Stop, breath, just be
The world is a busy place.
The world is a busy, busy place, dear reader. Getting busier and more complicated all the time. All these gadgets we're plugged into, strapped onto and wired (or wirelessed) up for helping us get more, more, more done faster, faster, faster. Call your broker while you get the groceries. Make a doctor's appointment while you fill up the tank. Pay the bills while you cruise the Web. Text the boss from the fitting room at Nordstrom. Bizzy, whizzy, fizzy. Crazy.
How's all that workin' out for ya?
Got a headache? Feel any less stressed with all these "conveniences"? Yeah. The faster we're going here the hurrieder we're all getting to be in our lives of utter clutter.
It is high time to stop. Breathe. Just be. And at home, making it our private hub of solace and serenity. All the best people are doing it. OK, all the really smart best people are doing it. Elsewhere in today's magazine you will find a conversation with Jim Dow, managing partner of top-drawer residential builders Schuchart/Dow, on this very topic.
"It's really important to do that in your life or you're really going to lose touch," says Dow, who makes it a priority to meditate and taught the practice for about five years. His new Tye River cabin is not for big parties or lost weekends. "It's about being quiet. It's about being alone in the woods."
This brings us to another meditation-endorsing home-building professional: Sarah Susanka.
In her "The Not So Big House" series of books, Susanka advises us to build smart, not big. Now she has focused her architect's eye on streamlining our inner selves. Why? Because her own life was gummed up with too much to do and no time to do it all in.
"I've always loved writing," she told a group of eager Seattleites not too long ago. "But in the 1990s I had an extremely successful residential architecture practice and absolutely no time to write. I realized that if I didn't make that shift in my time no one else would. I started by blocking out two hours every Tuesday and Thursday.
"When you absolutely commit to something you have the time. It worked out. Nobody got mad at me. It was fine."
It was more than fine. It has made her a best-selling author. So, there is something to learn here about stripping away and finding time. Bliss is best. None of this "when I finish everything else I have to do I'll do it."
Susanka calls becoming more aware of and in our daily lives sustainable living, too. "It's bringing ourselves back into balance. The world is not out there. The world is in you."
You might say "woo-woo to you," but how's that tension headache going?
Susanka suggests trying this exercise: Think about when you were inspired tremendously by what you were doing: a walk on the beach or watching an amazing sunset, perhaps. That moment was a moment when time stood still for you. It is in those moments when we begin to understand who we are.
Being in touch with who we are enables us to communicate in a real way. Every experience will help you learn more about you. The clutter in your head is just the behavioral patterns we learned at age 2 or 3. They were useful then, usually not so much now. Psychological maturation.
Time to clean house. Clean head. Make time to be still.
"The lives we lead are vastly more malleable than we ever imagined," Susanka says.
Especially when the world is so very complicated we more than ever need a quiet, nurturing, peaceful home, heart and head.
There's gotta be some reason yoga classes are popping up like dandelions in spring. Yin to the yang of all that clang-banging around.
Give peace a chance.
For more on "The Not So Big Life," check out www.notsobig.com.
From disaster to fine design
Here's a small house of smart design from the windblown disaster that was Hurricane Katrina. It's the little houses that could: That could provide quick and attractive shelter for the newly homeless, that could provide a new dwelling for less than $50,000, that could restore a feeling of family and security. Long overdue, we bring you the Katrina Cottages. New York designer Marianne Cusato created the affordable alternatives to FEMA trailers as predesigned, not prefab, homes using Southern architecture as her inspiration.
Plans for the 544- to 936-square-foot homes are now for sale across the country at Lowe's online (www.lowes.com/katrinacottages). The four plans originally for folks in Mississippi and Louisiana are available and more. Also, shopping lists are available at Lowe's for everything required to build each house, from flooring and timber to paint and appliances. Plans are $700 per house, and they cost $40 to $50 per square foot to build.
Head out on the highway
Take the simple life on the road in this cool caboose. If you can't get completely away from it all but still need to getouttatown — pack up the mobile gizmos (laptop, iPod, cellphone, Bluetooth, BlackBerry, what have you) and hit the open road to outdoor adventure in a hot new little Airstream trailer from Design Within Reach and Airstream.
