Proof That Cute Florals Can Work

Posted 25 August 2010 at 9:47 PM | Comments (1)

I’m picky when it comes to florals. I can like just about anything, but I definitely won’t buy just about anything. If it’s too funky, too cute, too retro, too modern—I’m usually not interested. I tend to prefer floral designs that are classic but undeniably graphic.

That’s why I was surprised by my unmitigated delight at this Serena & Lily master bedroom. The floral headboard—which is essentially the room’s focal point—may be a little “too” funky and cute, but it works brilliantly, because nothing else in the room is. Everything else is crisp, stark, classic, traditional, or eclectic: crisp white sheets, stark white walls, classic black moldings, traditional trellis patterns, and eclectic accessories.

Serena & Lily Bold and Graphic Master Bedroom

The designer has done an amazing job of making a cute floral look edgy and interesting. I’d take one of everything!

Design Cheat

Posted 24 August 2010 at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)

It’s embarrassing to admit that I have resorted to using free and available art online. Don’t sue me! I’ll explain.

When someone comes to me for a pro-bono project with a very quick turnaround—like, “Hey, can you get it to me in a couple of hours?”— I only think about it for a couple of minutes before I start scouring for zero-cost, royalty-free stock images.

In this case, I must have done a search for something like youth silhouettes and retro background. Then I did my best to cut and crop the images so they didn’t scream, “Stock image!” or, more importantly, “Cheater!”

Fellowship Gathering Digital Invitation

Fur What

Posted 23 August 2010 at 5:09 PM | Comments (2)

When Fall Fashion Week rolled around earlier this year, I was really surprised to see so much fur on the runway. Fur coats, fur vests, fur-trimmed boots—fur was everywhere. According to an article I read in The New York Times, almost two-thirds of designers in the New York shows used fur in their collections.

With environmental consciousness raised worldwide, I honestly thought the days of using fur were—except for a handful of exceptions—mostly over. But after reflecting on my own relationship with fashion, I realized my judgment wasn’t that fair. After all, I know that my “fast fashion” purchases from Forever 21 and H&M aren’t exactly responsible. The clothes are usually made from less than earth-friendly materials; we throw out tons of cheap clothes every year; the textile factories constantly churning out those clothes waste so much water, and the women and children working at those factories are often treated like slaves. Nope, I’m not one to talk about fur, or judge the people who design and buy it.

So I can’t help but wonder—why is it so easy for us to harp on the people buying fur but so hard for us to look at our own irresponsible purchases? I wonder if it has something to do with those buying fur having greater financial means. Maybe we expect wealthy people to be more responsible, because they have more choices, and we forgive people with less, because their choices are limited?

That argument is sort of ridiculous, though, because it means nothing ever really changes. Animal rights activists may get busier this year, and in a couple of years, their influence may mean we may see less fur on the runway, but other than that, fashion isn’t really getting more responsible. It may actually be getting less responsible. Sadie Stein wrote, “The high turnover of the collections at these stores keeps us on the lookout for the new, the fresh, all the time—and this has in turn influenced the high fashion industry, which is producing more frequently in order to satisfy our restless tastes, with similar environmental and human costs.”

It’s all very interesting… and frustrating. Because when I spend my ideal amount on an item of clothing, I’m usually making the worst possible choice for the environment. Why do I have to work so hard to make responsible purchases? And even if it was easier to make responsible purchases, would I make them? Or do I feel so entitled to own the latest trend that I’ll always make the wrong choice?

Tree (and Ladybug) Craft

Posted 21 August 2010 at 8:54 PM | Comments (0)

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about me as a graphic designer is that, since I spend so much of my time designing, illustrating, and thinking about design, I must enjoy arts and crafts. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Beyond drawing, there’s not much excitement for me in paper crafts like cutting, pasting, or scrapbooking. When people tell me about their exciting craft projects because they think I’ll be able to relate, I just nod my head and smile.

That said, having a toddler—and not having a television or car—has forced me to get crafty at times. It’s hard; I find it tedious. Draw for hours? Sure! Crafts? Uggghhh, shoot me.

Anyway, you get the point. I’m going on about this because I want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it. You may think you don’t have a creative bone in your body and that cutting and pasting with your toddler sounds like a dud afternoon, but not only can you do it, the delight on your toddler’s face will make it all worth it. I promise.

On to the craft! Okay, while my child was napping in the middle of the day, I pulled out paper and scissors (I’m not a crafter, so these things aren’t handy; I bought them the day before) and began cutting. I cut out a brown tree and a lot of green leaves. When he woke up, we, one-by-one, put glue on the back of everything and pasted them onto blue paper. It was so enjoyable for him to decide how the leaves would be arranged (though I had to gently redirect him at times, since he just wanted to stack all the leaves on top of each other).

When we were done, I pointed out an empty blue space on the left and asked what he wanted to put there. He said, “A ladybug!” So, I cut out a ladybug for him and we pasted that down, too.

The project is so bright and clean that it makes a great addition to his bedroom wall. He proudly shows it off to all our visitors.

Though I might as well be the one showing it off—I’m equally proud, if not prouder, of our accomplishment.

Tree and Ladybug Craft for Kids

Riders on the Storm

Posted 20 August 2010 at 2:59 PM | Comments (0)

Lucky included tall riding boots in its fall shoe guide, which is another reason not to feel sad that I won’t be wearing heels for a while.

