November 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden

November 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden


Let’s go do the hop

If you’re itching to fulfill your cultural quota, now’s your chance to bounce through the local studio scene and score some tasty bites to boot: November 15 and 16, 10am-5pm, the Artisans Studio Tour returns for its 14th year of crafts and snacks.

Offering tourgoers the chance to see artisans at work in their natural habitat, the tour features 17 studios paired with local food vendors like C&O Restaurant and Breadworks. Laurie Duxbury, a participating artisan who works with textiles, describes the tour as an opportunity to get an insider’s glimpse of the creation process, and to fully appreciate what it is you’re getting when you purchase a piece. “We love to share what we do,” she says. She invites tourgoers to talk to the artisans and find out about the raw materials and design considerations that go into their work—from handmade furniture and instruments to jewelry to stoneware.

Artisans like Nancy Ross will open their doors for a weekend of chatting, browsing and buying.

Studios will offer demos and chances to both buy and commission work—but bring that checkbook, since some don’t accept credit cards. Check out a map and schedule at—Lucy Zhou

A little friendly advice

“Some people just need their own ideas backed up,” says Kenny Ball. You might think that you’d be in for withering criticism if you hired a noted interior-design guy like Ball—who’s owned Kenny Ball Antiques for more than 20 years—to cast his eye on your own house. But in fact he and his partner in Kenny Ball Designs, Kathleen Blick, describe what they do as more of a romp through your room, your attic, or both. “It’s amazing what people hoard in their closets,” Ball says.

Usually, Ball and Blick will spend two or three hours with each client (at $100 per hour), rearranging a room and sometimes adding pieces from other parts of the house, but they’re up for more far-reaching projects too: sourcing furniture and fabrics or making lists of items a client could buy. “We don’t want people to live in a stage set,” says Blick, who likes finding family heirlooms and personal stuff, stashed out of sight by design-shy homeowners, and bringing them into a room to be enjoyed.

Bring your own brocade: Kenny Ball and Kathleen Blick will dish on your digs.

The two of them are an energetic pair, finishing each other’s sentences. “We have this great working energy together; we bounce ideas off each other,” Ball says. “People really want Kenny’s opinion,” adds Blick.—Erika Howsare

Back in time is back

Why does ABODE care that the National Museum of American History—part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington—is reopening after a massive two-year renovation on November 21? Well, for one thing, we always like to see newly spiffed-up buildings, whether they house local families or national treasures. For another thing, the museum’s collections include lots of things any interior-design enthusiast would covet, from Tiffany lamps to high-concept salt shakers.

Complete with tablecloth, Julia Child’s kitchen soon goes back on display.

And then, too, there’s Julia Child’s kitchen. Donated as a whole in 2001, the famed chef’s kitchen—complete with the oven that could handle two 25-pound turkeys at once—was formerly in Cambridge, Massachusetts before it was moved to the museum to be drooled over by visitors. Wondering how to organize your knives? The answer is, “Like Julia did.” Check out for more.—E.H.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

When I say we were construction newbies at the time we bought our house, what I mean is that we owned a 1970s-era homebuilding manual, had our dads on speed-dial, and (in my case) had used a hammer while hanging picture frames. My husband had a bit more experience than I, but was still essentially learning as he went. He is, however, a very savvy Internet user, and thus he quickly found himself enmeshed in several online forums dedicated to various home-repair subjects.

First there was the tiling forum at Here we picked up some new vocabulary words—deflection and Ditra, bricksand and underlayment—which came to define several weeks of our life as we framed a bathroom floor, laid it with natural stone, and tiled the shower surround. The tiling folks, he found, were responsive, friendly and invariably helpful.

The plumbers weighed in on the drain pipes and the tilers walked us through the floor frame.

And then there was the plumbing forum. We needed advice on running supply lines to the new bathroom, reconfiguring drains and a host of smaller questions. And we did get information at, but it came with frequent and frustrating admonitions to just hire a professional plumber already. (Why a bunch of plumbers were glued to their computers all day remains another mystery, but it’s fair to say we owe them our properly-functioning toilet drain.)

We also got roofing advice at, and—once we were a little more settled in—firewood advice at There’s a forum for everything; just like when taking advice from a neighbor leaning over your fence, it’s all a matter of believing the right bits.—Spackled Egg

What’s on your browser?

This month’s surfer: Architect Fred Wolf

What’s on his browser:

What it is: A revolving collection of new home products as they hit the market, from faucets to tiles to windows—essentially, it’s idea central.


Fred Wolf

Why he likes it: “It’s a cool place to go and see different things coming out,” says Wolf. “Some of it’s really nice and some of it’s appalling. You can see things other than what you might see if you walked into Lowe’s or Ferguson’s.”

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