Floral Friday...

This post is also titled...

Feeding Flowers

- or -

Turning #1 into #2

About a week ago, I put the babies down for their nap and wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  While there, I noticed the gutter cleaner/window washer (he was working on the house next door) walk down the side yard between my house and my neighbor's.  He went past the window at the breakfast nook, but did not walk past the kitchen window (which is only 6 feet further down the side of the house.)  Hmmm.  How odd.  I couldn't see him out the kitchen window, so I walked down to the breakfast nook and looked out the window.  And what do you think I saw?  The guy was peeing on the side of my house!!!  Needless to say, this did not go over well.  Obviously, I had a few words for this gentleman and the company he worked for.  A few days later, the company sent an apologetic letter along with a $25 gift card.  My first thought was, "Would Emily Post consider this the proper compensation for urinating on someone's home?"  I checked.  She didn't include this in her etiquette book.

So what's a girl to do with $25?  Why the answer is soooo clear!  Take the pee money and go buy some poo!  So that's what we did last weekend.  I sent the dear husband and his truck up to the nursery to buy a whole bunch of garden soil mix and heaps of compost... the good stinky stuff filled with chicken manure and bat guano (among other fun organic matter.)  So thanks, window washer guy.  Our veggies and flowers have plenty to eat and, come summer, we'll have the blooms and produce to prove it.

My boys hard at work!

The first of my two new metal beds prepped and ready to go!

On a more technical note, I used a really great, locally produced 3-way soil blend mixed with some aged bark and a few different organic compost blends... E. B. Stone and Gardner & Bloome.

Happy Friday!

xoxo, k

PS.  Remember to follow us at www.inspirationbinder.com starting Monday!


Crappy Pictures!

So here's the deal.  I'm a writer, house renovator, jill-of-all-trades, and binder-maker... but I'm also a mom.  As a parent, you have your good days and bad days, but what's different about this job is that you can't just call it a day and head home.  You've got to keep on trucking because there are mouths to feed, diapers to change and books to read.

On the days where it seems we're coming apart at the seams, I turn to this woman to re-charge and start over.  It works every. single. time.  Seriously, it's some of the funniest stuff on the internet!  So since I'm having a bit of a hectic day, but didn't want to leave you hanging, I'll be sending you here for a little humor... just the kind I'm soaking in during a few precious minutes of nap time.


Diaper Changing with Crappy Pictures!

xo, k


A Naturally Clean Kitchen

When we first began the remodel of our home, the kitchen design consumed our thoughts.  Or at least it consumed mine.  :)  I think the dear husband was more focused on demo and framing changes.  In any event, I wanted something white and bright... my husband wanted something dark and masculine.  Finding neutral ground was very hard, but we could agree on a few non-negotiables.  Our kitchen had to be functional, have a balance of modern and traditional elements, and it had to somehow incorporate the white I wanted and the dark wood my husband craved.  Super simple, right?  Throughout the remodeling process, we would bounce around ideas and solidify one decision at a time, eventually coming to rest on the kitchen we have now.  I am happy to report that it is all the things we desired, but more on that later...

As I mentioned, we drew elements from various inspiring spaces and referenced The Binder almost daily.  One kitchen we found particularly inspiring was a Long Island kitchen designed by Steven Gambrel.  I had originally seen this kitchen in House Beautiful (August, 2009) and fell in love.  He does a brilliant job of creating a clean, calming space that still has plenty of character and visual interest.  I love that he isn't afraid to mix furniture styles, finishes, and lighting elements together.  In this space, he has crafted a nautical/beachy feel without it ever feeling in your face or just plain hokey.

As our house is constantly full of chaos (the boys, the pets, the remodeling!), this was a space that I gravitated toward.  It had all the calming elements I loved, but the blue stools and quirky rope light fixture kept the space from taking itself too seriously.  Even though the kitchen we have now doesn't resemble the one below, I can still see how his designs inspired us to mix finishes, forget about adhering to one design aesthetic, mix the old and the new, and create a space that isn't afraid to be lived in.  For me, that is a kitchen!

Peaking from the bar area into the kitchen

The complete space... still love everything about this space!
I scanned the back of the page just to show off the rest of the house...
and our inspiration for the flooring in our kitchen.  We actually chose
a rectangular tile in a similar color to that of the bathtub and
backsplash in the bathroom.

