What is a Clever Clogs anyway? For you non-Brits, it’s a phrase to describe somebody who’s clever – sometimes ostentatiously or irritatingly so. For our purposes, though, it’s just someone with a great idea, in this case a home design.
Where does the phrase come from? Some say it used to be Clever Boots, “boots” being a word for a chap or fellow, and that the “clogs” part came about just to tie in with the “cl” sound in “clever”. But there I go getting all linguistically deep, when all you want are the ideas, right?
Here are some we’ve published previously on the site:
A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD FAVORITE
Living in Tucson, I see LOTS of Mexican-style and talavera tile. But never on a baseboard… until now. You can see the whole splendid house featured by yours truly in the October issue of Tucson Lifestyle Home & Garden.
In the small English town of Bourne, Lincolnshire is a pub called The Jubilee. No great shakes on the outside, but inside there are car-themed surprises.
This van was taken apart and put to good use as a bar and wall art. The engine went into what was a fireplace, but my silly laptop wouldn’t upload that piccie.
This vertical gardening container was made using a wooden pallet. Find out how from Ladies’ Home Journal.
PUNCH THE WALL
I’m not a huge fan of wall decals unless they’re used for fun, like in kids’ rooms or, here, by the bathtub. Find it for $14 at squidoo.com.
HOW’S IT HANGING?
Hub Restaurant & Creamery, smack in the middle of downtown Tucsno, isn’t just great for comfort food and home-made ice cream and location. Rather creatively, the management has hung an army of table lamps upside down from the ceiling. Fab.
WHO NEEDS WALLPAPER?
This idea I love for three reasons: 1. You can do it in a matter of minutes, 2. No trip to Home Depot or Lowes is required, and 3. There’s not a power tool in sight. Nicky in Tucson has her books arranged by color, a genius little step that instantly transforms a bookcase from a bit of a jumble to something that’s so much more pleasant on the eye. Who needs wallpaper when you can have this?
BRINGING WHIMSY TO HOME SECURITY
Security grilles don’t exactly get the old creative juices flowing. But take a look at this playful little piece, at a home in south Tucson. It’s made out of salvaged steel and comes from the workshop and clever imagination of metal artist David Voisard. Flowers + Whimsy + Home Security? Well, why not?
THE STONE CACTI
Kelly Wilson kept killing her cacti, not an easy thing to do in the Arizona desert, as she laughingly points out. So she came up with this solution: a line of fake Mexican Fence Post cacti behind her swimming pool. Produced by Stone Cactus in Tucson, they’re hand-made using a steel frame and glass fibre reinforced concrete. Plus they have the added delight of being fountains. So with the flick of a switch (from a remote control in Kelly’s living room) they trickle water out the top and light up at night.
COMING IN TO LAND (AND PLANT)
Meg Hagyard’s downtown Tucson home and back yard is the epitome of what some in these parts call Barrio modern. She combines junkyard, eBay and auction finds with a modern warehouse feel – which is apt, since she lives in a converted warehouse space. Here, some landing strip treads picked up at a salvage yard have been turned upright to create a garden ‘wall’ and plant trellis. In front of it there’s a row of conjoined waiting-area seats, picked up an auction of items from the University of Arizona.
MIRROR, SLIDER ON THE WALL…
Here, a round steel-framed mirror from IKEA was customized with a drawer slider on the back. And the original hole for the inset medicine cabinet is, like the rest of the bathroom, covered in mosaic tile. The idea came from Tucson interior designer Aja Knaub and was used in the home of Mark Pirtle.
THE SECRET GARDEN
You know these strips of dead space along the sides of houses – too small to really do anything significant with, too easy to ignore? For Tami in Marana, AZ, it offered opportunity. She’s turned hers into her own secret garden and planted peppermint, hibiscus, Mexican honeysuckle, faux bamboo and, in the wall planters, asparagus fern. Now when she looks out her kitchen window, instead of dead she sees green. Now that’s worth an afternoon of planting, isn’t it?
NICE TRIM! OH WAIT A MINUTE..
You stroll past Gary Imus’ kitchen island and it looks like he just got fancy with some moulding. But look close and you see it’s a row of electrical outlets. It’s Gary and wife Debbie’s solution to wanting to plug in a slow cooker, whisk or other appliance where they’re prepping rather than where the wall plugs happen to be. The best thing? It’s cheap: plastic moulding faux painted to tie in with the bamboo cabinets below. And although we’re not sure you need that many all at once, anybody who can make a design feature out of plugs gets my vote.
The homeowner here in Bisbee, AZ had two choices: to call their adjoining property 225a, which is what most of us would do, or to go for something that conjures up a smile. Where would you rather live: 225a or 225 “too”?
JUST ANOTHER GRANITE COUNTERTOP?
Well, actually, no. It’s laminate. And it was painted by hand to look like granite. Yes, you read that right – by one dedicated crafty blogger by the name of Kristi. She used acrylic paint, paper towels and a glossy clear coat. And she says it’s withstanding wear and tear just fine. For the full, impressive story, click here.
Marjorie McGlamery’s love affair with ceramics grew out of something quite simple: a bare piece of brick wall on a piece of patio where there was no room for potted plants. So she made her own ceramic ones. For the full story of how this teacher-turned-artist turned her yard into a showcase for her artwork, click here.
