Month: December 2018

Wonders: Tin Cans

Target’s release of 1.2 million limited-edition Campbell’s cans sporting Warhol-inspired labels has me walking down memory lane and also reconsidering the tin can. As soon as I was growing up, our basement was overflowing with Campbell’s soup labels, because my mother was Ayer Elementary School’s Campbell’s Soup Lady. This meant she had to gather and count . (She was pretty excited to move up to Book Lady another year and leave the labels behind.) The faculty then traded them for high-tech stuff, such as overhead projectors and abaci.

During these olden days, there was no such thing as recycling, but we did style high-tech phone systems in the cans and a ball of string, and also our art teachers came up with great tin can jobs for us. I’m psyched to say the creative tin can spirit from days of yore (the 1980s) remains alive today; see if they inspire any simple projects in your home.

Lola Nova

Form of can: Any canned-food can
Use: Vase
Impact: If you leave them using their normal metal patina or paint them bright colors, soup cans are simply the right size for a bouquet or a small plant.
Hint: High-gloss acrylic paint looks the sassiest.


Type of can: Small paint can, java can, soup can
Use: Organizing art or office supplies
Impact: Odds are, one of your earliest DIY jobs was wrap a soup can at some wrapping paper in nursery school and giving it to a daddy because of his desk for a present. Use your favorite wallpaper sample or fabric, or bust out the Mod Podge and channel your inner John Derian by decoupaging a few cans for your studio or desk.

Melissa Mascara Layout

Type of can: Coffee tin
Use: Outside planter
Impact: A colorful vertical garden. I really like the way these containers have faded to different amounts.
Hint: Drill holes at the bottom for great drainage.

Julie Ranee Photography

Type of can: Paint can
Use: Planter
Impact: A good method to use those paint cans collecting in the crawl space, since you never know how to get rid of them anyway. Give them a coat of glossy bright paint and they’ll grab attention in your garden.

Colleen Brett

Type of can: Spice tin
Use: Container for seeds
Impact: You’ll check the dates on those ancient spices on your pantry and won’t feel guilty dumping them since you are going to have a nice new way to use them.

By the way, if realizing your herbaceous plants are somewhat older than your college-age child inspires you to clean out the pantry, then here’s some help for getting started.

Type of can: Any
Use: Robot sculpture
Impact: A funny conversation piece it is possible to use indoors or outside. (It’ll eventually corrode outside, but the patina will make it even more interesting.)


Type of can: Campbell’s soup can
Use: Silverware holder in a picnic or buffet
Impact: A clever pop art foundation for the rest of your colour scheme


Form of can: Campbell’s soup can
Use: Warhol-esque installment
Impact: Soup storage which dazzles in the kitchen and frees a pantry shelf.

Made in Layout

Canned Light Pendant by Ingo Maurer – GBP 158

Type of can: Campbell’s soup can
Use: Pendant light
Result: I swiped this idea from light ace Ingo Maurer, but why not try it with a favorite can plus a simple lighting kit in the hardware store? Should you picked up among the limited-edition Warhol cans at Target, it is a fantastic way to enjoy it in perpetuity.

Read more multipurpose wonders

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A Seattle Remodel Offers Accessibility

Marsha Donaldson and Bill Ferris remodeled their home to look and function like any other modern home, but the actual beauty of this new design lies in the subtle details. The couple’s space-efficient design options also make the house fully accessible to Ferris, who has lived the last 38 years in a wheelchair.

The couple worked with designer and former rehab nurse Susan Duncan of ABCs of Access, Seattle interior designer Piper Lauri Salogga and Guy DiRe of Chieftain Construction. The team carefully considered space, height and more, and the result is a house layout that works comfortably for both Ferris and Donaldson.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Marsha Donaldson, Bill Ferris and their puppy, Sadie
Location: Hawthorne Hills neighborhood of Seattle
Size: 1,350 square feet; two bedrooms, 2 baths

Louise Lakier

The first change they made was adding a wooden access ramp. They then replaced it with this specific concrete ramp that blends to the landscaping, resembling low terrace walls. The extra width of the top leg allows for a tiny front porch.

Louise Lakier

A subtle detail provides convenience, ease, and efficiency in motion: A doorway pull found right above the mail slot enables Ferris to maintain his sanity as he slides out the doorway, without needing to reach back awkwardly to pull the door shut.

Louise Lakier

The low concrete ramp wall mixes into and is hidden by lush plantings. Mary Kay Swanson and Niko Stoll of Box of Rain Landscape designed the front yard.

Louise Lakier

Both Donaldson and Ferris admire the elegance and simplicity of celebrity Maya Lin’s designs. Working together with Salogga they achieved a house layout and colour scheme with minimal furniture plus a modern, uncluttered feel.

