Art Obsession: Sanna Annukka

I have loved Sanna Annukka's work for so long, so I am very overdue to add her to our Art Obsession series. Her work is greatly influenced by the childhood summers she spent in her mother's home village of Paltaniemi in Northern Finland. From camping in Lapland, to staying in her Grandmother's old wooden house, she came to call this part of Finland her spiritual home.

Themes in her work, such as pattern and mythology, are influenced by the Northern Finnish landscape and traditional cultures like that of the Sami, the indigenous people of Scandinavia. Since prehistoric times, the Sami people of Arctic Europe have lived and worked in an area that stretches over the regions now known as Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola Peninsula.

Photo by Erika Larsen

Photo by Lola Akinmade

Photographer unknown: please let me know

Sanna describes the story behind the "Soul Bird",  above: “In Karelia there was an ancient belief in the Sielulintu or Soul bird. The Sielulintu was thought to deliver the soul to newborn babies and also to transport the soul to the afterlife at the moment of death. It was believed the Sielulintu protected a persons soul at it’s most vulnerable; when dreaming, and it was tradition to keep a carved wooden bird by the bedside to keep the soul safe during sleep.”

Below, her illustrations for the new print of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree":

You may be even more familiar with Sanna Annukka's work through her collaborations with Marimekko. The "Kanteleen Kutsu" print below depicts a scene from the Finnish classic, The Kalevala, in which animals gather to hear Väinämöinen play his stringed instrument.

Below, "Raanu" patterns from the 2012 Holiday Collection:

Below, "Taikamylly" fabric from Spring/Summer 2008:

More sources I love for Scandinavian products and art: 

Son & Dotter (My friend Sabrina Bello Sandberg and her husband run this shop! Check it out!)

Puppy Love

Let's just keep the dog-loving theme going a bit, shall we? I have a DIY project to share that I think can also evolve into an interesting idea for Valentine's Day (more on that later). I made these dog bone ornaments for all the dogs in our family for Christmas this past season, but I think they'd work great as gifts anytime for the dog lovers in your life.

To give credit where credit is due, I was inspired by the technique used for these moose ornaments on the 101 Woonideeën blog. But, I wanted to do something dog-oriented and personalized, and that reminded me of the brand name stamped into Milk Bones. So I arrived at: 

So, here's what you'll need:

• White craft clay. I used the type you need to bake, not the air-dry variety. This is non-toxic and can bake in your oven at 250˚. Brands include Fimo and Sculpey. You can get them at any craft store.
An acrylic roller. This was worth buying. It works perfectly when rolling out this kind of clay. It can be found at most craft stores.
A clay mat. Great to work on and transfer directly onto a baking sheet. I got mine at Michael's.
• Letter stamps. Boy, these were tough to find (in a simple, clean font, that is). Craft stores have some in goofier styles, so I had to order these online by searching for "fondant stamping letters".
• Assorted cookie cutters for the design shape you want, and large enough to fit the words you will use.
• A drinking straw (or anything similar) to punch a decent-sized hole if hanging it with ribbon or string.
• Ribbon or string for hanging. I used red and white baker's twine for mine. For Valentine's Day, these would look great with assorted hot pink and red ribbons.

There are instructions on the 101 Woonideeën blog, if you translate it, but to summarize:
1. Work with the clay as instructed (soften, form into ball, roll out ball like cookie dough, about 1/8", no more than 1/4").
2. Then, cut out your shapes with a cookie cutter and arrange them on the baking mat.
3. Load the letters into the tray backwards (remember it is a mirror image and then turned over and stamped). Using very light pressure (this was hard to get just right), evenly stamp the surface of the clay with the word tray. Leave enough room above the word for the hole that will be used for hanging it.
4. Using the end of a drinking straw, pierce a hole all the way through the shape in the top center so it will hang evenly.
5. Bake in the oven according to the clay package instructions.
6. After they cool, you CAN lightly sand any rough or dinged edges. Thread the hole with ribbon or string. Done!

So, given that we are coming up on Valentine's Day, it got me thinking of converting this idea into gift tags inspired by the ever-iconic conversation heart candies. With so many clay colors available and your stamping letters at the ready, all you'd need to add is a bit of hot pink paint to the indented letters. I might not have time this year, so maybe next! What do you think?

