Public Art: Trompe l’oeil Bakery Window

Public Art trompe l'oeil window


I luv this public art trompe l’oeil bakery window on the outside of a restaurant building! It couldn’t be more perfect with the real tree hanging across the top and the bench just outside where you’d be hanging out waiting for someone to call you in for fresh baked pie!

I’m not usually a fan of trompe l’oeil painting style, especially when I’ve seen them inside homes. Generally, it looks so fake I just can’t even make the mental leap.

Trompe l’oeil style works best when all the elements around the painting work with it to keep up the illusion. Here’s some other great pieces that have all the elements working together to make you a believer in magic (click on the photos to link to their source)!
Tufted velvet wallpaper for a headboard wallTromp l'oeil tufted velvet wallpaper

Trompe l’oeil plates on the wall
Trompe l'oeil plates on the wall


Trompe l’oeil trellis garden
Trompe l'oeil trellis garden


Inspired yet!

Business Bits: Quick Design Fixes

Every so often, I’m going to share a few resources that save you time -time that you’d rather spend doing something else whether you’re a blogger, biz owner or just a person with a lot of things to do. This is all part of why I do luv my spare time  – because really, time is the only thing you never get more of and you always have to make choices how to spend your time.

Just in case you’ve been nominated to update the Family Reunion logo, a blogger, marketer or business owner, thought this might come in handy. Handy time-saving solution to avoid those hair ripping moments when you just don’t have the right program, time to watch hours of self-help YouTube tutorial videos or just plain lack of patience!

99Designs (no I’m not affiliated or haven’t been paid by the company) launched a new flat rate service called Swiftly.  Swiftly focuses on quick design fixes…updating a tag line, resizing a photo, changing the file format, switching out backgrounds and all that stuff.

Why does it seem awesome? The flat rate is $15 bucks and jobs are completed in a day. Seems pretty simple and has all the right ingredients for success – speedy turnaround, super cost-effective and easy to request a project which equals time back in my day!  I have high hopes since the approach is what I use in my day job (not a designer but procuring design services). You don’t always need the “platinum” service level with its platinum price for the project that really only needs the “bronze” level of effort and price to get the job done.

Let me know if you’ve tried it out! I’ll be sharing my first try it out projects too.

Drab to FAB DIY Rolling Cart

DIY Repainted teacart

Just had to share this Drab to FAB, ugly ducking to beautiful swan DIY repainted teacart! This is the type of teacart you pick up at places like Tuesday Morning, Ross or Marshalls and you can’t be sure it’s real wood…but it has such a great style you just can’t pass it up. And no, this isn’t the teacart you’re likely to pass down through the generations as an antique and this DIY retro party cart isn’t either!

The ugly duckling teacart start out with this hideous bad…and I mean really bad black paint finish. The shape of the curved shelves underneath, the carved legs and the classic tray top had all the making of “good bones”.

So how do you transform it into the FAB beautiful swan? My two favorite DIY repainting tools, Krylon Espresso Satin spray paint and Antique Gold rubbing wax!

1. Tape off the wheels so you don’t cover them in paint

2. Hand sanding – Yes this did require some hand sanding (100 grit does a quick job) since most of it wasn’t real wood just a very heavy fiberboard. Any machine sanding would have likely damaged it. In case you’re think ugggh hand sanding! It really only took about 20 minutes to get it decently smooth

3. Paint – Just a little over 1 can of spray paint to put on 3ish coats and give it good coverage.

4. Add rubbing wax – After it dried for about a day I added rubbing wax with a cloth. Just a very thin coat rubbed around the top edge to give it a bit of style and keep it looking just a bit aged

Viola! DIY Repainted Teacart is ready for its job of hosting a teaparty for its charming owner (no it’s not at my house).

Check out the transformation photos (you can view as a slideshow by clicking on any photo to start)

Recycled Radiator Furniture

Radiator chair

Oh yea! I had to share this awesomeness of a repurposed radiator chair! This is seriously the best use of an old radiator I’ve ever seen. I did try it out and it really needs a cushion or you’ll have some butt lines!  Yep this was at Anthropologie which is why I tend to drop in just for drooling over the cool and unusual.

