How (and Why) To Buy Art

Welcome to art month!  For all of October, our theme is "OFF THE WALL," and we're going to be talking, seeing, making and maybe even buying art!  Karen June and I thought it would be a good idea for our first post to let you know why we think art is important and how to start collecting it.  My husband and I stumbled into collecting on our honeymoon when we bought a large, brightly painted wooden fish, for no good reason other than we liked it.  The next trip we took, we happened upon another piece.  And then, it snowballed and now we're total addicts. We take vacations based on whether or not there are enough galleries in the area.  

Why buy art? 
At Little Yellow Couch, we're all about developing and expressing your personal style.  Aesthetic is important to us because it represents who we are at the core: what we're attracted to, what is meaningful, where we've been and what we've seen.  Finding and hanging art is one of the biggest impacts you can have when cultivating your style because it's so personal.  There is no "right" or "wrong" when choosing what you love.  But it's that last word, "love," that's important.  You gotta really love it to hang it.  Otherwise, you're missing the mark and your home still won't quite feel like you.  Here is what I've learned from purposely collecting art over the past 16 years.    

"Ennui" by Megan Howland.  Print from Oil Painting, $120 through Tappan Collective.

"Ennui" by Megan Howland.  Print from Oil Painting, $120 through Tappan Collective.

Go look at some art.  In person.  
One of the most pleasurable aspects of starting an art collection is the simple act of looking. Really looking, from close up to far away, in different light and from the sides.  When you enter a gallery, you can start by going straight to whatever immediately catches your eye.  Or you can be methodical and give a quick look to each piece and then go back to your favorites.  Either way, start to take notice of what you're drawn to.  Abstracts?  Still Lifes?  Landscapes? Photographs?  My husband and I love a heavy hand in oils where you can really see a lot of pallet knife or brush work.  We are also drawn to still lifes, trompe l'oeil, abstracts, saturated color and images of single houses.  (The house thing is oddly particular, I know.  What I can I say?  We know what we like). 

"Coffee Pot" by Maria Yakovleva.  Oil, $350 through UGallery.

"Coffee Pot" by Maria Yakovleva.  Oil, $350 through UGallery.

Some say art is everywhere.  We say, sure, except not at Home Goods.
No offense to Home Goods.  Really!  I shop there, too.  But not for art.  Home Goods sells stuff for your walls that is meant to match your furniture.  I've never known an artist to create a piece based on what your ottoman looks like.  Buying art to match something in a room is like buying a piece of cheese to match your sandwich.  Buy what you love.  In all things.  Furniture, rugs, lamps, coasters, art.  If you love these things, then by definition, the combination of what you love is your style.  And everything will work together.  I promise. 

"Oakland Hotel," by Deanna Fainelli.  Mixed Media, $1,100 through Zatista.

"Oakland Hotel," by Deanna Fainelli.  Mixed Media, $1,100 through Zatista.

You have every right to be in a gallery.
If you're not used to going into galleries, they can feel intimidating.  Trust me, your yearly family income is not tatooted on your forehead.  No one knows whether or not you can afford a piece of art and most owners have learned not to make assumptions.  Or maybe you're worried that you'll be trapped by an overbearing salesperson after you realize every single thing looks hideously ugly to you and you can't imagine why on earth anyone would pay good money for what you're looking at.  My remedy for this is to put on my "gallery face."  I don't make eye contact when I say hello.  As I look around, I don't show emotion.  I give either yes or no answers to the owner, without ever looking up.  They'll get the idea that you want to enjoy browsing and not be bothered.  Of course, all of this goes out the window if I see something I truly love.  Then I turn into a giddy little girl at a candy store and let everyone know it by gushing about the piece and pulling at my husband's sleeve and introducing myself to the owner, the owner's assistant, the other guy looking at the painting and the owner's dog.  But in the beginning, I'm an enigma.

"Book Shelter," by Jeremy Miranda.  Acrylic, $400 through Sebastian Foster.

"Book Shelter," by Jeremy Miranda.  Acrylic, $400 through Sebastian Foster.

Talk to the owners.  They're bored.
Unless you're at an opening, these people have nothing else to do.  (Ok, I know that's not true at all.  But if you think it's true, you'll be more likely to ask a question).  Most gallery owners are in it because they love art.  And they like to geek out on composition, materials, style, subtext... They want to talk about this stuff and they are usually quite knowledgable.  If you find someone you click with, you can learn a lot about art, from experts, for free!  Plus, you'll start to feel like a real collector when you're having cocktails with friends and start a sentence with "I was talking with Simon over at White Swan Gallery and..." 

"Dusk in Verona," by Whitney Reynolds Orr.  Acrylic, $890 through Zatista.

"Dusk in Verona," by Whitney Reynolds Orr.  Acrylic, $890 through Zatista.

Walk away.
It's perfectly fine to walk out of a gallery without buying anything.  Even if you've just spent a half an hour having an in-depth conversation with the owner.  They're used to that.  It's not like you're at the grocery store where the whole purpose is to walk out with a cart full of purchases.  Unless you're about to be shipped off the island with no chance of returning in the next ten years, let the idea of a piece marinate before you go back and buy it.  Since my husband and I buy art together, we relish the time we take to talk about what we've seen, what we liked and didn't like, what is starting to feel like we couldn't live without...preferably over a delicious meal.  I mean, how much more luxurious could life get?  White tablecloths, succulent food and wine, and a discussion on which (if any) art we should add to our collection???  When did we get so fancy?  

