Tuesday, February 25, 2014


For the latest posts, please head over here! Not done yet, pictures not in the right places, but we are blogging through the mess.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Works? What Went Wrong?

It's a 5W post! (What Works? What Went Wrong? ) Hopefully, a series, to deconstruct what works, or what went wrong in a design. Please ask questions! 
So in my annual fit of post-holiday pickup, I like to take down the holiday decor and leave a surface bare for a little while. Here is a Before shot, of a dresser in our dining room. This is the only place in the house where the original burnt adobe is visible and I LOVE the texture. The dresser was my mom's. The 1930's lamp was my great-grandmother's and the photos of Chihuly glass were taken by my brother in law. (I love that the forms of the glass are sort of cacti-like.) I thought these pieces were the non-negotiable base. 

I dusted and peeked in the left top junk drawer. Egad. Kiddie music on cassette? My son just graduated from college. I think I can toss those now. Now all the fancy napkins and napkin rings are in this drawer. Tablecloths in the big drawers. Makes perfect sense in the dining room. Except that I RARELY use tablecloths. So maybe a purge is in order...but another day.

Next, I go to my Stuff Closet. Ok. I will admit it. Closets! Bins! Soon I will be selling some of my treasures on Etsy. Stay tuned... I love this thrifted painting. The colors are gorgeous. It is unframed, but I like it that way. This is my inspiration item. I will work everything else around her.

Here are some other thrifted items I gathered up. I looked for color that might go with the painting. A range of big and small items. I like the IDEA of the round black try. But in reality it is too much the same size as the painting, and raising up one or the other on a pedestal would break into the line of the hanging photos. So the tray is out. 

Next, I place a few of the larger items. Try to establish a base structure. You will notice the lamp is out. It just was too shiny, too white. The color in the painting was playing so nicely with the color in the photos. I decided to emphasize that. You will notice that even though the items so far are different colors and shapes, they all have similar heft. They have strong lines and are opaque. The glass pieces from above faded against the adobe wall. So they were out.

I LOVE how both the ladies have similar bun hairstyles. Little things like that make me very happy and contribute to the "rightness" of the combination to me. Not sure where the lady in the sculpture hails from. She looks vaguely asian, but I don't know! No signature. Very heavy stoneware. Maybe she is famous? Maybe not. She is fabulous regardless. 

So the arrangement was feeling a little small. I moved in a mounted piece of wood Oh my! I loved how the wood was tying into the grain on the orange topped box that the sculpture is sitting on. The wood texture is contrasting nicely with the smooth pottery and bridging the gap between the texture of the wall and the colored objects. Keeper! I had a few strands of African recycled glass beads in another room, and since the girl in the painting is wearing lots of jewelry, I thought they tied in well. Colors blended. The glass is rough, but colorful, again bridging between smooth pottery and textured wall. The teal tackle box is a gorgeous shade. Even though it isn't pottery it has a similar sheen and heft. The long horizontal shape  is a nice contrast to the round vases. 

Maybe it needs something vertical in the tallest vase? I went out and clipped some interesting branches from a lime tree that has been growing from the root stock. Horrible spines, but cool shapes. Ouch. Nope. Looks a bit like a sad Christmas tree. 

And the taupe vase, though I like the neutral color, is too fat at too much the same height as the yellow pitcher. What does it look like out?

Oooooo. Better! It gives a little breathing room and you can see the box better. I also tried some fountain grass from outside. The soft feathery-ness is nice against the wall. (Something organic is always a good bet. Flowers or a houseplant, twigs or a nest. The more random shapes add complexity.) The purple tones in the grass are tying into the small strand of purple beads. And look! I tried hanging my squash blossom necklace with the beads, and I like it. A little southwest, but hey, we are in Tucson. Always experiment with your ideas. Makes it more fun, more original and more personal. 

A little closer to see color and beads. Yum.

Here is the long shot. Fireplace is just to the left, so the logs on the floor play visually with the log elevated to art. Love that. 

Here are some overlaid triangles to help illustrate why the layout is working. First the large yellow overall triangle. The display reinforces the line created between the frames and the dresser. The items angle in as they move forward, and the tall items keep the eye moving between the frames and the dresser. Without the grass and the wood, there would be dead space between. The smaller orange triangle highlights the asymmetrical arrangement of the grouping which helps to keep it visually exciting. One can keep layering triangles as you look closer. Color and material and texture and weight are all repeated. All of these components make it a cohesive grouping. I know when I am done, when I look and say "ah, yes." There isn't anything sticking out and yelling at me. Is that just me? Do you have a similar point of satisfaction?

