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    Screenshot of brides.com


    The home and design news for the week of June 28 to July 2.

    Domino is back online, and it seems that everyone's hopping on the Martha Stewart "brand"-wagon these days. But other big names are making big moves, too. It's all part of the home news this week.

    Domino fans can stop hoarding back issues -- the magazine's archives are now online at the new brides.com -- and ShelterPop broke the story!

    To say it's been a busy week for Martha Stewart would be a bit of an understatement, seeing as how she's got a new partnership popping up just about every week! But there's been some major goings-on with the company, particularly on the retail front. First, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia launched a line of pet products to be sold in Petsmart stores and on the company's website. Then, expanding its coverage, so to speak, Martha Stewart Living carpet landed in Home Depot's stores. The Martha retail revolution continues!

    Marcel Miller brings its luxe stylings to sheeting with its new Bespoke line, set to debut at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Market.

    VisionBedding, which does things your way with its customizable bedding, gets a little funky.

    Walmart makes a big change at the top by naming Bill Simon president and CEO of its U.S. operations.

    We know you investment types are always looking for possible stock bargains: Keep your eye on La-Z-Boy.

    Even though the company's performance might be hurting some, though, La-Z-Boy did name its first designer of the year.

    Here's a bit of "shady" business for you: TUUCI looks to keep you covered with eight introductions among its parasols and umbrellas.

    I guess you can call the Robb & Stucky Interiors showrooms in Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton, Florida, the new "Polo grounds" as Ralph Lauren Home Galleries will be installed there next month.

    Do you wonder how Mad Men gets that authentic '60s look down through the home? Production designer Dan Bishop tells all.

    Eco-friendliness will abound throughout the New York International Gift Fair, particularly in the "SustainAbility: design for a better world" exhibit.

    Speaking of the "green" effort, General Electric is spending a lot of it on it.

    Point-and-clickers, your home shopping will get a little easier next year as Pier 1 gets ready to restart selling online.

    The Rug Company and architect/designer David Rockwell team up for a new hand-knotted collection.

    Home industry leadership group WithIt has awarded its 2010 Jena and Stephen B. Hall Scholarships to two students.

     

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  • 07/02/10--20:46: The Baby Pool Cure
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    Who needs a full-sized pool? Not this intrepid diver. Photo: Laura Fenton

    In the dog days of summer, dive in -- no matter how small the pool.

    As I type this post, it is more than 90 degrees and humid in New York City -- it's really, really hot and there's no air conditioning in my office. I grew up an hour outside of the city where the forecast was "hazy, hot and humid" for much of the summer. At the time, I was fortunate enough to have a pool right in the back yard and a beach a bike's ride away for cooling off. But what's a girl to do when it's hotter than heck outside and she's nowhere near the water?

    Enter the baby pool.

    As my friend, photographer Tony Stamolis, demonstrates above, even a full-grown adult can enjoy a dip (or a dive) in a kiddie pool -- whether you actually have children or not. (Just be sure to make it a shallow dive for safety's sake, please.) While it may seem desperate to dip into the kid's wading pool, a miniature pool offers almost all of the relief of a swim in a full-fledged lap pool at a fraction of the price. Plus, a dip in a tiny pool is a little reminder not to take yourself too seriously.

    If you're sold on our "baby pool cure," here are a few models for you to consider:

    Toys 'R Us PoolYou can't beat the price on these simple, colorful inflatables. Photos: Toys 'R Us

    One of the most affordable (and stylish) baby pools we uncovered is the Sizzlin' Cool Fun Wave Pool (I love the name) from Toys 'R Us. At just over $10 a piece, you can afford to buy several for a whole yardful of cool-down spots -- get one for each of your friends and extra to chill some beers!

    Pottery Barn Kids poolPottery Barn Kids offers a butterfly-shaped pool and sprinkler in one. Photo: Pottery Barn Kids

    For something a little more luxurious, consider this fancy inflatable Butterfly Pool from Pottery Barn Kids, which hooks up to your garden hose to spay water while you dip; at $59 it's an investment, but you'll be rewarded with a unique spot to cool off.

    Bed Bath & Beyond poolAt 120" x 72", this pool is big enough for two! Photo: Bed Bath & Beyond

    Bed Bath & Beyond boasts that the Intex(R) Inflatable Family Swim Center Pool holds up to six people; at $60, that's just $10 per person.

     

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  • 07/02/10--20:46: Weekly Link Love
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    Photo courtesy of CasaSugar.

    Paintings we lust over, tarts that make us drool and a new online mag...Here's what we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    Who thought Pottery Barn and The Real World would have anything in common? CasaSugar knocks our socks off with a behind-the-scenes look at both. [CasaSugar here and here]

    We're all for innovation but these upside down houses just look kind of unsafe. [Apartment Therapy]

    If it were possible to move into a blog post we'd do just that for this gem from I Suwannee. There's everything -- great art, a $8 J. Crew top and some seriously gorge furniture. [I Suwannee]

    We suppose it makes sense that the Editor-in-Chief of French Vogue has such a stunning apartment. But like The Frisky, we're wondering where the color is. Is there such a thing as too much restraint? [The Frisky]

    Want to recreate a room from Better Homes & Gardens? The Stir has you covered! [The Stir]

    We usually leave the food chat to our friends at Slashfood but these tarts -- on elegantly-sewn backgrounds! -- are too pretty to eat. [Decor8]

    There's a new online mag coming to town...check out the intro to Rue Magazine [Plush Palate]

    A round-up of headboards that's giving us serious bed-envy. [The Decorista]

     

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    With Sunbrella outdoor fabrics, the living is easy. Photos: Sunbrella


    Keep your outdoor cushions as brilliant as the summer sun -- without being damaged by it.

    Dining al fresco or having drinks by the pool is surely sweeter when cradled in the comfort of cushioned seating. There's no denying it, great outdoor furniture makes summer living that much more pleasurable.

    Unfortunately, over time the elements can wreak havoc on fabrics, even those made to withstand rain and sun exposure. We asked a few experts for tips on keeping outdoor cushions and pillows as pristine as the day you bought them.

    Did you know that many fabrics for the outdoors are UV- and stain-resistant down to the actual fibers used to weave them? Pretty impressive.

    Even still, they're often treated with a finish that helps resist stains and repel water. Two big players in the outdoor fabrics market, Sunbrella and Waverly Sun N Shade, are both made to endure the wrath of Mother Nature, and yet each fabric has vastly different properties and requires different types of care.

    Read labels.
    Make sure you know what you are buying. Look for acrylic or polyester fibers, filament or PVC threads and treated duck canvas. These fibers resist foreign substances like dirt and water. The fabrics should have some sort of mold and mildew resistance or be antimicrobial. Marine fabrics and performance grade fabrics are two types to look for.