The two like entertaining and are currently brainstorming ideas on the best way best to enlarge their dining room area.

Louise Lakier

The kitchen includes functional pullout cutting boards. While useful, they are also able to get in the way when both of these are cooking and vying for space. The area under the sink is spacious so Ferris can perform dishes facing forward rather than sideways. The windowsill was lowered so that he can enjoy the outside scenery.

Donaldson is the primary chef, so the countertops were kept in standard height. The items usually found under a sink, such as the recycling and garbage bins, live in a pullout cabinet beside the sink. The breakfast corner table is handily cantilevered to get rid of the cumbersome banging of glider and knees on the table legs.

Louise Lakier

The upper cabinets are somewhat lower than usual so Ferris can reach both lower shelves. The toe cries are 9 inches high, allowing for a 60-inch twist clearance so Ferris can move freely round the kitchen with no backing in and out. Standard toe cries are 4-5 inches high. DiRe came up with the innovative gate that slides supporting the cabinetry when the couple’s dog, Sadie, has access to the kitchen. The floors are Marmoleum.

Louise Lakier

The bathrooms are spacious, and the sinks are cantilevered for full wheelchair accessibility. The extra-wide space also includes sliding doors for clearance and space efficiency.

Louise Lakier

The furniture layout is stored open in the living space, leaving plenty of space for Ferris to get around. A sensible decision was made to leave out a coffee table.

Louise Lakier

The first home was under 900 square feet. The few extended the house to the garden, creating a bedroom large enough to enable Ferris to possess turnaround space on both sides of the bed.

“Our-light filled, spacious master bedroom is my favorite place in the home,” Donaldson says. “With easy access to the deck, the landscaping allows us to leave our windows open while still maintaining our solitude.” The expansive windows also them to enjoy a crystal clear view of the backyard.

Louise Lakier

The sink in the master bath is reduced and cantilevered so Ferris could have full access. The toilet cabinets (not shown) pull out for easy accessibility from the sides.

Louise Lakier

The bathtub is curbless and fully accessible. The few considered installing glass partition walls but determined that a curtain and rod would offer the most flexibility.

Louise Lakier

The prior master bedroom is currently the workplace and also serves as the guest space. The couple opted for a Murphy bed (pictured available) for optimized space efficiency. From the cupboard near the bed, a table lamp is stored underneath a pullout table. The cupboard (not shown) is split between workplace storage and cupboard space for visiting guests.

Louise Lakier

Donaldson says, “We both believe in the maxim ‘Less is more’ and combined with that, ‘Less is calming.'” In line with that, the pull-down bed neatly tucks away to the wall cupboard, along with the couple discuss a cantilevered desk.

Louise Lakier

A golden chain tree in full bloom frames the Trex deck. DiRe sloped the deck to get a smooth transition out in the kitchen. The couple decided on steps down to the lawn for better clearance inside the backyard, so Ferris accesses the space from across the side.

Louise Lakier

It was hard for Ferris to use the backyard with its first grass and planter beds. Box of Rain Landscaping installed and designed the stone pavers, sloping them suitably so Ferris could access the lawn. The pavers extend into both sides gates, so that he has full use of the scenic lawn.

Louise Lakier

Ferris, Donaldson and Sadie in their own backyard garden.

Is your home designed with access in mind? Show us your house and it could be featured on .

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Enliven Your Porch With Shade

If you are looking to add vibrance to your porch, amp up the shade. We’ve already discussed how to do so using plants, and now we’re ready bring in colour utilizing accessories, furniture and architectural accents. If you are looking to just dip your feet into porch shade, stick with smaller accessories at first. As you begin to crave more colour, it is possible to work your way upward to painting the floor, architectural elements and furniture. These notions will enliven your frontside or back porch.

More Porch Life: Wraparound Porches | Sleeping Porches | Screened-In Porches | Modern Porches | Banishing the Bugs | Dining on the Porch

Texas Construction Company

Get all colour from the property’s exterior. The exterior palette with this home is all of the colour this porch requires, particularly because the floorboards and risers were painted to match the trim.

Merzbau Design Collective

Match a colour from the architectural elements to furniture. This perfectly aligned row of seats coordinates with all the beams and columns, resulting in a balanced and attractive facade.

Rachel Reider Interiors

Bring in colour through smaller pieces of furniture. Modern metal tables comparison with this traditional furniture.

Anthony Baratta LLC

When seaside, consider matching your colours to the water. An opinion this stunning has to be celebrated. The hues on the upholstery, ceiling and accessories shade adopt the water’s beautiful colours.

Jeffrey Dungan Architects

Likewise, inspiration in the dune grasses and sand cover homage to a seaside setting.

