The Last Gasp / Delicious August

The Last Gasp / Delicious August

The last gasp of summer is now, and during these final weeks there is palpable shift in both climate and mood. It's a distinctive change which ear marks August. There is a sense of loss and longing that I think is delicious. A loss for the season of shorts, ice cream, long days, and time off, even if for just an afternoon. There is loss of the time spent with family. But with this also comes anticipation for what's to come. August brings the stirrings of back to school and the start of the season, whatever that means for you.  

At Plum, we are releasing a new catalog soon which has been true labor of love. Creating a home life is an expression of love and our products come from this place. The catalog features new work in bedding, pillows, and table linens that adhere to the idea of living simply with nature. The collection emerged from childhood memories of living in Los Angeles, and the consistent interactions between the city and nature. Runyon Canyon, our touchstone, is a park there that features soft rolling hills in hues of deep plum, sage, and jade. While these are strong colors, they are also neutrals, in that they blend well with classic gray, black, and white and provide a vibrant, but not too colorful tapestry at home. These are colors and textures that truly are a reflection of the landscape. The new work is coming October 1st. If you would like a catalog, let us know via the contact form on the website. The catalog will also be posted on the website around that time.

At home this month, we are using linens that capture the warm, relaxed, comfortable casual season that is August. For the bedding images below, we combined a Breton duvet with Oline Coverlet in Citron. Pillowcases are Breton, and the accent pillows are Norse Charcoal and Hartland. For the table linens, its Citron linen, the perfect color of sunshine, butter, and sunflowers. We did a collage to illustrate how the fabrics can be mixed. Yellow, gray and white in various combos. 

We believe in mix and match bedding which is driven by colors coordinating, not always by collection alone. The spirit of life is always in flux with nothing ever static and our linens reflect this spirit. 

 

So for the month of August, this is our salute, linen-wise. May the last days of summer be delicious! 

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Essay / The House that Could

Essay / The House that Could

This was our home for six years. There aren't many places that can stir a soul like this one does mine. The lessons it taught me are many. Living here demonstrated everyday the value of simplicity, living with nature, of authentic materials and quality construction, and the power of details in design. It also was a lesson in geometry and proportion and the organic. And so many other things that have continued on to live in Modernplum. The house was built in 1967 by two professors at the University of Illinois in Urbana and no doubt they loved it. But it was in terrible shape when we arrived. Mold covered the exterior and there were big holes in the hardwood floors, and the glass walls were dirty and all fogged up. The home had changed owners many times that produced a slew of bandaid patches, fast fix-its, and lazy neglect that this 1967 beauty couldn't really fake anymore. But we knew it would be ours anyway. The restoration was a slow process like anything worth doing usually is. My husband began by power washing the entire exterior, patching and repainting almost every surface inside. Instead of replacing the original cherry wood cabinetry, we cleaned and cleaned until it shined again. Same for the glass walls and wood flooring. In full restoration mode, we thought that the painting brick, drywall, glass and cherry wood materials made up the soul of the place and they could never be replaced. We imagined getting a newer version of these things, but where deterred by the very real possibility of cheaply made, chemical-laden, veneers, and suspect craftsmanship which just would not fit here. The glasshouse was made from a simple and recognizable group of materials that created honest interior spaces. That's why the place was so authentic and real. Authenticity is sincere and as living beings, we respond to and thrive in this kind of environment, I think.
The glass walls were the defining feature of the house. The house was shaped like a rectangle with an interior courtyard and three inhabitable sides and looking south onto a golf course. A series of floor to ceiling glass walls made the home transparent from back to front. Nature and light defined our daily experience. It was an experience of changing colors, forms, and light during the year. We were one with nature, like indoor campers protected from the elements but very much integrated with the outdoors. I felt at peace here, connected to something greater than the folly of technology, politics, and commerce.
I felt at peace here, connected to something greater than the folly of technology, politics, and commerce.
As the work on the house progressed into its third year (yes, there was a lot to do!), we debated on the textiles. What kind of bedding, pillows, curtains, and table linens should we get? What do they need to be in order to respect and blend in with the environment? As a textile artist, I am fascinated with the Bauhaus philosophy, in particular, how textiles were integrated within midcentury homes during the 50's and 60's. During this time, architects and artists worked together to seamlessly integrate textiles into the spaces. Textiles were responsive to the architecture in their forms, colors, and materials. There is a degree of intentionality in this way of working that I find refreshing.
So the task of making those textiles began. I selected linen as this fabric is simple, natural, hardworking, honest, and beautiful, just like the glasshouse. Some would also say that linen is high maintenance. That's a matter of opinion since linen can be completely wash and ware but let's say it is true -- linen is high maintenance. Truly beautiful and extraordinary things often are. My first pieces for Plum came from this place both literally and in these thoughts. The Anna Collection and Lucia Collection bedding came first and then the Jean Table Collection. Follow this link to view these products. All of these designs are simple but focus on the quality and richness of the materials as well as the craft in sewing. Then the line expanded but the focus has remained: to create authenticity in daily life through thoughtfully designed and made textiles has sustained my creative self ever since. We moved away from the glasshouse in 2016 due to some new opportunities out of town. We now reside in Chicago and could not be happier with our new community, but I miss it.  It was our home and much, much more.  
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The Danish Way / Coverlets

The Danish Way / Coverlets

When July rolls around, my husband and I are tossing and turning and kicking off the covers in all sorts of directions in an effort to stay cool and stay asleep during warmer nights. This has become all to important as neither he or I are sleeping as deeply lately. A big reason for this is that our bedding needs to be lighter and cooler. Every year when this happens, I secretly do a happy dance since this presents a solid reason to redo my bedding.

For this, thank the Danish for providing a perfect model. A few years ago, I was in Denmark during the summer and got the best sleep of my life. I attribute some of it to jet lag, and a lot of it to how the bed was made. There was a sheet, a very light blanket, and a coverlet on the bed. In Scandinavia, coverlets are the preferred choice for bed making all year round. Danes are wonderfully practical folk who make design choices based on ease, practicality and functionality. Coverlets fit so well within these conditions. 

Just like the Danish, I prefer to use a coverlet either over sheeting or over a light weight blanket. This is such a freeing and flexible option as coverlets (being only one piece of fabric) are easy to arrange, fold, wash, and keep. They are easy to change. How fun to change the bed top either due to weather changes, time of year, or just because? Coverlets are a modern approach to making the bed in that they offer flexibility and ease. I swear that our bed can be made in about 30 seconds these days with our coverlet on the bed. Lifting and arranging a single piece of fabric over sheeting and a blanket is quick and pretty much a no brainer.

"Using coverlets is a modern approach to making the bed in that they offer flexibility and ease."

If you have a duvet, then they also can work like a coverlet. The duvet insert can be removed entirely and what you are left with is a bed covering akin to a coverlet or bedspread. For climates that require a little more warmth, a blanket can be added. You will have a flexible bedding arrangement that is both cool and in keeping with your existing bedding decor. No great style change is needed. 

I don't know when my next trip to Scandinavia will be but in the meantime I can recreate the Danish bed for summer with a coverlet. For this story we used the Oline Coverlet in Slate, the Larson Coverlet with Pumpkin Edging and Anna Oatmeal Pillowcases.

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