Monthly Archives: June 2012

Heavenly Hydrangea…Flowers Around The House

So I can’t resist doing a little copy-cat post thanks to Steve over at The Urban Cottage. I have already been crowing about my “Endless Summer” hydrangeas – the name is enough to hook you line and sinker – but the colors and the incredible growth after just one year have me completely ensnared!

From planting last June:

To this June:

The variation of color and hue from flower to flower – heck, within each flower – is spectacular. I know I used a hydrangea prep fertilizer before I planted them, but I can’t remember what it was. I’ll ask my neighbor who gave it to me and post it in the comments.

Obviously, I have brought them indoors as they are divine…

…but I can’t bring myself to cut more than the stragglers yet as they really make the cottage come alive.

Since this photo was taken, a dark, almost black hollyhock has been planted at the end of the left row and one of the best rose climbers there is – Eden – on the right side.

Steve had been so kind to offer me dark-colored hollyhock seeds in response to my comment about his, but I got incredibly lucky at Sickles Market in Little Silver yesterday. I cannot recommend them highly enough as the selection and service was by far the best I have experienced in a long time.

I’m linking up with Jane’s Small But Charming Flower in the House Party. Stop over to see everyone else’s flowers too!

All Tied Up…Power Cord Bundling

OK, I actually wanted to call this post “I’m A Genius” but out of love my best friend wouldn’t let me. Do you know when you are so excited about the smallest accomplishment that you want to crow about it ridiculously? Home almost two weeks, I still feel sluggish and am beating myself up for not getting more done at the house. The truth is that the more you near completion, the harder it is to find and finish those details, as in, “will I ever have night tables in my bedroom?” because they need to be such a specific height and size and work with everything else in the room.

So my moment of joy comes from a good idea mixed with some luck. I am slowly organizing and styling the Sonoma bookcase in the TV room that I wrote about previously here. One conundrum concerned the cable box, DVD player, modem and the millions, yes millions, of cords that connect them all (which are even worse than they look here). As you can see in the photo below, even stacked one on the other, the components look skimpy and the cords are an eyesore. I had thought of hiding the players in a basket, but the remotes don’t work.

Yesterday I made the rounds at all my Point Pleasant antique shops and found this vintage delivery box, much like the one I featured here last year, but larger, at what I believe was the Summerhouse booth of Joanna Madden, who I wrote about here last summer. I forgot to take a photo of her display at Canvas House Antiques, but it was just what you might expect – peely paint furniture and glass bottles, lots of charm and patina. An idea of how to use the box was forming in my mind, but I wasn’t sure if it could be done. I stopped off at the local hardware store for some twist ties – no black, only green gardening ones which will have to do right now – and set to work.

Voila! How fabulous is this? The box was just the right size to sit the cable box on top of the open side. This gives the electronic components enough vertical lift that they fill the shelf space nicely (and keeps the “Fancy Print Butter” label right side up). Better yet, all the power cords have been bundled inside the box at the back. The ones stretching down from the TV have been tied to the iron X bar that supports the shelves – I’ll need to improve on those but I was in a hurry.  I plan on disguising the modem on the shelf below with a storage basket on one side and some large books on the other, or perhaps I will stumble across some other fun and funky object.

I promise the whole bookcase soon. I just have to get to the Ladies Auxiliary Book Sale next week to beef up on my reading material!

Related Posts:
A Television Solution From My Notting Hill and Ballard Designs
Living Large in Small Spaces…FDR, Home Relief and Cream Cheese Boxes at the Tenement Museum of New York

Sayonara Series…Styling Rules and Japanese Accessories

This is one of those posts in which I could have based entirely on photographs of local collections but unfortunately, everyone’s movers worked way faster than expected and most of my anticipated photos got packed up! But everything in this post, while geared towards styling Japanese vintage and antique accessories holds true for just about anything from anywhere. But don’t expect this post to be exhaustive in topic or example. Obviously I could write ten posts about groupings of blue and white porcelain (just look at this month’s House Beautiful) or Japanese glass fishing floats (and I have in the past here, herehere and here for example) as well as some of the more unusual decorative objects we find regularly in Japan (kashigata, katagami, hagoita, come to mind). The focus of this post is really not what you are displaying, but how. I have a few simple “rules” to go by, nothing particularly original, but if you use these, your displays will be better.

One of my most basic rules is the rule of multiples. You can display a single item of a kind, like this Japanese basket perched above the drinks cabinet…

…but beyond that, with the exception of matched pairs, you need a group a similar objects placed together, like these amazing ikebana (flower arranging) baskets on the side board of an apartment designed by Emily Henderson for Michael Reisz on an episode of HGTV’s Secrets of a Stylist. Like objects should always be grouped tightly together, not placed around a space separate and unlinked from each other. I call this the “anti-pimple” rule of display.