    Ask the salesperson to explain the details and differences in your choices and look at the labels to make sure you are getting what you asked for. Also note the treatment and care instructions on the label. Go with recognizable or recommended brands; knowing the company is a reliable source and stands by their products is a sort of built-in guarantee.

    Keep fabrics clean.
    Keeping outdoor fabrics looking good is easy if you properly maintain them. Gina Wicker, Design and Creative Director at Sunbrella Fabrics suggests, "simply brushing off dirt before it becomes embedded in the fabrics and wiping up spills as soon as they occur or spot cleaning soon after."

    Use a mild soap and water cleaning solution.
    When more cleaning is needed, Wicker suggests using a solution of 1/4 cup mild soap per gallon of lukewarm water to get rid of most dirt and stains. Use a sponge, soft-bristle brush or cloth to apply it, allow it to soak into the fabric, rinse off all soap residue thoroughly and then allow the fabric to air dry.

    Anthony Noberini, Design Director for Home at Iconix Brand Group, Inc., the parent company of Waverly, seconds the mild soap and water solution, and also suggests upholstery shampoo as an alternative.



    An assortment of outdoor pillows made from Waverly Sun N Shade fabrics. Photo: Waverly


    Try a natural solution first on resistant stains.
    If a stain is resistant, several methods can be used to clean it. Noberini recommends trying a natural solution first. For oil-based stains, like suntan lotion, he suggests rubbing in, "corn starch or baby powder to absorb the oil from the yarns." Allow the powder to soak up the stain, let it dry and then flake it off. (By the way, this trick works great on most fabrics, including clothing. Dribble salad dressing down your shirt? Try immediately rubbing in some baby powder.)

    "A paste made from fresh lemon juice and salt" might also do the trick, he says. Again, rub it in, allow it to soak in and then wash it off with clean water.

    Opt for a bleach solution on resistant stains.
    "Using a solution of 8 ounces bleach and 2 ounces mild soap per gallon of clean water should work on persistent stains," Wicker says. Spray on the entire area, allow it to soak in, scrub vigorously with a soft-bristle brush, sponge or towel, rinse thoroughly and allow the fabric to air dry. The stain should come out easily. The company offers a complete guide for troubleshooting stains on their website.

    Don't bring cushions in every night.
    As for the question of leaving cushions out overnight, Wicker notes, "constantly bringing cushions back and forth deters from the enjoyment of your outdoor living space and is completely unnecessary for cushions made from true performance fabrics." I like her thinking!

    While both Wicker and Noberini agree that the practice is completely unnecessary, leaving them out does leave them susceptible to leaves, pollen and other debris. While most outdoor fabrics are mildew resistant, mildew and mold will grow on dirt and foreign substances. That's why keeping them clean is so important.

    But, bring them in if extreme weather is coming.
    You may want to bring your cushions inside when you know inclement weather is on its way. It will help maintain fabrics and delay the need for vigorous cleanings by preventing dirt build up, and subsequent mildew.

    Besides that, wet cushions can certainly spoil an outdoor breakfast or dinner when the sun finally returns!

    Treat mildew with a cleaning solution.
    If mildew does occur, Noberini suggests, "mixing 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of clean water, OR, 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 6 parts water," and using that as a cleaning solution. He recommends applying a test spot to the fabric before applying it all over (just in case your fabric reacts negatively).

    For Sunbrella fabrics, Wicker recommends the same bleach solution as for persistent stains outlined above. The company offers a complete guide for troubleshooting stains on their website.

    Let them bask in the sun!
    Outdoor fabrics are meant for you to enjoy outdoors. That enjoyment should not be limited to semi-protected areas like porches and covered patios. "Sunbrella fabrics are designed to be fully exposed, year round," Wicker emphasizes. "There is no need to worry about fading."

    She uses a carrot and radish analogy to illustrate her point. "Traditionally dyed or printed fabrics are like a radish. If you look at them through a microscope, the color is on the outside of the yarn -- much like the red color of a radish is only on its exterior skin." Sunbrella, she continues, "is like a carrot. No matter how you slice it, the color runs throughout. You can't peel it away."

    Here's why it is important for you to know your fabrics. Waverly Sun N Shade fabrics are also lightfast, but to a degree. They are UV-protected for between 500 to 1500 hours of direct sunlight depending upon the collection. Therefore the polyester fibers are not the same. Noberini suggests "rotating and turning pillows and cushions around periodically, so they fade evenly." He too agrees not to limit use to protected areas, but does suggest, "moving items that may be in direct sunlight to more shaded areas from time to time."

    Clean before storing.
    When summer comes to an end, storing cushions indoors will prevent dirt build-up and increase longevity. The key words to remember are clean and dry. "Making certain cushions and pillows are thoroughly clean and dry before storing them will make taking them out at the beginning of the season a breeze," says Wicker. Store them some place where they will not get wet or dirty.

    Clean them at the start of the season.
    Upon pulling out the cushions for the warmer months, use the mild soap and water solution to remove any dirt or build up that may have occurred in storage. If they smell musty from being enclosed, "you may wish to add a little lemon juice to the water to freshen them up," says Noberini.

    Enjoy the season!
    Minor due diligence is all it takes to keep outdoor cushions and pillows vibrant this summer and for many seasons to come. So take a seat and enjoy!

     

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    Knicks fans hope to have Lebron James's (above) trademark grin gracing their uniforms next season; his recent real estate stops are giving those fans a glimpse of hope. Photo: AP Images

    NBA All-Star LeBron James checks out an all-star home in New York City.

    Cleveland's beloved basketball star LeBron James is on the hunt for his next team -- and his next house. He was recently spotted house hunting in New York's West Village for an off-season pied-a-terre. (Although if he joins the Knicks, it could become his in-season home.)

    The 4,000-square-foot space was formerly home to Billy Joel, before he lost it, of course, in his divorce to cookbook author Katie Lee. Now on the market for a meager $12.9 million (well, meager by New York City standards), this home was just one modern-day castle that "King James" has apparently eyed, according to the New York Post.

    Let's take a look and see if it's worthy enough for a man of LeBron's 6'8" stature.

    No need for the nearly seven-foot LeBron to duck under any of these towering ceilings. Photo: Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

    Real estate agent Dolly Lenz told the New York Post that one of LeBron's top concerns is ceiling height. That doesn't seem to be a problem in this grand space with towering ceilings that are a far cry from the typical "cozy" New York City style of living.


    23 Perry Street sits in the heart of Manhattan's West Village -- an ideal place for some off-season downtime. Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

    We're not in Ohio anymore Toto. Manhattan would be quite the change of scene for this Akron native, and so would the four-floor townhome at 23 Perry Street. It's smack dab in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods of Manhattan -- and it's a short chauffered car ride to Madison Square Garden, a fact that Knicks fans hope entices the basketball powerhouse.