The radiator chair does have some great design lines and if you thought it was the only use of old radiator parts for lounging here’s another equally cool piece …

Radiator lounge chair


So stop covering up your old radiators! Search out a design friend who’ll take your radiators (plus and a few others) and whip you up one of these treasures!

P.S. I wouldn’t even be crazy enough to suggest this as a DIY project for the average bear but let me know if you try it!


Drab to Fab: Bamboo Chairs

 Repaint bamboo chair

Sometimes furniture just needs a little rehab and doesn’t require a lot of time like these awesome bamboo chairs!  These are super comfy on our patio but as you can see on the left – they got pretty drab! The outdoor elements started to take a big toll.  Weathered, dried out and stained from rain -ewww! Yes they are under cover but not completely weather proof.

I’d been dying to try out this Krylon spray stain I saw on my last visit -wierd I know I check out paint. Pretty sure Krylon should hire me (which they haven’t) or I should buy stock since I luv all their stuff! Why am I raving on about this spray spain?

Stain on regular wood works great but stain on bamboo doesn’t  – trust me I tried. Bamboo is such a hard wood it won’t absorb regular liquid stain so this was the perfect project for spray stain!  Here’s the deal with Krylon spray stain – it sticks just like spray paint but looks like stain which is awesome!  Hand painting all the round surfaces of these chairs would pretty much torment me!

The best part about the spray stain is its translucent – yep you still see the grain of the wood through the stain – Luv for adding the little bit of color! I wouldn’t suggest using spray stain on your antiques which would be like slapping a paint brush job on your car – just not the right tool for the job.

Here’s a great look at how weathered they looked before and how fab the bamboo looked after…

Bamboo chair stain

And most importanly how did it look on the patio garden? I know you were thinking the pillow colors were just too much but it picks up all the great colors in my succulents and their pots!  Still debating changing out the cushion fabric but that will be for another day…it requires sewing a zipper so I have to psych myself up.

Bamboo outdoor chair


Public Art: Look High and Low

public art funk zone sticker tie guy

Sometimes you just don’t know where you’ll find public art and the story behind it! Wall murals or manhole covers are pretty easy to spot, but sometimes you have to look high and low to see unexpected public art! This makes it a pretty fun scavenger hunt since you don’t know what your hunting for if you’ll actually find anything at all!

Found this interesting tie guy, that’s at least what I call him, up high on a fence post in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone.

A block later, I found the same looking tie guy on the sidewalk

public art funk zone sidewalk tie guy


Here’s my completely made up titles for the random public art of tie guy:

  • Can’t bear to look…I’m wearing a freakin’ tie! No one wears ties!
  • X and O….please I need a kiss and a hug right there and there
  • Luvin’ the new tic- tac- toe lab coat!

Yea maybe I’m luving public art too much and this was just a random act of line drawing…no story and no plan to make it art.  That’s ok I’ll take art where ever it’s found just because it makes life a little more interesting!

“The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
~Pablo Picasso

Enjoy your spare time wandering across random art!


DIY: Tables in the Air

hanging night stand




Who couldn’t use a little more floor space and a unique piece of furniture? A walk through Anthropologie always get my wheels turning on doing things a little different. I luv this idea of a DIY table in the air and suspended for a night stand

Ok I haven’t officially tried my own yet, but it’s on my list and would luv to hear if you have! The DIY plan for the suspended table looks pretty simple. Piece of cut plywood stained or painted. Drilled holes for the rope and knotted on the underside. Depending on the weight you’re planning to hang J-hooks, like something used for heavy planters would do the job screwed into the ceiling for a night stand. Anchoring the hooks for sure is required! 

I can tell you I luv sitting in rope swing seats table side that we found at a restaurant in Belize. If I could rig up hanging swing seats for my patio table I definitely would! I think swinging things just make you feel like a big kid and who doesn’t want that carefree feeling again!

How about a suspended table! Luv this idea

Maybe a great living room suspended coffee table is the piece of your dreams!

Suspended coffee table

Photo by Patrick McMullen

Have a small space and need the dining area to do double and triple duty?  Luv this suspended dining table that can move between low floor height for a Japanese dinner, dining chair height and then just completely reeled up to the ceiling to use the entire floor space below…genius!

suspended and movable table


Enjoy figuring out how to make your furniture hang in the air! Shoot over a pic if you’ve tried a suspended table and any tips. I’ll be sure to share and credit back to ya!

