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    The sweet scalloped edge and tufted back of Bokja's Blue Rose Sofa add instant charm. Photo: ABC Carpet & Home

    Vintage fabrics and handcrafted furnishings brighten spaces (and moods).

    Despite my earth-tone-heavy wardrobe, I'm a sucker for bright colors and bold patterns when it comes to home decor. Marimekko? Love! Jonathan Adler? Love! Bokja? Obsessed!

    Designers Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri, the Lebanese duo behind Bokja, a line of reclaimed chairs, sofas, benches, and pouffs, draw inspiration from their home base along the legendary Silk Road, upholstering each furniture piece in a rich patchwork of fabric and textiles.

    The word "bokja" itself is Turkish for the embellished velvet wrapping used to hold the dowry of a bride. In keeping with that tradition of homespun opulence, Bokja employs local artisans to reupholster and repurpose each piece by hand, using traditional techniques and vintage textiles from Uzbekistan, Central Asia, and other Silk Road countries .

    The collection is comprised of Bokja "Classics", like the sofa above and chairs below, available stateside at ABC Carpet & Home, and the "Coups de Coeur," custom pieces. (Although everything is essentially one-of-a-kind, thanks to their handcrafted construction).

    I first spotted Bokja on a mood board over at Get Togetha blog and fell in love with the possibilities. Check out a few more of my favorite pieces from the line:

    Sunny and sizeable, Bojka's Yellow Slipper Chair, $2200. Photo: ABC Carpet & Home

    Creativity radiates from this perfect-for-the-office chair. Demi Chair with Metal Base, $2900. Photo: ABC Carpet & Home

    This colorful perch swivels, too. Bokja Swivel Stool, $1400. Photo: ABC Carpet & Home

    Patchworked to perfection, Bokja's Upholstered Arm Chair, $3200. Photo: ABC Carpet & Home


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  • 06/29/10--11:34: Daily Upper: Red Shed Door
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    red shed doorPhoto: Robem, Flickr

    This photo that I found on Robin Keefe's Flickr caught my eye and instantly put a smile on my face. I love when I discover an unexpected color combination, such as this bright red and aqua shed. These two colors act as complementary characters that seem to have had quite a history together, like The Odd Couple. Without one, the other just seems a bit less extraordinary.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!


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    Old and new mix happily on the porch of this Fire Island home. Photo: Jonathan Wallen

    Designer Thomas Jayne proves that decorating a beach house doesn't require whitewashed walls and seashell accents.

    Interior designer Thomas Jayne didn't fall for the usual temptation of white, white and more white when he was commissioned to decorate this 1895 beach house in the Point O'Woods community of Fire Island, New York. Instead, Jayne listened to the house and stayed true to its roots, using a quiet but sharp eye to bring its interiors up-to-date.

    Staying true to the home's past was less of a choice here than it might be in other projects. The community in which the house lies is only accessible by ferry and there are no cars on this part of the island. On top of that, when homes are sold, the new owners get all the furnishings that are inside. Jayne not only started with a fully furnished house, but bringing in new materials and furniture would be a challenge.

    The green wicker dressing table and chair and small pink bench came with the house. Photo: Jonathan Wallen

    Luckily, Jayne and his team were able to reuse much of what was in the house already, while exercising what Jayne calls "an editorial eye." In fact, Jayne says the red wicker chair that sits on the wrap-around porch and the small salmon-colored table upstairs were both part of his inspiration for the design. Remarks Jayne, "The house gave us a lot to work with."

    The contemporary coral floor lamps are among the new items Jayne brought to the home. Photo: Jonathan Wallen

    The wood finish of the walls was left as-is, with a few touch-ups to even the color. Jayne says that he prefers the wood to a whitewashed scheme because the natural hue of the timber frames the house's view. The wide-plank floors were polished in some rooms while others were painted in blue and green deck paint. Window frames were painted a bright blue, for a fresh pop of color.

    Four different patterns mix happily on this built-in window seat. Photo: Jonathan Wallen

    Next, Jayne made sure that every piece of furniture was functioning; then he looked at the pieces with sculptural lines. Clutter was banished and the home's surfaces were left clean. Furnishings and floor coverings were selected with the beach in mind. Throughout the house, different patterned fabrics are mixed and matched effortlessly, while hooked rugs add texture to the spaces.

    A modern pendant lamp and a bold painting mingle with traditional furnishings. Photo: Jonathan Wallen

    While there are decorative touches that allude to the home's seaside locale, like the graphic beach ball painting in the dining room and coral-based lamps in the living room, you won't find a single nautical tchochke on the premises. "The worst thing about summer houses are the presents," jokes Jayne of house gifts like shell-encrusted mirrors, "It's just a plague."

    The results are a home that feels like it has evolved gracefully over time, not a cookie cutter beach house that came straight off the shelves of the Pottery Barn. Pleased with the home's subtle transformation, Jayne says, "When it was finished, the neighbors all saw that it had been improved, but it wasn't a radical change."


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  • 06/29/10--11:34: Whiskey Barrel Gardening
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    A vacant lot is transformed into an edible garden in the niftiest of ways.

    You might not recognize the name Brown-Forman, but you're probably familiar with their brands like Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort or Fetzer wines. Well, employees here are towing a new company line: gardening cultivates happiness in the workplace.

