Wednesday, January 13, 2010

new horizons

Inspired Design Daily has made the move to wordpress, so come check us out at

We've got cool new features, and lots in store for this year!

Monday, January 4, 2010


We've got two big announcements today.

First, I'd like to announce the winner of last week's giveaway challenge. In case you missed it, last week we did a series called Inspired Life, where we looked at how to cultivate the things that are important in your life and be happy and well-balanced. Along with the series was a giveaway, sponsored by living rooms direct. The winning item? This cool throw pillow from

We had an amazing response to this and it was a great way to roll out 2009 and get ready for the new year. Thank you to all those who participated. Drumroll please.....

The winner is...
Rama Nayeri of Orange County, California. Congrats!

Next item on the agenda.


Yes, that's right. Inspired Design Daily blog is moving to Follow the link to the new location and please update it on your readers or just subscribe to the new one when you get there.

This move is really exciting because we are growing quickly (yay!) and the new format will allow us to do more fun stuff as we continue to get bigger. We're also re-structuring a bit and there will be some new weekly features and guest bloggers as well. So follow along and, as always, I am really appreciative of your support. Thank you so very much!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

inspired life, final day

Thank you everyone for all the support this week, it's been an important series for me personally and I hope a helpful one for you too. As we bring this giveaway series to a close it's time to look at a topic that is often overlooked but just as important to living a balanced, happy life.

Let's talk about passion.

Think about your life for a moment in pie-chart form. The portions are divided between things you don't like to do, things you do like to do, and things you don't really mind doing. And then there is the section of your life that is spent doing something that you are passionate about. It lights you up from the inside, something you can get lost in and feel richer for. What percentage of your chart falls into this category?

Stop and think on this. Letting your passion play a larger role in your life will create a sense of self that nothing or no-one else can give you. If your 'pie-chart' number is relatively low or non-existent, now is a great time to really examine the things that make you feel whole. Once you are aware of how much or how little time you devote to your passion you can figure out ways to bring it into your life even more.

Let's use me as a quick example. I know I'm passionate about design. I also love giving advice. I get excited when I find cool, design-y things in magazines or on the internet. I'm giddy when it comes to fabric, dinnerware, pillows, you-name-it. I'm a self-proclaimed design geek! So when I sat down a year ago and had this same conversation with myself...this blog was born.

And when I had this conversation with myself (and my husband this time) a few months ago, another project came to be. We decided to open a furniture and home decor store. That's not exactly how I planned to announce it, but in the spirit of openness -and getting the point across- this is the perfect place to put it out there.

Even when life gets crazy, demands are high, money is tight, and support is hard to come by, there is always room to nurture what you love to do. So the assignment today is to look at your 'chart' and see where it falls. I imagine that most of us could use a little more spark, so my next assignment is to have that conversation with yourself about what exactly makes you glow. Once you've got it identified you can begin to work it into your life with small (or large) steps.

Enter your comments or email me at to enter yourself into the last day of our giveaway from living rooms direct for a chance to win this awesome, design-y pillow from

Every day you've commented or emailed to let me know you're participating becomes one entry into the drawing. As a bonus (thanks to Tyler of Living Room Furniture) if you repost this on your own blog you get an additional entry. Hey, if it makes an impression on you why not share it? You can enter until midnight tonight -not like anyone is at home reading blogs on New Year's Eve, but whatever - and I will announce the winner on Monday. How exciting!

Thank you once again for following along and I hope you've enjoyed doing this as much as I have. I feel rejuvenated, inspired and ready to take on the New Year. Cheers!

Oooh, one last thing. If you're inspired by this to seek out a new passion, check out this great article from Life Coach Cheryl Richardson. Click here

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

inspired life, day 3
image courtesy of

As the song goes 'everybody needs somebody sometimes.' Let's focus today on nurturing those connections. Life gets hectic and it's easy to let weeks or even months go by without reaching out to the important people in your life. So the assignment for today is to think of these 5 people in your life:

1. The most important person in your life at this moment. Think of a way to tell them how much they mean to you.

2. Someone who has done something nice for you. Find a way to thank them.

3. Someone you think of often but rarely or never talk to anymore. Maybe do a little search on facebook to locate that long lost college bud.

