Improvised Life » garden If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:50:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cedar Planked Salmon for the Grill Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:47:37 +0000

Sally Schneider

Our friend Holton Rower has been learning about cooking salmon on a cedar plank on his Weber grill through trial-and-error, a method we totally endorse.  His first go wasn’t completely successful but it was clear that the cedary smoke is a perfect marriage with salmon. If you don’t have wood coals to cook over, cedar planks are a great way to achieve woodsmoke flavor. Holton learned quickly and his recent try was a huge success. Here’s how he did it (and what he/we learned). (more…)

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DIY Twig and Branch Fence Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:27:01 +0000

Sally Schneider

New York City’s Madison Avenue in the 70”s is among the toniest areas in the city. We were wandering there when we suddenly noticed this unlikely fence made of branches and twigs: a beautiful, unexpected DIY right dab in the middle of luxe (and a relief from the usual iron fencing!

Look close and you can see that it is simply branches and twigs of varying sizes woven and cross-hatched, with uprights secured in the soil, to form a stable fence.  (more…)

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Concrete Block Planters and Raised Beds Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:00:25 +0000

Zac Benson

In addition to a cool shipping pallet table, we found another great DIY at Urban Garden Center: a concrete block planter (below). We’d seen images of them before like the one above that houses succulents and at this Pinterest devoted solely to concrete block gardens. The basic idea holds lots of possibilities, some rough, some curiously sleek. (more…)

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big shipping pallet and concrete block outdoor table Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:10 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last weekend, we walked down to the Urban Garden Center to check out the pig roast they hold every Saturday in the summer. You many remember that the garden center is directly across from the two buildings that collapsed in Harlem last winter after a gas leak explosion. It was practically decimated and we wondered if they’d come back. We’ll they made it through and we bought ornamental grasses for our planters from them a couple of months ago. Ever industrious, they rebuilt their rough-and-tumble party pavilion and launched a weekly Harlem Seoul Pig Roast, serving a mashup of Korean/Southern Barbeque. The pavilion is made of all sorts of found and rustic materials, including mismatched chairs and junk store finds.

We especially loved the huge table made of shipping pallets and concrete block, two of our favorite building materials. It could easily seat twelve AND weather the elements.  (more…)

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How to Think in Haiku (and a Haiku about Grasses) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:41:12 +0000

Sally Schneider

At the very end of May, we planted grasses in the planter on the Laboratory’s patio. Since then, they’ve grown like wild fire, along with the Morning Glory vine we plunked into their soil to further screen us from our neighbors. We love watching the grasses move in the breeze; they seem to constantly change and catch the light in new ways.  The other day, we read a haiku by Issa that revealed a quality that we hadn’t been conscious of:  (more…)

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Water Lily-ish Sculptures and Other Floating Possibilities Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:27:46 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya has placed ‘water pallet’ floating on a square pool of water at the Sapporo Sculpture Garden, Painted with pinks, blues and greens on the underside of their base, the white circles glide on the surface of the basin, reflecting a colorful hue when they overlap.

What a lovely idea. Of course, we tried to figure out how we could do that (assuming we had a pool to begin with). (more…)

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Instant Treehouse or Picnic in the Sky with a Hanging Tent Tue, 15 Jul 2014 23:00:53 +0000

The Hanging Tent Company

If this isn’t the absolute essence of the escapist wilderness whims we had as children, we don’t know what is….

We wonder what it would be like to lay still in one of these floating spheres and listen to a slight wind coming through the trees. (more…)

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Our Search for Lego-Like Adult Building Blocks Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:00:32 +0000

We have been so hungry for “adult” Legos with which we could actually make some home projects that we’ve checked out all sorts of possibilities, including giant plastic storage boxes in the shape of Legos, with “Lego” embossed loudly on the top. NOT.

The closest we’ve come is TogetherFarms modular blocks made from recycled plastic and food-safe. They are being marketing for use for making planters and raised beds. (more…)

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Movable Wheelbarrow Bench Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:00:14 +0000

Weltevree/Rogier Martens

Rogier Design the Wheelbench  with a built in wheelbarrow wheel.

“Moving a bench with two people has always been a chore… This is a bench you can easily maneuver into position. The eye-catching wheel is an invitation to find the best spot. An invitation to be active, to create your world the way you want it, time and time again.”


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Adirondack + Rietveld Chairs, for Outside or In, to DIY or Buy Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:02 +0000

We are struck by the many similarities between the iconic American Adirondack chair designed in 1903 and the Crate Chair Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld designed in the 1930's. We've investigated ones to buy, and plans that would allow you to make an interesting fusion of the two —all great, indoor and out.]]> 2
Stained or Painted Wood Decking Tue, 01 Jul 2014 20:09:47 +0000

Studio Weave for London College of Fashion

Looking for ways to jazz up wood decking?  Studio Weave  has designed a new roof terrace for London College of Fashion’s gallery space, adding brightly coloured decking and seats.

Says Studio Weave’s Eddie Blake:

The whole thing was done with reference to basket weave – trying to make timber look as if it’s woven. The timber is just low-cost off-the-shelf larch decking. The idea was to find a super quick way of making something beautiful and colourful.

The colours were created using a combination of wood stain and decking paint. We might have chosen a different color palette but think it’s a swell idea, with lots (more...)]]> 0 Beach Structures and Shelters to DIY or Buy Thu, 19 Jun 2014 20:00:34 +0000


We found this image of charming little beach structures at Aqqindex. Ah, to have simple little private cocoons like that…Wonder where they came from?

They got us thinking about beach shelters. Of late we’ve seen some pretty chic, pricey ones, like Sombrilla Beach Tent for $189. (more…)

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Nivola’s Outdoor Wall Canvasses, and How to Make One Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:05:21 +0000

One of the many details we love in sculptor Constantino Nivola’s “outdoor rooms” are the walls he erected to define space and make into artworks. We’re crazy for this tree wall sculpture, as well as his wall paintings, including the Solarium. Hmmm. Wonder how they are made?  Of course, we tried to figure it out, hoping one day, we might use Nivola’s idea. (more…)

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Constantino Nivola’s Open Air Solarium Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:00:35 +0000

c. 1952

We’ve written before about Constantino Nivola’s inspiring outdoor garden rooms at his home in the Hamptons in the 50′s. Recently enjoying Mondo-blogo’s stupendous visual riff on the sculptor, we came across his open air “solarium”, which was often mistaken for a pool.

According to Weekend Utopia, Alastair Gordon’s classic guide to modernist beach houses in the Hamptons, it wasn’t a pool, but a (more…)

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