Feel free to explore more of Steven Gambrel's work here and peruse the House Beautiful photos here.  And remember to make the jump on Monday to www.inspirationbinder.com!

 xo, k

PS.  Looking at this picture eight months after finally moving into our home, I am reminded of why I will always have an Inspiration Binder... it's great fodder for the next phase of decorating!  Can anyone say "window treatments"?


Big News!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  I have some big news for all of you.  This week we're gearing up for a long awaited move... over to our new URL!


Mark your calendar, kids.  Monday is the big move!  Shortly after the move, we'll unveil our new look as well.  Are you excited?!?  Ya.  Me too.  :)  In the meantime, let's take a little mental vacation courtesy of The Binder.

Over the years, there have been a number of magazines I've loved and lost.  One such magazine was Blueprint.  It had all the Martha-Stewartiness of MS Living, but it was really geared toward a younger generation.  It was colorful, fresh, full of great photography and fabulous fonts.  Needless to say, I cried when they ceased publication.

One of my favorite photo spreads of all time actually comes from the July/August 2007 issue.  It features the super vibrant, beach bungalow of Elena Colombo.  Her retreat is part of Breezy Shores, a cottage community in Greenport, New York, and home to 31 cottages originally built to house brick-factory workers.  You can view the entire spread here.

Sweet exterior with beautiful cottage gardens

The red stumps that I've never forgotten... can you say "FIVE coats of porch-enamel paint?"

Greenport's mayor designed and built Elena's corner bookshelf in exchange for one of her firebowls.  Nice trade!

Beautiful weathered seating around one of Colombo's fabulous firebowls!

Quirky faux bamboo chairs on the sun porch... you know I love a good sun porch!

To view Colombo's incredible creations, please check out her website.  If you are like me and still mourning the loss of Blueprint, The Hidden Library has come to our rescue.  She discovered that a quick call to 1.877.747.1050 and you can be the proud owner of all 8 back issues... for $20 no less!

xo, k


Floral Monday?

Hi Everyone!

So sorry for the lack of postings... we are coming off a teething/sick/disaster-zone of a week.  The wee one popped out two molars and sprouted a 103 degree fever.  Needless to say, it's been "all hands on deck" at the Inspiration Binder home base.  On to happier notes...

Yesterday the littlest member of our crew was feeling much better so we worked in the yard all day.  It was amazing!  We dug, planted, set up the raised beds... all things dirty.  We even had our dear friend and trusted babysitter over to play with the kids so we could be extra productive.  Although it was a little colder than planned, the fresh air was precisely what we needed.  At the end of the day, everyone was covered in dirt, tired, and super happy.  Since I wasn't in the mood for making a huge feast, I jumped in the car and ran to Whole Foods... can you say hot soup and grilled cheese?  Of course, I walk up to the door and what is staring me in the face?  Bunches of daffodils... 3 for $5!  How do you say "no" to thirty daffodils for $5?!?  Well, you just don't.  It's like saying, "No, thank you.  I'd rather deny the existence of spring and go be grouchy at home."  Needless to say, my basket at checkout contained both soup and daffodils.  :)

Hope your day is filled with sunshine and daffodils!

Daffodils in Faux Bois via Martha Stewart

These little cuties will be adorning the table at Easter... no doubt filled with goodies for the boys and their cousins!  You can also watch the instructional video here.

via Martha Stewart (new Binder addition from the April '12 issue!)

Also, would you look at this unreal fabric designed by Holli Zollinger?  What an incredible art deco inspired pattern.

via Spoonflower

OH!  And I just found this chair on craigslist...

It's yellow Windsor chair for crying out loud!!!  All I'm saying is a girl needs something to match 30 awesome daffodils.

xo, k


A Sleeping Porch

One of my favorite images of all time has to be this sleeping porch by designer Kelly Van Patter:

Kelly Van Patter (House Beautiful)
I'm already a sucker for a good sleeping porch and this absolutely solidified my passion!

