Our Mid HENtury

To celebrate our one year anniversary of backyard egg farming, we decided to upgrade our coop... ourselves. Admittedly, R does nearly all of our chicken coop maintenance and it's always been a pain for her to stoop down into our tiny coop to tidy up. It's pretty ugly too, so we stuck it behind our storage room and never really got to enjoy watching the chickens run around doing chicken stuff. So we came up with a design that's super functional and nice enough to show off in our backyard. After a couple weekends of back-breaking labor, it's finally complete.

The new coop is over 6 feet tall, so we can stand up inside, and has an automatic water bowl and feeder, so it's super easy to maintain. 

We also used an old plantation shutter that we found at our local ReStore for the door which allows us to let in more air in the summer. 

It has four nesting boxes with access doors on the outside to make cleaning the boxes and collecting the eggs super easy too.

To congratulate ourselves for a job well done, we added a member to our chicken family. Meet our new australorp, Greta.



One of the joys of pet ownership is dealing with your animals' many quirks. Happy is obsessed with drinking water from the bathroom sink, Lola poops when she's nervous and Moses loves books. No, not reading them (dogs can't read). He just thinks they're delicious. R finds it particularly hilarious that one of his favorite series to chew is The Hunger Games. Get it? The HUNGER games?? Here's some of his finest work:

Anyway, we tried several tricks that we found on the internet to keep him away from our old IKEA Expedit bookcase. None of the methods worked so we resorted to just covering the whole thing with a sheet which of course was very stylish and made our books super accessible! And so the search began. We knew glass doors were the answer, but all we could find were small hutches which really just didn't work for the space. 

Finally, a couple of months ago, we were looking through some Facebook photos of new pieces at one of our favorite vintage stores. We kept seeing this big display unit in the background of several of the photos. We figured it was probably out of our budget, but we also knew it was exactly what we were looking for. Well, we headed down to the shop just to see if it was really as great as it looked in the photo. It was. AND it was only $450. AND they were having a 20% off sale! That's only $360 for you non-math geniuses.

It's a Dillingham walnut bookcase with built-in lights at the top, and of course, glass doors. It has a couple of drawers hidden in the bottom cabinets which keep it looking really clean. I love the black reveal around the whole thing too. We haven't been able to find much info about the piece other than it was made in the US we're guessing during the '60s. We found several pieces online from the same collection, but nothing quite like this one, so it must be fairly rare. I know Milo Baughman designed some stuff for Dillingham, although I don't have any proof that this is one of his. 

So our books are finally safe from the mighty jaws of Moses and frankly, this looks much better than the ubiquitous Expedit bookcase anyway. We grabbed these nifty brass whale bookends on sale too!


Laurel Wishbone Lamps

About a year ago we bought a pair of lamps from a vintage store for $125. At the time we were fairly broke and $125 was an awful lot of money, but we both instantly loved them and didn't even think twice about dropping the cash... until we drove away and buyer's remorse set in. Well, we posted a little blurb on the blog about our weekend finds and a reader commented that they looked like Laurel Wishbone lamps. So we did a little research, and sure enough, that's exactly what they are. Suddenly $125 seemed like a great bargain considering that we later found pairs of these selling for as much as $3600.

From what we could gather from our research, it looked like they even had the original shades and wiring. Sounds great, right? Well, it would be if original shades didn't equal kind of smelly, discolored and starting to disintegrate... The burning smell that permeated the room every time we turned them on, wasn't thrilling either. So they sat on our nightstands for the last year as nonfunctional sculptures until we finally got around to repairing them last them week. This is what lamp surgery looks like:

The easy part, of course, was cleaning them up and swapping out the shades which we found on sale @ Lamps Plus (we're going to keep the old ones stashed away too just in case). The harder part was replacing the chord and socket set. Normally it's a fairly simple job, but feeding wires through the exceedingly narrow brass "wishbone" was no easy task on these. It also didn't help that the lamp comes apart into about 20 pieces as you can see above. A couple of hours later though, they look (and smell) like brand new lamps. Here's a little before and after:

Also, I was playing with our new camera lens which I quite love and thus, couldn't decide which photo I liked better, so here's another before and after. AND, it's a bit of a sneak preview of our new bedroom color!


Edward Wormley Headboard

It's funny how much more appealing a thing can be once you find out how much it's worth. 

