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Update on webstore and more

November 28, 2009

The last of our goodies are almost gone.  Our webstore will be coming down soon, but we have one more shipment of new shoes to add!  Once they arrive from England, we’ll be posting them in the shop.

Thanks to all who have been so supportive of our transition the last couple of months.  We have truly been touched by every single email and note that we received.

Korinne and I have been busy the last month and a half fulfilling orders and clearing out the shop.  We also have been working more on independent projects and consulting.  Korinne’s been meeting with clients on branding and marketing.  I’ve had several photography gigs and have been working on my own art work.  (I’m actually running a giveaway of one of my works on my art blog.  Go to for details.)

We’re not quite sure yet what Olio United will look like after the webstore is gone, but we are still talking about it almost every day.  As we have more information to share, we will post more updates.

Thanks again for your support and for sticking with us.

Yours truly,

Cathy and Korinne


Olio United Closing Sale

October 22, 2009

We’re closing up our web shop to move on to new blogging and design projects. 
Shop our final sale until all items are gone!

about what we’re working on with Olio United blog 2.0.


Recycled Wood Chip Countertop

October 10, 2009

countertop 2

I recently posted on my green kitchen remodel.  After being featured on Green Your Decor and Apartment Therapy, I received quite a few inquiries on the countertop that we had installed.  Here are some details concerning the wood chip material.

I originally purchased the product through Canopy, a local showroom of sustainable home building materials. It was a material that was only being used for decorative purposes at the time, but I was drawn to its eco-friendly qualities and cost-effectiveness.

The wood chip based material, made just 30 miles south of Portland,  is comprised of recycled chips and a water-based polymer.  Offered in different colors, I eventually chose the ebony tinted material.

To seal the surface, four coats of a natural finish were applied.  The clear coat was a product we purchased from Ecohaus, along with a water-based adhesive we used to glue the countertop to the plywood base.  To finish the edges, a walnut wood trim was installed that matched the rest of the kitchen cabinetry.

wood countertop 1

It’s been three years since we installed the countertop, and I’m still really happy with our choice. Although durable, we have found some challenges with the countertop.  For one,  the finish scratches easily. Fortunately, the texture of the wood masks any fine scratches.  There are also grooves in the surface design, so I wouldn’t recommend doing much food preparation directly on the countertop.  And lastly, like any natural wood material, it is prone to water damage.

For more information on the wood chip material, you can check out one of the manurfacturer’s websites, Torzo Surfaces.

My new blog on everything art

October 1, 2009
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Before my Olio days, I was a high school art teacher.  I love talking about art with young people and seeing their creative minds in action.  In many ways, working with designers the last few years has provided a similar experience.  One of my favorite parts of what I do now is seeing artists and designers at work in their studio.

Art has been an integral part of my life, and I feel compelled more than ever to share with others what I have learned, seen, and created.  So, I started a new blog called Habit of Art.  It’s essentially my daily journal of findings, thoughts, and works of art.  The scope of my posts includes everything from experimenting with new art materials to exploring project ideas with kids to covering design elements at home.

Every Friday, I’ll also be posting my own art for sale.  Shown below is one of the pieces I finished this week called It’s beginning to snow.  You can take a look at my current collection here.

I look forward to talking art with you!

It's beginning to snow

It's beginning to snow.

My Green Kitchen Remodel

September 28, 2009

before and after

My husband says that I’m a glutton for punishment since I am constantly wanting to redo something in our home. After a major home remodel in 2002, we had pledged not to tackle another fixer-upper again. That is, until we decided to move to Portland four years later.

In 2006, we bought a charming little 1924 Craftsman home that needed a serious makeover.  There was matted carpet in the dining room, no cabinets on one side of the kitchen, and a noticeable absence of modern amenities.  In the first couple of weeks using the kitchen, two cabinet doors actually fell off of their hinges!

