Art for Alex

As some of you may already know, my brother Alex lost his life in Afghanistan in November.  And I have to say that I’ve never been so grateful for this little blog as I was during that awful time.  This outlet of mine gave me a place to write about him and honor him in the only way I knew how.  And I’m convinced that this was the most therapeutic action I could’ve taken.  I wrote the majority of Alex’s Post the night we found out and I go back and read it periodically, along with the very sweet comments that people were kind enough to leave.  It helps somehow.  It makes me feel closer to him every time I read it.

I think I’ve been in some sort of avoidance/denial mode for the majority of the last few months (and probably still am to some extent). But, I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’ve been able to handle going through my stuff and the things given to me in his honor to figure out what to display.

I’m not sure if anybody has noticed, but I’ve never been one to cover our home in family photos. We have our living room photo collage, and a random wedding picture as part of our hallway collage, but that’s pretty much it. I’m one of those people who has a few select favorite personal photos that I cherish and then aside from that, I like to display things with meaning associated with them that may not be blatantly obvious to the general public. Things given to us or purchased at memorable events. Things handed down, or that remind us of someone special, etc.

I remember the first time Alex visited our house. His response was “Where’s me??”. I just laughed and told him to not take offense.  I pointed out that we barely have pictures of US displayed (meaning Joey and I). Most are of Lucas, of course. But we did have a Green Beret bear displayed for him in Lucas’s room.

The funny thing is, I would’ve loved to have displayed a shot of him somewhere.  I just never got around to getting one printed and framed (which in hindsight, is pretty sad).  I mean, it’s not like I had to grind the wood pulp to produce the photo paper or anything to make that happen.

Anyways, as I began to go through stuff over the past weeks to decide what to use, I also had to decide how I wanted to display them.  I immediately ruled out hanging everything in one place. I’m not sure I could handle that.  Emotional overload, if you ask me.  So, I decided to start with three items to display in a few subtle places.  So that we can see them often and think of him, but not have them be totally smack-you-in-your-face, tear-up-every-time-I-see-them out there.

The first item I chose, was this picture…


I took it in my parents garage in the summer of 2012. It’s my favorite picture of the two of them.  It’s the exact copy that I framed and gave to Alex for Christmas that year. It was returned to us after we lost him. I couldn’t bear to change the frame for this reason.  So, I took it as is and hung it on our hallway collage wall…


I also hung his dog tags next to his photo….


I thought about framing them as well, but simply hanging them on a nail seemed more him. More casual.  For the man who used Tupperware as furniture.  🙂

So, our frame wall looks like this now…



Lastly, I chose his rubiks cube.  It came back with him from Afghanistan. His teammate told us that Alex had found it in his barrack (is that the right term? I always get the language confused) when he first arrived in Kandahar and he played with it constantly after that. It’s the way he left it. I love it because it’s random. Just like Alex.

So, I decided to mount it in a display box of some sort.   I found this tray from a Melissa and Doug modeling clay set in Lucas’s room and decided that it was perfect…


I painted the back of the tray the same Jungle Thicket green that I painted behind Lucas’s Expedit shelves.   Then, I drilled four holes through the middle of the tray and threaded some floral wire through the rubiks cube and through the tray…


I didn’t want to glue it or do anything that might ruin the rubiks cube in case I ever wanted to change it.   I figured that Alex would be proud of the blue side that he’d completed, so I kept that side in front.  And I hung it in Lucas’s room…






For some reason, I felt like Lucas’s bedside was the best place for it. Like added protection for the little man or something. Plus, it represents Alex’s playful nature… And he sure loved playing with Lucas.


I think the rubiks cube art affects me more than even his picture does (hence the exorbitant number of pics).  I’m not sure why it has this effect.  It just reminds me of my brother so much. So anyways, I’m not promising that this will be the last art for Alex, but it’s definitely a good start.   And I hope that wherever he is, he can see it and approves.



Modern Vintage Happy

As some of you may know, I’m a thrift store/Craigslist junkie.   I love finding and revamping (or not revamping) vintage pieces.   They lend so much personality and warmth to a room.   I would LOVE (with a capital LOVE) to grow our collection and am constantly on the lookout for new, quality finds.   Pairing vintage with modern allows both elements to shine in their own right and it’s a combo that makes me happy.   So, when I received an email from One Kings Lane promoting their new Home Decor Resource and requesting a post on how vintage and modern team up in our home, I jumped on the opportunity.   Here are a few examples of what we’ve got going on….

