Reiko Yamamoto

 

Reiko Yamamoto is a modern ceramicist combining her skill in creating versatile, functional pottery with her experiences growing up in Japan. Eating meals meant a collection of handmade pottery rather than a matching set – a completely foreign concept – and Reiko has brought that approach to her Pittsburgh studio by creating pieces of various sizes, colors, shapes, and patterns that all work together harmoniously. The jewelry she creates has the same organic feel and presence, with a weight that feels substantial but not heavy.

Shop Reiko Yamamoto’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Savannah Hayes

 

If you’re a lover of bold, graphic prints then Savannah Hayes has got your number. The Pittsburgh-based textile designer refined her urban aesthetic through years of living and studying in various cities – San Francisco, London, New York City, and Los Angeles – and working with big shots Kelly Wearstler, Martha Stewart, and Kravet Fabrics. In October 2015 Savannah struck out on her own and has since expanded her eponymous line to include products for the living room, dining room, bedroom, baby, and tech. But if you have an idea of your own, she also sells fabric by the yard. I own one of her blankets, a heavy knit that’s ready to be brought back into rotation for autumn any day now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ashley Cecil

 

Our Pittsburgh Maker Profile series has been on extended hiatus for awhile now. This area is so rife with creativity that I feel I’ve been doing it a disservice, simply highlighting one maker a month really isn’t enough. So this September I’ll be highlighting a few dozen instead! You’ll know it’s a Pittsburgh creator by the little seal above that will mark each post.

Shop Ashley Cecil’s work

 

 

I first became aware of the flora-meets-fauna art of Ashley Cecil last spring when she created a line of scarves that sold at the Carnegie Museum of Art. She paints from live observation at renowned institutions, and marrying realism with abstract modern backgrounds is her signature style. Those two things alone garner loads of interest for me, but what makes it all work so well together is Ashley’s innate understanding of color and the way she knows when to keep it reigned it or go all out. She’s also working to save birdlife with an innovative window film that helps birds see the surface rather than fly into it injuring, or even worse killing, themselves.

Shop Ashley Cecil’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Guest Room: Making the Old New Again

 

In my home owning experiences the last room to get any love is usually the guest room, which makes it  all the more gratifying once it’s been done! I partnered with estate sale marketplace, Everything But the House, to pull mine together and have been bidding on pieces for the past two months to make it happen.

I won’t even bother showing you before shots of the space because there isn’t much to share. I jokingly referred to it as the Renaissance Room because it was filled with a mishmash of old furniture from my childhood, my father, and my step-grandmother and not at all my taste. The vibe I was hoping to pull off in the revamped room would be a mix of fresh and modern with touches of Americana – considerably different from the rest of my home, but an aesthetic that I’ve been increasingly drawn towards.

 

 

What I did love about the guest room pre-makeover were the stories associated with each piece of furniture, from the cherrywood dressers my grandparents bought me when I was 10 years old to the secretary desk my dad used to build his model cars on as a kid and refinished when my parents were newlyweds. Nowadays I think we’re all too quick to discard the old for the new, and I love the idea of EBTH bringing estate sales right to my laptop. I spent a few weeks browsing and bidding on items, then a few more waiting for them to arrive in the mail.

One of the first pieces I picked up, and definitely the most modern, was this clear acrylic side table for $46. (EBTH is very clear about what you’re bidding on, down to details on scratches.) When it showed up on my doorstep I was beyond happy with both the heft of the piece as well as the inch wide thickness of the acrylic. I really like how it adds a good sized bedside surface without adding much visually – it practically disappears!

 

 

I spent just over $500 on the entire room and pulled pieces that weren’t being used elsewhere in the house in to bring everything together. This brushed gold lamp is one of my favorites and wasn’t getting the attention it deserved, so into the guest room in went. A few cuttings from my Wandering Jew plant in a vase and a tobacco scented candle lend a few visual elements to the top, while a trio of coffee table books and an old metal box I’ve had for several years add some heft underneath the table. (Plus, the cuttings grow roots in just a few short days – a sweet little gift to send guests on their way with.)

 

 

The bed was the ultimate score in the room. EBTH gives you the option of shipping or picking up items you purchase, and this mid-century teak-finished bed was a short 35 minute drive away. I BOUGHT IT FOR ONE DOLLAR. Larger pieces obviously cost more to ship, so I was the lone bidder and you can bet I’ll be telling my children and grandchildren about this deal. The matching headboard and footboard have vertical and horizontal veneer patterns with squared molding and the side rails slid right in, making this bed the easiest to assemble I’ve ever encountered.

