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    No need to get fancy. Here are a dozen low-commitment life enhancers for entertaining indoors and out. 

    Ikea Pitcher with Cork Lid | Remodelista

    Above: Julie's favorite Ikea discovery of late: The clear glass 365+ Pitcher with Cork Lid; $6.99. Another easy way to serve drinks: Sarah keeps a stash of clear-glass wine bottles on hand—"good-looking ones that I've recycled; I use them for water and cold beverages, shrubs being a current favorite."

    Crate & Barrel Enamel Plate | Remodelista

    Above: Black Rim Enamelware Dinner Plates from Crate & Barrel are $8.95 each. Go to our Enamelware dossier for more ideas.

    Canvas Drop Cloth as Table Cloth | Remodelista

    Above: A longstanding Remodelista favorite: the painter's drop cloth as tablecloth (to soften the fabric, we suggest you launder it first). Ace Hardware offers heavyweight Canvas Drop Cloths in several sizes, ranging in price from $13.99 to $35.99. For more ideas, see 7 Easy Summer DIY Projects with Drop Cloths and the Hibiscus-Dyed Drop Cloth.

      Utility Napkin from School House Electric | Remodelista

    Above: The gauze-like Utility Napkin, $5 each from School House Electric, is handwoven by fair-trade artisans in India. We also like using Ikea's red-striped Tekla Dish Towels—all cotton and 79 cents each—as napkins.

    Tin Garden Lanterns from Saudade in London | Remodelista

    Above: Saudade in London specializes in imports from Portugal, including these four-inch-tall Tin Garden Lanterns; £12 ($18.93) each. See more in Michelle's Outdoor Lighting post on Gardenista.

    Ironstone Platter from Gypsy Road Market on Etsy | Remodelista

    Above: All of us at Remodelista have collections of vintage ironstone platters in a range of sizes—"Ironstone isn't expensive and lends a look of bleached shells to the table without being obvious," says Justine. Source Ironstone Platters on Etsy; this 9 1/2-inch-long Homer Laughlin example from Etsy seller Gypsy Road Market is $5.

    Basic Tumblers from OK store in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Impossibly thin glass tumblers are another Remodelista staple for wine and water—and even though they look extremely fragile, they're not. Basic Tumblers (shown) from OK in LA are made in Italy and come in three sizes, priced at $4, $5, and $6 each. CB2 offers Marta Barware, a similar but differently proportioned "micro thin" collection, starting at $1.50 a glass. And Ikea's 365+ 6-oz. Glasses are $2.99 a six-pack. Find even more at 10 Easy Pieces: Basic Drinking Glasses.

    French Wooden Spoons from Pod in Cambridge, MA | Remodelista

    Above: Gracefully shaped French Olive Wood Spoons are $19 each from Pod in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Fishnet Woven Placemat Set from West Elm | Remodelista  

    Above: Made of woven abaca fibers, Fishnet Placemat Sets from West Elm come in four colors (natural shown here); $12 for a set of two.

    Compostable Wood Hot Dog Trays from Food52 | Remodelista

    Above: Compostable Wooden Hot Dog Trays from Food52 are made of balsa wood wrapped in rice paper; $20 for 20. Compostable Wooden Corn on the Cob Trays also available; 20 for $20.

    Cut Glass Stripe Votive from Terrain | Remodelista

    Above: Cut Glass Stripe Votives are $3.95 each, marked down from $8, at Terrain.


    Forged Steel DInner Bed from Kaufmann Mercantile | Remodelista

    Above: Kaufmann Mercantile's Forged Steel Dinner Bell is made in Casey, Iowa; $19.

    Help yourself, there's plenty more:

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    Experiencing furniture fatigue? Take note: Minneapolis design company Blu Dot is giving away a $1,000 gift card to one lucky Remodelista reader. To enter, sign up for emails from Blu Dot and Remodelista by entering your email address by Tuesday, July 14, in the box at the bottom of this post. The winner, who will be chosen at random, will be notified by email by July 16 and receive an online gift code to use at Blu Dot stores and online. See Official Rules for details.

    Bay Area Readers: Save the Date 

    Join Remodelista editors at the Blu Dot San Francisco Store (560 Valencia) on Thursday, July 9, from 5 to 8 p.m., for drinks, light fare, and a chance to win one of five signed copies of our first book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. (If you already own the book, bring your copy to have it signed. We won't be selling books on-site). N.B.: If you haven't already entered the $1,000 giveaway contest online, you may do so at the event.

    Blu Dot Punk Lamp in Black | Remodelista

    Above: What might you buy with your winnings? We'd suggest $269 go toward a Blu Dot Punk Lamp in black steel with a wood switch. 

    Blu Dot Hang 1 Mirrors | Remodelista

    Above: Blu Dot's Hang 1 Mirrors come in eight shapes; $299 each. The Turn Tall Side Table is solid acacia wood; $399.

    Blu Dot Outdoor Furniture | Remodelista

    Above: Not just for indoors: Blu Dot's outdoor offerings include the Hot Mesh Cafe Table ($399), the Hot Mesh Chair ($129), plus the Hot Mesh Bar Table ($449) and the Hot Mesh Barstool ($199). Stay tuned for more of our Blu Dot picks on Thursday.

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    For keeping yourself (and your party guests) hydrated all summer long, 10 state-of-the-art drinks dispensers at a range of price points.

    What are you planning to put in your dispenser? For recipes, see Gardenista's post Herbal Essence: Just Add Water.

    White Enamel Drinks Dispenser | Remodelista

    Above: Julie spotted this white enamel dispenser at Swedish online shop Artilleriet and then was very happy to find a US source: the Enamel Drink Dispenser with wrought-iron stand is $79 from Urban Outfitters. (See Julie's Design Sleuth post.)

    Handmade Glass Water Dispenser from Food52 | Remodelista

    Above: This Handblown Glass Drinks Dispenser with a walnut lid is made in Washington State; it's $170 at Food52.

    CB2 Glass Beverage Dispenser, Remodelista

    Above: CB2's laboratory-inspired Glass Beverage Dispenser has a cork lid and holds seven quarts; $49.95.

    Dunlin Drinks Dispenser, Remodelista

    Above: The Rivington Glass and Steel Drink Dispenser has a steel pedestal with a satin nickel finish and a stainless steel spigot (less expensive dispensers often have metal-finished plastic spigots). The Rivington is $343.50 AUD ($265.34 USD) from Dunlin in Australia.

    West Elm Recycled Glass Drink Dispenser | Remodelista

    Above: The cork-topped Recycled Glass Drink Dispenser from West Elm is $59. 

    Anthropologie Bubbled Glass Drinks Dispenser, Remodelista

    Above: The Bubbled Glass Dispenser has a sheesham wood lid and stainless steel spigot; $298 from Anthropologie.

    Kilner Glass Water Dispenser from Target | Remodelista

    Above: The Typhoon Cliptop Drinks Dispenser is a large embossed glass Kilner jar with a mason-jar-style closure and seal; $50 from Target. 

    John Lewis Drinks Dispenser | Remodelista

    Above: The Clear Drinks Dispenser has the look of glass but is made of clear acrylic, a good option for a rowdy crowd. It's £20 ($33 US) from John Lewis in the UK.

    Mason Jar Drinks Dispenser, Remodelista

    Above: The Mason Jar Drink Dispenser is made of molded glass with a metal spout and galvanized metal lid; it's currently on sale for $55 (down from $69) at Pottery Barn.

    Italian Fustis Water Dispenser | Remodelista

    Above: In a favorite recent post, Julie rounded up 5 Stainless Steel Italian Water Fustis, including this 10-liter Superfustinox Stainless Steel Water Dispenser. It's $179.95 from Water Check. 

    Go to 10 Easy Pieces: Basic Drinking Glasses for the perfect companions to these dispensers. And for party planning, see our Entertaining Essentials.

    An ideal summer party drink? See Gardenista's Raspberry Sparkler for the Fourth of July.

    For design new, tips, and tricks, sign up to receive the daily Remodelista newsletter

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on June 21, 2013, as part of our Summerhouse issue.

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    How simply do you want to live? The question prompted South African architect Clara da Cruz Almeida to design a 183-square-foot prefab house—for two people to share. "You can learn to live without excess things," she says.

    Her Life Pod, manufactured in Johannesburg, arrives on site in a flatpack ready to be assembled. Designers Dokter and Misses created clever interior spaces—with a micro-kitchen, folding furniture, and an enviable amount of storage—to make the tiny peaked house feel like a sanctuary. Come on in.

    Photography via Pod Idladla.

    Above: Folding concertina doors allow indoor and outdoor spaces to merge. The deck is furnished with collapsible chairs and Ronel Jordann's hand-felted wool Boulder Cushions.

    "With a tiny house you need to get out, to live in society—go to the theater, go to the movies, interact with other people," says the architect. "It's about making life simpler."

