Let's Talk About Me.

Hello, Design Crisis lovers! Wait, what are you called? ...Design Crisans? ...Citizens of Design Crisistan? Whatever you prefer. I am AB Chao, and I will be your tour guide here today. Here, have a visual aid:

I am so excited to be here doing a guest post for y'all. Karly and Erin and I have a lot in common. For example, we love things that are gold:

and furry:

and sullen:

Oh, no, wait. I'm sorry, that's my 14 year old. Hi Madeleine!

It has been raining for approximately one hundred years down here in Louisiana. I am tempted to make a joke about a flood, but maybe it is too soon? I think so. Anyway, everyone is irritable and wet and absolutely no one's hair is cute, but do you know what always makes me feel better? Talking about me. More specifically, my house and the decorating of it.

When we bought this place six years ago, it was cute, but needed work. (Confidential to the previous owner: Dear Kevin, I hate you. Thanks for "fixing" all that stuff. I hope your face falls off.) So we've been slowly updating, room by room. We started with the yard and garden, the results of which landscaping overhaul you see above. (I can't find any of my before pictures, sorry, but believe me when I say it looked like nobody lived here for 4 years.) Then we moved on to the kitchen:

Aw. This actually gives me nostalgia, looking at that good old green Formica. I am pretty sure that it and the red Bakelite pulls were original to the house. Cute! But not cute enough to keep:


We replaced the Formica with (say it with me!) white Cararra marble, and covered the backsplash in 2" x 6" white ceramic tile. I painted the floor white my damn self, and had an electrician come in to change out all the light fixtures and add under cabinet lighting.

And then I stood on a stool and took one of many pictures of my own legs. I don't know. It's a thing.

And then an actual professional, my friend Lori Andrews, who consulted awesomely on this project over several million emails, came to visit from Canada and styled the room and took these incredible pictures. Here is one:

(Photo and styling, Lori Andrews, 2009)

So that was my first big project. All I knew when I started it was that I wanted marble on the counters, and for everything else to be white. I had no overall vision or endgame in mind. Each decision I made was the subsequent aftermath of some random decision I had made previously. Everything eventually fell into place and we ended up with what you see here. So, basically I am a genius. Just kidding. Basically, I am mildly retarded, but it all somehow worked out okay.

The next thing I wanted to do was overhaul Madeleine's room, and also, because it wasn't going to be hard enough, I decided that it needed to be a surprise. We pulled off this heist while she was at camp over the summer, and it was like a reality show ending: she cried, I cried, everyone was surprised, and we all took naps. And now, because I love you all very much, I'm going to show you my original, professionally Photoshopped plan:

I know. You're jealous of my skillz. Please note the "chandelier." Whee!

We cleared the room of everything, then painted walls, ceiling, doors. My long-suffering husband Vince refinished the floors like he was some kind of professional. I bought everything that was going to go in the room beforehand, and it lived in our dining room for two weeks. I regret that I didn't take a picture of that.

Post-painting and refinishing. Vince assembles one of the many, many Ikea products we purchased for this room OH MY GOD. I never want to see an Allen wrench or a Swedish person again.

Almost all of the furniture and lighting is from Ikea, except for the chair, which is a Saarinen knock-off (what, do you think I am crazy? Who buys the real thing for children?), and the silver floor pillows, which are from Target. Bedding is Ikea, Lush UK, Crate & Barrel. The queen of hearts pillow is Jonathan Adler. Rugs are from overstock.com, Ikea, Bed Bath & Beyond, and (!) Walmart. The overhead light came with the house, and was ugly until I sprayed it black.

I think it turned out pretty well, even though Madeleine totally doesn't appreciate the vintage Tonka jeep I found on eBay, and I am going to be forced to steal it from her.

So...well...I was jealous, okay? After Madeleine's room ended up looking so pretty, I decided it was time for our own bedroom to get an upgrade.

I had always been unhappy with our bedroom, no matter what I did to it. So obviously it was time for me to paint every single thing in it, including the windows and the bookshelves, a bold and dramatic color. Enter Abigail Ahern and her gorgeous, totally copy-worthy interiors painted all the same color of deep, dark gray. Helloooooo, Down Pipe.

All it cost was the price of a couple gallons of paint, a few paintbrushes, and MY SOUL.