    If that isn't enticement enough, the home also includes four bedrooms, four baths, four fireplaces, an elevator and a garden with a sound system (to no doubt blast the tunes of his buddy Jay-Z).

    If a chef's kitchen (above left) and four bedrooms isn't enough, the home also has a hidden swimming pool and a private terrace in the master suite (above right). Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

    The chef's kitchen boasts custom cabinets, a six-burner Wolf stove and wine storage -- perhaps LeBron will pick up a hobby during the off-season?

    The master suite features a private landscaped terrace (quite the anomaly in New York City), Waterworks fixtures and marble in the bath, and an antiqued silver leaf closet and dressing room. If LeBron feels like going for a swim, there's a "hidden" indoor pool, which was installed by the home's former owner, noted artist Seward Johnson. Though he'll have a DIY project on his hands -- the pool is currently cleverly covered and is used for storage space in a secret spot under the floorboards. Don't worry LeBron, we can help you get your home in order.

    With a nearly $13 million price tag you might expect to see some more glitz -- but designer Nate Berkus turned this space into a sophisticated home. Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate


    There's no telling if this interior style is up LeBron's alley -- but we're drooling over its sophisticated, casual refinement. So it's no surprise to learn that the home was renovated by architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkami along with famed interior designer Nate Berkus in 2006.

    I'm not sure who would be luckier -- New York, if the city lands LeBron, or LeBron, if he buys this gorgeous home.

     

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    Tweeting away. Photo: Jolie Novak, AOL.

    What's better than curling up for Design Star on Sunday nights? Tweeting about it with ShelterPop!

    Quick: What are your plans for Sunday night? (We're talking 10p/9c). If you're undecided, ShelterPop editors Allison and Amy cordially invite you to join our Twitter party! We'll be watching the new episode of Design Star on HGTV and piping up about everything from our favorite rooms to the contestants' cringe-worthy decisions...plus all the moments that make us go OMG, LOL or oh no they didn't! (That's ONTD for those new to Twitter's 140-character limit!)

    Here's the scoop: Tune in to Design Star this Sunday, July 11 at 10p/9c on HGTV and keep your laptop or phone nearby for easy Twitter access. Follow us at Twitter.com/ShelterPop or see our opinions retweeted at Twitter.com/HGTV. We'll be gabbing with the hilarious Heather Armstrong of dooce.com so you know we'll bring our A-game... And we hope you do too! If you'd like to join in, use the hashtag #designstar and raise your voice (you know your comments are too good to only be shared with roommates and pets.)

    If you're a newbie to the show, you still have time to catch up before Sunday -- you can watch past episodes, get expert tips, rate designs and learn more about the contestants at Design Star's site.

    To help you get as pumped as we are, we're giving away the HGTV swag you see in the photo above -- umbrellas, tees, iPhone cases, beach towels, mugs and travel mugs. To win a prize pack with one of each of the goodies, leave us a comment about who you're rooting for (or if you haven't started watching -- what other HGTV shows you love.)

    Hope to see -- err, tweet -- you there!

    CONTEST RULES

    * To enter, leave a confirmed comment below telling us who you're rooting for on HGTV Design Star OR your favorite HGTV show.
    * The comment must be left before 5pm EST on Monday, July 12, 2010.
    * You may enter only once.
    * Two winners will be selected in a random drawing.
    * Two winners will each receive a HGTV prize pack including one of each of the following: umbrella, tee, iPhone case, beach towel, mug and travel mug.
    * Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
    * Click here for complete Official Rules. Winners will be notified by email, so be sure to provide a valid email address!

     

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    IKEA has inspired both designers and the average homeowner. Here, one of the slipcovers designed by Bemz on an IKEA sofa. Photo: Bemz


    One furniture giant inspires a slew of creative websites.

    IKEA has helped many young college students and families get their homes furnished on the cheap. It's also helped us organize our offices, furnish our bedrooms, stock our kitchens and prepare for the real world. IKEA's catalog is a wonderland of visual inspiration and, for me, little Post-it bookmarks! Oh yeah, they also make great meatballs.

    But IKEA -- and its loyal fans -- probably didn't expect that the brand would become so popular that it would become the catalyst for a number of websites and businesses. The spawn of IKEA, so to speak. Here are some of my favorite sites and products inspired by the Swedish furniture giant.

    IKEA inspired business website

    The Karlanda 3-seater gets a new Marimekko slipcover courtesy of Bemz. Photo: Bemz

    1. Bemz
    Bemz creates custom pillow, chair and sofa slipcovers for standard IKEA designs, offering a level of customization not available for most pieces at the store. Since IKEA has become a very recognizable brand, it's sometimes hard to create a personal space when your furnishings can be found in many homes across the world. Bemz capitalized on the desire to make IKEA pieces unique by launching a line of slipcovers in fresh-feeling colors and prints. They even offer Marimekko fabric options, but watch out -- they can get pricey.

    ikea fans kitchen

    One fan posted this photo of his IKEA kitchen on IKEA Fans. Photo: IKEAFans

    2. IKEA Fans
    IKEA Fans is the ultimate IKEA groupie destination. For anyone who loves the affordable, assembly-required giant, this is the blog to read. Not only can you keep up to date with IKEA news, you can also interact with fellow fans, get a quick fix for a common problem or even share images of your own IKEA furnishings. It's an inspirational IKEA hot spot for someone looking to get ideas on creating their very own IKEA kitchen or bath.

    IKEA inspired business website

    This plain Billy bookshelf is now a cat-climbing jungle gym. Photo: IKEA Hacker

    3. IKEA Hacker blog
    IKEA Hacker is dedicated to finding new and creative ways to customize and personalize your IKEA furniture. I mentioned that IKEA pieces have become quite recognizable, so this is the blog to read if you want to take your IKEA pieces beyond the box and make them into something unusual. There is even an accompanying Instructables group.


    Silly Swedish names for me and ShelterPop, if they were furniture. Photos: Blogadilla

    4. Blogadilla's Swedish furniture name generator
    This is my favorite of the bunch because growing up I always thought IKEA's Swedish furniture naming system was funny. Now you can create your very own IKEA-style name. Although the results aren't really in Swedish and they're not officially associated with IKEA, this exercise is super fun and a great time-waster when you need a work break.

    And that's not all we've got on IKEA...

    Designer Nick Olsen turns an IKEA coffee table into a chic dining place
    IKEA Coming to an iPhone Near You
    Beyond IKEA: Where to Buy Modern Furniture

     

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  • 07/06/10--10:57: The Bachelor Pad Grows Up
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    A studio apartment is transformed into a man cave that even a woman could love.

