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  • 07/09/10--13:00: Decorating With Post-Its
  • Filed under: , , ,

    post it note mural
    Unleash your inner muralist and create a sticky note gallery of art. Photo: Peter Hellberg, Flickr

    Colorful and frugal scrap art made with the iconic Post-it.

    For thirty years, we've all seen first hand that it's tough to stay organized at home or at the office without the ubiquitous Post-it note. With Post-it Brands celebrating its 30th anniversary, we decided to honor some (much more!) creative uses of these cute, little squares of color. (Did you know that you can now also buy digital Post-it notes for your computer? Mac users know this well as the software comes standard. Brilliant!)

    It's pretty easy to make wall mosaics with Post-its. After all, they are already cut in perfect squares and they have adhesive, so there's no messing with scissors, only a little creative arranging. So stop scribbling notes on your Post-its -- Instead, put them to good use as a conversation piece of art in your home.

    Artist Rebecca Murtaugh has had a love affair with the Post-it note for a few years. It began during one of her first corporate jobs (before she began teaching art at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY) where the office manager kept piles of sticky notes. Murtaugh loved the pink notes and started cutting them up and playing with them when she was bored, and her artwork was born.

    Color Coded by Rebecca MurtaughRebecca Murtaugh's once-plastered bedroom felt like sitting in a pinata -- but this work of temporary art launched her career as an artist. Now, this image is available as a photograph. Photo: Rebecca Murtaugh

    Her first work? Covering the walls and furniture of her bedroom with sticky notes. "The steam from the bathroom made the sticky notes fall off, so I had to hot glue them," she says. "I invited people in to see the room, and people commented that they felt like they were sitting in a pinata."

    She went on to create sculptures out of Post-it notes and even wall art. She loves that sticky notes are valuable yet disposable. That, plus the color palette, make it the perfect artist's medium. The only drawback is that Post-its fade over time, says Murtaugh. "It takes one month for a sticky note to fade in New York, but one week to fade in California," she says of her experiments. So she tends to use Preserve It, an archival spray that helps keep the color.

    Studio Migrations by Rebecca MurtaughWhat to do with all the sticky note cut-outs? Rebecca Murtaugh made desk art. Photo: Rebecca Murtaugh

    Interior designer David Stark had a pretty neat idea for Post-it notes: Cover an ugly fridge (see below). Okay, his fridge is actually quite nice, but if yours isn't -- or if you just want to liven up your cooking space -- his idea is a good one. Take a look at the Design Sponge blog to see how he made the colorful design using sticky notes. Hint: It takes plain old graph paper to sketch it out.

    He's got more ideas for using Post-its, including a really cool mural he created. But you'll have to check out his newest book,
    David Stark Design, to see those.

    David Stark refrigerator artDavid Stark, interior designer, uses his fridge as a work of art. Photo: David Stark Designs

    A wall treatment like no other -- that's what Post Typography's Bruce Willen decided to do for Metropolis Magazine's HOME Exhibition back in 2007. The challenge to a handful of graphic design firms was simple: Find a beautiful, indispensable every day product and design something beautiful with it. Willen decided to interpret Post-it notes. He surrounded a traditional fireplace mantel (below) with them. (He also covered a wall in his living room with Post-its.)

    Let's just say that this probably shouldn't be tried at home, considering it's a bit of a fire hazard. Still, it's fun to look at.

    Post Typography's Post-it WallDon't try this at home. Bruce Willen, a graphic designer and co-founder of Post Typography, used sticky notes to create a contemporary wall treatment for Metropolis Magazine's HOME Exhibition. Photo: Bruce Willen

    Bruce Willen wallSeen here, one of Willen's creations: an unexpected and playful living room a la Post-its. Photo: Bruce Willen

    It took ten months and 183 Post-it notes to create the original patchwork mural (shown below). Artist Adrian Wallett asked fellow artists from around the globe to send in a piece of mini-art on a sticky note, and he assembled it into this display. For more of Wallett's work, visit his website.

    patchwork art
    A one-of-a-kind patchwork mural created by artists from around the world. Photo: Adrian Wallett, Flickr

    Need some pop art for your walls? Photographer Ross Elliott's collection of Post-it note cube close ups (below) will add instant color to your room. For more of his ideas, check out all the angles of his photostream on Flickr for inspiration, then get out your digital camera to make poster-sized works of art.

    pop art
    A work of art thanks to one photographer. Photo: Ross Elliott, Flickr

    And since we're really big fans of Rebecca Murtaugh and her take on the Post-it, check out these last two ideas by the artist. First, a really cool piece of wall art -- It could easily take the place of a painting above a couch or a headboard. The latter, a sculpture made out of rolled up Post-it notes.

    I bet you'll never look at the humble little Post-it the same way again.

    Seductions by Rebecca MurtaughArtist Rebecca Murtaugh is known for upbeat art, and this is no exception -- a pink cloud filled with colorful Post-it note shapes. Why not try it at home? Photo: Rebecca Murtaugh

    Directed Perspective by Rebecca MurtaughRebecca Murtaugh's take on Post-it note sculpture. Photo: Rebecca Murtaugh

    Want more great craft ideas?
    4 Unconventional Craft Supplies From Martha Stewart
    Weekend Craft Ideas
    Great DIY Idea: Dollar Store Beaded Chandelier
    Or see more crafts from ShelterPop!


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    Thom Filicia has announced a new partnership with Kravet. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage; Kravet

    The home and design news for the week of July 5 to 9.

    Gardening no longer takes root at Target, plus home and TV go hand in hand. Here's what happened in home this week:

    Are you doing anything Sunday night? Probably watching Design Star, right? If so, join ShelterPop's Allison and Amy for a Twitter party to express your thoughts on the show in 140 characters or less!

    Thom Filicia delves further into the home in a new partnership with Kravet on a line of fabrics for showrooms.

    Groceries at Target? Check. Your gardening supplies? Not so much. The retailer is scrapping that business.

    A solar lamp from D Light Design has taken home an award for its eco-friendliness.

    If you're a fan of the book Eat, Pray, Love, then the Home Shopping Network is the place for you to be in August.

    Outdoor living manufacturer will have Reege and Kelly sitting pretty when the talk show pair goes Canadian this month.

    Randy Ouzts is adding some more looks to his array of garden products, as well as opening a new shop.

    Yikes! A class of flame retardants that can be found on some home products can be hazardous to your health.

    The Red Dot Design Awards, looking at some of the best in design--including home products--have been given out.

    A campaign has been launched in Israel calling for interior designers and architects to unite on making homes safer for children.

    True story: The set designer for HBO's hit vampire show True Blood talks about making the old South come alive in the homes seen in the program.

    House Beautiful magazine has someone new in charge of making the pages look, well, beautiful as Sabine Rothman has been named style director.


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    Set on 2 1/2 acres in the heart of Pennsylvania's Poconos, designer RJ Thornburg's house is a former pig farm. Photo: Keith Scott Morton

    Designer RJ Thornburg transforms a former pig farm into a modern retreat.

    Old houses are full of charm and character, but that doesn't mean its interiors have to feel as antique. It can be surprisingly fresh to complement the classic bones of an old house with modern, retro, casual or traditional decorating.

    RJ Thornburg, an interior designer at Bahdeebahdu, and his partner, lighting designer, Warren Muller, did just that with their 1865 country home in the Poconos. Aiming for high style on a low budget, they balanced dark and neutral tones, brought in hints of color, and used artwork to deliver modern decor. The mission: Make the home feel contemporary -- without losing any of its charm.

    Modern living room in an old house owned by RJ Thornburg.
    After all of the painting and decorating is done, designer RJ Thornburg has one rule: Always add fresh flowers! Photo: Keith Scott Morton.