"Yellow Dots," by Stephen Poling.  Acrylic, $1700 through U Gallery.

"Yellow Dots," by Stephen Poling.  Acrylic, $1700 through U Gallery.

Buying Art Online
I have to admit, I don't have much experience with this, specifically because buying art is a group activity for me, my group consisting of me and my husband.  We're in it for the experience of going to galleries, drinking the free wine at openings and getting up close and personal with a painting or two.  But there are several excellent online sources that are meticulously curated for the beginning art collector and definitely worth your time.  Below are the ones I recommend. They all have useful search tools to help you identify your style and some even offer free consultations with guest curators.  

Happy Art Hunting!  Let us know what you find!

xoxo Zandra


U Gallery

Zatista

Sebastian Foster

Tappan Collective
 

Art Abandonment Project

We've spent September focused on all of the ways in which our style and aesthetic are expressed through found objects.  Like many of you, we think the best way to spend a sunny day is sifting through the stalls of an antiques fair.  Nothing beats the feeling of scoring a one-of-a-kind piece.  And to finish off our "Found" theme this month, we're joining the Art Abandonment Project so that someone else can score something of ours!  

http://www.littleyellowcouch.com

Started in 2012 by Michael DeMeng, the Art Abandonment Project is about making some kind of art (the definition is open to interpretation) and then leaving it behind for someone else to find. You can share photos of your art on the Facebook group, as well as any response you might get from the finder.  There's a logo you can use to attach a note explaining the project along with your email address if you so choose.  Click here to see the complete instructions...and it's open to anyone!  If you'd like to see some videos of "abadoneers" in action, check out this page on the Artists Network.  

We decided to leave a bouquet of yarn flowers behind.  For us, this is also the perfect project to take us into October.  Starting Wednesday, our new theme will be "Off The Wall," and we'll be exploring ART!   From how to buy art, to incorporating art into your decor to throwing our wildest party yet.  Stay tuned!  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

P.S.  After dropping off our art project and strolling around a bit, Karen June told me she spied a little girl in a pick tutu showing her parents the flowers and happily spinning around with them.  I can just picture the huge smile on Karen's face as she secretly watched the scene.  And I know how happy she was for the rest of the day.  You should really try this out yourselves!  --Zandra

The Art Abandonment Project: Create and Share Random Acts of Art
$19.07
By Andrea Matus deMeng, Michael deMeng

How To Host a Jewelry Workshop

Earlier this week we shared our ideas on how to use a collection of found vintage jewelry to create a new statement necklace in preparation for our Little Yellow Couch Found Jewelry Workshop.  If you are inclined to follow suit,  we highly recommend making your accessories with a group of friends and a couple of bottles of Prosecco!

The best part of getting ready for a jewelry making workshop is that you'll have an excuse to do lots of thrifting and antiquing to stock up on vintage baubles to work with...

To set up, we covered the table in black paper and used a white pencil to outline the various tools we'd be using, including an outline of a ruler for measuring chain lengths.

Add a piece of felt to a tray to keep your beads from rolling off the table.  And don't forget to mark a place for water and a champagne glass!

We gave each person a set of three different jewelry pliers and Karen made these sweet tool bags adorned with vintage brass stencils we picked up on one of our antiquing sprees.  

We went over the basic steps of how to string beads and cut apart and put together jewelry pieces, either using jump rings or wire for wrapping.  There are so many great how-to videos on You Tube that you can refer to if needed.  We also spent some time talking about how to think about designing a necklace based on what you're going to wear it with, time of year, color, style, etc.  Check out our full post here.

By the end of the afternoon, everyone had come up with a terrific composition for their one-of-a-kind necklace.

The best part of the day was the pleasure and satisfaction everyone felt after creating something so personal with their own hands!  These necklaces will get a lot of wear.  And attention!  Great job, everyone!

XOXO 

Zandra & Karen June

Off The Shelf: Found Item Remakes

Spending time flipping through DIY books is the old-fashioned version of Pinterest.  Just looking at all of the creative ideas gives you a little non-medicated high, even if you don't end up making anything!  (That said, we do encourage you to make something, anything, whenever possible to get an even bigger buzz).  What often happens, though, is that your brain stores away some of these ideas and then when you're out thrifting, your eye is drawn to a particular item, an image from the book pops in your head, and you happen to have a rare free weekend when you can put it all together!  Here are our favorite picks to inspire a found-object-remake:

Designing a Signature Necklace

Building your own necklace from vintage jewelry pieces is a great way to develop a signature style.  At Little Yellow Couch, we're always interested in the question: "What makes me tick?" We approach this by figuring out what  combinations of color, pattern, material and style best reflect our ideas of beauty.  When you wear a piece of jewelry that you've designed, you're sharing a very personal representation of your aesthetic, which in turn, gives you that signature style we're talking about.  For our "Found" theme, we went hunting for vintage brooches, pins, earrings and chains from which we could repurpose several necklaces that illustrate the approach we take to design.  