In the Doghaus

We are a dog-loving dog-obsessed household here at Ourhaus. We do our fair share of doting on our 11 year-old chocolate lab mix, Lucy. She is 100% family and is a very sweet, docile, gentle animal. We are fortunate to have found such a well-natured rescue dog.

When it comes to living with our best furry friends, it is easier than ever for them to fit right in and not cramp our style thanks to a booming industry of well-designed furniture, products and supplies. Over the past decade that we have owned Lucy, we have seen the pet supply industry skyrocket. We love our pets and treat them like family—and designers and businesses took notice. Lucy enjoys her leisurely, modern lifestyle here at Ourhaus with help from some very well-designed products. Here are a few of our favorite modern pet furnishings:

Lucy eats from Holden Designs' bent plywood raised feeder in Cherry (back image). The heat compression process they use to build these makes them incredibly durable. Slobber and water wipes completely clean from the surface without damage to the material. We are going on about 7 years with this feeder and it looks brand new. They seem to be harder to find these days, but I did find they are still sold here.

Why not have the pup's place setting match yours with these swanky mats by Sandy Chilewich?

Here is a similar bent wood alternative from Trendy Pet:

Mid-Century Mod Feeders by Modern Mews on Etsy have a very Eames storage unit aesthetic!
The Dogleg Diner from Doca has a more industrial feel and I love the color palette.

Doca's SquareMeal is super sleek!

Lucy loves to hang out with us in the living room. She has an old bed there now, but I'd really like to have something that compliments the living room—more like a piece of furniture than a bed.

I love this Hans Wegner-inspired pet lounger by Holden Designs (the same maker of Lucy's feeder bowls, above). Lucy is a little big to be climbing into this, but it would look really great in our living room.

And these Le Corbusier copies are just hilarious:

This is a really fun DIY idea I spotted on Pinterest. You can build this around ANY dog bed.

And speaking of beds...

A product line we are loving now is Kip Pet Products by our new friend, designer Georgia Houston. Lucy LOVES hers, especially resting her head on the outer border, as you can see:

Georgia helped us select the gray bed with the green FoFurdo mattress inset after I showed her photos of some of the rooms in our place. The color combo works great in our bedroom which has primarily brown walls with robin's egg blue accent walls. We often accessorize with grays, blues, yellows and dark lime greens.

I recently caught up with Georgia remotely—she is based in Calgary—to learn more about her inspiration, process and company:

Q: With your a background in Industrial design, what specifically got you started on the dog bed line?
A: I became interested in dog beds a few years ago when I started looking for a bed for my dog Kiara, who is a black Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff). Since she is a fairly large dog at 90 lbs., her bed takes up a significant amount of room in our living space, I wanted her bed to be something I would not mind looking at every day. Through my research I found the market for larger dog beds to be somewhat limited in style options and saw an opportunity to design a well-made, durable and customizable modern pet bed that cats and dogs of all sizes would enjoy and their owners could actually be proud of.

Q: Is the pet product line your current main business, or do you do other industrial design work at the same time?
A: I am currently working full-time running Kip Pet Products. I love the creative freedom it allows me as well as having a flexible schedule so I can work from home and raise my little boy.

Q: What kinds of things inspired the form and materials of the bed?
A: A lot of thought went into creating the NESTo Pet Bed as it was important to consider the needs of both pets and pet owners. The bed needed to be appealing to pets on a physical and emotional level by creating a place where they feel comfortable and secure but also since it is a piece of furniture in the home, I wanted the NESTo to be visually pleasing for pet owners and even regarded as an interesting design feature of a room.

The form of the NESTo Pet Bed with the smooth radius corners was inspired by modern and mid- century design in architecture, interior and graphic design. A lot of attention was paid to proportion, materials, durability and craftsmanship to create a clean, simple form that will stand the test of time. Conceptually, I liked the idea of the outer vinyl bed of the NESTo being like a picture frame and that by choosing different fabrics for the inner mattress cover, one could completely change the whole look of the bed. Functionally, the design of the outer faux-leather vinyl bed creates a soft shelf in a cooler fabric that pets can sprawl out on or rest their heads, while the soft inner mattress creates a soft, cozy place to curl up in.