    In a space that fits a lot of furniture, fabrics and finishes, like their living room (shown above), balance is key in keeping it from looking cluttered and stuffy. Thornburg retained the raw exposed beams to balance the more urban look of dark ebony floors and an animal hide rug.

    "We also paired old rattan chairs with oversized and more delicate silk damask pillows, and the simple modern square shape of the fireplace is matched with a traditional hearth guard," he explained. Warren designed the modern light sculpture above the fireplace, which was made from a piece of old farm equipment and easily brings the space into 2010.

    Modern hallways in an old house.
    Artwork always brings a staid space up to date (left). Right: Look up! Few people would expect unfinished beadboard on the ceiling. Photos: Keith Scott Morton.

    Hallways are generally transitional spaces but in this house they are interesting places to visit (see above). In the downstairs entryway (left), they paired an antique console with a substantial sculptural element, which creates a very traditional look. However, the vignette is modernized with modern artwork, which is bright, raw and unexpected.

    Upstairs (right), Thornburg left the hall unfinished with unstained floors, and beadboard on the ceiling which they purchased from a big box home store. Again, the country look is accented with a more urban look; the hall is punctuated with a modern light sculpture.

    Modern dining room and sun room in an old house.
    The dining room's communal table and benches (left) help give the space an intimate but modern way of dining. The key to the sunroom's fresh look (right) is the punch of Asian red color. Photos: Keith Scott Morton.

    Decorating that doesn't take itself too seriously keeps a space from feeling stuffy. Thornburg kept the home from feeling too high brow by adding a sense of humor and color in the dining room and sunroom. "The dining room has some levity with punches of green, and a creative light source complete with Dutch wooden shoe and all," he says. The sunroom (right) is pretty funky and eclectic, which isn't what you'd expect to see in this house. The wood paneled walls are painted gray, adding warmth to the original stone floors. A classic chair in an Asian red finish is a nice surprise of color.

    Modern bedroom in an old house.
    Thornburg added some modern finishes but kept many original surfaces like the wide-plank flooring. Photo: Keith Scott Morton.

    If your guest bedroom resembles a charming room in a boutique hotel, you're a step ahead, and your guests will never want to leave. Thornburg succeeded in making his cozy and modern but also down to earth and playful. The dark and soothing gray walls are paired with crisp white trim and original wide-plank flooring. And we love those turquoise accents. Says Thornburg: "It's always fun to include décor that is unexpected, like a traditional wicker chair painted in turquoise."


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  • 07/09/10--14:00: Weekly Link Love
  • Filed under:

    Dreamy tents, a peek at Fall and an ottoman that got away...What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    This grafitti's so bright, we advise that you wear shades. We also advise that you stop and stare because this way more like art than it is grafitti. [poppytalk]

    Now that 4th of July is passed, you know we're thinking about Fall-idays already. Luckily, so is Pottery Barn! (And CasaSugar has an exclusive peek at the goods). [Casa Sugar]

    Anne's daydreaming about the perfect pairs of outfits and rooms in the Anthropologie catalog. Um, Anne, we'll join you now. [The City Sage]

    This tent has more style in one pole than some house's have in their whole being. Really! We're ready to pack up and move in. [ABCD Design]

    No one really thinks of filing cabinets of anything but blah. Except for (of course!) Design Mom, who has a great step-by-step for a perfect weekend project. [The Stir]

    We're still drying our eyes for poor Camilla who missed out on this $68 tufted ottoman. Are we being a little overdramatic? Well, yes. But orange ottomans call for such dramatics. [High-Heeled Foot in the Door]

    Sure, we see J.F. Chen sourced in every shelter mag but we're loving this peek inside of the Lazy Hazy exhibit curated by the actual J.F. Chen (Jeff, for those on a first name basis). [Maison 21]

    It's one thing to be jealous of former Domino-ite and current Veranda Editor-in-Chief Dara Caponigro. It's another to be jealous of her parents. We've officially crossed over into new territory. But have you seen their new apartment?? [NY Times]


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    Hans Neumann

    Ever wonder where those happy-chic designs come from? We got a peek inside.

    Kids dream about visiting Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Design buffs? We've got something better: Jonathan Adler's studio. So when we were invited to tour the brand's headquarters, we felt like we'd stumbled upon the golden ticket. And what kind of writers would we be if we didn't share all the wonder and whimsy with you guys?

    Click through our slideshow and you'll feel like you're going to your happy place. (It's full-screen, so you can feel totally immersed in the office -- 2nd button in from left, down below!) Look out for the pottery wheel, an inspiration board that puts all others to shame and two dogs so cute, you'd swear they were part of the product line-up.,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=907444&pid=907443&uts=1278966115

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    It only makes sense that the door is as bright as all the goodies inside, right? We're invited in by the gorgeous (and fantastically-named) Starrett Zenko, Jonathan Adler's Marketing and Press Director.

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    That's Adler's office on the left, where he does all of the desk-and-meetings part of his job (he also admits to spending plenty of time procrastinating on eBay there. Our kind of guy).

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    Is that ShelterPop Jonathan and Starrett are pointing enthusiastically at? Or maybe they're just psyched about a hilarious response on their brilliant Facebook or Twitter.

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    "The biggest problem with inspiration isn't looking for it, but editing it down. I find it in art and a lot of it actually comes in my sleep," Jonathan told us. Neat! He was even supportive when we told him about our own wacky decor dream: Furniture Spanx. "I love it! Sofas are so overstuffed these days...they do need Spanx!"

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    Surprised to see Jonathan in the pottery studio? Shouldn't be -- he's a potter, after all. And we love that he gets down with the wheel in the middle of the work day. "People don't always understand the level of craft that goes on here," he told us. "We actually make stuff! They don't realize that if they see a shoe butter dish on the shelves, it started here."

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    Why not throw clay for an audience? Boogie, who comes to work daily with his owner, watches as Jonathan turns the lump of clay into...

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    After years of admiring Adler's work in magazines, store windows and even our own homes, it's a dream to see the full process. "Someone once asked me if I was in this business for the money. I was like 'Yeah, you're right, when I got out of college I was like: Should I go to Wall St. or become a potter? Six of one, half a dozen of the other," he joked.

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    Jonathan made this beauty right in front of our eyes, in just a matter of minutes. Doesn't it look remarkably similar to the more finished pieces up on the shelves? Also worth noting: his guns. We didn't know throwing pots could be such a workout! "I also go to spinning class every day," he told us. "It's like I need to be at a rotating wheel at all times."

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    One of Jonathan's talented interns sketched the cheeky face on that balloon as an homage to the Utopia collection.

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    How do they maintain the laid back vibe in the studio? "There's dance music in the office but classic rock in here. We keep it real, we listen to pottery-ish music," he said, over the sounds of Squeeze. "But we won't go as far as Joni Mitchell," he promised.

    Jonathan Adlers Studio

    We hope you enjoyed the peek into the world of Adler -- we'll be dreaming about it.

    And if you like Adler, we think you'll also enjoy...
    Obsessed: Bokja's Bright, Bohemian Upholstery
    Rainbow-Colored Decor


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    One woman's decorating prayers are answered.

    When Faith Buss, a self described "sucker for cool old stuff," saw three old church pews that had been rescued from a little country church near her home, she knew she had to have them. She loved that the seating had history, so she decided to purchase one for $25. But after a few days, she couldn't get the other two out of her mind, so she went back for the other two.

    church pew headboardA before shot of the old church pew. Faith considered using the bench on her porch, but then she had a better idea. Photo: Faith Buss

    At first, she struggled because, well, what does one do with not one but three old church pews? She wasn't planning on holding any sermons in the backyard of her little yellow farmhouse in Oklahoma. (But they sure did come in handy when she hosted a youth group movie night at her house.)