    Brown-Forman head chef Mark Williams has always had a passion for gardening, and a few years ago, when he found out a nearby building on their Louisville, Kentucky campus was going to be demolished, he jumped at the chance to claim the vacant lot to plant a company garden. Still, he had to figure out how to grow stuff on the abandoned lot. Answer: The company agreed to let chef Mark use some of their old whiskey and bourbon barrels and give them new life as planters.

    brown-forman barrel container gardenThe Brown-Forman official barrel container garden. Photo: Brown-Forman

    To assist in the day-to-day gardening, chef Mark organized an employee garden club with about 40 members, each of whom donate a half-hour per week to do things like planting, building tomato cages and running irrigation. Each garden club member received their very own barrel for planting, and gets to keep whatever they grow in their barrels. They garden and harvest by the cycles of the moon, which chef Mark says, has been "amazing to watch the results and how much more productive and successful the germination is."

    Chef Mark is very involved in Slow Food USA, an organization that promotes eating food grown in your community, and he's a firm believer in organic gardening. The Brown-Foreman parking lot garden is 100% organic, and home to everything from tomatoes to rare and endangered varieties of heirloom veggies. The garden, now four years old, has grown to 242 barrels and provides most of the produce for the company's cafeteria, which caters to Brown-Forman's 4,000 employees. The garden saves the company about $100 per day.

    brown-forman barrel container gardenChef Mark plants seeds for a new crop. Photo: Brown-Forman

    Garden club member Anne Braun, manager of office facility design at Brown-Forman, says that she can't grow a garden at home due to an abundance of shade trees: "I was thrilled to be able to join the gardening club and have the opportunity to work in an organic garden. With the Garden Club, I can put in just one hour per week and I get my own barrel to plant with my choice of heirloom vegetables."

    "It's really great for a chef to be able to come out of the kitchen and into a garden where they can commune with nature, and grow some of the foods they're cooking with," Mark says. "The flavors from what we're growing are so much better than what we were getting from the produce company. In our foods, we're using a lot more herbs, and the trend has been lighter, healthier and more local food."

    brown-forman barrel container gardenThe vegetables are growing in a barrel, thanks to care from employees. Photo: Brown-Forman

    Chef Mark tried to be as eco-conscious and budget-conscious as possible when planning the garden. On top of using the old barrels, they compost all the food scraps from their cafeteria. For about $200, chef Mark purchased and ran an irrigation system so that the plants can be watered on a timer. (Deadlines won't keep these plants from being watered!)

    If you walked along the rows of barrels, you'd see a variety of plants. There are herbs -- basil, thyme, parsley, sage and Vietnamese coriander. Plus, veggies: Their tomatoes have cross-pollinated and thus they've grown their very own variety of tomato, which they have deemed the "Old No. 7 Tomato," after Jack Daniel's Old No. 7.

    Additionally, they've been growing unusual mint varieties, such as apple mint, pineapple mint and Kentucky colonel mint in Witner Reserve Barrels. They use these for their $1000 mint juleps sold at the Kentucky Derby for charity.

    The best part about chef Mark's garden is that it can be replicated anywhere. All you need is a container! He thinks it's particularly easy to grow in, say, a barrel since it cuts down on weeds. Listen up, city dwellers: If you have limited space, you might try growing in a few containers.

    Want to make your very own barrel garden? Here are a few easy steps to making a barrel planter for your own container garden, courtesy of Brown-Foreman.

    1. Drill two drainage holes in the barrel, one in the bottom and one on the side, approximately two inches from the bottom.
    2. Cover the holes with small pieces of window screen or weed blocking fabric, to keep soil from washing out of barrels and blocking drainage holes.
    3. Fill barrels with untreated wood mulch.
    4. Top barrels with a 50/50 mixture of organic topsoil and organic compost, about 40 lbs.
    5. Add organic fertilizer and worms.
    6. Install drip irrigation or develop watering plan to keep soil moist.
    7. Plant with organic vegetables, fruit, flower seeds or plants.

    Want another unique gardening idea? Check out our fab or fad: upside-down gardens.


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    Courtesy of Electrolux

    Who knew that a household cleaning tool could be such a compelling art star?

    Sure, we are thankful that the internet has brought us amazing videos of babies, kittens and even grandpas dancing to Lady Gaga. But today we are grateful for Electrolux. They have brought us the most exciting vacuum video we've ever seen -- and possibly the only vacuum video we've ever seen -- (kittens riding Roombas aside). While that may sound like no big feat, wait until you see this baby.

    The vacuum, released in April, is the newest Ergorapido from Electrolux. (And available everywhere from Target to Lowe's) And the structure you see in there was created by Swedish designer/artist Tobias Allanson (now, also a proud owner of a yellow Ergoradipo).

    The video is meant to highlight all the features that earned the vacuum accolades from independent German test institute SLG (like it's intense pick-up). Plus all the goodies like the LED headlight on the double-jointed nozzle, the easy-to-remove hand-held unit and the sleek design. While we recommend watching it a second time to catch all of those fine details -- let your first viewing serve as pure entertainment.

    Think we're design geeks for getting all worked up about a vacuum video? Then get a load of the behind-the-scenes video.

    Still thinking about vacuums?
    An Ergonomic Vacuum Cleaner?
    Trend Watch: Roomba as Art?


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  • 06/29/10--14:35: The New Tag Sales
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    Tag sales haven't just moved online -- They've gone high-end.