    Above: Of the interior space, Katy Taplin of Dokter and Misses says: "It needed to be very calm. We chose to keep the interior predominantly white with accents of mint green and gray."

    The little kitchen feels spacious because it's under a pitched roof. Predominant materials are plywood, powder-coated steel, and stainless steel (used on the counters). 

    Above:"The idea is for the owners to display their items on the wall-mounted storage. It was also important to include as much enclosed storage as possible, to avoid clutter," says Taplin.

    Above: A ladder leads to a sleeping loft. Clever design details including a folding sofa and folding table give the space flexibility to function in different ways. 

    "The reason the roof is pitched is to maximize solar potential—more space is created to attach solar panels," says Adriaan Hugo of Dokter and Misses.

    Above: Light switches and outlets are from US company Legrand.

    Pod Idladla prefab designed and built in South Africa | Remodelista

    Above: Exterior metal cladding was supplied by Cupric Tectonics of Pretoria. Each prefab pod is built to order and can range from a shell to a fully kitted-out structure; see more at Pod Idlala.

    For more of our favorite diminutive living quarters, see:

    Just trying to clean up? see Carmella's 7-Step Plan to Clutter-Free Living.

    For design new, tips, and tricks, sign up to receive the daily Remodelista newsletter

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    The canvas tote bag is America's answer to the multipurpose French market basket, but instead of tightly woven palm fronds we use a distinctly American vegetation: cotton. Made of canvas typically so thick that it stands up by itself, this classic is more like a box with handles. Along its sides, it proudly exposes its selvedge, and at the base excess fabric is neatly folded like a well-wrapped present. The handles, often in a contrasting color, are attached with white stitching and wrapped around the body like a fat ribbon. 

    The most famous of all canvas totes is made by L. L. Bean of Maine, and was introduced in 1944 as a sturdy carryall for lugging blocks of ice from the pond to the icehouse to the icebox. The style was later modified (at the advent of the refrigerator, no doubt) and marketed as the Boat and Tote, a suitably jaunty name that caught on with landlubbers and yachtsmen alike. Steele Canvas of Boston, in the bag and hamper business since 1921, initially made their totes for carrying coal. They say there was a logic to using undyed canvas for carrying something so dark and dusty: the thicker canvas (No. 6 duck) doesn't take dye as well as the thinner (No. 8 duck), and it was imperative that these bags stay open while being filled. The classics remain as useful as ever for land and sea; here are our favorites.

    Five to Buy

    LL Bean Canvas Tote | Remodelista

    Above: The customizable L. L. Bean Open-Top Boat and Tote Bag is available in a wide range of colors and sizes (customized monogramming is available as well); prices start at $24.95 for the smallest and go up to $39.95 for the extra large.

    Steele Canvas Coal Bag | Remodelista

    Above: The simple Steele Canvas Bag is $59 from Guideboat Co. in Mill Valley, California. The design is finally arriving on European shores: The Steele Canvas Tote is now available at General Good in the UK for £60 ($94.52). (See Steele's classic canvas bins and laundry hampers here.)

    Lands End Navy Tote | Remodelista

    Above: The Medium Colored Open Top Canvas Tote Bag is $32.50 from Lands' End.

    Parrott Canvas Tradesman Tote | Remodelista

    Above: From North Carolina company Parrott Canvas, the Medium Tradesman Tote is $68 and the Large Tradesman Tote is $78; both are made of heavy-duty, 22-ounce cotton duck with Martexin waxed canvas trim and copper rivets.

    ACL Dandux Bag | Remodelista

    Above: The Dandux Coal Bag, made in Maryland by C. R. Daniels, is popular in Japan, but oddly difficult to find in the US. For something similar, consider the Bon Heavy Duty Canvas Tote from Bon of Pennsylvania; $68.33 via Amazon. Photograph via A Continuous Lean.

    If, like us, you love canvas, see 10 Easy Pieces: Canvas Storage Containers and Trend Alert: 7 Canvas Bins for Books and More. And on Gardenista, have a look at 10 Easy Pieces: Canvas Weekend Bags.

    Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100 presented in the Remodelista book. Have a look at her past lessons on the Butterfly Chair, Eames Lounge, and Nautical Hammock. Tour her Connecticut shop in our post Purveyor of the Practical and the Timeless.

    For design new, tips, and tricks, sign up to receive the daily Remodelista newsletter

    This post is an update; it originally ran on July 8, 2014, as part of our Summer Rentals issue.

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    The Scenario: Lisa and Chris Goode, NYC green-roof designers and cofounders of Goode Green, undertook a top-to-bottom renovation of their shingle-style house in the Hamptons. Having designed many projects, including Brooklyn's Eagle Street Rooftop Farm and the meadow atop New York's Crosby Street Hotel, they decided to save money by acting as their own general contractor.

    The Challenge: An avid cook who likes to be joined by a crowd, Lisa envisioned an island—but not just any: "An island is the one place where everyone congregates, so I wanted an overhang on two sides where we could pull up stools. This island had to be perfect and I needed to find someone to design it."

    The Solution: Tight on time, Lisa began an initial search on the Internet and soon found herself, via Etsy, on the home page of Siosi Design & Build, a two-woman furniture workshop in Bloomington, Indiana, 860 miles away. “The image on the company's opening page had the exact aesthetic I was looking for,” she says. “From the first email and throughout the process of dimensioning and pricing, I came to really trust owners Ivy Siosi and Audim Culver. Even though I hadn't met them, I could tell they were talented and professional craftspeople; they were the ones I was looking for.”

    The Result: On the same day that the Goodes moved into their newly renovated place, they received their wood-topped island—hand-delivered by Ivy and Audim, who had driven 14 hours to get it there. It's now the heart of the kitchen—and the home. 

    Top Tip: The Web is smaller and more personal than you think. "When it comes to pulling the trigger on final decisions, online research is incredibly useful for comparing costs and finding discounted items, not to mention talented designer-builders." Read on to see all the kitchen elements Lisa sourced on the Internet.

    Photography by Lisa Goode.

    Butcher block kitchen island by Siosi Design, Black Tolix Stools, Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The Goode's custom kitchen island sits in the elbow of their L-shaped kitchen. As Lisa envisioned, it has a butcher-block top and two overhangs so that people can congregate around one corner, leaving the other corner free for her to cook and move around.

    Dark gray under the counter kitchen cabinets and open shelves above, Shaker pegs with hats and clothing,  Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The Goodes incorporated shiplap paneling on the walls to match the vernacular of historic houses in the area. The walls and ceiling are painted in White Dove by Benjamin Moore. Learn more about interior shingles in Expert Advice: The Enduring Appeal of Shiplap

    White Porclean Ceiling Pendant by Michele Quan in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: "The pendant lights are by my friend Michele Quan of MQuan who makes beautiful ceramics and jewelry," says Lisa. "The lamps are celadon-dipped porcelain and the metal finishes are brass." Quan also makes Ceramic Bells Inspired by Japanese Temples.

    Butcher block kitchen island by Siosi Design, Black Tolix Stools, Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The countertop is Alberene soapstone, which Lisa bought directly from a quarry in Alberene, Virginia. "Sourcing the slabs from images at a distance was difficult, but I persisted because of the large cost saving," she says. "The slabs were shipped to a local fabricator, and I worked with him on setting up the patterning and seams. I love the waxy, warm feel of the stone, and this particular soapstone has a slight veining that adds depth and character without becoming too much of a pattern." Later today, see our Remodeling 101 primer on soapstone countertops.

    Gray kitchen cabinets and wood floor in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The carpenters who renovated the house also built the kitchen's wood cabinets and painted them Midnight by Benjamin Moore. "I designed the cabinets with lots of drawer access—I think it's easier," says Lisa. The existing Douglas fir floors weren't salvageable and were replaced with new Douglas fir. "Although the new Douglas fir doesn't have the color variation of the older wood in the rest of the house, the Bona Traffic matte lacquer that we used does a great job of pulling it all together."

    Butcher block kitchen island with open storage underneat, Black Tolix stools, by Siosi Design in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The island has two drawers and a powder-coated metal base of open shelves. "There are several items that I use every time I cook, and I love being able to access them so easily. Also, the metal is so easy to clean," says Lisa.

    Stacked blue and white plates in open storage under butcher block kitchen island  by Siosi Design in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The island's butcher block is called ambrosia maple; the sink side is detailed with a continuous grain waterfall edge achieved with a miter joint. The wood is named for the ambrosia beetle that burrows in maple trees, causing the darker coloring. Lisa's everyday plates, purchased as part of an auction lot, are easily accessible.

    Detail of corner wood joint in cabinet drawer by Siosi Design in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett

    Above: On the inside of the island drawer, a spline-reinforced rabbet joint in contrasting wood tones is an example of Siosi's ability to, in Lisa's words, "take a common joint and make it into a beautiful and defining design element."

