Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remove Minty Fresh Feeling From My Kitchen

Green space is nice, but not in your kitchen. Unless you're the Easter Bunny.
Here we are with another update from the reno on the Toad Abode. This time, it's the new home's kitchen, a decent space with a bad dye job.

Seriously, nothing makes food, people's complexions, and just about anything else look worse than green paint. Especially this thick, viscous, minty green shade chosen by the color blind former owner. The color robs one of joy on a deeply institutional level; my painter calls this shade and flesh pink the painting "no no's" because they were consistently used in hospitals (why??? Didn't patients feel lousy enough already?). A fix of neutral paint is a must, and fast.

Although we have plans to change up this kitchen, we realized that we needed to live with it as is (although sans feeling green), before we could possibly understand what we really require in terms of storage and cabinetry. There's nothing, as far as I can tell, really wrong with the kitchen layout: the work triangle is good, there's lots of counter space, Mr. Crab and I can work in there without knifing one another. Plus, we have to get the contents of our kitchen off of our balcony, because the disarray is driving us batty.

So, there are two parts to this kitchen redo. Soon, you'll see it with new paint, new appliances, and a new sink and faucet. Then, in perhaps six months, we'll bite the bullet, live in chaos once again, and put in those new counters, cabinets, and cork floor tiles that we truly want. Delayed gratification, maybe, but I think it'll produce superior results. I'm currently investigating commercial stainless steel single basin sinks and sprayer faucets, so the kitchen fun's just begun. And I highly recommend Benjamin Moore's Ben and Aura lines of paint; there really aren't any fumes to speak of and the coverage is good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maps for The Young and Clueless

This is what your child sees from the booster in the back seat. 
Here's an unhappy side effect of keeping kids in the backseat forever and never letting them walk anywhere: they have no idea where the hell they are. On top of that, once they turn fifteen or sixteen, they will be allowed to get in the car and drive, even though they've never developed any meaningful navigational skills.

So what?, you might say. They'll just plug in the car's navigation system, or ask Siri for assistance, or even call me for help. Well, I say that's just ridiculous. Personal navigation skills are vital, and can't be taught from the back seat. That's why a kid needs a map of her city, preferably mounted on foam board, hanging in her room. Purchase a good street map (we live in LA, so I chose one with detail but not every single street). Mount it on thicker foam board using rubber cement and a plastic smoothing device found at your local art supply store. Hang it on the wall and break out the push pins. Show your kid where the house is, where the school is, the grocery store, the grandparents' house, the best friend's adode, and anyplace else of interest. Pin these places, and I don't mean Pinterest. Trust me, the kid will study it, learning the lay of their land in an entirely new way.

You can find a vast variety of wall maps (rolled, not folded) at And this gift idea would work for any child, in any city. It's one easy way to teach some very valuable life skills.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Espress Yourself: Even MORE Ways to Drink Espresso

Does this look familiar? It's a sippy cup, sans Dora the Explorer.
We all like to delude ourselves, with our sustainable free trade coffee and fancy machinery, that we are sophisticated adults when it comes to coffee culture. But that's just not true. We're actually big adult babies in the morning (or the afternoon, or midday, or whenever you have that caffeine deprived slump), jonesing for that first cup of joe the same way an infant needs a bottle. It's sad, but maybe it's best to just admit it.

No Slip Til Brooklyn has done just that with its Espress Yourself project. It features five different artists who had just two months to take an espresso cup concept from imagination to completion. That's no small feat, and the results are very pleasing. Naturally, my favorite is the Sip, a grown up take on a kiddy sippy cup. It's also white (all the cup sets are) and lovely in its modern simplicity. I would love to own this cup, if only I could locate my espresso machine from the multitude of boxes stashed on my balcony.

The whole cup collection would make a fabulous wedding gift for some lucky couple. Or, as a housewarming gift (hint). All I know is, we need a lot of coffee around here. When we realized that we hadn't moved with a coffee maker, and we would be exactly one morning without immediate coffee, our daughter said, "Uh oh. I'm not talking to either one of you tomorrow morning." From the mouths of babes, indeed.