    Originally, she had imagined maybe putting one on the front porch as a bench, or perhaps placing another one against a plain wall inside the house, "which I don't have, but that wasn't going to stop me from buying it!" she says.

    Faith, a stay-at-home mom of two and her husband, Britton, who recently lost his job, have been family-focused for the last few years, spending their time parenting, gardening and making their farmhouse a home. When one of her friends mentioned that she's seen a wooden bench made into a headboard, Faith had an idea: Why not turn one of the pews into a headboard?

    Faith and Britton immediately began brainstorming how they could accomplish this. First, they'd need to cut out a spot at the center so they could position their mattress in the pew; they wanted to use the ends of the bench as nightstands. Since the pew was a bit too low, Faith says, "we considered different ways to raise it up so that the bed frame could just slide into the cut we'd make in the seat of the pew. The idea for casters (large wheels) was inspired by a coffee table I had seen in Pottery Barn with giant antique wheels on the bottom."

    church pew headboardA church pew becomes a headboard. Photos: Faith Buss

    They discovered some large, old casters in a junkyard while on vacation in Louisiana -- a steal at 4 for $20. The casters raised the heavy, solid oak pew to the perfect height. The whole project cost only $45. It just took a bit of clever DIY-ing.

    She says she's endured quite a bit of joking related to the fact she's sleeping on a church pew -- even her pastor cracked a joke, but it doesn't bother Faith one bit. She just laughs it off. The headboard "speaks to the things we're trying to develop in our home. Imagination and creativity, faith and love. It's just perfect," she says.

    So what about the two that are left? They're being used for a friend's outdoor wedding ceremony in September. Who knows where they might end up next!

    For more clever DIY ideas, check out how to make a home bar or visit our sister site DIY Life -- it's chock-full of DIY projects and ideas.


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  • 07/12/10--23:03: Curating a Rose Garden
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    Sarah Owens, curator of the Cranford Rose Garden. Photo: Dodo Loechle

    Good roses going bad: How one woman is steering a famous rose garden in the twenty-first century.

    Sarah Owens has a wide smile and a sharp pair of Felcos. She needs both.

    As the rosarian in charge of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (BBG)'s Cranford Rose Garden, which opened in 1928, Sarah has over 5,000 roses in her care and a challenging brief to fulfill: re-imagining a rose garden that has been visited by a devastating disease.

    Five years ago Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) was diagnosed in the Cranford, affecting in particular the older roses and ramblers in the collection, concentrated in the south end of the garden. Spread by the eriophyid mite, and behaving like a virus, the disease remains poorly understood. When Sarah came on board as the new rosarian in the winter of 2009, its effects had been felt in the garden for several years but the severity of the infection had not been apparent.

    Fallow southern beds. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Fresh out of the two year horticultural certificate program at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), thirty-two year-old Sarah faced the challenge of not only recognizing a potential catastrophe but turning it to an advantage. She was compelled to re-envision what the rose garden was expected to be -- a monoculture planted in rows for habit-observation and cataloging purposes -- to what it should be for the health of the roses: a garden where companion plants coexist gracefully with the all-important stars of the show.

    Companion planting near the Rose Pond. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    So, how did Sarah start approaching this challenge?

    "I started digging. Everyone dug. I gave anyone who showed up, a shovel and said, Dig." Sarah's mission was to remove every one of the affected roses, including roots and to replace the surrounding soil. But it soon became apparent that it was going to take more than that. The garden needed a serious intervention and a back hoe arrived to put the 'D' in dig. "I think everyone thought I was crazy," says Sarah. "But the collection is amazing. Some of the old roses have been here since inception and I didn't want to lose any more."

    As it was, the garden's south side and beds around the pretty white pavilion were all but emptied of old roses while the northern beds remain populated and perfumed.

    North rose garden. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Which begs the question, then what?

    While one hundred yards of compost were added as an amendment to the clayish beds around the pavilion, it would have been cost-prohibitive to replace all of the soil previously inhabited by the diseased roses. Public gardens rely on public support and a recession is no time for high-budget renovations at a garden already undergoing extensive upgrades and redesign. The next best approach was to let the affected areas lie fallow for "at least a year," says Sarah, and then put a four-pronged approach into effect.

    Companion planting. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    1. Companion planting.
    The northern border of the rose garden is already host to an exuberant display of annuals, perennials and geophytes whose color, form and texture delight both human and insect visitors alike, achieving Sarah's stated goal of...

    2. Cultivating a habitat for beneficial insects.
    Insects have been released in the garden to aid with natural pest management. Creating an environment where they have cover and food -- something not provided by a monoculture of roses -- encourages them to stay, complete their life cycles and begin new ones. Predator wasps, lady bugs, lace wings and aphid mummifiers are now among the denizens of the rose garden. The previously bare and stricken-looking eastern border in the south garden is now a riot of gorgeous annuals (converting this annual-averse writer to their cause) in hues of red, orange, burgundy and sapphire blue, where butterflies flit as bees and cameras zoom with equal intensity. It is a stunning display and you would hardly think looking at the flowers' many jeweled hues that the garden is an insect laboratory.

    Eastern annual border. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    3. Organic feeding program.
    After a boost of Rose Tone in the spring, house-made compost and alfalfa tea follow during the growing season. The compost aids the formation of beneficial microbes in the soil and the alfalfa boosts plants' immunity and provides nitrogen.

    4. Pest management and prevention.
    Neem oil at 2% saturation is applied for insect and disease control.

    Wettable Sulfur is used for fungus (powdery mildew, black spot) and mites. "It works well when used as part of a variable regime. It is non-toxic but not great for the soil when used excessively. It can burn foliage if used in hot, dry, sunny weather," says Sarah.

    Organic practises encourage insect life. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Natural fungicide recipe for home use:

    1 gallon of water
    1 tablespoon horticultural oil
    4 teaspoons potassium bicarbonate (more effective than baking soda, sodium bicarbonate)

    Mix and spray. Use as a preventative.

    Awakening. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    "Like some people," says Sarah with a meaningful gleam in her eyes, "roses are heavy feeders and drinkers. If you give them plenty of water and food, chances are they will remain healthy -- prevention being better than cure."

    Where did Sarah's love and knowledge of roses start?

    Well, not at home, apparently. "I was always grounded to my mother's beautiful rose garden," says Sarah grimly. "I would look at these plants and wish I was anywhere else." Home was Clinton, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and Sarah's first career, after her flight from the rose garden, was as a sculptor inspired by horticulture and organic forms. After six years, several residencies and her own studio, she decided that artistic seclusion was overrated, and looked north to follow her second passion: gardening.

    Rose Hill above the Cranford Rose Garden. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    While studying at the NYBG she became involved in the renovation of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Collection at the NYBG and realized that roses were not the pesky creatures she had imagined. After stints as an intern at the Battery Conservancy and head gardener at the Cooper Hewitt, the offer of taking up the curatorship of the Cranford was made, and she was ready.

    Late on a June afternoon in the rose garden a slow bumble bee struggles to take off from the cup of a pollen-heavy bloom. A troop of inner-city schoolkids on an outing hurtles past chanting, "We can look but can-not touch!" A Japanese tourist out of range of the sprinklers zooms in on a giant white allium in the northern border. Profuse purple clematis blooms radiating from a pillar transfix a family from Colombia, who stare and point. A small bunny scuttles across a rose bed.

    Catnip in front of Dublin Bay. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    The sprinklers are switched on after weeks of drought. The arching streams of water intersect overhead and a little girl runs in delight on the soft grass beneath the rainbowing diamond drops falling onto her and the roses through the warm air. A filigreed green lace wing settles briefly on my arm. A weekly volunteer at the rose garden, I am dead heading roses.