I made it up with a set of super soft white microfiber sheets and a down alternative duvet that I already had, then layered a classic Pendleton blanket on top with a pinstriped throw pillow for a little pattern.

 

 

I’ve long wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar, and have plenty of friends and visitors with more than their fair share of talent, so I snapped up this Fender FA-100 for $71. It’s a pretty basic model but I’m hoping it invites cozy musical stirrings, and it just looks so good sitting in that corner even when not in use.

The guitar is propped up on another EBTH find, a brown leather folding tripod stool with embossed floral and filigree patterns that I got for $30. The legs slide into a pocket in each corner of the triangular seat and the legs fold flat for storage when not in use. A sweet little spot to sit while strumming, no?

 

 

The master bedroom and guest room are just about the same size, so I had a good amount of space to play around with. One of the first things I did was replace the tension rods holding the curtains up with the same brass rods that are in the master and dining room – while this room feels so different, I love this one bit of cohesiveness with the rest of the house.

 

 

One of my decorating rules of thumb is to have some greenery in every room, in this case a sturdy rubber plant that will thrive in the sun exposure this space receives and not require a ton of maintenance to keep alive.

The bench used to sit at the bottom of the staircase at my mom’s house and will make a great place for guests to put their bags, sit to put on their shoes, etc.

 

 

The bed may have been my best find but this offset lithograph is my favorite! It’s titled Mrs. James Montgomery Jr., leading me to call this the Mrs. Room post-makeover. The original painting is by Thomas Sully and depicts a pretty dark haired woman wearing a strand of coral beads, but I was able to pick this framed piece up for only $24 through EBTH.

 

 

The blanket ladder used to live in the master bedroom and now offers different weights of blankets to make guests perfectly comfortable while sleeping.

 

 

The only piece of furniture that I kept in the room from before is this secretary desk, I’d love to replace the hardware on it but because of some attached plates it needs to be just right. (The search continues!) Guests can sit here – that chair used to be in a living room corner – while getting ready for the day.

 

 

I love layering mirrors, and this little nook offered up the perfect opportunity. The large mirror is something I picked up from a neighbor on trash day for free! A snake plant and a few more coffee table books stacked up for bedtime browsing finishes things off.

 

 

This sweet little mobile is something I picked up on super sale a few months back with plans to hang it in the master. It was still sitting on my dresser while I was pulling this room together and I knew where its true home was.

 

 

For awhile now I’ve had this thing for American flags, or I should say for them aesthetically (because for their meaning, always, of course). This vintage 48-star canvas version has been so obviously loved that I had to have it. In my mind it was living in the garage workshop of a WWII veteran and I wanted to continue to give it the same kind of care and respect. I was able to get it with a bid of $68 on EBTH and am happy to hang it front and center over the bed.

 

 

This room gets the most amazing light! The white cotton curtains diffuse it just enough.

 

 

My last EBTH find was a southwestern wool rug (or saddle blanket) for $60. I’m not afraid to layer floor rugs on top of wall to wall, and the horizontal bands of black, brown, grey, lavender, and red against a natural off-white background pull in several of the colors used elsewhere in the room.

 

 

So that’s that – three years to the day I first set foot in my home and I’ve finished putting my stamp on it. Who’s going to be my first guest in the new room?!

This post sponsored by Everything But the House. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Increase Curb Appeal with James Hardie

 

As you may have noticed, there’s been a lot of emphasis on the exterior of my house lately. While I’m forever futzing around with things inside, the outside deserves a little more love because it doesn’t quite match my more modern and minimal aesthetic. I’d love to make it magazine ready by updating the facade and I’m hoping James Hardie siding is the golden ticket!

 

 

My place was built back in 1900, and underneath the mishmash of siding and cedar shingles lies the original yellow brick. My hope is to one day pare all of this down to one material, in one color, going in the same direction – dreams! – so I checked out James Hardie’s line of plank siding.

The James Hardie product line offers a great collection of profiles, textures, widths, and colors with character in the tradition of American home design, while their commitment to artistry and innovation allows for timeless designs and performance. My home deserves to stand out on the block and yours does, too.

 

 

I ordered a selection of their HardiePlank siding samples – North America’s #1 brand – to check out in (left to right) Evening Blue, Pearl Gray, and Iron Gray. I desperately want to do a super dark gray monochromatic facade, but the idea of how much summer heat it will trap makes me nervous, so I also grabbed a light gray similar to what’s currently on most of my home. The blue is my wildcard (SO CRAZY). While the Iron Gray and Evening Blue have a wood-like texture, the Pearl Gray is smooth.

