A New Landscape for the Lustron

Landscaping at Lustron home; photo by finelycrafted.netFor nine years, our Lustron has needed curb appeal like leafy greens need ranch. Last month we worked with Plants Creative Landscapes here in Decatur to finally put some “ranch dressing” on our bland front yard!

Lustron home before landscape makeover; photo by finelycrafted.net
Scraggly gardenias were hiding the porch, and the linear layout didn’t complement our boxy home.
Landscaping at Lustron home; photo by finelycrafted.net
Curvy beds, sculptural plants, and boulders bring SoCal style!

Since the bones of our ’49 prefab are slick and boxy, we created softness with three curvy beds. Taking inspiration from all those modern landscapes I’ve been ogling on trips to Southern California, I picked a topiary pine, a blue agave, and boulders as my must-have focal points. We filled out the beds with shrubs for year-round color (wintergreen boxwood, variegated yucca, gold mop false cypress), sculptural perennials (variegated iris, autumn ferns), vivid grasses (blue fescue, dwarf acorus, silver liriope), and cascaders for the retaining wall (chartreuse creeping jenny, blue-flowered phlox). Black bark mulch makes everything pop!

Lustron landscaping; photo by finelycrafted.net

Blue agave; Lustron landscaping; photo by finelycrafted.net

Lustron landscaping; boulder garden; pom pom pine; photo by finelycrafted.net

Click to see 7 more photos!

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Spice Trader Tea Cocktail Recipe

Spice Trader Tea cocktail by finelycrafted.net

On October 9 I’m selling a small sample of handmade goods from my online shop at the Indie Craft Experience’s Curated Evening (one of six at our Atlanta studio this fall). I also volunteered to create a free cocktail to complement the warming ginger and honey notes of the sponsored liquor, Cayrum. It got me thinking about the tea and spice trade, which for centuries has connected diverse people and circulated exotic flavors around the world. My Spice Trader Tea adds a dash of the Far East and a twist of the Caribbean to southerners’ favorite drink. Mix it up at least two days before serving to let the orange peels release their oils. Here are directions for 1 gallon:

1 gallon purified or spring water
15 bags Earl Grey tea
1 tbsp green cardamom pods
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 navel oranges
Fresh mint (optional)

1. Put aside 1 cup of the water. Pour the remaining water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags, steeping from 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Put the cardamom pods in a saucepan and toast them over low heat. The pods should become fragrant but not darken.

3. Add the reserved cup of water, the sugar, and the ginger into the saucepan with the pods. Simmer and stir for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar, then turn off heat and let infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup into the tea.

4. Use a vegetable peeler to remove one orange’s peel in a spiral (avoiding the pith), then add peel to tea. Reserve the second orange to slice as garnish. Refrigerate tea at least two days before serving, for maximum orange flavor.

5. Serve over ice with a shot of Cayrum, an orange slice, and a sprig of mint, if desired.

If you’re in Atlanta, I hope you’ll come out Thursday to try my cocktail and do some early holiday shopping from Finely Crafted and other local vendors!

1390 McLendon Ave // Atlanta 30307 // 7 to 10 pm // details on ice-atlanta.com

Bedroom Makeover Sneak Peek

Jeanee Ledoux bedroom sneak peek

Our master bedroom has been the same for about eight years, which for me is like a lifetime! Taking inspiration from the succulent poster I collaborated on with Leah Duncan, I’m finally making some changes. The new color scheme is a calming black, white, and gray with pops of color and metallic gold. I robbed the home office a bit for some vintage art and ceramics, and I’ve been gathering up new accessories made by independent artists, such as this geometric wool pillow c/o Robin Cottage. I’ll have a full reveal for you soon!

Shop Spy: Hotel de Ville in Los Angeles

Hotel de Ville on Best Vintage Shops map by Finely Crafted
Hotel de Ville is one of 30 LA picks on my Best Vintage Shops art print, available in my online store.

It’s amazing how many looks can be achieved with two lenses and a frame. Like our clothing, shoes, and hairstyles, eyewear evolves radically with the times. Independent optical company Hotel de Ville is dedicated to preserving vintage glasses and designing new silhouettes that salute memorable moments in fashion, and that’s why it’s no. 16 on my Los Angeles Best Vintage Shops art print.

Hotel de Ville
Photo via Hotel de Ville.

Whereas a chain optical store may turn away vintage glasses or ask you to waive its responsibility for any damage, Hotel de Ville specializes in old specs. Its services include mending broken frames, making Rx lenses, adding tint and mirror coatings, and even creating one-of-a-kind glasses for the fashion and entertainment industries. It also has its own brand of vintage-inspired frames, like these:

Hollywood Boulevard and Newmar, two original frame designs by Hotel de Ville.

