Got a Christmas Tree “Hole” in the House?

Got a Christmas Tree “Hole” in the House?

Phew- you made it through the holidays relatively unscathed- congratulations! And if you’re like me, you performed the thankless job of taking down and putting the holiday decorations away last week.

Suddenly the house looks a bit more naked, especially that little spot or nook where the tree used to be? Time for a micro makeover!

Believe it or not, one of the little annoyances in space planning and redecorating rooms is there is usually one little skinny, tall area in the room where not much fits comfortably in the space. If an object is too wide in a little area, it usually looks like like a stuffed sausage and looks out of proportion.

So you start doing strange searches on the net for things like “tall skinny furniture,” which I can tell you firsthand is a relatively futile Google search.

What can you do to “mind the gap for a micro makeover?”

Micro Makeover Options

Lighting

The first thing people think of when they need something long, skinny and tall is some sort of lighting apparatus. Ah yes, the ubiquitous 90’s torcheire- didn’t we all have one of these in our first apartments?


The problem was, they got REALLY hot (even sometimes catching fire), and most importantly, do you want to replay 1992 in your grown-up house?

Functionally, uplights, or torcheires do add some general, or ambient light to a room, but they work better by casting a soft, gentle glow and resulting shadows to an area, or used as accent lighting.

Here’s a room where we added one just for a bit of accent lighting: (this one looks better at night but it’s the only pic I had)

Today’s torcheires are less bright, (those old ones could light up a crime scene!) and more beautiful, albeit a little more pricey than that Wal-Mart special back in the 90’s. Yes, it’s time to grow up!

contemporary torcheire with glass shade

Two glass shades cast a warm glow.

If Arts and Crafts is more your thing, the stained glass here casts interesting patterns in a room

contemporary accent and task lighting fixture

A hybrid using accent light and task lighting (only try this look if your style is ultra contemporary!

Hww about a pillar of light? Retro, fun in a corner. Groovy, baby!

Objects D’Art

I have to admit, I’m in dangerous territory here. One of my favorite sculpture is Giacometti’s “Walking Man” and it would be the perfect thing to place in the “Chrismas Tree Zone.”

Giacometti Walking Man But, at $104 million at last auction, maybe a tad out of budget.

I like to look over at the Phiilips Collection for interesting tall, skinny objects d’arte. I think this might be a tad more affordable:

 

But admittedly, I’m on dangerous ground, because accessories are very personal. I like these too, you may not- that’s OK!

teak sculpture

Twisted teak piece sculpture for an organic element

 

Leaf standing sculpture

Leaf me alone!

Incidentally, all of these sculptures stand over 5 feet tall!

Screens

If it’s a corner, usually a multi-paneled hinged screen will be the ticket. This screen is neat for the mottled mirrored effect, and we’ve used it a few times over the yearsmirrored screen for corner makeover

There’s a host of interesting screens out there, but remember, it shouldn’t have a lot of visual weight unless you want the “Christmas Tree Zone” to be your focal point year round. Subtle, with perhaps a touch of bling, if you’re so inclined.

From Arteriors Home

Perfect for a drafty corner! By Bernhardt

Masculine and mid-century from Brownstone

Reading Nook

For some reason, my new puppy that I got for Christmas, Max feels safest in the corners of our house. (admittedly, I took this detour just to show him off!)

But why not create a little corner to be a little haven for yourself? The key here is proportion and scale to the room. But I know it should be comfy as well, so here’s a few from our suppliers that have served to fill the skinny, narrow corners.

Makeover chair by Fairfield

This updated wing chair by Fairfield Chair is tall ‘n skinny at W28 X H43

A lovely watercolor print on this sexy chair by Ambella Home. 29w X 46H

The Gossamer Wing Chair is even taller at 31W X 48’Hl!

The Haddam Chair by Kravet is 28W X 49H”

and here’s a room in Logan Square where we used a pair of Haddam chairs for height and drama

Logan Square Makeover using Kravet Haddam chairs in custom stripe fabric

Just a little food for thought if you’re holed up with the winter cold, like us here in Chicago.

Coming next week: the Internet and furniture shopping: pros and cons. Stay tuned!

