The Unmade Made Bed

I'm liking this haphazard approach to styling. It seems a lot more real to me than tight hospital corners. Not that I want to crawl into someone else's messy bed but the thought of my own comfy unmade bed makes me happy. Especially at the weekend. 

Hey-o that last bed is mine. I keep it simple in summer with a thin feather comforter + plain white duvet cover. Top sheets are too much hassle – must be the European in me. Or the slacker.

What do you think of casual styling? Too messy and unkempt? Are you a smooth-with-neat-corners type or the effortless-comfort-don't-care type?

Wishing you a happy, lazy weekend regardless.


This Japanese House: The Kitchen

It's about damn time, yo. I'm closing in on two years here and I finally, FINALLY have the kitchen to a point that it doesn't make me break down into a sobbing wreck.
Okay, I'm exaggerating slightly. But it did give me all the sads for a long time. Then I thought get over your badself because fuck it, this is Japan. This is a rental house in Japan. This is a far cry from my white marble dream kitchen that, let's face it, isn't ever going to happen for most of us way down here in the 99%.
Time to give THIS kitchen some love! With all its imperfections. No more drippy in-depth complaining about how I don't have an oven, garbage disposal, or dishwasher, or about the ugly faucet, or the harsh overhead fluorescent light I never ever turn on, or about the redundant, awkward sliding door to the bathroom right next to the refrigerator, or that the 5'10" back door is sized for midgets Japanese people and we couldn't figure out how to open it for three months, or the confusing little fish broiler drawer beneath the stovetop in which I always burn toast, or the beige fake marble plastic wall panels, or the counters that are almost 4" shorter than standard western counter height, or the totally wack storage space ... in the floor.
Nope. Not talking about those things beyond listing them just now. Check. I also won't start in on the pathetic longing for my other kitchens, 1 & 2.
Instead I'll point out the very affordable cute little white perfectly-sized fridge from Muji.
And the ├╝ber cool black hood ...
... over the adorable yet hardworking 3-burner gas stovetop.
And the amazingly low-maintenance stainless steel countertop that I LOVE.
Hey-o, check out my fancy Sori Yanagi kettle I picked up for half the price I'd pay outside of Japan.
Oh how I prefer kitchen drawers over cabinets. See how I covered those drawers with removable chalkboard wallpaper because they're pink.
Here are the shelves I built for about $40 and mounted on the sliding doorframe to the bathroom. (there's a normal door to the bathroom from the hallway, too)
Oh yeah, and not to mention just the whole charming wabi-sabi Japanness of it all. Gotta say I'm pret-ty stoked I'm not too mortified to post photos of this kitchen out on the scary Internets. Trying to keep it real by focusing on and appreciating what's good and accepting what I cannot change. Just like that dumb quote tells us – you know, the one hipsters tattoo on their midriffs.
So what do you think? Does my bizarro kitchen or house change any perceptions you may have had about living in Japan? (see more house here, here & here)


Japan Brain

I was introduced to the idea of Japan Brain by several people who've lived in Japan a lot longer than I have. Like 10+ years. And what they're saying really, really scares me.

Here's the deal: No matter how well we speak or understand the language, westerners in Japan live in some state or another of puzzlement. In other words, life goes on around us in ways we simply don't GET and probably never will (unless we're delusional, but that's a different problem). To compensate, we equivocate with phrases such as:

It's just how they do things here.

Hahahaaa ... no way!

Huh. That's makes no sense.

Okaaay ... whatever ...

Wait. WHAT??

You have got to be shitting me.

I really need to walk away from this right now.

Crazy Japanese mofos!

My personally coined reaction is "Effin Dough" courtesy of hat pictured above (that's me) I found in the local hardware store.

Seriously with the hat, you ask?

Oh yes. No dope allowed in Japan, perhaps? I do not know. Like I said, it's a constant state of puzzlement.

Anyway. To stop ourselves from jumping on the next plane home, we expats equivocate. We maintain an internal monologue to remind ourselves not only did we choose to live here for whatever reason, but we also respect foreign cultures, we're crazy mofos ourselves just to be here in the first place, and we're in this adventure whether we like it or not so we might as well enjoy it. Right?

But that only goes so far.

This continual state of bewilderment, combined with attempts at rationalization and/or justification, starts to wear on us and side effects set in. Eventually we give up, turn off our brains, and start going about our days in a haze of complacency. We're zombies basically. When I heard this theory, I instantly recognized it's exactly what's happened to me. I have Japan Brain goddammit! My gray matter is now mush. GREAT.

So if you're ever traveling in a very foreign culture like Japan and you see a westerner who clearly isn't a tourist and looks like they've just undergone a lobotomy – don't be afraid – it's just a long-term expat.
Yo! Put that on your hat and give it a barl, effin!

[insert your phrase of choice]


Bright Shiny Objects

One day I want to build ...

I start a lot of sentences like that in my crazy head. Particularly when I see something like this studio apartment built atop a 2-car garage in Auckland, New Zealand. Maybe I could possibly, someday — you know, after I leave Japan AND win the lottery AND learn to focus on one thing for longer than 30 seconds — build something like this at my Denver bungalow over the existing detached garage.
What a great use of space. I love the idea of accessory dwelling units for extra space for homes like mine that are too small for guests. These units can also be rented for extra income either long-term or as vacation rentals on AirBnB. You might recall I'm big on the sharing economy.
My house's current zoning doesn't yet allow for the bathroom & kitchen elements but just to have bright airy studio space above the garage sounds like a wonderful idea to me. Well, as long as I actually use the space ... and that does not include using it as storage!
At the very least I'll be looking into this idea ... one day. We all have crazy dreams, so what are yours? Let's hear em.

design by Karin Montgomery Spath | photography by Matthew Williams | seen on Remodelista


When I Live in a Beautiful Dutch Village

I will live here. This stunner is Danielle de Lange's cottage near Amsterdam posted on her inspired blog The Style Files. I love it when designers post photos of their own homes. It provides a way to stalk them determine if I like their style.
That ceiling.
Sure, one day I might scoff at bleached out rustic Scandinavian interiors ... but not this day.
Gah! Another damn kitchen for me to covet. Life just isn't fair.
Whoa, it's all perfect on the outside too.

For more photos of Ms. de Lange's home as well as daily inspiration, I highly recommend The Style Files. It's one of the few sites that survived my recent (and sweeping) blogroll cleanup.