Houses we love

Spaces: The Kaufmann House

Spaces: The Kaufmann House

Now that we are heading into winter, there are two things I covet: light and the outdoors. And to get the fix, I may jump on a plane to Palm Springs, California which is known for those two things. PS as its called by the locals, is an eclectic mix of desert landscape, boutique hotels and restaurants, artist population, and modern architecture. One midcentury master, Richard Neutra built the Kaufmann House in 1947 here. It is currently privately owned, but so inspiring in the design and lifestyle is provides. It's all light and nature. Transparent walls make rooms seem to spill outside and the minimal furnishings allow the light and space to flood indoors. There is a beautiful, soulful, and slow luxury about this partnership. That's one reason we love modern design.
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In Print: Living with Light

In Print: Living with Light

"Etre Heureux en rendant heureux" - this adage which translates roughly as finding happiness through creating happiness, is a favorite saying of one of my heroes: Axel Vervoordt, the Belgium interior and product designer, art dealer, and stylemaker. For Axel, this core idea expresses the commitment to inspire audiences through discovering and transmitting the beautiful, with a deep respect for everything that is authentic. In Axel's work, the concept of beauty is made physical. He harnesses elements made from nature - light, water, metal, and wood - blends with a modern aesthetic and punctuates with fine art - the kind of art that just puts a pit in your stomach. For Axel, modern doesn't mean new, and beauty isn't about being young. It's about time, history, and authenticity. Axel is my hero because Modernplum is about that also. Like Axel, we are about making and designing that digs for beauty and timelessness. While our products are new, the endurance of linen as a home staple provides a continuity between the past and present that is palpable and important. Linen is beautiful and modern all at once. I call linen the light catcher among other things -- you can spot linen a mile away just by the way is reflects light. Thank you, Axel for pointing the way. Axel has a new book out -- Living with Light which showcases twenty interior projects that all use light as a primary inspiration. Available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Axel-Vervoordt-Living-Light/dp/208020159X
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The best farms for fresh blooms

The best farms for fresh blooms

I don't know about you, but there is something absolutely fabulous about getting and receiving flowers especially if they are wild grown and organic. There is something really real and authentic about flowers grown this way. Here is list of three organic flower farms that are turning out the most special arrangements. These are one to keep in your files. 

Floret Flower Farms in located in Skagit Valley, Washington on only a tiny 3-acres. With such little space it is extraordinary what the founder, Erin Benzakin, has been able to create. Established in 2008, Floret features a design studio and learning center which hosts on farm workshops for flower farmers and floral designers to learn about small scale flower production and the art of floral design. In 2014 they began offering a collection of garden-related products such as bulbs, seeds, tools and growing resources, and in 2016 Floret released their own line of specialty heirloom and flower seeds. http://www.floretflowers.com/

Larkspur began as a retail floral shop located in Bucktown in 1994, and have since then established their farm in the Southwest Michigan town of Buchanan. Although their specialties are peonies and heirloom annuals, the Larkspur floral farm raises over 50 types of flower varieties a year using sustainable farming practices such as low-till methods, using organic and naturally found soil amendments, and the use of cover crop and co-planting for weed control. Since their beginning they have transformed their retail shop into a modern studio space which offers floral deliveries, wedding designs, pop-up floral design classes, open-studio nights, and collaborations with local artisans. http://www.larkspurchicago.com/

First generation farmers, Steve and Gretel Adams, founded Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in 2007. Located in Columbus, Ohio on 10 acres of land, Sunny Meadows focuses on creating a healthy environment for their plants to grow and for their team to work in by minimizing their use of chemicals and growing sustainably with organic practices like making their own compost, using organic amendments, and using integrated pest management to minimize their effect on pollinators. http://www.sunnymeadowsflowerfarm.com/

 Each of these farms delivers their beautiful and farm grown flowers to locations all over. I can't think of anything better than fresh flowers grown with love. 

 

 

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Lean in, slow in

Lean in, slow in

The new season, the change, offers the chance to reflect on the past and to plan for the future. This is why I am writing a post today on "Slow Life", a philosophy of living that supports slowing down, becoming more mindful of time, friends, and community. It's about cooking at home, buying beautiful and well made things, enjoying your purchases and living with less. Given the pace and saturation of choices, things, and distractions these days, this is a very refreshing idea, isn't it? When writing the title of this post, "Slow In" - I was reminded of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's newish book Lean In, in which she talks about leaning into work and embracing its culture, people and opportunities. She says that leaning in - becoming engaged and present to the situation - makes all the difference in success and fulfillment on the job. There is a big connection I think between Sandberg's ideas and the Slow Life movement. Likewise, engage in daily rituals, activities, and people around -- and you will be rewarded with pleasures, satisfaction and fulfillment at home. How basic and how profound an idea. Something to think about.
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Useful is beautiful

