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  • 12/30/13--10:00: The Next French Laundry?
  • Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright launched Saison as a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District a few short years ago; it's since skyrocketed to the top of the city's culinary scene and earned two Michelin stars (as well as the priciest-prix-fixe-in-town honor). Last winter, the restaurant reopened in new quarters in the city's SoMA neighborhood, right next to our SF offices; on our way to work, we peeked in. This is what we found:

    With 35-foot-high ceilings and just 18 seats, the interiors of the restaurant, located in an 1880s building that once housed the California Electric Light Company, could be cold and foreboding. Instead, the dining spaces feel intimate and inviting (chairs are draped in cashmere throws, in case diners catch a chill); like "a good friend's home," which is what the partners aspired to create. The kitchen and the dining room are one, so diners can observe the chefs fishing lobsters out of a tank, grilling on an open fire, and painstakingly chopping, dicing, slicing, saucing. "We've removed the barriers from the dining experience," the partners say. "Our kitchen is open to all guests, and the seating is one and the same, weaved throughout so we can share the sights, smells, and sounds we love with our guests."

    The nightly 18- to 20-course tasting menu costs $248 per person (optional wine pairings are an additional $148), making it San Francisco's most expensive restaurant. Diners are not deterred; you must reserve well in advance for a seat at the table. For more information, go to Saison.

    Photos by Alanna Hale via Grub Street, except where noted.

    Above: A view of the double-height dining room in the former California Electric Light Company; cashmere throws are draped over the dining chairs. "The experience is designed around the senses," the partners say. "Every material you come in contact with should be a joy to use." The owners worked with a design team that included architects Bassel Samaha and Michael Gibson and interior designer Jiun Ho.

    Above: The bar area, where custom cocktails such as the Rhubarb Shrub are mixed.

    Above: Cocktails are served in hand-etched glasses from Japan. Photo by Allie Pape via SF Eater.

    Above: Fringed cashmere throws and a copper bucket; image via Saison.

    Above: A tray of cocktail accoutrements.

    Above: Wooly throws are provided for banquette diners.

    Above: Live-edge walnut tables ("polished by hand to be smooth to the touch," say the owners) and comfortable Danish modern-inspired seating.

    Above: The menus are handwritten, an intimate touch. Photo by Allie Pape via SF Eater.

    Above: A view of the reception desk (it's on wheels so it can be moved as needed).

    Above: A stack of inspirational reading.

    Above: The kitchen, which was designed by Tim Harrison of Mill Valley-based Harrison & Koellner (a firm whose portfolio includes work for the French Laundry and Per Se in NYC), opens directly onto the dining area: "There are no boundaries," say the owners.

    Above: The owners imported a custom Molteni stove from Italy (it's the only one in SF) and a wood-fired Miwe baking oven from Germany. "Our mission is to blend the art of ancient fire cooking with modern techniques," according to Skenes.

    Above: Spices are meticulously hand labeled. Photo by Allie Pape via SF Eater.

    Above: Food prep inches from the tables. Photo by Allie Pape via SF Eater.

    Above: Stacked wood destined for the eight-foot-long open hearth.

    Looking for more SF recommendations? Check out the 107 posts in our Bay Area City Guide.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 4, 2013 as part of our On the Mountain issue.

    Location of Saison in San Francisco:

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    In her overhaul of a Portland, OR, kitchen in a 1926 Mediterranean-style building, designer Jessica Helgerson took inspiration from the building itself, called, appropriately enough, the Alhambra. But more than architectural flourishes were required: "The original kitchen was a narrow galley with one window," according to Helgerson. "In order to create the new space, we removed a wall between the old kitchen and an adjacent family room. We also opened up the connection between the kitchen and dining room with a large arched opening; in order to keep the family room function, we installed a built-in sofa at one end of the kitchen and hid the TV behind custom cabinetry."

    See more at Jessica Helgerson. Photos by Lincoln Barbour.

    Jessica Helgerson Alhambra Kitchen Remodelista

    Above: Helgerson hewed to a black/white/brass palette in her design for the kitchen. Industrial steel casement windows overlook the Portland streetscape.

    Jessica Helgerson Alhambra Kitchen Spool Table

    Above: The center island is custom, designed "in a style reminiscent of a traditional Spanish table but higher for counter use," says Helgerson.

    Jessica Helgerson Alhambra Kitchen Tile Floor Remodelista

    Above: The dark wood beams tie together the black and white palette.

    Jessica Helgerson Alhambra Kitchen Range Remodelista

    Above: Next to the Lacanche range, Helgerson created a built-in seating area for lounging and TV watching (it's concealed behind custom cabinetry).

    Jessica Helgerson Alhambra Kitchen Remodelsita

    Above: Brass light fixtures add a note of warmth to the otherwise rigorously black and white palette.

    La Canache Stove in Dark Green, Remodelista

    Above: Lacanche's Cluny 1400 Kitchen Range (shown above) features an ambient temperature cabinet or a warming oven along with the choice of gas or electric rings, a steam cooker, deep fryer, flat-top or standard grill. Available in a range of sizes and models; for a local vendor, visit Lacanche.

    Karbon Faucet Jessica Helgerson Remodelista

    Above: Helgerson spec'ed the Karbon Faucet by Kohler (see another use of the faucet in The Architect Is In: Medium Plenty in San Francisco).

    Reclaimed Wood Table Spindle Legs Hudson Goods Remodelista

    Above: The Reclaimed Wood Spindle Table is $1,695 from Hudson Goods.

    Brass Shade Pendant Lamp

    Above: Brass Shade Pendant Lamp with black cloth-covered cord with white ceiling canopy; $75 from One Forty Three.

    White Glazed Ceramica Bianca Tiles, Remodelista

    Above: Ceramica Bianca Glazed Tiles from Italian tile company Mutina are designed by architect Silvia Giacobazzi, available at Stone Source. Blue Slide Art Tile in Point Reyes, CA, makes characterful glazed brick tile; another good source for glazed brick tile is Clé Tile in Sausalito, CA.

