Improvised Life » how-to If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:11:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Optical Illusion Interiors Out of Paint or Tape Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:37:16 +0000


Could it be that the great Mexican architect Luis Barrigan created a study with an unexpected, roughly-painted rather expressionistic trompe l’oeil window to brighten a windowless space? It LOOKS that way in this image we found at Aqqindex. It got us casting about for abstract optical illusions we might employ at home, the opposite of the usual trompe l’oeil that tries to create the most realistic illusion possible. We found some very cool ideas.

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1001 Pallet’s Trove of Ideas and Info Thu, 24 Sep 2015 17:00:27 +0000

© Ph. Philippe Bousbib/Art Point

Over the years, we fed ours and reader’s passion for practical things made of shipping pallets, with examples of the very best, most stylish versions we could find of pallet beds, sofas, side tables, steps, even a version of Le Corbusier’s iconic club chair. Gradually, novel ideas for pallet began to drop off as the diy-universe reached a saturation point, along with our interest.

We’ve found it piqued again with the discovery of 1001 Pallets, (more…)

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Laura Handler’s Clever Chic Doorbell Disguise Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:00:21 +0000

Laura Handler

In the last couple of apartments we’ve had, we’ve suffered —albeit, mildly in the scheme of things— the ubiquitous, ugly, boxy  generic doorbell that most building’s management installs. We never really stopped to think how we could make it more pleasing to look at. Designer Laura Handler, who has a brilliant talent for fixing the irritating visual details of everyday life, figured it out. (more…)

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Beautiful Curiously-Useful Sun Prints DIY Wed, 16 Sep 2015 18:32:31 +0000

We were blown away when we saw the digitized album Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes (also known as “sun prints”,  made by placing on object on chemical-treated paper in the sun) that she made in the 1800s. Atkins, the first woman to make photographs, used the cyanotype process to document algaes and made some poetic, often pleasingly abstract images. It got us looking into this ancient photographic process. We realized that we could not only easily make our own sun prints, but that there were some very cool uses for them. (more…)

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Laura Handler’s Fab Burlap TV Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:00:25 +0000

Laura Handler

Designer Laura Handler continues to amaze us with the way she handles “some un-lovely things” in her Harlem apartment. We recently featured her disguise for ugly air conditioner surrounds using checkered duct tape. Now she’s turned her attention to another eye-sore whose ubiquitous look we’ve pondered and hated forever: big black flat-screen TV’s. (Why doesn’t some manufacturer make a white one? we’ve wondered, but that is another story). Handler figured out a fix. Her thinking: “They make phone covers don’t they?”  Why not make a TV cover?


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How to Get Stains + Mildew Out of Fabric + Tyvek a L’Ancienne Tue, 08 Sep 2015 17:00:43 +0000

Sally Schneider

Whenever I can’t get a stubborn stain out of a linen napkin, tablecloth or a blouse, I do what my Greek great-grandmother did: I squeeze lemon juice onto the stain and put it directly in the sun. When I lived in a south-facing apartment with no outdoor space, I’d open the window and rig ways to hang the stained, lemoned cloth from the window shade so the sun would hit it. Like magic, in a few hours, the stain would be gone!

Recently, when preparing for a photo shoot in Improvised Life’s laboratory, I suddenly realized that the Tyvek shower curtain that had worn to a (more...)]]> 1 DIY Rain-Activated Signs, Images, Graffiti Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:16:29 +0000

(Video link here.) Seattle artist Peregrine Church of Rainworks discovered a readily available spray that allowed him to stencil invisible signs and images on the sidewalk and walls, that would magically appear when it rained. It’s a beautiful effect that we’ve discovered we can do ourselves. (more…)

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How to Fix Your Computer (Love Means Helping You Do-It-Yourself) Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:12 +0000

Greg Keras

When my 5-year-old-laptop bailed on me, I reacted like any strong independent woman with a brain and an alarm clock; I handed it off to my husband and said “This is broken, please fix it”. Seriously.

Women have been fighting for equality for nearly a century, and yet it’s common to find the nearest guy when one of our electronics isn’t working*.  Like me, many women who use computers daily don’t feel comfortable taking apart and putting back together their devices .

Being the feminist my husband is, he said NO……. (more…)

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Sol LeWitt’s Instruction for Wondrous Walls Mon, 10 Aug 2015 19:29:42 +0000

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing 104 Executed by Eric Doeringer

One of our practices is to look at artist's work carefully to see what ideas we can steal apply in/on our own lives/walls/spaces. We take the do-able kernel and make it our own. We’ve discovered that conceptual artist Sol LeWitt actually left instructions for making his work (which became the works themselves). Why not follow LeWitt's instruction in our own space, we wondered, to make a wonderful wall?]]> 0
Pink Balloons: The New Mood Therapy (+ Party Installation) Mon, 03 Aug 2015 17:12:04 +0000

© FAV Paul Kozlowski

Want to change your mindset and/or your space? Or devise a SERIOUS JOYFUL installation for a party? Create a floating sea of pink balloons, as Margaux Rodot, Mickaël Martin & Benoit Tastet did at the recent Lively Architecture Festival in Montpellier, France. They filled the courtyard of the Hotel de Griffy with balloons in varying shades of pink and white. (more…)

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Laura Handler’s Checkered Duct Tape AC Surround Thu, 16 Jul 2015 17:00:14 +0000

Laura Handler

Designer Laura Handler, whose chic Montana cabin and cool teeny ‘everything’ vial we’ve featured, sent us images her latest brilliance. The Harlem building in which she recently renovated her apartment is having the bricks repointed, which is seriously messy work. To keep dust OUT, Laura first made a barrier of blue painter’s tape around her (very cool) Quirky air conditioner Wrote Laura: (more…)

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The Pleasures of Making + Receiving Handmade Letters Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:26:59 +0000

Mira Keras

Every time I receive a hand-written letter in the mail, I feel like I am about to open a very special gift. Given their rarity, hand-written letters ARE a gift. Created by the writer, uniqueness is built-in, as is this message: I was fully present when I made this for you, and took the time to do it because I care about you. A handwritten-note’s effect is usually WAY more than the effort it took to make it, both personally and professionally. (more…)

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Spots and Spills on Fabric, Rugs, Clothes: If You Can’t Beat’em, Join’em Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:00:24 +0000

We love artist/designer Dominic Wilcox‘s fix for red wine spilled on the carpet (below): Don’t bother trying to get it out…paint a pattern around it. It gives us ideas for fixing clothes and table linens that have impossible-to-remove stains or spots. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em: transform them by emphasising the transgressions, (more…)

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Linden Season’s Spellbinding Fragrance (and Tea) Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:00:08 +0000

Sally Schneider

Today after a rain shower, the breeze brought the scent of Linden trees in bloom in the park across the way. Every year I wait for this brief few days when the neighborhood seems intoxicated with the honeyed perfume.

It reminds me of the fragrant tea that can be made from the blossoms and leaf bracts, the elongated “second” leaf on the branches. It is the first tisane I ever had, served in France by a friend’s mother; she called it tilleul. (more…)

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