We decided when we moved in to this house that it was time to become grown-ups and upgrade from our old full size bed. We started our usual scouring of eBay and Craigslist looking for just the right king size bed or headboard. When our tax refund came, we even almost considered this overpriced industrial canopy bed from Anthropologie:

But at $1900 we just couldn't justify it. 

So about a year ago we spotted this old '50s caned headboard for $175 at one of our favorite haunts in Phoenix (Zinnia's). We liked it, but we always thought maybe we could find something a little better. So months went by and every time we stopped by the store we'd check to see if the headboard was still there. Sure enough, it was always right where we left it, just collecting dust behind some old end tables and nick nacks. 

Some time later we happened to be browsing eBay for headboards and we came across a piece that looked just like the one we had our eye on. It was listed as Edward Wormley for Dunbar. Starting bid: $1600. We were on the freeway 5 minutes later. 

When we got to the store, we rushed back to the booth, and of course, there it was. We greedily slid it from behind the pile of odds and ends to reveal that beautiful little metal plate that read "Dunbar - Berne, Indiana". We also noticed the price had been reduced to $150!

When we got home with our prize we did a little more research and found that Edward Wormley was known for designing really high quality modern furniture for Dunbar in the '40s and '50s. From 1950 - 1955, he was included in the Good Design Exhibitions staged by the MoMA. So while he may not be as well known as Eames or Saarinen, his furniture is still very collectible. In fact, we found the exact same headboard on 1stdibs listed for $7,500. In case you're not a math wiz, that's 50x what we paid for it! Of course we'd never get that much for it if we sold it ourselves, but it does feel nice to tell yourself it's worth $7,500.

It actually turned out to be perfect for our bedroom anyway, so regardless of its value, we really love it. One of these mornings when we're feeling motivated enough to make the bed, we'll post some photos of the bedroom. For now all you get is this photo of the lonely headboard:


Chicken Friends

Yesterday we officially joined the urban chicken craze. Meet our newest family members: Elvis and Pterodactyl. 

We picked Elvis because of her impeccable fashion sense (she's a silkie) and Pterodactyl because we didn't want no freeloadin' chickens thinkin' they can live in our backyard without payin' rent. Once she gets settled in a month or two, Pterodactyl has promised to contribute 4-5 eggs per week. She has also promised that they will be delicious. Wish us luck!


Look Ma, no wires!

We've had this Danish Dyrlund Smith credenza in our living room for the past year and a half that we've been meaning to turn into a proper entertainment console. This past Cyber Monday we got a good deal on a TV and decided that it was finally time to take on the project. So here's what we've been working on over the holidays:

With TV's getting slimmer and slimmer, that also means smaller speakers which you usually have to supplement. We didn't want to clutter up the space with surround sound speakers though, so we opted for this smaller Yamaha sound bar. It gets some pretty big sound for such a small unit, and you really can't beat the price. We knew we wanted everything else to be super clean too, so here are a few tools we used to achieve the look:

We started with a low profile TV mount. With TVs getting thinner, it's nice to keep the hardware slim too. 

To hide the cords we used a product called PowerBridge. It's basically a simple in-wall cable management system. It makes it super easy to run all your cords inside the wall with one clean plate on each end. Then we cut a small hole in the back of the console to connect the components.

We also set up a small IR extender (that tiny box w/ the blue light). This little guy will pick up the signal from our remotes and send it to little IR flashers that repeat the signal inside the media cabinet. This allows us to keep the doors of the credenza closed and still use our remotes.

Finally, we added about $50 worth of accessories from Marshall's (and one antique piece we already had) and there you have it: our new entertainment console.


Breuer Cesca Chairs

Recently we came across a handsome set of B32 Cesca chairs - 2 arm chairs and 4 sides. They were made in Italy in the late '60s. We didn't really have a place for them, but we couldn't pass them up because, well, they were free, and originals sell @ DWR for over $1,200 apiece! Seems like a pretty good deal, right?

Well, here's some stuff that you won't care about unless you're obsessed with chairs like us. The Cesca chair was designed in 1928 by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer and named after his daughter Francesca. According to Cara McCarty, associate curator, department of architecture and design at MoMA, "it's among the 10 most important chairs of the 20th century". In fact, an original 1928 Cesca chair is in the MoMA's permanent collection. So yeah, it's a pretty big deal.

