Archive for August, 2010

The Anarchy of the Lawn and Other Woes

While some parts of the United States have had a little break from the heat this summer—especially here in Northern California—most of the nation has sweltered. Combine water shortages in places with relentless heat and you have a recipe for a dirt lawn. Not that I’m a big fan of lawns, anyway. They suck up nutrients better served to garden plots and trees. But let’s assume the average reader of this blog still likes to curl their toes in nice summer turf and roll the barbecue out for a few burnt offerings in September.

If you’re one of them, these yards simply won’t do:

The Winner
ugly lawn winner

All around this great land, lawn repair and maintenance companies host “worst lawn” contests in conjunction with local newspapers. The winner (loser, really) gets a lawn makeover. This nasty Ohio lawn took the prize from nearly 70 entries. Congratulations to Melissa Martie from West Akron.

Fire Up the Barbie

fire up the barbie

Colorado Springs.com
held its own contest for the ugliest lawn, with the top contestant winning $1,000 worth of materials and labor from a local nursery. I simply love the ambience of this submission.

Skin Them Shins


My personal favorite in the Colorado Springs contest has to be this stunner. It brought back memories of my college rugby days when we were told our team was to play a match at the famed Rose Bowl. The joke was on us: we played the match on the dirt, chips of glass, bottle caps, and worn grass of the Rose Bowl parking lot. But I digress…

Send a Healing

My heart goes out to the “worst yard contest” entrant at CBS 42 News in Birmingham, Alabama. The Trussville resident sent in this photo along with the following plea:

“I am writing to humbly ask for your help! From July 2008 to May 2009, I had 4 major surgeries to remove my colon. Because of major complications, I spent 62 days in the hospital, had a month of kidney dialysis AND lost my job of 12 years. I was bed-ridden for over a year. Right in the middle of this horrible time, I woke up to the sound of bulldozers and tree cutters, clearing the beautiful woods behind my house. Within a couple of weeks, everything was GONE! No trees, no birds, no squirrels! Over a year of blasting, machinery and hammering later there is a now a church (which is really not the problem) BUT every tree has been removed AND they put the dumpster just a few feet from my yard. Every day when I look out my window and see that dumpster sticking out of the “nothing-ness” it is a horrible reminder of the past 2 years of my life. I would really appreciate your vote so I can put some trees back to help hide the dumpster and build a healing place! I want to see the deer and the squirrels! NOT a dumpster!! I received a $6,000 estimate to landscape my back yard. I am focusing on getting better and very thankful for my healing, but I am still am not able to work. I want to bring “life” back into my yard. I need a healing place! I would be so very thankful for your vote and anything you could do to help us. Your friend in Alabama!”

You, dear entrant, deserve your own arboretum and greenbelt. I hope CBS done you right!

Bathroom Designs: All Is Vanity

“There are no grades of vanity,” Mark Twain once wrote, “there are only grades of ability in concealing it.”  I find it entirely amusing that we choose to call the work center where we make the best of our physical imperfections a bathroom vanity. I would guess that the first bathroom vanity was created when Ruke, a hairy cave dweller, dragged a stone next to a water basin where he could cut fat to smear on his face. The Encyclopedia Britannica poses the theory that it wasn’t until the middle 19th century that people had bathrooms in private homes. You can bet that by then, people in palaces had mirrors and vanities galore.

Today’s vanities range from the outrageous to the historical—from gaudy to simple. There are even diminutive, battery-powered vanities created for camping! Here are a few design ideas for us vain folk:

Spies R Us

black box

Alape’s “Metaphor” vanity looks as if it was designed by the weapons team for James Bond. Love the chrome-plated towel holder!

Shape Up

shape vanity

The Shape Vanity by  Villeroy & Boch is “understated” and a warm combo of wood and metal. I love when the bowl is installed atop the unit. (Pretty vain of me to think wood is earthy and therefore superior.)  See other cool examples at Architonic.

Ye Olde Style Vanity


For those who prefer their vanity served up in classic style, this Chelsea Sink Cabinet  combines a cream granite surface with a porcelain bowl, finished with a solid wood or hardwood veneer.  Home Decorators has an extensive collection for those who want to go old school.

Ye New Whatever School

what is it

China-based Dameson Sanitaryware Co. sells this medium-density fiberboard/solid wood combo set with a glass top and ceramic basin–available in white and black.



Nova Linea pops completely out of the box with this dual-sink model combining classic and fusion ideas. The original Italian creation may simply change your own personal notions of vanity.

I’ll stop here with these examples.  As Michel de Montaigne once remarked, “There is perhaps no more obvious vanity than to write of it so vainly.”

Recent Comments

  • Kid's stuff:Bedroom furniture for dreamers

    Hey Woodrow,

    You've put together a great post here. Hardwearing and long-lasting bedroom furniture is so important when you have young children, and choosing pieces which can handle the rough-and-tumble that comes with having little ones is key!

    Best wishes, Alex.

  • Awesomely Oddball Lawn and Garden Accessories

    I plan to do this. What was your process in painting the bottom...outside portion of the tub?

  • Poor staging can crush your home sale

    Woodrow, you have once again 'nailed' the essence of the issue of staging your home for sale with easy to understand pics and words. These are definitely rules to live by, oh wise one! I know I"m soaking up the knowledge you share--- now excuse me while I wring myself out. Can't wait for the next issue.

  • To everyone, a room of one's own

    We've recently bought a house which needs A LOT of work and I'm trying to convince my other half to let me build a "room of my own" for the house, one where I can put my games console and beer fridge. She's not gone for it yet though. The most I've managed to get is an office I can work out of ... not quite the same ... LoL.

    Mine would certainly be like the car boot room in the first image :)


  • Home designs you haven’t seen before

    I wonder how far the folks in the Rock House are able to drive in their car? Maybe down to their boat? It's so true that home is where you are at the moment.