We started with 5 pieces we thought would compliment each other in terms of color and material.  The two different styles of clip-on earrings shared a saturated coral hue.  Two of the brooches contained pearls while the third was made of white enamel.  All of the pieces had brass or gold bases.  We'll use them in different combinations to create different styles of necklaces.  We chose three different chains to work with, two long and one short.  All of them had visual interest on their own.  

 

BUILDING A PENDANT NECKLACE

A pendant necklace on a long chain looks great with a number of different tops.  You can wear them over a turtleneck in the winter, with our without a second, shorter necklace if you like a layered look.  Or you can wear one over a plain t-shirt or blouse in the summer.  Because of the long chain, they can work with pretty much any neckline.  For this pendant, we pinned the brooch through two of the loops in the chain and then clipped the earring through the chain onto the center of the brooch.  

 

BUILDING A SYMMETRICAL NECKLACE

Karen and I tend toward asymmetry when it comes to our personal aesthetic, both in our homes and in what we wear.  However, there are times when we crave a little balance and we know plenty of other people find a great deal of beauty in symmetry.  For this necklace, we pinned the leaf and pearl brooch in the center of the chain and two of the clip-on earrings on either side.  The center piece acts as a neutral in-between the pops of color.  Even though the earrings are different, they still give the necklace symmetry because of their shape and color.  We used a shorter chain on this necklace which means it would sit beautifully above the neckline of a top.  It would be particularly lovely over a squared neckline because of the way the center brooch is laying horizontally.  

 

BUILDING A STATEMENT NECKLACE

We admit we're not ones to shy away from making a statement.  No one is going to accuse us of minimalism when it comes to our aesthetic, although we do do a lot of editing whenever we're creating something.  You just might not know it without seeing our first drafts!  Whenever you have multiple pieces coming together, it looks best with a touch of asymmetry so that it looks organic.  So we've put two of the coral color pieces on one side while the other side has one coral and one white.  The upper most piece is actually one brooch and one earring layered on top of each other (just like we did for the pendant).  The overall pattern is white, coral, pearl, coral, coral, pearl, which has a pleasing visual rhythm. You just have to play around with your collection of pieces until you find a composition that works with your own sense of style.  A statement necklace looks fantastic with the classic Little Black Dress or whenever you're feeling your dressiest.  Oh, and most statement necklaces work best when done on a short chain.  You don't want all of that bling bouncing around above your stomach!  

 

BUILDING AN ASYMMETRICAL NECKLACE

This one might just be my personal favorite because I'm partial to very obvious asymmetry in design.  And I love the layered look of doubling up the chain into two lengths.  We were able to do this by keeping the chain in place with the leaf and pearl brooch.  Notice the brooch itself is asymmetrical when it's used vertically.  The pop of color and the circular shape of the coral earring give the leaves a starting place.  And the pearls that are spread out along the chain work beautifully to give the whole necklace an energetic flow.  I'd pair this number with a sexy silk blouse and hit the town, day or night.  

We'd love to see anything you've created, be it a necklace, ring, bracelet or some other accessory!  If you have any questions, thoughts, tips or tricks to share regarding using vintage jewelry to make something new, please share in the comments below!

xoxo Zandra & Karen June

See other Fall inspired DIYs on the Inspire Me Monday and Work It Wednesday link parties!

Decorating with Found Objects

Many of us love to go thrifting or antiquing for the thrill of the hunt.  You have no idea what you might uncover.  Instead of looking for something in particular, you can let yourself be drawn to shapes, shades of color or unusual graphics of objects, even if you don't know what on earth you'd do with them!  Sometimes these items have a way of evolving into a collection and then it's even more fun to go hunting.  For our "Found" theme this month, we'd like to share a few ways in which we display our found treasures, incorporating them into our decorating projects throughout our homes.

I'm a sucker for a salon style wall.  When you hang many things close together, you're looking at how the combination comes together as a whole, rather than focusing on a single piece of art.  My collection of vintage paint-by-numbers wouldn't make much of a statement if they were scattered around the house.  But put all together, I've got a colorful, kitschy composition for my guest room.  I've also incorporated a few other pieces to keep the composition from feeling too restricted by the collection.  (Check out our post on how to make a similar silhouette using your favorite books).  

Sometimes collections are more than just decorative objects.  I've been finding and collecting old tins since my father started putting little trinkets in them.  He would present them to me as treasure boxes when I was little and now he does that for his grandchildren.  When they aren't holding mementos, they are the perfect containers for small bouquets.  It's a nice little surprise when you see flowers tucked into a shelf or bookcase where you wouldn't expect them.  Similar to the paint-by-numbers above, amassing a collection of tins is a great way to show off the colors, graphics and typography that make these objects so appealing.  