My strategy was to just live in the current condition of the home for a couple of months and take notes on how the space was naturally being used.  The doorway between the kitchen and dining room, for example, was pretty narrow (see “before” photo above).  With two adults and two kids running around, it quickly became evident that the doorway needed to be widened.

In addition to preserving beautiful architectural qualities like crown moulding, it was important to us that our home remodel be as “green” as possible.  We sought out several local green contractors for the kitchen remodel.  All the bids came in higher than our budget, so my husband and I ended up taking on all the demolition ourselves and subcontracting out the speciality jobs.

The demolition only took a couple of days, and we were able to donate or recycle most of the used materials. I feel fortunate that Portland has some great home centers and resources dedicated to the reuse/recycling of materials, like The Rebuilding Center, ReStore, and Metro.

One of the more challenging parts of the remodel was finding sustainable materials that fit our budget. I found two places in Portland that were very helpful and informative- Ecohaus and Canopy Home.  The materials we ended up installing in our kitchen (most all from local businesses) included recycled glass tiles, cork flooring, FSC certified plywood cabinets, wood chip board countertop, earth-friendly paints and finishes, a granite composite sink, and grasscloth wallpaper.  I also picked out energy efficient appliances that were made in the U.S.

One of my favorite features of our kitchen are the handmade tiles from Portland-based Stardust Glass. I actually ran into the founder, Jason Coleman, at a local tile shop when I was searching for recycled glass tiles.  He showed me some of his patterns and designs, and I instantly fell in love with the circle mosaic pattern.  It was exciting to work with Jason on a custom color palette for my backsplash.  The tiles really completed the look in the kitchen by tying in the different colors throughout the space and adding an element of vintage inspiration.

Stardust Tiles founder Jason Coleman and I worked on the color combination of the handmade tiles.

Handmade, recycled glass tiles by Portland company Stardust Glass.

Another favorite part of my kitchen is my pantry.  For months I had food and kitchen supplies sitting in boxes because there just wasn’t enough cabinet space.  I eventually drew up some plans of how I wanted the cabinets designed, including a pantry unit that hung on the wall. I found a talented local craftsman who specialized in European cabinetry, and voila! We’ve got storage!

The floating pantry provides storage for food and small appliances.

The floating pantry provides storage for food and small appliances.

Although it was no easy task to create a new green kitchen, it was well worth the wait and the work. Whether you’re in the throws of your own green remodel or just in the planning stage, here are some local resources that can make your journey easier: Eco-haus,  Rejuvenation, The Rebuilding CenterYolo Colorhouse, and Stardust Glass.

Go here to read my tips on how to make the kitchen design process go smoother.  Now to start on my bedroom!

Celebrating the last days of summer

September 22, 2009
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A few days ago, Korinne and I spent the afternoon with friends on Oswego Lake.  It was glorious.




happy on the lake

Plywerk Artist Series show now live

September 21, 2009

"Beach," Anthony Georgis, $60

Korinne and I have been eagerly looking forward to the launch of our new rotating art show, the Plywerk Artist Series. Plywerk is a great, local company that mounts prints on sustainably harvested wood panels.  The panels are all meticulously cut in a wood shop in SE Portland.

I love the clean look of Plywerk pieces, and it’s such a great alternative to framing a piece of art!  They also sell blank panels, so that artists can create their own Plywerk masterpieces.

The current gallery of Plywerk prints from photographer Anthony Georgis and artist Jill Bliss will be up through the month of October.  Each piece in the series is a limited edition item that is exclusively being showcased at Olio United.

One of my favorite pieces in the show is Beach photographed by Georgis.  The dream-like image of the beach is so serene, I can stare at the scene all day. My other favorite work in the show is Bliss’ Poppies. The simple colors and delicate patterns remind me of cross stitched trims on vintage pillows.

You can shop for your favorite Plywerk Artist Series piece here.  First ten customers to order a Georgis or Bliss print from the show will receive a complimentary mini-Plywerk (an example shown below) thanks to our friends at Plywerk!


"Poppies," Jill Bliss, $75