Gridley + Graves Photographers

Embrace the exterior wall shade. A lake home’s brilliant green board and batten siding is almost all of the colour this porch needs; pops of cherry would be the finishing touch.

Paint a couple wooden bits. The bright turquoise buffet and chairs with this porch stick out alongside each of the crisp white and black everywhere else. Using paint to spruce up some flea market wooden seats is an easy way to add colour. If you have several different varieties of chairs, it is going to unify a mismatched group as an eye-pleasing group.

Watch the rest of this home

Cathy Carr, APLD

Play off your plants. The stripes on these pillows coordinate perfectly with all the hanging impatiens.

Siemasko + Verbridge

Fall mums inspire a couple autumnal red accents as the seasons change across this porch.

Rethink Design Studio

Turn your hues up a notch or two. Fantastic blue and bright pops of yellowish turn up the volume over the usual coastal palette to this Tybee Island, Georgia, screened-in porch.

Watch the rest of this home

Tom Meaney Architect, AIA

Pay attention to the floor. A vibrant cardinal and gold checkerboard pattern unifies the various spaces with this lengthy porch.

Use throw pillows. Switch your throw pillows around on the porch just as you would on your sofa or bed. These vibrant tones include Moroccan style for this porch. Use weather-resistant fabric such as Sunbrella’s to keep colors bright.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Pick painted wicker. While I am usually a sucker for black wicker, these reds and yellows show off the owner’s personal style and make this porch seem to be a very happy spot.

Watch the rest of this home


Use an outside rug. Not too long ago, the only outside rug alternative was a close relative of AstroTurf. Now there are a shocking number of styles available. Ground the distance with one and pick up on its colour. Here pops of robin’s egg blue in the rug, upholstery and ceiling unify the area.

Sara Hopkins

Add an awning. Not just will it provide extra shade as required, but also an awning provides colour and layout to play from, as these coastal chair cushions show.

12 Ways to Prep the Porch for Summer
10 Methods to Bedeck Your Deck

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'Yakisugi-ita' Is Placing the Siding World on Fire

High design and Far East tradition garnish with the dark, dramatic Japanese siding made by a procedure called yakisugi-ita (also known as shou-sugi-ban). Translated as “the burning of Western cypress (sugi),” yakisugi-ita is gaining popularity outside Japan, as the procedure leaves wood almost maintenance free and makes it resistant to fire, rot and pests. Siding created by this method has an expected life span of over 80 decades, because of a protective coating made by carbon released during burning.

Carbonized (that is, charred) siding is a strong statement and, as such, is ideal for simple forms and details that allow the dramatic finish to take center stage. The charred siding of this Prescott Passive House above overlooks the handsome restraint of this form.

The home is a product of an innovative non-profit design/build program, Studio 804, for graduate students at the University of Kansas School of Architecture. The students design and build one project every year, with an emphasis on sustainable, affordable and innovative building solutions.

This former backyard shed, now an office, designed by THOUGHTBARN, efficiently plays with form and materials, rooting the streamlined arrangement using charred siding. The darkish siding is topped with light-diffusing polycarbonate sheets and a cherry roof. Western red cedar was carbonized for both the building and the fence.

An Amsterdam residence becomes playful with contrasts, with brighter planks of wood layered between the siding.

The Process

First the wood is burned either using a torch or by more conventional techniques.

The scorched wood is subsequently doused with water and brushed to remove the charcoal dust, revealing a slightly silver sheen.

Finally the charred wood is washed and dried. It can be left with no finish, or an oil can be implemented to bring out the gray, sliver, black or brown tones.

Delta Lumber & Millworks

This handsome and powerful cladding has gained international appeal, together with the treatment being applied to a wide variety of wood. While some species can be charred, the consequent look will be different. A softwood, such as the Western sugi (cypress), has prominent growth rings which lead to an extremely textured surface, whereas charring hardwood leads to an evenly blackened surface.

Tell us Can you go dim?

Wood Home Exteriors Branch Out
Exterior Materials Mix It Up
Exterior Materials: Textures Chat

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Pivot Door

Instead of being attached to the door frame, pivot doors turn on a single shaft located within the door itself. The weight of the door fully rests on the arm in the bottom; the arm in the top guides the motion. Pivot doors can either swing in a single direction or turn either way.

Four Corners Construction, L.P.

The hardware allowing a door to pivot is nearly invisible, creating a slick look.

Silva Studios Architecture

Conventional swinging doors rely on hinges for their motion, which eventually warps the door or wears out the hinges. Pivoting doors break on a single shaft, reducing strain on both the door and the hardware.


