Moss growing under my feet

With a nod to her past, a designer uses reclaimed mushroom wood as an accent to a modern kitchen.

Who claims fame for reclaimed?

When my father chose used bricks for the foyer and fireplace of his custom built home in South Jersey, even then, I thought… that’s cool. There were other materials in the house that were “reclaimed” or salvaged. The desk suspended from ships’ chains, railroad tie beams on the ceiling and a penny gum ball machine in the family room. They were all curiosities.

John had a vision when he built the house. It would be a grey weathered New England saltbox. Maybe he wanted to bring a little bit of his New England roots to the Jersey shore. No aluminum siding here. The house was clad in cedar siding. Cedar very quickly weathers to a smokey grey as if being battered from years of weather’s storms. However, I’m quite certain that if reclaimed cedar siding had been available back then to achieve his vision, he would have used it.


Reclaimed weathered cedar siding from Historic Woods



Sustainable and eco friendly?

A natural landscape was chosen to complete the look. Or more simply, it had no lawn. Why? Was it because it was sustainable? Or eco friendly? Not a chance. He had no use for a lawn. To him, spending hours maintaining a lawn involved giving up too much valuable free time. So eventually, the yard turned into a low maintenance and eco friendly mossy carpet nestled in a neighborhood full of manicured suburban lawns.

John was certainly no conservationist. And he wasn’t trying to be trendy. However, he did have an unrealized creative side and a spirit to do things differently.


Provenance Mill works reclaimed mushroom wood

Now trending

Recently, we renovated our kitchen with modern glossy white cabinets. But too much of a good thing can be, well, just too much of a good thing. Our modern glossy cabinets begged for a complimentary natural accent. The back of the counter bar peninsula was a perfect place to add a touch of something organic. Afterall, opposites attract in both design and dating.

I scoured the internet searching for reclaimed wood. You’ve seen it. Every trendy restaurant now has reclaimed wood decor. But finding it for my small project was near impossible. After a multitude of unsuccessful searches, I finally found a local supplier of reclaimed wood. Provenance Mill Works in Philadelphia is an amazing treasure trove of reclaimed wood and salvaged objects. There, I discovered mushroom wood. Reclaimed from commercial mushroom planting beds, enzymes erode the grain which produces sculpted canyons in the wood. It’s affordable, sustainable and never needs treating. And since mushroom farmers regularly replace bins the supply is endless.




Mushroom wood planks installed on the back of the peninsula.

My claim of reclaimed

Once I decided to used reclaimed mushroom wood as an accent in our kitchen I couldn’t give myself THAT much credit. Afterall, haven’t many have gone there before? Many, including my father, used reclaimed before it became trendy. It’s always been a vehicle for adding a little bit of soul where non exists. Be it because of economic necessity, the desire to be closer to nature, or just our past, reclaimed materials will always intrigue people. But for me, I smiled to myself, thought of my dad, remembering him doing things a just a little bit differently.

LEDs… delightful.


Mid-Century Modern not so modular shelves.

We bought this Mid-Century Modern modular shelving unit from the estate of the previous owner. It’s well-built, stylish AND practical. The rails are aluminum. The drawers are solid wood. The doors have rattan inserts. And, there’s lots of storage. I’m not a fan of clutter. I’m a fan of hiding clutter. I hide the dog toys in the bottom drawer on the left.

Our predecessor had the shelving unit upstairs. In order to move it downstairs to the living room it had to be taken apart and reassembled. “Modular” was not the word I used to describe the unit while moving it.

Binder screws.

I scrubbed 30 years of nicotine off the shelves. Polished the aluminum support rails. And then, went off to the hardware store to find binder screws to assemble the unit. Half of the binder screws were missing. The holes in the rails needed to line up perfectly with the holes in the cabinets in order to put the shelves together. Another two person job. The project that I said, was at best, 1-2 hours, took the entire day. Funny, that happens a lot.

shelvesAGreat! Love it… except. It looks underwhelming.

The shelves required some drama to show them off. At night, against an 18 foot wall, the shelves visually melted into the room. But with minimal cost and effort. And by adding background lights. The shelves now look rich and sophisticated. 

Not too hot. And not too cold.

Lighting is an important component of design. Lighting design professionals understand the art and science of lighting. It can be used to create drama and add dimension. Retailers, designers and directors all use lighting to connect with audiences.

With lighting, knowing color temperature is important. Do you ever wonder why you look so bad under fluorescent lights? It’s because the least flattering light for your face is blueish light. It’s color temperature is cold. Fluorescent lights emit bluish/green light. This makes your skin tone look sickly and pale. This is useful information for your next selfie.

Lowel EDU: Lighting Resource Center

If you want to understand about the art and science of lighting, visit Lowel.

Drama, in the right places.

For this project, I used LED tape lights from LED Wholesalers. I taped the LED lights to the back of the shelving unit. They are 12 volt DC, 24 watt, warm white with a color temperature of 2700K. Warm lighting is a good choice for home lighting. It feels natural and comfortable.

