House Rules

18 September 2013   //     13 comments   //   design, diy, happy, step away from the screen, type

Hey kids! Not sure if you noticed or not, but I haven’t been here in a while. My 365 project got derailed a little bit. First it was because I was busy. Then it was because I was actually spending a lot more time away from my screen.  Then I got busy again, and somewhere along the way, I decided to let myself off the hook and pick it back up when I had the wherewithal. Or not. We’ll see.

Meanwhile… I thought it might be time for another story about something I stepped away from the screen and made. Yeah? Okay! This story has a few “parts” to it, so I thought I’d break it down into bite size pieces.

Act 1 –

Scene 1:
About a year and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with kids. So I started working. Not diligently, but whenever something occurred to me, I would add it to the list. I kept the list on Evernote so it would be with me wherever I was.

Scene 2:
One night I was sitting on my couch looking around the living room. The staircase is a dominant feature of that room because it is right smack in the middle of it. All our walls are painted different colors, but the stairs are white wood. It occurred to me that I needed to do something creative with the stairs. I mean, here it was, a giant canvas right in the middle of the living room and it was just plain white. So I added that to my ever-present, ever-growing list of “things to think about and do someday.”

Act 2 –

Scene 1:
The house rules were coming along nicely, but there was a problem: Where was I going to put it once it was finished? We don’t have a ton of walls in our house (years ago previous owners knocked down most of the walls turning a boxy, compartmentalized, 1930′s era bungalow into an open, airy, modern feeling home. We love it, but we don’t have as many places to hang things as we might like.), and most of those walls were already exhibiting art, as we’d lived in the house for 6 years.

Scene 2:
One daydreamy afternoon, I’m thinking about our stairs, and what fun thing I could create for them, when suddenly it all comes together for me. The house rules! On the stairs! One rule per step. I counted the steps (13) and opened the house rules document. I had 9 rules. Surely I could come up with 4 more.

Act 3 –

Scene 1:
The stairs were, upon close inspection, pretty banged up. 6 years of a family of 4 on white stairs? Yeah. Might need a little paint. So that was the first part of the project. meanwhile, I was trying to figure out the best way to get the words on the stairs. I considered freehand painting, sharpie, and stencil painting, but I’m a fairly compulsive person (understatement), and I know that any imperfections would drive me crazy. Finally I decided on vinyl. Choosing the typeface and, more importantly, the color took a while — the stairs are surrounded by yellow, sage green, red, and brown walls. What color would work with all of those? We ultimately decided on a steely blue grey. And practical, clean DIN for the font. I designed the words and had them printed at my favorite sign company for about $40.

Scene 2:
Got the vinyl back as one big sheet. While I cut the lines apart, I also stressed about how to apply them so they’d be straight and also spaced the same distance from the wall (remember — compulsive). I decided left-aligned would work better than centered, and would also look more modern.

Act 4 –

They came out about a million times better than I even hoped they would. And the kids love them. And I love them. And we have even invented a game around them. We frequently find our cat, Mark, hanging out in the middle of the stairs. So we decided he would choose our rule of the day. Any time someone walks by the steps and sees Mark there, they yell out the rule he’s sitting on: “Mark says WORK HARD!!” Or “Mark says, SHARE!”

Here’s the complete list of our house rules. I strongly encourage you to think about what yours would be, even if you don’t turn them into something on display. It’s pretty interesting to consider which behaviors are important enough to you and your family that you would classify them as “rules.”

Be Kind.
Laugh. A lot.
Work Hard.
Play Fair.
Tell the Truth.
Offer to Help.
Ask Nicely.
Hug and Kiss.
Say Thank You.
Respect Others.


Graphic Design 201

12 December 2012   //     Comments Off   //   design, teaching, type

I’ve been teaching design classes for my friends over at Alt Channel for about a year now. They’re one of my very favorite things, and, if you haven’t already, I hope you get to participate in one someday. For those of you who took my Graphic Design for Bloggers 201 class, here are some resources for you.


Smashing Magazine’s incredibly detailed and thorough series on Color Theory –

Color Wheel Pro –

Wikipedia’s entry on Color
Wikipedia’s entry on Color Theory


I Love Typography is a fantastic resource for all things Typographical. Great articles on a wide range of topics.

They have a particularly great series called eXtreme Type Terminology

Ellen Lupton wrote one of my favorite books on Typography called Thinking With Type.
She has an accompanying website that is flush with information.

Fantastic tips on pairing fonts: A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Fonts

I love these two videos on Typography:

A few great places to buy fonts:

My favorite free font resource is DaFont.

Here’s a great list of well-designed free fonts.

And that’s about it for now. I’ll keep adding to this list as I think of things. And I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for things that should be on this list.


Music Philosophy

08 February 2011   //     4 comments   //   design, music, type

Clever, meaningful and stunning. This is exactly the kind of site I like to find when taking a work break at 1:00am. A weekly typographic interpretation of philosophical song lyrics. Perfectly sized for iPhone wallpapers, or you can buy one from the Etsy shop.

What philosophical song lyric would you like to see on a poster?

Click for bigger


freak animals

29 April 2010   //     Comments Off   //   caught my eye, type

I was looking for dog pictures the other day and wandered over to DaFont, my favorite free font website. Found the dogs I needed, and also found this: Freak Animals dingbat font. How fantastic are these? Wouldn’t they look great printed large and framed in a group?

Created by the apparently awesome Rodrigo German.


eames house tour

02 February 2010   //     Comments Off   //   design, history, type

So not only is House Industries releasing a fantastic new font collection (the Eames Century Modern), but they will also be drawing three names to accompany them on an exclusive look into the inner sanctum of one of 20th century’s greatest design teams. The Eames House was built in 1949 as number 8 in the series of Case Study Houses and is still recognized as a revolutionary use of space and materials.

To toss your hat into the ring, fill out this form and enter EAMES HOUSE in the comments box.

And if you forget the first time (like I did) hopefully they’ll be understanding when you fill out the form twice (like I did).


what type are you?

19 January 2010   //     6 comments   //   clever, design, thought provoking, type

This quiz from the mighty Pentagram has been cruising speedily around the interwebs, so if you’ve already done it, please share your type with us in the comments.

If you haven’t, turn your speakers on and go find out what type you are. Then come back and tell us. (Edited to add: password is Character)

I’m Van Doesburg. A creatively structural typeface designed by Theo Van Doesburg, an architect from the De Stijl era.

(Thanks Debbie!)



14 January 2010   //     Comments Off   //   caught my eye, design, type

House Industries Valentype

I love how plush and bursty this Valentype is from House Industries. The whole font looks just like that plump sumptuous heart. And it comes on 6×8 solid maple blocks. Yummy.

I’d like the whole red set please. It would look great in the LEAP office.


love, papyrus

05 January 2010   //     Comments Off   //   caught my eye, design, funny ha ha, type


Fantastic snarky letter to James Cameron over at pr*tty sh*tty.

Font snobs rejoice!

(Thanks Adam)