A Seattle Design Perspective

Whenever I visit Seattle, I am inspired by towering trees,  snow capped mountains, and a naturalistic approach to interior design. Like this eco-friendly home by Finn Architects.  The space brings the beauty of the surroundings in with a row of sky lights and nearly floor to ceiling windows.

The modern perspective and minimalist ideals in this home by Nikos Koukourakis keep sustainability in mind.

Ever heard the term ‘cargotecture’?  Me either until I came upon this fascinating piece of interior imagination.  Cargotecture is any structure built partially or entirely from recycled cargo containers like this one by HyBrid Architecture, a Seattle based firm.

Whether you embrace a modern aesthetic or simply admire it from afar, it has a strong place in the world of interior design.  Not every sustainable home has to be straight lines and floor to ceiling windows, but eco-inspired living can provide an example as we build the homes of tomorrow.


All Natural Cleaning Products

I am always on the hunt for more natural cleaning products, and I stumbled upon this great article at Real Simple about some unexpected natural cleaners most of us already have in the pantry, like rice!  If you have a grimy vase you can’t seem to get clean, fill it with warm water and add a tablespoon of rice.  Stir vigorously.

Another great item on the shelf is oatmeal.  Use it to scrub your hands or make a facial mask by adding it to warm water.  Apply to skin for 10-15 minutes.  With all the recent information coming out about parabens, which are commonly used in cosmetics and skin care products and have been linked to infertility, cancer, and neurological issues, using all natural products not just for the home but for yourself is an ideal way to go.

If you have a tough to treat stain like magic marker on a solid surface counter top or your finished wood floors, dab a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rub gently.

Unless your one of those cleaning freaks like my Grandma Rose who loves scrubbing bathtubs and mopping the kitchen floor, cleaning is a task most of us try to avoid.  Hopefully these products will make a cleaning a little easier!

Apartment Hunting San Francisco Style

What is it like searching for an apartment in San Francisco late in 2011?  Madness, pure madness.  On the spot bidding wars.  Ten to twelve applications on one place.  Outdated one bedroom apartments listed for $2200-$3000.  Like this gem (?) on a very busy street for $2395.00…not exactly a dream kitchen…

What about the bath and that window you see?  It’s actually a mirror over a fake window.  And don’t let the cute tile floor deceive you – most of it is so chipped I’d be afraid to go in there without shoes!

At least the living room and bedroom have hardwood floors and get some great natural light, but for close to $2500 bucks I was expecting a little more space and a little less street noise.

What about a rental studio with no walls or separate living space?  You can get one for the low, low price of $1900 a month complete with 1980’s style carpet!

When we first arrived I had grandiose ideas about where we would live.  The best neighborhood within walking distance of Whole Foods and great shopping – Ha!  Now I’m thinking we’ll be lucky to get an apartment at the corner of Cracktown and Homelessville.

At least San Francisco has so much to offer and incredible walkability so you can easily get from one area to another.  I am loving being back in such a dynamic city, but I’m literally shocked at the cost of living out here.  Recession?  What recession?

Small Towns of California

When I think of California, I can’t help but think of the tiny towns that dot the coastline and meander through the hillsides.  Take Los Olivos. It’s barely a town, hardly more than an intersection, but beautifully nestled in the Santa Yzez mountains amid rolling vineyards and understated wineries.

Wine Country Home is a shop I wouldn’t miss.  My favorite thing about it?  It doesn’t even have a website!

In the mood for something sweet?  Enjoy Cupcakes might be just the place.  If you’re planning an informal wedding or an outdoor affair, they can come right to your front door!

If you’re going to visit only one small town in California, Carmel-by-the-sea is the one I suggest.  Just minutes from Pebble Beach, this coastal gem is filled with shopping and dining.

Toffee colored beaches wind along a rocky coast

And story book homes spring to life

The last place on my list is Napa Valley.  Well known as a wine filled honeymoon destination, it has plenty to offer in addition to endless tasting rooms and Michelin rated restaurants.

Like hot air balloon rides complete with champagne brunch

And spa treatments among towering trees at Calistoga Ranch

Napa is tops on my list for a weekend getaway with my husband.  It is where we planned to spend our honeymoon before real estate woes got in the way, but now we’ll be so close it’s a trip we won’t miss!

The Victorian Homes of San Francisco

San Francisco is lined with Victorian houses built on narrow plots of land creating tall, thin homes distinctive in style, the most iconic of which are the row of ginger bread gems set against the expansive skyline of this one of a kind city.

There are four distinct styles of Victorian homes beginning with Gothic Revival which was predominant in San Francisco from 1850 to 1880.  Homes of this style are easily identifiable with pointed arches over windows and doors, gabled roofs, and porches that extend the entire length of the home.

Italianate homes are best recognized through one distinctive feature, a tall cornice.  A cornice is defined as: the molded and projecting horizontal member that crowns an architectural composition, which you can see in the example below.

Stick style homes (yes, you heard it right) came onto the San Francisco scene around 1860 and may be the most prevalent type of Victorian homes in the city.  Decorative gables, wide bands of trim, and vertical lines are key features of stick style architecture.

Finally, Queen Anne architecture refers to homes combining elements from various styles of architecture, rather than homes from a particular time period as the name suggests.  Marked by towers and rounded window frames, this type of home has intricate details that make it one of a kind.

Many Victorian homes blend features of more than one style of architecture to create beautiful facades and opulent interiors. When I look in the windows, I can almost see gentlemen in crisp black overcoats and ladies in extravagant gowns moving through the shadows of a different place and time.