Tag Archives: home life

Interesting ideas for lighting

I love this interesting idea for lighting: books strung on simple, dropped pendants with bulbs.

(at McNally Jackson Books in New York)

A similar idea: the book light by Studio MS:


vintage tabacco sticks, with cloth cord pendant lighting, simple.

by: jeff jones



Filed under books, design

Art in the Garden Lecture:

Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, Author Azby Brown

(images courtesy of Just Enough’s website)

Portland Japanese Garden hosts a lecture on green living next Friday, January 28th with Tokyo-based author Azby Brown.

Friday, January 28, 2011
5:30-7:30pm; Pavilion
$10 members / $15 non-members
Reservations required, space is limited
Purchase on-line or call (503) 542-0280

(from Portland Japanese Garden’s website)

Inspired by his first visit to Katsura Imperial Villa in the 1980s, Tokyo-based author Azby Brown went on to pursue a career in architectural design, ultimately writing The Genius of Japanese Carpentry and a number of other successful books, including Small Spaces, The Japanese Dream House, and The Very Small Home. A graduate of Yale, Brown is a professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and founder and director of the Future Design Institute in Tokyo. His presentation will be on his latest book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, published in 2010.

Through words and sketches, Just Enough tells how people lived 200 years ago during the late Edo period in Japan, when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development, just before the opening of Japan to the West. Brown shows how people in the 18th-19th centuries dealt with some of the same issues we are facing today—energy, water, materials, food, and population—and forged from these challenges a society that was conservation-minded, waste-free, well-housed, well-fed, and economically robust, and that has bequeathed to us enduring standards of art and beauty.

The lecture will include reflections on Katsura Imperial Villa as the inspiration for Brown’s lifelong career in Japanese architecture and design, as well as his insights into the lessons to be learned from traditional Japan on ways of living green in a densely populated urban society.

A book-signing will follow the lecture.  Buy the book here!

Azby Brown:

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Azby Brown is an artist and designer who has lived in Japan since 1985. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1995), Small Spaces (1996), The Japanese Dream House (2001) and The Very Small Home (2005). His most recent book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan was published in 2010. On the faculty of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology since 1995, he is the director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo.

Read More: Essay by Azby Brown on The Design Observer Group website.

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Filed under architects, books, Culture, design, lifestyle

Year in Review


The year began with a trip to Paris, the most romantic and beautiful city in the world. I was especially moved by the Eiffel Tower. Looking at the intricately engineered structure, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by the stature of this iconic symbol. While walking through Père Lachaise cemetery, I was swept away by the breathtaking architecture of the churches and monuments. I was bowled over by the design of retail shops, flower stands and the food – which takes composition and form to a different level altogether.

Color coordinating the books in my home became an obsessive exercise in attention to detail, and was soothing to my sense of placement and color blocking.

In July, I moved from my 1956 home in West Linn where I had lived for 10 years. I raised my family there and spent much love and work, painstakingly restoring our home with an emphasis on preserving the historical and architectural integrity. It was difficult to move – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – hard to leave behind a home with many memories, and a personal design project that had literally just been completed. Regardless, the plan was always to move back to the city once the children were done with school and it became the goal as 2010 began.

I moved back into Portland, to a 1920s bungalow near my childhood home. I have undertaken a number of design projects at the new home – painting inside and out, re-configuring the chicken coops, gardening, with many more projects in the works. I love my neighborhood and enjoy being nearer to friends, work, and all of the culture that this city has to offer.

Tearing apart an old shed to turn into a chicken coop

New house color

Earlier this year, I did some interior design consulting for Phoenix Redevelopment, a company that rehabilitates distressed properties. They had approached me for advice on two of their mid century listings. I selected the interior and exterior colors, address numbers, kitchen cabinets & finishes, light fixtures, and flooring. When the remodels were complete and the homes were listed, I was asked to consult on the staging of furniture and accessories in one of the homes. This has led to SBaird Design’s latest offering: home staging.

SBaird Design branched out in December, launching home staging services. We stage vacant and occupied homes, provide in-home consultations, dispense staging advice a la distance, and offer remodeling consultations for homes on the real estate market.

SBaird Design had the pleasure to work with the sweet homeowners of this 1928 home in Alameda. We remodeled the kitchen, opening up the space while emphasizing the historical appropriateness of the renovation. Upstairs, we added an elegant master bath within the existing footprint. Photos of the finished project will be posted next week.

Master bath finish selections

Construction of archway at kitchen

I designed a walnut shelf with my friend and talented designer & craftsman Delaney Kelly. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product in a few weeks.

I took a class this fall at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts on outdoor structure building. Working for two weekends outside to construct a simple building for students to spend time out of doors was challenging and exhilarating. The finished deck/porch with benches and a roof was something that would be enjoyable to recreate again in our own backyard.

I recently consulted on the kitchen paint and finishes in a longtime client’s home. The large dining room gave the owners ample space to build out a half bath, a refrigerator nook, and a broom closet.

In December, SBaird Design secured contracts for two new design projects:

I’ll be involved in the exterior and interior design of the old film exchange building on NW 19th. Built in the 1930s, the Star Film Exchange complex housed six Hollywood film distributors – the interior still has film vaults and screening rooms. I’m thrilled to be part of the renaissance of this building.


I’ll also be consulting on an extensive remodel of a 1957 house in Happy Valley and an addition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the property. I’m thrilled to begin working on the project with this incredibly kind family.

I have enjoyed procuring mid century furniture, lighting, art, and accessories for the home staging business. I recently restored this 1960 set of Kristian Vedel chairs, with the help of an upholsterer and Delaney Kelly.

