It is rare to come across a one-stop design resource with a finger on the pulse of all things cool, but it does happen. Better Living Through Design (BLTD) is one such spot. They feature products in categories ranging from travel and home renovation to furniture, books and accessories. And they tell you where to buy them online, because there’s nothing worse than drooling over something and being told, “Sorry, you can’t have it.”
I visit the site almost daily, to get a glimpse of what’s out there, for creative inspiration, and even to find a last-minute gift for someone who has everything. “Your Design Guide to Home, Style, Travel” – BLTD should definitely be on your short list of design resources.
Katie Hagar and Kris Bernard co-founded BLTD in 2005. Hagar, editor-in-chief, works full-time for BLTD and lives in London. In her past lives she was a product and textile designer, an art restoration specialist, and an interior designer. Kris Bernard, editor-at-large, currently lives in Los Angeles and works full time in a technical field. She has taught college-level architectural drafting, auto-cad for interiors, and kitchen and bath design.
Recently I had a chance to chat with them about their site.
How did BLTD come about and why?
Hagar: Kris originally thought up the idea for BLTD, as she felt the majority of design blogs (at that time) really didn’t focus on providing purchasing info, or for that matter, even feature items available in the marketplace. Lots of sites gave great coverage on prototypes and exciting new stuff, but they weren’t really usable for finding things you could buy for your home immediately. We had just become friends and since we shared a similar design aesthetic, she asked me to help her with building/writing BLTD.
Bernard: I registered the domain after having a long conversation with a friend about design while I was on vacation in NYC. I sat on it for about a year, then decided to start a blog. Katie and I met around the same time, and I asked her to join me in writing for the blog. At that point, we didn’t even really know where it would take us. We were running blind for a while. We’re always pleased when people tell us that it’s a great resource for creating their homes. It makes our day!
I read that you enjoy “making stuff.” What is your most recent creation?
Hagar: Hmm. I made a sweatshirt based on sweater pattern I liked…the jury is still out how successful it is as I played around with the proportion quite a bit and the materials were so different that it didn’t fit as expected. Before that I was working on altering some small cork landscape sculptures, adding tiny train figurines and electrical lights and such. I’ve got the supplies to do a few more, I just need to take the time to sit down and figure out what I want them to look like.
Bernard: I am currently in the planning stages of remodeling my home. I spend most of my free time either searching the internet for images or in Google sketch-up editing my floorplan. I will eventually hire an architect, but I really want to flesh out plans myself so I know what my needs are before meeting with the architect. I feel like after living in the house for two years I have a grasp of how the house can be improved and while I value the input of an architect, I really want to make sure he/she doesn’t talk me out of my “must haves.”
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Hagar: When PR companies (or designers themselves) send form emails and forget to change the ‘to’ names. Also, when someone emails multiple times (excessively) hoping we’ll feature their event/product. Drives me crazy as it makes our inbox a haystack. Also, too many exclamation points can get tiring.
Bernard: My biggest pet peeve? Poorly made, disposable products. I know everyone needs furniture but I don’t think if it ends up in a landfill in three years [that] it’s worth the low price.
What are your top three new favorite products?
Hagar: There are so many, but if I had to choose just three…or four… Daniel Emma Desk Accessories, for sure, as they’re just so lovely in person. Although I’ll have to save up for them, I think they’d inspire me to keep my desk tidier than it is now.
Element Planters – If these had an option to ship to London, I’d have a few of these. The angled surfaces and rusty (recycled) metal would be just the right contrast to a bunch of green plants.
Crumpled City Maps – Genius! no folding!
You are the happiest when…
Hagar: Painting, making or fixing something. Also, when my husband makes dinner (which is all the time, I should say, but I tend to enjoy it very much).
Bernard: When I have the luxury of creating and not worrying about the mundane parts of the day, such as paying bills or running errands.
Current favorite site(s) to visit for inspiration?
Bernard: I’m loving all the sites targeted towards more eclectic homes. While I prefer sparse and minimal, I live in an old craftsman so I’m learning to love my home’s old quirks. These sites help me wrap my head around refurbishing an older home: doorsixteen, brick house, style files and desire to inspire.
So there you have it! Some great ideas and inspiration from the two style gurus of BLTD.