Creating Your Own Magical Garden Fantasyland in Houston

Categories: Design, Gardening

Photo by Susie Tommaney
The Guild Shop of St. John the Divine

Sometimes patio furniture and potted plants aren't enough; you might want to entice faeries, elves and woodland nymphs to your garden by adding mystery and magic. Even if the goal is just to bring color, texture and art to your outdoor living space, exterior decorating provides the opportunity to break all the rules and deviate from traditional beiges and browns.

I set out to find some of the best resale shops inside the loop for building a magical garden fantasyland. The goal was to find small items, for tucking in and around plants, as well as large items, which could be seen from the kitchen or living room window.

The Guild Shop of St. John the Divine seems to have one of the largest outdoor inventories, with masks, stained glass, frogs, animal planters, furniture, pink flamingos and fountains. Coolest of all were two oversized chess pieces, a concrete soldier and the ubiquitous gnome. Inside you'll find room after room of tchotchkes, miniature furniture, wall décor and Talavera pottery. The shop donates to St. James House, the Episcopal Diocesan retirement home in Baytown, as well as other local charities.

2009 Dunlavy Street,

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19th-Century Furniture on Display and in the Light at One Allen Center

Categories: Design

Photos courtesy of The Heritage Society
A four-poster bed has elements of a fortress.
Seldom has serendipity been more opportune than it is with the exhibition of 19th-century furniture from The Heritage Society, now at One Allen Center. The furniture is normally displayed in nearby Sam Houston Park, in the historic 1847 Kellum-Noble House, Houston's oldest surviving residence, which is being renovated. Instead of simply putting the furniture temporarily in storage, The Heritage Society and Arts Brookfield decided to put it on public display.

The furniture is shown here in a well-lit room on the second-floor lobby, and so offers even better chances for viewing than usual, as the historic house has a considerably darker interior.

Many of the pieces were hand-carved in the mid-19th century by German craftsmen, whose skill and dedication are clearly evident. Most striking was a walnut crib featuring spindles to protect the child from falling out, as well as spindles on the four corner legs. It clearly was designed to be decorative as well as functional, and serves both purposes admirably.

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The 5 Most Sinister Mansions in the Houston Area

Photo by Carl Guderian via flickr

So it turns out that people may not want to live in a murder mansion. Go figure.

And if you're Seabrook resident Nir Golan, you don't want to live in a mansion that's been built on and/or near the site of a murder mansion either. Even if you're unsure as to the actual location of the original house.

You see, Nir Golan leased a waterfront house off of Todville Road in Seabrook recently, but he was apparently unaware that his rental steal with scenic views also came with a sinister history, and according to Golan, ghosts.

Golan claims those ghosts and creepy apparitions are because his rental house, and the entire subdivision, are built right on the plot of land where the Todville Murder Mansion -- or the List Mansion, in less dramatic terms -- used to sit.

The List Mansion on Todville Road was a sprawling, multistory home overlooking the Galveston Bay. Built by multimillionaire and known sex offender Bill List, who did a prison stint in 1959 for molesting teenage boys, the home came complete with an indoor swimming pool, a glass wall overlooking the bay, and a catwalk that connected the two wings.

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One Woman's Treasure Hunt for a "Shabby Chic" Headboard in Houston

Photo via wickerfurniture
The search goes on

I want a new headboard. I've been looking for a while now. I'm not sure exactly what kind I want, but I'll know it when I see it.

In point of fact, I've seen lots of headboards I like and lots of headboards in my price range; I just haven't found a headboard I want in my price range. The look I'm going for is what decorators have dubbed "shabby chic," which in layman's terms means something that looks aged but classy without spending a lot of money. I am a teacher by trade, which makes my budget self-explanatory.

Even though I haven't had any luck so far, I'm not worried. Resale shopping is like going on a treasure hunt. The merchandise is constantly changing, and the prices drop the longer an item remains in the store. The strategy is to wait a little while and try again. The chase is part of the fun.

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How New York Comic-Con 2013 Went Down

Chuck Cook Photography
NYCC may not be quite as big as San Diego Comic-Con, but it's still vast and impressive

New York Comic-Con ended yesterday at 5 p.m., and boy, was there a ton of stuff going on. Read on for just a few of the highlights of how it went.

Room For Improvement

NYCC had some problems this year, all of which can be improved upon or completely fixed by next year, should the organizers choose to focus on them.