Unfortunately, we already have dining chairs that we love, so we're probably going to try to rehome these. It's a shame, really. UPDATE: Here's a link to our Craigslist listing: http://phoenix.craigslist.org/evl/fuo/2866434757.html


DIY Barcelona Chair Repair

In a previous post we were super excited about our new Barcelona chairs that we got a screaming deal on. Well, it turns out that sometimes you really do get what you pay for. The leather cushions actually appear to be good quality leather which is why we purchased them to begin with. We just didn't think to check out the support straps underneath. Over the last few months they began to snap one by one until the chairs were pretty much unsittable (yes, I just invented that word). When we took the cushions off to have a closer look we found that the straps were made of some sort of cheap bonded leather that we could actually rip with our hands. 

Well, it seems that there wasn't a whole lot of info on the web about Barcelona chair repair, until about 6 months ago when Kate at Retro Ranch Revamp had a similar issue. She created a GREAT step-by-step guide which made the job SO easy (it can be found here). So armed with Kate's how-to guide, and about $200 worth of leather straps and tools, we ripped out the old support straps (literally) and went to work. 

This is obviously a condensed version of the repair, but it's basically just 3 steps: cut the leather, punch the holes, and secure the straps with Chicago screws.

Our chairs are now better than new, and we no longer have to worry about guests falling through the seats.

Our only bit of advice on this project would be to spend the extra money for a good leather punch. The first one we got cost $7 on eBay and lasted through about 3 punches before falling apart. We upgraded to more heavy duty $14 model which held up well, but the punch didn't line up right with the anvil, so we had to punch each hole twice.


Our DIY live edge entry table

We thought that finding a console table for our entry would be easy. The problem was that we had really specific dimensions to work with. We couldn't really find anything we liked that fit our space, so we considered a few DIY options. We kept our eyes open wherever we went hoping to find an interesting piece of barn wood or some old industrial equipment we could turn into a functional piece of furniture. We finally decided that a slab of live edge lumber would work best for us. The only snag was that lumber isn't exactly plentiful in Phoenix, and if you can manage to find something, it's usually expensive.

After doing a bit of research, we found a PEFC certified, sustainable tree farm in Ohio (yeah, we're sooo green) that sells beautiful live edge lumber on eBay. So we picked out an amazing slab of live edge red maple. It's super figured, a little wormy and totally awesome. We also picked up some raw steel hairpin legs from hairpinlegs.com to add a little industrial flare.

Phase 1: Sealing and attaching legs

Phase 2: Finishing - It took a bit of research to find just the the right lacquer. We had to find something that would make the figure pop, but wouldn't change the color of the wood too much. Maple is also prone to yellowing over time, so it was important to use a product that protected against discoloration. CAB-acrylic lacquer was the perfect thing. A few coats later it looked like this:

Phase 3: Enjoying our new console table. After letting it air out, we moved it into position. We painted some Mio Paper Forms wallpaper squares that we've had tucked away for years and stuck them on the wall above. We also decided that our plant and bird looked better on the console. 

We actually enjoyed the project so much that we're considering making and selling them. Maybe someday we'll start an OMC Etsy store. 


The Frank Lloyd Wright Spire

Some people might say, "Frank Lloyd Wright is the greatest American architect of all time". And by "some people", I mean the American Institute of Architects, who in 1991 recognized Frank as "the greatest American architect of all time". 

Some of his more well-known works include FallingwaterRobie House and the Guggenheim which, coincidentally, are all available in the Lego Architecture collection (I love Legos AND architecture, so this discovery kind of blew my mind). 

One of Frank's lesser-known works can be found at the Promenade shopping center in Scottsdale. There you can marvel at such timeless architectural icons as Sleep America, Hot Dog Stop, Old Navy and a towering 125-foot piece of mid century art designed by "the greatest American architect of all time".

I'm pretty sure that wasn't quite what he had in mind when he designed what is now called the Frank Lloyd Wright Spire... In fact, I'm positive that it wasn't what he had in mind because it was originally designed in 1957 to crown the top of FLW's Arizona State Capitol building. Of course it was decided that the building was far too avant garde and the whole project was shelved until 2004 when the spire alone was finally built and plopped down in the corner of a shopping center.

Well, even though it's not as grand as it was originally intended to be, it's still a pretty spectacular sight, and I had been wanting to get some night shots of the spire for a while. So a couple of months ago, my buddy Myke (check out his blog here) and I went on a little photogging excursion. And there you have it - a small piece of what could have been. I think what depresses me most is that there will never be a Lego FLW Arizona State Capitol building. How do you sleep at night, Arizona??