Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tiny Baby Steps


I'm excited to report that I'm taking these tiny baby steps towards launching my little interior design business.  With my first solo project almost totally complete, I feel ready to launch a website.  It will be a great way of communicating my style and my service to potential clients.

I'm currently on the search for a photographer to take some professional photos too.  But I did read once that this successful designer got started with just a website and some photos right out of design school.  I was encouraged to hear that.  I have my years of working for a small company behind me as well as lots of friends in the design community.  So I feel that I have so much support.  I'm looking forward to what the future holds.

Hope you are having a wonderful day!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Modern Craftsmen Hood in Bend

We went to Bend, Oregon a couple of weekends ago for a soccer tournament.  Bend is an amazing little spot, it's hot and dry, with a vibrant downtown, good shopping, river activities and lots of amazing real estate.  It reminds me of Palm Springs, without the celebrities. 

I came across this new neighborhood and the modern in me got really excited.  This was the most immaculate neighborhood I've ever seen.  It is almost too perfectly Stepford, however, I saw a few people and they seemed real.  Every garage is behind the house, no parking signs are posted everywhere and they have community mailboxes.  These things are so opposite of my neighborhood with it's telephone wires and mismatched assortment of mailboxes, a bus in one neighbor's front yard (yes, literally a bus!) ugh, I could go on and on.  Let's just look at this amazing dreamland of total perfection, craftsmen loveliness and modern fabulousness! On with it!

My favorite one.  It's a combination of modern and vintage.  Reminded me of the 1950's, built for today.  The home owner was standing in the front room, looking at me like I was nuts.  I must have looked that way while I was driving around doing this (with my child asleep in his car seat) sticking my head out the window snapping photos.  

This house was stunning in person. It's across the street from the one in the photo above.  I love the way the lines are so clean and stacked, it just belongs in it's environment.  The way the earth is built, in layers, so should the architecture that exists upon it.  My architecture thought for the day.  You're welcome.
I really like the layering of greys with the large white trim.  Notice the prominent no parking sign.

Quite a few of the modern homes had a side entry.  This is a feature created by Frank Lloyd Wright and one that I wish I saw more of in our modern homes.  We need to be building more homes like this one.  What do you think?

Gorgeous craftsmen.  I thought this one might be my dad's dream house, but there was no golf course.  Almost had it dad!

I love this chartreuse door and grey paint.  I wish I got out and took a better picture of this one. Amazing.  "Um, hello, can I move in, PLEASSSE!"

This house is good inspiration for our house.  I like this color combination a lot.  Grey overall, white trim and turquoise door.  It feels very fresh and modern.

This is all one house.  Check out the garage on the far left. Unreal dude. Unreal.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Creative Space

When I met Jen we just clicked.  We met through some mutual friends that have nothing to do with art or design, so neither of us knew that the other one loved it so much.
Then Jen hosted a get together at her house one Saturday and low and behold was this amazing space!  Filled with bright colors, a multitude of craft supplies and crazy fun art in every nook and cranny.  
I couldn't believe it.
I said, "Jen, I thought I heard that you were an accountant?"
 she replied, "Yes, that's my job." 

Here's Jen; accountant by day and wondrous handy crafter, well, the rest of the time!


I love that Jen allows her passion to shine in her home, that she doesn't hide it in a back room or push it into a small corner.  This vibrant space is located in what might be considered a formal dining room and it works so great. 


A work in progress
All of us ladies visiting that day, couldn't wait to get into that space and check it out.

Jen makes dolls, sews, paints and inspires other women to do the same.

Message to the husband and teenagers living in the house!
 In the photo below is a screen print owl by Jen.  It is proudly hanging in my son Henry's room above his toy shelf. 
A fun collection of her other works of art. 
If you live in Vancouver you can see and purchase Jen's art (like the owl that I own) at Most Everything, a vintage shop located at 815 Washington Street in downtown Vancouver.  You can also purchase Jen's creations on her Etsy shop here.  Or follow Jen on her blog at Clever Girl Studios, as she shares her crafting process, new creations and heartfelt stories.
Thank you Jen, for opening up your wonderful space for me to share!
Nicole B.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Black and White Striped Floors

I'm so excited to share with you that I have been working on designing a salon.  The owner came to me because she wanted a "Hollywood Regency" style for her salon, named Glitterati.  Her logo is pink and I immediately knew she needed gold in there! I have had such a blast putting it together for her, but there have been some serious down times as well.  Like when we pulled up the carpet to discover black tar, the budget just wasn't going to supply us with flooring to cover that, it had to be scraped off.  It was a difficult moment.  But lots of sweat and tears later and now we have a beautiful painted concrete floor. 