Friday began with New York Comic-Con being all over the media for the wrong reason. Attendees claimed foul when their Twitter accounts posted enthusiastic "so happy to be at NYCC"-type messages all by themselves. It turns out that if attendees chose to link their badges to their social media accounts upon registration, they were also consenting to allow NYCC to post "on their behalf."

Of course, when companies want to post "on your behalf" it's usually not in your best interests; it's so they can spam all of your friends. Fortunately, when the bad press started coming out and NYCC started coming under fire from the likes of Wil Wheaton and Marvel Comics writer Matt Fraction, the convention organizers discontinued the practice immediately.


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The Many Faces of "God" on Display at Whimsical Art Car Museum Exhibition

Leave it to the art car crowd to have a lot of irreverent fun with an open-call show titled God. While a few artists did what bordered on the obvious or banal (no, really, some woman took up valuable wall space with an old oval wall mirror with the words "God Is You" in pink lipstick smeared on it), for the most part this was a playful, thoughtful examination of deity that packed the museum for a couple of hours.

Of course, an un-juried open call show puts all ranges of talent in the same room. There was actually one room that was referred to as "the shit room" or "the shit wall" by onlookers several times over the course of the evening. And for the most part, I had to agree. Still, it is a tribute to the skills of the staff that the 125-piece show, which they had only a week to place/hang, looked remarkably well organized and thought out.

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Jeremy Choate, Houston Lighting Artist, Dies in Tragic Accident

jeremy choate-thumb-250x333.jpg
Jeremy Choate died in a hit-and-run accident at age 33.
Our sister blog Hair Balls has the official HPD report for the fatal accident.

Houston lighting artist Jeremy Choate, 33, died Sunday afternoon after a hit-and-run accident Saturday evening at I-10 and Studemont, according to reports by KHOU and CultureMap.

"The victim in this accident died this afternoon leaving behind two young daughters," Suchu Dance Artistic Director Jennifer Wood wrote in a comment on the KHOU story. "He was a loved and respected member of the Houston arts community and we are devastated."

Choate collaborated with many local groups during his career, including Theater LaB, Suchu Dance, and the Pink Ribbons Project.

Lighting was a lifelong passion for Choate. "Light is everything. It's the source for all life," he told Art Attack in an April 2011 100 Creatives interview. "There's something magical about it for me."

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The Buyer's Guide to Cable Reel Furniture

Categories: Design

The giant wooden cable reel is a staple furniture piece of college students, being that it's durable and you usually have to steal it, which adds to the character. Nonetheless, once we've graduated, most of us say goodbye to the cable reel and go to Ikea. A few people, though, continue to celebrate it, and even improve upon it.

The computer desk setup was cobbled together by Tivey in 2006 as part of an eco-friendly office project. It's a two-person workstation made from a single reel, and while it's not the most comfortable-looking place to work, you have to agree it's at least economical.

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Fashion and Design Book Obsession: Assouline Publishing

Photo by Assouline Publishing
I adore fashion books. And as much as I adore shopping at small, local bookstores, I can't always find what I am looking for -- and I can't always wait for them to order it. My go-to source for the best of the high-end publications on luxury fashion, travel and art is the Assouline Publishing Web site. I first ran across the site on Melissa C. Morris's May-December blog. Morris blogs infrequently these days, but she is a wonderful source for preppy-chic design; I bookmarked Assouline after it popped up on her blog, and have been a fan ever since.

I started by shopping their fashion book collection, but the site has become one of my daily online destinations for all things design and style, including art, photography, interior design and even gift-giving and holiday shopping. This is a beautiful Web site, delivering beautiful products, about beautiful subjects -- j'adore!

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Renowned Printmaker Dennis McNett Builds His First Art Car, Will Give Lecture

Photo courtesy Burning Bones Press
Dennis McNett constructs huge 3-D mobile art
Dennis McNett, one of the nation's renowned printmakers, practices the tedious, time-consuming art of carving. Most of his works are huge and have a graphic basis in '80s skateboard and punk rock culture; they are frequently described as "surly."

He also specializes in large, mobile pieces such as the Wolfbats he is currently exhibiting across the country as well as a Viking ship replica he displayed in Philadelphia last year.

Living in New York City since 2001, McNett has come to Houston to construct his first mechanically powered piece, an art car for the 25th anniversary of Houston's famed Art Car Parade. He will be working with Burning Bones Press in the Heights, who is assisting McNett with the construction.

McNett will also give a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Art Car Museum as part of this year's Art Car Parade activities.

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