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Holiday Survival Skills: The Christmas Costco Conundrum

Holiday Survival Skills: The Christmas Costco Conundrum

If you’re like us, Costco plays a supporting role in almost all of our holiday festivities. In fairly serious strategy sessions around the kitchen island, we try to figure out what things make sense to get there and how to get out FAST. Lists are made. Tactics are formulated (“you get the wine with the cart and I’ll meet you over at the beef tenderloin.”)  But on our trip yesterday, I had a new found understanding of why I both dread our annual holiday pilgrimage to Costco, and actually kind of like it too: it’s a bizarre modern American version of the old bazaar.

Giant TV’s dazzle as you walk in. You try to not make eye contact with the guy hawking the latest and greatest in juicing technology. And it seems you’re always bumping into people at the aisle intersections.

We don’t buy many Christmas presents there anymore. In fact, we hardly buy any gifts like we did in the 90’s. Back then, the cheap imports were starting to flow into our country like water. It was weird and wonderful: the cost of clothing and unnecessary appliances seems to plummet 50% overnight. Our gift opening ritual sometimes went on for 4 or 5 or 6 hours. But life in 2016 is different. In both Alan’s and my families, we have secured every cheaply rendered creature comfort by now. Probably way too many. So buying big plastic things at warehouse stores does not hold the allure it once did at Christmas. Instead, we buy mainly food, booze and an occasional item of whimsy that seems to promise us a feeling of coziness there, like fuzzy slippers or comfy earmuffs. And then there’s the added bonus of all those Costco sampling carts!

There’s a silent tactical battle that goes on into securing a good food sample at Costco, for something like a whisper of turtle cheesecake, or a bite of panko-breaded mozzarella (I know you know what I’m talking about!). Here’s the scene: there’s no samples on the tray, and the demonstrator is dutifully preparing the next batch of say, chipotle meatballs.

you know you want that meatball

You know you want a meatball, but can you wait until they hit the tray? So you pretend to look at some items in the general perimeter of the forthcoming meatball, but your eye is really just focused on the prize. Your peripheral vision has never been this honed as you browse the assortment of tortellini. You know it’s a ruse, and so do the other 10 people waiting for that meatball.

But when those meatballs are finally released for public consumption, a tidal wave of people casually but nonetheless urgently rushes over to the cart. Parents, looking to feed their offspring, gently prod their young in the direction of the meatball-  “get in there,” they urge. It’s like watching a pack of lions devour an antelope, just with slightly more polished manners. That old Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom show comes to mind.

I always feel bad for the people cooking up these mini treats because hardly anyone takes the time to say thank you or strike up a conversation. It’s a frenzy of grab-and-go, and then onto the next conquest, like the shrimp or something. So yesterday, Alan dropped the best shrimp sample joke: “$24.99? Hey, not bad for a little tail!” The hair-netted shrimp-sample-server roared with laughter. I groaned. “You can have as many shrimp as you want; you made me laugh,” the nice lady told us.

So we got the ingredients on our list, some artisan meats to go into my traditional antipasto salad, and got out. But we always get gas too (it’s so cheap), and so the familiar face who works as the gas station attendant came over to say hello. The neat thing about our Costco is that workers stay for years. They pay their employees extremely well, they have sane holiday shopping hours so that their workers can enjoy time with their families, and they offer very good benefits. So it seems no one leaves! At this point, I’ve developed a relationship with the gas station guy. We talk casually talk politics (he liked my Bernie Sanders bumper sticker), shoot the breeze, and for that reason, I come back again and again. I like seeing people I know when I shop.

Alan and I see holiday shopping differently now. With no one wanting or needing gifts, we instead decided to use our Christmas funds to donate to needy kids.

Presents on their way to the United Way!

But we still go to Costco, we just don’t buy the cheap stuff destined quickly for the landfill. We abhor their durable goods, like furniture, because we know that after that rush of the bargain, you’ll throw it away super fast and have to buy another one. These things are actually not durable at all , nor are they meant to be (look for upcoming posts about this). But we love their selection of foods and now Christmas has morphed into more of a Bacchanalian festival of food and drink more so than a gluttonous exercise in opening gifts.

And with the upcoming push from Amazon to sell groceries, I think we’ll still go to Costco for our holiday ingredients. It’s nice to get out to fight the crowds, get some great food and spread the cheer!

Wishing you the most joyous holiday season!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

(and Gatsby!))

 

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