James Hardie lets you express your personality through hundreds of inspiring color combinations with a color collection featuring both national colors and regional specialty colors. Advanced technology coats surfaces, edges, and features of each siding plank uniformly while multiple layers of color are baked onto each board for a great finish and a strong bond that resists chipping, peeling, cracking, and fading for years to come. James Hardie allows you to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from a single manufacturer covering your home’s finish with a 15-year limited warranty, and siding with an industry best 30-year non-prorated warranty.

 

 

While I’m not at all into the way the current siding on my home is mixed and matched, there are better ways to do it. I love the monochromatic look of this place that combines three types of light grey siding in different designs. It’s such a nice architectural callout that adds loads of appeal and interest, so consider mixing profiles to accentuate your homes’ best features. (i.e. You can add distinction to traditional-style homes with authentic keyways in staggered edge and straight edge designs.)

 

 

While I’m looking into ideas to update the exterior of my place, I’m not currently ready financially to undertake such a big project. Instead I’m focusing on smaller things that are more affordable yet still add curb appeal.

• landscaping my small front yard with perennials that will come back year after year
• potting colorful seasonal flowers for both the front and back porches
• buying quality outdoor furniture that has a modern design

You might also consider:
• painting your front door to change things up
• adding solar lighting to walkways
• changing out any porch light fixtures

 

 

I have a solid idea of what I’m looking to do on my home, but if you need some help check out James Hardie’s site for additional design inspiration. And if you’d like to check out their siding in person be sure and order some free samples to compare – choose from textured, smooth, or beaded. Their fiber cement products are engineered for climate, HZ5 products resist shrinking, swelling, and cracking even after years of wet or freezing conditions while HZ10 products resist damage from hot, humid conditions, blistering sun, and more. James Hardie’s products won’t be eaten by animals or insects and have been proven more fire resistant than wood or vinyl siding. With all of that assurance you can feel good about how you dress your home.

 

 

This post sponsored by James Hardie. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh content! Follow James Hardie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz, and YouTube.

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Porch Tales

 

I’m an autumn girl at heart, but I’ve really been enjoying the heck out of this summer! All of the bits and pieces of work that have been put into the back and front yards over the past two years seem to finally be paying off, and I’ve been spending much more time enjoying the outdoors than usual.

 

 

There were a few things I wanted to knock off my to-do list before the temperature starts to dip again – landscape the small front yard, replace the porch light fixture with something more modern, strip and paint the back deck, and repaint the porch swing.

The front yard is looking rough in these photos that were taken in the midst of a July dry spell, but I managed to plant some new things this spring! Three peony bushes, some white poppies, and a few others joined the hosta and irises that was already there. (Now to move all of those river rocks!)

 

 

I also potted a bunch of things for the porches – herbs, hen and chicks, and lambs ear just to name a few. Add in the indoor plants I’d brought out for the summer and I realized that what was lacking were a few accent tables to set them on top of. A pair of woven Kai Water Hyacinth indoor-outdoor tables were the perfect thing because they pull double-duty when I’m entertaining as a place to set drinks and things. Cheers to the current wicker trend because I’m loving it and they’re wearing wonderfully.

 

 

Can you tell I’ve been using the bench and tables as my potting area as well? I really need to get that situation under control, but also kind of like how all of those stacked terra-cotta pots look just hanging out.

Project Repaint the Porch Swing is about 50% finished after cleaning off decades of grime. Initially I’d planned on painting it a semi-gloss black to match the front door, but now I’m second-guessing myself and considering a stain. Either way it’ll be back in action by fall and – most importantly – out of my driveway.

Unfortunately we’ve had an incredibly rainy summer here in Pennsylvania, so I had to make the decision to put off redoing the deck until next spring.

 

 

I picked out a fresh new light fixture for the front porch – this matte black Vance LED Outdoor Ceiling Light that oh so modern – and that’s where the good news on that project comes to a full stop. After removing the ancient pendant that was up there, we discovered the wiring was a huge (RE: unsafe) issue and that this project may have been a blessing in disguise. The grounding wire was blackened and charred while the other two wires were both white, rather than one black and one white. Essentially the light that I used every evening could have sparked at any time, and now it’s turned into a rewiring project as well. I’m looking forward to getting it wrapped up soon so that I can share that as well!