Also demonstrated by these baskets is the rule of odd numbers, with the exception of matched pairs again (more on that later). If at a glance you can instantly count the number of objects in a grouping an odd number will always look better. I am sure there is some organic mathematical or mystical reason for this, depending on your personal perspective, but in this case just take my word for it.

The next rule is is that of varied elevation. If the baskets were just lined up on the sideboard, they would look nowhere near as good as they do with some placed higher on wooden boxes. Even their own variety of height would not achieve the same effect.

The rule of containment is to use a single decorative object such as a tray or bowl to corral another collection. We find these roughly hewn soba bowls at shrine sales all over Japan and they are great for holding collections of glass fishing floats…

…floats plus shells and souvenir rocks (love this idea!)…

…or how about hard to store baseball paraphernalia?

Another rule demonstrated by these bowl displays is to use no more than 3 types of objects and ideally either 1 or 3 (odd numbers again). The grouping of all floats is cohesive, the combo of floats, shells and rocks is cohesive, and the mitts and balls work even though there are only two types of items because one of the mitts is very dark in color and reads as a third type of item. If you put too many kinds of items in the bowl, then it will just look like a bunch of junk.

Here Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home uses her bowl to hold magazines. Isn’t it amazing how attractive even the most mundane items can be when displayed correctly?

Another favorite local collectible I have not yet written about is kokeshi dolls, the simple armless painted wooden dolls which originated in northern Japan, but are now made and sold all over the country. Vintage examples from the last 100 years or so of different varieties are a shrine sale staple. They are charming, and easy to collect.

While cute, it is important to give enough gravitas to their display to keep them from looking insignificant. This grouping is crowded by the other unrelated objects on display…

…in comparison to this grouping, where the dolls have space to breathe and coordinate with the other objects nearby. This collector has also chosen to use the rule of strict palette/shape/style to limit which colors and types she buys to create cohesion through the simple black and red paint, while using a variety of heights to create dynamism in the vignette.

This shelf effectively boxes the collection much in the way the soba bowls did above. The enclosure helps to unify the variety of dolls collected.

And here the kokeshi have been literally “boxed” to create cohesion from their variety. Note this display follows the rule of odd numbers and the rule of varied elevation in a vertical format. I do love these cute washi (Japanese paper) lined boxes – they remind me of this and this. And if you are interested in making these there is a DIY tutorial on Poppy Talk too!

Here we have a beautiful grouping of antique iron teapots, but the collection is not yet complete. Imagine this grouping if you either added one or took one away. Imagine if all the teapots sat at the same height instead of having one raised. The plan for the fifth teapot to complete this vignette is for it to be a larger fairly horizontally volumed one. Perhaps another small kettle stand with shorter legs than the one pictured will also be added.

Summer calls, but I owe you some follow up posts on rule-breaking display, because if there are rules, they must be broken, as well one on matched pairs, which have their own display rules. Watch for upcoming related posts on a basket wall installation I did in Tokyo right before leaving for the summer and in contrast, some tiny decorative items that ingenious friends are putting to good use.

Related Posts:
Vignette Arranging With Shrine Sale Goodies at the Beach House
Ways to Display…Porcelain on Brackets
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Vintage Etched and Engraved Plateaus
En Masse…Iron Teapots, Vincente Wolf and the Art of Grouped Displays

Image credits: 1. Cottage Living via Bryn Alexandra, 2-3. via Emily Henderson, photo credit: Mark Champion, 4, 9 & 12. me, 5-6. M. Small, 7. via Pure Style Home, 8. Wendy Withers via Apartment Therapy, photo credit: Bethany Nauert, 10. via Decor Allure, 11. Janis Nicoay via Poppy Talk.

Media Madness…Tokyo Podcast, Advertising and My City Antiquing

Exciting news here at Tokyo Jinja! Anthony Joh of Tokyo Podcast was lovely enough to feature me on his newest Podcast! While there is nothing worse than listening to a recording of your own voice, it really was exciting to do a live interview. I am the appetizer to a longer feature about Bobby Judo and his cooking show on Japanese television, but I come first in the Podcast, so please take a moment to listen to it by clicking here. There are MP3 and iTunes links as well.

I don’t often write about the technical side of blogging, but it is one that I am increasingly thinking about.  I’d really love to escape this standard WordPress template I have been using for many reasons, the first being that I hate clicking into another blog using the exact same one. It denigrates the quality of what I am working so hard to achieve. But I do love the easy format provided by the WordPress platform and my html skills are definitely not ready to do it on my own! So if anyone out there knows a graphic designer well versed in creating blogs and websites, I’d love to hear about them.