Useful is beautiful

I came across a quote from William Morris this week that has gotten stuck in my head. It is "Live with things you know to be useful and believe to be beautiful." William Morris was an author, a designer, artist, and typographer and was influential in the Arts and Crafts movement in the 19th Century. While he lived and worked many years ago, this idea seems so relevant today. Useful and practical products in the home are the engine of how we live. Without useful things - the tools of the home, we could not accomplish our daily tasks with ease - eating without silverware or plates? It would be possible but not efficient. And how about the beautiful? This is a question open to debate, but in the context of this post, beauty lies within the practical when it serves function through material, form, and craftsmanship. Look at this knife here - its material of sterling silver perfectly functions to be a long-lasting blade upon which to spread butter and jam, and the resin handle forms a smooth surface that is easy on the hands. The silver joinery looks handmade, or if done with machine, it is done well with smooth joints and just a hint of decoration. In this case, beautiful is useful, and the useful is beautiful. This is a nice thought these days, I think.
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Bedding making tips

BED-MAKING 101

Every so often, I get an urge to make my bed. Not in the way of getting new bedding or even in changing the bedroom decor. I mean how the bedding comes together and is arranged - in short, how the bed is made. Bed-making is probably way down on your list - just a chore that needs to get done. But perhaps the drudgery of bed-making has a silver lining. I think it does. There are two really important things to having a great bed: comfort and beauty.

First, the comfort. You want your bed to be a sanctuary that provides bliss any time of the day. That's asking a lot, but there is a way to get there. The first is making sure that the sheets stay relatively clean. In my 1970's childhood household, sheets were washed once per week and I've tried to stay true to this schedule. Just the idea of slipping into clean sheets produces a tiny burst of joy, yes?

Comfort is also influenced by what fabrics you choose to sleep with. Most sheeting is cotton or linen since they breath, are soft and long wearing. Linen breaths more than cotton and gets softer over time. Either works well. Sheeting should not be made from synthetics since they are the opposite of these. On the next layer, you can add a blanket which should also be made from natural fiber. Wash once a month. Your comforter or duvet insert can be either polyester or down. I recommend having a light and heavier weight insert to use seasonally. During the dog days of summer, the duvet cover can be used by itself as a bedspread - no insert needed. As a last layer, don't forget a bed throw either on the bed itself or nearby. Having a throw around is a little personal luxury that's all about portable comfort. I often will use a throw during the day when napping or reading and sometimes at night if it's very cold.

The key to comfort? Cleanliness, quality fabrics and layering.

Achieving a beautiful bed is harder to define, since it is very subjective. A beautiful bed is in the eye of the beholder. There are a couple of bedmaking components that enhance beauty, no matter how you define it. The first is keeping everything in good shape. By good shape, I mean keeping pillows, duvets, blankets and all free of rips, tears, stains and in generally good condition. It is surprising how these tiny imperfections impact perception.

The next part of making a beautiful bed is the care and craft of layering and folding the bedding as you make it. This is really a simple act but one that will do wonders for the overall appearance of the bed afterwards. Laying down your flat sheet and tucking the sheeting well is like laying a smooth and well crafted foundation for a home. If this initial part is done well then the entire bed will benefit. We recommend hospital corners for your sheeting. Y’know, the way nurses used to fold sheets before fitted sheets were invented. Not to worry, your bed will not look like it belongs in a hospital. Use this technique with your flat sheet and/or comforter. It might seem minor or a waste of time given no body will actually see these corners. But herein lies the secret to great beauty, I think. beauty is made in the details and when no one seems to be looking.



To get this look, follow these steps:

  • Lay the sheet on the mattress and tuck it in at the foot of the bed.
  • Grab the corner of the sheet still sticking out and pull it up so that it sits on top of the mattress (we’ll call this the triangle).
  • Tuck in the remainder of the sheet corner that you didn’t pull up.
  • Tuck in the triangle.
  • Repeat at the other corner.
From there, you can layer all other components onto the bed. Make sure that underthings like blankets are smooth and tucked in using the hospital corners technique. Finish with pillowcases, shams, and accent pillows either tossed or arranged formally according to your personal preference. Just a bed can be made in 30 seconds or not at all. But a comfortable and beautiful bed might take a few more minutes of effort. Again, the time issue. Something to weigh. An extra few minutes per day at bed-making might just make your day (and night). Enjoy.

By Sydney Lawson
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cooling linen sheeting

NATURAL WAYS TO KEEP COOL AT NIGHT

It's the heat of summer, and keeping cool at night can be a challenge sometimes. Air conditioning, if you have it, is an obvious choice. But there are other ways to beat the heat that are all-natural, electricity-free and simple. Here is our list of five basics that will make a difference in your comfort and heat.

Linen is extremely breathable and self-cooling in heat thanks to its high moisture absorbency, soaking up 20% of its weight before feeling damp. Plus, who doesn’t like a complimentary massage? Due to breaks in the fabric, linen stimulates blood flow and induces relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the cooler you will be.