I’m inspired by the way HdV employees use their blog and Instagram feed not just for self-promotion, but as a visual record of remarkable eyewear. They post mainly historical images of musicians, actors, models, and even comic characters who, even if I don’t recognize them, tell me something about their era and story through their shades. This may be just a clever sales strategy, but to me it feels personal, as if true fans are swooning along with me over Twiggy’s avant garde glasses.

Photos via Hotel de Ville's Instagram feed.
Photos via Hotel de Ville’s Instagram feed and blog.

I was in LA last week for Andrea’s work, so I popped into the Beverly Boulevard boutique to snap a few photos and get my Tura cat-eye glasses adjusted. They’ve been sliding down my nose all summer–the blazing Atlanta heat must have warped the aluminum!

Jeanee Ledoux in vintage Tura sunglasses
My 1960s Tura shades are a snug fit again thanks to Hotel de Ville.

Salesperson Sylvia made a quick frame adjustment at no charge–and that was before I told her my plan to write about the store! While she coaxed my shades back into a head-hugging pose, I admired the small but glamorous showroom that evokes both an antique apothecary and a starlet’s dressing table. Follow me after the jump for photos of the interior and inventory!

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Shop Spy: City Issue in Atlanta

Closeup of "Atlanta's Best Vintage Shops" print by Finely Crafted

Just my luck–Jennifer Sams moved City Issue two blocks from my duplex in Inman Park just before I split for Decatur! Maybe a few extra miles between me and this vintage collective is for the best, because otherwise I might be broke (but very rich in furnishings). As the only freestanding midcentury specialist in Atlanta, City Issue is one of my all-time favorite boutiques, so of course I featured it on my Best Atlanta Vintage art print.

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

A full-time vintage dealer since 2000, Jennifer has enviable knowledge of the modern design movement and cross-country experience with finding exquisite pieces. Tuesday I photographed her shop and asked her to dish on topics to titillate midcentury superfans like me: her favorite cities for antiquing, the best buys for starting a collection, and more!

Q: If the shop were on fire and you could save only one item, what would you choose?
A: “It changes every day! Of course I wouldn’t be able to toss this over my shoulder, but we just got in a really gorgeous Jens Risom desk and credenza–he’s one of my favorite designers. It has these Y-shaped pulls you don’t see very often that are very sculptural. And I just love his pieces anyway because they’re oiled walnut, which is my very favorite finish of any wood.”

Jennifer Sams, owner of City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; Lesbo lamp; Jens Risom walnut desk; photo by Finely Crafted
Jennifer would develop superhuman strength to save this Jens Risom walnut desk from a fire.

Q: What are good buys today for someone who wants to begin a modern collection?
A: “I personally think the classics will hold their value–and that’s the Herman Miller, the Knoll–really, the first generation of designers of the midcentury modern. Now, that said, those pieces are really expensive right now; we’re at a high point in the market because there’s so much interest in it. As far as good values, I [recommend] peeling back the layers and finding some of the more important but obscure designers. . . Some of the glass and accessory designers from that time period aren’t necessarily as iconic as the Eames and Saarinen. Something I’ve really seen grow, but you can still luck into cool pieces at good prices, is Blenko glass, much of it designed by Wayne Husted. . . . There was a designer for Holmegaard, Per Lutken, his pieces are very simple–some of them are still in production–but the early ones are signed and numbered. They’re beautiful, simple, blown glass or crystal in clear, smoked gray, or pale blue–not like Blenko with the bright colors. His style is very recognizable, but his name isn’t so huge that people are out searching for it yet.”

Blenko glass at City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
Jennifer recommends Blenko glass (left and right) as an affordable starting point for a modern collection.

Q: What item can you never resist picking up on a buying trip?
A: “I personally have a fetish for nutty serving pieces. No matter what classic furniture pieces are there, [I buy] serving pieces that have wood handles–usually rosewood or teak. There were so many pieces of beautifully designed barware from the midcentury. I always hunt for that . . . and a lot of times it goes to my house. I use that stuff like crazy!”

Vintage barware at City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

Q: What are your favorite cities for antiquing?
A: Her top choice is High Point, NC, because furniture companies like Drexel and Thayer Coggin manufactured there, so “the area is really rich in midcentury products.” She also unearths treasures regularly in Grand Rapids, Tampa, and Miami.

Q: What resources do you recommend for people who want to learn about modernism and how to identify pieces?
A: “I wish there was one nice big fat textbook, but unfortunately there’s not.” For her own research, she uses a combination of books (especially published by Taschen and Schiffer), magazines such as Atomic Ranch and Modernism, and the internet. “I keep an eye open for good exhibitions at museums,” she adds. “Sometimes I even plan travel around them, because seeing good pieces in person takes learning to a different level for me.”