First, we have My Beloved desk chair.  I wrote about him in detail in this post, and yes, I still hear cheesy 80’s love songs in my head every time I see him (and Joey blames me for this happening to him, as well.  Mission. Accomplished.).   I got him for a steal at our local Goodwill.   He’s a mid-century modern bombshell of clerical chicness with beautiful wood construction and an original vinyl seat.   He currently is the only vintage piece in the sea of modern furnishings that composes our front room.

For example, our unassuming Ikea desk…


Our clean Friheten Ikea sofa…


As well as our hacked storage cabinet


And I love the combination.   The contrast in colors and textures and the simplicity of the other furniture in the room allow My Beloved to truly steal the show (whilst smiling back at me through the glare of stage-lights…  Yup. I’m going with it.).  

Next, we have Drex…


Our mid-century, Drexel dresser that I scored on Craigslist after an exhausting hunt.   I love his tarnished brass hardware and rich wood tones.   This area still desperately needs some large-scale wall art, but in the meantime, I’ve done my best to style him in a more modern way with a linear tray (which I lined with some retro-patterned fabric),  sleek vases and a simple, brushed-nickel Ikea lamp (and, of course, Hootie… Nothing completes a room like a white ceramic owl in my book ;)) …



I feel like the differing metal finishes plus less-is-more styling gives Drex more of a modern appeal.

Our living room is another space where modern plus vintage come out to play.  This combination speaks to our personalities so well.  Updated, with a hint of quirk.  Our media cabinet was in sad shape when I purchased him at a local thrift store.   After a little makeover, he shines his vintage aura across the land….

IMG_4352 IMG_4348

The contrast of rich, cozy wood plus our clean, white floating Ikea shelves totally puts the wind in my sails.   The simple leather chair adds some sleekness and masculinity to the space while the floral pillow and garden stool help to balance out that manly vibe.  In my opinion, this wall wouldn’t have a speck of the personality it does without our media cabinet.   He adds warmth to an otherwise linear, modern space that might have come off cold without him.  In fact, when I placed him in his current abode, I stated, “Character, I’d like to introduce you to our living room.”  (I mean, it’s only polite to make introductions).   Fortunately, they happen to be getting along swimmingly.

Then, we have our coffee table.  After we adopted Kivvy (our beloved Kivik sectional from Ikea), I was dead-set on finding a coffee table with character to balance out the cool, clean lines of our new sofa.   I searched high and low and finally found our sweet rattan coffee table on Craigslist, which we purchased for a song…



A spit-shine was all this baby needed to reach his full potential.  I absolutely love the tone of the bamboo which plays perfectly with our media cabinet.   He adds glorious texture without taking up a ton of visual space thanks to his glass top.  I love the straight lines of the bamboo which have just enough curve to bring in the interest he deserves….


Coffee table…  You. Complete. Me.   Now, I must name you.

Lastly, I thought I’d throw something small into the pot.   Our train whistle, which belonged to Joey as a child…


It currently resides in our hallway frame collage as the centerpiece for the mix of more modern frames.  I simply hung it from a nail with a piece of twine (as described in detail here).   And here’s the wall as it stands now…


You can see I’ve made some changes recently, which I’ll describe in another post soon.  The mish-mosh of modern frames and differing finishes along with the antique train whistle forms my very favorite wall-hanging in our house.   It just wouldn’t be the same without our “something old” thrown in.   The train whistle is the cheese to the frames’ macaroni.   The peanut butter to their jelly.   I’m not ashamed to admit that I have crushes on inanimate objects.  It happens.

So anyways, Modern + Vintage is a combo that I cant resist.   They compliment each other so well.  And I’m the first to admit that I’m still happily learning about this subject as fast as I can soak it up… I’m definitely no expert.  But, I know what I like… and this is it.   Non-cookie-cutter.  With personality.  Quirkiness, if you will.   And nothing helps to match that description better than a good vintage piece.   Which, coincidentally, is easily complimented by the clean lines of modern decor.  Peas and carrots, people.  Peas and carrots.  🙂

I have to tell you… right now, as we speak, I’m throwing mental hugs at all of my vintage finds and appreciating them all over again after having written this post. So, tell me… Where does modern + vintage fall in your style?  Any one-of-a-kind finds that make glow in adoration whenever you glance their way?