    Think "tag sale" and the words normally conjure up the neighbor's garage and some busted-up wicker chaise in a jungle print. Not that those garage sale finds can't be fun. But the new wave of tag sales have not only moved online -- they're infinitely chic-er. And they come with a designer pedigree. Here's a rundown of the new tag sales:

    Aspirational interiors don't seem that far away now...
    A living room decorated by Tim Whealon, one of the designers whose pieces are available on Decorator Tag Sale. Photo: Tim Whealon

    Decorator Tag Sale
    Sandra Oster's Decorator Tag Sale, which launched this April, is one of the newest to hit the scene. Expect to find cast-offs from pedigreed decorators, like a French Directoire white-painted chest of drawers or a David Hicks carpet. You might spot a lantern or mirror from one of Amanda Nisbet's oft-photographed interiors, or a wooden chair from Christopher Coleman's room at last year's Kips Bay Show House. (I did!) And don't let the brand-spanking-new-ness of the site fool you -- merchandise is updated regularly. Not bad for just a month-old site.

    A leather wing chair or this month's rent? You decide.
    The Barnstable chair by Gérard is on my wish list. Photo: Offthefloornow

    Off The Floor Now
    Likewise, is the brainchild of Dessin Fournir Companies founder Kerry Joyce. Since last October, floor models and discontinued pieces from super high-end, trade-only lines like Rose Cumming fabric and Palmer Hargrave lighting have been selling for a fraction of their original cost. Things I never thought could be in my price range -- like a gorgeous Gerard bookcase that I've been coveting since my days as an editorial assistant -- are suddenly (somewhat) affordable. Major score. Plus, a portion of the proceeds go to charities like DIFFA.

    Tastemaker Tag Sales from One Kings Lane
    Peeking into a designer's backroom storage has always been a thrill for me, so it's no surprise I'm hooked on browsing through One Kings Lane's Tastemaker Tag Sales. Every Saturday morning (11 a.m. EST), a different designer's archives go up for grabs on the flash sale's site for three days. I missed a tufted leather chair from Nathan Turner's sale, and pretty much slept through Windsor Smith's last month, so come next Saturday, I'll come prepared -- agile fingers and credit card at the ready.

    Now that the word is out, tag sales will never be the same -- happy shopping!


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  • 07/01/10--07:44: Diane's Design "Revolution"
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    We love Diane Von Furstenberg, but we disagree that her home line is going to shake up the home furnishings category. Photo: Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images

    With Diane Von Furstenberg's new line poised to "shake up" home design, one writer asks: What needs shaking?

    As we reported earlier this year, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg is branching out into the home category with a partnership with Springs Global. Springs revealed the new line of tabletop, bedding and bath accessories to the press last week, and the response has been glowing. While we'd love to share images of the products with you here, the company is being super-secretive about the line, saying they don't want to "frustrate consumers" by showing it before it is available (frankly, we're more frustrated not seeing the goods than seeing them early).

    This is no small launch. Home Textiles Today reports that DVF Home stores are in the works, with the first hopefully slated to open in New York. In a recent conversation with Home Furnishing News, Joe Granger, president of Springs Global's Branded Business unit, even said "[Energy] has been lacking in home furnishings, with so much product that's been watered down. The industry needs initiatives like this to bring excitement back into it."

    While we're huge fans of Diane Von Furstenberg and her signature prints, we thought to ourselves, "Really?"

    It's not exactly like the home market is wanting for energy and excitement, and as head of a major home company, Granger surely can't be that out of touch with the rest of the market. Plus, as much as we love a DVF wrap dress (what woman doesn't?), we're not totally jazzed for the new line. We suspect the excitement is due to Diane's stamp on the product, not the plates, sheets and towels themselves.

    When Diane Von Furstenberg launched her women's clothing line in 1970, bright, bold prints were all the rage in both fashion and in the home. While beige may have ruled interiors in the 80s, and the loud hues and prints of the 60s and 70s never fully re-emerged with the popularity they had back then, the energy of vibrant design has certainly never gone away, nor has excitement for the home category.

    In fact, your editors here at ShelterPop would argue that the last ten years have been one of the most exciting times for home furnishings in modern times. While Mr. Granger may have missed it, a design renaissance has been not-so-quietly taking place.

    A bedding set that exemplifies DwellStudio's modern aesthetic. Photo: DwellStudio

    One example of the energy that Granger seems to have missed is a line of modern bedding and home accessories that started in an office with no heat and today boasts itself to be a $25 million company. When Christiane Lemieux launched her bedding line, DwellStudio in 1999, she wanted to create the vibrant, graphic, contemporary bedding she craved herself.

    A year later, architecture and modern design buffs got their own hip, young publication: Dwell magazine, which was a sort of antidote to the staid pages of Architectural Digest. It was their mutual appreciation for the tenants of modern design (not just their very similar names) that found DwellStudio sheets on the pages of almost every issue of the fledgling magazine. Both were immediately beloved by the design community.

    Lemieux is one of the many designers who has partnered with Target in the last decade, and these partnerships alone would be evidence enough that the products on the market today are far from watered-down. When designer Michael Graves partnered with the company in 1999, it truly shook up the industry. However, the excitement for Graves's home design wasn't a one-off event: The big box retailer has brought out home lines by everyone from Todd Oldham to Sir Terence Conran, at a pace that is nothing, if not energetic. Customers have even been known to wait outside of Target stores before the launch of a new line as they did with Target's recent collaboration with Liberty of London.