Next, I take all the items that got me excited (but I didn't use here) and try them again on the next surface that needs an update!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Make New Pet Toys from Thrift Store Supplies

Meet Talulah, our newest family member!

Like many new dog owners, I am smitten. She is a wonderful companion, and I am always picking up new toys for her to enjoy. Of course, she doesn't care what the toys are like, she would be happy with an old sock! I do not want her to think my socks are hers, so I decided to try to create some new playthings for her using materials gathered at 1st Rate 2nd Hand Thrift Store. Please always supervise your pooch while playing with toys and take it away if it starts to come apart to keep her from ingesting anything bad for her. 

I first started with the yellow octopus toy. Cut a square of tee shirt fabric. If you have a big dog and need to use a large tennis ball, use an XL tee or a jersey skirt. I used a baby dog-toy tennis ball, and a fairly small adult tee. 

Remember your high school Geometry? Circumference = Diameter x Pi? Translation? The center uncut portion needs to be a smidge over three times as big as your tennis ball in order to reach all the way around...I used this coaster to estimate my cutting line
Now, simply cut from the edge to the center circle, first dividing the square into fourths and then cut each fourth in half to create eighths.(Illustrated above in red) THEN cut each eighth into thirds. (the blue lines show just one section cut) Don't worry about perfection. The section size and the straightness of the cuts all disappear in the end product. Wrap the center portion around a tennis ball and tie the neck with a strip of tee shirt yarn (see link below) or strong ribbon/string and knot it well. 

Start braiding! Select three strands (it doesn't matter too terribly much that each braid is actually made up of the original three sections. Just try to make it look neat at the neck.) and braid them tightly, knotting at the end with your tee shirt yarn. Cut the ends to make them look flush. You can sew the ends just above the knot if you have a vigorous chewer. Ta Da! A fun chew toy! My little tennis balls squeek...but next time Lou pulls a squeeker out, I will reuse the ball in an Octopus to extend its life. 

Tee Shirt yarn is so easy to make! Here is a link that describes it well. (but if you don't like this one, Google it, to find another bloggers version or a Youtube video.) It will just take a tee shirt with minimal graphics and a pair of scissors, and about 5 minutes and POOF! Yarn for all sorts of craft ideas. Essentially, you are cutting the tee side to side in a spiral to create continuous yarn. (Screen printed ink/paint doesn't stretch the same way the plain jersey does. Plus it might flake off in your pup's mouth. Eww. Just make your first cut below the graphics and you are all set.) You can also just cut shorter lengths. For the black and white striped bits on the Octopus, I had to cut the tee vertically so the stripes would be horizontal, so all I have are pieces about 18" long, which is all I needed. 

The black and pink toy is simply a lanyard or paracord square box knot. You may have made keychains this way back in summer camp. Here is a good photo tutorial for the knot, there are also videos out there if you prefer them. My hot tip, is to do the first box as normal and then TURN THE WHOLE THING UPSIDE DOWN, and work the second box over what used to be the bottom.  This way, you will have a finished box on the outside end when you are done. For my toy, I used two pieces of each color, each strand about 6 feet long. I then worked with each color as if it was only one strand. This just fattened up the finished project. I added a tassel on one end and clipped the knot short. (Mostly because I hadn't developed my Hot Tip yet, and the bottom was a bit loosey-goosey. Had I flipped it like I suggest to you, I might have added a tassel on the knot end instead. Experiment. What do you prefer? 

Next up, I made the Tug of War tie toy. Simply cut two slices in a tennis ball. (Maybe your dog did that for you already?) I inserted the folded middle of the men's tie through the slices. I used a ruler to push it through the ball. Then just added some knots. Talulah still has some sharp puppy teeth and sometimes misses the toy and that hurts. So I wanted a large loop so we can hold on far away from her mouth...but there is no wrong here. If you want a longer toy, use the tie without doubling and try two tennis balls. Live dangerously. Innovate! 