Finally, an example of how we sometimes incorporate a single found object into a vignette we've already created.  Karen had made several terrariums for her table last Thanksgiving and they're still growing beautifully.  She had them set up near her entryway along with a few other favorite items.  Several weeks ago, we were out antiquing and she found this dusty, strange looking object behind some other old stuff on the floor of the shop.  We had no idea what it was but of course, that's irrelevant.  (Turns out it's an old version of a projector.  The postcard or slide would be lit and projected on a wall.  The two chimneys would allow heat to escape).  Karen loved the shape, material and size of the piece and made a home for it amongst her terrariums.  It's one of those things that you can't explain, but it makes you ridiculously happy.  (If you're Karen.)  If you're me, you're jealous that you didn't find it first.  

Setting an Eclectic Table

For our theme on found objects this month, we decided to see if we could pull out our random dishware that we've collected bit by bit and set a cohesive, appealing table.   The goal was to use only what we had on hand and not buy anything new.  

tableset2.jpg

My tablecloths all have bold patterns and wouldn't work with the mix of place settings we were putting together.  But I realized I did have a sheet with a faint gold pattern on white that seemed muted enough to act as a simple backdrop.  You just tie up the corners so it doesn't drag on the floor and everyone will think you're simply going for a "casual" look.  No one will know it's a sheet, I promise!  

We love a little contrast.  Vintage china can be a bit prim so we found some rough twine and tied up the silverware to change the vibe.   Karen has a few different vintage dinner plates and I have a variety of bread plates, which I normally use for appetizers when friends come over for a glass of wine.  We both collect random, single tea cups and our extra saucers stood in for candleholders.  I have two different styles of green glassware because pieces have broken over time that I wasn't able to replace.  

We wanted a low vase for the centerpiece and Karen's large gravy boat did the trick.  We did cheat a little with the flowers but I spent only $5 on the roses and a few bucks on the cabbage.   The grapes came straight from my fridge since my kids want to inhale them every day.   Moral of the story:  If you find yourself drawn to vintage china while you're thrifting or antiquing, go ahead and start a collection.  Don't worry about getting a complete set...it'll all come together if you simply buy what you love!  

xoxo Zandra 

Twitch and Whiskers

Mei-Ling Uliasz, Found Jewelry Artist:  

An Interview & Giveaway!

Karen and I first met Mei-Ling at a craft show a few years ago when both of us had other businesses making and selling our own handcrafted goods.  Mei-Ling is still spearheading her shop, Twitch & Whiskers, where she creates unbelievable jewelry pieces out of found treasures.  We are huge fans of her work and adore her as a friend.  She's warm and bubbly with loads of creativity to share.  So we're particularly excited to be offering one of her prized necklaces to one of you lucky readers of Little Yellow Couch!  You can enter the drawing below.  But first, let's catch up with Mei-Ling...

Little Yellow Couch: Which came first?  Collecting odds and ends and then one day realizing you could turn them into jewelry?  Or knowing you wanted to make jewelry and then looking for interesting objects?  

Mei-Ling Uliasz:  Many years ago, I took a basic jewelry making class at a local bead shop. I was inspired by wire working techniques but not by the traditional semi-precious bead selection offered at the shop. I went home and tried using the same techniques on my personal collection of vintage odds and ends. That’s when inspiration struck and my definition of jewelry "supplies" changed forever.  I first started using vintage materials that I had around the house but now I go out into the world to seek out vintage goods. When I find a piece at a flea market or consignment shop, I make sure I can visualize the object in a final piece of jewelry before purchasing it.  This helps me to be mindful of my budget, stay focused on design, and keep me off of Hoarders!

LYC:  What are some of your favorite items to use?  

MLU:  Currently, my favorite items to work with are vintage toys because they are colorful, whimsical, and you can play with them. In my work area you can find piles of tin clickers, tin whistles, Cracker Jack prizes, mini pinball games, dexterity puzzles, and Vari Vue lenticular cards. My customers enjoy how they are both interactive and amazing conversation pieces.

LYC:  You also teach full time.  Is it difficult to do both?

MLU:  I feel like it’s an absolute gift to be able to pursue both of my passions. It’s definitely a delicate balancing act doing both during the school year. School work comes first and then I find little snippets of time to create pieces in between sips of coffee in the morning or on the weekends. I find that both jobs actually complement one another.  Being around vivacious seven and eight year olds feeds my imagination and in turn, I can share my creative life with my students. When I was a second grade student, I said I wanted to be a teacher, artist, and Solid Gold dancer when I grew up. Two out of three ain’t too shabby! 

LYC:  We understand sometimes you help kids pursue their creative interests outside of school.  Can you tell us about that?  

MLU:  When I was young, my creativity was nurtured by my family, teachers, and friends and it helped me to become the person I am today. Whenever I meet a child at a craft show with creative interests, I love finding out about their projects and fostering their ideas. Over the years, I have corresponded with some of my customer’s kids and have helped them to explore the world of jewelry. I enjoy sending care packages out to kids and seeing what they come up with. After school, I also run an outreach program where students take on projects to help the community, the environment, and animals. I let the students choose how they want to raise funds and awareness, and oftentimes, these projects have creative bends to them. Students are amazed when they discover that making and selling their handmade goods can help others in the world. My big push is to show kids that there’s room for creativity in every aspect of our lives.

LYC:  You've incorporated vintage guitar knobs into some of your rings.  Is this a nod to your musician husband?  