    Badajoz Tile Grenada Remodelista

    Above: The floors are clad in Badajoz encaustic cement tiles from LA-based Grenada Tile.

    Ralph Lauren Ashcroft Sconce Remodelista

    Above: Ralph Lauren's industrial-style Ashcroft Sconce is $440 from Circa Lighting.

    Brass Cabinet Pull from Rejuvenation, Remodelista

    Above: The Plain Round Cabinet Knob is made of hand-polished, unlacquered brass; $10 each from Rejuvenation. For more see our post, 10 Easy Pieces: Brass Cabinet Knobs.

    Brass Switch Plate, Remodelista

    Above: To avoid the over-shiny look, the key is to source unlacquered brass fixtures, such as the hot-forged brass Lewis Double Coverplate from Rejuvenation; $25.

    Rebecca Atwood Shibori Pillows, Remodelista

    Above: Similar indigo-dyed cushions are available from Brooklyn textile artist and former Anthropologie designer Rebecca Atwood; her hand-painted Spots Pillow is $200 and her Grid Shibori Pillow is $200. For more on Atwood, see Pattern Language: Textiles from a Native Cape Codder.

    Kitchen crazed? Sift through our gallery of over 2,000 Kitchens and filter by color palette, materials, and style, including Mediterranean-Style Kitchens and Dining Rooms.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 18, 2013 as part of our Travels with an Editor: Barcelona issue.

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    We've all been there. You want to push a piece of furniture or a countertop appliance close to the wall and a protruding plug stands in the way. And let's not even talk about the wall-mounted flat-screen TV that requires unsightly cords and plugs but needs to sit flush against the wall. Here's a simple solution: recessed outlets. 

    Wall Mount Flat Screen TV with art, Remodelista

    Above: Notice the absence of cords connecting to the flat screen TV in this Brooklyn loft. Recessed outlets sit invisibly behind flush mount screens, keeping plugs and cords out of sight (for more guidance, go to 7 Secrets for Living with a Flat Screen TV, Cord Control Edition). Photograph by Ragnar Ómarsso via Skona Hem

    Leviton Recessed Outlet, Remodelista

    Above: You can push a dresser up to the wall and still use the plug that is tucked behind by sinking a standard two socket outlet into the wall. The Leviton Recessed Duplex Outlet is available in white, black, ivory, and almond; $9.66 at Amazon. 

    Leviton Clock Hanger Recessed Outlet, Remodelista

    Above: To be filed under "great practical ideas," the simple Leviton Recessed Single Outlet with Clock Hanger includes a hook for mounting clocks and other objects (like a piece of art with a picture light that needs power); $5.99 at Amazon.

    Arlington Recessed Outlets In Kitchen, Remodelista

    Above: Hiding outlets behind small appliances not only eliminates an eyesore but also helps gain counter space as the appliances can be pushed directly against the wall. The Arlington Recessed Electrical Outlet Mounting Box accommodates two-, four-, and six-plug receptacles (sold separately) and has a paintable coverplate for even more camouflage; prices start at $16.57 at Amazon.

    Above: The Leviton Recessed Dual-Gang Duplex Receptacle with Six QuickPort Openings works well for wall-mounted flat screen TVs, wall units, and computer monitors. It manages multiple cords in a single location with connection points for AC power, audio, video, data, and phone; $20.95 at Kyle Designs.

    Datacomm Recessed Outlet, Remodelista

    Above: The Datacomm Recessed Media Plate with Duplex Receptacle features a super low-profile design that fits behind the thinnest mounts and  TVs; $20.95 at Amazon.

    Another solution for eliminating electric socket eyesores in the kitchen? Flush pop-up outlets and flush pop-out outlets.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 3, 2013 as part Renovation and Reclamation.

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    If you've perused Pinterest lately in search of kitchen storage ideas, you know there are thousands of space-saving tricks floating around. Here's a roundup of our current favorites (we're filing them away for any future kitchen remodels).

    Above: A wall-mounted dish rack frees up countertop space; image via Fab. See 5 Favorites: Space-Saving Dish Racks.

    Above: Wall-mounted soap holder as brush holder, a genius idea from Martha Stewart.

    wall of pots

    Above: No need to stow away a collection of pots—create an artful tableau using simple wall hooks; image of Adrienne Antonson's house via Design Sponge.

    Above: A folding step ladder stowed in a below-cabinet drawer, another Martha Stewart innovation.

    Above: Kitchen design company Viola Park integrates a knife block into a stainless steel backsplash. The wood knife block holds 12 knives and is available in walnut, rift-cut white oak, and bamboo; $125. Also see 5 Quick Fixes: Knife Storage.


    Above L: A tiny Swedish kitchen via Bolaget features a pull-out cutting board. Above R: Fully extended with legs, the board functions as a two-seater table, via Bolaget.

    Above: An attractive dustpan displayed in easy reach encourages clean up; see Domestic Science: Vipp Dustpan and Brush.

    Above: A drawer outfitted for upright flatware storage; see more at Drawer Divider Roundup.


    Above: A pull-out knife block, via Shelterness.

    Cutting Board Storage Undercounter Remodelista

    Above: For space-challenged kitchens, Rev-A-Shelf's Door Mount Cutting Boards are worth considering.

    Above: A kitchen drawer slot used as a paper towel holder, via Southern Living Magazine.

    Expandable Utensil Tray

    Above: Natural Rubberwood Expandable Utensil Tray; $34.99 at Chefs Catalog.

    Above: Tension rods as cabinet dividers, via Martha Stewart.

    Pull Out Cutting Board Remodelista

    Above: I once lived in a rental with a similar pull-out cutting board (why didn't I integrate it into my own kitchen remodel?); photo via DIY Network.

    Above: Dog bowl drawer, via BHG.

    For more inspiration, have a look at all of the Kitchen posts in our archive, including Design Lessons from Julianne Moore.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 6, 2013 as part of our issue, The Modern Kitchen.