12 inch black and white stripes that make an oversize chevron now adorn the floors.  I can't tell you what an amazing difference this made in the space.  It was all DIY.  Her dad helped us lay out the design and gave us his "pro tips" on using the blue tape to make the lines.  I got down on my hands and knees and helped layout all the measurements.  Then the owner and a friend painted at night after her kids were in bed.  The floors really make a statement and the days and nights of work really paid off. 

This is the other room when we were hanging the vintage swag lights.  That one in the far left corner we have already changed.  It was a little under scale and looked too new for the design.  Also you can see the black baseboard has been installed. 
So much more to share!  What do you think so far?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vintage Find


I thought today I would share with you a fun vintage find.  I slammed on my breaks and threw my car into reverse when I saw this whole vintage set of mid-century modern patio chairs just lounging on a neighbors yard.

I had not planned on buying this, but it was there.  Calling to me.  The whole set was purchased in 1955 from a store in Seattle.  John, the seller, was nine years old when his parents brought this home.  He has kept it all this time.  It's in mint condition and looks shiny and new in our backyard. 

Sunshine, lemonade, cushion and me! I can't wait!

One more time...Just because...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Exterior


It's been a while and I'm happy to report that I have been busy with some new projects!  I'm so excited to share them with you as they come to a close.  I've also made some changes around the Busick house and next month we are scheduled for a bit of a remodel.  All due to the fact that we found dry rot on the back of the house.  Because if someone is going to tear apart my roof, wellll, then can we change a few things upstairs?  Have I shown you the exterior of my house?

This is the house in winter, when we first bought it, with that ugly color on the front door and garage. 

Here is the house in summer, after we painted the front door and garage a turquoise color.  We had just planted new grass, installed new modern house numbers, and replaced the brass letter slot in the front door with a vintage decorative antique brass plate.  We also painted the steps of the porch a rich chocolate color.  These were all affordable changes that made a big difference to us.

Here is a close up of the antique brass plate that replaced the shiny brass envelope slot on the front door.

The exterior of my house continues to bother me. Which means something just isn't right.  For instance the flower bed in front of the living room window continues to be incomplete, I can't get anything to survive there.  I wish I could just replace it with a porch.  Wouldn't that be fun? 

We are considering adding another pop out window to the other side of the house and extending the roof line over the edge of the house.  

I want to paint the whole house a dark grey with white trim.  That could really freshen it up.  Imagine making the trim around the windows really thick.  I think that could be a more modern update that could keep me from adding the typical awnings, shutters and flower boxes.  Maybe I'm living in the wrong style of house for my taste?  I just believe everything old can be new again as long as you add some modern to it.    

What do you think?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I came across a fabulous little autobiography by Tullalah Bankhead.  I'm completely smitten and from now on, wish to address you all as Dahling! 
I adore this little book, every time I pick it up and read a little, I smile.  Tullaluh Bankhead was a professional actress who in her words, "loathed acting" but desired fame, carried a parakeet named Gaylord with her wherever she went, married once and didn't apologize for her free and lively spirit.
 She grew up in Alabama and swears it was her name that allowed her to escape the place, although she was heckled for it as a child. 
Raised by Aunt Louise and Aunt Marie, her father and grandparents after the death of her mother when she was born.  Her father was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916 when she was 14 years old. It was her father that supported her future as an actor because of his own desire to be one. An entry into a beauty contest would take her to New York where she pursued the fame that she so desired.  She acted on stage, radio and eventually television and film.  I've caught her on an old rerun of I Love Lucy.  She had a sort of rough nasal voice, and a true air of sophistication.
She referred to everyone as dahling, saying, "Dahling has implications of affection, or at least friendliness.  It cannot disturb the recipient." I couldn't agree more.
Tullalah ends this little memoir with the following words, "By my own standards I've lived to the hilt. I've soared in the clouds and touched bottom.  Much as I like to idle, I know I must carry on or perish.  I have a tiger by the tail. Better than anyone, Edna St. Vincent Millay has expressed my plight, my philosophy:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night:
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saying Goodbye to My Great Grandmother

This past weekend I traveled with my parents and Hank to Milpitas, California.  It was to say goodbye to my Great-Grandmother Catherine, whom we lovingly called Kay.  In order to remember her and all that she gave to us, we exchanged photos of her and her beloved family.

These are her three daughters in 1937, from left, Betty, Joan and Renee (my grandmother).

On the back of this photo is written:
Renee- Dress- Lavender
Joan - Dress- Pink
Betty - Dress- Blue
Most mothers write the age of their children on the back of photos, but not Grandma Kay. She wrote what color the dresses were because it was an important detail.  I love this about her.  So stink'n cute!

Here is the whole family.  The hair, the clothes, a very young Great-Grandma Kay, makes me smile. And if those curtains were flocked and in a deep jewel tone they would make some fabulous vintage modern curtains. Don't you think?  Also her husband, Grandpa Christiansen as my mother often referred to him, was a great guy, a very hands on father whom Kay never stopped loving or missing even when though he passed away in the early 70's.  