    The phrase Sexy Bachelor Pad surely conjures up some pretty stereotypical images -- consummate playboy, Rico Suave good looks and (don't forget!) zebra rugs and black leather sofas. But it's also the name of an interior design firm in New York -- and its team is working to erase that stereotype. Sexy Bachelor Pad designer Kimberlee Paige Hanson caters to young men fresh out of college with a closet full of business suits and an apartment furnished with, well, college futons, beer signs and cardboard box coffee tables.

    "Men want to have a comfortable and stylish home as much as women," says Hanson. "They just have no interest in traipsing through furniture stores comparing prices for four months nor do they care about choosing between deep blue or military gray." But they understand that a well-decorated home with seating and grown up tabletop is essential if family or friends come over, or if they ever want to bring home the softer of the two sexes.

    BEFORE


    Designer Kimberlee Paige Hanson's immediate reaction of her bachelor client's apartment was that it was sparsely decorated, and that his possessions were tasteful but needed cohesion. Photo: Sexy Bachelor Pad

    AFTER

    A new look for a bachelor pad's living room and den.
    Left: Custom-designed industrial lighting, a charcoal suede sofa and a storage partition pairs function with an approachable yet masculine design sense. Right: This studio apartment has a special corner carved out for artistic pursuits. Photo: Glenn Race

    Enter Sexy Bachelor Pad. The firm's most recent client in New York City needed help transforming a sparse studio into a man cave marvel.

    Hanson started the design process by asking her client the same questions she asks all of her clients: What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? "We spend a lot of time and energy getting to know our client," she says. "We take his character, values and hobbies into account, and create an environment around them." This particular client loved to cook, he was interested in martial arts and he was teaching himself how to play guitar. He also wanted his apartment to feel spacious and warm and he wanted to feel proud of the decor when guests visited.

    BEFORE

    Before shots of a bachelor pad's bedroom and kitchen.
    The first step for the team was to create separate spaces or areas in the studio apartment making it feel like you were moving around in different "rooms." Photo: Sexy Bachelor Pad

    AFTER

    A new bedroom look for a bachelor pad.
    Emphasizing the natural light from the windows, a simple headboard, clamp-on lighting and crisp white linens are all the decorating a man needs. Photo: Glenn Race

    So what did the Sexy team end up doing? The kitchen became a more personalized space conducive to cooking and entertaining. They also carved out a "den" space, where he practices his guitar. Here, they also displayed his martial arts black belt as a work of art. Ultimately, the transformation from man cave to sexy pad set the tone for the next stage of this young man's life. Now, time to party!

    AFTER

    A new look for a bachelor pad's kitchen.
    Hanson brought in a bar-height table and stools to create a more social dining experience, while the custom-made wine rack and splash of bordeaux red paint ups the personality factor of a plain white wall. Photo: Glenn Race.

     

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    Angela Adams's new collection of outdoor rugs includes this graphic beauty. Photo: Angela Adams

    The new crop of outdoor rugs are bursting with style.

    Outdoor rugs have been around for years, but it wasn't until recently that the technology of outdoor-friendly materials caught up with our demand for some serious style. Previously, outdoor rugs were simple bordered sisal-look-a-likes or a weather-resistant take on a classic Oriental style. But the new crop of outdoor rugs are bursting with style.

    Any of these graphic rugs would liven up a modern exterior. Photos: Angela Adams, Dash & Albert, Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs

    Gorgeous Geometrics
    Graphic prints add some serious eye-catching interest to a humdrum patio.

    Shown, clockwise from top left:
    Angela Adams' Outdoor Rug collection, $265 to $325, Angela Adams
    Diamond Denim/White Indoor/Outdoor, $34 to $495, Dash & Albert
    Kilim Indoor/Outdoor Rug, $49 to $299, Pottery Barn
    Farrah Indoor/Outdoor Rug, $59 to $149, Ballard Designs

    Need a little color outside? Forget high-maintenance flowers and opt for one of these brightly hued beauties. Photos: Crate & Barrel, Home Infatuation and Rugs USA

    Colorful Creations
    Modern exteriors beg for a playful, bright rug. Lacking a beautiful, blooming garden? You'll hardly notice with a vibrant rug to admire.

    Shown, clockwise from top left:
    Ribbed Indoor/Outdoor Leaf Rug, $15 to $199, Crate & Barrel
    Double Color Oriental Plastic Rug, $20 to $40, Home Infatuation
    Jaiper Grant Collection, $44 to $604, Rugs USA
    The Rug Market Montego Bay, $211 to $295, Rugs USA

    Every garden needs its florals -- add some more florals with an area rug. Photos: Grandin Road and Target

    Fancy Floral
    Pretty floral rugs are a great option for a traditional home or even a modern exterior looking for a feminine touch.

    Clockwise from left:
    Rosemont Area Rug, $49 to $249, Grandin Road
    Beige/Brown Rectangle Rug 5x7', $119, Target
    Outdoor Patio Blue/Gray/Yellow Rug, $299, Target

     

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    Choosing paint colors can be as tricky as picking out the perfect shade of lipstick. Just like the perfect pout, the right shade of paint can really add some oomph to your space -- it can, after all, impact your furnishings, lifestyle and lighting. If you're gearing up for a paint project, there's no need to stress. In this video, our designers show how easy it is to choose the right shade for your home! Ready?:



    Remember, follow these guidelines for a foolproof paint color in your own home!:
    1. Just as cosmetics can vary depending on skin tone, paint colors can change when placed against different base colors. Be sure to choose a sample that complements your home's existing surroundings.

    2. it is always a good idea to consider the color you're starting with and what you want to highlight. When working with accent walls, be sure to keep your base coat in mind to ensure a consistent color palette.

    3. Different colors project different moods. Darker colors are more formal and serious. Lighter colors are more casual and summery. Always keep this distinction in mind when working with color.

    Just as lipstick can put the pizazz in your beauty routine, paint colors can add wow factor to your home. For a few great paint retailers, check out Benjamin Moore, Behr and Pratt & Lambert.

    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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    The designer and some of the new looks. Photos: Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage; Kravet.

    The designer and TV star launches a new collection of fabrics.

    Another day, another collaboration: the charming Thom Filicia -- known most widely for his days on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy -- takes one step further into the realm of designer-as-brand. Yes, Filicia's name has already been branded with Queer Eye (and the following shows Dress My Nest and Tacky House), along with his furniture line for Vanguard Furniture, but we're viewing fabric as the final frontier here. Why? Because with this new Kravet line, Filicia is one step closer to total house domination.

    Think of the evolution of Filicia's accessibility: when he was first noticed by the public eye, he was a big-time interior designer, working with celebs like Jennifer Lopez and designing the interiors at the W Hotels. His furniture collection makes it a little easier to get Thom in your home. And the fabrics? Another opportunity to get the man's mark on your furniture -- even an old piece you already have. Who thought your great-aunt's dogdy settee could get new life thanks to Thom Filicia?