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    I'm not usually a cut-crystal type of person, but I'm finding myself coveting a light bulb (or two) from UK designer Lee Broom. They're on the expensive side, so we found a couple of lower-priced options for the crystal obsessed among us.

    Lee Broom Crystal Bulbs

    Above: UK designer Lee Broom's lead Crystal Bulbs are individually hand blown and cut at Cumbria Crystal, the sole remaining producer of handmade English full lead crystal in the UK. The bulbs are available directly from Lee Broom for £109 each; the Crystal Bulb plus brushed pendant fitting is $299 from Future Perfect.

    Above: Designed by Eric Therner, the halogen Diamond Lights are made of glass and, he says, "look as good switched on as when they're switched off." Image via Le Blog Mademoiselle.

    Diamond Lights

    Above: The Diamond Lights are available directly from Eric Therner for €40 each (free shipping worldwide).

    Westinghouse Cut Glass Light Bulb

    Above: The Westinghouse Cut Glass Light Bulb is $4.49 at Amazon.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on January 09, 2013 as part of our Bedrooms issue (but we like these so much we had to post this again). Looking for more lighting ideas? We have a lot: browse the hundreds Lighting posts in our archive.

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    A roundup of high-style Champagne flutes, perfect for New Year's toasting.

    Ilse Crawford and Michael Anastassiades Champagne Glasses | Remodelista

    Above: Hand-blown Champagne Glasses designed by Ilse Crawford and Michael Anastassiades; £129 a pair at Sigmar in London.

    Revolution Champagne Flute from Fferrone | Remodelista

    Above: Revolution Collection Champagne Glasses by Felicia Ferrone, hand-blown of borosilicate glass; $79 for a pair at Kneen & Co.

    Deborah Ehrlich Crystal Champagne Glasses | Remodelista

    Above: The Deborah Ehrlich Simple Champagne Flute is $112 for a set of two at Elements in Chicago.

    Iittala Aarne Champagne Glasses | Remodelista  

    Above: Designed in the 1950s by decorative artist and glass designer Goran Hongell, the Iittala Aarne Champagne Glasses are $60 for a set of two from Amazon.

    CB2 Simplicity Champagne Flutes | Remodelista

    Above: Hand-blown soda glass Simplicity Flute; $3.50 each at CB2.

    Need a Champagne bucket? Have a look at 10 Easy Pieces: Champagne Buckets. And for more of our favorite glasses, browse our Tabletop posts.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on December 31, 2010 as part of our European Mix issue.

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    The only certainties in life may be death and taxes, but add to that the need for a perfect white sofa. Here are ten that fit the bill.

    Ghost 4-seat Sofa

    Above: Ghost 4-seat Sofa by Italian designer Paola Navone for Gervasoni, 86 inches long; £5,025 at Canning & Sheridan. See the Ghost sofa in situ in House Call: Arent & Pyke in Australia.


    Above: The Geoffrey from Montauk Sofa is 95 inches long; $3,800.

    Tailor Bench Seat Sofa

    Above: The simple Tailor Bench Seat Sofa in Patton White by Lee Industries is $3,235 at Bliss Home & Design.

    Belgian Classic Roll Arm Sofa

    Above: Restoration Hardware's Belgian Classic Roll Arm Sofa is $3,625 for the 7-foot version with a linen slipcover.

    Metro Slip-Covered Sofa

    Above: The Metro Slip-Covered Sofa is $1,399 at Room and Board.

    Karlstad Sofa

    Above: Karlstad Sofa in Blekinge White; $399 at Ikea.

    Above: A Two-Seater Sofa from George Smith costs about $9,500, depending on fabric—but stay tuned for the company's annual sales.

    John Derian Cove Sofa

    Above: John Derian Cove Sofa by Cisco Brothers, makers of organic furniture, upholstered in Libeco linen; starts at $3,975 at Lekker Home.

    Above: The investment piece: the perfectly proportioned, French-manufactured Renversant Canape Sofa; $6,800 before fabric (requires about 15 yards) for the 79-inch model. Also available in 87-inch size from Interieurs; contact Interieurs directly for ordering information.

    Charlotte Slipcovered Sofa

    Above: The Charlotte Slipcovered Sofa is made in the US and available through Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; inquire about pricing.

    Raffles Sofa

    Above: Sofa perfection from Italian furniture maker De Padova Studio: Vico Magistretti's reinterpretation (and slimming down) of the classic English saddle-arm sofa. For information on the Raffles Sofa, go to Suite NY.

    Looking for more options—and hoping to find a sofa that lasts a lifetime? Consider the Ultimate Architect-Designed Sofa. And for sofa proportion advice, don't miss Michelle's hugely popular Gardenista post: Sofas: How Low Can You Go?

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 25, 2009 as part of our Colorful Accents issue.

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    Spotted (and admired) in the showroom of Chairloom in Philadelphia: rough-hewn factory floors embellished with dramatic stencils. Read on to discover how to achieve a similar look.

    Chairloom founders Tracy Jenkins and Molly Andrews believe in second chances. If it works for their furniture (they specialize in resuscitating old pieces), it also seems to work for the beat-up floor they found in their new showroom space. Rather than sanding the character out of the floor, they took an additive approach and asked their friend Ilene Pearlman to come in and cover the 1,000-square-foot space with dramatic stencils, proving that everything deserves a second chance.

    Images via Chairloom.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, yellow velvet sofa, Remodelista

    Above: Ilene Pearlman's stencils create a dramatic background for both the finished refurbished pieces as well as the as is pieces Chairloom holds in stock.