This one is my mother as a baby in Grandpa Christensen's arms and beautiful Kay smiling proudly next to him.  The other two scare me, they were my mother's other grandparents. 

Here is me in my Great-Grandma Kay's arms in 1978. I always felt that I was her favorite. This of course, was not true, but she had a way of making you feel like it was. 
This is a picture of a moment I wish I could go back to.  A gorgeous sunny day and a visit to the city of San Francisco with Great-Grandma Kay. 

So much of who she was will live on in her many grandchildren.  Her graciousness, her innocence, her unconditional love, her vanity and conservativeness, her love of family, her complete adoration for her daughters and her enduring love for her husband. 

In the end, amongst her family with grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren present, we layed her body to rest next to the love of her life.  And I am reminded that it is not our physical possessions that matter but those we love and that love us back.  They are the greatest gifts we ever receive in this life here on earth. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Style Me Vintage: Passing It On

Some of my very favorite pieces in my wardrobe are hand-me-downs. Being in the vintage clothing business means I have zero aversion to pre-loved things, and my favorites are items that are really infused with love! I've mentioned before that my mom saved a lot of her wardrobe and let me wear it in my own youth. There are several things that I still use and wear quite often, and I think it's noteworthy that they are the pieces mom is wearing in numerous photos I have of her. Great accessories usually stand the test of time!

This cotton scarf is a good example. It's cotton and a versatile large size, in bright primary colors with paisley. Mom used it as a hair accessory throughout my infancy, and then gave it to me for one of my early Halloween costumes (I was Gypsy several years running, isn't this scarf perfect for that!?). I have always loved it, and find myself using it on many a bad hair day! Scarves are such a fun way to accessorize, and can really pull an outfit together by matching colors to the rest of your ensemble. I usually wear them casually, with jeans and a solid colored top of some sort. There are all sorts of ways to tie them up; YouTube tutorials abound. My favorite way is just how mom wore hers though, draped over the head and tied in back.

Another favorite accessory is a pair of 1970's enamel hoop earrings. They are the perfect shade of navy blue and pair well with vintage and contemporary outfits. In the included photos of my mom, you can see she is wearing them. I updated them a bit when she gave them to me, adding a medium sized bead and new posts. Some other favorites I get a lot of mileage out of are a pair of beautiful micro mosaic earrings and both of my parents class rings. I was thrilled when my mom gave me the rings a couple of years ago, I'd been admiring them in her jewelry box for as long as I can remember.
  Easy to wear and style hand-me-downs... what's hiding out in your family's closets?
Christine is the co-owner of Living Threads Vintage, a vintage clothing shop in downtown Portland, OR.   Each week she brings her talent for wearing a vintage modern mix to Nicole B Vintage.
All photos by Travis and Christine Taylor

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Turning One

My Hank turned one year old on May 12th.  That is one entire year that I have survived being a mother.  One entire year of poopie diapers, holding him in the middle of the night when he cries, bath time, play time, hugging time and silly time.  One entire year of learning what it means to give up my wants and desires to care for another person.    

I figured that meant it was time for a party.  My mom said, "don't make such a fuss, he'll never remember it".  I felt like it didn't matter, I will always remember it. And maybe, just maybe, I needed it. 

It all went off without a hitch as they say.  It was sunny and 87 degrees out that day.  Hank played with all of his cousins and friends, we sang happy birthday and received so many amazing presents.  I'd say he is a very blessed little boy, or is it the other way around?  I might say that it is him who blesses our lives every day, with his smiles and his hugs.  His laughter and his cries.  His silly faces and his "look out I'm coming through" mentality.  Thank you God for Hank, who teaches me every day that the most important things in life are the people who love us.     

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Tips for Using an Oil Based Paint

Have you ever used oil based paint before?  I only had experiences working with latex paint.  Latex paint washes off with water and generally doesn't have a bad odor.  The oil based paint that I was just using is about the exact opposite of latex based paint.  If it gets on your skin there is no washing it off with water and the smell, oh my, the smell!!

The reason for using an oil based paint was to paint a pair of chests for our bedroom.  I know it will hold up and brace yourself, you can buy a small can of Rustoleum at Home Depot for about $9.50.  They have some great basic colors. 

Here is the finished product:

My Tips for Using an Oil Based Paint on Furniture:

1. Even when the surface is smooth, use a soft roller brush, not one of those tight super smooth ones

2. Wear gloves and if you get it on yourself use olive oil with sea salt to scrub it off. Follow up with dish soap to remove the oil. 

3.  Let it dry for a few days if you can.  The smell is incredibly strong so let the furniture piece dry for a few days before you bring it inside the house. 