    Watering in dry times. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    On Rose Hill, a ramble of cascading roses above the garden, the valerian that Sarah planted last year when she was suffering sleepless nights, sways gently on its six-foot stalks, its lacy white umbels
    carried delicately above the riot of rich rose blooms. Its roots can be harvested this fall, but I have a feeling that the need for them may have passed.

    Left to Right: Henry Hudson, La Belle Sultane, Ebb Tide, Golden Wings. Photos: Marie Viljoen

    Now that the ground has been prepared, literally, Sarah will focus on the stories she wants to tell. A collection of roses featuring specific hybridizers; creating a Found Rose section where anonymous and forgotten roses from cemeteries and old homesteads are collected and honored; telling histories -- of moss roses, species roses and native roses; propagating rose hips collected in France and old roses from private collections in Austria and Washington State to replace those that have been lost.

    Valerian flowers. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    There will be no time for sleep.


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  • 07/12/10--23:03: Daily Upper: Dream View
  • Filed under:

    Imagine looking out your window and entire city, all at once. Forget people watching, a view like this is made for building watching. You could spend a whole day wondering what the people in each tiny window, in each tiny building are doing.

    Of course, this isn't everybody's idea of a dream-come-true view -- we know many of you would rather look right out onto these tulips. Doesn't it look like each one is a fiery sunset? And those leaves are so perfectly green we might suspect they're fake!

    Now spill: What would you rather see?

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!


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    Dive in to our round-up of the most inspiring places to cool down.

    Listen up, armchair travelers: You don't have to leave your office to enjoy some pool-side fun. Let us bring the pools to you. Since some of the prettiest places to cool off feature some of the prettiest design elements, we decided to round-up some of the places where we'd love to take a dip. Let it serve as inspiration. Sure, you may not have the yard for a pool and maybe you can't even afford to put one in, but we can all dream, can't we? And maybe you'll finally get around to booking that vacation.

    Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & SpaIt's difficult to tell where the pool ends and the surrounding waters in Bora Bora begins. Photo: Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa

    1. Infinite-ly Bora Bora
    An infinity pool set against the backdrop of Tahiti's turquoise waters and white-sand beaches? We're in! What looks like an optical illusion -- the pool seamlessly melting into the lagoon -- is actually a true scene (above). And it's the kind we would love to step into. To add a bit of adventure, guests at Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa can rent snorkeling gear and explore the sea.

    PoolThis beautiful pool's adjacent pavilion is the perfect spot to towel off and sip iced tea. Photo: Jerry Abowd

    2. On the Market in Arizona
    Because the Southwestern desert can be scorching during summer, there's a valid argument for having a back-yard pool to relax in after the sun sets. This Scottsdale, Arizona, homeowner took an upscale approach with a design that evokes the Mediterranean and is surrounded by palm trees to boot (above). Until a few years ago, this was reportedly the largest residential pool in the entire state of Arizona, requiring 62,000 gallons of water and measuring 1,592 surface square feet. Bonus: the custom-built home is on the market for $975,000, pool included, of course!

    Quinta Nova PortugalWhat makes us want to dive into this pool is the view -- rolling hills in Portugal's Douro Valley marked by vines that produce award-winning wines. Photo: Quinta Nova

    3. Swimming With Views
    Tucked into Portugal's Douro Valley, which is also a wine region, the swimming pool at boutique hotel Quinta Nova (above) is smartly built into the edge of a sloping hillside. After a hot day exploring tasting rooms, a dip in the pool is in order -- and a sip of wine or port poolside from the estate's winery is a must. Surrounded by terraced grapevines, guests are right in the heart of wine country.

    A new hotel in Manhattan offers a rooftop pool to guests with a view of the Empire State Building. Photo: Gansevoort Park Hotel

    4. Pool in the Sky
    We don't think there's a finer view of Manhattan's skyline (including the Empire State Building) from any other pool in the city than from the Gansevoort Park Hotel. Architect Stephen B. Jacobs, who also designed The Library Hotel, is responsible for the hotel's slick rooftop pool (above). Located in the Meatpacking District, the pool is a prime spot for watching sunsets over the Hudson River.

    Marina Bay Sands Singapore PoolBilled as the world's most expensive hotel, the infinity pool at this Singapore property was constructed 55 stories above the ground, providing the best view of Marina Bay below. Photo: Marina Bay Sands Resort

    5. Skyline Pool
    Marina Bay Sands
    , a brand new resort in Singapore, elevates the infinity pool to a whole new level -- 55 stories off the ground, to be precise (above). It's three times the length of an Olympic-size swimming pool and sits on top of the hotel's three towers. In other words, when you are doing laps in this pool, you feel like you're flying above the city.

    With the same passion she brings into her styling and interior-design career, Anicia Bragg's backyard pool is just as tasteful. Photo: Michael Baxter

    6. A Designer Pool
    Stylist and interior designer Anicia Bragg, who lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona, has a pool (above) that's as stunning as the homes she decorates through her company, Abragg Design. With decorative boulders, a waterfall, an outdoor fireplace, an outdoor chandelier and several seating areas, it's the perfect splash space.

    The infinity pool at Jade Mountain on St. Lucia is whimsical with colored custom tiles on its floor, which are repeated on the ceiling overhead. Photo: Jade Mountain

    7. Exotic Touch
    Jade Mountain, a resort in St. Lucia set on a 600-acre beach, doesn't hold back on color or sparkle in their pools (above). Each suite has its own infinity pool that's uniquely designed by architect owner Nick Troubetzkoy. Guests can swim or relax in total privacy. The size of each infinity pool ranges from 400 to 900 square feet, leaving plenty of room to flip and float above the custom glass tiles. At night, fiber-optic lighting illuminates each pool.

    Greenwood Lake poolCheck out this clever design: a hot tub and pool that's located inches from a lake. Photo: Stonetown Construction

    8. Garden State Pool
    For a home located on the New Jersey side of Greenwood Lake (part of the lake lies in New York State), Stonetown Construction looked to the lake for inspiration and designed a pool (above) that appears to spill right into it. What you can't see in the photo is the multi-tier adjacent patio area with a flat-screen TV, outdoor kitchen with stainless appliances and a pergola. A lakeside sitting area is outfitted with a fire pit and a walkway to the boat dock. But even with all of those little luxuries, we'd rather spend a lazy summer afternoon in the pool.


    For a patio design, the homeowner chose large stones spaced far enough apart to show grass growing underneath. Photo: Michelle Woods

    9. Tuscan Style
    A beautiful backyard pool deserves an equally breathtaking setting and that's what this Irvine, California, home has got. The surrounding walls, patio and border are all in character with the pool's Tuscan design (above), constructed from rock that's as natural as the grass growing between the stones on the patio. It's the perfect spot to throw a poolside-party -- and we like that the brick walls will absorb the guests' noise.

    The Boulders Resort Golden Door Spa poolAs part of Boulders Resort, the Golden Door Spa provides top-notch spa treatments and a pool to relax at. The property is surrounded by large rocks -- creating a very inspiring poolside setting. Photo: The Boulders Resort

    10. Rockin' Out
    The Boulders Resort, just north of Scottsdale, Arizona, is aptly named for the large rocks that surround the resort, which includes Golden Door Spa. That's where this luxury pool (above) is located. So imagine yourself smelling like avocado and citrus, and reclining in the sun after a massage that incorporates those summertime ingredients. Oh yes. We are sooo there.


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    Lela Rose Living RoomPhoto: Nykia Spradley

    Everything's coming up roses at the designer's 6,000-square-foot home.