    DIY Floor Stencil Technique from Chairloom | Remodelista

    Above: Pearlman created a stencil out of large piece of corrugated cardboard which she found in a dumpster. Pearlman spent three days designing the stencil and preparing it by cutting it out and laminating the entire stencil with tape to keep it from absorbing moisture from the paint. From point to point, the stencil measures 5 feet.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, Ilene Pearlman, Remodelista

    Above: Pearlman uses a roller to apply the paint while her mother holds the stencil in place. Rather than prime the area first and then paint over it, she saved a step by just using primer. A protective coat of polyurethane was applied on top of the stencils. Painting the stencils took her two days.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, Remodelista

    Above: The existing floor had to be scrubbed and cleaned thoroughly before Pearlman could apply the stencils.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, wingback chair, red and white fabric, Remodelista

    Above: In classic Chairloom style, this high back chair has been updated with originality.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, Remodelista

    Above: A view of Chairloom founder Molly Andrews' desk.

    Chairloom, dramatic floor stencils, white paint on wood, Remodelista

    Above: A found sofa awaits its second chance at Chairloom.

    If you want to see more DIY floor stencil projects, Julie has rounded up 10 Geometric Stenciled Floors. Looking for more budget floor ideas? One of our all-time favorites is Painted Plywood—the Best Budget Wood Floor.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 10, 2012 as part of our South of the Border issue.

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    Remember Bemz, the slipcover company that lets you revamp an ordinary Ikea sofa? Well, this time it's all about the cabinet hardware: Superfront allows you to upgrade your run-of-the-mill Ikea cabinets without the help of a carpenter.

    Stockholm-based Superfront is a new online shop offering high-quality cabinet fronts, handles, and legs that work with popular Ikea products like Bestå sideboards, Pax wardrobes, and Faktum kitchens. You can choose from nine cabinet fronts, eight handles, and eight legs in 12 different colors. The company takes pride in offering well-crafted designs made in Sweden, and, best of all, offers endless variations and possibilities for your Ikea pieces new and old. Right now, Superfront ships only to Scandinavia, Europe, and the UK; we're ready for it to expand its reach.

    A Bottle Green Ikea Kitchen with Front in No Pattern by Superfront, Remodelista

    Above: An Ikea kitchen with cabinet fronts in Superfront's Big Fish and No Pattern designs in Bottle Green, with Wire Handles and a Carrara marble counter top.

    above: The Wire handle in a brass finish is 175 SEK.

    A Kitchen by Superfront, Remodelista

    Above: Cabinet fronts in No Pattern (in Aerugo Green) with Balls knobs of lacquered birch.

    Above L: The Loop handle is 145 SEK. Above R: The Trunk handle is 195 SEK.

    Ikea Cabinet with Fronts in No Patern in Red with Plinth Legs by Superfront, Remodelista

    Above: A cabinet in No Pattern (in Fake Coral Red) with a Loop handle and a Plinth Leg.

    A Ikea Cabinet in Big Fish Fronts in Pink by Superfront, Remodelista

    Above: A cabinet in Big Fish in Granny Pink with Ball Handles in a copper finish. The legs are Superfront's Captains design in painted birch and brass.

    Ikea Cabinet with Fronts in Illusion with Trestle Legs by Superfront, Remodelista

    Above: Illusion cabinet fronts with birch Trestle Legs. To see more, go to Superfront.

    Are you searching for the perfect kitchen handle? Here are dozens of Hardware options and Cabinet Pulls to choose from.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 1, 2013 as part of our Cult of the Kitchen issue.

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    Leave it to the French to devise the world's most elegant oyster shack (complete with office and dining areas), located on a waterfront site in the south of Brittany.

    Raum Architects, a studio founded in 2007 by Benjamin and Julien Boré Perraud (graduates of the School of Architecture in Nantes), designed the structure as a temporary dwelling and work space for an oyster farmer. The building is composed of two areas: an office/lounge space with a kitchen and dining area and a loft-like hangar for oyster processing; the two wings are connected by an outdoor dining patio area.

    Photography by Audrey Cerdan via Design Boom.

    Above: A reading niche overlooks the coastal landscape.

    Above: Sliding glass doors open onto the dining patio; a ladder leads to the rooftop patio.

    Above: Two modular kitchen islands house a sink and a cooktop.

    Above: A single wood space heater heats the entire interior.

    Above: Translucent panels cover the house's wood frame, allowing light to flood the work space.

    Above: A polished concrete floor can be easily hosed down.

    Above: A rooftop deck offers another space for plein-air dining.

    Above: A living roof provides insulation.

    Above: The exterior is clad in black stained wood siding.

    Above: A detail of the translucent panels that allow light to filter into the workshop.

    Above: An exterior elevation.

    Enjoying the cult of the oyster? Check out these Northern California restaurants: Saltwater in Inverness and Anchor and Hope.

    We're finding ourselves fascinated by black painted houses; explore more noirish dwellings at 10 Modern Houses Gone to the Dark Side.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original ran on January 26, 2013 as part of our In the Library issue.

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    On April 25th, 1946, a postwar crowd gathered on a lovely spring day to cheer on Lovely Cottage as he galloped across the finish line at UK's Grand National. It was a day of triumph for Manor House stables and the small village of Headbourne Worthy in Hampshire, which was the new champion's home. It also marked the end of an era.

    Lovely Cottage's winning race was the last of this tradition that had started in 1876, and shortly after, the unused stables fell into a state of disrepair. Until one day when Andy Ramus of AR Design Studio, which was completing renovations to the Manor House, recognized the potential of this historic stable. Shortly after, Lovely Cottage's stable received a new lease on life as a modern three-bedroom house featuring much of the structure's original barnlike character.

    Photos by Martin Gardner.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, dining: Remodelista

    Above: In order to preserve as much of the original features as possible, the architects at AR Design Studio made few changes to the stable's plans, instead creating rooms within the existent stables. The structure's exposed timber walls were cleaned and refurbished to reveal the original detailing and craftsmanship.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, door: Remodelista

    Above: The original stable corridor, which the architects retained, now functions as an elegant enfilade.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable hall: Remodelista

    Above: Merging the old with the new: in order to let the character of the refurbished wood shine, AR Design Studio opted for a clean, neutral palette in the rest of the space. Modern amenities like the heated polished concrete floor are also still very much in keeping with the stable's original character.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, wall: Remodelista

    Above: The original stable divisions add to the open feel of the space. Skylights further increase the light and airy feel.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, kitchen: Remodelista

    Above: So as not to compete with the refurbished wooden details, modern additions keep a low profile.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, lounge: Remodelista

    Above: In the living room, the stable's original ceiling adds to the lofty feel.

