Improvised Life » d-i-y + how-to If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:08:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Metal Frame Lounge Chair-Fort Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:59:32 +0000

The forts and bunkers of his childhood inspired Czech designer Michael Tomalik to design a wire frame chair that is “a place of convenience, comfort and personal repose“. His monkey-bar-ish construction is a kind of grownup fort, made comfortable with giant pillows and outfitted with books,  plants, and a light (to which we’d add a shade and dimmer). (more…)

]]> 0
Found Magazine Page Envelopes Redux Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:00:15 +0000

Sally Schneider/Pamela Hovland

Our friend Pamela Hovland is an extraordinary designer who helped us create the original look for Improvised Life. Our first year in business, we wrote about her clever use of ripped-out pages from magazines as her envelopes. Recently she sent us this beauty with the message “this wrapper had your name all over it“. Indeed it did.

We held back from opening it until we could photograph it; it is an enduringly good and charming improvisation.  (more…)

]]> 0
8+ Strategies for Redecorating an Ugly Hotel Room Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:00:13 +0000

Being very sensitive to spaces, we have long been big on tailoring hotel rooms to our own sensibility and personal feng shui. Photos of the newly renovated Hôtel Baume in Paris made us think of the many strategies we’ve developed over years of traveling to shift the feeling of not-quite-right, often OVER-decorated hotel rooms and make them more comfortable. Where many folks think they have to live with the dictates of the room they find themselves in, we are great believers in improvising on what’s there to make it more comfortable for our minimalist sensibilities. Here are our tricks and tips, with examples:


]]> 4
Clever, Strong Folding Sawhorses to DIY or Buy Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:28:38 +0000

(Video link HERE.Barclay Moore is a woodworker who was fed up with broken sawhorses. So he designed is own and knocked prototypes out of plywood. Then he created a Kickstarter to raise money to sell his invention. The project, he says, developed out of necessity (as many great inventions do).

What interests us most are all the constraints that his design had to work within, and the demands it needed to fulfill. Check out this list: (more…)

]]> 2
Interlocking Cardboard Disks for Building Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:50:17 +0000

Luke Hayes

As great admirers of the infinite possibilities of ordinary cardboard, we love British designer Torsten Sherwood‘s simplified single-component system that encourages instinctive building. Noook are colored, double-faced cardboard disks that slot together to create overlapping formations that can create unique structures.

Inspired by Legos, Noook offer’s infinite possible combinations. Designed for children, we see it as a wonderful material for adults. (more…)

]]> 0
Pineapple and other ALT Jack-O-Lanterns Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:00:48 +0000

Style Files

Haven’t gotten your Halloween act together? Here are some alternatives to the traditional carved pumpkin that you can do in time for Halloween, one of the BEST holidays for the wild creativity that is in evidence everywhere. A re-envisioned pineapple makes the perfect scary face…

…Traditional Cornish jack-o’-lanterns were carved from turnips. Dig this baby: (more…)

]]> 0
How (and Why) to Make an Emergency Spoon Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:53:07 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Master life-hacker/improviser Dave Hax shows how to make a spoon out of a plastic bottle. It reminds us of “Found” the beautiful metal-coated plastic cutlery by designer Oscar Diaz in 2009, featured in Dezeen.

Photographs of Diaz’s process show the kind of “x-ray vision” a clever designer employs when looking at a material. (more…)

]]> 0
Tree Branch Book Shelf + Cut-Out Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:34:34 +0000

We discovered artisan/designer Olivier Dolle‘s lovely tree branch book shelf when reader Kevin Neff sent us an Instructable for a cardboard version inspired by it. We find the wooden one quite beautiful and appreciate its asymmetry, unusual in shelving.

The cardboard version has it’s own charm.  (more…)

]]> 0
Optical Illusion Rug or Floor Stencil Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:49:39 +0000


When we looked closely at this 3D rug, we realized that it was really an assemblage of simple shapes that LOOKED way more complex that in is.

Very cool as a rug OR as a painted floor. (more…)

]]> 0
Adjustable Rolling Table for Matisse AND Us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:33 +0000


When we looked closely at images of the invalid Matisse sitting in bed or in a chair making his beautiful paper cutouts, we realized that he used an adjustable bed table similar to one we’ve had for years.

We came across ours while trolling Ebay for mid-century furniture nearly 20 years ago. Billed as a Danish Modern Teak Rolling Tray Table, it looked mighty useful so we bought it. Over the years, we’ve found it to be astonishingly versatile: (more…)

]]> 0
Wood Scrap Room Partition Surprise Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:00:04 +0000

We recently stumbled on designer Olivier Dollé‘s very compelling room partition. Or that’s what we thought it was until we started wondering why he add the two horizontal pieces at the top and realized… they were LEGS!

It’s a table, turned on its side. Eureka! (more…)

]]> 0
GIF of the Week: Escape Packing Thu, 09 Oct 2014 22:01:57 +0000

The weather’s so beautifu, it makes us think of going on a road trip. Dave Hax’s fast-and-minimalist packing job begs the question:

What do we REALLY need to take with us?

via i.imgur

Thanks Holton!

]]> 0
Clever Hardwood Board Uses (with Resources) Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:00:19 +0000


This clever bread board bird feeder reminded us of the endless odd permutations on the theme of bread boards we’ve written about before, and of the vast possibilities for using wood planks in general for household projects, from a ledge to perch on top of the back of the toilet tank to a low bookshelf bench set on stones… (more…)

]]> 0
Vibrating Bed Mystery Contest Update Wed, 08 Oct 2014 21:40:02 +0000

Sally Schneider

Several weeks ago, in desperation, we posted a challenge to our readers to come up with solution for our vibrating bed, which, shaken by some mysterious force,  wakes us in the wee hours of the morning. Until we find the source, we are hoping to find a way to keep the bed from shaking, so we can get a good night’s sleep.

Since then, quite a few readers responded, offering some really clever, but mostly not viable ideas, like suspending the bed. While we sussed them out and undertook a hopeful correspondence with an engineer that emailed us his thinking, we decided to keep trying fixes. (more…)

]]> 11