Waking up in the middle of the night thirsty with a dry mouth doesn’t help keep you cool. The body is 70% water as we all know, and without water consumption our bodies begin to overheat. Studies show that room temperature water is better than ice cold water in terms of the amount of energy your body uses to heat the cold water and the body fat that cold water solidifies, making it harder to digest.

This will allow air to circulate within and outside of your bedroom. If you're getting hot at night, it is better to let heat out than let it sit in one place. Also, there is something very soothing about fresh air even if it is a warmer evening.

Are you always trying to find new ways to fall asleep faster, stay in a deeper sleep, and wake up in a better mood? Then linen bedding may help you in your quest! Similarly to linen clothing, it is breathable and its high-moisture absorbency makes it softer over time. Not only does it absorb a lot of moisture, it also quickly releases it through evaporation; a guaranteed, natural cooling system.

If the heat (along with the stress of everyday life) is making it hard to fall asleep, try breathing techniques. Focusing on your breath distracts you from thoughts on your hot situation and helps you relax. There are also certain techniques to make you tired!

by Sydney Lawson

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NOW IT'S SUMMER PLAIDS

NOW IT'S SUMMER PLAIDS

I often look at fashion for clues as to new trends, and there is something definitely happening right now with summer plaid. Summer plaids are those slightly campy patterns often in classic red, white, and blue that signal carefree style. Ever since Julie Andrews waltzed through the fields of Bavaria with her check picnic blanket in the Sound of Music, a little plaid clothe just seems right for outdoor events and entertaining. We stumbled upon just such a plaid, with classic colors of red, navy, yellow and white and have made a collection of napkins, tablecloths, and runners that are great for carefree entertaining, indoors and out. This is a pattern that goes just as well with paper plates to bone china and back again. If there is one cloth that just says the season, this might be it.

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the trench coat

For Spring, the trench coat

This month we are kicking off something new. It's a look into our Favorite Things organized by month and season. You probably don't know this but Modernplum started off as a blog about a lifestyle laden with simple things, authentic experiences, and finding beauty everyday. Favorite Things is about capturing all those. We have a new board on Pinterest that will keep everything organized by month. First up - the Trench Coat. This embodies everything we love about Spring dressing. It's slightly spontaneous, it's simple, it's a classic and it's timeless. Where it to the park or to dinner. Slip it on with heels or court shoes. Put your hair up or in a pony. Most every retailer regardless of price point carries the trench during this time of year. If there is one piece of clothing that signifies the new season, it's the trench. 

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HAPPY VALENTINES BY CY TWOMBLY

HAPPY VALENTINES BY CY TWOMBLY

It's Valentine's Day and I can't think of a better way to express my gratitude and love to everyone than with paintings by Cy Twombly. Twombly paintings are both personal and universal. They are about me, and you, and us, and them. His painting's scratches, marks, and smears express the our universal need to connect with others, to reach out and to belong. Looking at these paintings makes me feel connected to humanity as a whole. I can recognize myself in these marks. There is something hopeful and comforting and very inclusive about that. These paintings are a wonderful Valentine's Day reminder about the true nature of love. Have a beautiful day, everyone.


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RECIPE / SPECIAL BREAKFAST PANCAKES

RECIPE / SPECIAL BREAKFAST PANCAKES

No doubt, this is the season for special meals at home. During this time it's always fun to whip up some breakfast food that makes these time extra festive. At these times, I often make this pancake. It is not the flat, griddle cake, dosed with lots of syrup variety of pancake. It is a Finnish pancake that puffs up like a balloon in the oven, and the consistency is more like a custard, than a cake. In Finland, the pancake is served with lingonberry preserves, their version of strawberry jam. We like it with any kind of jam or frozen berries that have been heated over the stove and mixed with a little sugar. And honey always tastes good. The recipe comes from an old cookbook, A Slice of Santa Barbara, which my mother gave me years ago. It is pretty simple to make: Melt 1/2 cup butter in the oven in a 9" x 13" pan. Then combine 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 cups milk, and 1/2 cup sour cream. Then add this mixture to butter in the pan, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Top with berries and powdered sugar. The prep time is about ten minutes. This is also a great company recipe since it bakes in the oven like a casserole. It really starts the day out feeling festive. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and happy eating.

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MENSWEAR INSPIRED / LARSEN BEDDING

MENSWEAR INSPIRED / LARSEN BEDDING

We are happy that Larson is here, just in time to ring in the new year. Larson is our newest bedding collection that is inspired by sewing details and subtle styling popular in men's suits. With Larson, we've paired a contrast pinstripe with oatmeal linen on a coverlet, sham, and accent pillow. The look is urban and yet simple enough for a beach house. Also typical of Modernplum design, it fits with him and her preferences. Larson is available as a set or separates.
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