My first experience with a sleeping porch was at my best friend's cabin in Winthrop, WA.  Situated just a few miles outside of town, the small log cabin has been in their family for generations.  There is a sleeping loft with built-in bunks above, a great room with unbelievable stone fireplace below and the best sleeping porch of all time.  It's a simple screened porch, but has the character that one can only find in a log cabin that has stood for over a hundred years... wide plank floors (uneven, of course) and an exposed wall of stacked logs.  From the sleeping porch, you wakeup to breathtaking views of the tree-lined meadow and I've never had a morning without a deer sighting or two.  As you close your eyes at night, you breath in the crisp, smog-free air and the noises of the rural nightlife take over... a symphony that is occasionally interrupted with the telltale zing of the bug zapper (FYI, the greatest entertainment a kid could ask for.)

Someday I hope to build my own sleeping porch so the little men in my life can enjoy the pure joy that comes from sleeping in the (almost) open air.  :)  Until then, I'll keep revisiting the image above and these others from The Binder:

Designed by Ted Flato (Metropolitan Home)
*NOTE:  Sadly, Metropolitan Home ceased production in 2009.  Although no longer in print, Elle Decor has archived several issues.  I love that!

xo, k



Oh, man.  What a day!  The Little Guy turned 16 months today and celebrated in style by cutting in a few molars.  Neat.  All that to say, this mama is super tuckered.  Before I kiss this day goodnight, I wanted to leave you with a little treat.  It's my new favorite inspiration... recipe videos.  If I could collect them all and slap them into my trusty Binder, I would.

S'Meaches from Claire Thomas on Vimeo.

Sweet s'meachy dreams!

xo, k


Mantle... A Love Story

I was almost a full 9 months pregnant when I saw our current home for the first time (if memory serves, I was about 37 weeks.)  After being harassed at length by family to see this house, we finally caved and set an appointment with our realtor.  I believe the words out of my mouth were something to the effect of, "I don't want to buy a freakin' house... I'm just trying to have a baby!"  Famous last words.  The day I after I arrived home from the hospital with our second son, we closed on the house.

The reasons we bought our home are many.  We were bursting at the seams in our tiny starter home, our new one offered amazing community and schools, and we were within walking distance of family.  

With all those positives, it's hard to imagine a negative, right?  Let me just summarize the work ahead of us... almost nothing was salvageable.  The layers of neglect had to be completely stripped down in order to breathe life into the home.  In other words, what wasn't damaged by cigarette smoke and neglect, was probably trashed by pet urine.  Awesome!  The thing is, we wanted to save something original to the home!  We didn't want to just throw out the history.  So we searched.  One of the first items up for saving was something we loved from the moment we first saw the house... the mantle.

Our little mantle sat covered in the garage for a full 11 months before we re-installed it.  Since then, I've redecorated it about 50 million times!  Yesterday it held vintage brass candlesticks and a few wooden toys.  Here it is today... decorated with inspiration from this month's Martha Stewart Living.  April's issue held a fabulous article featuring Ngoc Minh Ngo's nature inspired floral arrangements.  Sign me up for large branches in my tallest vase!

Branches from my yard in Kate Spade's library stripe vase, porcelain bunnies for easter, portrait of my sweet Emmette and Cody (by Creative Thursday... more on Marisa later), Kate Spade library stripe votives, bird's nest from my parents' yard, and a collection of books.

Here we were just over one year ago...

Down to the studs, teal carpet protecting the original hardwood floors, and mantle tucked safely in the garage.  FYI, not a single window in the living room opened when we purchased the home!

What a difference a year makes, right?!?  OK.  Maybe that sounds silly because a year really is a loooong time and there was a lot of blood, sweat, tears, a knee surgery and growing babies in that year.  :)  I'm sure this mantle will continue to evolve over the seasons.  For now, I'll keep clipping branches and bringing nature inside. 

As always, leaving you with a little inspiration from the binder (I love a good eclectic mantle!)

Birch Coffey (Elle Decor)

Mike Clifford (Elle Decor)
Douglas Friedman (House Beautiful)

Flip! for Decorating's Elizabeth Mayhew... fun little "taste test" for discovering your mantle style. 

Happy Monday!

xo, k

PS. Thanks for coming every day.  You mean so much to me!


Floral Friday

Welcome to our first Floral Friday!