    Butcher block kitchen island and wood writing desk by Siosi Design in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: "Working with Audim and Ivy was a definite highlight of the project, and having them show up at my door with the island after several months of emails and phone calls was like having long-lost friends appear for dinner," says Lisa. "Anyone who has done construction knows that there are often mishaps and frustrations. Having something go so well is worth taking note." Reluctant to see the duo go, Lisa commissioned them to design and build something else—a small writing desk for a corner of the kitchen.

    Wood writing desk  by Siosi Design and blue and red chair  in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: "I knew I wanted a spot in the kitchen for my laptop and for flipping through cookbooks," Lisa says. "Sometimes the island works for this, but it's also nice to have a chair with a back when you've been on your feet." The chair is part of a set of eight that Lisa sourced on 1stdibs. "They're Willemer Stuhl Chairs from 1958 that German artist Markus Friedrich Staab painted in 2013."

    Exposed metal sliding hardware in desk  by Siosi Design in Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: "The desk is in constant use as a place to plug in electronics," says Lisa. Contemplating your own remodel? See Remodeling 101: Where to Locate Electrical Outlets, Kitchen Edition.

    Painted Massakeat sign on wood floor of Goode Kitchen, Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: The original owners named the house Massakeat after a character in The Maid of Montauk, a 1902 story by Forest Monroe. "The name was painted on the floor at the entry to the kitchen," says Lisa. "We just recently had it repainted where it originally was."


    Dark wood floors and door trims in Before image of Goode kitchen in Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: A decidedly different kitchen with a table in the center.

    Dark wood floors and door trims in Before image of Goode kitchen in Amagansett | Remodelista

    Above: A look at the walls that the Goodes removed to open up the space.

    For more island inspiration, see:

    On Gardenista have a look at Brooklyn landscape architect Julie Farris's Rooftop Meadow, and read Michelle's domestic dispatch on The Unused Kitchen (for all that she wishes she'd known when she remodeled).

    For design new, tips, and tricks, sign up to receive the daily Remodelista newsletter

    This post is an update; it originally ran on November 6, 2014.

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    Blu Dot is giving away a $1,000 Gift Card to one lucky Remodelista reader (see details below). A longtime Remodelista favorite, the Minneapolis design house makes a full collection of goods for the home—including Bedroom Designs, Rugs, and Outdoor Furniture—and has showrooms in SF, LA, Austin, and NYC. How would we spend $1,000 at Blu Dot? We couldn't resist taking our own hypothetical spree, and here are our answers.

    Take a look, start your own shopping list, and enter your email address in our Blu Dot $1,000 Giveaway by July 14.  

    P.S. Join Remodelista editors at the Blu Dot San Francisco Store (560 Valencia) on Thursday, July 9, from 5 to 8 p.m., for drinks, light fare, and a chance to win one of five signed copies of our book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Bring your copy to have it signed (we won't be selling books on-site). And if you haven't already entered the $1,000 giveaway contest online, you can do so at the event.

    Blu Dot Diplomat Sleeper Sofa | Remodelista

    Above: We like the wood-framed Diplomat Sleeper Sofa for its clean lines and ease of use: The firm foam cushions flip forward to become a queen-size bed. Shown here in Packwood grey, the sofa also comes in five other colors, all with walnut legs; $1,999.

    Blu Dot Toro Leather Lounge Chair | Remodelista
    Above: Slung-leather lounge chairs are having a moment, and Blu Dot's Toro Lounge Chair is one of the standouts. Says Blu Dot designer Warren Young, "It's a chair with not a lot of physical substance," noting that it weighs only 15 pounds, "but it still has a strong presence." Shown here in Day, it's also available in Night and Chocolate; $1,299.

    Blu Dot Strut Table | Remodelista

    Above: We've admired Blu Dot's Strut Table since its debut in 2005. Made of powder-coated steel topped with hard-wearing polyurethane-coated MDF, the design comes in three dining/worktable sizes: medium, large, and extra large (which seats 10). The collection has also grown to include Strut square and rectangular coffee tables, a console table, and side table, and prices start at $299. Shown here is the Strut Large Table in slate, also available in ivory, navy, watermelon, and white.

    Blu Dot Shale Credenza | Remodelista

    Above: The Shale 4 Drawer/2 Door Credenza is made of solid wood with handles of full-grain leather, adjustable shelves, and holes in the back for cord management. The drawers and doors all have self-closing—quiet—hardware. (Note: The bottom two drawers are actually one double-height drawer.) Shown in light walnut, the credenza is also available in walnut and smoke; $2,699.

    Blu Dot Laika Pendant | Remodelista

    Above: Summery and sculptural, Blu Dot's Laika Medium Pendant Light pairs rattan with an exposed metal frame. Made in natural (shown) and white rattan, it's $499. Other Laika shapes and sizes also available.

    Blu Dot Hang 1 Drop Mirror | Remodelista

    Above: All eight designs in Blu Dot's Hang 1 Mirror series—including the Drop Mirror shown here—are smooth-edged shapes mounted on simple walnut pegs. At home in just about any setting (and great en masse), they are $299 each. 

    Blu Dot Splash Coat Rack Blue | Remodelista

    Above: Blu Dot's Splash Coat Rack is made of powder-coated steel crowned with solid walnut. It comes in five colors, including bright blue shown here; $299. Watch this video to see the Splash Coat Rack's design and development, starting with the initial sketch. 

    Don't forget to enter your email address in our Blu Dot $1,000 Giveaway by July 14. 

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    One of my favorite stores in LA on Abbot Kinney is Chariots on Fire. The shop is a rigorous collection of objects sourced by owner Ritz Yagi (her father is the award-winning art director Tamotsu Yagi)—she's a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, and in addition to the store runs a small creative agency. Chariots on Fire showcases a mix of jewelry, apothecary items, objects for the home and other global finds.

    Right now the shop is gearing up to present its third annual show of Japanese ceramic artist Makoto Kagoshima's work. Inspired by his travels and a love for Roman sculpture and architecture, the avid gardener uses floral motifs in his new collection. The pieces are all one of a kind and will be available in store at Chariots on Fire starting on July 23, when the exhibit opens. Here's an advance look.

    Photography by Shuji Yoshida.

    Makoto Kagoshima platter from Chariots of Fire in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Kagoshima has spent months gearing up to show his latest work at Chariots on Fire, which is his exclusive US representative and always has some examples on view. Sizes in the exhibit vary from small bowls to large serving platters priced from $70 to $700. 

    Makoto Kagoshima plate from Chariots of Fire in LA | Remodelista

    Above: The blues on Kagoshima's plates range from indigo to purple hues. 

    Makoto Kagoshima platter from Chariots of Fire in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Each piece is one of a kind: While some motifs may resurface, Kagoshima never repeats a pattern.

    Makoto Kagoshima

    Above: Each of the plates has a food-safe glaze.

    Makoto Kagoshima platter from Chariots of Fire in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Kagoshima himself will be in LA for his opening at Chariots on Fire on July 23. The shop is located at 1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice.

    Go to Ceramics to see more handmade tableware that we're coveting, including Japanese-Style Pottery Made in LA and 10 Easy Pieces: Handmade Dinnerware from Ceramics Studios.

    For design new, tips, and tricks, sign up to receive the daily Remodelista newsletter

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    Look to science labs for the evidence: Soapstone is the material of choice for countertops designed to take a beating. A durable and hardworking natural stone that is virtually maintenance free—is soapstone too good to be true? We've done our research and test drives (I used soapstone in my Seattle kitchen remodel) and created a soapstone primer to help you decide if this is the countertop material for you. 

    Architect Sheila Narusawa Soapstone Counter, Remodelista

    Above: A soapstone counter defines the kitchen at Harbor Cottage in Maine designed by architect Sheila Narusawa (for more of this project, see our feature A Cottage Reborn in Coastal Maine). Photograph by Justine Hand.

    What is soapstone?

    Soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It's a metamorphic rock that got its name from the soft, or soapy, feel of its surface, which is thanks to the presence of talc in the stone. Most American soapstone is sourced from the Appalachian mountain range, or imported from Brazil and Finland. The two varieties—artistic and architectural—are differentiated by talc contact. Artistic-grade soapstone has a high talc content and is soft and easy to carve. Architectural-grade soapstone has a lower talc content (usually between 50 and 75 percent), which makes it harder and more suitable for countertop use. It's not as hard as granite or marble, however, and can be easily cut, shaped, and installed. Unlike granite and marble, however, it's typically quarried in smaller slabs, meaning that for counters longer than seven feet, several pieces (and visible seams) are necessary.

    Soapstone Counter, Remodelista

    Above: A detail of lightly veined soapstone from Brazil. Photograph by Janet Hall.

    Soapstone Drain Board, Remodelista

    Above: Architectural-grade soapstone can be easily fabricated to include options like an integrated drainboard. Photograph by Janet Hall.

