Budget Decorator: 10 Ways to Deck Out Your Patio

Been gazing out at your backyard, wishing you could spruce up your hangout space? You don’t need to spend a lot to make a big difference in the way your outdoor rooms look and feel; you can whip up furnishings and decor, hunt for vintage bargains and make smart choices about new purchases. Here are 10 ideas for updating your space on a dime.
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Designing Your Bathroom Vanity

An exceptional vanity design requires careful planning and attention to detail. There are plenty of decisions to be made, from the layout and style to the types of sinks and countertops. This six-step process gives you a game plan to follow as you’re designing your new vanity space.
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28 Decorating Moves to Try This Month

The transition between seasons provides the perfect excuse to update your home so that it feels fresh and reflects the change in the weather. If you haven’t already given your interiors a seasonal spruce-up, let this be the month that you dedicate to the project. These 28 must-try decorating hacks — some fast and affordable, others requiring a bigger investment of time and money — will revive your interiors for the season and beyond.
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The Joyful Exterior: How to Give Your Home Just the Right Touch of Blue

First in a series on how to choose a bold accent color for the outside of your house

Most homeowners prefer neutrals for the main body color of a home’s exterior. With a few exceptions, I tend to agree. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also bring in a fun hue. Here are eight examples of pairing a subtle house color with a bold blue accent.

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DIY: Two Colorful, Personalized Gifts for Mother’s Day

If you’re considering making a personalized gift for Mother’s Day, here are two colorful and thoughtful ideas to try. Simple materials, like tissue paper and wood, keep these DIY projects easy to make and budget-friendly. Create colorful wood frames to showcase Mom’s favorite photos or use the same materials to make a special piece of art.
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Hot Rod in wood

Tucked away in an alcove in the Springfield Museum of Art this 19th century desk begs more questions than answers. The form itself is typical of furniture built in a rural setting by a cabinetmaker who sparingly added a few touches of ornament in arches above the doorways and a few curves on the base apron.

Then something wild happened. Another artisan, possibly 50 – 100 years later carved the existing desk lid and chest facade with a riot of poppy flowers and vines.

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If that was not enough, they put an exclamation point on this oddity and ebonized the carved panels. The museum attendant had no idea of the story behind it and one can only guess. The carving is expertly done, so much so that it makes one wonder why the carver went to so much trouble to mis-match it with this vernacular piece. It’s hard to imagine someone with so much talent choosing this chest for a canvas. Did they do this at gunpoint? Perhaps they were making a statement or making a joke. Any ideas why this might have came about?

New Design Resource for Woodworkers

IMG_0297I’m excited to announce the launching of a new website rasha.biz

Jim Tolpin and I have teamed up again to create an on-line resource for woodworkers to improve their design skills. The new website will be the home of an on-line design workshop series (slated for release in early May 2016) as well as plenty of practical layout and design related articles and video clips about design. We also have plans to use the site as a platform for gathering a woodworking design community and we look forward to rolling that out in coming months.

I’ll continue writing here on this blog, but I am delighted to be working closely with Jim again to create something long overdue. Go check it out at

A woodworking hero

Richard applying step number

Richard applying the last touches on a finish process with too many steps to count.

We’ve heard the unbelievable stories about how workers of yesteryear cranked out huge amounts of high quality work in an insanely short period of time. There’s no way to confirm the exploits of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, but I can share with you the work of one amazing chair maker. I stopped by Richard Grell’s shop today to see an order of chairs and tables he’s been building all winter. Here’s a peek at the 54 chairs and nine tea tables that will ship this week.

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Every part, every spindle, and chair seat fashioned by hand. Richard did call on a few trusted helpers for items like the painstaking job painting the miles of pin-striping.

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IMG_0430He’s been making chairs for a living for over 40 years and still passionate about the craft. That makes him a hero in my book.

George R. Walker

Design wisdom from another craft

Three on a hill by Barb Walker

Three on a hill by Barb Walker

My lovely wife Barb is a painter and when the weather turns mild you can find her outside with her easel and paints. She’s helped me to see the world through a painter’s eyes and it’s helped me dig deeper into this design language of the artisans. Here’s a link to an insightful article – It was my understanding there would be no Math – about the underlying design in a painting by one of the most outstanding contemporary impressionists in America, Anne Blair Brown.

There’s much in the article that applies to furniture design.  If you would like to learn more about the underlying design in furniture, you might want to visit my other Blog By Hand and Eye, where Jim Tolpin and I both are writing and exploring the design language of the artisans.