All of the materials in the NESTo Pet Bed were selected for their quality, aesthetics, durability, and ease of maintenance. The faux-leather vinyl was chosen because it has a natural-looking texture, and is commercial quality with high abrasion resistance and a durability rating 5 times higher than recommended for upholstered household furniture. It is anti-bacterial and mildew resistant, and it meets requirements for UFAC Class 1 flammability testing. The 3” Mongolian faux fur was chosen because the texture just looks so fun juxtaposed next to the smooth vinyl leather of the outer bed. The FoFurdo faux fur mattress cover is washable and durable, but is also very soft to the touch, making for a plush, luxurious mattress for pets to lie on.

Q: Did you "consider the user" when designing? Did you test out design prototypes with real pooches + kitties?
A: I have always been very interested in how a user experiences products. My friend’s dogs and my dog have been the recipient of many of the prototypes I have come up with. I also have a few pet stores that I supply to that have been great with helping me test out new products and materials.

Q: Do you have plans to expand the line? Can you tell us what's next?
A: The Kip Nuzzo Pet Bed is a product I am excited to have recently launched. This bed is great for dogs and cats who love to nuzzle into their bed as it is essentially a loosely stuffed, round fabric ball which folds in on itself to create a soft nest. The Nuzzo Bed made from the 3” Mongolian shag faux fur has proven to be very popular with both pets and owners alike. For pets, the Nuzzo Pet Bed is like the ultimate warm, soft, donut bed to knead and settle into.

In the future I do plan to keep expanding the Kip Pet Product line. I am constantly sketching ideas I have for other products I’d like to create and I think there is a lot more room for modern, fun, aesthetically-pleasing products in the pet market.

We agree! Thank you, Georgia! We look forward to seeing what's in store next.
—Ourhaus + Lucy

The Fall Table

Ahhh! Our favorite season here at Ourhaus is in full swing and in full color. And here in New England, Fall is...kind of a big deal. While we do not host Thanksgiving (we go to our parents'), I love to change up our dining room for the season. Since our space is wide open, it is easy for seasonal decor to suddenly be a bit "too much" since you can see a few of the rooms at the same time, so I add it in sparingly. And, because our home is not historical or rustic, we aim to do Fall in a more modern way while maintaining the palette and warmth of the season.

Dried Chinese Lanterns look like blazing foliage in a simple, cylindrical glass vase. A loose arrangement of white mini pumpkins keep things clean and modern, and picks up on the cream berries in the "fall" version one of my favorite Marimekko table patterns, Luminarja. The candle holders pick up the branch texture in the tablecloth and remind me of mid-century bronze sculpture.

You can't see our lovely new dining table, covered, but it is the Parker Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table from West Elm:

I was inspired by an image on Pinterest to create these quick and easy wheat arrangements. You can fill the vase with acorns or other interesting seed pods. I got the wheat (and the Chinese Lanterns) in the seasonal floral section of our favorite market, Wilson Farm, in Lexington, MA. The seed pods were from West Elm. (I also love the sea-urchin look of sweetgum tree seed pods displayed in a bowl, too.)

Above, our Jonathan Adler bird always carries something of the season. A mini pumpkin will be replaced by a glittery pinecone by December! Our Kostick Star Sculptures are year-round favorites. The candle sticks are vintage that I found at the SoWA Vintage Market in Boston.

In the kitchen, fall decorating can be as simple as displaying the season's produce. I also ran out of room to store produce, so it has to be out on the counter! The colors speak for themselves and you'll be more apt to pick up a healthier snack and use up your purchases in cooking when you can see it all. For some Fall recipes, and other decor ideas, check out my "I Love Fall" board on Pinterest.

I think I am going to turn that squash into this Twice-Baked Butternut Squash tonight:

Happy Fall from Ourhaus to yours!

Bringing Vacation Home : Starfish Cottage, ME

We have been wanting to visit Acadia National Park for several summers now. We finally got to it this year and beat the crowds by booking our stay the first week of September. Tip: it's always less expensive that way, too. Aside from a downpour on our first full day, the weather was absolutely perfect, and finally: not too hot!