Another reason I am interested in spreading my wings is so that I can consider advertising. Most of the other design blogs are on Blogger, the Google platform, which has built-in advertising available. WordPress just started their own automated ads, called AdSense about a month ago and I signed on as an early user. How many of you have noticed that my new posts have an ad box at the end? What do you think? Does it bother you? If you think about how much time and effort I exert on this blog I think you would agree that earning some money from it would be reasonable. I know some bloggers believe it can compromise their journalistic integrity, but if the ads are selected by some computer algorithm, how would that be the case? In all honesty, I think ads for apartments in Japan and language lessons (which is what has been springing up on my site) are not geared to my target audience and I cannot imagine that any of my readers have been clicking them.  I think this is borne out by the fact that I earned $6.71 from them last month.

I would like to think about taking individual ads from sponsors on related themes and have actually been contacted by antique dealers and others about advertising. For example, take a look at the ads in Joni‘s left side bar and you will see what I mean. That kind of advertising seems to make more sense, but as it stands now, it is not possible in the WordPress platform I am using. On the other hand, the push from sponsors to feature their products in posts might be just the kind of compromise I am not willing to make.

I have also been recently contacted by a Wiki project aimed at creating a comprehensive worldwide directory of antique shops and market places. I really love the idea of all that information gathered under one roof so I have gone ahead and linked some of the articles they requested. Take a look at the bottom of this post to see the “Featured Review” button and let me know what you think! There is even an iPhone app with built-in GPS, which seems like an amazing tool for travel.

I know everyone is busy with summer, but I’d love comments and suggestions, including negative ones about the advertising or anything else, as I consider what direction Tokyo Jinja should head in. I’ve received some wonderful personal emails from readers in the last months and I think of this blog as being your and theirs as well as mine.

Related Posts:
Tokyo Jinja on CNNgo Today

Shop Talk…Unpacking, Privet House and Target

Back in the USA for about 48 hours and as usual, jet lag has me a bit out of commission, but as usual, I have been to a few of my favorite local antique haunts before making it to the supermarket. As usual I have dragged a bunch of decorative finds from the last year with me, this time in a giant box that I was lucky enough to manage to check on the plane. Many of the things in it you have seen in posts before but there are a few fabulous things that you won’t have seen…

A pair of vintage fans.

A lacquer wagashi (Japanese sweets) covered case, a vintage brass and porcelain iron (can you spot the kanji character?) and a favorite blue and purple transferware bowl forgotten and recently found.

And the piece de resistance, a brass and tin-lined film reel canister, designed to protect old movie reels from fire and damp. It is from a theater in Ginza and seals tightly. I am not sure this photo does it justice, but I am sure you’ll be seeing more of it as I am thinking of using it for recycling in the kitchen. I also brought back this huge wire basket – no purpose in mind yet – but so lovely and sculptural. You can see another one in the background of the photo – I seem to be collecting them!

I am getting the house in order and starting to make a list of everything that needs to be done, but finding the key pieces I still need to be elusive (remember, I have already done a pass through my favorite antique stores with no luck). I might need to travel further afield, and on that note, I am dying to visit Privet House in Connecticut.

Billed as “an Emporium of Home Goods, Antiques and Curiosities” giving it a John Derian-esque air, I first heard about it through a post on the wonderful Good Bones Great Pieces blog written by Lauren and Suzanne McGrath, whose eponymous new book is also on my must read this summer.  Privet House is the baby of Richard Lambertson and Suzanne Cassano, two well-known design industry professionals and neighbors who joined forces to open the shop. Everything in their photos looks interesting, but I am thinking I am so riveted by it because of the paint color – Benjamin Moore Sweet Innocence 2125-50 – so similar to my own beloved Benjamin Moore Pelican Gray 1612. Shopping there would almost be like trying everything out at home!

Vintage leather suitcases – you all know where I stand on those!

Funky swing arm lighting – you know where I stand on that too. And doesn’t the shade remind you of these from here?

I have the feeling it all may be very pricey, so I might just have to content myself with some of these Turkish hammam towels. Dreamy colors, don’t you think?

But the good news is that the Privet look is available to the masses at The Shops at Target – they have a branded line there right now full of lots of things I love including galvanized tin garden supplies.

Dishes galore, including many funky pattern melamine ones, perfect for patio meals…

…and these embossed white china ones which may be my perfect summer home basics!

So in addition to the antique shops, I have also managed to make it over to Target (but still not the supermarket) and loaded up on Privet House items – all on sale too!

Jet lag fugue state closing in so it is time to go sit on the porch. And my children want dinner – the nerve of them! Here’s one more image of wonderful things here at the house – my hydrangeas are gorgeous and look so pretty in the transferware bowl. And you can see how similar the wall paint color is too!

Happy Summer!

Image credits: 1-4 & 14-15. me, 5-7 & 9. via Privet House, 8. via Good Bones Great Pieces, 10-13. via Target

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