    Properties that make soapstone a great countertop material?

    1. It doesn't stain. Soapstone is dense and nonporous; it does darken when liquid pools on its surface, but it lightens back up when the liquid evaporates or is cleaned off.

    2. It can stand up to acidic materials. The fact that soapstone is chemically inert means it's not harmed by lemon juice or cleaners that must be avoided with other natural stone surfaces. That's why it's so popular for use as science lab tops.

    3. It's heat resistant. The density of soapstone makes it an amazing conductor of heat, which enables it to withstand very high heat with no damage. You can put hot pans right on the surface without worry.  

    Mark Reilly Kitchen with Soapstone Counters, Remodelista

    Above: In a San Francisco kitchen renovation, architect Mark Reilly used soapstone countertops to give a warm feel to the modern space.

    Do soapstone counters need to be sealed? 

    Because soapstone is nonporous, it doesn't need to be sealed or protected. Not only does this cut down on maintenance (see below), the absence of chemicals in the fabrication and ongoing care leads many to consider soapstone an environmentally responsible choice.

    Mark Reilly Architecture Soapstone Counter, Remodelista

    Above: In addition to not requiring any sealer, soapstone stays looking good. Scratches and nicks are part of its character, but bothersome marks can be removed with sandpaper. Photograph via Mark Reilly Architecture

    Is soapstone available in a variety of colors?

    Soapstone is available in a range of shades on a sliding gray scale, some with blue or green undertones. Each slab is unique and varies from quarry to quarry. The widest variation in soapstone is in the quartz fleck and veining patterns. Some slabs have large but few veins; others have dense veining.

    Soapstone Slabs, Remodelista

    Above: Richly-veined, medium-gray soapstone slabs at M. Teixeira in San Francisco. Photograph by Janet Hall

    Oiled and non-oiled Soapstone Counter, Remodelista

    Above: Soapstone naturally darkens with use over time. Architectural-grade soapstone can be altered to achieve a dark-charcoal black by applying mineral oil. You can see the result on this slab of soapstone that has been coated with mineral oil (L), and in its natural state (R). This process can also serve to highlight veining. Photograph by Janet Hall.

    Made LLC Soapstone Counter and Sink, Remodelista

    Above: Made LLC a New York–based design-build practice, often chooses soapstone for countertops. "We like to use materials that develop character as they're lived with, becoming increasingly beautiful as they wear in over the years," says founding partner Ben Bischoff. "Soapstone is one we come back to again and again. It's beautiful at the start and becomes even more so as it breaks in with your work patterns." Photograph via Made LLC.

    Food Grade Mineral Oil Brooklyn Slate Co., Remodelista

    Above: Food-Grade Mineral Oil; $7 from Brooklyn Slate Co.

    To darken soapstone, Made LLC specifies: "You can speed up the natural darkening process by flooding the material's surface with mineral oil, allowing it to soak in, and then wiping it off. We repeat this process a few times before the client moves in and then provide a bottle of mineral oil that they can use to recoat as necessary until the surface is completely saturated." 

    Where can you use soapstone?

    Because of its resilience and adaptability, soapstone can be used for much more than countertops; it works well as sinks, fireplace surrounds (thanks to its heat resistance), flooring, and throughout the bathroom. It's also a great choice for outdoor counters and sinks as it's impervious to weather and bacteria.

    How do you clean and maintain soapstone counters?

    Low maintenance is the name of the game with soapstone. Soapstone's nonporous quality makes it bacteria resistant, so harsh cleaners are not needed. Soap and water are all that's recommended.

    If there is one maintenance issue with soapstone, it may be its softness and susceptibility to scratches and nicks. You can protect the surface by using cutting boards. And the good news is that user-caused imperfections generally can be removed, as mentioned above, with a quick sandpaper buffing. No professional repairs required.

    M. Teixeira Soapstone Countertop and Sink, Remodelista

    Above: An architectural-grade, mineral-oiled darkened soapstone counter and apron sink. Photograph via M. Teixeira Soapstone   

    How much does soapstone cost?

    Henrybuilt Kitchen, Remodelista

    Above: Sleek black counters in a Henrybuilt Kitchen with black under-the-counter cabinetry. The cost of soapstone is comparable to high-end granite and less than marble. Prices for soapstone range between $60 and $105 per square foot installed. Factors that affect price include where you live (M. Tiexiera Soapstone in San Francisco estimates $90 to $105 for high-quality soapstone), your countertop configuration, the thickness you're after, and any special fabrication. The good news is that soapstone is a one-time investment that will outlive you. 

    Architect Sheila Narusawa Soapstone Countertop, Remodelista

    Above: A wider view of architect Sheila Narusawa's Harbor Cottage kitchen with soapstone counters. Photograph by Justine Hand.

    Soapstone Counter Recap


      Nonporous stone means no staining. Little to no maintenance; you won't need to call in professionals for repairs. Despite being a hard surface, soapstone offers a softer feel than other solid stone surfaces. Versatile in its aesthetic, soapstone is as comfortable in a farmhouse-style space as it is in a modern kitchen. Can be used in many different applications from countertops to fireplace surrounds.


      Available in a limited range of colors: varying shades of gray. Soapstone is quarried in smaller slabs than some natural stones. You can rarely find slabs longer than seven feet; multiple pieces and seams are required if you have a long counter. Like other natural countertop materials, soapstone develops a patina with use. Unlike harder stones, it's easily scratched and nicked.

    Intrigued by the idea of a soapstone sink? See our Soapstone Sink Roundup.

    Researching new countertops? Read 5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Kitchen Countertops. And for more specifics on the subject, see our Remodeling 101 posts:

    Remodeling 101 | Remodelista

    This post is an update; it originally ran on January 21, 2014, as part of our Paints & Patterns issue.

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    Of course there's always the worry that idyllic guest quarters will turn you into an unpaid hotelier. But kindhearted souls with room to spare, take note: Not all guest rooms are equal. Here are 10 filled with simple, serene comforts worth replicating. 

    Tiina Laakonen guest room in Amagansett NY, with Marimekko quits, photograph by Matthew Williams | Remodelista

    Above: Quilts made from Vintage Marimekko on Charles P. Rogers Cottage Beds in the glam guest wing of fashion stylist/shopkeeper Tiina Laakonen's Hamptons compound. Tour her house in Rhapsody in Blue, and see more Marimekko in Steal This Look: Tiina's Summer Tabletop Setting. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Twig Hutchinson, Lorn Road Summerhouse, Remodelista

    Above: A shed converted into a guest room in interiors stylist Twig Hutchinson's London garden—see The Lorn Road Summerhouse. Photograph via Light Locations.

    Justine Hand's Cape Cod guest room, photograph by Matthew Williams | Remodelista

    Above: The guest room in Remodelista contributor Justine Hand's Old Cape Cod Cottage has its original wallpaper and a vintage iron bed that Justine tracked down to match. Join us for an exploration of the house in the Remodelista book. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's guest room/home office in LA | Remodelista

    Above: In her all-white Pasadena bungalow, LA interior designer Michaela Scherrer keeps a guest room with built-in cabinets that offer so much storage that nothing needs to be left in the open except by choice. The bed is draped in Scherrer's signature white leather, which she points out, is dog-proof and easy to wipe down. See the companion postage-stamp spa bath in A Grecian-Inspired Guest Suite. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Winner of Best Professionally Designed Bedroom in 2014 Remodelista Considered Design Awards, Hyde Evans Design | Remodelista

    Above: This seaside guest room by Hyde Evans Design of Seattle won the 2014 Remodelista Considered Design Award for Best Professionally Designed Bedroom. "This aerie manages to channel a nautical vibe without veering into twee territory," said Julie in her judge's comments.

    Bed made from recycled pallets | Remodelista

    Above: An under-the-eaves guest room with a DIY bed made from recycled wooden pallets. For striped fabric to make your own pom-pom-adorned quilt, see Object Lessons: Classic Mattress Ticking. Photograph via French by Design.

    father rabbit limited store, bedroom, remodelista

    Above: For shoppers who never want to leave? This tranquil bedroom at the Father Rabbit store in Auckland, New Zealand, is kitted out with a shallow open closet, an idea worth stealing.

    Sara Emslie's House in Beautifully Small, Photos by Rachel Whiting, Under bed basket storage in guest room | Remodelista

    Above: In her compact London quarters, stylist Sara Emslie, author of Beautifully Small, has a cottage-style guest room with baskets under the bed for storage. Photograph by Rachel Whiting. See more from Emslie's book in our Required Reading column.

    Cassandra Karinsky of Kulchi apartment guest room in Australia | Remodelista

    Above: In her Sydney apartment, Cassandra Karinsky furnishes her guest room with designs from her Moroccan import house Kulchi, hanging rattan lamp and Tuareg mat included. The bedside table is a Beetle Track Stool by Greg Hatton. Photograph by Sean Fennessy via The Design Files.