    AR Designs converted Manor House stable, bedroom 2: Remodelista

    Above: For a little extra privacy, bedrooms were placed at the end of the single-story structure.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, bedroom: Remodelista

    Above: A clever partition between the bedroom and bath provides storage but still maintains an open feel.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable, sink: Remodelista

    Above: In addition to the stable's walls and doors, other details were repurposed; for instance, feeding troughs were used for sinks and tethering rings function as towel hoops.

    AR Design converted Manor House stable exterior: Remodelista

    Above: With the exterior of the single-story brick structure refurbished, the original wood-framed windows were replaced with modern glazing and powder-coated steel frames. For more images of the Manor House Stable, visit Dezeen.

    Like the idea of living where our four-legged friends used to tread? See more inspired stable conversions and barn-style houses, including Reimagined Connecticut Barn.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 29, 2013 as part of our Renovation and Reclamation issue.

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    We've featured curtains hung from plumbing pipes and painted branches, but this may be the most novel solution yet: curtain rods fashioned from leather straps.

    DIY Leather Strap Curtain Rod, Remodelista

    Above: Designer Mary Chan of Studio Bartleby (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) created the window treatments for a budget makeover of a Brooklyn loft belonging to Sasha Haines-Stiles, who works in fashion PR. The soft linen panels are hung on leather straps, materials inspired by the owner's day job. The soft drape of the fabric enables the curtains to be knotted at the bottom, pushed to the side, or pulled across as a light-filtering privacy panel.

    DIY Leather Strap Curtain Rod, Remodelista

    Above: The leather straps are pulled taut and affixed to the window frame by simply punching a hole through the leather, placing a leather washer behind the strap, and drilling into the wall/window casing with the appropriate screw.

    DIY Leather Strap Curtain Rod, Remodelista

    Above: The loft was pulled together on a total budget of $5,000. See the full project in the New York Times: On the Cheap: A Place Fit for the Boss.

    DIY Leather Strap Curtain Rod, Remodelista

    Above: A detail to consider is the thickness of the leather. In this installation, the designer used two pieces of 8-ounce thick leather laminated together with a piece of fiberglass tape in between to keep the leather from sagging over time. "Of course, if you were looking for something casual, a little sag won't hurt," says Chan. Made of the same top-grade leather used for saddles, durable, American-made Hermann Oak Harness Leather Straps are a sturdy 13-ounces thick and come in 5/8-to-1.5 inch width options, and in 42- or 84-inch lengths; $11.50 to $34.50 at Outfitter Supply.

    Black Screw and Washer, Remodelista

    Above: "To affix leather strips, we usually use a nice big, blackened brass slotted-head finish screw, but, really, any screw will work," says Chan. A package of 18 Black Wood Screws is available for $2.49 at Home Depot.

    Vintage Lightweight Linen Fabric, Remodelista

    Above: Simple pocket rod curtains can be crafted from lightweight linen (Design Sponge offers a good Pocket Curtain Tutorial). Some good linen sources: Etsy shop Avisa, which offers the Lightweight Vintage Linen Fabric shown here for $18.95 for the yard; the Textile Trunk, which offers a wide variety of vintage linen and hemp yardage; and Ballard Design, which sells a Natural Danish linen ($18 a yard).

    Gardenista's Michelle used a Ballard Designs linen to make her living room window coverings—see her 5 Strategies for Covering 50 Windows for Under a Million Dollars.

    Another appealing window covering idea: Patchwork Curtains Made from Vintage Linens.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 14, 2013 as part of our Handyman Special issue.

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    A celebration of a Remodelista favorite: traditional sliding barn doors artfully used in interiors.

    Whether they're new or reclaimed, barn doors lend their rustic, practical sensibility to a space. They save room but are not tucked away like pocket doors, making a virtue out of their rugged beams and industrious hardware.

    N.B.: See our post on Hardware: Barn Door Fittings for door hanging options.

    Above: A San Francisco entryway by Feldman Architecture.

    Above: A black sliding barn door in the entry hall of a TriBeCa Loft by Schappacher White Architects. Photograph by Jason Lindberg.

    Above: A bright barn door by Los Angeles architect Barbara Bestor. Photograph by Aaron Farley for Paper Magazine.

    Los Poblanos, New Mexico, Territorial Revival, Barn Doors

    Above: Sliding barn doors at the Los Poblanos Historic Inn reference the compound's agricultural origins.

    Above: A rustic barn door in a lake house designed by Birmingham, Alabama–based Studio C Architecture.

    Above: With a simple Shaker sensibility, this sliding barn door divides the dining and play spaces at the Seesaw Cafe in San Francisco.

    Above: A leather handle used on a barn door by Alchemy Architects.

    Above: An oversized reclaimed barn door in a studio by Patrick Davis Design.

    Above: A bathroom alcove with interior sliding doors by Max Levy Architect.

    Above: Barn doors in the Vermont home of the founder of Oughton Limited Bags.

    Above: The door of this bathroom by the Brooklyn Home Company was sourced from a New Hampshire sheep barn.

    Above: A sliding barn door conceals a home office in a project by Greene Partners.

    Above: The door to a bedroom in a Mill Valley, California home by Artistic Designs for Living.

    Above: Furniture maker Cliff Spencer crafts barn doors from reclaimed wine-barrel oak.

    Looking for farm style in every room? Browse the 233 Farmhouse images in our Photo Gallery.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 18, 2010 as part of our European Sensibilities issue.

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    Until now, the Miele-Dyson debate really was about whether you preferred the old-fashioned canister-style vacuum to the newer upright style. But an introduction from Dyson may tempt even hard-core Miele fans.