Oversize or heavy doors swing easily on a pivot. It would be difficult to find a hinge powerful enough to suspend a door of the size and weight

Ana Williamson Architect

High-gloss paint and frosted glass make for a striking pivot door. The shaft of the pivot door is visible at the top, revealing the mechanisms.

Quezada Architecture

A double set of pivot doors such as these may resemble hinge doors whenever they’re closed, but the gap in the frame border when they’re open gives them off.

Gast Architects

This pantry has a pivot door complete with a kick plate. Occasionally full hands need a foot to assist.

Browse more photos of pivot doors

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Quirky DIY Bungalow in Canada

Gemma Bonham-Carter is a avid DIYer who realized early in her house makeover that the home of her dreams would not materialize overnight. “The greatest challenge for us has been a mixture of budget and space. With a tight budget, we try to do a lot ourselves, frequently buying things “preloved.” I must be OK with slow and steady advancement,” states Bonham-Carter, the DIY design blogger behind The Sweetest Digs.

Bonham-Carter has handled her home makeover projects piecemeal. Her and her husband have shone present decor and furniture, and are seeing how things could be reincarnated to more functional, beautiful bits. “I am also all about intelligent storage, trying not to collect too much things and working with what we really need,” states Bonham-Carter.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Gemma Bonham-Carter and her husband, Dan
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Size: 1,600 square feet
That’s interesting: Every room benefits from Bonham-Carter’s DIY projects.

Bonham-Carter made the faux capiz chandelier at the guest room with wax paper, string and a hanging flower basket. She was itching to handle this job after she and her husband relocated to Canada after a year old in England. “You just require a flat surface to work on, some time and a hot glue gun,” she states. “The 3 nights I spent working on it had been completely worthwhile. It cost me a total of $2.50!”

This lime green and white trellis pattern on the wall has been made using a stencil. “I wished to use background in this area, but once I realized it was likely to be $150 just to complete one wall in the design I liked, I started considering other choices,” states Bonham-Carter. She chose a trellis pattern that channeled design components she and her husband had admired a trip to Morocco.

The wall complements the house general palette of blues, turquoises and grays, and although the stenciling made Bonham-Carter’s hands cramp, she states the final result and money saved were worthwhile.

Punch Up a Wall Using a Bright, Bold Stencil Pattern

The rows of magazine filers and organizers show just how serious Bonham-Carter is all about organizing; everything has a dedicated space and is set away after use. Once every season, Bonham-Carter does a complete spring cleaning to declutter even further.

Bonham-Carter made this black and white chevron artwork canvas using a cardboard template. “Then it was just a matter of taping the lines out with painter’s tape and painting the space between. The entire cost was less than $20 — not bad for a large, fun piece of original art for your pad. And even if you don’t believe you are an artsy person, this is a totally easy-peasy job,” she states.

Radio: Tivoli Radio

Bonham-Carter and her husband’s solution into a drab and dull kitchen: a cosmetic update of black and white vinyl tiles. “The vinyl tiles are clearly not the most glamorous of flooring alternatives, but since we are saving for a huge kitchen remodel, they’re a fantastic temporary solution and include a fun diner look to our kitchen,” she states.

Other cosmetic makeovers from the kitchen include repainting the cupboards and replacing the components into a brushed silver finish.

This well-composed vignette was a hidden spot in the Bonham-Carter’s kitchen. “I emptied the shelves and coloured the backs using a splashy lime green paint — left over from our office makeover. I took out some of our baking items from a different shelf, jars of things that look great in an exposed shelf. Now these items are easily available and also have freed up space everywhere in our little kitchen,” she states.

The Sweetest Digs

A ceramic white elephant perches onto a pile of favourite magazines.

The Moroccan trellis wall stencil pattern at the house office is repeated in the drapes framing the dining room windows; the drapes add vertical elevation and lend an air of sophistication to the area. “The paint on the cloth does not feel good against your skin, but it’s not like you are curling up from the drapes,” states Bonham-Carter.

A classic chandelier adds elegance into the master bedroom. The chandelier used to get what Bonham-Carter calls for a “sad brass” end, therefore she breathed new life to the metal using matte black spray paint.

The Sweetest Digs

Bonham-Carter describes her bungalow as with a fun and unique charm. “I’ve seen some houses which have weathered little rooms, but ours is pretty open and feels like a comfy place for family and friends to congregate,” she states.

One of Bonham-Carter’s treasured pieces from the living room is your coffee table, which she “fished out” of her father-in-law’s farm. She and her husband sanded and sanded the surface to restore the wood’s dark veneer; black paint has been also applied to the metal legs.

“I am always tweaking things. We are currently in the middle of a bathroom remodel, and eventually we’d like to devote a new kitchen,” she states. “In the meantime, we take each job one day at a time.”

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