    The cast of the 2008 season of Top Design. Photo: Top Design/BRAVO

    Meanwhile, we weren't all just buying fancy toasters, Americans were getting an education in the how-to side of design. In 1994, a little cable network called HGTV made its way onto the scene. By the year 2000, we were all well-accustomed to tuning in to home decorating, renovating and landscaping shows as part of our nightly viewing. In 2007, Top Design hit the airwaves and suddenly designers like Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler and Margaret Russell were household names.

    A sampling of Adler's "Happy Chic" homewares. Photos: Jonathan Adler

    Wearstler and Adler are also both examples of brands that represent the energy in the last decade of design. Jonathan Adler sold his first pots to Barney's in 1993 and had opened his own store by 1998, quickly followed by a Los Angeles branch in 2001 and a furniture line in 2002. Adler's "happy chic" aesthetic was bright, bold and lots of fun, with just enough sophistication to make the design world drool. Today, Adler has branched out into bedding, stationary, books, children's wares and even a fashion collaboration.

    Kelly Wearstler's now legendary interiors for the Viceroy Santa Monica. Photo: Viceroy Hotels

    Kelly Wearstler, on the other hand, has made her name designing hotel interiors like the Viceroy hotels in Santa Monica and Anguilla, which are bright, bold and as energetic as a teenager who has downed a case of Red Bull. Like Adler, Wearstler's name has become a brand that sells bedding, china and other home accessories.

    Some of The Future Perfect's independent designers' work. Photos: The Future Perfect

    We could go on and on with examples of fresh, exciting home furnishings in the last decade -- we haven't even mentioned Etsy and the handmade and craft movement yet! Nor have we touched upon innovative retailers like Brooklyn's The Future Perfect and Matter, design-centric publications like Blueprint and Domino (may they rest in peace) and the entire revolution of the blogosphere. We get exhausted just thinking about all of the energy that has been funneling through the home furnishings and design world in the last ten years!

    So, Diane, we love you to bits, but we're not holding our breath for the promised "excitement" your partner Springs Global and HFN seem to think the DVF home line will deliver.

    What do you think? Is Home Furnishing News right: Has the home furnishings category been lacking in excitement?


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    A vintage American flag is treated an unexpected window. Photo: Edina van der Wyck, CICO Books

    Is it unpatriotic to decorate with an American flag?

    Inspired by this adorable children's bedroom above (spotted in the book At Home With Country) and the impending Fourth of July holiday, your editors here at ShelterPop were craving some stars and stripes-inspired decor. But we wanted to know more about the etiquette of decorating with flags. After a little research, we discovered that the truly patriotic might think twice before using a flag as part of their decor.

    Paul Costello flag interiorPhoto: Paul Costello

    According to Title 4 of the United States Code, using flags as decoration is a big no-no. The Code reads, "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery." Oops-a-daisy! The text continues, "It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free." Double oops! The Code goes on to suggest that red, white and blue bunting should be used for decoration, not the flag itself.

    All that said, we're a little more lenient here at ShelterPop. If you are proudly displaying the flag in a manner that celebrates the stars and stripes, we say go ahead (this is coming from a long-time Girl Scout, by the way). If you do decide to decorate with Old Glory, follow these guidelines from the United States Code: The flag should never be displayed with the union down and should never touch anything beneath it.

    A fine example of some patriotic decorating that might not be perfectly up to Code is the home captured by photographer Paul Costello, at left, in which flags adorn nearly every visible surface (this photo originally ran in Domino magazine). If anyone were to argue that this was anything short of patriotic, we'd have to disagree: These homeowners clearly love Old Glory!

    Wisteria's Oversized American FlagAt 65" by 150" this is one super-sized flag! Photo: Wisteria

    The folks at Wisteria have made a jumbo-sized flag for a major decoration statement. Made of 100% linen and measuring more than 12-feet long, the Oversized American Flag doesn't come cheap at $249, but it's sure to stay in style for decades to come.

    Flag drapes by Danny SeoNautical and foreign flags are an alternative to America's emblem. Photo: Danny Seo

    If you're still not sure you want to hang the American flag as part of your decoration, take a cue from lifestyle expert Danny Seo, who has used nautical and foreign flags as curtains in one of his home's bedrooms. He's got the look and feel of all-American red, white and blue without any danger of a citation of violating the American Code.

    Top image from At Home with Country by Christina Strutt. CICO Books, $29.95, 2010;

    You'll see more 4th of July ideas on ShelterPop next week but you should also see the fantastic things going on at Holidash!
    Craft a 4th of July Flower (Adorable)
    Throw a Retro 4th of July


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    Zoomar, Flickr

    We love finding free furniture...but who can resist a sofa that comes with this little guy? Yes, we're sure he's not actually there for the taking, but we can dream.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here.


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  • 07/01/10--07:44: A Lawn You Don't Have to Mow
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    A fake lawn can be just as lush and lovely as a real one. Photo: Flickr user kingdesmond1337

    Artificial grass is becoming a popular lawn choice, but would you roll in it?

    Does the thought of grassy-green indoor/outdoor carpet make you cringe? Me too. "If you haven't seen the new generation of synthetic grass, then the stigma is still there," says Heard Smith, CEO of SYNLawn, sister company of AstroTurf.