    The Dyson DC39 has a radical new design in which key components, including the motor, are located inside a central ball for a low center of gravity, greater stability, and easy maneuvering around furniture and other obstacles. Couple that with its bagless approach, and you have a very technologically advanced machine. Miele, on the other hand, is known for its superior air filtration system (which is why the company has not embraced the bagless technology). Have a look below and decide for yourself.

    Dyson DC39 Multi Floor Vacuum Cleaner

    Above: Remodelista editor Christine is a fan of Dyson. "They rethought the vacuum cleaner, how it works and how it looks," she says. The Dyson DC39 ($449.99) has a "triggerhead" tool that lets you adjust for different floor types at the handle—no more bending down to swap out vacuum heads.

    Dyson DC39 Animal Vacuum Cleaner

    Above: The Dyson DC39 Animal ($499.99) is specifically designed to pick up pet hair (nearly 40 percent of US households own a dog).

    Miele Olympus Canister Vacuum Cleaner | Remodelista

    Above: My personal favorite is the Miele S2 Olympus Canister Vacuum Cleaner, designed for low-pile carpeting and smooth flooring; $329 through Amazon. Izabella is a convert; see Why I Love My Miele.

    Above: The Miele Titan Canister Vacuum accommodates medium-pile carpeting with a power head that is designed for carpets; $599 at Amazon.

    Some options at more affordable price points? See 5 Hard-Working Vacuums for Serious Cleaning. Which vacuum gets your vote? Please share your finds in the comments section below. Doing some New Year's tidying? See Expert Advice: Editors' Top 10 Cleaning Tips and Editors' Essential Cleaning Tools.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 7, 2012 as part of our Channeling Downton Abbey issue.

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    What is it about bedrooms under the eaves that is so appealing? Here are ten we love:

    Above: The Amsterdam bedroom of designer Ulrika Lundgren at Maison Rika.

    Above: The Degree Stool by Patrick Norguet, photographed in an attic bedroom.

    White and Warm Wood Lofted Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: Found sleeping space, via Marie Claire Maison.

    Above: An attic bedroom photographed by London-based Paul Massey.

    Swing Bed in an Attic Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: An attic bedroom at the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, complete with swing.

    Chateau Bethlehem Attic Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: A bedroom at the Hotel Chateau Bethlehem in the Netherlands.

    Belgian sleeping loft with built in book shelves by Vanden Eackhoudt Freyf Architecture.

    Above: A sleeping loft in a Brussels house by Vanden Eackhoudt Freyf Architecture.

    Above: A loft-like bedroom in Napa designed by Erin Martin, from Diane Keaton's book House.

    Amsterdam Hotel Loft Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: A loft bedroom at the Hotel & Restaurant Groot Warnsborn in the Netherlands.

    Above: A lofty bedroom space in the Tenbroeck Cottage by New York architects Messana O'Rorke.

    Daniel Hertzell White Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: A photo by Daniel Hertzell (see more at Bedroom: White Roundup).

    Above: A loft bedroom in a Gotland summer house, via My Scandinavian Retreat.

    For more ideas visit Serene White Bedroom Roundup.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on January 11, 2013 as part of our Bedrooms issue.

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    When Bea Johnson, her husband, Scott, and their two children moved from a large house to a temporary apartment while they were looking for a new home in Marin, California, they put much of their belongings in storage and lived with just the necessities. Doing so proved to be an epiphany when they realized that they really did not need all the stuff that they had accumulated. This was also the genesis for Bea's move to embrace simplicity; soon after, she started her blog Zero Waste Home—and that led to a Zero Waste Home book and consulting service. She points out that purging her home of waste was a slow process to begin with, but once she started paying attention to consumption and the way her family lives, the easier it became. And lest you equate living simply with dowdy and dull, think again. Here, she tells us how we can do the same by considering 10 ways to live with less.

    Photography by Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home.

    For Bea's zero waste garden advice, see our post on Gardenista: 10 Tips for a Simplified Garden, to Grow More with Less.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista
    Remodelista: What do you have in your living room?
    Bea Johnson: A living room is for entertaining, watching TV, and reading. Things that do not accommodate these activities have no place here. Generally all that is needed is a place for your receiver and cable box, comfortable seating, a couple of throws, a reading light, and maybe a coffee table (we use a tray instead). We added a living wall to allow plants to clean our indoor air, and chose a hanging chair to simplify sweeping. The less on the floor you have, the easier it is to clean. We also found that over time we grew tired of pictures on walls, and that once the novelty sensation went away, we would not even look at them anymore. I also find artwork to be a burden to move. Today, I prefer murals as they add color to a room without adding to your load. They are easy to change (simply paint over when you no longer "see" them) and they do not need to be packed for a move.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista

    RM: What's essential in a kitchen and what can you do without?
    BJ: You can achieve a simple kitchen in three easy steps: 1. Empty drawers and cupboards and let go of all the things that you know you do not use. Donate duplicates—this is a good time to let go of toxic plastic spoons. 2. Put aside items you are hesitant to give away (in the attic or in a box) and test your usage over a couple of months. You'll realize it's OK to give away those items that you do not really need. 3. Refine. Question even those things you always thought you had to have. I let go of my vegetable peeler and have lost the reflex to peel those veggies that do not need peeling. As a result, food prep is much faster, my compost output (peelings) is considerably reduced, and we benefit from the vitamins that are locked into vegetable skins.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista
    RM: Your zero-waste approach to a pantry?
    BJ: Find out what your staples are, and stick to one type of each. For example: there is no need to hang on to several types of rice and pasta; your least favorite will get pushed to the back of your cabinet and get spoiled by the time you have the energy to clean out your pantry. For example, we store one type of pasta, one type of grain, and one type of legume. When we finish one, we buy a different type (we'll go from lasagna to penne in our pasta jar).
    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista

    RM: In your dining room?
    BJ: If the purpose of a dining room is for dining, what do you really need in there besides table and chairs? Our dining table is our most-used piece of furniture in the house. Keeping it uncluttered eases the transition from homework to dining. We keep a bowl of fruit in the center of the table to make it irresistible for the kids to grab some as a snack—it's functional decor. We keep the fruit bowl on nesting trivets so when we set the table, we remove the bowl but leave the trivets so they never leave the table and I never have to wait around with a hot dish in my hands.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista

    RM: Approach to decor?
    BJ: We decorated our stairs with some of the kids drawings. We figured that instead of letting them sit in a "memory box" we would put them to good use and enjoy them as part of our decor. To create the collage, I simply applied varnish (white glue also works) to the risers of my steps, then applied the paper, then coated it with the same medium (varnish or glue).