    Workstead Upstate guest room photograph by Matthew Williams | Remodelista

    Above: Architects Stefanie Brechbuehler and Robert Highsmith of Workstead overhauled their farmhouse in Upstate New York themselves. Their guest room is furnished with spool beds that belonged to Robert's grandparents in North Carolina: "You can see the worn spot where my grandmother held the post as she was getting out of the bed every morning." The patterned pillows are by Akin & Suri. See their DIY Partner's Desk and tour the rest of the house in the Remodelista book. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Looking for more ideas? Find hundreds of inspiring Bedrooms in our archive, plus design details and advice, including:

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    What could be better than a beach getaway, garden (and crushed seashell path) included? Follow the Gardenista team this week as they gallop from South Africa to Sweden—and Cape Cod, too.

    Seaside house with eashell path in Sweden | Gardenista

    Above: A Romantic Swedish Seaside Villa. Like the look of the driveway? See Hardscaping 101: Seashell Paths and Driveways

    Crocheted plant pouch via Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: Top 10 Picks for Gardeners on Etsy's 10th Anniversary.

    Gotland, Sweden summer house garden | Gardenista

    Above: Rose of Sweden: An Enchanted Seaside Spread in Gotland (with Rental Apartments).

    New Dawn Rose bouquet by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: DIY Climbing Roses: From Trellis to Vase on Cape Cod.

    Floral security screen in South Africa, photograph by Marie Viljoen | Gardenista

    Above: 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from South Africa. Number one: the see-through security screen.

      For outdoor living design news, tips, and trends, sign up for the daily Gardenista newsletter  

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    Last month we told you about seven mattress startup companies aiming to take a bite out of the multibillion-dollar American mattress trade. (See The Sleep Disrupters.) The next industry in the crosshairs? Luxury bedding.

    The founders of the following six companies noticed that linens tend to fall into two categories: sheets that are cheap in price and quality, and well-made, high-end linens at astronomical prices. Says Fast Company: "The cost of luxury linens is nothing less than exorbitant, driven higher by bloated supply chains and expensive designer licensing fees passed on to the consumer." Sensing an opportunity, several startups are out to remove as much as possible between manufacturer and consumer, slashing costs along the way.

    Note: All prices are for queen sizing.


    Brooklinen Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Williamsburg, Brooklyn–based Brooklinen wins the prize for going into the most detail about cotton fibers, yarn ply, and thread thickness, making a case for quality bedding that goes far beyond thread count. (See Anatomy of a Brooklinen Sheet.) The company uses the same overseas manufacturers as the large luxury companies, and claims that the same set of sheets that it sells for around $100 would cost three times as much in a traditional retail model. Brooklinen offers two bedding standards—Classic and Luxe—each available in five colorways. A Classic Core Sheet Set in queen is $90. A complete bed set with sheet set plus duvet cover and two shams—called the Classic Hardcore Bundle—is $179.25. One thing to note: Brooklinen's return policy is stingy for a startup: only unused, unwashed sheets are accepted back within 30 days of purchase.


    Parachute Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Ariel Kaye of LA founded Parachute after falling in love with her hotel bedding on a trip to Italy: see Eat, Pray, Love: Luxury Linens for Less. Her company offers a pleasantly pared-down menu of choices and is the only brand of this bunch that sells made-in-Europe sheets (Parachute linens are produced by a family-owned factory in Tuscany). Parachute's standard queen Sheet Set—a flat sheet and two pillowcases in either percale or sateen cotton—comes in five good-looking neutrals for $129. Complete bed set Venice comes with sheets and duvet cover for $269. Parachute is currently offering a limited-edition Linen Blend Duvet Set with duvet cover and two shams in one of two striped designs for $249. 

    Crane & Canopy

    Crane & Canopy Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: The Bay Area's Crane & Canopy was founded by Karin Shieh and Christopher Sun, a couple who met at Harvard Business School. They use the same overseas manufacturers as the high-end department store brands, but cut out the middleman to bring lower prices direct to consumers. There's a lot of variety in the collection, and many of the patterns don't speak to us. But simpler options can be found, such as the basic 400-Thread-Count Sheet Set, $149, and the Hayes Nova duvet, shown above in soft white with dark gray piping; $209 for a queen duvet and two shams. 

    Boll & Branch

    Boll & Branch Remodelista

    Above: Boll & Branch founders Missy and Scott Tannen say, "When we learned the story of our sheets, we were compelled to rewrite it." Their bedding is all organic and Fair Trade certified, and what they sell for $250, they say a department store would charge $500-plus for. Boll & Branch offers sheet sets in four styles priced at $240 each (including the Trimmed Sheet Set shown here). Queen Duvet Covers range from $185 to $225. The return policy is fitting for a startup: Sleep on the sheets for 30 nights; if you don't like them, Boll & Branch will take them back.

    Smart Bedding

    Smart Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: "Never make your bed again" is Smart Bedding's tagline. The St. Louis company's specialty item is a flat sheet that snaps onto a duvet cover, so that the two are connected and the bed-making process is reduced to a simple flick of the quilt each morning. Smart Bedding's sheets are all cotton and 300 thread count, but you won't find treatises about quality on the site—and that's likely because the brand is still in the getting-ready-to-launch phase. You can preorder a complete Bed Set—including flat and fitted sheet, snap-to duvet cover, two pillowcases, and two shams, all available in six colors—for $189. 


    Ettitude Organic Bedding | Remodelista

    Above: Melbourne startup Ettitude focuses on eco-friendliness: Its sheets are made of organic bamboo, which according to the company is just as soft as fine Egyptian cotton but uses one-third less water and no harmful chemicals to manufacture. Ettitude has four bedding collections, each of which come in several colors. The Bamboo Daydream Sheet Set, a flat and fitted sheet and two pillowcases, is $150. Queen duvet sets range from $120 to $170. And the Bamboo Bondi Duvet Cover Set, shown here, is $130 with two shams included.

    We've done the bedding research, so you don't have to: 

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    New York–based Swedish designer Anki Spets has been making luxuriously minimalist bed linens for the past 25 years. I discovered her company Area via my favorite cotton blanket, the herringbone-patterned Harry, which has long been synonymous with summer in my house. More recently, I've met Anki in person at design shows, and each time we cross paths, I ask her for insider tips on linens care. After several of these discussions, she presented me with her How Best to Wash Bedding primer. 

    Design-owner Anki Spets of Area bedding | Remodellista

    Above: Anki makes her daughter Selma's bed with Area's signature muted linens, including Parallel Pillowcases in blue and the Heather Duvet Cover in gray. Anki grew up in Stockholm and studied fashion at the Beckmans College of Design before she segued into bed linens in 1990: "At the time, there was a huge void in easy-going, good-quality bedding. And someone needed to dismantle the traditional bedroom: Out with curtains and carpets and in with Scandinavian flair."

    Washing Rules

    1. Remove any spots before the textile goes in the washer—once they've been cooked and baked, they're permanent. Oily grease stains from body lotion, etc., are common on sheets. Remove them with dish soap: Wet the spot, apply soap, and, if the fabric isn't fragile, massage in or scrub with a nail brush before washing.

    2. Prepping the laundry is important: Button buttons, close Velcro (so it doesn't get stuck on other things), and turn patterned or decorated fabrics inside out.

    Bedroom photo by Romain Richard | Remodelista

    Above: A linen-cloaked bed in a mix of pastels and bolds in France. "Linen is a good environmental choice," says Anki, "It doesn't require fancy equipment to process, and uses fewer chemicals (and is also stronger) than cotton." Photograph by Romain Ricard.

    3. Do not mix bedding with clothes that have metal zippers or a rough texture—they can cause pilling and abrasion.

    4. Use less detergent than the manufacturer recommends: Too much detergent weakens fibers over time. I like Ecover from the supermarket and I've been thinking about splurging on Swedish natural laundry soap lines L:A Bruket and Tangent.

    Tangent Garment Care from Sweden Textile Wash | Remodelista

    Above: Tangent "textile shampoo"—read about the company in our post Natural Laundry Potions from Sweden. (It can be sourced in the US via Sweet Bella; email to inquire about retailers.)

    5. Fill the washer with water and detergent before adding laundry, so that the detergent is diluted when clothes are added. Do not put detergent directly on fabrics; straight detergent can cause discoloration.

    6. Do not use fabric softeners; they coat the natural fibers and break them down. The same goes for dryer sheets: Lint sticks to them and causes abrasion inside the dryer that can create pilling.

    7. Bleach is not allowed, even so-called “safe bleach.” And some personal care products, such as acne medications and toothpastes that contain oxidizing agents, can discolor pillowcases and sheets with bleach spots. So can accidental splatters and sprays of floor polishing liquid.