    Fashion designer Lela Rose and her husband Brandon Jones have a thing for ground-floor apartments, so when the opportunity arose to buy a former fabric warehouse space in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood, they took it.

    And so began a six year transformation of the space, from a raw, empty room (with two floors below street level) to the stunning and thoroughly clever space Rose envisioned. She showed me around, while prepping for dinner guests, a passion of hers and the inspiration behind the home's design.

    Living Room Storefront
    One of Rose's favorite first-floor features is the iron, three-step stoop that leads up to the apartment's main entrance. My favorite thing about it: the front-row view it provides of her living room (above). "People think it's a store," Rose says. We think it looks more like an art gallery.

    The all-white front room is a microcosm of the rest of the apartment, featuring a modern mix of items -- a circular banquette by Pierre Paulin, a wall of photographs Rose has collected over the years and a pair of Louis XIV sidechairs she had reupholstered (below). Plus, there's a view onto the subsequent rooms, including the floor-to-ceiling bamboo dining area followed by a more traditional dining room off of the open kitchen and a fourth space that is completely covered in felt. (The felt room also houses a DJ booth, which doubles as a cozy nook for the family's dog, Stitch, or any party guest looking for a hideout, who can access the space from a private elevator shaped like a Monopoly house.)

    Lela Rose Circular SectionalA circular banquette in the living room is designed by Pierre Paulin. Photo: Nykia Spradley

    Lela Rose Wall of PrintsRose created an art gallery wall of out of framed photographs that she collected over the years. Photo: Nykia Spradley

    Lela Rose Louis XIV ChairsRose had these Louis XIV sidechairs reupholstered with fabric inspired by one of her fashion designs. Photo: Nykia Spradley

    Lela the Entertainer
    The heart and soul of the apartment is a series of wooden tables that rise up out of the floor (and a glass one that lowers from the ceiling) linking the kitchen, dining, and living areas and seating a small army of guests for dinner (shown below). "I love to entertain and I love to do these moving parties somehow," Rose says, explaining how she once hosted a cocktail party in a nearby subway station. "So we decided -- as crazy as this sounds -- that we wanted tables that moved around so we didn't have to move furniture."

    Lela Rose Dining RoomIn Rose's home, the tables come up out of the floor. Photo: Nykia Spradley

    When an event calls for something less conventional like, say, a runway to showcase the designer's 2011 resort collection like it did a few weeks back, the tables stand in perfectly, providing a runway for the the models to strut on.

    Once dinner is had (or fashions seen) guests can retreat to the downstairs wine cellar/tequila tasting room, which features a vintage scrabble board in the center (below).

    Lela Rose Tequila RoomPhoto: Nykia Spradley

    Design on a Dime
    After such an extensive (and pricey) overhaul, Rose had to get resourceful when it came to decorating. "I hate to waste things," Rose says. "I love new contemporary furniture, but I didn't want to go buy all new things."

    For the front room she adopted a pair of Louis XIV sidechairs from her mom and had them embroidered in a pattern inspired by one of her clothing pieces. For the kids' rooms, leftover fabrics became window treatments, quilts, headboard upholstery and a canopy for her daughter Rosey's bed (below). Rose also repurposed an old dining table, cutting it down to coffee table height and splitting it in two. One half lives in the felt room, the other half in the front of the apartment.

    Lela Rose Daughter's BedroomPhoto: Nykia Spradley

    From Fashion to Furniture
    "For me everything is about fabric; I love to decorate in fabric," Rose says. "So you'll see that in a lot of areas of the house. It's just very textural and I share that sensibility with both home and with work." Rose's massive walk-in closet is big on texture and fabric, and colorful enough to make even Carrie Bradshaw squeal (below).

    Lela Rose ClosetOoh, what we wouldn't do to trade closets with Ms. Rose! Photo: Nykia Spradley

    The apartment's linear, patchwork-like design was inspired by a table Rose admired at a local shop called BDDW. "They had done this amazing table," she explains. "They kept adding a twelve inch section to it and each section was done in a completely different material, a completely different type of workmanship, but when it was altogether it flowed as one beautiful gorgeous piece."

    That table became Rose's blueprint for the space and that's exactly what the home turned out to be -- an incredibly well thought out space with a series of rooms that are all their own.

    Says Rose: "It takes vision to look at a space like this and think what you could do with it. But looking back I feel like we really achieved what we thought we were going to be doing."

    A photo of Lela Rose, her husband and daughter. Photo: Getty Images


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  • 07/13/10--09:04: Daily Upper: Anticipation
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    That cork is about to pop...

    Alexandre Dumas wrote "...the supper table was laden with candles and flowers, as is the custom in all countries where they understand how to dress a table, which when properly done is the rarest of all luxuries."

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!


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  • 07/13/10--12:05: So Happy Gardening Together
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    Getty Images

    Community gardens are growing in number, bringing heirloom tomatoes and new friends to a neighborhood near you.

    Let's say that you've never gardened much, but you're struck with an urge to eat homemade spaghetti sauce, made with homegrown tomatoes, which means you've gotta grow your own tomatoes. But wait! -- you don't have a yard. Quick: What do you do? Join a community garden of course!

    Still, even if you do have a yard, there's plenty to embrace with the community garden, such as "meeting like-minded people in your community, physical activity outdoors and the opportunity to learn how your food grows," says Liz Sharp, one of the principals of the Brooklyn Bears Community Gardens, which has three sites in the borough.

    That bonding can be a strong motivating factor.

    Hollenback Community Garden offers a sliding scale for members to pay. Photo: Hollenback Community Garden

    "My wife Ally and I have been members of the Hollenback Community Garden for four or five years now," says Brooklyn resident Lorne Lieb. "We joined after we moved into the neighborhood to meet people in our community and to try and grow some veggies."

    Chicago resident Leah Ray, a communications manager for a design firm, joined the Peterson Garden Project when it broke ground a couple of months ago. "It's been an incredible community-building experience, which I didn't see coming," she says.

    Community gardens are, pardon the pun, "sprouting up" across the nation, which can be traced to a variety of factors, according to Bobby Wilson, president of the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA).

    "One, is that we have a garden at the White House for the first time in decades. Michelle Obama had a major impact on where we are right now," Wilson says. He also believes that food scares and the slow food movement are bringing more people into community gardens, particularly families. "Parents are concerned with helping their children make the connection with where their food comes from and how they're going to eat in the future," he adds.

    The ACGA counts as members the 2,267 registered gardens across the country, but Wilson says the number is actually a lot higher since not everyone knows about the registration service. He guesses that it represents only 25 to 30 percent of community gardens nationwide. Still, the numbers are growing and they seem to be popular just about everywhere -- there are even community gardens in Alaska.

    Michael Callahan, one of the founders of the Bethel Community Garden in Bethel, Alaska, admits that gardening this far north is certainly a challenge. It's a carefully measured process, he says, taking into account the weather and amount of sunlight available.

    "We are generally able to get our starts in the ground anytime after June 1," he says. "Our growing season ends about the last week of September."

    Still, the gardeners are devoted. "It is not uncommon to find one or two gardeners working their plots until after midnight," he says.

    If you're interested in joining a community garden, here are some things to think about, wherever you are:

    A mural graces the wall of this urban garden. Photo: Brooklyn Bears

    Location is Key

    "Look for a garden that is close to your home or work so that it's easy to get there on a regular basis to weed, water and participate in work days and social events," says Brooklyn Bears' Sharp.

    And who knows? This could be the perfect remedy to relieve the stress of the day, says ACGA's Wilson. If you live in the suburbs and work in the city, he recommends finding a city plot to garden in. You can avoid the traffic by staying in town to garden for a couple of hours. "You're going to produce some good, fresh vegetables and you're going to release a lot of stress by not sitting in traffic for two-and-a-half hours," he adds.

