1 of 3
Ash Daniel photo
2 of 3
Ash Daniel photo
3 of 3
Herminda Cortes, Jen Jackson and Rebekah Hollins Ash Daniel photo
1) MAKE IT UNIQUE
"We've got oddball locked up," says co-owner Bill Fields of Van Jester Woodworks ( vanjesterwoodworks.com ).
Although Fields says "oddball," what he really means is custom-made. There's been an uptick in custom-made items lately, and a lot of it has to do with recycled and reusable materials.
Not the kind of recyclables you put out on the curb, but beautiful old wood and machinery pulled from factories and other buildings about to be torn down. Van Jester (co-owned by Zach Jester, seen above) has even taken period woodworking equipment and refurbished it to use when working with that antique wood.
Recently, the company tore down the old water tower in Hopewell and was hired to make a table out some of that Hopewell cypress for a beach cottage. Outdoor furniture from places like the Pottery Barn will last a couple of years, says Fields. "That [cypress] table we made can stay outside and be around for the next 100 years." —BF
2) A ROOM OF HER OWN
Can design change your life? Or does the act of creating a space for yourself empower and transform?
Through the 3-year-old Space of Her Own (SOHO) program, preteen girls from Gilpin Court, Anthonique and Mahlika Addison (pictured) transform their rooms into places where studying, reading or inspiration can flow unimpeded. SOHO is an art-based mentoring program that's a joint venture between the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, ART 180 and the Friends Association for Children.
"SOHO's most transformational outcomes are more than pretty bedrooms," says Sally Kemp, director of community outreach at the Visual Arts Center. "The girls grow in confidence and belief in their ability to express themselves through art and in their own bright futures."
Tereja, one of the girls who participated in SOHO, says,"Making things with my mentor is fun because she's so patient. SOHO has taught me how to let people into my heart."
Kemp is planning for year four right now, and if you'd like more information about how you can help, call 353-0094 or e-mail email@example.com . —BF
3) A RETURN TO TRADITION
Old is new again as Richmonders return to traditional ways of eating — drinking raw milk, raising their own chickens or fermenting their foods. Not on a rural farmstead, however, but in neighborhoods across the city.
Elli Sparks offers classes on turning fresh, raw milk into kefir and yogurt through her business, What's Cooking Richmond, as well as classes about other traditional food preparations ( whatscookingrichmond.blogspot.com ).
"It's the way our great-great grandmothers ate," Sparks says, "food that is fresh from the field and garden, properly prepared to bring out the most nutrients."
Virginia law prohibits the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, so customers buy cow shares and pay for boarding fees in exchange for weekly milk rations from farms like Avery's Branch Farms ( averysbranchfarms.com ), Faith Farms ( faithfarmfoods.blogspot.com ) and Stillwaters Farm (434-392-6049). Raw goat milk is available from Sullivan's Pond Farms ( sullivanspond.com ) and Huguenot Hundred Acres ( home.comcast.net/~huguenot.hundred.acres/site/?/home/ ).
You'll find plenty of nutrients in Richmond's backyard chicken coops, where laying hens are taking up roost, despite regulations that make most of them illegal. Many local foodies and families are willing to risk fines for their omega-3-rich eggs, while the Chickunz advocacy group works to change the laws that restrict them ( facebook.com/chickunz ). —KH
4) MOVE OUTDOORS
Think beyond the patio and make your outdoor space an extension of your home. Outdoor "rooms" might be the hot new trend in landscape design, but Beth Burrell of Giving Tree says, "The practice of having outdoor rooms or garden rooms dates back to 16th-century English and European garden design. The use of space has changed over time as our living spaces certainly are more limited, but the concept continues to be the same."
Low walls, arbors and trellises can all demarcate one space from another, as well as the variety of plants you choose. They become the "walls" of your outdoor room, and for Burrell, containers are essential as well.
"Containers do so much to bring the garden into the space. Not wimpy containers, but sizable 22-inch diameter and up. You don't add a tiny end table to a couch and chair setting — likewise containers need to be in scale with their outdoor counterparts of tables, chairs [or] grills," says Burrell. —BF
5) RUNAWAY AMERICAN DREAM
In early November, while John Ryland's wife, Betsy, was out of town, he was out in the garage, building a motorcycle. He had just started cleaning up when he saw something in the extra parts on the floor. From a rotor and shock absorber, he fashioned a lamp. When Betsy came home and saw the finished piece, she knew he was onto something.
"The lamp didn't scream ‘biker,' " she says. "It had such an industrial look and a vintage look since the parts were from the '60s, '70s and early '80s. It had a past life, a story." Betsy, who is a jewelry maker, put the lamp on her Etsy site, and it sold quickly.
Fast forward to spring 2011. John was laid off from his full-time advertising job; his bike-building business, Classified Moto ( classfied moto.com ), became a full-time gig, and he was featured on CNN. Lamp orders came pouring in, along with tales of others who have recreated their lives after losing a job.
