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Homework: Furnish first; Maestro Mouse; 'Young House Love'

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Father-son architects furnish first

Acclaimed architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen's design philosophy includes the maxim “People look good in my buildings.”

The same could be said of the custom furnishings that Jacobsen and his son Simon Jacobsen, also a principal in Jacobsen Architecture, create for many of these elegant homes. Now, Hugh, 83, who has had his own firm since 1958, and Simon, 47, have introduced a line of furnishings originally designed for clients in the Caribbean, Nantucket, Paris and London. The 50 tables, beds, sofas and light fixtures on display at the Archer design studio here reflect the Jacobsen vision of modernism blended with traditionalism.

“It's an unusual approach to design. We design the interiors first,” Simon says. “The spaces the clients require are designed, then furniture and seating groups are developed and then the architecture. Most architects design a house and fill it with stuff and hope it works out. We do it the other way around.”

Priced at $1,600 for the clear acrylic Velo stool to $20,000 for the Halo light ring, an elegant crown of lights, the collection reflects the elegant and spare look of Jacobsen houses.

“We realized that we were sitting on an enormous catalogue of custom-designed furniture,” says Simon, who notes the firm would get many requests for the pieces from readers who saw them in shelter magazines.

Play it again, pine

Hang a Maestro Mouse ornament on your Christmas tree, and a mini concert is just a request away.

The ornament responds to voice commands to play a selection of Christmas songs. It can be synchronized with your tree lights to produce a musical light show, and you can even tell it to turn your lights on or off.

The ornament sells for $39.97 at Home Depot stores, although a recent check found it out of stock in Akron-area locations. You can, however, order it at www.homedepot.com and have it shipped to you for free.

Show your home love

Sherry and John Petersik insist they knew nothing about fixing up a house when they bought their first place in 2006. Since then, they've earned their home-renovation chops and a slew of fans who follow their progress through their blog, Young House Love.

Now, they're sharing even more ideas through a book by the same name.

The Petersiks' goal is to make home improvement less intimidating and less expensive while still producing first-class results. In the book, they've compiled doable projects and tips designed to give their readers not just ideas, but confidence.

Most of the ideas are their own, but they also tap the talents of guest bloggers such as Ana White of Ana White: Homemaker and Jessica Jones of How About Orange. Even their Chihuahua, Hamburger, makes frequent appearances in the book.

“Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love” is published by Artisan Books, and sells for $25.95 in hardcover.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email sjones@tribweb.com

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