    Beginners Can Have Some Luck

    There are plenty of people in the world like me that have never planted a seed outside of third-grade science class, but that doesn't have to be a discouraging factor, Sharp says.

    "Gardening experiences should not be a necessity," she says. "There is so much information available through the Internet, and through local greening organizations." If in doubt, you can always ask someone for an assist, she says. "Most gardeners love to share their knowledge!"

    Lieb and his wife didn't have any experience when they joined a community garden in Brooklyn. "We checked out Gardening for Dummies from the library and read it, " he says. "We also got a lot of good advice from the seasoned gardeners in our garden."

    Patience Is a Virtue

    With plenty of people living in urban areas wanting to take part in the "back to the land" movement, many of the community gardens have waiting lists in place. As of February, there were 87 people on the waitlist at the Potrero Hill Community Garden, which is open to San Francisco residents. In Minneapolis, the Dowling Community Garden stopped taking names for one of the 190 plots because the waiting list is too long, reports the website. Some gardens require that you "apprentice" for a year, helping out on the garden property for a year before getting your own plot.

    But don't give up! "Our garden has had [a waiting list] for years for vegetable plots, but anyone can help out," Sharp says. "People do move fairly often, so plots do open up."

    And the Plots Thicken

    A lot can be done with a single parcel of land, which usually varies in size, once you get one.

    "All the plots at the Peterson Garden are 4-by-6-foot raised beds," Ray says, adding that she grows a variety of vegetables there, from heirloom tomatoes to Chinese broccoli to golden beets. She says that she spends about 15 minutes every couple of days there watering and weeding. More time is spent hanging out with the other gardeners.

    Lieb also gets a lot out of his 4-by-8-foot plot, and makes it a family affair of sorts. "I spend a few hours throughout the week watering and weeding," he says. "Lately, I've been the one tending to our garden since I have a more flexible schedule than Ally -- splitting my time between taking care of my 17-month-old twins Emmett and Dahlia, and running my documentary production company Plowshares Media. I usually take Emmett and Dahlia to the garden in the morning and they watch me water, then we look at plants and flowers.

    "This year, we're growing cherry and heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, basil, cilantro, beets, chard and our first flower--dahlias."

    Weather Permitting, Of Course

    Work in a community garden continues through the cooler months. "In the winter, we prep the plots for the snow, and put leaves and mulch down to protect them," says Brooklyn resident Lieb. "Some plants still grow -- like cabbage -- but mostly the garden is quiet for the winter. When the snow melts, gardeners start coming back and getting their plots ready for spring. It's something to look forward to when it's freezing outside."

    And sure, it gets real cold in New York and Chicago, but what about the tundra-like climes of Alaska? Tending the land is also a difficult chore there, Callahan says, but there are techniques to deal with this.

    "Gardening in the sub-Arctic region presents some unique challenges, not the least of which is this nagging layer of ice (permafrost), which lingers not too far beneath the ground's surface," he says. "Last year with about 100 linear feet of rows, I was able to harvest over 200 pounds of produce."

    "Many of us start our own seeds in our homes/apartments several weeks prior to the official planting opening date," Callahan adds. "By the time the top soil here is thawed and tiled, we are ready to put our young plants into the ground."

    This community garden is so full of life that it spills over onto the adjoining sidewalk. Photo: Brooklyn Bears

    The Cost of Doing Business

    Of course, whenever you enter a new venture, one of the first things you have to consider is the anticipated blow to the wallet, whether big or small. How much you pay for your food-and-floral-growing foray usually depends on the garden you choose. In the spirit of community, you can expect dues at community gardens to remain low.

    "Every community garden is different in terms of dues, supplies, grant writing, construction projects, events and support it gives gardeners," says Cara Montague, co-coordinator of Brooklyn's Hollenback Community Garden.

    Membership dues are usually minimal, if there are any at all. For example, in the past few years, Hollenback Community Garden voted to change the dues to a sliding scale of $10 to $50. "The garden uses that money to pay for plants for common areas, events, office supplies, tools, repairs and small construction projects," says Montague. "In general, dues go to cover things that will benefit everyone in the garden."

    Some gardens, such as Hollenback, make garden tools, like shovels and rakes, available for members, keeping costs down for individuals. Plus, some gardens offer seed/seedling shares and giveaways to help gardeners get started.

    Friends, Along With Other Benefits

    Community gardens offer much more than fresh produce. Ray says that she's learned about seed diversity, and has gained a deeper understanding of the importance of gardening sustainably. Lieb loves that he can pop by and pick up the ingredients for the night's dinner. There's a sense of accomplishment that comes from growing your own food, he says.

    Still, it's the sense of community that gardeners seem to like best. Says Callahan: "Gardening has given me the opportunity to keep myself occupied, meet and interact with new friends."

    For more gardening stories, check out these posts:

    Fragrance in the Garden
    Upside-Down Gardening: Fab or Fad?

    10 Edible Garden Plantings You'll Love


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    Artist David Marty's oil landscape, Veiled Valley, is highlighted with a flax-linen liner and a detailed wood frame. Photo: Larson-Juhl.

    In addition to protecting artwork from pests, dust and dirt, the right frame not only complements a treasured piece, but makes it look all the more beautiful.

    Whether you're displaying little Billy's latest pièce de résistance, or showing off an Old Master painting, selecting the right frame can be challenging. While most of us have little problem choosing the correct size (give or take a couple inches), if you're like me, a few of the other framing basics remain elusive, too. What about style? To mat, or not to mat?

    We recently asked Steve McKenzie, president and CEO of the century-old custom framing company, Larson-Juhl, to shed some light on the subject. Here, he gives us the bottom line on custom framing.

    How do I choose the right style?
    "Always be respectful of the work of art: Frame for the work itself. After all, the main goal here is to make it look great regardless of where it's hung. A frame plays many roles: At best, it creates an interesting dialog with a room's decor. At worst, it can overpower or detract from the piece. But sometimes it's good to think outside the box. I love seeing contemporary works in old frames and vice versa; it brings a powerful energy to the work, and the room, you wouldn't necessarily expect."

    A traditional frame pairs well with the modern Goldfinch Aqua, by Thomas Paul. Photo: Larson-Juhl.

    How do I determine mat size?
    "I generally recommend a 2 1/2-inch to 3-inch border around artwork, which provides breathing room, and gives the eye respite. Anything narrower than that looks awkward. That said, large mats often bring prominence to smaller works. A good rule of thumb? Make the mat 1 1/2 times larger than the width of the frame. And never, ever cut a mat that's the same size as the frame or the molding. That looks strange, too."

    Is a mat always necessary? When can you just skip it (if ever)?
    "A mat serves three purposes: First, it shapes the way the eye sees the work. Second, it influences the way we perceive and appreciate the work. And third, it offers protection, structure and preservation. But say you're framing something that doesn't have much value per se, like a large poster. There, you could incorporate spacers [instead of a mat], which separate the work from the glass. [A mat is also considered a spacer.] Generally, most things need mats -- especially works on paper -- save for works with frames smaller than two inches wide. And you'll need linen liners [strips of fabric that act as mats] on oil paintings because you're not using glass. Without that protection, a mat will absorb moisture and get really dirty."

    Can a frame ever be a statement piece?

    "It's fine for frames to elevate a piece's importance; most people actually under-frame. And that sends the message that you're not proud of the work. Give it some thought: Ask yourself what the frame will "say" in the space where it'll be hung. A frame can make a big decorative statement, like a sumptuous Aubusson rug or a Louis XV chair upholstered in a wild patterned fabric. It's wonderful when a frame positively influences how you feel when you walk into a room."