Click for 10 more shop photos!

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Modern ‘Hood: Morningside, Atlanta

modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by finelycrafted.net

It’s hard to believe Atlanta’s first Morningside residents were isolated suburbanites who rode a streetcar to work downtown. Today this charming neighborhood is a haven in the heart of the city, surrounded by shopping districts, restaurants, and condos. The typical M’side home was built in the 1920s or 30s out of red brick and stone, with Old World details like arches, leaded glass, and even towers, like this one below.

Home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
In Morningside, a man’s home literally may be his castle.

While I love those special châteaux, my heart beats faster for the rarer midcentury and new construction modern homes–sometimes barely glimpsed beyond ivy banks and mature trees–on the hilly streets branching off East Rock Springs Road. They range from humble ranchers to custom contempos worthy of Dwell. Here are 10 of my favorites spotted on yesterday’s afternoon drive. All photos were taken by me from public property.

Modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
I toured this 2013 home on Wellbourne Drive as part of Modern Atlanta in June. In contrast to the serious facade, the inside is warm, light soaked, and personal.
Midcentury home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
Genius idea for typography fans!
Modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by finelycrafted.net
I like mixing foliage colors in my own yard, but a single green against a neutral facade is beautiful too.
Midcentury modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
I love the little courtyard created by this home’s C shape.
Midcentury ranch in Morningside, Atlanta: photo by Finely Crafted
Peachy perfection!

Click to see five more homes!

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4 Mobile Shops to Stalk

Mobile galleries roundup; photo by Small Room Collective
Photo via Small Room Collective.

In the age of the online store, I appreciate the entrepreneurs who are keeping retail retro. Their mobile shops–converted trailers stocked with clothing, jewelry, home decor, and gifts–roll from town to town, finding customers where we live. I shopped two in Atlanta and one in LA this year and was wowed by the smart use of space, the stylish merchandising, the character evoked by the camper itself. Here I highlight four roving retailers (Small Room Collective, Coast to Coast Vintage, Very Hush Hush, and Popsikle Shop) and ask them to share stories and tips from their adventures.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are by the shop owners.

small room collective


Husband and wife team Lauren and Travis may be cross-country roamers, but their mission is to make connections. They think of Small Room Collective as a gathering place where perfect strangers can feel at ease and at home. In June, outside Victory Sandwich Bar in Decatur, this stranger felt comfortable and excited among the handmade art prints, stationery, soap, and jewelry on board. I bought a cast brass Fitzgerald Forbes bangle that reminds me of midcentury Brutalist work. I found out the couple lives in their Airstream, making their clean design all the more impressive since it fulfills both their personal and professional needs.

Me: What’s your favorite part about owning a mobile shop?
Lauren: I like the unexpected element of it, and being able to connect with new people and places. . . . We have to go outside, we have to explore, we have to make new friends, otherwise we’d go nuts!

Me: What’s your best story from the road?
Lauren: We had less than 36 hours to get to Louisville [from Denver]. Just so happens, we would be chasing a string of tornadoes, torrential rain and storms, speckled with some high winds. We were going 45 mph at this point in thick fog and not getting anywhere fast. It was getting dark outside, so we decided to stop at a Walmart for the night in Colby, Kansas. The winds became so loud that we were more praying for our lives than sleeping,  and we just decided at 4 a.m. that we’d try to keep going. The rains were fierce, and the trailer was swaying in the wind like a giant aluminum whale behind us. George was trembling and curled up in his storm position in the back. We noticed something amiss with our rooftop carrier and realized the wind had shoved it at a 45-degree angle. Nice. We struggle to get it straight again, the wind slamming the car doors open. After two episodes of this rooftop carrier situation along the stretch of the flat Kansas plains, a good dose of snail pacing, and some disgruntled mumbling, we made it through the worst of the storm. We eventually made it to Louisville, and actually made the event on time.

Me: What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking about building a mobile shop?
Lauren: Really understand the inner workings of the trailer itself, and make sure it’s sturdy and safe for a small stampede of wild buffalo to pass through.

Small Room Collective mobile shop

Inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

Inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

George the dog inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

Wood planters by Mavis Studio and rope necklaces by Have Company
Wood planters by Mavis Studio and rope necklaces by Have Company; photo via Have Company Instagram feed.

After the jump, see the stories of Coast to Coast Vintage, Very Hush Hush, and Popsikle Shop!

