Ground Condition #13

Home upgrades for the non-committal; magazines are the new magazines


I took some time off from reading shelter mags but have recently waded back in. First, I’m contributing to one (ELLE Decor, now led by the inimitable Asad Syrkett). Second, this year felt like a good time to recommit to magazine subscriptions, so I’m getting to read the print versions. Now that I’m not in it-in it, reading about design and houses feels more pleasurable than competitive. (Compare to the me of four years ago: madly bookmarking pages and Slacking my colleagues, Did you see this?!?!?) It’s all still very aspirational—and borderline delusional what counts as “DIY”—but sign me up for the profiles of women contractors, a story on collecting inherited antiques as a Black woman, and renovation breakdowns with real budgets.

That being said, shelter’s gonna shelter. See if you can spot the one fake quotation among the three real ones I pulled from a recent story on a creative director’s house in LA:

A) Not pictured: the tiki bar currently being crafted and curated.
B) “It’s a curation of my lifestyle,” she comments.
C) “Having a trust fund really makes anything possible, from a design perspective. And pretty much every perspective.”
D) “Being from Florida, I have a lot of tropical bits in my roots,” she notes of the outdoor space.


I don’t care if crates are trendy, they are practical as hell and I appreciate the rigidity. (If you, too, are surrounded by soft storage solutions to house baby detritus, then you will understand.) $10 You can’t carry a crate around inside a bag, so for organizing that zone may I recommend these SF-made mesh pouches sized to fit a panoply of items, from crochet hooks to maps. $16-27

Bon Ami has been on the market since 1886, it costs next to nothing, cleans like a dream using limestone and feldspar, and gets an A from EWG. ~$2 Here’s a satisfying and virtuous thing to do while you’re binge-watching streaming television: shave the lint off your sweaters. Thrilling! $10

Utility Canvas blankets are more expensive than I remember, but they’re still made in the US and will last approximately forever. $170 The shipping for these runners, woven from recycled t-shirts, is 2x the retail price, but don’t let that deter you. And I do love a random color assortment—the green-and-black one I received is currently underfoot at my kitchen sink. $10.68

If you don’t own a seam ripper, are you really living? Or are you just living with annoying tags and egregiously placed labels? $5.50 This whole section was just an excuse to share my favorite wooden knobs, which somehow took 12 weeks to fabricate and ship to me but made our basic built-ins look exponentially more intentional. $1.76 each (round) + $4.13 each (rounded-edge pull with a ‘70s flavor)

NB: I tried a bunch of different styles of round knobs in unfinished wood after geeking out over Helmut Wagner-Freysheim’s distinctive cabinet pulls in the house he designed for the functionalist Werkbund Estate in Vienna. (The model council houses were devised by a young Josef Frank, whose signature patterns you can peep in a few of the otherwise austere interiors.)


The story of the Frankfurt kitchen, a modular design by architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (aka the only woman invited to design a house for the Werkbund Estate mentioned above)—her kitchen prototype was used in 10,000 homes constructed after World War I. Maybe you’ve already read this… or already forgot you read this. I’m not known to swoon, but swoon I did in reading Glenn Adamson’s comprehensive yet snappy, insightful and entertaining history of modern design—teed up with an anecdote about two very recognizable bookshelves. Furniture inspired by the ur-children’s book Goodnight Moon. (“Friend of mine” = c’est moi.) A Ward Bennett-designed “hyperminimalist 1963 concrete shrine of jutting rectangles”  in Southampton. And finally, a new printed piece from the one and only Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, which debuted this month at SF’s Art Book Fair.

Fort Makers commissioned “Goodnight House,” an immersive exhibition featuring a bedside table by Chiaozza, a rug by Tamika Rivera, a dollhouse light by Nana Spears & Noah Spencer, and upholstered bed by Liz Collins.


For ELLE Decor’s March issue, I wrote a brief history of the powder room (both show pony and workhorse—IYKYK!). For the April issue, I profiled two California landscape architecture firms who are near and dear to my heart, Terremoto and Dune Hai. I opined on cutlery in New York Magazine’s whopper guide to flatware, courtesy of Lauren Ro at The Strategist. If you’re still not sick of me, I also did a “Now That I Know Better” installment for The Strategist about baby stuff.

Take care out there,

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