MLU:  Absolutely! Thom plays in an experimental electronics band called Burnkit2600.  Thom and his bandmate Justin invent their own instruments through a process called circuit bending. They rewire devices like televisions and electronic toys, turning them into musical instruments. Like me, Thom has a unique collection of vintage components that gets repurposed into projects. One day, while I was poking through his box of old radio and guitar knobs, I thought “These would make great rings!” and the idea stuck. I find that we inspire each other all the time.

LYC:  You have an incredibly full schedule of juried, highly curated art and crafts shows. What do you like most about selling directly to customers?  What's the hardest part about doing shows?  

MLU:  My favorite part of doing shows is meeting new people. Vintage items are steeped in nostalgia, so when customers walk into my booth, they often share their connections to the pieces. It’s not uncommon to hear, “I used to play with that toy!” or “My mom used to have that brooch.”  I love listening to people’s memories and stories.  The hardest part about doing shows is getting there - schlepping a car full of displays and jewelry thousands of miles every year. Traveling and setting up is tiring at times but in the end, when pieces go home with happy customers and I’ve gotten to hang out with amazing artists all day, it’s more than worth it!

LYC:  Where do you think your business is headed?  What are you excited about making next? 

MLU:  I have tons of ideas brewing all the time. My newest ideas involve making larger scale pieces and creating jewelry making kits for kids. One of my goals is to get Twitch and Whiskers jewelry into more shops and strengthen my online presence. My biggest hope is to collaborate with my husband and make some musical pieces. For the time being, I am getting to know my new second graders and preparing for my 2014 holiday craft show season. Once things settle down a bit in January, we’ll see which ideas rise to the top!

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!  

We are so excited about this, folks!  You can enter to win this adorable OWL NECKLACE (Retail price: $48) by doing any or all of the following:

This giveaway is also posted on the Home Work blog's giveaway link party.

FOUND: Lost Mad Men Cocktail!

For our "Found" theme this month, we've decided to depart from our usual cocktail post. Typically, Jason is concocting something original or adding his own spin on a traditional drink. This time, we wanted to see if we could find a long forgotten libation from a vintage recipe book and revive it.  In this deliciously Mad Men-esque booklet produced by Calvert Distillers Company in 1960, we found a cocktail called the Souvenir.  Here it is, in all its Mod fabulousness!  

Souvenir

1 Part Calvert Reserve (Whiskey)
1 Part Dry Vermouth
1/2 Part Dubbonet
1/2 Part Orange Juice
1 Slice Orange

Stir well with ice.  Strain into cocktail glass.  


Songs go in and out like hem lines, instead the good ones wait patiently for each generation to find them.  Dream A Little Dream was written in 1938 and has been lost and found several times a decade since. Here for your swilling pleasure is my favorite current incarnation.

XO
Wendy Lane

Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

Found Music: Street Performers & Pianos

Sometimes I teach master classes for performers and when I do, one of the exercises I use is called “Sending Hearing Out”. Here’s how it works:  Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and sit perfectly still for two minutes.  While you’re doing that, listen to every sound in the room, then listen for every sound you can hear outside the room, down the hall, out the window, in the parking lot…Now open your eyes. What did you hear? Did you hear the music? There is music all around us, but how often do we stop to hear it? Even walking down the street.  Especially  walking down the street.  For this month's theme, "Found," I want to share some of the music you can find all over the place.  Just don't forget to stop and listen...

Did you know that Tracy Chapman, Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan (fire eating), and Benjamin Franklin (singing & reciting original poetry) all started out as street performers?   Above, Portuguese singer Susana Silva performs on a bridge in London.  Finding her music will take your breath away.

If you want to take a more active role in the music there’s English artist Luke Jerram’s Play Me I’m Yours Project. Beginning in 2008, Jerram has worked with local artists in forty five cities around the world (with more coming in 2015) to decorate and place pianos in public spaces. Anyone who happens by can play them. This has resulted in people interacting with each other in a whole new way, spontaneous concerts (often by well known artists) and at least two marriages (http://www.streetpianos.com/stories/ ). This has to be one of my favorite public art projects ever!  Above is Gillian Cosgriff's cover of Pharrell Williams' "Happy."  

So my challenge to you this month is to go out, keep your eyes open and “find” some music. If you’re in a city that has a street piano maybe even make some music that others can find!  We’ll be here waiting to hear all about it!

XO
Wendy Lane

Wendy Lane Bailey is our regular guest columnist on all things musical!  You can hear her on her website: wendylanebailey.com
 

Displaying a Collection

For this month's Vignette, we decided to display a collection in keeping with our "Found" theme. Collections, by definition, are objects of personal interest that are found over time.  Sometimes people will tell us that they get overwhelmed while they're antiquing because they don't know where to start. Having a collection in mind is a great way to focus your eye whenever you're out and about at a yard sale, thrift store or antiques fair.  The only thing you need to start a collection is one object that draws you in for a particular reason.  It could be a particular vintage make (think of all of those collections of Fiesta ware or Pyrex).  Or a beloved animal.  Or even a specific color.  For me, it's often the shape of something, which is how I started to collect pitchers and creamers.  Something about the spout and handle was really appealing to me.

