Improvised Life » d-i-y + how-to If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 DIY: Carefree Garden in a Bottle Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:00:32 +0000

On Easter Sunday of 1960, David Latimer planted a seed in a glass bottle out of pure curiosity. He had no idea that it would flourish into a mass of greenery that would thrive untouched for several decades. Over half a century later, the sealed bottle garden is a wonder of lush plant life, despite having been watered only once in all that time. Not knowing it, Latimer created a terrarium of extraordinary complexity. Depending on the bottle you choose, bottle gardens can look like living sculptures. (more…)

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Why Not Stripe Your Coffee Table? Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:00:58 +0000

One of the things we love about Aqquindex is the many works we find from 60′s, 70′s and 80′s that have continuing panache and viability. This coffee table from Pierre Paulin and Kho Liang is one. It made us think WHY NOT have a coffee table that is not a regular rectangle or round? And WHY NOT stripe a coffee table? We imagined what it would take to run with the two ideas: (more…)

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Jagged or Unfinished as a Design Element Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:58:34 +0000

We’ve long been fans of “broken geometries”, the purposeful leaving of design elements unfinished, uneven, or even broken, to create a visual surprise. Recently Remodelista did a roundup of some  fine examples. Our favorites: To start, the octagonal tiles above left as is, with no finished line


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DIY? 70′s Striped Brick Bookshelves Thu, 10 Apr 2014 20:00:49 +0000


We generally viewed bookshelves using bricks as uprights as simple college student decor UNTIL we saw these fab shelves designed by Gionatan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino and Lomazzi for Longato in 1971. Of course the designers used just the right bricks for their striped shelving and a great deal of thought and vision, i.e. the width of the shelves are exactly the width of the bricks…some bricks are placed horizontally, others front to back.

These shelves are swell, an idea that could be riffed on endlessly. For inspiration in the realm of bricks, (more…)

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Good Idea: Bookshelf with a Built-In Ladder Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:15:39 +0000

If you are lover a books and a person who stacks them high on shelves, you know of the problem of access. Either you need to pull up step stool or  wobbly chair (pain in the neck), or to have one of those stylish sliding book ladders that take up a lot of space both real and visual.

We really like the idea of Karen King’s Higher Ground, a tall shelf with a built-in ladder. (more…)

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Sneaker Print Floors, Walls, Wrapping Paper, More? Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:00:30 +0000

Ana Cristea Gallery

Converse All Stars and other sneakers make great instant rubber stamps for floors and walls, not to mention wrapping paper. ]]> 0
Material for Making: Healthy Plywood 101 Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:03:48 +0000

Among our many obsessions, plywood is high on the list. It is an endlessly useful, accessible, great-looking material for making. Dig, for example, these chairs designed in the 1930′s by Ko Verzuu, with their odd, simple lines and bright colors.* Plywood was the material Le Corbusier used in his tiny, austere cabin-retreat in the South of France. The problem with modern plywood is that glues that bond the thin sheets of wood veneer together often contain formaldehyde,


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Birch Branch Canopy Bed Mon, 07 Apr 2014 20:00:08 +0000

On the heels of our post about using vintage columns as bed posts, we found images of Fashion Designer Samantha Pleet's Williamsburg Apartment. In it, a bed made of lashed together birch logs. ]]> 0
Repurposing Artist’s Ideas, for Home and Living Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:04:20 +0000

I confess to being a barbarian. I routinely check out artists work for ideas I can apply as home design elements. I wonder why my generous artist friends don’t come banging down my door angry at my canabalization of pure art for utilitarian means. They don’t. And I keep finding inspiration from artist’s work, like these paintings by Shaan Syed currently on view at the Ana Cristea Gallery. (more…)

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Walls Painted with Volumes in Subtle Hues Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:30:43 +0000


Type “painted walls” into Improvised Life’s SEARCH box and you’ll find a trove of images of cleverly, unusually, oddly painted walls. Many have beautiful geometries that make them seem like a canvas.  At the great aqqindex, we stumbled on this beauty designer Rick Gillete created in 1976. The volumes painted on the wall in subtle hues give unexpected dimension to the room.

It’s a lovely variation on a theme that includes Ernst Caramelle’s painted geometries(more…)

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Stylish Coffee Cones + Our Own Coffee Rig Thu, 20 Mar 2014 16:45:49 +0000

Remodelista recently posted about a new trend: Artful Coffee Drippers. By “dripper”, they mean the funnel-shaped cone, lined with a paper filter, that sits on top of a coffee pot or cup and allows the brewing coffee to drip through. We use the method ourselves so were interested to see the 10 stylish itereations. Japanese designer Masanobu Ando’s pleated version, above, is like an austere scupture. Artist Elizabeth Benotti’s herringbone pattern Porcelain Drip Coffee Maker; $44 on Etsy, has great charm.

The only problem with most of the Remodelista coffee cones is they don’t allow for ways to keep the coffee hot. Once it hits the vessels, it will start to cool, unlike our own homely rig. (more…)

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Eclectic, Sculptural Spoons to Diy or Buy Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:00:25 +0000

Herriott Grace

This beautiful image of wooden spoons we saw on From Moon to Moon reminded us just  how much of a pleasing sculptural element they be when serving up food.

Like chairs, spoons can have very distinct personalities. (more…)

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DIY Succulent and Cacti Cupcakes Mon, 10 Mar 2014 20:01:10 +0000

We’re usually not crazy about cupcakes with colored frostings but find ourselves totally charmed by the succulent and cacti cupcakes Alana Jones-Mann created, a happy relief from the usual flower motifs.  She shows you how you can do it yourself in her great tutorial.   (more…)

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Annals of SMART Design: Angled Headboard to Buy or DIY Thu, 06 Mar 2014 19:00:38 +0000

Crate & Barrel

We are SO happy to read Dalilah Arja’s practical wisdom about angled headboards at Remodelista the other day, and the harsh reality of straight-up-and-down, right-angled headboards:

After two years, I was ready to part ways with my right-angled headboard, which I fought with every time I tried to sit up and do some laptop work in bed. (more…)

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