Not so long ago, I dreamed of becoming a floral designer.  After helping a dozen or so friends with various showers, weddings and events, my passion for floral design really took off.  I saved pages upon pages of design inspiration, color combinations, and dream studio/work spaces.  I shadowed the florist who truly inspired the palate of my wedding.  Even my sweet brothers gave me a gift certificate to take a class at Fiori Floral Design, one of my favorite Seattle florists.  Those dreams haven't diminished, but life has taken me down different paths since then.  So now it's time to bring back the inspiration!  

For my first Floral Friday, I can't think of a better place to start than with my first floral design crush... Fiori Floral Design.

I first discovered Fiori ages ago when working as the receptionist for a prepress company in Seattle.  One of our Color Analysts asked if I would order flowers for a very special client at Nordstrom (it was her birthday.)  There was only one caveat.  The flowers had to be spectacular!  I researched and researched and came back with Fiori Floral Design.  Their pavé style arrangements are stunning and they were one of the first floral designers I saw consistently highlight the use of fruit within their designs.  As a bonus, there is nothing more scale appropriate at a desk than either a single bloom or a compact, pavé style arrangement.  When the flowers arrived, my sweet boss reported back that they were the best on her desk (yay me!)  Today you can find Fiori at their own studio, but now also hold hours at NORDSTROM!  So you heard it here first.  I am 100% responsible for Fiori now having studio space at Nordstrom's Flagship store.  :)  

My first floral design class at Fiori Floral (that's me in the front with the striped apron!)

My first pavé floral design!  We used white hydrangea, cymbidium orchids, tulips, anemones, stock, limes, aspidistra leaves, wax flower and dusty miller... all nestled in a bed of variegated orange.

And here is Fiori Floral Design owner Miles Johnson talking about the new relationship with Nordstrom and their creative space.  His best tip in class?  To nestle the cymbidium orchids together as if they were dear friends having a conversation... you want them facing toward each other (see photo above).  He was as sweet and dear in person as he is in this clip.

xo, k


When you can't "do"... Plan!

If you live in the Seattle area, the recent weather needs no introduction.  If you don't live in the Seattle area, let me bring you up to speed... it's been CRAZY!  Seriously.  Snow, rain, hail, sleet, wind... it's March for crying out loud!  This is also hampering my progress with the exterior of our home.

So while we're trapped indoors, the kids and I are thumbing through The Binder, planning and dreaming of sunshine.  Particularly, I've been flipping back and forth between The Binder and these two books: All New Square Foot Gardening and Your Farm in the City.  This brings me to Garden Objective #1:  Start our vegetable garden!

In years past, I've done one or two veggies in addition to my herb garden.  Nothing fancy, but with the babies and remodeling, it's what I could manage.  This year, we're feeling inspired!  My oldest (The Captain) is now a big three year.  He helped ("Mama, I neeeeed carrots!") select and purchase our seeds.  And, to top it off, I'm outfitted with sassy new raised garden beds... these babies from Gardener's Supply:

My original vision was the entire veggie garden in stock tanks, but that idea fizzled quickly.  I had no idea how pricey those suckers are!  I spent a few months looking for deals on craigslist, but to no avail.  So I went with the next best thing and I am thrilled with my purchase (I'll make sure to post pics once they are assembled and filled!)

This brings me to Garden Objective #2:  Bring in the metal!  From a design perspective, I have always loved the look of metal in the garden.  Bringing in an industrial element balances so beautifully with all the softness of a garden.  It also bounces around the light and highlights plant life in ways that you wouldn't expect.  Just the mere fact that metal is a static object in an ever-changing environment makes it visually intriguing.

As always, I have big (metal) dreams for the garden!  Enjoy a few snippets from The Binder...

David Pfeiffer's stunning culvert planters

HGTV creates a mobile container garden!

A clean lined metal table breaks up traditional elements

Happy gardening!

xo, k


Necessary Arrangements

My dear mother likes to arrange furniture... A LOT.  And me?  I'm a chip off the old block.  Growing up I never realized it was odd to have your living room change shape every other month.  Nesting tables were used in every imaginable formation, decorative trays added and subtracted, pillows shifted, sofa tables were paired, re-arranged, placed over old fashioned radiators... there was perpetual motion in our living room!  I have long since moved out, but I still play "Spot the Difference" every time I visit my parents' home.  