Find all the cups at No Slip Til Brooklyn.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Change Up of the New Toad Abode

This paint job must die.
As I've written before on this blog, we moved to a smaller, modernist space in a much hillier part of town. There's been adjustment (cat pee on Missoni shams, anyone?), but since the nightmarish colossal move (seriously, just throw out everything you own now and save yourself a ton of work) it's been pretty smooth sailing. Except, perhaps, for the ugly factor.

This ugly factor is best illustrated in the pictures of my new living room/loft, which look like the Lakers had a party and left their color scheme behind. I'm convinced that this marigold yellow and deep purple paint job in the main living area is the reason we got such a great deal; literally no one could stand to be in the room for any length of time. Add the bilious green kitchen and bath into the mix, and the house of many colors starts to pulse into your brain (they say that yellow creates anxiety, and now I'm inclined to believe it.

It could be cool... but not yet.
I have the almond bowl. Peanuts work, too.
So, I've decided to follow in the grand tradition of design blogs like Remodelista and Apartment Therapy and post my own "Before and After" series. Is this really gift oriented? Well, you might not think so at first, but have no fear: I'm still editing and scouting and repurposing things, so there's plenty of products to croak about. I've already transformed an Areaware bowl from a purely decorative piece on my old mantel into a beautiful resting place for keys upon entry. Not bad.

So enjoy these heinous "Before" pictures. Be grateful you're not living in my kaleidoscope world. And prepare to be amazed (or at least not disgusted) by the transformation.

There was a disco ball and laser light apparatus too. Party down!
By the way, those are indeed blue lightbulbs burning inside those Ikea paper lanterns in the living room. Just another aspect of the former owner's design sense that makes me ponder, "WTF???"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A New Light from Ylighting

Calm your abduction fears! It's only a Nelson light fixture.
One of the hardest things about moving (especially downsizing, as Ms. Toad and her husband, Mr. Crab, have done), is ruthlessly editing your stuff. Because, even if you're moving to a bigger space, much of your old stuff will simply not work, thus you must dispose of it before the movers haul it all over to the new place.

We spend weeks literally throwing unwanted possessions out the front door. We Craigslisted, My Favorite Thinged, and Good Willed a damn moving van full of stuff. And yet, we still have too much of some things and are pitifully short on others. Take the lighting, for instance. Our old lighting matched, more or less, our old spanish house. This means that in our new smaller modernist house the lighting is ridiculous (it doesn't help anything that the previous owner had a penchant for Ikea paper lanterns filled with blue lightbulbs. Groovy).

Enter Ylighting, a modernist lighting site with a comprehensive selection, super reasonable prices and fast shipping. As a fan of Nelson lights (they look insubstantial, but last forever and resemble UFOs), I discovered Ylighting has a vast selection. While I could hop over to Modernica on Beverly Blvd. and buy them, I only possess a Mini, so transport is a huge issue (for those of you with SUVs, please do shop your Nelson locally). Ylighting has solved this dilemma for me. Hooray!

Check out the amazing assortment of lights (Artemide, Flos, and Kartell, among many others) at It'll shine a lovely light on your decorating dilemmas.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Revamp with All Modern

Behold: one expensive trash can.
After a relocation, The Toad is back, and is obsessed with all things modernist. While modernism was always an interest, the change from a spanish home to a stylish modern hill house has really spurred me on to shop modern in a big way. And, although Los Angeles is full of modernist wares, there's really no better place to look than online.

Thus, the All Modern web site. It's stuffed with offerings large and small, from Alessi accessories to Grohe faucets. In one full swoop, I purchased a spare, simple medicine cabinet, a toilet paper holder and towel holder, and it really wasn't that pricey. Shipping on many items is free and efficient. And the prices are good (ok, the VIPP trashcan at right isn't necessarily a great example of savings, but doesn't your trash deserve a lovely spot to temporarily rest?).

While I realize that this doesn't seem like a gift site, I beg to differ. There are gift ideas aplenty available at All Modern for the clean lined obsessed. And for home improvement, I'd say it beats the hell out of The Home Despot. Go to All Modern and see what I'm blabbing about.