    When should it be something you hardly notice?
    "Never! It's crucial. And if chosen correctly, it will always enhance the piece it displays."

    What about hanging pieces together? Should all the frames match?
    "With groupings, there should definitely be one unifying element. Maybe it's the same artistic subject matter, or the same color frame, or a similar frame finish, or mats of similar widths. Just be cognizant that each piece is cohesive with the next. It's definitely a challenge: Few designers can pull off eclecticism. But generally, using the same color mat on each piece always works well in wall groupings."

    Any suggestions for framing on a budget?
    "While I'm really inspired by the way department stores like IKEA have really democratized design, I'd still suggest going with a professional framer (unless you don't plan to have a piece for long). A good one will recommend budget-friendly alternatives that don't skimp on the quality of the glass and the mat. Maybe there's a similar, more inexpensive finish in one size down? Can we pass on the anti-glare glass? I like to think of a frame as the ultimate 'little black dress.' Choose wisely, and buy the nicest one you can find. With any luck, it'll be with you for a long, long time."


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    Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images

    In 2008 he listed it for $12M, two years later it's down to less than $9M. Take a peek inside this "bargain".

    Amid the salacious reports of Tiger Woods' many affairs and unconfirmed whispers of love children, there has been much speculation about what will happen to the very contemporary and nearly completed compound he and his soon-to-be wildy wealthy ex-wife Elin Nordegren had been building in Jupiter Island, FL. Sadly, Tiger Woods is not the only professional golfer having to contend with rumors of affairs, unsubstantiated claims of extra marital babies and the fate of high-priced real estate.

    Phil Mickelson, the 38-time PGA Tour winner who reportedly earned a staggering $51M in 2007, has recently had to cope with dubious and unproven rumors of fathering a child with an Ohio stripper and has also been trying to unload his ritzy real estate in Rancho Santa Fe, CA since June of 2007. By the summer of 2008, the property was listed with an asking price between $10.75 and $12M and now, two years later, the swanky estate remains unsold and on the market with a much lower asking price of $8.9M.

    From the ground up. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    Property records reveal that in June of 1999, Mickelson and his wife Amy paid $1.15M for a 4.55 acre lot in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, one of the most expensive residential enclaves in all of the country. It took years and many millions for the couple to build their dream house from the ground up. Perfectly and privately situated down a long, gated driveway, current listing information shows the sprawling, single story Mediterranean-style mansion measures 7,078 sq. ft. and includes five bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms.

    Courtyard comeliness. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    A stacked-stone wall opens from the motor court into a covered walkway that leads to a quiet courtyard. There, guests are greeted by a hand-carved stone fountain with hand-glazed tile imported from Portugal and a small flagstone patio lit by star-shaped lanterns hanging from trees. An outdoor fireplace keeps everybody warm.

    Bigger is better. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    The Mickelson mansion features grand and theatrical living spaces, including a 720 sq. ft. formal living room with distressed walnut flooring, dramatically vaulted wood-beamed ceilings, a gleaming, white, hand-carved Cantera-stone fireplace and wood-framed French doors that open into the backyard's central courtyard.

    Cook's kitchen. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    The Mickelson's colossal kitchen measures 600 sq. ft. and includes commercial grade appliances, slab granite counter tops and custom cabinetry with hardware imported from Romania and France.

    Take a seat. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin

    The family room area is open to the kitchen for informal entertaining and cozy family gatherings. There's a vaulted wood beamed ceiling with heavy exposed trusses, distressed walnut flooring, a hand-carved fireplace of white Cantera stone and an entertainment area fitted with custom cabinetry and multiple televisions.

    Show off. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    The cathedral-like library does triple duty as an office and trophy room. There is an ornate, hand-carved wooden ceiling, custom-made leaded windows and built-in glass-fronted cabinets for showing off Mickelson's many trophies and professional accolades. An adjacent bathroom has been worked over with tile imported from Morocco.

    Comfort and security. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    The über-deluxe master wing includes a behemoth bedroom with wood-beamed ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace. Other amenities? A sitting area, fitness room, two custom-fitted closets and steam and sauna facilities. In the unlikely event that the estate is breached by an unwanted intruder, the house is outfitted with a secretly situated state-of-the-art safe room.

    Mosaic madness. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    The master bathroom, larger than most studio apartments, has white Calcutta marble flooring and custom mosaics created over a six month period by the same artisan responsible for the mosaics at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. The bathtub and shower are contained in a large, curved glass enclosure and the custom carved vanities have fixtures of Baccarat crystal and sterling silver.

    Putting practice. Photo: Prudential Realty / Susan Bartow via Redfin.

    A wide covered veranda and vast stone courtyard at the back of the house lead down to the backyard that is bisected by a raised water channel that spills waters down into the gently arched infinity-edged swimming pool. On the other side of the raised water channel, a large spa overlooks a putting green where Mickelson perfected his prodigious golf skills. There are, according to listing information, also two detached guest cottages on the property. Judging by these photos, we think it's safe to say they're swankier than the average guest room.

    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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    Could you, would you, dine in a tree? Photo: Soneva Kiri resort

    A hotel that takes in-air dining to new heights.

    The Six Senses Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand is anything but ordinary. Located on Koh Kood, a pristine island off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Soneva Kiri is only about 1 hour south of Bangkok, but it may as well be worlds away; it requires a small plane and subsequent boat ride to get there.

    It also features one of the most unusual amenities that I've ever seen at a resort: tree pod dining.

    Say what?

    The dining pod, a rigid frame of woven rattan formed into a cocoon-like shape, is attached to a tree 16 feet in the air -- and it takes the concept of in-air dining to new heights. You can look out onto panoramic views of the white sand beach and turquoise waters.

    So how the heck do you get up there? Well, up to four people board the pod and then it is raised up with a safety winch system, which is basically a tension rope device.

    And what about the service? Get this -- the lucky waiter is attached to a zip line and flies through the air, bringing your food and beverages directly to you!

    Take me there now! A beach villa suite at Soneva Kiri. Photo: Herbert Ypma

    Soneva Kiri has 42 pool villas and 20 private residences, including a zero-carbon-emissions bio-climatically designed Eco Villa. Some of the villas even come with an electric car and charging station for cruising around the property. (The rooms aren't cheap; one night can cost over $1000.)

    Another unique amenity: The hotel has an ice cream parlor and adjoining chocolate room. The ice cream parlor features over 60 flavors of handmade flavors of homemade sorbet, gelato and ice cream, and the chocolate room has fair trade premium chocolate, including mousses, cookies, drinks, bon-bons or truffles. After your tree pod dinner, you can mosey on over and grab something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

    A perfect spot to eat the hotel's homemade ice cream is the private beach reserve (above). Photo: Kiattipong Panchee

    So, there's just one question left to ask: When do we leave?

    See more out-of-this-world destinations:
    Dream In Technicolor At The Pantone Hotel
    San Antonio's Hotel Havana
    Lady Gaga: Her $25,000-a-Month Bel Air Home
    Or check out more cool homes from ShelterPop


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  • 07/15/10--10:05: Don't Forget to Clean the...
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    A guide to cleaning the most commonly missed spots in the house.

    If you're like me, you try to clean as you go and then a few times a year you do a "top-to-bottom" cleaning, where you spend the entire day getting everything spic and span. I find it so satisfying when the whole house smells like lemons and there's not a speck of dust.

    Whether you're cleaning every week or a few times a year, there are some places in your home that often get completely overlooked. You don't want to neglect these unseen spaces from getting their fair share of cleaning because they can breed germs and enough dust bunnies to create a new species.