4. Someone to say sorry to. We all have small regrets for things we shouldn't have said or done. Sometimes "I'm truly sorry" goes a long way.

5. Someone you are starting to lose touch with, and give them a call before it happens!

Send a comment or an email to let me know you're participating and you will be entered into this week's giveaway from living rooms direct, with a cool prize from Each day you comment is one entry, plus an additional entry for reposting this on your own blog (great idea Tyler!) This giveaway series ends Thursday, December 31st at midnight PT

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Working with Metal, and Forcing Patinas on Steel

You'll remember from last week's post that the doors for the walnut media center are going to be metal. I had a metal fabricator near my shop make these for me because I saw some holes punched in a roll cage he'd made.

Like this:
These doors cost me $30 each and are 21" x 24". I was really surprised at how inexpensive they were. Strolling into a dark oily shop with welders blazing and grinders screaming may seem a little intimidating, but the guy told me himself that he grows weary of working on trucks all day and likes to something different every once in a while. The holes were cut out by his plasma cutter, then he uses a press to add the dimples. I only mention this because the plasma cutter runs off of cad files, so if you are handy with that sort of thing, or know someone who is, you can get ANY shape you want cut out for not much money. He showed me some house numbers made from 5/8" thick steel that looked terrific, but maybe you are into birds and want a life sized flamingo made of metal. No problem! Get some pink paint you'll be set. For inspiration and some inexpensive scrap, visit: or something like it in your area.

Naturally, the doors come in a silvery steel color (this isn't stainless, by the way), but I am looking for something a little grungier and more weathered looking. I have seen old industrial parts and there is a certain character they have from use. This is what I was going for, but I refused to paint them. Paint is too thick, and to me looks like you are trying too hard to add age. There is some info out there on the web regarding patinas on steel but not much, mostly you'll find sculptors talking about aging bronze and working with copper.

From what I could find, the easiest D.I.Y. route to a darker look to my doors was using gun blue. The gun blue can be bought at most sporting good stores, but here is a link to the brand I bought: Birchwood Casey, and another link that taught me how to use it. The actual results are more black, with a hint of blue. It's easy to apply, but difficult to apply evenly. On large pieces like these, I'm not sure if I could ever get it to a perfectly solid looking black color. If you want to have a go yourself, don't forget the latex gloves and a well ventilated area! This stuff stinks something fierce, and I vaguely remember reading the word "poison" on the bottle. I tend not to get bogged down by such minor details and neither should you. Just have fun and try not to drink any of it.

Here is a door with one application (on the left):
Here is the first test door: This is full strengh applied in two coats. Sanding with 400 grit paper after the first application helped the color even out, but as you can see, it is still quite streaky.

Here is a big mess: This was just for fun. I added mineral spirits to prevent the chemical from fully getting into the metal, and just smeared it around in three or four applications. Interesting, but not for me. Note the rust on the right. This stuff oxidizes the metal in minutes--it wasn't there when I started.

Here is one I'm almost happy with: This is one application of gun blue, then sanded with 400 grit to remove most of the patina, and a final coat (two or three is better) of an oil based polyurethane to prevent any oxidation. I think what it needs is much finer sandpaper, or steel wool. Something like 2000 grit will make all the obvious sanding, much less...obvious.

Another, certainly greener, method of getting some color on steel is to burn oil into it. I used a plumbers torch to heat the metal dowel below, then rubbed a paper towel soaked in olive oil on it. I did it twice. The metal must be really hot for this to work, and make sure there is something quite thick between your sensitive skin and the nearly red-hot work piece! As you can see in the picture the metal is quite dark. But what you can't see in the pic, is that in my opinion, this gave a better result than the gun blue. It looks truly and properly old.