New involvement in the arts, along with music projects completed this year. My 25 years of experience and knowledge in design and project management were directly related to the following.

One of the founding members of YU Contemporary – A visionary art center empowering artistic imagination and cultural life, destined to become the most provocative supporter of the arts that the region has ever seen.  http://www.yucontemporary.org/

Co – Executive producer – From the Land of Ice and Snow, a compilation CD, 6 years in the making. Led Zeppelin covered by eminent NW musicians. I co-produced the live show ( it sold out ) and the release of the album at Doug Fir Lounge. Press from National Public Radio and all of the local print media. Websites/blogs wrote stories on an  international level. http://www.jealousbutcher.com/iceandsnow/preorder.html

some of the musicians and producers of the album/show – (photo by Mark Toal)

poster design by Rob Jones

Rob Jones and the CDs

t shirts

Co-producer – of the final  live concert to be held at the venerable Berbati’s Pan, venue opened in 1994, closing show on New Years Eve 2010. Hired publicity, managing band necessities, managed merchandise sales, venue and supporting staff’s expectations. http://www.riotactmedia.com/artists/bp5ff.php

I could not have completed the year, without hiring a patient and kind assistant, Molly Nearman, in July. She has been a wealth of fortitude and steely reserve even when we are pressed with the various tasks and occasionally over abundant workload that comprises real estate, design, music shows. Molly keeps my business and life flowing. She is an angel in human form.

As I look back on another year, I feel so blessed and grateful that I’m able to do what I love. Thank you to my clients, friends, and family for your support in 2010.


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Filed under color, design, Furniture, home staging, Remodeling, Restoration

simple lighting, dropped pendent with bulb(s)

grouping these in multiples is graphically interesting to me, as seen in the edison by pottery barn below. i would consider running three single ones above a dining room table in a straight line. very simple and pure.

schoolhouse electric – benedict $ 69.00

cb2 – utility pendant lamp $39.95

rejuvenation – burnside $112

pottery barn – edison $399


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Apartment Therapy – Thank you!


check out the link with new photos of aaron’s loft that sbaird design reconstructed, after sbaird real estate represented him in his real estate transaction. possibly my favorite part of being a realtor and designer, is when it aligns into a continued design relationship after the sale is completed. when we first toured the loft and saw through the decor of the former owners we knew that it could be a raw space that just needed new floors, new paint, cabinets for clothing and storage and of course, the minimalist furniture to compliment it all. oregon home featured it on their cover in may of 2009, and now apartment therapy has picked up the story and made it their own. their interview is sweet, and personal…i love the way that this turned out.


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Filed under color, design, design magazine, Furniture, George Nelson, Remodeling, Window Treatments

Items to covet

abc home | glass drop table lamp

moooi | marcel wanders | shelving magazine storage

sigal sasoon | dandelion rug | wool+silk

trove | indi wallpaper

uedashikimono | 2 versions of japanese grass floor coverings

plinioilgiovane | shelving storage | modern bed


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Personal dominions #2

The second in a series of interviews…possibly it is because I am curious about their lives, but my clients and friends become known in a way that I never would have expected, just by posing some rather simple questions to them.

Portland bicyclist, deep thinker, and possessor of the ability to find and express the irreverent twist of humor in everything that he sees.

– Favorite window in your new home and why?

I think the upstairs french doors, if I can count those as windows. I
can only see trees and sky out of them, so it feels like I’m in a tree
house. They let in so much light that it always feels like a sunny
spring day up there.

– What item could you not live without?

Probably a laptop. Which is strange, because I did live without one
for so long. We all did. But I don’t know how we did it.

– What is the greenest most environmentally conscious thing that you do?

I try to ride a bike almost everywhere I go.

– Favorite bike of the moment?

It’s one I built myself. I’m not much of a builder of things, so I’m
just proud that the lugs have stayed together. It was painted to look
like wood, so I like to call it the “station wagon”.

– What is boring, and what is not?

Personal finance is boring. Roller derby is boring. Other peoples
stories about flights and layovers are boring. People treat travel
conversations like misery contests, and no one ever wins.

Listening to a new favorite song for the first time is not boring.
Thinking about traveling is not boring.

– Favorite scent, song, thing to touch, and item to look at? ( one
word answers, no explanation needed )

Scent: Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco
Song: Today? Bring It On Home to Me by Sam Cooke
Touch: My cat’s belly.
Look at: A steaming french press.

– Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I’d like to think that I’ll still be in Portland, but working for
myself somehow. I spend my days in a bleak sea of cubicles, and I can
feel it wearing me down. I need a change.

– Latest obsession or inspiring thing?

Historic photography. Old pictures make everything look better.
Sometimes it’s fun to be reminded that non-golfers once effortlessly
wore hats and knickers. At the historical society downtown they have a
photo archive where you can can look up anything in Portland and
they’ll give you a file folder of old photos. I used to spend my lunch
hours there.

– What is your favorite color?


– What about design interests you?

I don’t like projects that are in progress because they make me feel
anxious. I like completion. I like when things feel like they’re in
the right place, and that nothing needs to be changed. And I think
that good design creates that feeling of contentment. Fonts or
architecture or furniture or websites can make you feel that way,
where you just want to exhale and say “I wouldn’t change anything.”
Bad design is like a work in progress, something that can obviously be
improved upon.

– One project you would complete on your home if you had the
resources to complete it?


I’d turn the garage into a livable space. And I’d make sure that it
had a ladder that went to something up high. I’ve always wanted to
live somewhere with a ladder. It would be my private space, away from
drunks and acrophobics and animals lacking opposable thumbs and anyone
else that couldn’t climb a ladder.

-What is always in your fridge?


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