Thursday, March 13, 2014


In the world of design it's common to think outside the box. Designers, Architects and Builders are constantly pushing the limit and pushing against the norm.

Start with the building of a home, from the ground up it involves a ton of moving pieces and sometimes it's hard to imagine how everything will come together and if it will ever come together, until you see it done.  It takes thinking outside of the box. It takes imagination. And, in this case, with what we're inspired by today, it takes thinking about the INSIDE of a box. A special box.

The Shipping Container.

In 1956 Malcom McLean, an American trucking businessman was thinking outside the box when he created the first metal shipping container which revolutionized transport and international trade. By 1970 the container, made of Corten steel, was a common sight on cargo boats.  Malcom McLean, who was often called "The Father Of Containerization", was named Man of The Century by the International Maritime Hall of Fame.


What would Father think of us now? Blending design, architecture and home building with his livelihood, shipping containers.  Have we all gone crazy?

Shipping Container Homes became a reality around 2006 when architect Peter DeMaria took a year long sabbatical to research alternative building materials that would add value to his projects, but reduce costs. Peter built one of the nations first container homes and the idea has not taken a backseat (lower deck?) since.

We've found ourselves inspired by in the ingenuity, the sustainability and the beauty behind these structures. They are finished minimally or lavishly and often come in well under the cost of a brick and mortar or wood counterpart. These homes will never rust, corrode, are mold resistant and designed to stand their ground in typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. It's a great example of how the imagination of a few can turn in to opportunity for many. From homes to offices to cafes to pop up stores, here is what you can find today, across the globe:

Follow us on Pinterest to keep up to date on the latest and greatest Shipping Container Homes.

This is one of the first container homes to be built in the US.

Airy, wouldn't you say?
The bigger the better.
We are loving the Mid Century Modern feel of this one.
Mid Century meets sustainability.
This one leaves nothing to be desired. We love the juxtaposition of the modern container home next to the, seemingly, traditional brick and mortar structure.                        
home and pool from shipping containers
This entire project is worth the read.  (We spy pink!)                                                                                                                

Color has never looked so good!
Container Guest House
The small footprint of this lends to the possibility of a guest cottage in an average backyard. Guests may never leave!
Amazing vision with this one.

A family in Costa Rica built this home for a fraction of the cost of a traditional build.  We'd say, "Worth every penny!"

Two 40' shipping containers set together with a raised mid section and clerestory windows. The discarded shipping container home was built for a couple who wanted to live debt free on their property outside of San Jose, Costa Rica.  #alternativeliving
Does size matter?
Warm, airy, modern- my favorite!
Starbucks does coffee right and does sustainability very right!

Coffee + Containers
Makes going to work interesting!

Work like this reminds us that thinking outside the box yields great results for those who can dream along with us.

Friday, October 16, 2009

iPhone Paint Colors

Ben Color Capture is a free iPhone app from Benjamin Moore that makes it a snap to find and match great colors to use for your next painting adventure. Take a picture of anything with your iPhone that has the color you want and the Color Capture app shows you a strip of colors that have the closest paint color match highlighted. Give your phone a simple shake and your ben app will give you four coordinating colors that create a perfectly harmonizing palette based on the original color. There are a ton of colors all with their names shown in the Ben Color app.  It also allows you to save your favorites for instant color coordination and comparison.  Favorites can be enlarged to the size of the iPhone screen for easier viewing. 

watch how it's done!

For the free Ben Color Capture download visit

Not familiar with Benjamin Moore?  This is the paint I prefer to use and specify and one of the country's leading manufacturers of premium quality residential, commercial and industrial maintenance paint/coatings. Their products are distributed via a network of independent paint and decorating retailers located throughout North America. Locally that includes Guiry's, Belcaro, Ponderosa Paint Centers and select ACE Hardware locations.  Benjamin Moore is committed to sustainable manufacturing practices plus the ongoing development of the most eco–responsible formulations possible. Its portfolio of Green Promise™ products continues to grow and includes Aura, ├╝ber–performance low–VOC paint; Natura Zero–VOC Interior Paint; and EcoSpec Zero–VOC Paint for commercial interiors.

New Ravenna Mosaics

On Tuesday I went to a tile showing at Decorative Materials in the Design Center for the tile company, New Ravenna Mosaics. The founder/owner/artist of New Ravenna, Sara Baldwin, was there from Virginia to speak and show her new products. I was so inspired by her! Not only is she an amazing artist but a true entrepreneur. She started her company in 1991 after creating her own mosaic tile designs and realizing there had to be a market for them. She moved into her parents home with her young son and started her company. Today she employees over 100 people and is one of the largest employers in Northampton County, Virginia. Her mosaics are sold through nearly 200 exclusive designer showrooms across the country and internationally.