Our backyard stairway to the rocky coast: 

Maine, to me, is one of the most beautiful, refreshing places to visit in driving distance to us. And, Acadia really delivered in that regard. We had the most beautiful hikes, walks and bike rides. Even our dog Lucy, who is 11, was pulling us up a rocky mountain side to see what was at the top!

Our reward for a pretty tough hike:

There's no shortage of house and cottage rentals in the area, ranging from in-town to ocean front to lakeside. We found a fitting, well-appointed seaside cottage listing online, and while it doesn't seem so from the outside, it ended up being quite spacious for the three of us.

Everything was appropriately suited for a cottage in the woods by the sea, without letting the sea and nautical theme get too out of control and campy.

01 / Toss magazines or store towels in a wire basket inspired by farm potato baskets. From
02 / Abstract the wire basket idea with this canvas hamper by Pehr, available at Hudson.
03 / I'll never tire of the look of a lit Moravian star. The materials on this mimic wire and glass nautical lanterns, but not so literally that it becomes too "themed". Plus, the star reminds me of a compass rose.
04 / I like this sea urchin-inspired update on the Moroccan garden stool, available at Kohl's.
05 / Quirky octopus hook pillow available at Hudson.
06 / Where the forest meets the sea. Acacia serveware brings the woods inside and mirrors that amazing kitchen backdrop at the cottage.
07 / Loved the china blue plates against the aqua wall. If you don't have a collection to display yet, these melamine plates by Thomas Paul are fun, nautical alternatives. Available at Lekker.
08 / Vacation homes are the perfect place for that reclaimed wood table you always admired. You can even have one custom made at Vermont Farm Table.

{ For more of my ideas on how I'd outfit my own seaside cottage, check out my Getaway Houses: Beach board on Pinterest.}

My ongoing lament is that with mass production and information globalization, you can't find anything native or unique when you travel (unless you really go to rural places or the far reaches). So it's always my goal to hunt down small, independent shops when we travel. Luckily, the combination of consumer's growing demand for more unique things and support for small, local businesses has made them a little easier to find lately. Here are some favorites from this trip:

Steer clear of the tourist-y haunts (just how many town-labeled sweatshirts do we all really need?) and you can find some really great shops in Bar Harbor. One beautifully curated, but totally unpretentious shop I visited was Salt. I saw this very unique, elegant line of barnacle pottery by Anna Woolf of Wild Card Pottery, an Ellsworth, Maine artist. Isn't this just the coolest thing?

(images from Wild Card Pottery's Etsy page)

Window Panes is also a very nice shop. Best for kitchen gadgets, special home accessories, and more "known" national brand names such as Thymes. I spent a good amount of time inhaling the Frasier Fir line they had on display. It smells like Maine and the holidays.

We took a detour trip to Deer Isle on our way home. We stopped in the little town of Stonington to stretch our legs, eat Maine blueberry ice cream and visit some local shops.

First we visited a tiny, fisherman's shack-like shop, Dockside Books and Gifts at 62 West Main St. It's propped on the harbor shore and you can easily miss if it wasn't for the sign on the roadside, so keep an eye out for it. They had a very good variety of locally made Maine goods and books all in one spot. I picked up these Maine treats there:

 { Clockwise from top left: }
Paine's Balsam Fir Incense is the next best thing to packing up a tree to take home. And that retro-looking packaging is just too perfect.
Maine Jams and Jellies: Go blueberry or go home. You don't want to miss blueberry anything from Maine.
Art of the Sailor hand-tied hanging trivet. They also make coasters, round trivet mats, bookmarks, bracelets and more. So pretty!

Before we hit the road back home we had dinner at The Factory Tavern (Yelp listing, here) where I had the lobster chowder with applewood bacon and the most incredible fish and chips I've ever had. Eat there. It is so good—super fresh, modern, yet comfy, casual and so neighborly. I think we were the only people there that didn't know everyone else in the restaurant!

We heard about The Factory Tavern directly from its owner, a wine hobbyist, at the Seasons of Stonington wine and gift shop, that he also owns. He told us about little Isle au Haut, where the chocolate I was buying is made by hand at Black Dinah Chocolatiers.

Unfortunately we didn't get over to the island, so I think I'm going to order their sipping chocolate for winter that, according to their site, says "each batch is made carefully by hand and subtly spiced with cinnamon, Ancho chile, and cardamommmmmmm." (Well, I added the mmm part.)