    Of course, there's a catch -- the fabrics are (like all Kravet fabrics) available to the trade only. Which means if you want a piece of this new collection you must go through a designer. But we have a feeling that it won't be long until we see Filicia's name attached to products with even greater accessibility -- we think Thom Filicia for Target would be a no-brainer, and same goes for Thom for HSN (where he'd join Nate Berkus and Carlton Varney.)

    But for now, we'll stay delighted with the Kravet collection -- a cool, edited collection with restrained pizazz and top-tier quality. Bravo, Thom!

    Want more?
    Thom Filicia's website
    Kravet's blog (with fantastic pictures -- and a video! -- of the collection in action)
    Luxist's take on the news

     

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  • 07/07/10--08:58: Kristin Cavallari's New Home
  • No, that's not her own bed, that's Kristin relaxing at a nightclub. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.com


    This 25-year-old has a courtyard, wood-burning fireplace and a cook's kitchen.

    Classic California blondie Kristin Cavallari first rocketed to reality television fame as a teenager when she appeared as a spoiled high school student on the popular but defunct Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. Since then she's appeared in a few forgettable film and television roles including a very minor part as "Seven #3" in the goofball co-ed comedy Spring Breakdown. In 2009, not exactly making a big splash as a real actress, Cavallari went back to her reality-TV roots and joined some of her former friends and cast mates from Laguna Beach on the wildly popular spin-off show The Hills.

    In a not particularly surprising collision of reality television, Cavallari was seen house hunting in Los Angeles last year with hair obsessed real estate agent Chad Rogers from Bravo's Million Dollar Listing. In the end, the Laguna Beach babe-turned-Hollywood hottie settled on a pretty, pristine and perfectly private 1920s Spanish-style casa near West Hollywood last listed for lease with an asking price of $5,750 per month.

    Perfect Privacy. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.


    Gates and high hedges surround the property and hide a lush tropical garden. The modestly sized 1,400 square-foot house, once owned by hairdresser to the stars Eric Bilardi and last sold in 2007 to its current owner for $1.3M, includes just two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

    Front and Center. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.

    A flagstone pathway meanders through the front garden to a small courtyard that drips with vines and leads to the front entrance.

    A windowed living room. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.


    The front door opens directly into the small living room that retains original detailing such as coved ceilings, dark stained hardwood flooring, a wood-burning fireplace and a myriad of arched windows and doorways.

    A cookin' kitchen. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.

    Although pin thin Cavallari probably doesn't eat more than 1,000 calories a day, her new digs are equipped with an updated cook's kitchen should she choose to splurge. There are original hardwood floors, Carrara marble countertops, glass-fronted upper cabinets, a large work island/breakfast bar and a vintage O'Keefe & Merritt stove.

    The boudoir and spa-like bathroom. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.


    Cavallari's master bedroom is well situated at the back of the house for privacy and has large, wood-framed sliding glass doors that open to the lavishly landscaped backyard. The master bathroom has double sinks, hardwood flooring, large windows that open into a thickly vegetated courtyard and glass enclosed steam shower (And a Greek key pattern laid into the tile floor, naturally).

    Backyard paradise. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.


    The luxuriantly landscaped backyard is an entertainer's paradise with its large covered dining terrace for summertime cook outs and dinner parties, multiple terraces, fountains, dramatic lighting and a fire pit for warming the tootsies on all those nippy southern California evenings.

    Shop 'til she drops. Photo: Rose and Chang / Prudential CA-Beverly Hills.


    When Cavallari leaves her house, the streets are lined with other modestly sized, well-maintained -- but not particularly inexpensive -- homes and is just a few short blocks away from the star-studded and pricey shopping emporium Fred Segal and just a few more blocks away from the celebrity friendly Urth Café.

    Want to see more famous homes?
    See Uma Thurman's old NYC digs
    How Clean is Niecy Nash's House?
    Whitney Port's Apartment Feels Like Home
    Or browse through all of our celeb homes

     

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    Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams



    You asked: "A round dining table or a rectangular one -- which do you recommend?"

    ...Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams answer:

    Sometimes a memory draws you to a table shape -- the long rectangle you grew up with, set for the holidays...the big round restaurant table where you shared a great meal with friends. We're lucky enough to have eaten well at both and seen dining rooms brought to life by either shape. The best decision comes from considering your room and lifestyle. Ask yourself:

    1. What shape and size is your room?
    2. Will the table be your nightly eating spot, mainly for company, or both?
    3. How many people do you need to seat?

    Note that with any table, plan on having about 24" width per person. And to facilitate getting up and moving around, at least 36" from chair to wall is ideal.

    If your room is rectangular, a rectangular table may be the best use of space. A 36"x72" table can seat 6 to 8. It's good if it's at least 36" wide to fit two place settings plus platters and centerpieces in between. With a narrower table, a sideboard or buffet is a great help to hold serving plates. If you don't have space for one long sideboard, consider two small buffets, perhaps flanking a door or window.

    Another option: If you want the benefits of a rectangle but crave curves, consider an oval. Its rounded edges make it seem to take up less space. An excellent way to get an oval -- and give yourself flexibility if you move to a new home -- is to choose a round table with an extension leaf.

    If your room is square, a square table with leaves that expand it to a rectangle for entertaining is a smart option -- and always a plus if you don't like eating at a large table when it's "just the two of you." However, we both find it hard to resist the intimacy of a round table in a square room...the way it softens straight lines and creates a cozy spot to linger. With no "head of the table," it also has a more egalitarian feel. And we especially love round tables with pedestal bases. Without legs to get in the way, it's easier to fit in another person when needed.

    Something else we love about round tables: achieving a high comfort-to-style ratio by mixing a curved high-back upholstered dining bench (like the one seen above) with tall upholstered chairs for seating.

    If you have an open-plan layout, a rectangular table can help visually divide a space, while a round table might be better at preserving the open feeling and letting traffic flow a bit more freely. Either shape, of course, will work especially well as a room divider when accompanied by a rug beneath and a hanging light (or multiple lights if the table is long) overhead, thus creating a stronger, more cohesive focal point in the space.

     

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  • 07/07/10--14:59: Growing Basil
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    Purple basil. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Basil is the essence of summer eating.

    Grown from seed or brought home as a seedling from the farmers' market or your local nursery, easy-to-grow basil embodies long days, warm nights and simple cooking. There was a time when the only basil we could buy was the typical, large-green-leaf variety, quite delicious (especially in pesto) but also just the tip of the basil iceberg.

    Depending on where you are in the world, the varieties of basil rival the many ways there are of using them in the kitchen.

    I have a soft spot for purple basil. For some reason, torn-up on slices of buffalo mozzarella, its purple power seems to add an extra dimension of flavor. On my terrace it provides contrast and a good backdrop for other plantings. If I could grow only one basil, this would be it.