Their products are handcrafted from stone & glass then made into decorative borders, murals, fields
and medallions.  The sky is the limit with this company!  They create many custom pieces.  By just changing the stone or glass color in a field design you can create a completely different look.  This is one of the reasons most people would need a designer or architect to assist them!  Most home owners can't envision a pattern repeat let alone changing the colors within the pattern. 

It's too bad not every pattern could be made into sample boards this big because you begin to get the full effect and beauty in each of the pieces. 

Seeing them in person is really the only way to truly appreciate the intricate detail, colors and design.

New Ravenna has created a collection for Ann Sacks called Beau Monde.  This collection is a fresh and updated graphic interpretation.  Expressing timeless glamour of Old Hollywood.

close up of of the patterns in the Beau Monde collection for Ann Sacks

Montgomery 1, another Beau Monde pattern in Calacatta Tia & Emperador Dark marbles....can't go wrong
with this combo!

close up detail


Galaxy Floor

close up of Galaxy

Path is made with Thassos honed & polished chips of Calacatta placed as grout lines.  Beautiful in person!

A bathroom in Gracie Mansion in New York.

Sara Baldwin's personal bathroom.  Floor (above) and shower (below) both done is Mist which is made of handchopped & tumbled stones in multiple colors.

close up of Mist



close up of Tamsin


close up of of my favorites!

This is an inlaid kitchen island border using a water jet pattern

they added a coordinating pattern above the stove


custom medallion

custom medallion

Medallion use is not limited to entryways! 

Here are more beautiful
New Ravenna products

these next 4 are examples of lazer cut glass patterns

large rose

Amazing detail and color!

to see more go to
sold at Decorative Materials in the Denver Design Center

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ingo Maurer

Ingo Maurer is one of my favorite artists/lighting designers. I want to share with you some of his creations. I know his fixtures are not for everyone...both style wise and price point...but I feel they are worth sharing for their wonderful creative, artistic and inspiring aspects. His website is very fun so take time to check it out.

I hope you enjoy!

How fun is this light fixture?!

Zettel'z 5, by Ingo Maurer is just one of his many creations. It consists of 31 pre-printed love letters in many languages written on Japanese notepaper and comes with 49 blank sheets that invite the owner to participate in the creativity. The chandelier will shed direct and diffused light, depending on the different paper layers. A heat resistant, frosted glass bulb
cover protects the design from high temperatures.

Who is Ingo Maurer? German-born, Ingo is one of the most influential and respected artist/designers working today. Fascinated by what he calls the "magical and mystical" properties of light. Maurer has received a number of renowned design awards. Since 1966 he has created more than 150 different lights and lighting systems, and designed lighting for international venues, including fashion runways, public buildings and monuments, and private commissions. His fixtures demonstrate that lighting can be highly creative, dazzling in concept, minimalist in detail and provocative in it's humor and reaction.

Porca Miseria, by Ingo Maurer, is by far my favorite!! It's an amazing combination of beauty, creativity, danger and edginess. I would love to see this one in person! It looks random, yet it's precisely choreographed like a ballet. Ingo created it after attending a famous furniture show in Milan and found too many designs that were "slick and design-conscious". Porca Miseria was developed partly as a kind of revolt against that tendency and partly for his admiration of slow-motion film explosions. It's produced in limited quantities...only 10 made in a year. It takes 4 people almost 5 days to create. According to Ingo the dishes are purchased at a regular shop and then dropped, smashed and broken with a hammer. Another reason I love this fixture is the name, Porca Miseria is an Italian curse. Interestingly I loved this fixture before learning just how rebellious it is!

Close up showing the detail involved in creating a Porca Miseria fixture

Oh.Mei.Ma, by Ingo Maurer. Constructed of six sheets of handmade paper coated with either gold or silver leaf (shown).

Birds, Birds, Birds, by Ingo Maurer, is an impressive work of art that shows Ingo's humor. A substantial chandelier with 24 unique low voltage bulbs adorned with goose feather wings, all attached to wires that can be turned, twisted and stretched in every direction. Measures 48" diameter x 75"H.

Fly Candle Fly, by Ingo Maurer, appears to levitate in mid air. Simple yet extremely impactful when used alone or in a grouping! Consists of a wax candle, extension wire, drip-catcher. Burns for approx. 20 hours and self-extinguishes.