I call the striped circle toy The Virus. That was an inadvertent resemblance... Made with two circles of wool sweater that had been washed in hot water.  You could also use fabric store felt or an older fleece blanket or even a sweatshirt. The "tags" are Talulah's favorite thing to chew on. They are made with seam binding, from the thrift store. I made them loops, that go all the way through the circle. This way each one is sewn twice, on each side of the circle, perhaps making it harder for her to pull it out. Time will tell. I sewed once around to secure the tags. Added a slightly crumpled flat piece of cellophane gift wrap, and put the top on, sewing on top of my first stitch line. The internet says you can use a washed chip bag too. (I would cut the bag open to minimize the chance of suffocation should your dog get inside the toy. But I may be a little overprotective. (...my kids would say "MAYBE??") The cellophane makes a great crinkly noise that dogs and babies love. 

Finally, Lou got a little Collar Corsage for her TV debut, made out of felted sweaters. I used a bit of non-toxic glue to hold the pieces in place while I sewed them on my machine. I backed it with another circle of felt that has little slices in in for her collar to go through. So cute!

Here she is on tv!

Tucson Home Design Trends for 2014

This article by me, was published in the Arizona Jewish Post on January 3rd 2014
Written for a specific demographic,(who may not be up on the latest Pinterest boards) I tried to generally capture where home design in Tucson is headed right now.  This was a tough assignment, given just a few days before Christmas and due the day after. Whew! Do you agree? Do you see other large trends? 

As the last calendar page falls away, and the urge to make New Year’s resolutions emerges full force, it’s nice to move forward with a clean slate. Away go the holiday decorations and extra calorie-laden snacks and home go the relatives. Suddenly, the house is emptier and we may notice that old (fill in the blank) looks really tired. Is it time to redecorate? Let’s look ahead toward new ideas for home in Tucson.
Vintage brass pieces look fresh again. Left, 1980s brass vase by J. Johnston. Right, mid-century candlestick by Ben Seibel (Jenni Steinberg Pagano)
Vintage brass pieces look fresh again. Left, 1980s brass vase by J. Johnston. Right, mid-century candlestick by Ben Seibel (Jenni Steinberg Pagano)
I am not a big follower of trends, believing that everyone should have a home that suits their aesthetic, not that of a fickle design magazine. That being said, however, there are national, perhaps global, mood changes. In my opinion, authenticity is at the heart of what we are trying to achieve now. We crave honest, natural and casual materials. The economy’s recent rise and fall has shown us that bigger, newer and shinier isn't necessarily better. At home, this translates into a preference for more subtle oil-finished woods rather than glossy lacquered wood veneer. Faux finishes are not as popular as they were, and metals are appreciated as is, without needing southwest designs punched in them. The DIY (do it yourself) movement has reached mainstream proportions and the aesthetic of handmade has never been more popular.
Earth-saving materials and technology will continue to grow and become more ubiquitous. So if you want your home improvements to stand the test of time, be sure to check out faucets that save water, counters that are made with recycled products and floors made from sustainable resources. I don’t believe concrete floors will ever fall out of favor here in Tucson. Granite counters imported from across the globe are not the be-all and end-all anymore, and especially the highly patterned ones are becoming less desired. Durable counters made with recycled glass are gorgeous and chic.
Regardless of style, many interiors seen today are fairly neutral, with lots of wood tones and just a pop of color. While I am by no means afraid of color (in the ’90s I had a red sofa and purple chairs against a lime green wall), I have toned down my use of color lately, as I seem to prefer a calmer environment. Orange accents are my favorite color du jour. One can use a bright tangerine or a subtle terra cotta; both work in our desert homes. Need color inspiration? Just walk outside! There are gorgeous greens in the agave and palo verdes, and desert flowers abound with color. If brights are not your favorites, then add grayed or browned versions of color. Pastel peach is not the only way to go.
Wallpapers are really gathering attention as accents. But please use them in small doses. No need to do every room. Try a wall of gorgeous pattern in a hallway or something subtle in a powder room. For the most stylish look, avoid border prints or small patterns. Take a deep breath and go big!
Industrial style is here for the long haul. Epitomized by rustic finishes and a warehouse-like simplicity, this is the look you see in many of the new hip downtown spaces. This leads to an eclectic decorating style, because you just aren’t going to find a “warehouse style” sofa. Leather works well and gives warmth to an industrial look. I prefer my leather in natural tones. Slipcovered upholstery is also still going strong. The draped look of slipcovered furniture warms up raw woods and metals to balance out rustic finishes. A surprise source for cool accessory pieces can be hardware stores. Try a workhorse stool in the kitchen or a tool box to store your treasures.
If your home is what I call “Phoenix Tuscan” style, you may find yourself wanting to brighten it up a bit. The burgundy accents you added a decade ago may be feeling a little heavy and formal. Try adding white into the mix. Wood and white, leather and white, stone and white, linen and white all look very fresh now, even in a traditional style. Instead of brocade fabrics, try an ethnic textile. Take out some of the “faux” finishes for something simpler and you may find yourself falling in love with your living room again.
The affair with mid-century modern styles continues. I like to keep it eclectic. (I am just not disciplined enough to maintain a sparse modern aesthetic.) Finding vintage pieces secondhand is authentic and less expensive. A mid-century walnut sideboard in the dining room along with a bright painted table and new metal chairs feels just right to me now. Tucson has a large supply of houses built in the ’50s and ’60s and those homes are a natural fit for mid-century style. It is a little harder to pull off in the larger spaces of the ’90s tract homes. If you are having that trouble, try going LARGE. Add a new big sofa or a huge piece of art to help balance the smaller ’50s-era pieces.
I thought that the shabby chic look was going to die with the popularity of modern. But with the advent of chalk or plaster paint, the look of painted, slightly distressed furniture is staying with us. Honestly, it is a very appropriate look for Tucson. Look back in the AJP archives here  for a tutorial on this great technique. Finished with a coat of wax, the paint is very durable and easy to do yourself. No need to keep the shabby look only in whites and pastels. Tucson homes can handle the bright barrio colors with style.
Though the popularity of industrial looks is going to keep stainless steel and nickel finishes around for a bit, brass is back. To keep if from feeling too ’80s, use it in small doses. A few furniture knobs, a candlestick or two or a couple of accessories. Perhaps a gorgeous brass faucet in a mostly gray and white space. Avoid overly polished pieces unless your house is very urbane and elegant. (That leggy neoclassical look I see in many magazines looks fabulous in New York City or the South where the architecture is more traditional. Here, it looks to me like someone moved all their belongings from elsewhere.) For Tucson, I like brass pieces that are clearly modern in shape, or pieces that are quite tarnished and industrial.
An old typewriter stand (“before,” at left, and in progress with imitation gold leaf) will make a handy bar cart.
An old typewriter stand (“before,” at left, and in progress with imitation gold leaf) will make a handy bar cart.
h&g_gold-leaf-in-progress-for-wI love to “confuse” things; mix high and low all at once. I have a few wonderful old typewriter stands that are useful little tables to have around. The one pictured here was painted when I got it, and the rusty red paint will make a wonderful base coat for gold leaf. I think I will use this as a portable bar cart. I love the mix of office/industrial in a finish usually reserved for high end furniture or carved antiques. For a metal leaf tutorial, go here.
If brass is not your cup of tea, try copper! Arizona is a big producer of copper, and it will always look appropriate in our homes. Try sheet copper for a kitchen backsplash, or a vintage copper tub to hold your copy of the Arizona Jewish Post before it is time to take out the recycling.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