I didn't necessarily know I was going to start a collection when I had that moment of "I-don't-know-why-but-I-can't-leave-this-booth-without-this-creamer" feeling.    

But what often happens with collections is that you buy one thing on impulse and end up truly loving it.  Then, the next time you're out poking around your eye is naturally drawn toward a similar object and you think, OH!  I'd love to have that one, too!  The next thing you know, you've got a third, and in our book, three of anything is considered a collection!  

For this vignette, I knew I needed to add various heights to my display so that each creamer and pitcher was given its proper due.  Since we're talking about collections, I decided to incorporate some things from one of my other collections: old books with interesting colors and graphics.  They make the perfect stepping stools and I like having one collection be useful in a way it wasn't originally meant to be used.  


Here's how we built the display, piece by piece:    

First, I knew I wanted at least three different levels.  (Working in odd numbers generally gives a natural flow to whatever display you're creating.  Working in evens will give you a more classic symmetrical look).  I started with a tall stack of books just a touch off-center, two books on one side and a single book on the other.  


Then I placed the taller and bigger pitchers on top, adding two of the smallest next to them, for contrast.

It looked like I was going to need a little more variation in height on the sides but I didn't have room to stack more books.  So instead, I stood them upright.  

Placing two creamers on top of the upright books looked pretty good but since the rest of my creamers were short, it looked like I was going to need even more staggered heights.  I used a short white pillar candle and a cream ramekin turned upside down, both on one side to keep the vignette asymmetrical.

My last three creamers and pitchers filled in the rest.  But something was missing...

Flowers!  I almost always incorporate a natural element into any vignette I'm making.  I love how a drooping bud, curvy feather, or twisted piece of wood adds flow to the man-made objects.  For my aesthetic it's all about contrast.  How about you?  What are your favorite ways to display your collections?  We'd love to share your photos with other readers so please send them our way: info {at} littleyellowcouch {dot} com.  

xoxo 

Zandra

P.S.  Don't forget to fill out our survey and enter our raffle!  You could win the chance to choose any item from our shop that you like!  ANY ITEM!  (Not to mention that your feedback on the survey will be invaluable to us)!  Go to our Birthday post to start the survey and fill out the raffle form.  

Looking to learn more about incorporating "FOUND" objects into your decor?  We are loving these books for inspiration ...

Shopping List: FOUND

This month, we’re exploring the theme “Found,” and what it means to find unexpected treasures that become fused with our daily lives.  We believe in collecting and owning things that have personal meaning so that our homes are filled with objects that reflect our aesthetic as well as our life stories.  From utilitarian pieces to linens and dishware to jewelry and art, the story behind how we find these things becomes part of the objects themselves, and ultimately, why we love them. 

1.  Custom University of Alabama Game Day Skirt via Put Your Game On
2.  Vintage Avocado Green Suitcase Shelves via The Cherry Chic
3.  Industrial Style Bottle Lamp - Jim Beam Chandelier via New Wine Old Bottles
4.  Repurposed Leather Fringe Necklace via Half Past Noon
5.  Kelly Green repurposed treadmill B.E.L.T. via Your New Favorite Belt
6.  Walnut Ring with Guitar String Inlay via Grand Junction Guy
7.  Reclaimed Wood Wine Rack via JNM Rustic Designs
8.  Chief Bifold Dome Wallet: Orange Vinyl Design via PUP Shop
9.  Vintage Brooch Bib Necklace via Bee Vintage Redux
10.  Reclaimed Barn Wood Table via Hammer Head Creations
11.  Repurposed Blanket Ukulele Case in Aqua and Orange via By Marie-Nicole
12.   Industrial Barrel Chair via White's Modern Industrial
13. Reclaimed Wood Photographic Wall Art Sculpture via Angela Collier Photography 
14.  Vintage Pepsi Crate Dog Feeder via Vintage Crate Feeders

 


To Celebrate Our 1st Birthday here at LYC, we would love if you would take a few quick minutes to tell us what you think by clicking on the link below!  Then, enter to win a gift of your choice from our shop as a birthday gift from us!!!  xoxo Karen June & Zandra

Happy 1st Birthday, Little Yellow Couch!

This month marks the one year anniversary of the launch of our venture, Little Yellow Couch.  We're uncorking the champagne and celebrating a year’s worth of love, sweat and tears (or at least misty eyes over DIYs gone bad), along with an appreciation for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our readers.  

When one of you writes a note saying that our stories resonate with you or that you're inspired by our photography, we know we’re on the right track.  But we also get a kick out of the responses that go something like this: “You’ve got to be kidding me!  How would normal people ever do something as build a stage set for a party, ask people to dress up and spend hours on make-up and prop building just for an excuse to get together and have a few drinks?!”  

Yeah.  We know we can be a bit…well…ridiculous.  But hey, that’s why you love us, right?  For the entertainment! 

Going forward, we’d like to do more of what you’re interested in and continue to find inspiration that we all can share.  And for that, we need your feedback!!!

So please, (pretty please!) take our Reader Response Survey, below.  For your participation, you can enter our raffle to win one item from our shop...whichever one you choose!!!