So, until next time, Maine. Your pine smell, big skies and fresh air stay with us.

Shop Talk: Pilgrim Waters

I first met Susy Pilgrim Waters at a local design salon where I was invited to share my Pinterest and social media experiences as they relate to both my business and blogging. We made an instant connection and I was fortunate to visit her at her home studio earlier this year.

Pilgrim Waters

In a nutshell, Susy is an incredibly talented illustrator and surface designer with an enviable client list and extensive portfolio of work. It's impressive how well her work translates across so many applications—from hand-written logos to textile designs to book illustration. She is typically commissioned for her work (by clients like Crate&Barrel, Iggy's, surface designs for Pizza Hut, NYC Public Library—on 5th and 42nd in the Children's room—and more), but she also has a beautiful line of her own blankets, scarves, and housewares that you can purchase in the PW shop.

Visiting Susy at her home studio in South Boston ("Southie"), I enjoyed getting to know her, her work, and her husband Keith—who partners in the business and is also an accomplished computer artist specializing in computer facial animations for the likes of Pixar. We sat down to chat over homemade scones—"close enough" to tea time!

Their sweet cockerpoo Tillie joined in, too.

We looked through some of her past commissioned work.

Then we took a walk around their elegant, modern home and workspaces. Here, a busy corner of her work studio:

In her studio, Susy was showing me some of her influences and inspirations that include Robert Stewart Design, Ben Nicholson, and Barbara Hepworth. I'll definitely be looking into them in more detail.

Above: Susy holds up my absolute favorite piece in her PW line: the Boulders Throw — a design inspired by sculptor Barbara Hepworth's work. They are handwoven and hand silkscreened in Khatmandu. What I love about Susy's designs is they have a modern, graphic edge, but are softened by her nature inspired approach.

We flipped through a "trunk show" of her pashmina designs. It's almost impossible to choose a favorite, so let's get a few! I'm thinking these will make fantastic gifts for just about any occasion—Mother's Day, a hostess gift for that summer house stay, birthdays, for your bridal party, and more. You can find new designs (shown in progress below) here in her shop.

For the kitchen, I like a combination of these "Veggie Medley" printed tea towels and these handmade silkscreened bread proofing trays:

I like the the red dot on clear wood version on the upper left. What's your favorite?

Finally, I cannot leave out the fact that Susy is also a talented painter. You can see some design aesthetic crossover with her products, but ultimately her paintings have a presence and impact all their own.

Well, I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do, and that I helped you discover another favorite housewares source!

If you are in the Boston area, her products are also sold at the Peabody Essex Museum, the ICA, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Tess, and Nomad.

To see more of Susy's commercial work,
check out her portfolio.

Mudroom Makeover

The weather here in the Boston area isn't exactly what we all pictured for a long weekend—it's pretty soggy out there. But, the silver lining to those rain clouds is we have retreated inside with some time to finally finish some spring cleaning projects (in fact, we just finished a big garage clean out Saturday afternoon. HIGH FIVE!) It is also giving me the chance to finally show you the mudroom project that we completed late last year. I grappled with what to do with this space for a while. I kept adding inspiration to my mudroom board on Pinterest and gave it some percolating time. I finally decided to hinge everything as an ode to the premise (and function) of the space: the transition between outside and inside.

Disclosure: this was not exactly a DIY project. We had enough crumbling plaster and carpentry needs that we called in a professional. And we are so glad we did. Sometimes free time and a project that doesn't go on for months and months in household disarray is worth every penny.

Below: Doors Before / In Progress / After
The front door (orange) didn't have a frame or much of a casing to speak of. The plaster was crumbling from water damage on the bottom half. The door into the garage (gray, on left) had a spray painted glass center (what??) and a commercial, metal threshold that stuck out into the mudroom. It was a total eyesore. 

The front door "frame" was demolished and built back up using a wood frame and a concrete compound fill. Due to the nature of our commercial-turned-residential building and the odd lack of spacing around the front door opening, this was the perfect solution.

The metal threshold was removed from the garage door and a custom solid wood threshold was built in its place.