    Well, get ready to get mowed over. Artificial grass is becoming a more acceptable option for homeowners looking to reclaim all the time and energy spent they've spent on maintaining a lush lawn. Smith says that fake grass is in demand for children's residential play areas, and for homes with small landscape needs where sweating over lawn care just doesn't make sense. Artificial lawns are also becoming increasingly popular in areas with a strained water supply or environmental concerns. As you'd expect, fake grass eliminates the need for water, chemical fertilizers and mowing.

    And it's actually soft to the touch. Older versions of artificial turf were tough on knees and hard to walk on. Today, the manufacturing process of the blades and thatch are advanced to mimic the silky look and feel of natural lawn.

    Installation is a breeze, but better handled by professionals who know how to seam and groom the product because it's much like installing carpeting, says Smith. Though the product can perform well on contoured yards, a compact and flat surface will help the product to hold up better. While you can say good-bye to lawn service bills, there is a hefty upfront cost that may not make sense for everyone. Sod is less than half the price of synthetic grass per square foot. Still, says Smith, "the product pays for itself in about three years."

    Artificial lawns last about eight years or more, according to Artificial Grass, Ltd, but that doesn't mean a maintenance-free time period. SYNLawn's Smith says that the grass is like a carpet, and any type of seed can drop in and germinate, so some intermittent weeding may be necessary. Some good news: synthetic grass acts as a heavy-duty weed barrier so time spent weeding will likely be less than time spent on real grass.

    There are other perks: A dog can't dig a hole in fake grass and thanks to some organic additives, if a dog urinates on the turf, it won't smell.

    With lots of kids and pets likely to play on the turf, I asked if artificial grass is safe. While we at ShelterPop haven't undertaken an investigation into synthetic turf, Smith, not surprisingly, says it's completely healthy for pets and kids to spend time rolling around in it. He points to documented research proving that polypropylene and polyethylene materials in synthetic grass are inert. "At one time there was a negative stigma over lead used for the coloration in synthetic turf, but there is no more lead or heavy metals used to make these products," he says.

    pet owners love fake grass
    Pets can't dig up synthetic grass. Photo: SYNLawn


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  • 07/01/10--07:44: Make a Bar at Home
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    A home bar isn't just a coveted real estate element -- it's something you can build easily with things you probably already own.


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  • 07/01/10--07:44: American Style Defined
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    We got answers from all over the map. Photo: Getty Images | Photo Illustration by Katie Bennett.

    With July 4th fast approaching, is there any better time to talk American style?

    When it comes to American style, it's tough to identify key design elements that can be seen across the country because as you've probably noticed, interior design varies a whole lot from region to region. So, we tapped into a few of our nation's most talented interior designers -- all based in different parts of the country -- and asked them to share what's what when it comes to home design in their region.

    Find yours, then tell us below: Do you agree?

    Here, their thoughts:

    A guest bedroom personifies the freshness of California style. Textural elements -- a natural sisal rug, shimmering grasscloth wallpaper and a sea-coral mirror -- add interesting touches of the area's natural landscape. Photo: Massucco Warner Miller

    In the West

    "Fresh color palettes and vibrant patterns make Western-American homes special -- they just have an extra-crispness and freshness you don't see anywhere else. California style specifically is a great gauge for what you normally see out west. Here, rooms are comfortable and inviting, and are often characterized by big doses of eclecticism and personality. Unusual, interesting and eye-popping pieces are a must, whether they're beautifully-shaped chairs, quirky works of art or groupings of remarkable things brought back from overseas trips."
    --Julie Massucco, Melissa Warner and Carrie Miller, Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design and Decoration (San Francisco, California)

    A four-season porch on Lake Minnetonka helps a Minnesota family feel closer to nature -- even in the most inclement weather. Photo: Martha O'Hara Interiors

    In the North

    "We northerners are infatuated with being outside 12 months of the year; we're not afraid of the cold. The way we build and design our homes reflects our desire to be in harmony with the outdoors. Screened-in porches, sun rooms, conservatories and big outdoor fireplaces all help us extend our outdoor time. Look outside of any typical northern home and you'll see really gorgeous vistas -- lakes, wooded areas, manicured lawns -- that we show off with floor-to-ceiling walls of windows. Our furnishings focus more on comfort and a bit less on formality than those you'd typically see down south, or on the eastern seaboard. I look for every piece to say, 'Sit down and put your feet up!' We're casual and comfortable -- never intimidating or overdone."
    --Martha O'Hara Martha O'Hara Interiors (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

    The mix of design styles (baroque, contemporary, mid-century) and tactile fabrics make this calming Midwestern bedroom very approachable. Photo: Summer Thornton Design

    In the Midwest

    "Midwestern expression is usually driven from a traditional core: While we like to build on familiar things, it's the mix of rough and polished, high and humble, that makes our design approachable (yet never boring). Chicagoan design and architecture in particular, are great examples of quintessential Midwestern-American style. You'll often see Victorian, gothic, mid-century and modern buildings all within the same neighborhood; homes in most other cities mainly share a single prominent characteristic. Midwestern design has always embraced eclecticism -- as does America as a whole -- and successfully mixes different cultural and global references together to make one cohesive space."
    --Summer Thornton, Summer Thornton Design (Chicago, Illinois)

    Mini Queen-Anne-style setees, over-scale damask wallpaper and a balloon valance in corduroy are all fitting nods to tradition in this p
    playfully adult little-girl's room. Photo: Tria Giovan