    8. Wash in warm or cold water—lower temperatures are good for the environment and detergents work well these days, so less hot water is needed. In Sweden, you can set your washing machine temperature at 30, 40, 60, and 90 degrees Celsius—90 is close to boiling and these days to save energy, whites typically go in at 60 and most other stuff at 40.

    Drying Rules

    1. Line dry sheets and duvet covers if you can. (Out the window and across the street isn't an option on 21st Street, where I live, but I wish it were.) 

    Kevin's Quality Clothespins | Remodelista

    Above: Kevin's Quality Clothespins are made of maple (a Set of 10 Clothespins is $17.25). See 5 Favorites: Classic Made-in-the-USA Wooden Clothespins and find more accoutrements in Gardenista's Reasons to Dry Laundry Outdoors and Object Lessons: The Sheila Maid Clothes Airer.

    2. If using a dryer, take the sheets out before they're completely dry. Drape them on a drying rack and then just stretch out and fold: This is a two-person job, and the stretching is nearly as effective as ironing.

    3. For cotton blankets, the dryer is also the way to go—air dried they can feel crusty and lose their fluff. But be sure to use a low setting and take them out before they're completely dry.

    4. A too-hot dryer is what ruins most fabrics. Hot water is not a problem, but a hot dryer weakens and breaks natural fibers. The last minutes of the dryer cycle are when fabric overheats, making it brittle and faded over time. Overheating also makes fabrics staticky, which attracts dust.

    5. Cleaning the lint filter is a must for blankets and other soft surface textiles. If allowed to accumulate, lint creates a type of pilling on surfaces.

    Merci Paris Easy Laundry exhibit | Remodelista

    Above: Merci, our favorite Paris shop, recently held an Easy Laundry exhibit.

    French linen pillowcases from Alder & Co | Remodelista

    Above: French Linen Pillowcases, $50 each, from Alder & Co. in Portland, OR. 

    The Case for Ironing

    1. Linen gets softer with ironing and I find ironing sheets therapeutic—try it and I think you'll agree, but if you don't have time, just iron the pillowcases. Linen is best ironed when damp.

    2. For the ultimate pressed sheets, consider an old-fashioned mangle. Apartment buildings in Stockholm have them in the laundry rooms: You fold the sheet lengthwise and guide it between two rollers. Owning one is on my wish list.

      Area bed and bed linens designed by Anki Spets | Remodelista

    Above: Anki has branched out to bedroom furniture design; shown here, Area's made-in-the-US Bruno Bed in whitewashed ash, $3,500, with Jewel sheets and duvet cover in gray and the Liam blanket of baby alpaca in graphite, $550. The soft gray throw is also from the Liam collection, $165—85 percent of Area's designs are made in Europe and the alpaca is from Peru. To see more, go to Area.

    Other Tips

    • These days, most linen on the market is prewashed for a more lived-in feel and appearance; it can be dried in the dryer. But traditional, untreated linen should never go in the dryer—the heat causes the fiber to close up and lose its luster.

    • Wool blankets and throws should be periodically aired outdoors if possible or in an open window. This keeps them fresh. Wool should be hand-washed (but not too often). Lie flat to dry, and to iron, cover with a moist cotton or linen cloth (this presses the wool without harming it or creating a shine). Any other fabric you're not sure of can be successfully pressed with this technique.

    • Storing linens in plastic can result in yellowing and should be avoided. Natural fibers need to be able to breathe. 

    • Consider double pillowcases: I keep a basic white cotton cover over my down pillows as extra protection for both pillow and pillowcase.

    • Skip the top sheet. Instead do what we do in Sweden and use a cotton or linen duvet cover in place of a top sheet. (In cold weather, a down- or wool-filled comforter is great. When it gets warm out, we swap in a lightweight quilt or cotton blanket inside the duvet cover.) And think of it: There's less laundry to do.

    Goose down comforter from Garnet Hill | Remodelista

    Above: Garnet Hill's Signature Channeled White Goose Down Comforter starts at $398.

    Take a look at Laundry Rooms—we have a lot of favorites, including Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen's State-of-the-Art LA Laundry Room.

    Want more cleaning solutions? 

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    Here's a look at what grabbed our attention this week. 

    Calvin Klein Home | Remodelista

    • Above: Calvin Klein's Miami home designed by Axel Vervoodt is on the market. 
    • Do you love your house enough to get a tattoo
    • Good news for creatives: These are the best cities to find a job. 

    Bookdart, Meus Shop | Remodelista

    • Above: We'll take a dozen gold book darts for summer reading. 
    • A sleek, geometric side table named after the second to last letter in the alphabet. 
    • The facts about dry cleaning (and the alternatives).

    MoMa Cosmo Installation | Remodelista

    • Above: Andrés Jacque's giant water purifier was just unveiled in the PS1 courtyard in Queens.
    • DIY ice pops for discerning palates. 

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

    Remodelista Pinterest Pick of the Week: Trish Papadakos

    • Above: Find inspired interior vignettes on blogger Trish Papadakos's Styling board. 

    Remodelista Instagram Pick of the Week: @lilystockman

    • Above: We love following Block Shop Textile cofounder and painter Lily Stockman (@lilystockman) from LA to India.

    For the latest from Remodelista, see our Vacation House issue, and head over to Gardenista to read their Vacation report.

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    Join us this week as we prep for the Fourth by heading into the kitchen, indoors and out. Stay tuned for architect-endorsed classic faucets, no-fuss tabletop ideas, and bright and simple cooking setups that have summer written all over them.

    Remodelista Summer Kitchen issue, week of June 29, 2015

    Above: Artful pastels at Walnuts Farm in East Sussex, England. Photograph via Light Locations.


    Oyster Shucking Kit from March | Remodelista

    Above: You're heading to a country house with a kitchen that needs stocking, what would you bring to it? For weeks here at Remodelista, we've been trading ideas, and today in Editors' Picks, we present our wish list: Our 15 favorite accessories for the summer kitchen.


      Sunday Suppers Table Setting | Remodelista

    Above: A Scandi table set for summer by blogger Karen Mordecai of Sunday Suppers. In Tuesday's Steal This Look, Sarah sources all the elements.


    Chicago Faucets Unlacquered Brass Faucet | Remodelista

    Above: To take the guesswork out of a crucial kitchen decision, we turned to the experts. Stay tuned for Wednesday's 10 Easy Pieces on timeless kitchen faucets. And see the recent companion post, 10 Easy Pieces Architects' Go-To Modern Kitchen Faucets, affordable finds included.


    Architect Sheila Narusawa's kitchen on Cape Cod, Matthew Williams photo | Remodelista

    Above: Architect Sheila Narusawa's own Cape Cod kitchen is stocked with smart storage decisions and money-saving ideas gleaned over a decades-long career. Watch for Kitchen of the Week. (And take a look at Sheila's niece Justine's Soulful Old Cape Cod Kitchen.) Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.


    Skillet made by Borough Furnace | Remodelista

    Above: In Friday's 5 Favorites, Christine spotlights a made-in-America classic, the cast-iron skillet.

    beach twine knits by Marnie Campbell, photo by Justine Hand, green samples

    Above: An ingenious use for washed-ashore fisherman's twine: knit pot holders, anyone? Watch for this week's DIY Project.

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    Full-service remodelers Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co. are vagabonds who move where their work is—and live in their project until it's done. Not long ago, they holed up for eight months in an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse that had been done up in an incongruous mix of heavy wood furniture and disco-era purples and oranges. Its NYC-based owners, Gideon Friedman and Rachael Bedard (he's in real estate, she's a doctor), told Tara and Percy to turn it into the sort of place where Wes Anderson would go as a creative escape. They pointed to some Arts & Craft wallpaper of angels and devils and encouraged them to let loose: "think color and pattern and vintage." The results? Let's just say movie set design and decoration might well be the couple's next calling.

    Photography by Beth Kirby of Local Milk (who has a Jersey Ice Cream Co. kitchen; see The One-Month Makeover.)

    The front parlor of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: Tara and Percy's first move? "We cleared out the forest of furniture—a very nice dealer came and took it all, even the things he didn't want"—and we primed all the walls, so we could finally see what we had." They then performed a complete makeover in every room, starting with the front parlor, shown here. It has two-toned pigmented plastered walls, a specialty of Percy's that took years to master, and a collection of artwork and vintage furnishing, all of it gathered by Tara for a song "online, at Brimfield, ReStores, I look everywhere." The floral sofa, she says, "turned up for $150 at a local estate sale a week before we were done." 

    The front parlor of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: The room opens to one of the nicest spots in the house: a screened-in back porch that's today's Before & After project on Gardenista. The wide-plank wood floor is original, "a blessing," says Percy. The couple considered painting the dark beams, but are glad they stayed hands off. Tara painted all of the trim in the house in shades of gray—"that took an eternity because it's all slightly different: What looks one way in one room looks five shades darker in the next. And even knowing that, in several cases I repainted it when it wasn't quite right." Here, the trim is Rockport Gray from Benjamin Moore.