These lights are cuttable, dimmable and have an adhesive back. They required a power adapter and connectors as needed. A touch sensitive dimmer switch is optional.

LED lights have come a long way in recent years. Partly due to the phasing out of incandescent bulbs. I recommend changing to LEDs throughout your home. You’ll save money, save the environment AND you can still look good. LEDs are affordable (they keep going down in price) and are readily available in warm white 2700K.



LED 12 volt DC, 24 watt, warm white tape lights with a color temperature of 2700K and scissors.


Power adapter, connector and optional touch sensitive dimmer switch.


Tape lights come in different lengths. These lights can be cut with scissors every two inches for custom sizing. A variety of connectors can be added for different situations.



  1. Peel off tape backing and stick in place.
  2. Connect to connector or connectors.
  3. Plug into the power adapter.
  4. Plug into an outlet.
  5. Optional: Connect the power adapter to a touch sensitive dimmer switch.

I love the way this turned out. This media unit needed a little help. The LED tape lights also compliment the two LED lamps.


3floornoledAUnderwhelming too.

This media cabinet without lighting. 

IKEA the business. A non-profit?


“I decided that the stock market was not an option for IKEA. I knew that only a long-term perspective could secure our growth plans and I didn’t want IKEA to be become dependent on financial institutions.”

Ingvar Kamprad, Senior Advisor & Founder

I remember in 1985 when IKEA opened its first US store. Wow, its been 30 years. That first store was in Plymouth Meeting, PA. A short distance from my home in Philadelphia. Billboards were posted everywhere announcing the store’s opening. It was an event. For a designer, the idea of affordable readily available Scandinavian furniture and products was a dream come true. Back then, I felt privileged to be living near the first, AND ONLY, US store. IKEA has since outgrown their first US store in Plymouth Meeting, PA. In 2000 the store moved to nearby Conshohocken, PA. But I’m a lucky lady. I work in Conshohocken so I make frequent trips on my commute home.

IKEA has disappointed me with some of their products over the past 30 years, but not many. Early on, lots of products just fell apart. But today, IKEA offers some amazing solutions that are an integral part of our home.

I’d just like to say. Nobody does it better than IKEA. It is truly a remarkable business. And on so many levels. The level I’m going to talk about today is IKEA’s corporate structure. So…

Did you know?


In case you were wondering….

IKEA was started in 1943 by Swedish founder Ingvar Kamprad. It is a private “foundation”. A charitable organization. No stock and no shareholders. But still, it’s amazing to imagine that it’s 31.22 billion dollars in sales In 2014 were achieved without the help of shareholder or investor money.

IKEA’s ownership structure secures it’s long-term future. Because IKEA is a foundation it cannot be sold or split up by heirs.

And it works like this…

The Stichting INGKA Foundation (a private non-profit) based in the Netherlands owns the IKEA Group. The IKEA Group must reinvest funds back into the IKEA Group OR funds must be donated for charitable purposes through the Stichting IKEA Foundation.

The IKEA Group (another private company) franchises the IKEA retail system from Inter IKEA Systems. 

Inter IKEA Systems (yes, private) is the owner of the IKEA trademark, concept and the worldwide IKEA franchisers.

Got that?

The IKEA group of companies


So, is IKEA a non-profit? Clearly it is.

It’s a privately owned charitable foundation dedicated to interior design. By being a charitable foundation IKEA minimizes it’s tax liability. The founder Ivar Kamprad and his family financially benefit from this arrangement. And because IKEA is a private charitable entity it makes it impossible to takeover. IKEA remains intact and immune to tampering from successors.

Rest easy. Or not. IKEA will still be there for  your grandchildren.

Images, content and data sourced from

Raise the bar. And a glass.

Target's Threshold™ Windham Accent Cabinet
Our teal blue bar cabinet – Target’s Threshold™ Windham Accent Cabinet

Under $150 at Target… bargain.

Zigzoe is very conscience about pennies going out the door. After all, those pennies are also needed for fabulous BYOB dinners in foodie rich Philadelphia.

Target Threshold Windham Accent Cabinet.
Target Threshold Windham Accent Cabinet.

Threshold Windham Accent Cabinet

I love the pop of color of this storage cabinet. It compliments our modern decor without being too fussy. It could easily swing country too. The cabinet has one adjustable shelf with stylish window pane doors. Target says it’s made of “quality wood materials”. Not exactly sure what that means but I’m certain it doesn’t mean solid wood. That’s OK with me. It’s easy to put together but the best part is it doesn’t LOOK like it’s put together. It has a lacquer like finish and is sturdy enough for our needs. I love the teal blue. Highly recommended.

If teal doesn’t work for you there are nine other colors to choose from. It’s $134.99 when it’s on sale or $149.99 regular price at Target. Yeah, Target!

There are other pieces in the Threshold Windham series if this one doesn’t work for you.