About a month ago, I was inspired by my friend Kelly's blog, High Street Market.  She published this post on furniture arrangement.  The dear husband lovingly played along and helped rearrange the furniture according to Kelly's diagram.  It was perfect!!!  But then I discovered a major flaw.  This happens to be the perfect amount of furniture with which a three-year-old can play "hot lava" for hours on end... causing his mother to lose her ever-loving mind!  Seriously.  Every time I turned around, the Captain was flinging himself from one piece of furniture to the next (for a little added visual, he was also wearing a cape and socks pulled up to his elbows in lieu of superhero gloves.)

To save myself from total insanity, I changed the furniture once again.  The Captain helped.  :)

Enjoy a little inspiration from the binder... 

Campion Platt (Elle Decor)

Campion Platt (Elle Decor)

Aaron Hom (House Beautiful)

Betsy Burnham (House Beautiful)

xo, k

PS.  As I'm scanning images, I'm also trying to drum up some links for their sources so as to give credit where credit is due.  So far, I've had fabulous luck!  I love the interwebs.


Good news is the dumpster is gone...

Bad news is... I now have to look at this:

Seriously.  Can it get any uglier?  Maybe if you look at the inside.  That sucker is held together by metal plates, piano hinges and the world's most awesome collection of miscellaneous screws.  Let's not even get started on the color.  Now, for those of you who don't know me personally, we've been remodeling our home for over a year.  The entire time, we've had a giant dumpster parked in our driveway.  Last month, our final dumpster was picked up.  After the driver left, I immediately ran outside to survey the damage.  As I gazed down the driveway at the teal beast in front of me, I realized it was time to turn our gaze outward.  Since then, we've removed two huge holly trees and about half the ivy and plantings covering the rockeries.  Neighbors have said this is the first time they've seen the rockery in over a decade (get the picture of where we started?)

I hate to say it, but for the first time in my life, I've discovered a huge gap in my collection of tear sheets.  I have nothing on garage doors!  OK.  Maybe I have one fanciful image of a carriage house, but let's be honest.  This is a mid century home.  I'm not about to start adding hammered iron hardware or "old world charm" into the design plan.

The entrance to our garage is on the side of the house, yet it faces a street.  It would be really nice to add a little drama here.  Sadly, like most of you, the budget will probably dictate restraint, but let's just dream, shall we?

Presidio Heights Residence traditional exterior
Dying over this one!  Fabulous accent color and simple lines.

Exterior contemporary exterior
Love all the dark accents!

House Exterior traditional exterior
Clean and simple

Strelein Warehouse modern exterior
And one more just for fun...

xo, k


I blame it all on Sassy...

My first magazine subscription was to Sassy Magazine.  Remember that gem?  I was 12 and had secretly wished for Seventeen Magazine (I had been spending hours in the school library perusing back issues.)  The disappointment probably lasted all of 3 seconds because this gem was delivered…

Oh, man.  To my little preteen eyes, Sassy seemed so scandalous (sex advice, feminism, celebrities, alternative music... what more could a girl ask for?)  And, just like all scandalous happenings in my young life, it was a gift from Auntie Kathy.  My Aunt Kathy was the woman who took me to get my ears pierced at five years old (my mom was thrilled.)  She once sent me home from a slumber party with a full set of Lee Press-On Nails (each painted a different color because that is what I wanted at the ripe old age of six)  My aunt even gave me my first political collectable... a Michael Dukakis '88 button.  Don’t you just love Aunts?!?  Looking back, if she had gifted me anything less than Sassy Magazine, who knows if my love affair with the printed world would have blossomed.  

As this blog is a pure manifestation of years of magazine hoarding, I feel it only proper that we start at the beginning and give proper tribute.  Tomorrow I'll be checking out this book from the library.  In the meantime, feel free to flashback through this awesome Tumblr dedicated to all things Sassy... Sassy Magazine Lives!  Chloe Sevigny (she was an intern!), early 90's prom wear, dating advice from Beck, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love?!?  I die.

xo, k

*UPDATE*  Just found a bunch of "Eat This" column scans... Cat Burritos anyone?