LYC 2014 Reader Response

LYC 2014 Reader Response

About You
There was an error on your page. Please correct any required fields and submit again. Go to the first error
Please answer some basic questions about yourself:
1. What is your gender? *This question is required.
2. How old are you? *This question is required.
3. Location of primary residence: *This question is required.
4. How many blogs do you read at least once a week? *This question is required.
5. How often do you go online for DIY ideas/help? *This question is required.
6. How often do you go online for party or entertaining ideas? *This question is required.
7. How often do you go online to find ideas/inspiration for your home? *This question is required.
8. How often do you go online to look for clothes and/or jewelry? *This question is required.
9. How often do you go online for recipe and/or cocktail ideas? *This question is required.

August Wrap Up: Childhood Beaches

Two New England beaches, two childhoods.  Karen and I both grew up at the ocean's edge every summer, carrying on family traditions in tiny cottages with freezing outdoor showers and wide open windows at night.  And now, we're taking our kids to the same spots, building sandcastles in the same sand and jumping the waves in the same tides.  Beaches are funny that way.  Going to the beach is unlike other vacations where you purposefully seek out new adventures in places previously unexplored.  Going to the beach means pulling out the same, worn out deck of cards on a rainy day and biking to the same market to get doughnuts every morning.  It means eating lobster rolls on the same ocean cliff and then scrambling down the rocks, daring to get as close as possible to the waves crashing in.  It's about taking photographs of your children in all of their glorious, sun drenched color every year, trying to capture the subtle changes in who they're becoming against the same background of ocean, sand and sky.  

Karen June's Beach: Scituate, MA

Madeline & James, Karen's Grandmother and father; Karen in the waves; Karen with her son, Kolya

Madeline & James, Karen's Grandmother and father; Karen in the waves; Karen with her son, Kolya

 

Zandra's Beach: Scarborough, ME

Zandra in front of her grandparents' cottage; Zandra on fishing pier:  Zandra on the rocks with her sons, Quinn & Calvin

Zandra in front of her grandparents' cottage; Zandra on fishing pier:  Zandra on the rocks with her sons, Quinn & Calvin

We hope you've enjoyed your summer and our two months devoted to "On The Waterfront!"  We'll see you in September!


xoxo Karen June & Zandra

FOUND: A Jewelry Making Workshop

If you'll be in the Boston area, we'd love to have you join us for a special workshop!

We will lead a small group of people in the design and techniques of making a statement necklace that you can take home.  NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!!!

Each participant will receive a basic jewelry making tool kit, a handmade tool pouch, and a variety of vintage jewelry, beads, chains, pins and ephemera to work with.  

No LYC event would be complete without cocktails and sweets so plan on spending time socializing as well!  

* Bonus Jewelry Rx: Bring any broken chains or jewelry pieces that you'd like to fix and we'll do our best to mend them!  

Cost: $40 Materials Fee

RSVP to info {at} littleyellowcouch {dot} com

Spaces are extremely limited!  

Hope you can make it!

xoxo 

Karen June & Zandra

Printable Workshop Flyer can be found HERE.

Quick Idea: Beachcombing for Desk Accessories

As we head into September, there's that familiar buzz of back-to-school shopping that always gets me in the mood for re-doing my office.  This year, I've kept a couple of the larger shells we've collected on the beach to use for my desk.  

I've simply cut out some pretty floral paper and glued them onto the shells, then added a layer of the same decoupage medium on top.  Using a metalic gold Sharpie, I've labeled them for paperclips, thumbtacks and stamps.

Voila!  A new set of desk accessories to remind you of relaxing summer walks on the beach while getting ready for the rush of September!  

xoxo

Zandra

Personalized Souveniers

Remember as a kid how you deliberated over which souvenir to buy with your special stash of vacation money?  As adults, the magnets, shot glasses and snowglobes created especially for tourists don't cut it anymore.  So, what do you choose as a memento that will do justice to your memories?  Sometimes on our travels we're lucky enough to find an item that feels remarkably special, such as a piece of art.  Or a necklace from a tiny boutique tucked out of sight from the well worn tourist path.  But the following souvenirs we've created are equally personal and, best of all, completely free.  

Matchbooks
Collect matchbooks from favorite restaurants while on vacation.  When you get home (or even on a rainy day if you're stuck inside), tear out the matches.  Cut a piece of paper the width of the matchbook and fold it accordion-style, attaching one end to the inside of the cover.  Jot down the names of your favorite experiences, meals, shops, etc that you've found on vacation and tuck your mementos in a clear glass jar for display.  

Matchboxes
If the restaurants you're going to offer matchboxes instead of books, these can be turned into miniature treasure chests to hold the smallest items you find on vacation, such as a shell you've picked up on the beach or a piece of salt water taffy from the boardwalk.  Print out a few snapshots from vacation and cut them down to the size of the matchbook to create a tiny photo box.  For each matchbox, write down one of your favorite things about vacation on slips of paper and tuck inside.  Glue the edges of the boxes together in a pyramid shape and stand it up as a piece of interactive ephemera. 