    In the East

    "Eastern-US style is clean and refreshing, and characterized by the utilization of traditional elements in non-traditional applications -- basically a call-out to our Yankee ingenuity. Our rooms are no longer fussy and pretentious, but casually chic with a focus on livability versus high style. They tend to incorporate relaxed colors and one or two brief nods to our heritage as well. The fact that Granny's old rocker isn't too precious to repaint and reupholster is a testament to our growing eco-consciousness and can-do attitude. Swags are long gone."
    --Amanda Nisbet, Amanda Nisbet Interior Design (New York, New York)

    Olive crewelwork fabric and sleek, lime-colored vinyl bring in texture and interest while antique and classically-inspired furnishings give this dining area timeless Southern appeal. Photo: Tobi Fairley Interior Design

    In the South

    "There are as many variations on Southern-American style as there are recipes for a good batch of chicken and dumplings. But what they all have in common is a deliberate use of color, a confident mixing of patterns and a feminine sensibility. All of these qualities make southern style warm and inviting -- a place that feels like home and really makes you want to stay awhile. Rooms in the American South aren't unlike America itself: No matter how clean-lined or collected they happen to be, they're created with love and appreciation for those who visit the space now, and for many years to come."
    --Tobi Fairley, Tobi Fairley Interior Design (Little Rock, Arkansas)

    We love all the differences -- and common threads! -- that make up American style all over. Tell us where you are and what American style means to YOU in the comments.

    You'll see more 4th of July ideas on ShelterPop next week but you should also see the fantastic things going on at Holidash!
    Craft a 4th of July Flower (Adorable)
    Throw a Retro 4th of July


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    The picture of a good night's sleep: A room in which the windows are shut! Photo: Getty Images

    Sure, we love fresh air, but keeping your windows thrown open isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    For the last three and a half years, I have lived on the ground floor of an apartment building on a reasonably quiet street, and in those years, I have come to the conclusion that sleeping with the windows open is overrated. I know, I know, I'm basically telling you I hate fresh air, but the truth is, there are many advantages to sleeping with the windows closed, chief among them: Actually sleeping.

    In any season, noise is the primary reason for hitting the hay with your windows locked up tight. While I live in an urban locale where there are people on the streets at all hours and garbage pick-ups right outside my bedroom at dawn, noise is a problem everywhere. In the suburbs, you have barking dogs and the neighbor's barbecue that turned into a late-night affair. There's not even peace in the country: I recall opening the windows of a room in a country house on a cool summer night and looking forward to the summer breeze lulling me to sleep. Sadly, that blissful slumber was broken by a very early morning riding lesson given by an instructor with a booming voice at the neighboring horse farm.

    Another reason to sleep with the windows shut is to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning. For years I was one of those New Yorkers who proudly declared, "Oh, I don't have an air conditioner." I thought people were wimps to need AC (I grew up in a house without it), and I shuddered at the thought of sleeping in all that stale air. However, my last apartment came with an in-window unit that I reluctantly accepted and used on only the hottest days. Today, I've caved in completely: I bought an AC unit for my current pad and if the temperature is anywhere in the upper-70s or higher when I'm ready to retire, I close the windows and fire up the air conditioner. Because you know what? Sleeping soundly is priceless. The cool air, the decreased humidity and the sweet white noise of the air conditioner's hum add up to a better night's sleep than fresh air through an open window.

    Bugs are yet another argument against open windows. Even with screens in place, mosquitoes can work their way in to the bedroom and feast on you while you sleep. One summer in Brooklyn things got so bad (the borough was experiencing a major mosquito infestation that year) that I took to putting on bug spray before bed in the hopes that it would let me sleep in peace -- I now realize I should have just shut the window and turned on the AC.

    While I, myself, am not an allergy sufferer (thank goodness), those who are afflicted with seasonal irritations have further motivation to keep those windows firmly shut. Throwing your windows wide open leaves you vulnerable to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds; sleeping in an air-conditioned room with a clean filter is the best bet to keep symptoms at bay.

    Now, I'm not such a curmudgeon that I don't enjoy the kiss of a cool summer's breeze as I slumber, especially on a rainy summer night when the air is just so, but I will say that more and more often I'm leaving my windows shut. And I love it.

    What about you guys? Do you sleep with windows open or shut?


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  • 07/01/10--07:44: Design Influence: Shells
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    Don't live near the beach? Then bring the beach to you! Our designers show you how to get coastal chic at home.

    Do you have a hankering for a relaxing, beachy home, but are stuck far away from the beach? Don't worry, there are plenty of ways to incorporate elements of coastal chic into your space -- and the best part, no messy sand.

    Craving the look of coastal chic? Try a few fun ideas from our beachy designers.

    1. Go formal. Beach decor doesn't have to mean casual. Try a pair of mussel-inspired, metallic lamps with a dark shade for a healthy dose of drama.

    2. Get decorative. Shells look beautiful when placed in candles, mirrors and as centerpieces.

    3. Think fabric. Nautical and coral-inspired fabrics can offer an extra punch as a throw pillow, window treatment or table runner.

    Time to shop! Check out Beach Grass and Blue Barnacles for coastal-inspired finds!

    Learn more about featured artist Marcie Honerkamp at

    Our experts Maria Greenlaw and Suzanne Caldwell are partners in Design House, a personalized design service that's been a feature in Southampton, New York for over 23 years. Maria is a Cornell University graduate with a BS in Interior and Product Design, and Suzanne, an Allied Member of ASID, has a design degree from Harrington Institute in Chicago.


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    A match made in tile heaven.