 

 

In the meantime, I need to replant that little Meyer lemon tree in the yellow pot and keep all my fingers crossed that the herbs survive once I have to bring them indoors. But first I think I’ll go have some iced tea on the porch…

This post sponsored by Lamps Plus. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman, Part 2

 

Time once again to drop all pretense for part two of my yearlong financial journey with FreshBooks! In part one, back in April, I shared how I’ve approached the financial side of my business up until this year – in short, it’s not my strong suit and I’m doing all I can to remedy that.

In the past three months I’ve gained so much more confidence when it comes to invoicing, and I’ve also saved time thanks to all of the features I outlined in part one. I love how easy it is to access recurring client’s information as well as the visual representation of how much I’m earning. In the name of transparency blogging is going through a season of change once again, and the green is not as prevalent as in the past. The number one rule of being a blogger is being adaptable, and diversifying my income is a huge deal.

 

 

One way I’m doing that, aside from writing for larger corporate sites, is contacting sponsors directly more often. For a long time I didn’t have to pitch brands, but over time that’s changed and FreshBooks‘s estimate feature helps me navigate the steps that follows. After talking to a new brand – and them hopefully falling head over heels for my pitch! – it’s time to spell out my proposal with a dollar sign in front of it. It’s here that I’m able to outline deliverables Design Crush will be providing and the breakdown of pricing for each.

Estimate features: know when a client has viewed your estimate, add discounts, automatic tax calculations, transform your estimates into ready-to-pay invoices, client approval with one click

 

 

After signing a contract I can kick things off, whether it’s for Design Crush or a graphic design project on the side. With FreshBooks‘s time tracking feature I can map out my day and make sure I’m accounting for every billable hour. This is super helpful to me in a number of ways, especially when it comes to do future estimates for similar projects. I’m forever trying to become more efficient – the thought of hiring someone to feed me three square meals a day while I work has occurred to me – and time tracking is valuable in showing me where I can streamline even further. I can literally start a timer and hit stop when I’m done! When the project is wrapped up I can pull all of the tracked time into an invoice and send it off.

Time tracking features: team time tracking, clear breakdown of your day, view team members’ time, easy to use timer, detailed time entry notes, automatically bill for tracked hours

 

 

I’m already digging deeper into FreshBooks and am looking forward to what the quarter brings in terms of making me feel more like a well rounded businesswoman. If you have any questions about FreshBooks I’d love to try and help get answers for you from their award-winning rockstars in customer service. In the meantime, you can sign up for a free monthlong trial right here!

This post sponsored by FreshBooks. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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June Favorites

 

1/ Super Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes
I’ve been doing container gardens for the past few years, and this summer I ventured into the world of cherry tomatoes, Sweet 100s specifically. They’re a vining variety that are deliciously meaty and sweet. Last week I was able to start picking a few day as they ripen and my salad game has gone up a notch!

2/ Mom’s Stuff All-Purpose Piñon Salve
I started using Mom’s Stuff a few years ago after meeting Mom’s daughter and trying out a sample. Each jar is handmade from all natural ingredients that deeply moisturize, soothe, and protect your skin and there are no filler ingredients like water, cheap oils, or stabilizers. Lately I’ve been dabbing some on bug bites for comfort.

3/ Illume Candles Vanity Tins
Illume Candles first entered my life back in college, when I bought two delicious smelling candles for more than I could afford. I’m loving the design of their Vanity Tins and the scents are just as good as ever!

4/ Pineapple Sage
It was the pineapple-scented leaves that caused me to pick up one of these to plant this year. In late summer they bloom bright red, tube-shaped blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

5/ La Colombe Draft Latte
This is the treat I’ve been reaching for on hot summer mornings! Lactose-free milk and cold pressed espresso make for a slightly sweet drink without any added sugar.

6/ Kristin Ess Instant Lift Thickening Spray
Forever on the search for the perfect hair product that will give my fine hair more oomph, and this spray has become the top contender. You don’t need to use a ton, it’s not super sticky, and the smell is amazing.

7/ Lou & Grey Linen Racerback Tank (50% off!)
I picked up black and grey ones a few weeks ago and have been more or less living in them. They hit my short(ish) torso in just the right spot and the cut is super flattering.

8/ Carmex Comfort Care Colloidal Oatmeal Lip Balm
As a lip balm-aholic you can take my word that this stuff is the real deal. Its blend of natural colloidal oatmeal and cold-pressed antioxidant rich fruit seed oil provides long-lasting moisture for visibly smoother lips.

9/ Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
A collection of poetry and prose about survival, about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. And how to find the sweetness in all areas of life.

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