We replaced the garage door with a beautiful, solid maple door complete with a new brushed metal doorknob and a metal frame (that comes standard with this type of industrial/commercial door). All of the door trim and the front door itself were painted to match one of the warm grays in the birch pattern wall paper (from Sandpiper Studio's Book, EcoChic, in Birch). The mudroom is narrow and this kind of space is not really worth trying to make look larger. So, I went in the other direction and embraced the narrow scale and coziness of the space by using a very visually dense paper. The effect was quite cool—the vertical pattern of the birch trees heightened the room even more and you do feel like you are walking through a tree-lined path into the house.

No mudroom or entry is complete without a keyholder and mail station! Of all the options I looked at, I kept coming back to this Magnetter from Umbra. And I've always liked the humorous BÄSTIS hook from IKEA for Lucy's leash.

Below: Flooring Before / In Progress / After.

We took the opportunity to rip out the feeble 2x4 boards that were standing in as baseboard. We added some "quarter-round" trim to the TOP of the baseboard because we wanted something sleek and modern, which is hard to find in a sea of traditional baseboards.

While the tile in the mudroom is in perfect shape, it had nothing to do with the style of our house (or our taste) at all. So, we simply covered it, wall-to-wall, with super low pile Flor carpet tiles in Toy Poodle in Lime so it would look, unabashedly, like grass beneath our feet. (Heaven Sent in Kiwi is similar—Toy Poodle seems to have been discontinued). And for an entry or mudroom, definitely look for their medium or heavy traffic-graded styles.

I found these fantastic felt storage bins on Etsy. We kept the fixtures we already had and liked a lot, such as our TJUSIG shoe rack and hat rack with coat hooks from IKEA (unfortunately, they no longer have them in the Birch finish).

The Prato umbrella stand rounds out our grassy indoor/outdoor mudroom. And by the time I finished this post, Monday has rolled around and the sun is out and shining. With umbrella stowed away, we are hoping those spring showers are giving way to sunnier summer days—and a post about outdoor living and dining. Stay tuned!

 from Ourhaus!

Art Obsession: Matthias Heiderich

Matthias Heiderich is a self-taught photographer living in Berlin. I think his work is fantastic and he is pretty much one of my all-time favorite photographers now. His eye for composition and color is incredible. He makes things that we may otherwise think mundane, or even ugly, turn into something beautiful and calming. I often think if I were a painter, my paintings would resemble his work. I found it difficult to select only a sampling of photogrpahs to show here, and not just show his entire portfolio, but I've done my best!

Bringing Vacation Home: Amee Farm, VT

We recently took some time off to get some R&R and headed to a really quiet spot in the tiny town of Pittsfield, Vermont. What brought us to that particular town is a rustic, yet contemporary, renovated farmhouse at the top of a grassy hill with terrific mountain views.

I have a hard time "doing nothing", but I really, really needed it and this place made that completely possible. No schedule. Sipping coffee and watching the snow fall one afternoon was a true highlight. This place was such a great find because it is rustic enough to authentically fit with the environment and the experience, but contemporary enough to be a comforting place that felt right to our taste. I am a little obsessed with "rustic modern" lately, and this really fit the description for me.

A key component of our relaxation time was a pellet stove that sat in the corner of the sunlit—or sometimes snowy-gray—living room where we spent much of our time reading, writing, talking and just watching the snow fall out of the row of windows. This stove could pump out some heat! Unfortunately, we don't have any venting setup for a fireplace or stove at home right now, and this made us want one even more.

Vacations stay with us through new memories and the therapeutic rest they provide. Of course, the surroundings play a very important part in doing that. Incorporating native vacation finds and replicas at home is a great way to keep that vacation feel going—at least a little, until the next adventure!

1. A natural piece of oak for a headboard contrasts nicely with:
3. Mimic a winter's day that smells like firewood burning.
4. If you can't get around to installing a full, natural stone shower, start with a pebble mat.
5. A pellet stove is a great thing, and for our home this more modern version would fit in nicely.
6. General stores are "a thing" in Vermont and are charming and wonderful to visit. This book gives the historical background.
7. How can anyone resist real Vermont maple syrup? Especially packaged in these pretty leaf-shaped bottles. Plenty of local farms have their own labels so be sure to support them and buy local.
8. Whether at home (or that vacation home I am dreaming about owning one day), rustic-modern feels just right with a reclaimed barn door.