The silver bullet has always had it goin' on design-wise. (My friend, Carol, says it looks like a toaster. She's not much of a camper.) But, you ain't seen nothin' yet. This 16-foot home-a-go-go has a Nelson Ball Clock in the kitchen, dinette cushions dressed in Paul Smith fabric, flush halogen lights and green-plastic-laminated kitchen cabinets. The little guy's got a bedroom with a flat-screen TV, antenna and phone jacks. A Mid-Century Modern home away from home, on wheels! Price is $49,000. Find it at www.dwr.com/airstream or at Airstream dealers.
And while we're on a roll, here's a "good on ya" to the folks at Airstream. This spring, a 1963 Airstream Bambi travel trailer was enshrined in the design hall of fame when it became part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Have a ball
What do tennis legends do when they retire and marry each other and have wads of co-mingling dough? In the case of Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf (Steffi, to you tennis fans), you do some charity work and you design stuff. Mr. and Mrs. Agassi Graf have created the Agassi Graf Collection for Kreiss. See them in lounging, laughing, dining action at www.kreiss.com. They are cool as urban, oceanfront cucumbers in their summer whites as they demonstrate the lounging, laughing and dining. And the pieces bearing their names are young, casual, contemporary and cool.
We offer up as evidence the AGK Ball Lounge Chair. This sphere of a seat seems to float on air. The chair is made of a dark brown powder-coated steel wire hand-wrapped in synthetic rattan. The cushion is optional. But, really, do you want wire indents all across your backside? Get the cushion. $1,825. The local Kreiss showroom is in Bellevue at 10400 N.E. 8th St., 425-462-1502.
Go with the glow
This little light is fine, and you should let it shine. Indoors or out. The Luau Portable Lamp, featured at Design Within Reach, lights the way without an electrical socket. Lift Luau from its base and the lamp automatically turns on. The amount of light can be changed by spinning the lamp with the bottom against your hand. At its brightest, Luau gives off about 50 watts of warm, white light. And it can be placed on a table or poolside, or hung from a hook or tree branch. Cute, contemporary Luau is the work of Canadian designers Duane Smith and Stefane Barbeau, founders of Vessel, a Boston-based design company. Luau is made of polyethylene with a water-resistant housing and replaceable LEDs. It comes complete with a 36-bulb LED pack and rechargeable batteries. You can use the lamp while recharging. Each battery charge lasts from six to 10 hours. They cost $250 each, but buy two or more and save $25 each.
In Seattle, Design Within Reach is at 1918 First Ave., 206-443-9900. And in Kirkland at 126 Central Way, 425-828-0280.
Knock, knock. Who's there?
There's this witty fellow up in Bellingham by the name of Bill McColl, and Bill's come up with something quite clever using architectural glass for the Northwest door (which at its best keeps out the bad guys and lets in the light we're always trying to coax inside).
He's gone out and gotten a patent for ClearCast Glass, with impressed graphic lines that recall its forefathers of leaded, beveled, bent and block glass forms. Long story short, this is a decorative safety glass in deep relief with high insulation values and transparency. Art meets function as outdoors meets indoors.
These doors are locally grown by three family-owned companies. ClearCast Glass was developed at McColl Studio; door designs are by McColl, and the glass forming is done at his Bellingham studio. Garibaldi Glass Industries tempers the glass and hand-turns each doorlite into a tempered and insulated unit at their Burnaby, B.C., plant. NorthStar WoodWorks then assembles the glass designs into handcrafted wood doors in Ferndale, Wa.
The glass can be clear or tinted bronze, aqua, onyx, green or gray and treated with different finishes. Wood choices are mahogany, clear vertical grain fir and walnut. Doors are suitable for entry, patio, French and interior. Each is made to order, and prices start at $1,545.
And this just in: McColl and Co. have just won Glass Magazine's 2007 Crystal Achievement Award for the Most Innovative Commercial Doors or Components — Small/Medium Company category. (Whew. Say that three times fast!)
For more information, contact Sculptural Glass Doors at 360-325-8968 or check out designs at sculpturalglassdoors.com.
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