The Rylands have 65 lamps on order and plans to open a motorcycle gallery and café. "People do still love a story," Betsy says, "and they still love hand-crafted things." —SW
6) EXTREME/SERENE COLOR
We're intrigued by two extreme palette trends in 2011. One brings neutrals to a whole new level, and the other surprises with zaps of potent color.
We're seeing one-color rooms, where walls, trim and ceilings share a single hue, coupled with the same-color furnishings and fabrics. Neutral schemes are nothing new, but it's the all-over color that makes it different. "There's freshness to one-color rooms," says Lili O'Brien, an interior designer and co-owner of O'Brien & Muse. "They heighten the impact of textures and proportions. Materials take on a greater importance that's very modern."
Another trend is to use flashes of one striking color — sapphire to turquoise, and lately greens — in muted or all black-and-white schemes. Bold shots of color amp up the drama and grant spaces fashion-forward honors.
"Blue is stronger than ever," says Martin Rubenstein of Martin Interiors. Strong color can radiate from art, glass, pillows, throws, "items that are easy to change," he adds. "Bright accessories can finish a room superbly." —CCD
7) CLEAN IT GREEN
Jen Jackson and her crew at River City Cleaning don't just clean the houses of busy Richmonders. They reduce carbon emissions, keep harmful chemicals out of our water and provide their clients with spotless, healthy homes.
What's more, they do it all without relying on gasoline by traveling to and from cleaning gigs entirely by bicycle. "Many companies are going green these days — we like to go the extra mile!" says Jackson, who only breaks out the car keys in the most dire weather conditions (no, that doesn't include rain).
Between their bikes and the nontoxic, biodegradable products they use, RCC ( rivercitycleaning.net ) has prevented approximately 7,000 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere since its founding in 2008. That's as much as about 1,800 elm trees could process in the same amount of time. And the future looks even cleaner.
"Our goal is to continue to help people relax and enjoy their lives with a clean conscience about the health of the human, plant, animal and ecological communities in which we live," says Jackson. —SH
8) PICTURE THIS
From its opening in February to its dramatic, jam-packed three-day closing in May, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Picasso show was one of the hottest exhibitions on the East Coast.
Sales in the museum's Picasso shop were smokin' too. "Our top sellers were most definitely postcards and magnets," says Michael Guajardo, manager of the VMFA shop ( vmfa.museum ). "It seems as if every visitor bought one." With attendance figures reaching nearly 230,000 — and magnets priced at $3.95 and $6.95 — museum merchandise is big business.
Many of the specialty products offered were made in Europe, including the popular off-white bisque mugs and bowls featuring ink-hued graphics from the artist's La Taurimaquaia 3, 1957 . These came from the Museu Picasso Barcelona. "Prints were strong sellers as well," Guajardo says. Wooden dove candle holders made in India by Roost ($50 for the larger size) are still available.
Hands down, though, the memento of choice was the exhibition's definitive hardcover catalog, $60. Two hundred and seventy-two pages long and ripe with evocative images, it has a permanent place on coffee tables throughout the city and beyond. —CCD
9) EASY DOES IT
Convenience has become king in Richmond, as local food delivery options pop up throughout the city.
Both Dominion Harvest ( dominionharvest.com ) and Arganica Farm Club ( arganica.com ) deliver produce from local sustainable farms to your doorstep, allowing you to eat local even if you can't make it to the farmers market. And Fall Line Farms provides convenient pick-up sites throughout the city for their farmers-market products ( flf.luluslocalfood.com ).
Grocery service Relay Foods ( relayfoods.com ) offers products from local bakers, farmers and mom-and-pop stores, as well as traditional staples like Smuckers jam and Wheaties, combining the farmers market and grocery store into a one-stop online shopping experience — at the same cost of buying all of the items at the supermarket.
"It's a convenience tool ... you can get shopping done in a few minutes," Relay Foods founder Zach Buckner says. "We're allowing people to buy local food, but we're also flipping the retail equa- tion and allowing little guys to compete against big box stores."
And for a quick, hot meal, Quickness RVA ( quicknessrva.com ) delivers food by bicycle from six local restaurants, including Alamo BBQ in Church Hill and Lamplighter Roasting Company in the Fan, within a defined radius. —KH
10) DIVERSIFICATION DESIGN
Two entrepreneurs with national retailing experience have expanded their product lines. Ceramicist Dana Gibson (seen here) started in three-dimensional design with vases and now has gone flat, designing her first collection of fabrics, which are specifically for pillows ( danagibson.com ). "I've always wanted to do wallpaper and fabrics," she says. Gibson paints her designs on fabric, upholsters the prototype on a piece of furniture she sells at Grove Avenue's The Rue, and then has her fabric designs printed in North Carolina.
Decorative painter Sunny Goode ( sunnyspaint.com ) developed a line of stencils and wall glazes in 2001. She added self-adhesive stencils, but a line of home goods has been in the back of her mind. You'll now find mirrors based on her starburst stencil in her shop. "It was just a natural progression into home furnishings," Goode says. "It was an easy transition." —SW