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Shop Like a Happy Camper

Vintage camping roundup by Finely Crafted; photo via the Wigwam Motel
Photo via the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, CA

I’m what you call “indoorsy.” But I married an outdoorsy guy who likes to camp and hike. In Andrea’s version of camping, we’d surrender electronic gadgets, make long treks to waterfalls, and cook over a fire. On my ideal trip, we’d stay in a midcentury tepee with a parking space and wifi, shake cocktails at the picnic table, and upload fun photos to social media. He wants to go on a “real” camping trip this fall, maybe in Oregon, so I’m preparing in my way. I researched all the essentials for a rustic outing, like, you know, gourmet bug-repelling soap and a vintage pocket knife necklace. Enjoy the inspiration, fellow campers!

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: campfire rubber stamp by Creatiate // vintage thermos from Modluv // bug repellant soap by Beekman 1802, available from Oakleaf & Acorn // vintage camp stools from Little Cows // campfire-scented candle by PF Candle Co., available from Summer Camp

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: abalone pocket knife necklace by Astronette // wool mountain pillows by Three Bad Seeds // Pendleton wool eyeglass cases by Appetite // leather blanket carrier by Texturable Decor

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: vintage sheer western shirt from Shop Exile // vintage picnic bag from Ruff by Margo // vintage enamel bird mugs from Finnish Treasures

Shop Spy: Object in Los Angeles

Closeup of best vintage shops in LA print by Finely Crafted
Object is one of 30 LA boutiques featured on my Best Vintage Shops print, available in my online shop.

After just a few panting moments in the Los Angeles vintage boutique Object, it leaped into the no. 14 spot on my Best Vintage Shops print. I repeatedly walked past (very, very slowly, with my nose sliding along the glass) the Melrose Avenue shop while exploring my temporary LA neighborhood during the February “staycation” with Andrea and the dogs.

Object in LA, photos via Esoteric Survey
Above photos via Esoteric Survey.

As a gal with curatorial ambitions, I bow down to owner Brian Roark. He gathers only the most beautiful, rare, and perfectly preserved design objets, with a focus on European makers. Carefully displayed on custom Douglas fir and lit glass shelves, his midcentury wares just happen to be some of my eyes’ absolute favorites to bathe in–ceramic vases, wood serving pieces, cocktail glasses, and brass candleholders. And while I’m overflowing with design love but short on knowledge, Brian is a master at identifying and describing his inventory. His 1st Dibs listings are mini history lessons energetically punctuated with why a decanter may be one of a kind, or why its designer is so treasured.

Vintage trays at Object in LA, photo by Finely Crafted

Object in LA, photo by Finely Crafted

Object in LA, photo by Finely Crafted

Object in LA, photo by Finely Crafted

Vintage items from dealer Object on 1st Dibs
From Object’s 1st Dibs online store: “Farsta” bowl by Wilhelm Kage, crystal wine decanter on a brass stand by Richard Rohac, and rosewood pepper grinder with sterling inlay.

I always want to buy something from shops I love, but in this case the prices are out of my reach. One day I’ll saunter in and throw down the credit card, but for now I’ll let serious collectors and interior designers with high-rolling clients take home the goodies. I did take away some priceless inspiration, though: the fish-shaped bottle opener by Carl Auböck I discovered at Object became an icon on my map print.

Display case at Object in LA, photo by Finely Crafted
I fell in love with this Carl Auböck fish bottle opener, so I asked artist Cindy Tomczyk to illustrate it on my Best Vintage Shops print!

Is your table or shelf crying out for a small, storied heirloom? You can visit Object in person or get a tiny taste of Brian’s collection on 1st Dibs. And click here for more details on my LA Best Vintage Shops art print!

Object // 6910 Melrose Ave // Los Angeles, CA 90038 // 323.936.0021

Yellow Mary Cocktail Recipe

Yellow Mary cocktails by Finely Crafted

It’s peak tomato season, my friends, which means the markets are overflowing with specialty shapes and colors! I wanted to try only golden varieties for a veggie cocktail that’s a lighter take on the classic bloody Mary. While this bright yellow beverage has a milder flavor than its crimson cousin, a spiced rim gives it plenty of kick. I made the whole thing in my juicer (you can substitute a blender, then strain out the pulp). Fresh juice separates, so the celery garnish becomes a stirrer. Serves four on a sunny patio.

Kosher salt
Spice blend such as Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
2 limes
4 large yellow tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 celery stalks, plus leafy ends for garnish
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeño, split and seeded

1. To rim the glasses, put water in one saucer and a couple palmfuls of salt in another. Stir a little spice blend into the salt. Dip the rim of each glass in the water, then in the salt mixture.

2. Cut one lime in half and slice off all the peel. Cut the other lime into wedges for garnish.

3. Put the peeled lime and the next 4 ingredients into the juicer.

4. Add ice and a shot of vodka to each glass. Fill with juice and garnish with celery and lime wedges.