“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Winston Churchill

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Transform your home, transform you life – that’s the book tagline.  And I enjoyed it – a lot!  To quote Marianne Williamson this book is “about more than how we decorate our homes; it’s about how we care for ourselves.”  Some easy options for you to find out more:  Head over to Xorin’s website to get a pdf copy of the books 17 page introduction.  Or head over to YouTube and you can watch Xorin talk about his 8-step process (5 minutes).

Or go crazy and buy the book :-)

I was reading the Economist (it gets passed around at work), and with the Olympics only days away they ran a special report on London.  One of the articles was about how expensive housing is in London, and they used the term “Iceberg home” – it refers to houses in London, where because land is in such short supply and so expensive, homeowners are digging out their basements (if that’s what you can call them).  One such basement boasts a swimming pool, gym and cinema.  These ‘Dig-outs’ are no longer restricted to a single storey: apparently below another house lies a four-car garage — and beneath that lies a swimming pool.

The photo above is from a house we saw being built on an episode (series 11, episode 7) of Grand Designs.   I think it’s more famous for it’s disco floor than the fact that much of it’s 232 m2 is underground on a tiny scrap of land carved out of someone’s back garden at the end of a mews. The plot is right next to a mainline railway, hemmed in on all sides by neighbours and trees and it sits on top of an old riverbed.  You can see more in this Grand Designs pdf.  Some interesting numbers – the site for this house cost £360,000, digging and waterproofing cost £350,000.  The other number that caught my eye – they spent £42,00o on lighting (the disco floor cost £6,000).

What they do are doing in New York.

I discovered this week that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a competition to develop a building with “micro units” — apartments of around 250 to 300 square feet. Currently the city’s codes do not allow apartments under 400 square feet. The competition is in response to changing demographics in the city (and it’s not just New York), mainly the increase in one- and two-person households; 1.8 million people fit this demographic in New York, but only 1 million apartments serve their needs. By providing smaller units, the city hopes to make it more affordable for singles and couples.

To provide some context – 300 sq ft = 28m2, and the average double garage is 36m2.

This will only work if they create some very clever solutions, and the people living there reduce the number of possessions they own, and they create some great shared/communal spaces, AND it doesn’t legitimise developer greed.  Or, all they will building are tomorrows ghettos…….

Update:  See the winning solution

Enough said, unless you want some context (San Francisco townhouse), or you know where I can get it???

Yes, I know I said if we got a cork floor we wouldn’t cover it…..

Though it’s only reflected light emitting different frequencies of the photon wave spectrum, colours are often much more than just that.  They can describe emotions, nations, ideas, or even memories. But just like many other cultural discrepancies, the meaning of colour tends to change as you move around the globe. This infographic shows how we associate colors with various feelings and ideas of different cultures around the world.

Divided into 10 subgroups, these broad regions are divided on this circular graph to show how each culture would choose to represent a facet of emotion or idea by colour.  Some are unanimous – Red for passion, black as evil – while others are completely different.

For the record – respect ranges from grey to white to silver to gold depending on which region of the world you are from :-)

Himmeli are Finnish mobiles traditionally made of rye straw and hung over the table to insure a good (rye) harvest.  I believe they are also traditional Christmas decorations.  Veronikamaria has taken it one step further – I saw this and it stopped me in my web-surfing tracks.  This one is in brass (and yours for USD$550) – and available via Etsy, the world’s handmade marketplace.  I want one in white, and I know just where I want to put it.

I enjoyed this documentary (it’s eighty minutes) by Kirsten Dirksen – co-founder of *faircompanies, though at one point I thought I was going to have to stand up and salute the American flag.  I did enjoy the opportunity to see Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond home, and the comment that tiny houses are not the fad, people have lived in small homes for centuries; it’s the McMansions that are the fad.  How much space do you need ???

Above are images of some of the knobs available at Anthropologie

BUT, they have much much more – take some time and check out their lighting, and furniture, and room decor (they also sell clothing and shoes)





“Kitchens are the new living rooms” is a quote from Windsor Smith.  And it was this quote that caught my attention in an article A place for cooking, relaxing and shooting the breeze by Rikki Stubbs in the SMH.  I assume it’s the same Rikki Stubbs from Pure Colour? (someone I’m now following).  It’s all a little back to the future – weren’t kitchens the the old living rooms?

Smith (someone I’m not following) calls herself a “lifestyle architect,” who believes that a house can enhance a marriage – her example when talking about the house above – a master suite that rejects the concept of separate “his” and “hers” areas, and believes that design can strengthen a family by giving everyone an appealing alternative to scattering after a dinner; Technology has in many ways driven us apart,” Smith says.  “We can reclaim our relationships in the way we plan and lay out our rooms.”

I hesitate to admit I agree with the sentiment – Windsor Smith (is that her real name?) makes it all sounds so very pretentious…..

Perhaps it’s all a little easier when you are designing a 8,000 square foot estate (with 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms) in Brentwood LA.  When building something like this, it’s not a show home – it’s  a concept home (involving 9 designers).  One that apparently took a little while to sell –  but has reportedly been bought by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin for about US$10 million.  That’s their kitchen above – the one that inspired Rikki’s article.