    Lemon basil. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Lemon basil is another green-leafed basil and is characterized by a pungent citrus flavor and aroma. Because it can be overpowering with food I prefer to use it for drinks. Add a couple of crushed sprigs to pitcher of iced water, fresh lemonade or sun tea on a hot day, or make long drink of gin, bitters, tonic and some crushed lemon basil leaves for a sultry evening's pleasure.

    Thai basil, top left. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Thai basil is a medium-leafed variety with purple stems that is stronger in the anise-flavor range, and I use it to add to lettuce leaf wraps (use shredded barbecued fish, pork or beef as a filling) with a spicy dipping sauce of lime juice, fish sauce, chile, fresh ginger and a little sugar. It's a taste sensation.

    Greek basil. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Greek basil is easy to recognize: it has miniature green leaves. They are adorable sprinkled over freshly sliced tomatoes. It is a compact, round little bush that loves to be planted in a pot.

    Common wisdom tells us to prevent the plants from flowering by nipping out the buds, to prevent the leaves from becoming bitter, but I can't say I have found this to be true. Turning its energy to forming flowers does encourage the plant to become tall and bolt, though. I try to nip the buds out of about half my plants and leave the others for the bees, for sprinkling on salads or barbecued fish, and simply for their appeal in the garden. They make good cut flowers, too.

    Detail of basil flowers. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Basil prefers full sun, six hours plus, but can take some afternoon or morning shade. On hot days it wilts fast so needs to be watered regularly.

    Finally: The time-honored belief that bunches basil repel flies. Myth, or fact?

    You tell me.

     

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    overly organized with sticky notesIf you cringe when other people touch your perfectly organized space, then you may be considered an extremist. Photo: Post-it Notes Brand

    When organizing is no longer an art, it's time to get your life in order.

    If your closet is filled with shoe boxes in perfect condition, then you are just plain organized. But if your shoe boxes have photos of the shoes taped to the front of each box and the boxes are arranged by shoe style...well, then you might be a "freakishly obsessed organizer," according to student-run blog, SparkLife.

    "I have clients who are overly obsessed with becoming organized," says Julie Morgenstern, time management expert and author. "People are overwhelmed by so many things going on in their life, and so much information coming at them, they are hungry for organizing and feel the need to contain themselves. Organizing is a way to contain the overwhelming details." But there are those who take it too far, says Morgenstern.

    And it's not healthy. Organizing extremists often become inflexible in other aspects of their lives -- and they miss out on fun events because they're always busy putting their life in order.

    Morgenstern says there are three key indicators that you're becoming an organizing extremist.

    "Hint number one is that you're too busy organizing to go out and have a good time," she warns. "You don't have to rearrange your bookshelves after pulling out a few books -- just put them back and go out!" She points to early adopters of technology (those who are first in line to buy the latest technological gadget) as a group susceptible to becoming overly organized because they gravitate to the next, newest, greatest organizing product in hopes that it'll be the perfect one.

    Stores like the Container Store and Staples only feed the obsession with putting everything in its place. For those who embrace micro-organizing, the choices for organizational products, tools and applications are endless. "The organizing industry has increased dramatically over the past five years," says Morgenstern. "But there's no perfect bin or perfect calendar so stop searching, choose one thing, and stick with it."

    Hint number two, she says, is that you are so orderly that you're inflexible. You're reluctant to add anything new to your closet or to your calendar. "The overly organized have tremendous inflexibility which means they are losing out on opportunities and relationships because they just can't 'fit it in,'" says Morgenstern, who points to a client whose children were so organized and regimented that mom zapped out all of the joy and spontaneity in the household.

    Hint number three: You can't have anyone near your space because you can't handle the thought that everything may not be put back exactly as you like it.

    "Whether you are highly disorganized or highly organized," she says, "you are a slave to that problem and you are not contributing anything unique to your life." In other words, being organized isn't always a good thing.

    "If you're stuck inside looking for things you can't find, or overly organizing things so you can find them, then you are losing out on life," she says. Just be organized enough so you can get on with your life.

    There's no law that says you need a special color-coded orange and black bin to store your Halloween decorations. Find any old box, tape it shut, slap on a Post-it Note -- and move on.

     

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  • 07/08/10--09:59: No More Bugs!
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    Simply fill these stylish jars with citronella oil and, voila, a bug-free existence! Photos: Home Infatuation

    Pretty up the patio with these surprisingly stylish insect repellents.

    There's nothing more irritating when you're outside trying to enjoy a peaceful evening -- or a fabulous party -- than constantly worrying about mosquitoes swarming you and your guests. Also just as annoying? Stinky, sticky bug repellent sprays and lotions. Instead, opt to infiltrate those bug swarms with some style.

    We rounded-up some of the latest bug repellent products on the market and found that many of today's repellents look as good as they (hopefully!) work.

    Shown above:
    Colorful Glass Outdoor Torch, $60, Home Infatuation
    Table Top Oil Torch in Hammered Blue Copper, $25-$45, Home Infatuation
    *Use both with Citronella Oil for bug repellent.

    Bug repellents, now available in pretty colors and shapes. Photos: See below for credits


    Forget the boring citronella candles and bug-zapping lanterns, these babies will prevent bites while beautifying your patio.

    Shown above, clockwise from left:
    Citronella Torches, $6.95 each, Crate & Barrel
    Illume Citronella Candles (Rain, Pineapple and Cassis), $25.50, Bloomingdale's
    Citronella Bucket Candles, $6.95 and $16.95, Crate & Barrel
    Bug Bomb Insect Candle, $7, FC Surplus

    Still thinking about those pesky bugs?
    How-To: Get Rid of Fabric-Eating Moths
    Get Rid of Insects the Natural Way (Really!)
    Identifying Insects in the Garden: Friend or Foe?
    Repel Ants Naturally

     

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    roll-it rolling roomRound modular house wins design competition. Photo: University of Karlsruhe

    Student-designed housing takes the mobile home to a new level.

    You might say that students from the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) University of Karlsruhe in Germany have come full circle -- they designed a completely round concept house called Roll It.

    The circular room was developed for a design competition with the Institute for Industrial Design, and students Christian Zwick and Konstantin Jerabek came out on top. Or should I say rolled out on top? (Okay, we'll stop with the puns!)

    roll-it rolling roomThe outside could use some TLC. Photo: University of Karlsruhe

    "Roll It" is essentially a round structure composed of three hamster wheel-like pieces, each made of laminated oriented strand board (OSB) panels. These panels are glued together to form the circular membrane. The exterior also features a wrapping that functions as ad space for project sponsors.