HIGH DRAMA IN THE BATHROOM
How’s this for a bathroom backsplash? It helps when the homeowner’s an artist, of course. And so it is with Steven Eye, sculptor, artist-in-residence and director of Solar Culture Studios in Tucson, who used ceramic tile, pieces of mirror and one of his own sun sculptures to make this. Nothing like a bit of drama while you bathe.
A CLOSET WITH A DIFFERENCE
Oh, the curse of near-Christmas birthdays. When your munchkin celebrates so close to the 25th, it can be tough to separate that big day from their big day.
Kathy in Tucson has an ingenious answer: the birthday tree. Each December 27th, the night before her daughter’s birthday, she takes down their Christmas tree decorations and replaces them with pink and white lights, girlie ornaments, a feather boa, and puts the birthday presents under the tree. “It separates her birthday from Christmas, and it’s also a good excuse to take down the Christmas decorations,” says Kathy. Love it and totally plan to steal it for my own Munchkin.
THE ART OF TV
This made me laugh when I first saw it. It’s kind of cheesy, although without doubt a clever idea. Restoration Hardware has turned the artist’s easel into a TV stand. It holds a flatscreen up to 60″ wide (or artwork or a mirror if you prefer) and – the best bit – it comes on wheels. Cost: $995.
I could say the maker of this has talent in spades, but that would be just lame. I discovered Tucson’s Metal Arts Village this year, and my what an aesthetic feast it is. MAV is a cooperative of artists and designers with a penchant for a certain mineral. This, a table inspired by some old garden shovels, is from Everett Grondin, owner of Dog Lix Designs. (With a name like that he was always going to be someone notable, right?) Check the place out at 3230 N. Dodge Blvd. Or check out my feature in the Arizona Daily Star.
Where is it written that you hang pictures at eye level? And what is eye level anyway? Standing up or sitting down? Tucson architect Scott Neeley hangs artwork in his living room low, his logic being that he wants to admire it whilst seated, without craning his neck.
For more on how Scott cleverly remodeled a “grim” 1960s home, read my feature in the Arizona Daily Star.
This one comes courtesy of Sunset magazine and its Fresh Dirt blog. Central Coast landscape architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith created this from salvage yard materials: black plastic drainage pipes for the containers; pressure gaskets and seals from machinery for the circles around the pots and decorating the mulch.
* Photo courtesy of Sunset magazine.
If you want to feel even better about recycling your old tin cans, try this. Tucson dweller Patty Lyons, who dabbles in art and lives in a tiny 200 sq ft guest house, cuts her drinks cans into strips and peels back the metal to make these ‘flowers’ that adorn the outside of her home.
PATIO TABLE’S SECOND WIND
This one’s from Tucson interior designer Sharmin Pool-Bak. Sick of rain and desert dust leaving spots on this glass and metal table, she covered the glass with vinyl from a fabric store, cutting it to shape and tucking it under the rim. A can of semi-gloss black paint was used to spruce up the wrought iron base.
* Photos courtesy of Sharmin Pool-Bak.
Here’s a fresh take on recycling from sunset.com, the online version of Sunset Magazine. LA designer Andre Price Jackson used recycled latte lids on his studio wall. And in each sip hole is a surprise, from a photo of his mother to a rivet from the Golden Gate Bridge to a seed pod from a hike.
* Photo by Bret Gum.
Here’s a talking point when the Scrabble gets way too difficult. This glass coffee table was stuffed underneath with fake moss, bought from a craft store. It’s one of several in the reception area of the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club in L.A.’s Redondo Beach.
Jason Isenberg found a backyard solution that’s both cool and clever. The Tucson landscape designer set his patio 30″ below ground so that water runs to two drains and, via underground pipes, irrigates some of his trees.
For more on his stunning house – and how it transformed him – read my feature in the Arizona Daily Star.
This one’s from Pearl, who lives in southern Arizona. She wanted some pops of color in her guest room, but also wanted to get creative with the hanging.
“The inspiration was a display we did at work. That was a rustic ladder hanging from the ceiling with frames hanging down that were tied to the ladder with string.
I wanted something similar, but a little more sophisticated,” she says.
When you’re renting, you’re limited in how much you can make a place your own.
And so it is with Wendy in York, who shares this simple but fab tweak to her young son’s bedroom. She chose to cover part of his wall with some fun fabric. That’s all. No need for wallpaper or hammering nails into walls for pictures. This does the trick nicely.
DRAMA BAR NONE
Wow. You can’t beat the drama of this bar top inside Botticelli’s restaurant in Austin, Texas. It’s painted by a local Austin artist, sealed heavily, and has glass on the top. So beautiful that you almost wouldn’t mind being stood up and having to linger at the bar on your own.
NO TAGGING ALLOWED
Here’s a neat solution for those restaurateurs or bar owners who don’t fancy attracting graffitti on their walls: put up a chalkboard for the punters instead. This one’s inside the fabbo Magnolia Cafe in Austin, TX.
I’m intrigued, though: who is Alan Barber?
If you’re stuck for space to store your pots and pans, just leave them be on the stove. Just make sure the collection is as colorful as this Le Creuset one, though. Photo courtesy of Thomas J Story/Sunset Magazine.
SINK INTO THIS
More from the arresting and rather magnificent home of Tucson architect Ron Fridlind. In his master bedroom he’s created this sunken Japanese-style table. (You sit on the floor and tuck your feet in a recessed area underneath). I’m working on a magazine feature about the place, so more to come.