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista

    RM: How do you keep the accumulation of stuff in check with your kids?
    BJ: The kids have learned that the simple life makes cleaning their room a breeze. They have also learned that when they grow out of something, they can turn around and sell it on eBay or Craigslist to buy an age-appropriate replacement. They sold their Legos recently, for example. When they were younger, we went through their toys together and they picked their favorite toys. We then assigned a bin to each type of toys. (I go more into depth about the process in my book, Zero Waste Home).

    RM: How have you enlisted your children in this approach to living?
    BJ: When we started simplifying our lives, our boys were 5 and 6—they are now 11 and 13. We thought that by the time they reached their teenage years, things would be tougher, but they have in fact been easier. They have lived simply now for half their lives and they no longer ask for things because of peer pressure. I find myself asking them if they want something more than they ask me.

    RM: What are your essentials for a bathroom?
    BJ: When we remodeled our bathroom, we took cleaning and efficiency into consideration. I do not enjoy cleaning bathrooms so we tiled the whole room and created a "wet" bathroom. The shower is open and the floor slanted. When it's time to clean, we can simply hose the floor down and wipe it clean. We do not have open shelves, but there's a medicine cabinet for our necessities.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista

    RM: Advice on tackling the bedroom and even more importantly, the wardrobe?
    BJ: What else do we need in there besides a bed and reading lights? For the wardrobe, there is a very simple rule that I like to remind my clients (I offer simplifying services): "What you do not have does not need to be organized!" The less we have, the easier life becomes. Paring down your wardrobe is about picking your favorite pieces (the ones you always find yourself reaching for) and having a closet full of things to wear. It does not hinder decision making, it makes it easier to make choices and it greatly reduces our washes. Our boys, for example, have eight tops and four bottoms per season. It has taught them to manage their wardrobes, they now think twice before changing mid-day for no reason. It shows on laundry day.

    Zero Waste Home: Remodelista
    RM: So this is all you have?
    BJ: Today we only live with the necessities and we could not feel happier, free from the burden of stuff. "Living with less" has allowed us to "live more," by opening time in our lives to do the things we enjoy doing. Our lives are now based on experiences versus stuff. Living simply has even allowed us to rent out our house when we're away; it helps fund our holidays, weekend getaways, and trips abroad.

    RM: One simple takeaway for living with less—beyond composting and carrying bags to the market?
    BJ: Our Zero Waste lifestyle is based on applying the 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. The most important thing one can do to stop waste and clutter entering the home is to simply say no. Think before accepting something that is handed out to you. Turn down flyers, freebies, party favors, business cards, single-use plastics (such as flimsy grocery bags), and fight junk mail. Accepting these things creates a demand to make more; they are a waste of resources and once they are brought into our homes, they add to the clutter and require effort to dispose of later. Refusing is the first rule to living a Zero Waste simple lifestyle. Give it a try, you'll be amazed by how much stuff you'll be able to stop from coming in.

    Zero Waste Home Book: Remodelista

    Above: Zero Waste Home is available on Amazon for $13.72.

    You can read more about Bea in a profile that Gardenista editor Michelle Slatella wrote several years ago for her New York Times column when they were neighbors.

    Ready to explore more about the intersection of design and well being? Read Julie's post 10 Secrets for a Better Night's Sleep and our wellness expert Jackie Ashton's 10 Secrets for Happy Housekeeping

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 31, 2013 as part of our issue, The Kids Are All Right.

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    When it comes to fluorescent lighting, we look to the design-worthy light bulb from Plumen. The popular European bulb is available in a US version (110V), saves 80 percent on energy, and lasts eight times as long as a standard incandescent bulb.

    Plumen 001 Light Bulb

    Above: The Plumen 001 Light Bulb is no different in functionality than the standard screw-in fluorescent bulb; it stands out for its sculptural form and the fact that it radiates warm white light. The bulb is priced at $29.95 in the US for either the screw or bayonet fitting.




    Plumen 001 Light Bulb

    Above:  The Plumen 001 is priced at $29.95 for either the screw or bayonet fitting.

    Plumen 001 Light Bulb

    Above: The Plumen adds new life to a pair of antique mercury glass lamps.

    Plumen 001 Light Bulb  

    Above: An old wirework light is more interesting with a Plumen than an incandescent bulb or LED.

    Plumen 001 Light Bulb

    Above: Lumens work well in groups. For more, see Plumen.

    For more bright ideas, browse our hundreds of Lighting posts, including our recent High/Low on a modern-looking cut crystal bulb.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 4, 2011 as part of our LA Midcentury week.

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    My family of four lives in a sweet cottage built almost 100 years ago in the Napa Valley. It has great bones and many original features (double-hung single-paned windows, for instance.) Charming in the summer, it's chilly in winter. In our first December here, I quickly discovered a gaping gap under the front door that allowed cold air to rush in. Sealing up the house and keeping warm became a mission. Here are a few tips I learned along the way.

    Neon knitted Draft Extruder from Kolor.

    Above: A neon knitted Draft Extruder from Kolor.

    1. They're low tech, but draft extruders are an easy solution and require no sticking to frames. Gray felt extruders are on my DIY list.

    2. Rubber foam insulation tape: it's not glamorous, but it does the trick. I tracked all the sources leaking cold in from the outside and armed with a roll of white tape, sealed the gaps under the doors, the inner door frames, and the sections of the windows that were wonky. The tape typically comes in black, but if you have white frames, seek out some white foam. Sponge Rubber Foam Tape is available at K-Mart for $4.99 or Double Sided Foam Insulation Tape is $19.99 from Eco Foil.

