"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grime Fighters: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

  Got grime?
I know this post might look like a paid advertisement, but I can assure you it isn't (sigh). I just wanted to share my latest cleaning crush on the bald, buff, bushy-eyebrowed cartoon grime fighter, Mr. Clean.

Batman's car and Wonder Woman's lasso have nothing on Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers.

We're talking super powers.

With minimal elbow grease, I have personally used the Magic Erasers to cut through soapy build-up on shower doors (amazing!), shower tile (joy!), the grease on the glass stovetop, fingerprints (and Lord knows what else) on the walls, water spots on chrome, the ring-around-the-tub, and stubborn kitchen pots -to name a few. I would advise testing a small portion on your home's surfaces prior to all-over scrubbing just to be on the safe side.

For comparison's sake, I tested Target's private label, Up and Up, eraser-style sponges to see how they compared with the name brand. Priced almost $2 dollars cheaper than Mr.Clean, they worked just as well.

Isn't it nice when products deliver on their promises?

Cleaning the shower isn't the stuff day dreams are made of, but with the proper tools it doesn't have to be a nightmare either. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Happy scrubbing!

Mr.Clean's Magic Erasers with Banjo Music!
Good, clean fun.

At the scene of the grime...
 The rectangular sponges are Target's private label store brand, and the wavy shapes are the original Mr.Clean Magic Erasers. I tried them both and had similar results with each.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tile Style: California Pottery and Tile Works

When Audrey and Paul Smith renovated their upstairs bathroom, they remained true to the 1912 origins of their beautiful Craftsman home. When they added a small bathroom downstairs, however, they paid homage to a different era.

Like many homes in Long Beach, the two-story Craftsman was moved across town and relocated to its present location in California Heights in 1932, and the family decided to honor that history."We wanted our bathroom to look like it had been restored during the 30's," said Audrey.

To achieve the authenticity they were looking for, the artist and her very handy husband sought period-appropriate resources, starting with California Pottery and Tile Works (CPTW), a company dedicated to continuing the tradition of the Malibu and Catalina Potteries popular in the early 20th century.

Working with the custom-order company, however, meant Audrey had to determine the coloration of every tile pattern. She explains the process, '"like coloring in a coloring book -you have to tell them exactly what color you want filled in to every space."

She said first they decided on the pattern of each tile, which looks like a black and white outline, then she added the color. "We knew we wanted to use a lot of green." Audrey said once she sat down in the office with all of the tile samples the coloration process took about an hour.

I asked if she had any second thoughts after she had placed her order. "That's always the case when you get a little wild. Once the colors are picked and you drive home and you can't see what you decided on, you start imagining that you've picked out something awful! I just had to trust that my choices were the right ones." They were.

Of course, it's a little easier when you are armed with a fine arts degree. For the rest of us, Audrey advises, "Just be confident in your abilities, and if you aren't get a professional who understands what mood or feeling you are trying to achieve. Or look for a photograph or painting of the color combos you love and use it as a guide -just copy!"

To test it for yourself, try out CPTW's online design tool, Tile Painter.  If you register with the site you can play and experiment with the patterns and colors. Very cool. Video disclosure: beware the ultra-mellow voiceover that sounds like Mr. Rogers on anti-anxiety medication. Hang in there, it's actually very interesting...


Paul and Audrey chose inexpensive, basic black tiles to compliment and frame the custom pieces -a clever way to cut costs.

Once the tile was delivered, installation by Gurzi Brothers Tile was completed in four days.

Paul and his nephew, Jacob Lara, layed the foundation and framed the new space in addition to building the cabinetry, installing the fixtures and doing the drywall, plumbing, electrical, wood trim and painting. Did I mention they have three kids and host the Scout troops?

Paint color on the walls and trim is Sea Foam by Dunn Edwards; vanity cabinet, moldings, and window trim is Buttercream, also from Dunn Edwards.

I absolutely love the glaze on these tiles!

Audrey says her favorite thing about this jewel box of a space is the, "mural in the shower and the riot of color."
"We all spend so much time in here, it's nice to have something beautiful to look at."

Historic reproduction electrical switches and fixtures were found at Rejuvenation in Los Angeles.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

American Bath: Classic Craftsman

Restoring a 1912 Craftsman bungalow to it's original beauty takes an artist and a craftsman -which describes Long Beach, California homeowners Audrey and Paul Smith perfectly. 

Recently, the couple collaborated to renovate their upstairs bathroom to restore its charm, and perhaps as importantly, its function.

The original 6-foot, cast iron, claw-foot tub was completely refinished and Audrey's research found, Sunrise Specialty, a company that was able to provide new fixtures to fit the vintage bath.

The entire room was demo'd down to the studs and Paul put his tremendous talents to work doing the plumbing, window restoration, electrical work, wood moldings, fixture installation, painting and new cabinetry for the project.

Audrey found the perfect period reproduction light fixtures, switches and hardware at Rejuvenation in Los Angeles.
Although the artist admits she is thrilled with the additional storage and the new, pedestal sink, she says the best part is the way her new space works: "the toilet stays flushed when you flush it!" 
You can't argue with that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Walking Daisy: East Village, Long Beach, California

 Yesterday, after celebrating National Pie Day with great enthusiasm, I decided to take Daisy for a long walk in a part of town I have been meaning to explore: The East Village Arts District in Long Beach, California.

Located in the Eastern half of Downtown Long Beach, the up-and-coming arts district is an eclectic and decidedly urban mix of lofts, high rise condos, craftsman cottages, coffee shops, cafes, independent retailers, barber shops & bike rentals anchored by the nation's premiere Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA). 

You get the feeling the people here have a vision. There is energy and optimism, and something that looks like hope and heart for a creative community. The locals here eat at a place called, Utopia, which sort of says it all.

Construction on additional loft and high rise space is underway nearby and I noticed an old, formerly-fleabag hotel being renovated into what has the potential to be a very cool looking restaurant. Fingers crossed. 

It was a wonderful way to walk off a couple of calories from the day before, and if I Daisy and I hadn't stopped at that Crepe place, my exercise plan might have worked...
The afternoon reminded me of the wonderful quote fashion photojournalist Bill Cunningham used last year when accepting a prestigious award from the Ministry of Culture in France, "Those who seek beauty will find it!"

It looks like the folks around here couldn't agree more.

Art is everywhere- even the median planters are decorated with mirrored mosaics!

This alley way mural caught my eye...

Daisy, however, was much more interested in P.J.'s Pet Cafe!
Hey you...You lookin' at me? (And yes! that's a real dog in the window (check out his cool duds)! He was clearly enjoying the doggie daycare facilities and was soon joined by several barking friends! Daisy didn't know what to think...except for maybe, where can I get an outfit like that?

Don't forget to look up!
It sort of looks like she's sticking her tongue out...everybody's a critic...

The bus stops are completely covered with colorful mosaics. Love! 

 Tiles depict local street scenes.

Need I say more?

 Art Deco inspiration.


Daisy and I happened upon a wonderful community garden, framed by a gorgeous, plant covered archway and iron gate. Luckily, someone was just coming out and she waited to lock up while we looked around! What once must have been an empty lot is an oasis of green smack in the middle of the city. Absolutely beautiful!

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