Get Healthy At the Airport

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

I seem to be in an airport more often over the summer usually for fun but also for work. I really despise having to arrive sooooo early for a flight so I’ve tried to make good use of the airport wait time!  Usually it’s 2-3 hours of sitting and waiting and hopefully not delayed to wait some more.  I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to get healthy at the airport in those spare hours!  It’s really great too since you know you’ll be sitting in for so long during your flight.

Minneapolis St-Paul airport (photo above) has a marked walking path with mile markers! I’m usually not at airport with a walking path so I walk for time – 15-20 min is usually a mile for most people at a healthy walking pace. Don’t know if the airport has one, check it out online before you go or when you’re waiting in the TSA line.

Tips for making airport walking excuse proof:

  • If you haven’t checked your luggage or have a fair bit to carry on, find an airport locker. Such an inexpensive way pay for your 30 min of being healthy!
  • Got the kids… maybe a stroller? Take the kids and walk out their energy before you hope on the plane. Make it fun and try a search-and-find for the next color or next gate number!
  • Think you’ll get too sweaty? Bring an extra t-shirt maybe some casual pants or sorts and deodorant. You’re not going to be dripping with sweat after 30 min (I hope!) and just freshen up in the bathroom.

Are you a yogi looking for your next moment of quiet and a stretch? Free yoga rooms are the newest additions to many airports.  Dallas Ft-Worth International Airport has a free yoga studio open 24 hours a day with free mats and instructional DVDs.  San Francisco International Airport opened their yoga zen room early last year.

Are fitness machines or a swim more your style?  Watch for more on-site fitness centers be added at many airports. Toronto International Airport just added a fitness center in the terminal and for modest fee you get towel service, personal showers, lockers and changing rooms!

Munich International Airport has a fitness center that includes a gym and a pool. Not traveling international? Check out the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Hotel which offers a day pass to their fitness center next to the airport.

Yes you should high-five yourself after you’ve made it through security, finished your workout, fired off a few emails and read a book all before you land at your destination!

Enjoy your spare time even in an airport!

Related articles

Public Art: Cargo train becomes travelling art gallery


Yes this is cool!  And I really hope I get to see it before it is packed up. What is it?….a moving art gallery both inside and out. Look it up, check it out and see if it’s in your hood!

“In September 2013, a train will travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Activating the cultural landscape, Station to Station will connect artists, musicians and creative pioneers. For a short time, the most interesting place in the country will be a moving target.”

Enjoy some seriously cool public art and well worth making time to see it!

Public Art: Minneapolis the City of Art

Downtown Minneapolis Public Art Mural Truman

Yes lots of cities say they have art but most are tucked away inside buildings, require special lighting, glass and temperature and can only be admired by those with bucks in their pockets. What if you could walk a city, a city like downtown Minneapolis and be surrounded by a city of art!

I feel fairly well-traveled but I don’t think I’ve visited a city with such great public art! So much public art you don’t need a map because there’s something on every block – or at least it seems like it to a visitor like me.  Minneapolis definitely celebrates what appears to be a vibrant art community and a luv for their city! Everything from the amazing mural above by Adam Turman and his iconic Minnesota girl doing what she luv’s every season to the 70 manhole covers with local flora and fauna. Yes, there’s poetry too and bronze shadows in the sidewalk.  If you’re nearby at the Convention center, you can’t miss what I call the river float bench with a bronze version of an inflatable raft for a bench seat and fish beneath.

In case you’re wondering how I find this fab public art? I do my usual bit getting the most out of my time in a new city which means, getting up a bit earlier (30 minutes) for a short run to check the sites and getting out to walk after a working day to grab a bite.  Yes you could sleep more and I’ll sleep more when I’m dead, but for now I’m planning to get the most out of any new city I visit even if I’m there to work!

P.S. After a walk for dinner, I’d definitely suggest a walk to the local handmade ice cream shop Sebastian Joe’s.  You feel a bit better eating their amazing small batch ice cream if you can walk it off heading back to your hotel or your home!  They also have local art for sale on their walls too!

Enjoy your time exploring a new city even if it’s your own!

You might like these public art explorations too…

Seattle, WA Public Transporation Art

Duvall, WA Public Transportation Art

Santa Barbara, CA Funk Zone Mural