    That's what happens when one of America's only remaining mid-century tile manufacturers and one of my favorite magazines collaborate. California-based Heath Ceramics and Dwell Media, the parent company of Dwell magazine, launched a brand new tile collection at Dwell on Design called Dwell Patterns.

    The collection was designed by designer and architect Chris Deam and Heath Ceramics co-founder and Creative Director Catherine Bailey. (Chris Deam is also husband to Laura Hedberg Deam, the founder of Dwell Media.) The pair met while finalists at the 2009 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, where they ended up sitting down to lunch together at the White House.

    Heath Ceramics and Dwell tile collectionCatherine Bailey and Chris Deam talk tile. Photo: Heath Ceramics

    When I first heard the news, I wondered why it hadn't happened sooner. Dwell is dedicated to natural and modern building materials, prefab homes and modern living, while Heath Ceramics's mid-century modern tiles are still perfectly modern even today.

    The collection comprises three main shapes: Half Hex, Wide Hex and Little Diamond. The three tile shapes can be combined and remixed to create a large variety of patterns, whether you're looking for something ultra modern or a bit softer. Together, the tile patterns formed feel three-dimensional. The five main patterns are pictured below clockwise: Half Hex Stack, Wide Hex Stack, Half Hex Mix, Wide Hex Twist and Little Diamond Mix.

    Heath Ceramics and Dwell tile collectionThe collection's five basic patterns. Photos: Heath Ceramics

    The tiles will be available in a slew of bright and neutral colors as well as Heath's glossy and matte finishes. You can purchase the line directly through Heath Ceramics for $20 to $40/square foot starting on August 1st.

    Get more tile trends in our 2010 tile trend roundup.


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  • 07/01/10--09:45: Daily Upper: Rainbow House
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    Have trouble deciding on an exterior paint color? You don't have to choose. We bet all the other houses on this block are green -- err, beige -- with envy.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here.


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    Clockwise from top left: Oscar de la Renta's Pre-Fall 2010 Collection has a Suzani moment, Getty Images; Suzani flat-woven wool rug, World Market. Youth Creativity Palace, Getty Images.

    Forget white gowns and embroidered napkins -- we're talking about traditional ethnic wedding textiles that have made their way into modern decor.

    Even if you don't have any weddings on your calendar this summer, they're hard to avoid: couples taking engagement photos in the park, Bridezilla shows taking over the TV -- there's even wedding coverage on your favorite sites! So let's take a look at a couple wedding traditions borrowed from other countries: Wedding textiles like Suzanis and Handira.

    Its Roots:
    Believe it or not, the electric colored and patterned Suzanis were not invented by a team of clever designers who knew how much pizazz they'd add to a room. In fact they've been around since the 19th-century originally seen in central Asia, in what is now Uzbekistan. And before they were draped over sofas and repurposed as gorgeous rugs, they were used as wedding night bed sheets. Sure, satin sheets might be romantic, but these are far more gorgeous. We also love this gem of Suzani trivia -- each authentic one has an intentional mistake. Those were popped in by the bride-to-be sewing the textile as a reminder of human imperfection.

    Meanwhile, the Handira -- more commonly known as Moroccan wedding blankets -- have a similar lovely story to go along with the their making. Because it took so long to sew together the final product -- the sequins! the tassles! -- the bride's family worked together on these, and used the time during the meditative process to dispense advice and ideas for a happy marriage. As a bonus, the care that went into weaving it is rumored to lend divine protection to the blanket (and owners!)

    Clockwise from top left: The SATC girls relax on a Handira, New Line Productions; Vintage Moroccan wedding blanket 525 for sale by Maryam of Marrakech, photo courtesy of MorroccanMaryam; Merchant of Samarkand, 1911, Getty Images; Bedroom by Kishani Perera, photo by Jean Randazzo.

    Seen Now: In Sex and the City 2, the gals travel to Morocco and indulge in tea on a Handira (wonder what kind of advice Samantha would give, should she find herself sewing one of those!). L'aviva home, the site started by former travel editor Laura Aviva, even has a section devoted to dowry, where you can get gorgeous vintage Suzanis and Handira. And last October Suzanis were even highlighted at a place with the most fantastic name -- the "Youth Creativity Palace" in Uzbekistan. Just a couple of months later iconic fashion designer Oscar de la Renta sent his pre-fall 2010 collection down the runway and delicious Suzani prints abounded on capes and skirts.

    Loved By: Maryam in Marrakech! If you don't already follow Maryam's dreamy, gorgeous adventures in Marrakech you should log on for her poems, stories and photos of everything from flowers to parties (and oh yeah -- amazing Moroccan design!). She calls Handira "perhaps the world's most beautiful blankets. Really." She also provided the black Handira used by designer Kishani Perara in an LA bedroom. When it comes to Suzanis, you can also be sure that they're dearly beloved by just about every interior designer in our (stylish) book, but we'll have to throw extra credit to California decorator-turned-Obama White House designer Michael S. Smith, who has been using them as far back as 1998 (here's proof, from ELLE DECOR!). True, it's not the 19th century, but it's solid proof that this trend has serious legs. Lastly, one more humble Suzani lover -- myself! The first piece I bought for my new apartment was a World Market suzani rug.

    ...Want to see more? We'll have some great suzani picks from eBay over on The Inside Source. And check out our past collaborations with The Inside Source here.

    Craving more eBay goodness?

