Show a few years ago. I also adore Elsa Schiaparelli--she definitely knew the value of a good rag, no?