I understand that these pictures of our bedroom have started a little mini-trend, but I am here to tell you, if I never see a gallon of Down Pipe again, it will be too soon. I absolutely LOVE the end result, but this color in paint form haunts my dreams. It makes my head hurt. It makes my eyes hurt. Take my advice, Internet, and hire a professional painter.

Oh, hey. What's up? Let's go win a Reader's Choice Award together.

I seriously already owned almost everything in this room, except for the antlers (eBay), and the toss pillows (handmade, Nate Berkus), and the sunburst mirror (a local store). Oh, and the orchid, which I bought at Lowe's (along with the roller shades) and which I recommend to everyone who wants to make his or her room look twice as styled as it actually is. Everything else was either already in here, or came from somewhere else in my house.

So that's it for now, Design Crisistinians. I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane as much as I've enjoyed showing you my house, and a bunch of sort-of-embarrassing "Before" pictures.

My next projects are still in the works, but I can give you a hint about what they entail. This room, which isn't so bad:

...and a room related to this object, which doesn't exist yet. Pray for me.

In the meantime, let's all go do something that looks like this:

That's right, I'm recommending you go make an arugula salad and drink wine.

I raise my glass to you, to elitist salads, and to good design always. So say we all!

(All photos by AB Chao except where noted)

Design Crisis V2.009

Welcome to the other side of the New Year, homies.  I know this isn't our first post of the year but since you all were spending the better part of last week sleeping off your hangover, we're pretending this is day one.  So, welcome '09.  Holla. We here at DC headquarters aren't so big on New Year's resolutions but we are big on lists.  We've made quite a catalog of goals for the upcoming 12 months and, while we may be flying too close to the Hayon Chandelier on wings of wax, we're going to do our best to stick to them, gosh darn it.

Here's a preview of what we have in store:

Sanders has already given you the lowdown on the best blacks, whites and grays of the Benjamin Moore Palette as well as introduced you to the color trends of 2009 but to prove his genius goes beyond broad strokes and that he truly is the King Of Paint, Sanders will become a regular consultant at Design Crisis.  Do you have a room in need of a color makeover but don't know where to start?  Or perhaps you know the color you want but have been banging your head against a wall filled with all the wrong color samples.  No worries, you can send us your images and info on the room, we'll program it into the Sanders-bot 3000 and boop, beep, boop, voila a perfect selection of swatches custom made for you. pssst, don't send these to us yet, we'll have a fancy new email adress for your submissions.

OK, admittedly, this featured artist thing won't happen every Friday, or maybe not even on Friday at all, but we're all geared up to bring you a bevy of fresh new designers both local and abroad.  We've already got 3 in the cooker that I am oh-so-excited about so put on your soft-sculpture helmet, buckle your upholstery-grade seat belt and get ready for a 100 mph ride through featured designville.

The goal closest to my heart this new year is to bring in the Benjamin's.  See that little column to the right of this post?  Now, imagine your name in big bright lights RIGHT THERE.  Yep, we're dressing up our advertising section with new sponsorship packages and opportunities to show off your design business.  We've already been lucky enough to grab a few fantastic sponsors - unveiling to come later this week - but hey, we're not ashamed to want more.

And just to show that we're not a bunch of bitter cast offs tearing up everyone else's handy work, we'll be unveiling our own small range of Design Goods over at everyone's favorite online flea market, Etsy.  Look, if we get this one crossed off on December 31st then we will still have met our deadline.

Speaking of selling stuff on Etsy, we will also be shifting (a very small portion) of our focus from the excessively unattainable to the design-conscious small business ventures that make our hearts go pitter pat.  Our focus will not only be on the awesome products that these dudes produce but also on how they run their business complete with tips for success and how not to run your company into the ground in the first week.  

If you're going to run a business then you just may need to know how to make something.  Enter:  Our D.I.Y. guides.  I swear to god I will finally break down and type up some of those how-tos I've been promising you for the last 6 months.   It can be a little daunting trying to throw sparkle and pizzazz into step by step instructions that involve a lot of math and ironing, ok?

With all this crap we have lined up for ourselves we're probably going to need to have a few guest blogging editions.  This half-baked idea has not spent nearly enough time with me, erin and a bottle of vodka* so I can't promise any amazing up-and-coming segments but I'm sure that once we get around to it, your scene-loving heads will be blown right off

*vodka for me only, Erin can't have it for 7 more months.  ha ha

But don't let all this talk of brew-ha-ha get you down, there will still be plenty of this:

And most definitely a lot of this:

So, that's that.  Welcome to the Y2K9, playas.