Map Journal
Before you go on vacation, find a map of the area you'll be visiting and cut it into the size of a journal or glue sections of the map to card stock for the cover.  Add some blank pages for writing.  Tape some other parts of the map to the pages and create pockets to hold mementos you find on your travels.  Simply punch two holes along the folds of your papers to tie the pages together with string.  Label the front with the place and date of your vacation and start a collection of map journals for all of your adventures.

For more ideas on creating personalized souvenirs and other exclusive content, sign up for our newsletter!   Scroll up.  The subscription box is on the right!  

Here's to great memories! 

xoxo 

Zandra & Karen June

Anchor Recipe Cards (Free Printable)

Need a thank you gift for friends who have lent you their beach cottage or invited you for a weekend at the lake?  Print out a set of these recipe cards and fill in the first one with our take on classic fish tacos.  Tie them up with pretty ribbon and maybe add a hand carved wooden spoon to complete the gift!  

xoxo

Karen June

Anchor Recipe Card Printable 

* Anchor image altered from Graphics Fairy.

4 flaky white fish filets (snapper, mahi mahi, etc)
salt & pepper
1 lemon
8 flour tortillas 

Sauce
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. fresh cilantro 
2 med. shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lime
pinch salt & pepper

Toppings
1 avocado
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 
2 limes, quartered
sour cream

Lay fish in pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and juice of 1 lemon.  Refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, combine next 9 ingredients in a food processor to make the sauce and then refrigerate until serving.  Heat oven to 400.  Cook fish until flaky (a thick filet cut should take 25-30 minutes).  In the mean time, place a wet paper towel on a dish, layer with tortillas and cover with another wet paper towel.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium and wrap them in foil afterwards to keep warm.  Slice red onion, avocado and limes, serving each in separate bowls.  Scoop sour cream and pre-made sauce into bowls. Slice fish and serve on a platter, garnished with sprig of parsley or cilantro.  Set out your fish, toppings and tortillas and dig in.  

Serves 4.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min

Waterfront Tabletop, 3 Ways

I've been dreaming of owning a little cottage on the waterfront for years.  Whenever we rent a place on the beach, I wake up, stare at the ceiling and imagine how I would re-paint it or change out the curtains and refurnish the screened-in porch.  Here's how I might lay out a dining room table, depending on whether I was living on a lake, a tropical island or by the ocean.

LAKE HOUSE

I'm picturing a cabin at the edge of the woods, looking down on a shimmering lake.  The walls are all made of natural logs, there's a stone fireplace and cozy wool blankets for winter.  In the summer, the large windows let in the sunlight, beckoning you down the steps and onto the dock where you can jump in a canoe and spend the morning on the water.  When you come back for lunch, you might pull out these items to set your table:  

Napkin Holders via Ocean Swept

Tablecloth via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Anthropologie

Pitcher via Toast Ceramics (as seen on Scout Mob)


TROPICAL RETREAT

There are tons of kitschy ways to lay out a "tropical" table, but we know we'd quickly get tired of the tounge-in-cheek palm tree look.  Instead we're going for a more subtle approach allowing some brightly colored flowers and stunningly fresh food take center stage.  

Napkins via Crate & Barrel

Tablecloth via Terrain

Pitcher via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Crate & Barrel


BEACH HOUSE

This is where my heart lives.  I'm an ocean girl through and through and I would love nothing more than to own napkins printed with a line drawing of a great sailing vessel!  I can picture stringing lights around the porch and leaving some inside these terrific lanterns, throwing on a simple tablecloth and serving up a bright red lobster on this delicious wave-patterned plate.  All after a day of playing in the salt water and reading a trashy murder mystery on the beach!  

Tablecloth via Crate & Barrel

Napkins via Oh Little Rabbit

Platter via Jessica Howard

Lanterns via Terrain

Which table setting speaks to you the most?  Let us know in the comments.  And vote for your most favorite item!  Also, send us a photo of your own version of a waterfront table... we'd love to see & share!  

xoxo

Zandra

P.S.  Check out these book for further inspiration:

Quick Idea: Rope Lampshade

As much as I enjoy sunshine when I'm at the ocean, I secretly love a rainy day at the beach so I can laze around playing solitaire and reading a good book.  But I also like to get my hands on an easy project while I listen to the rain coming down.  Here's a super quick way to add a little rustic, nautical charm to a side table, perfect for a waterfront cottage.  And you can do it in under an hour!  

lamp3.jpg

Find an old lampshade at a thrift store.  Using an Exact-o knife, cut off all of the fabric or paper and peel it away from the edges.  You can soak it it warm, soapy water if you're having trouble removing it all.  If you'd rather buy a new frame, you can order one online.  We recommend The Lamp Shop.  For about 10 bucks you can get a hexagonal frame like the one we've used here.  

Using jute or other natural twine, tie off one end of your rope and start wrapping it around the frame, vertically.   You'll need a LOT of rope so you might want to buy a new spool before you get started.  If you have a drum shade, you'll probably just use one, long continuous piece of twine.  If you have multiple sides like ours, you might choose to do each side with its own piece, tying off twice per side so that you have little knots around the bottom edge of your shade.  Totally up to you!

xoxo Zandra