So much has happened, and yet I find myself here again, in the exact spot I was three years ago. I just reread my introduction post Genesis, and find the words could be written today!

I am again here to build Riveted online, in the hopes of germinating a brick and mortar store. The vision hasn't changed, perhaps just gotten clearer and sharper in the intervening years.   I still see an industrial modern look. "Desert, Modern, Vintage, Industrial" 

In the years since my initial post, Pinterest happened. Love it!  Makes it so easy to keep a record (with backlinks) of this we adore. Allowed me to throw out most of my decades old magazine image files. If we do a project together, we can create a board the whole team can add to. 

The last two years have been spent managing a non-profit thrift store, so I have lots of hands on retail and management experience.  I am proud of my work there, and discovered I really am a leader and can direct a team and inspire them to work hard, while enjoying the process. But Riveted was pulling at me like an insistent toddler. With the board of directors blessings and support, I set off to pursue my own vision. I will continue to present projects made out of thrift store finds, on the store's behalf, on Tucson's local morning talk show, The Morning Blend. You will see some of those projects here.

Two years of intense full time work left many home projects undone. I hope to document their completion here as well. (am I the only one without a headboard??) Want interior design guidance project management of your own? Let's work together!  Perhaps you will let me share your progress here too.

I know there are some broken links in the old posts. If I can re-find the products mentioned, and will re-link them. or we will just find new things to love!

Let's get going!!