    Kitchen of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: The eat-in farm kitchen was completely reconfigured. It has custom cabinets and a 36-inch Kohler Whitehaven Apron-Front Sink ("we've used it for several projects; it's really deep and it's available on Amazon"). The brass faucet is from Cifial—"we found it when we were working on Beth Kirby's kitchen, but it had a 12-week lead time, so we ordered it and it worked well here," says Tara. The ceiling lights are School House Electric's Otis design in matte bronze. Tara bought the vintage brass pulls on eBay—"they came in their original amazing packaging from the 1940s." 

    Kitchen of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: The counters are butcher block from Lumber Liquidators. The inset shelves are original. "I knew I wanted to fill the kitchen with white ceramics," says Tara. "I collected it piece by piece, some for $1, as we worked on the house."

    Kitchen of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: Percy paneled the back walls with barn board purchased in the Berkshires from "a nice dude named Dave; for once, it was clean and sanded and we didn't even have to remove any nails," says Tara. They created an ingenious backsplash out of copper flashing purchased inexpensively online and nailed in place with copper tacks. The Wolf range came with the kitchen.

    The floor was one of the trickiest jobs in the house—noting its rotting understructure, Percy initially planned to lay down barn wood, but after ripping out several layers of linoleum, he discovered a surprise section of gray-painted wood flooring. It felt sacrilegious to remove, so he painstakingly restored and rebuilt the floor as a patchwork.

    Kitchen of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: A distressed but solid folding table from the Brimfield flea market felt just right for the room. "It can be carried outside," says Tara, "and like the barn wood, everything looks good against it." The perforated ceramic pendant light is the Claylight, $129, from Etsy seller Lightexture.

    Breakfast nook of an 18th-century Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co. | Remodelista

    Above: A breakfast nook off the kitchen overlooks the barn. They sourced all of the house's potted plants from Ikea and Home Depot.

    Stair bed in a Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: On the stair landing, Percy built a surprise perch out of barn wood with inset bookshelves underneath. The swing-out windows are original.

    Trustworth Studios wallpaper in a Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: The house has four bedrooms; our favorite, shown here, is papered in a CFA Voysey design called Apothecary's Garden; a reproduction of a 1926 pattern, it's from English Arts and Crafts wallpaper specialist Trustworth Studios of Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

    The iron bed frames came from Brimfield. The couple's buying strategy? "We often find one or two dealers who have good things and are looking to unload them for very little at the end of the day." The bedding is a mix from Target, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware.

    Powder room in a Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: The couple paneled the powder room and painted it Seaworthy from Sherwood Williams. The sink was in the room, and its brass taps came from Wayfair. The sconces were also found in the house and given new glass shades from School House Electric. The lion's head towel holder is from eBay.

    Trustworth Studios wallpaper in a Catskills Farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: "Wallpapering is the one thing we don't do ourselves," says Tara. "Pros do it so well and so quickly." Shown here, Temptation, an eccentric 1889 CFA Voysey pattern from Trustworth Studios that the owners picked out at the start of the project ("Along the way, they visited a few times, but really let us do our thing," says Tara. "The house came together so much in the last weeks that there was a big reveal at the end"). Percy built the headboard from barn wood. The brass lamp is a $10 Brimfield find.

    Master bedroom in a Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: The lofty master bedroom—formerly "painted red, blue, and yellow with a huge black pillar bed and cascading seventies chandelier"—was quieted down with tinted plaster walls and barn paneling (built-in ledge headboard included). Tara spotted the Twigs Pendant Light on Wayfair: "When I first saw it, I thought it was weird. Then I ordered something else, and seeing it made me long for the weird bird's nest." The built-in bookshelf is original. The bedding is from House of Baltic Linen on Etsy.

    Master bath in a Catskills farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista

    Above: The master bath—also custom plastered and here sealed with polyurethane—features a metal-topped rustic sink, likely from a potting shed, that a friend's mother spotted at a Massachusetts flea market. Percy and Tara replaced a "nasty little glass shower stall" with an open design patterned with marble hex tiles from Home Depot. The globe sconces came from a favorite local source, Zaborski Emporium, architectural salvage specialists in Kingston, New York.

    Catskills-Farmhouse remodeled by Jersey Ice Cream Co | Remodelista-1.jpg

    Above: The house sits nestled on a hillside surrounded by woods. Percy and Tara left the exterior as is, but introduced an antique front door inset with circular glass for a bright entry, a nice detail should Wes Anderson happen to come calling. 

    See the back porch's transformation on Gardenista.

    We've been avidly following the Jersey Ice Cream Co.'s work:
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    An unstocked summer house kitchen awaits. What would you bring to it? We've been happily picturing this scenario for weeks now and here are our answers.

    For the Outdoor Table

    Variopinte Pastel Enamel Plates | Remodelista

    Above: All of us would like a set of Enameled Plates and Bowls in summery pastels from Variopinte of Barcelona. They're available by the piece starting at €12 ($13.20) from the company's online shop; go to Variopinte for a global store locator.

    Pale Blue Napkins from March in SF | Remodelista

    Above: Alexa recently purchased a set of Pulled Napkins handmade in Ethiopia by Creative Women, a Vermont company that works with women's collectives around the world. The 20-by-20-inch napkins come in four colors and are $20 each at March.

    Net and wire food dome from Connected Artisans | Remodelista

    Above: I have my eye on an old-fashioned Net and Iron Outdoor Food Cover; $18 from Connected Artisans. (For another bug deterrent, see Domestic Science: A Magic Glass Fly Repeller.)

    Schoolhouse Electric Serving Cafeteria Trays | Remodelista

    Above: Julie's pick: a set of Cafeteria Trays; $24 each from Schoolhouse Electric.

    Nel Lusso Salad Servers from Father Rabbit LTD in Auckland, NZ | Remodelista

    Above: Our global shopper Izabella (who grew up in Sweden) selects Nel Lusso's Scandi-style Salad Servers from Father Rabbit in Auckland, New Zealand; $16 NZD ($10.91 USD) for the pair. Take a look around Father Rabbit in our Shopper's Diary post.

    Dipped Cherry Wood Bowl from Food52 | Remodelista

    Above: My summer gift (from me to myself)? A Wind and Willow Home Dipped Cherry Wood Bowl for $85 ($101 with a beeswax finish) from Food52. For traditional wooden salad bowls, Christine stocks up on the Vermont Bowl Company's Colonial Hardwood Bowls, which start at $68.

    Kitchen Prep

    Oyster Shucking Kit from March | Remodelista

    Above: This French Oyster Shucking Set, a leather hand shield and steel knife made in Thiers, France, is Julie's latest fixation. It's $98 from March in SF.

    Granite ware lobster pot from Williams Sonoma | Remodelista

    Above: Several of us grew up in New England, where grocery stores in the summer stock classic graniteware lobster pots for steaming shellfish and corn. This deluxe version has a spigot (for draining cooking liquid, which can be used to make chowder, among other things). The Granite Ware Lobster Pot with Faucet is $460 from Williams-Sonoma.

    Chemex Glass Handle Coffee Maker | Remodelista

    Above: We considered a slew of coffee makers, including Yield's fetching Ceramic French Press (currently back ordered). But for summer ease, the all-glass version of our trusty Chemex won out. We like the fact that it works equally well as a water (or wine) pitcher, and, as Alexa commented, "We've seen it in the kitchen of Dosa's Christina Kim and Donald Judd's restored kitchen at 101 Spring Street in SoHo. Enough said."

    Zena Star Vegetable Peeler | Remodelista

    Above: During her family's recent extended stay in Berlin, Sarah picked up a Zena Star Vegetable Peeler, having read about it in Gardenista's 10 Easy Pieces: Best Vegetable Peelers. It's available for $4.95 from Simply Good Stuff and is "super useful not just for peeling squash and cucumbers, et cetera, but for making them into slivers for summer salads," according to Sarah.

    Limited edition yew-handled knives made by Million and Clark | Remodelista

    Above: Jessica, who manages the Remodelista and Gardenista Markets (so she knows her kitchenwares), says her summer kitchen would be nearly set with a pair of Limited-Edition Yew-Handled Knives from Million and Clark. A five-inch chef's knife and a four-inch paring knife, with extra-sharp blades of 01 high carbon steel, are $295 for the two.

    Stainless steel salad spinner from Oxo | Remodelista

    Above: Several of us swear by our Oxo salad spinners, but are ready to upgrade to this version. Instead of the standard plastic, it has stainless steel bowl that can be used for serving (and the inset basket comes in handy as a colander for washing berries). The Salad Spinner is $49.99 from Oxo.