    3. In addition to tape, we added a white door seal bottom. Easily stuck to the bottom of the door, it adds an extra layer of insulation (and is barely noticeable). The Silver Cinch Door Seal Bottom is $10.47 from Home Depot.

    Fur draft stopper

    Above: Not just for doors: consider DIY draft stoppers for your windows, such as the No Sew Hairy Draft Stopper. Spotted on the site Bag of Pretty, this is nothing more than a faux fur rug rolled up and placed at the base of a window pane or at the bottom of a door.

    wool blanket as shade

    Above: A wool blanket repurposed as a window shade, made by Matt Pierce from Wood & Faulk for ReadyMade.

    4. Keep the curtains. In a very impulsive but aesthetically-driven move, I took down all of the curtains with their heavy rails and replaced them with simple white roller blinds. The effect was a much cleaner, lighter look—and a heating bill that doubled. Yes, doubled. Love them or loathe them, curtains keep a house warm. My plan next winter is to install wool blanket shades using leather straps, like the design above, in all the bedrooms, then take them down when the weather gets warmer.

    5. Heated Rugs: Decidedly low tech, a heated floor mat hidden under a rug is a great way to warm up a small space in a room. Cozy Winters offers Rug-Heat mats sized from 2 by 3 feet to 5 1/2 by 8 feet; prices run from $149 to $299.

    Finally, It's not rocket science, but think about heating the parts of the house that you are actually using. Shut off any rooms that are not used, closing vents or turning off radiators. It's what people in castles and grand houses do. Still cold? I like the way the Japanese combat frigid winters by bathing in a scorching hot bath at the end of the day, a stress buster and an effective way to head to bed feeling warm.

    What did we miss? If you have any ingenious solutions for keeping the house warm, please let us know in the comments section below. Thanks!

    If you want to see more snappy ideas for living smarter, check out our 5 Quick Fixes posts.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 2, 2013 as part of our On the Mountain issue.

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    Currently coveting: Book/Shop owner Erik Heywood's tabletop bookshelves inspired by Bruno Mathsson's Book Crib, but designed to pack flat, slotting together for an instant set up. 

    The shelves are available in natural birch, walnut ply, and more recently, in white corian. Heywood suggests using them as either a single shelf or in a continuous row, holding everything from paperbacks to art books and even LPs.

    N.B. Be sure to visit our post on the Oakland, CA, shop, The New Bookstore Model: Book/Shop and Ask the Expert: Erik Heywood Talks Books.

    Book/Shop SSB-1 in Walnut | Remodelista

    Above: The Slotted System Bookcase-1 in Solid Walnut is $139 directly from Book/Shop.

    Book/Shop SSB-1 in Plywood | Remodelista

    Above: The bookshelves pack flat and are easily assembled by slotting each piece together.

    Book/Shop SSB-1 in Plywood | Remodelista

    Above: The SSB-1 in Natural Birch Ply is $129 directly from Book/Shop.

    Oak bookshelf at Book/Shop pop-up shop

    Above: Each piece is cut and trimmed by hand, matte clear-coated, edge-banded, and hand rubbed with natural beeswax

    Looking for more storage furniture? Sift through our favorite selects of Bookcases and Shelving, including more Bookshelves for Small-Space Living. And how about Bookshelf Printed Wallpaper

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on January 25, 2013 as part of our In the Library issue.

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    An instant guest bedroom on wheels? That’s what Portland, ME-based architect Will Winkelman of Winkelman Architecture was asked to create from a 1959 Chevrolet Viking short bus.

    Winkelman’s client was looking for maximum flexibility: transportation for group outings, a camper for family forays into the wilderness, and of course the invaluable extra guest bedroom. The finished design comes complete with plumbing, power, and a funky interior; being a guest was never more fun.


    Above: The exterior of the 1959 Chevrolet Viking bus required extensive restoration, and a makeover from brown and white to mint green.


    Above: A peek at the bus's sleeping quarters.

    Above: "The client envisioned a funky, hippy, Moroccan vibe," says Winkelman. "To that end, it's like we inserted an alternate life into the bus, a road not yet traveled. We took it back to the 1960s and rooted it there with beads, dangles, and paisleys."


    Above: A mixture of animal prints, paisleys, and Moroccan prints selected by Vince Moulton Interiors of Boston give the furnishings a funky sixties vibe.


    Above: "For the interior millwork, we translated the design vision into an arts and crafts aesthetic," Winkelman says. "Quarter-sawn white oak felt like the right fit: not exotic, not trying too hard. It wants to be finely crafted and is evocative of the era."


    Above: "The floor is salvaged heart pine to maximize durability, installed using the original surface of the resawn boards exposed to look like it has been there for half a century," says Winkelman.

    Above: A swing arm reading lamp.


    Above: Table seating provides becomes passenger seating when the bus is used for group transportation.


    Above: The single beds can be put together to make a queen-sized bed.


    Above: "To transform the vehicle into a camper, we turned to the custom boat-building trade—an obvious source for beautifully crafted, uniquely shaped, and highly fitted work that is accustomed to utilizing every inch," says Winkelman.


    Above: "The mechanical aspect of the vehicular restoration was huge: rebuilding the frame and mechanicals from the chassis up, tailoring the components to the bus's body, and keeping the feel, function, and features consistent with a vintage vehicle," says Winkelman. "The bodyshop lifted the body off and tenderly restored it to its original self, sometimes fabricating replacement parts, sometimes sourcing salvaged parts on the web."


    Above: The bus in its original condition prior to its makeover.


    Above: All aboard!

    Looking for another creative guest bedroom idea? See An Instant Guest Bedroom—Made from Canvas. And for another eye-opening bus conversion, don't miss Hank Bought a Bus.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 4, 2012 as part of our North by Northwest issue.

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