    On one side of the room is a doorway and on the other is a window. Inside, curvy protruding built-outs serve as a desk, chair and bed. The middle portion has window-like cutouts all the way around so that whichever way you roll, your Roll It is always filled with natural light. There's even a kitchen with a sink, although you can't see it in these photos.

    roll-it rolling room Wood protrusions offer comfortable seating and lounging space. Photo: University of Karlsruhe

    I wonder if this concept would ever catch on as viable mobile housing? I guess if you don't like your neighbors you can just roll away!

    Go inside another creative home: a Dali-inspired villa.

     

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  • 07/08/10--15:00: Shop Scout: Kent Home
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    Kent Home; eBay


    Fashion industry vet Michael Kalesti brings a mix of new and vintage home wares to his upstate New York shop.

    After spending over 20 years on the wholesale side of designer menswear in New York City, working for labels Donna Karan, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, Michael Kalesti decided to pursue a retail endeavor of his own. This spring, after dabbling in restoring mid-century furnishings (he had a company called Rescue), Kalesti opened home furnishings shop Kent in Chappaqua, New York, an upscale suburb of New York City. The aesthetic is very clean, but by no means slick. The building itself is an old home built in the early 1900s. Kalesti gutted the space, which has been a storefront for about 60 years. He kept the original, rustic wood floors, but painted everything else white. Kalesti recently spoke with Marni Elyse Katz, a regular contributor to The Inside Source, eBay's online style magazine, about his work. What follows is an excerpt of that interview.

    The shop carries smaller pieces of furniture, lighting, gifts, home accessories and collection objects that are a mix of new and vintage. "I look beyond the condition of things and that's what inspires me . . . It's crazy what people throw away," he says. While Kalesti's a regular on the estate and tag sale circuit -- he once bought a piece of pottery for $5 that was worth $600 -- he's quite partial to eBay. He says, "Owning a store and being committed to certain hours, it's great to have a resource like eBay that lets you find things without leaving the shop... and with enough margin to make a profit." (Never mind he actually bought a car on eBay Motors last August -- a Porsche Targa, no less.) The Inside Source sent Kalesti back to eBay to scout pieces and he selected a set of mid-century modern chrome chairs, George Briard tumblers and more. To read the full story, click here.

    ...And check out our past collaborations with The Inside Source here.

    The Inside Source, eBay's online style magazine, brings you the hottest goods and the latest trends, tips and shopping stories from leaders in home and garden, fashion and more.

     

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    Western decoratingRanch living never looked so chic -- and swank. Drawing inspiration from the rustic outdoors through picture windows that let in lots of light, this room at Montana's Big EZ Lodge contains Mountain West accents like a fireplace, a Pendleton blanket on the bed and an oversized leather armchair. Photo: The Big EZ Lodge

    Here's how to decorate a room evocative of the American West.

    While traveling through Montana and Wyoming recently, I found myself lusting after what I affectionately call "Cowboy Chic," or Western-style design. Think: Soft, plaid blankets flung over chair backs, massive stone fireplaces, animal skin rugs, furnishings built from rustic, natural woods.

    "Western style today is more about creating a sense of place and personalizing it, than adhering to a checklist of standards," says Chase Reynolds Ewald, author of the drool-worthy books "The New Western Home" (Gibbs Smith, 2009) and "Cowboy Chic" (Gibbs Smith, 2001). "Twenty years ago, it would have been wagon wheels and Pendleton blankets. Now it's more individual."

    Not to be confused with country or cottage decor, Mountain West interiors convey a strong sense of drama -- the style contrasts the strong elements of Big Sky Country with softer layers of textured fabrics and cozy-feeling accents. Western-style tends to be "more elemental," Ewald says. The furnishings tend to feel a little heavier than, say, those featured in a white-washed coastal beach house. The colors are often deeper, with accents in reds, browns and greens, colors evocative of the outdoors.

    Ewald says that designers decorating in this style flock toward super comfy couches that are textural "in the upholstery, often woven, with bold colors such as reds or blues." Others may choose an Italian-inspired design, like classic leather or suede couches, enlivened with decorative pillows. Coffee table? Don't expect a traditional style. Designers prefer to incorporate a large ottoman upholstered in wool or leather, a style that's become popular throughout the country in recent years. "Put a sheepskin or throw over the top," she says, "and when you need it to act as a table, simply put a large tray on top for glasses."

    Many Western-style homes feature warm wood flooring, with earth-toned or sheepskin throw rugs, or natural-feeling earthy and stone tiles in kitchens and baths. Windows are often minimally covered, so as not to impede the views. In the bedroom and elsewhere, expect decor straight out of the Sundance catalog, Robert Redford's ode to the American west in the form of products for the home.

    We found a perfect example of the rustic, of-the-earth decorating style we're referring to at the Big EZ Lodge in -- you guessed it! -- Big Sky, Montana and another at Grey Cliffs Ranch, also in Montana. With photos of the Western-style interiors below as a guide, we asked Ewald to tell us how to get the look.

    Hint: Think "Big."

    How to Decorate in Western-style:


    Bring the outdoors in.
    Declutter the windows so as not to impede the view, and bring the outdoors in through use of colors found in the surrounding landscape. If you have no view, create a sense of outdoors through artwork such as landscape photographs or paintings. Mirrors, especially those framed in leather or Western woodwork motifs, bring in more of that ever-important light while magnifying the sense of space.

    Western decoratingThe lobby at the Big EZ Lodge in Montana seems like it's tucked into a forest -- maybe because it really is. Its focal point is a wall of windows that showcase the great outdoors. Inside, timber columns and river rocks used in the fireplace design are just as inspiring. Photo: The Big EZ Lodge


    Use texture and color to create warmth and a sense of comfort/coziness.
    Pendleton blankets (I know, enough already, but it is a must) and Chimayo-style weavings (can be found at all price points, either as blankets or rugs or as pillows or accents) create a Western space instantly, and are both warm and colorful.

    Incorporate natural elements.
    Natural elements are essential to creating the feel of the range, whether it's a river rock fireplace, an antler chandelier or driftwood candlesticks. Fur accents or sheepskins add comfort and warmth while speaking of the natural world.

    Western decoratingChoosing a natural color palette -- and accenting it with artisan-made decor -- is very much in line with Mountain West decor. This example is from Montana's Grey Cliffs Ranch. Photo: Grey Cliffs Ranch


    Celebrate the handmade and the unique.
    There are scores of artisans working by hand in the western or rustic tradition. Check out Cody High Style and Western Design Conference to find lists of artisans making lamps, furniture and metalwork accents such as fireplace screens, bags and beaded items.

    Introduce classic Western accents.
    Here's a primer: turquoise, stone, antlers, metalwork, weavings, vintage black-and-white photos, ranch, Native American, or wildlife imagery, rustic woodwork or wicker, beadwork, baskets and rope trim all suggest the Mountain West. Scour flea markets and online sources for vintage finds such as beaded items, Western-themed bookends, sculptures, Fiestaware pitchers, unsigned oil paintings and cowboy boots.