4.  Be prepared for your brushes to get totally ruined, unless you dip them in the paint remover before you begin painting.  Remember this paint doesn't just wash off. 

Happy Painting!

Nicole B.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Style Me Vintage: Wardrobe Essentials

Portland Spring weather is finally here, and that always puts me in the mood to wear dresses. Wearing vintage pretty much guarantees a few dresses in my closet, and if you don't have one yet for the warmer weather, that is a perfect excuse to try out a vintage one! Specifically the shirtwaist dress.
One of my favorite styles of dress, a shirtwaist is pretty cut and dry. They borrow a little from menswear, while staying feminine. The tell-tale sign is a "shirt" like bodice featuring a buttoned front, cuffed sleeves, and sometimes a collar similar to a men's button up shirt. They have a tailored waist and always a full cut skirt that accommodates any size hips. Undeniably cute and extremely easy to wear. I own about a dozen!
Shirtwaist dresses are insanely versatile. Depending on your mood, they're easy to dress up or down for a more casual look. They look fantastic with flats, pretty sandals in the summer time, small heels (for dressing it up), or even cowboy boots! Throw a simple cardigan over one to keep it looking vintage, or a solid colored blazer and oxfords for an updated look. Many vintage ones you can find with their original belt, if not no problem. A skinny belt for the waist is readily available anywhere from Target to mall stores, in any size and color. I find that a belt subtly accents the shape of the dress on any body type, but it's not required. These dresses are all about your comfort zone, a big reason that I love them so much. You can find them in any size and just about any fabric too.... cotton, polyester, wool.... and any color or pattern. So fun! You'll find many for sale online (try Etsy & eBay), and I have never been in a vintage clothing shop that did not have a few to choose from.
These are some of my favorites that I own and wear all the time. I particularly love the 1950's novelty print one with little Daschund dogs!


They were popular in the 1940's, 50's, early 60's, 70's, and most recently, a couple of seasons back.  Easy to wear and classic. Go ahead, try one. You'll love it! - Christine

Christine is the co-owner of Living Threads Vintage, a vintage clothing shop in downtown Portland, OR.  Each week she brings her talent for wearing a vintage modern mix to Nicole B Vintage.
All photos by Travis Taylor

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gold Leaf Mirror

I was on Craigslist a few weeks ago searching for a dresser for a client's guest room when I stumbled upon these large painted black mirrors.  A matching set of mirrors was exactly what I had been wanting for our bedroom.  You know, the Mint + Gold bedroom that I keep talking about.

The Craigslist Photo...
They were in terrible shape.  The frames weren't attached to the mirrors and there was paint and icky stuff all over them.  Two holes were apparent on the front of the frames too, all of this almost made me run.  But I realized that this was nothing this crafty gal couldn't fix. 
 I remembered a blog post by my DIY guru over at Little Green Notebook for applying gold leaf to a picture frame.  So I used that to get me up and running.  Check out that post here.
I picked up these supplies at my local craft store:
(2) Packs of 25 Gold Leaf sheets
(1) Pack of misc. brushes
(1) Gold Leaf Adhesive
(1) Gold Leaf Sealer

Quick Overview:
Step 1.  Clean the surface you are going to apply gold leaf to.  IMPORTANT! If you have an old surface with lots of paint layers be sure to use a paint remover and take them off.  If not, you will have a lot of problems with the product adhering to the surface.  Fill in any random holes with wood filler. Sand and make sure the surface is dirt free. Mirrors are really easy to clean up with a little razor blade. I was able to get all of the paint and Lord knows what else off of these guys with a tiny little razor blade.
Step 2.  Use the smaller blue handle brush above and apply the adhesive to the whole frame all at once.  Allow to dry for 5 minutes.
Step 3.  Start to apply the gold leaf sheets to the large flat surfaces while allowing the leaf to fall into the nooks and crannies.  Use the black sponge brush to gently push away the excess gold leaf.  Be sure to overlap the gold leaf so you don't end up with strange lines.
Step 4.  Do any needed touch ups.  I had to do a lot.  I just applied more glue where needed, let dry and added more gold leaf.
Step 5. Dust off all excess gold leaf with black sponge brush.
Step 6.  Clean off blue handle brush and use to apply the sealer to all of the gold leaf.  Allow to dry for at least 20 minutes. 

A close up of the mirror, you can see my little imperfections. This was not an easy project.
The backside of the mirror with the hardware that was used to attach the mirror to the frame.

Finally, I had to go into Michael's for help with this frame as the mirror was not attached to the frame and there is a large space in between the two.  $25 dollars later I learned that I could have just gone to a hardware store and picked up these brackets myself.  It needed those metal brackets screwed into the frame.  That was the only thing that would hold it in place.  I added the wire, used a 50lb nail and hook and up they both went. 

Happy Crafting!
Nicole B.