    The Stir has two home tours with eBay gems -- here and here!
    The Frisky has the scoop on eBay-obsessed Lynn Yaeger
    Learn about eBay's fair trade marketplace


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    Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm
    Sweden's flag's colors -- blue and yellow -- are (coincidentally? you decide!) smartly used to decorate a suite inside Hotel Skeppsholmen, an example of minimalism at its best. Photo: Louise Billgert

    At Hotel Skeppsholmen, simplicity has never looked so stylish.

    A building in Stockholm, Sweden, that dates back to 1699 -- and was once used as barracks for the Royal Marines of Karl XII -- reopened its doors as a hip, urban hotel last October. The same architect who worked on Stockholm's Royal Palace (Nicodemus Tessin the Younger) designed the hotel's two original buildings. To honor its history, each hotel room is dedicated to either a past resident of these buildings or a historically significant person in Sweden's history.

    The design team tasked with the overhaul -- Claesson Koivisto Rune and architects Peter Erseus & Gunhild Skoog Jägbeck -- wanted to cultivate a quiet, serene place in the middle of Sweden's bustling capital city. Located on an islet, which the hotel is named after (Skeppsholmen), the property's two original, historic shells remain. But what's inside is funky, modern and quite surprising.

    In each of the hotel's 81 rooms or suites, original wooden flooring and windows were kept intact, but there are plenty of contemporary accents to keep things feeling modern. A neutral palette of white, charcoal and black for the bedding -- paired with white walls -- was chosen so it wouldn't distract from the playful mix of old and new. The smaller rooms are actually the authentic historical size of the rooms as they were back in 1699. Yet with updated fixtures, such as Boffi basins from Italy in the bathroom and integrated illumination in the shower, you get treated to a little bit of pampering.

    Hotel Skeppsholmen shares a 'hood with three other design meccas, so it's right at home and within walking distance of: The Museum of Modern Art (works by Picasso, Dali and Matisse), The Swedish Museum of Architecture and Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. If you want to explore on two wheels, no problem. The hotel offers bicycles for guests' use.

    Take a look around!

    Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm
    Hotel Skeppsholmen is inside a building dating back to 1699 and located on an islet near downtown Stockholm. Photo: Max Plunger

    Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm
    Light and airy, with lots of clean lines, this room is not only done in minimalist style. It's also the perfect, calming space after a day of sightseeing. Photo: Louise Billgert

    Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm
    Whether it's a cold winter night or the postscript to an exhausting day, this deep soaking tub -- inside the suite-size room -- is heavenly. Photo: Louise Billgert

    Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm
    The hotel's restaurant serves breakfast, afternoon tea, lunch and dinner. Photo: Louise Billgert


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    We're filling you in on felt pails, brightly colored aluminum goodies and more.

    [Editor's Note: At this year's Dwell on Design, ShelterPop's Allison saw all sorts of terrific things...including our friends at Remodelista! We wanted to share their favorite finds from the the show -- we hope you enjoy! And stay tuned to hear our highlights!]

    Who doesn't love a fuzzy pail? Photo: Remodelista.

    We were intrigued by the offerings from new online shop Sleek Identity. Owner Stefanie Gelinas specializes in products from small European manufacturers and independent designers, including the Felt Storage Pail by the UK-based design studio Hive. Made of wool felt with metal handles, it's a softer version of the old standby pail. We can think of a ton of uses for it and we bet you can think of more: Store your magazines, toys, linens and more -- or use it as a wastebasket or reusable bag while shopping. Available in Lime-Green, Red-Orange, Turquoise and Gray, the 12"x13" Felt Storage Pail retails for $118.

    Easy to hook, easy on the eyes. Photo: Remodelista.

    We love these Outdoor Planters by Wallter -- aren't they perfect for a balcony or small garden? The planters hook on easliy to the wall and are made from spun alumunium which won't rust or decay over time: $82 from Wallter. Available in a variety of colors, they also have a Hanging Planter for $72 and Post Planter for $92; all available to ship in September.

    Left to right: Loftwall and New Colors Range. Photos: Remodelista.

    Loftwall is a movable, lightweight room divider that's customizable -- and perfect for apartments or lofts. Furniture designer Steven Kinder created Loftwall because he was tired of using space-consuming folding screens to divide his small living space. It is so lightweight, it's easy to slide it to make your room larger to accomodate a party, or smaller to create an instant guest room. You customize your wall by ordering individual panels that are available in a wide range of colors and materials. A 4-foot wide Loftwall ranges from $400-$600.

    Modern lines and vibrant color come together in the New Colors Range from modular shelving system maker iSS Designs. Crafted of powder-coated aluminum, the shelves are available in blue, green, purple, orange, yellow and red. The pieces are sold individually, enabling you to create the color scheme of your choice. Prices range from $20 for a 6" x 24" to $49 for a 12" x 36" aluminum shelf. Mounting hardware ranges from $8.75 to $39. Available the first week of July through the iSS Design Store online.

    Thanks, Remodelista! And for more goodies, see below:
    Bath: Hanging Bucket Storage
    Steal This Look: English Cottage Entryway
    10 Easy Pieces: Canvas Storage Containers


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  • 07/02/10--20:46: Daily Upper: Fabric Library
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    qusic, Flickr

    Those aren't colorful book spines...but we kind of wish they were. At first glance we thought this was the most design savvy bookshelf we'd seen, but after realizing it's just home to yards and yards of fabrics, we're even more smitten.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here.


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