    Pultex Waiter's Corkscrew from Williams-Sonoma | Remodelista

    Above: Meredith reports, "I often rent a beach house or cabin in the woods with a big group of friends on summer weekends. We're all foodies, and since we design the days around our meals, I've learned about a few essentials that will make or break the party: An essential, bring a cheap wine key (or better yet several); you'd be surprised by how many rental homes lack one. I like the Pulltex Waiter's Corkscrew; it's inexpensive and made in Spain, and the red makes it easy to spot (and to find when it's time to take it home with you); $7.99 (reduced from $9.95) at Williams-Sonoma.

    Mini Small Herb Snips | Remodelista

    Above: "I keep a pair of these Mini Herb Snips on the windowsill by the kitchen sink," says Gardenista editor Michelle. "When I cook, I use them to snip leaves from the herbs I've already picked (which are in a jar of water next to the sink). They're also handy for running out to the garden for some parsley, chives, or thyme at the last minute." The palm-size shears are $4.95 from Gardener's Supply Company.

    Shaker onion basket from Cooper Hewitt Shop | Remodelista

    Above: Justine has the summer kitchen that's the Remodelista standard bearer—see The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod. One of her favorite things in it: her wall-hung Shaker Onion Basket; $45 from the Cooper Hewitt Shop.

    Call us tableware obsessed. For more ideas, take a look at:

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    On a recent trip to London, I had breakfast at Nopi, star chef Yotam Ottolenghi's restaurant in Soho. He has three other cafe-delis dotted around the city, but this one, located north of Piccadilly (hence Nopi), is a proper restaurant. Designed by Israeli architect Alex Meitlis, the man responsible for all of Ottolenghi's projects, Nopi shares the pristine, all-white interiors of the other outposts, but is elevated by brass accents, including circles used as a recurring motif, from the restaurant's sign to its ingenious napkin holders. For the latter, Meitlis has taken a hardware store staple and transformed it into an elegant table accessory. Better still, the idea is easily—and cheaply—replicated at home. 

    Nopi Restaurant in London | Remodelista

    Above: One of two dining rooms at Nopi. Meitlis is known for drilling down on details: Note the built-in brass hangers. Photograph via Lucy Will Show You.

    Brass napkin ring at Nopi restaurant London | Remodelista

    Above L: The restaurant's brass napkin rings. Above R: Water bottles adorned with brass circles.

    I found brass rings like the one shown here at my local hardware store. Trident makes a solid Brass Ring, two inches in diameter, available via Amazon for $3.95.

    Nopi restaurant London | Remodelista

    Above: The gleaming O's on the exterior.


    Above: Nopi's streamlined, elegant table settings. Photograph via Architectural Digest.

    Brass napkin rings at Nopi in London | Remodelista

    Above L: The napkins are tidily rolled. Above R: Rings anchor the checks.

    For more brass inspiration, check out:

    And take a look at more of our Design Sleuth posts, including Wall-Mounted Stainless Steel Dish Racks and Vintage Cup Holders as Candle Sconces.

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    This post is an update; it originally appeared on January 8, 2014, as part of our New Start issue.

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    When Sofie and Frank Christensen Egelund hosted a dinner party recently at their TriBeCa loft, they enlisted the help of cookbook author/photographer Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers, the communal cooking center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Danish natives, who both work for Vipp (the company noted for its pedal trash bins and kitchen and bathroom accessories)—she’s the communications director and third-generation owner and he’s the vice president— collaborated with Mordechai to create a decidedly Scandinavian theme: Think all-white tableau peppered with black accents and embellished with simple florals. Here are some highlights and details on how to re-create the look.

    Photography by Karen Mordechai for Sunday Suppers

    Summer Scandinavian dinner table setting photography by Karen Mordechai | Remodelista

    Above: Place settings for 16 guests were laid on a white tablecloth. Restoration Hardware sells a white Garment-Dyed Textured Linen Tablecloth by Matteo starting at $209 (currently on sale for $155). Rough Linen of Marin, Califorinia, offers white linen tablecloths in Orkney and Smooth Linen starting at $130. White napkins were placed beneath each plate; Mordechai used Bella Notte Linen Napkins, $20 each, from ABC Carpet & Home.

    Summer Scandinavian dinner table setting photography by Karen Mordechai

    Above: The dinner was an opportunity to showcase Vipp's kitchenwares. The plates and glasses are from the company's seven-piece line created by Danish ceramicist Annemette Kissow. Vipp white Brunch Plates are $52 for two from Royal Design. Vipp 240 Glasses come in two sizes for $31 and $50 each from Scandinavian Design Center. Go to Vipp to see more of the line and find sources. The Sori Yanagi Flatware shown here is available from MoMA; $55 for a five-piece set.

    Summer Scandinavian dinner table setting photography by Karen Mordechai

    Above: Candles are displayed in black cast iron holders. For a similiar look, consider Ikea's Lyster Block Candle Holder; $4.99 (available for purchase in-store only). The classic Danish Kubus 4 Candleholder designed by architect Mogens Lassen in 1962 is $155 from Kontrast. 

    Sunday Suppers Table Setting | Remodelista

    Above: Flowers, including foxglove, displayed in single stem vases. The stainless steel Salt and Pepper Mills in black and white with a tray are $189 from Vipp.

    Summer Scandinavian dinner table setting photography by Karen Mordechai | Remodelista

    Above: A view onto the table decorated with simple flora and greenery provided by Fox Fodder Farm and displayed in an array of small vessels. See our Gardenista post for Single-Stem Bud Vases.

    Sunday Suppers Dinner Tribeca | Remodelista

    Above: The drinks corner with a small porcelain Mortar and Pestle for cocktail prep; available from Shed for $32 and a Vipp 203 Tea Cup ($50 for two from Scandinavian Design Center) used as a vase. (For more mortar and pestle suggestions, see our 10 Easy Pieces.)

    Summer Scandinavian dinner Rikke Storm photography by Karen Mordechai

    Above: Rikke Storm, a Copenhagen native based in TriBeCa, did the cooking. She writes the blog New York Notes, "the best of New York from a Danish perspective."

    Summer Scandinavian dinner table setting photography by Karen Mordechai

    Above: In keeping with the theme, the dinner was Nordic in flavor featuring cured salmon with fennel, dill, chili, and lime, with rye bread chips, accompanied by ricotta with figs and spring pea crostini. Rikke Storm kindly shared her recipe for the latter.

    Spring Pea Crostini


    • 3 cups frozen peas
    • 1 bunch spring onions
    • 1 cup fresh mint
    • 4-5 Tbsp olive oil
    • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
    • 1 to 2 baguettes
    • Sea salt and pepper
    • Pea shoots for garnish


    Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

    Fill a large pot with 4 to 5 cups of water, add salt, and bring a boil. Add 3 cups of peas and boil for 2 minutes. Drain peas in colander and place immediately in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

    Wash and dry the spring onions and cut into thin slices. Sauté them in a hot pan with 1 Tablespoon olive oil for a few minutes until they are soft but not browning.

    Wash the mint carefully and pick the leaves off the stems.

    Place the peas, spring onions, fresh mint, 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until just blended. We prefer the peas to have a little texture, so be careful not to over-blend the puree. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. If a smoother puree is desired, then add a few teaspoons of olive oil until mixture is of desired consistency.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Cut the bread into one-inch thick slices. Drizzle generously with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Toast the bread for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

    To serve, spread 1 Tablespoon of puree over each slice of bread. Garnish with pea shoots and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and olive oil to taste.

    For more Steal This Look table settings see: Dinner in an Atelier, A Rustic Tabletop in Australia by Kara Roslund, and a Schoolhouse Electric Fall Dinner.

    For more on Vipp, read about its iconic pedal bin in the Remodelista book, and check our posts on its Dustpan and Broom and Bathroom Accessories

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    Currently coveting: tea towels from eco-minded Dutch interiors company By Mölle, founded by two sisters, Marianne and Eveline, who source their linen from the oldest flax mill in Lithuania, founded in 1928. (They also make lovely table linens, woolen blankets, and linen bedding). For a list of retailers, go to By Mölle.

    By Molle Tea Towel | Remodelista

    Above: A By Mölle tea towel in almond.

    By Molle Linen Tea Towels | Remodelista

    Above: A set of two By Mölle Linen Tea Towels, available in four shades, is €25 ($28).

    By Molle Linen Tea Towel Peach | Remodelista

    Above: By Mölle Tea Towel in Apricot; €15 ($16.86).

    By Molle Tea Towel in Pebble | Remodelista

    Above: By Mölle Tea Towel in Pebble; €15 ($16.86).

    By Molle Almond Tea Towel | Remodelista

    Above: By Mölle Tea Towel in Almond is €15 ($16.86).

    By Molle Tea Towel in Ocean | Remodelista

    Above: By Mölle Linen Tea Towel in Ocean is €15 ($16.86).

    Take a look at tea towels as art in Flags from Paris, and see tea towels from Lithuania sold in the US in our Life-Changing Kitchen Linens post.

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