    Personalize your western space.
    Incorporate appropriate personal items such as framed photographs and furniture, even if not particularly Western, to create a sense of history and timelessness.

    Western decoratingA fireplace constructed of river rocks is the hallmark of many homes done in a Mountain West style. Photo: Grey Cliffs Ranch


     

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    The secret to keeping a kids bathroom clean starts with the kids. Photo: Getty Images


    Is it possible to keep a tidy toilet with kids in the house? You betcha.

    My husband and I were forced to use our kids' bathroom recently; it's typically a place I avoid unless I'm cleaning it. But since ours was being renovated, I found myself brushing and flossing next to my two young children -- and noticing exactly how much the bathroom didn't function for them. There was little storage, a perpetually wet floor and toothpaste gunk everywhere -- and most of it could be prevented (or at very least minimized) with a few changes. (Suddenly, I was reorganizing two bathrooms in the house!)

    In rethinking their bathroom, I found that it's the little things that truly make a difference when it comes to keeping a kids bathroom clean. The kids try their best to clean, but it's not always so easy. Here's my advice:

    1. Add storage in the shower.
    It's quite simple: No storage in the shower means a disaster in the tub. We wondered why there were always bottles of shampoo and conditioner, not to mention bars of soap, strewn all over the tub. After years of cajoling my kids to keep the tub neat, it was our turn to see just how impossible it was to place shampoo and conditioner bottles on the shallow tub surround. So off to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a three-tier pole caddy -- big enough so they couldn't miss it and spacious enough so things wouldn't fall out of it. Problem solved -- and the kids actually thanked us!

    But there's another solution: a wall mounted soap-and-shampoo dispenser that keeps liquids in check. We like Simple Human's triple dispenser because it's durable and easy to use.

    2. Give the kids a place to hang (and put) stuff.
    Don't want discarded towels and the day's clothes to end up on the floor -- install lots of hooks and consider placing a hamper in the bathroom. And be sure to hang the hooks at a height that your children can reach -- otherwise, they won't use them. Make a game out of getting them to hang up their towels to dry or putting their bath toys back into a fun froggy caddy by Boon, or baskets.

    3. Move the toilet paper roll.
    If your toilet paper holder is located near the shower, it probably gets drizzled with water whenever someone takes a shower. If you can move it, do so. If you can't, here's an idea: To combat mushy toilet paper, we place a washcloth or small towel over the roll until they are finished showering. Problem solved. Another idea: Place a shower cap over the roll.

    4. Buy soap they won't want to squeeze.
    The feeling of a soft bar of soap in the hands of a youngster is a tactile treat. So what do they do? They squeeze it until it squishes into an unrecognizable shape...then it falls apart. One solution: Buy fun soaps, like Uncommon Goods' whistle-shaped soap-on-a-rope or specialty Breakfast soaps, that no kid wants to disfigure because they are too fun to look at. Their hands will be clean, the soap won't be dismantled into shards, and everyone wins.

    5. Put a cap on toothpaste goo.
    If you have a child who graciously puts the cap on the toothpaste, lucky you. Most kids, including ours, let it dribble and ooze all over the sink and vanity. Lovely to clean up. But there's a solution: a wall-mounted toothpaste dispenser. I have my eye on the Touch N' Brush, a hands-free dispenser that can be found in any drugstore for less than $20.

    6. Don't skip the daily wipe-down.
    If you have a boy, you know that there is a direct correlation to how many times you clean the bathroom and how well he aims -- enough said on that. But the one secret to a clean kids' bathroom is the once-a-day (sometimes twice-a-day) clean up of sink and tub debris (ie: hair, bits of soap and other bits of unidentified objects). I tend to simply wet a washcloth with warm water and wipe any surface I can reach. Another idea: Try buying Clorox wipes and ask your little one to wipe out the sink after every brush -- I've read that some parents offer this option: The cleaner the sink, the larger their allowance. (Just hope the wipe makes it into the trash can.)

    7. Check all angles.
    Just after cleaning the vanity mirror, I noticed that it would immediately be covered with toothpaste splatters. So I observed my little ones as they brushed their teeth. It turns out that they were brushing with their face up too close to the mirror and at a strange angle -- so I taught them the habit of looking into the sink when brushing and it seems to work. For much younger children, mirror splatters happen perhaps because the sink is too high. You may want to watch your kids too. Maybe a higher step stool will help them aim better, which will limit toothpaste splatters. If you're redoing the bathroom, consider a sink with a wide mouth (like a large pedestal version) rather than a taller vessel sink, which is harder to reach over.

    8. Combat tub muck.
    If you have a daughter with long hair, you'll want to clean up her hair each time she bathes. I learned a trick for this awhile back and I swear by it: Wipe up hair tangled in the bathtub drain with a used dryer sheet. Somehow the friction of a used dryer sheet (new ones are too slick) tangles with the hair and pulls it out of the drain. It works better than paper towels and tissue paper, and it will keep the drain from clogging, which causes water to back up. (This is what causes that slimy film to appear on the tub.) Ick!

    9. Eliminate white.
    Okay, that's obvious. But what I see a lot of people doing (us included) is putting cheerful, light-colored towels and bath rugs in the kids' bathroom. Yes, I love creamy white towels and bath rugs, too, but this just makes more work for me. The towels keep making their way onto the bathroom floor. Memo to myself: Start buying darker colored towels -- with stripes -- for the kids only. Stripes will hide a multitude of blood and dirt stains.

    Another tip: Choose a dark colored shower curtain, even if it doesn't look as pretty. The creamy white fabric shower curtain with embroidered flowers that I installed in the kids' bathroom quickly became smudged with all kinds of fingerprints and splotches. Fabric shower curtains have no place in a child's bathroom.

    I learned this after I unsuccessfully tried to bleach my lovely fabric shower curtain back to its original color. I'm now on the hunt for a PVC-free shower curtain, now widely available, according to a report in U.S. News and Health. When I find a durable non-fabric shower curtain, I will also be gratefully relieved that I no longer have to continually replace (seemingly on a weekly basis) shower curtain liners. Even the heavyweight liners rip from the hooks when tugged too hard.

    10. Forget the toothbrush holder.
    It wasn't logical to install a wall-mounted holder in the kids' bathroom, so I fell for the cute toothbrush holders that sit on the counter. But they have bottoms, and they collect even more goo from toothbrushes than a wall-mounted version. The yuck factor was too high for me, so I decided to have my daughter make a bottomless toothbrush holder out of her plastic Lego Clikits. The lesson? A bottomless toothbrush holder is easier to clean. The question remains: Where did all that goo go?

     

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