So along with the leopard-print watch and military-inspired cardigan from Urban Outfitters, I also ordered a pair of tall riding boots—however, these are a variation of the trend, since they’re rain boots and made of rubber. Not exactly high fashion, I know, but since I live in a climate where winter could mean standing in two inches of rainwater, this was a practical decision.

A practical decision with style influence, of course. As always.

Fall 2010 Tall Riding Boots

Green Formal Baby Announcement

Posted 19 August 2010 at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

Rebecca and John* didn’t have any specific requests for their second child’s baby announcement, but since it would be mostly sent to John’s colleagues, we opted for formality over whimsy.

A monochromatic green palette can be strong and formal yet still friendly. To make it even friendlier, I added touches of brighter, lime green in the striped ribbon and the text. The typeface is friendlier still, the letters of Century Gothic being round and geometric, but it’s balanced by an elegant William Morris floral pattern screened behind the baby’s photo.

Green Formal Baby Announcement

*Names will always be changed.

Music Philosophy

Posted 18 August 2010 at 9:35 PM | Comments (0)

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before Mico Toledo did. He has taken two of his favorite things—music and typography—and merged them to launch the Music Philosophy project. Every week he, essentially, “designs” a popular song lyric and posts it on his website, available for download.

The designs are delightfully good, too. Below is one of my favorites.

Sondre Lerche by Mico Toledo Music Philosophy

Mercer, Mindfully Merged, and Midnight

Posted 17 August 2010 at 9:49 PM | Comments (2)

I have a particular fondness for Room&Board sofas, since the first major piece of furniture that we bought together was their 79″ Mercer sofa in celery. For that three and-a-half years before we sold it and moved overseas, that sofa was well-loved and well-worth every dime we spent on it.

When I saw Lindsay and Jeremy’s Mindfully Merged Space this morning, I was immediately swept off my feet by their inky blue sofa.

Lindsay and Jeremy's Mindfully Merged Living Room from Apartment Therapy

It’s from Room&Board, naturally—but I can’t seem to find it for sale. The closest thing I can find is the Clarke sofa.

…Which is also gorgeous, by the way. And would look amazing in front of Amy Butler’s Georgia Midnight wallpaper.

Room&Board's Clarke Sofa and Graham & Brown's Georgia Midnight Wallpaper

Simple Game Night Invitation Design

Posted 16 August 2010 at 1:53 PM | Comments (3)

When you’re designing a simple invitation, whether it’s for a birthday party, barbecue, or game night, think about the information you need to convey as a hierarchy. What’s the most important thing your friends need to know? What’s secondary? What’s least important? More often than not, the “what” and the “when” are most important, so treat that information as such.

You’ll see that, what often happens when you build your invitation hierarchically, not only do your friends find it easier to read the information, but the visual rhythm of text adds to the overall appeal of your design.

Game Night Invitation Design: Cards

Game Night Invitation Design: Tic Tac Toe

Game Night Invitation Design: Number Dice

Design Dilemma: Room About to Lose a View

Posted 15 August 2010 at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking for advice on window treatments. Her bedroom has three large windows set out like a bay window, currently with a beautiful view of green trees and a lot of sky. However, as townhouses are slated to be built next door, soon her only view will be of windows and siding. Depressing!

She asked me, “Do you have any ideas for recreating the tranquility of our current view with window treatments? I’d like to keep the room very clean and light.”

Natural Woven Shades

One option I love is natural woven shades. Besides being available in various colors, they’re also available in various grades of translucency, which means you have some control over privacy from the outside and light streaming inside.

Also, if you’ve painted the walls, carefully chosen textiles, and invested in beautiful furniture and yet your room still feels like something is missing, natural woven shades add texture and warmth and can possibly balance out your room, especially if it feels slightly stark.

Window Treatments: Natural Woven Shades

Solar Shades

A second option is solar shades. On the average, solar shades may be more expensive, but they are, in all honesty, worth it. They have UV protection, so your books, fabrics, and furniture won’t fade; they also reduce heat transfer from outdoors, so you’ll save on energy bills. They come in a variety of colors, textures, and, like natural woven shades, various grades of translucency.

Another thing I really like about solar shades is that you can continue enjoying your view, since they’re sheer. If you just don’t want to look at the neighbor’s house, however, this is probably not the right option for you.

Window Treatments: Solar Shades

Creating the Illusion of Stained Glass

A lesser-known option, especially appropriate for DIYers (i.e. not me), is painting your window to resemble stained glass. It looks much more authentic than using contact paper, because the paint holds a texture. And you can buy the paint in a kit that comes with “lead strips”—which are actually raised stickers.

I don’t know how difficult this process is, but as you can see, it really does look like stained glass.

Window Treatments: Create the Illusion of Stained Glass

Top-Down, Bottom-Up Shades

Top-down, bottom-up shades are my personal favorite option. If I wanted privacy from my neighbors but didn’t want my shades closed all the time, this is what I’d choose. And the fact that you can get them in patterned fabric, sheer linen, woven wood, and a variety of other materials makes them even more appealing.

Window Treatments: Top-Down, Bottom-Up Shades

Other Light and Airy Window Treatments

Roman shades, roller shades, and what Smith+Noble calls “horizontal illusions” are other options I like if you want to bring light in yet keep a sad view out.

Window Treatments: More Light and Airy Options

Drapery for a Bay Window

Many of the above options can still be combined with drapery (not a bad idea if you want two levels of privacy and light filtering). To leave you with this last piece of inspiration, check out how William and William have used curtains on the bay windows in their Chicago living room. Lovely.

Window Treatments: Drapery for a Bay Window