    Let's take a look at some of these neglected areas, so that next time you're in a cleaning mood, you can be sure that you've left no stone unturned.

    behind the fridgeDo you want to know what lurks behind your fridge? Photo: libbyiscool, Flickr

    1. Behind the fridge

    No one is ever going to see behind your refrigerator, so why clean it? Well, when you cook, chop, dice or do any kind of food preparation in your kitchen, crumbs and other foodstuff are more than likely going to get behind and under your fridge. This can attracting unwanted critters (like roaches) as well as mold. A few times a year, it's a good idea to slide that bad boy out and give the floor a good once-over.

    2. The refrigerator coils
    Another neglected fridge part that you can clean at the same time are your fridge's coils. The coils dissipate heat from the fridge, so if they're clogged with dirt, dust, food and pet hair you can be sure your fridge isn't working to its full capacity. By vacuuming the coils a few times a year, you can save energy, which translates into saving money. It's important to note that there are some important safety measures to take when cleaning refrigerator coils.

    3. Inside the fridge: doors and drawers
    Maybe the cap on your soy sauce leaks, the pickle jar is covered with pickle juice, or that old rotted fruit got kind of gooey. You can't avoid it -- the inside of your fridge gets dirty. Many people will clean the shelves and then assume that the fridge is clean, but just because you can close the drawer and hide it, doesn't mean its not dirty! The doors and drawers inside your fridge can get kind of icky if not taken care of. Be sure to take all of the jars, cheeses, meats, fruits and veggies out and clean those nooks and crannies. In almost all fridges, you can remove the drawers and door shelves and clean them in the sink.

    4. The top of the fridge
    I always forget about the top of my refrigerator mostly because I use it as storage. Think about it like an open shelf -- dust settles on the surface just like anywhere else. Grab a wet rag and clean it off before that dust decides to invite its friends.

    microwave accidentHas this ever happened to you? Photo: Sage, Flickr

    5. Inside the microwave
    After a few weeks, the inside of my microwave looks like a horror movie. Things pop, explode, leak and bubble over all the time. You can remove the microwave plate and throw it in the dishwasher, but that's the easy part. The hard part is getting in that little box and cleaning off all the splatters from the sides and underside. My husband and I flip a coin to see who gets this unpleasant chore. Here's a great way to make this task a bit easier: Fill a microwave-safe bowl half full of water and add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a splash of lemon juice. Heat it for 3 to 4 minutes to help soften all of the built-up gunk, then wipe the inside with a wet rag. Most of the food stuff should come off fairly easily.

    6. Behind the toilet
    You clean your toilet, including the bowl and the top of the tank. You clean your bathroom floor. But how often do you clean behind the toilet? This hidden area where your toilet meets the wall is a small, tight and almost unreachable space, but it's not unreachable for dirt. Dust, hair and other dirt can build up behind your toilet and there's no avoiding it. Get down on your hands and knees and reach back there with a dust cloth or wet rag. Doing this will instantly tell guests that you care about your home, every single inch of it.

    7. Baseboards
    When you clean your floor with a vacuum or floor sweeper, I bet you don't clean your baseboards. Well, you need to! Baseboards get kicked, nicked, scratched and -- yes -- dirty! Because most baseboards and moldings have grooves, these indentations collect dust. You can use a wet rag or paper towel to remove dust without using any cleaners. However, if you have scuffs, you can use a Magic Eraser or all-purpose cleaning product to remove the blemish.

    dusty blindsDusty blinds. Photo: louisa_catlover, Flickr

    8. Your computer keyboard and mouse
    You sit in front of a computer for at least eight hours a day. Sometimes you eat lunch at your desk. But have you ever thought about how dirty your keyboard and mouse get? Ick. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, found that germs on computer keyboards were more than 60 times higher than on toilet seats! Did you just run away from your computer and come back with a roll of paper towels and an antibacterial cleaner? Every week, you should clean your keyboard, mouse, desk and phone. Don't leave it up to the night-shift cleaning people...they won't do it for you.

    9. Underneath and behind the books
    Cleaning the exposed ledge of your bookshelf is a cop out! To thoroughly clean your bookshelf, take the books off of the shelf, dust them off individually, clean the shelf thoroughly and then place the books back on the shelf. Otherwise, you'll have dust bunnies breeding behind the shorter books on the shelf!

    10. Blinds
    I saved the worst for last. My least favorite task is cleaning the blinds. Dust sticks to blinds like a moth to a flame, making it much more difficult to just use a duster to remove it. What you want to do is clean them more often to prevent the dust from building up and sticking over time. Clean the blinds thoroughly and remove all dirt using a wet rag and, if necessary, an all-purpose cleaner. Once they are clean, every time you vacuum your floors, run the vacuum brush attachment over your blinds or use a duster weekly to prevent buildup and save you a lot of future frustration.

    Still want to spruce things up?
    Easy Ways to Change Your Life With Feng Shui
    Speed Clean: Cut Your Cleaning Time in Half!
    Casa Quickie: Cleaning Copper Pots the Natural Way
    What Do You Clean First?
    And see more from ShelterPop on storage and cleaning!


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  • 07/15/10--10:05: Design Influence: Royalty
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    Everyone could use a little luxe in life, so take a cue from the Royal Family and adorn your home with extravagant furnishings -- think jewel tones, rich textures and luxurious fabrics! The best part? No need to break the bank. Our expert designers show us how to create a home fit for a queen, on an everyday budget. Let's get started!

    1. Soften up. Opt for soft, rich materials. Velvet or silk upholstery are staples in regal furnishings, so try the look on your favorite chair or sofa.
    2. Think tassels. Whether present in your window treatments or favorite throw pillows, tassels are set to impress.
    3. Pattern wisely. Try a beautiful, embroidered brocade for high style on a low budget.
    4. Get out. Don't forget the entryway! A wrought-iron gate and stone walkway are your ticket to royalty's finest.
    5. Bejewel your colors. When in doubt, jewel tones such as deep amethyst, sapphire and gold are a surefire choice for a royal impression.

    When it comes to royal touches, stick to the basics -- and don't flaunt it. After all, no one loves a spoiled queen! 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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    Framing the art gives it that extra touch. Photo: Magnus D, Flickr

    When one writer didn't have any art for his walls, he got a little help from his friends (and threw one great party).

    My path toward becoming a "gallery owner" started the way a lot of people explore new things:

    With a breakup.

    After getting out of a longtime relationship and living life out in the suburbs, I made a break for the big city and ended up in Brooklyn, where I found a 450-square-foot studio apartment in a building located next to a Sweet-and-Low factory. City living at its finest!

    The place offered plenty of space for me to be alone with my thoughts, and I set about trying to make it as homey as possible, which I don't think is always the easiest task with a studio apartment. You have to be conscious of things not running into each other: For instance, you don't want your computer in your closet space! I felt I navigated that quite well, as I set up a corner of the small place for music, a space for reading, etc. Things started looking good.

    Except for those walls!

    When I say my place was 450 square feet, it felt like at least 400 of it had empty wall space. Or, maybe it was just the illusion created by the 12-foot high ceiling, the long hallway with nothing to look at that lead to the living space and the off-white color of said walls screaming for something to be done to them. I had a tiny cross that I hung up, which was immediately lost: It might as well have been camouflaged for all that it added.

    I really hadn't given much thought to putting up stuff on the walls before, save for posters, but at age 31, I considered myself a full-fledged grown-up. I couldn't really decorate with INXS and R.E.M. memorabilia like I did when I was in high school. Plus, I was living in Brooklyn, the birthplace of hipster chic, so I really had to come correct! Meanwhile, I could feel those bare walls closing in on me every time I walked in the door.

    One evening, I was hanging out at a co-worker's place in New York City's East Village when I noticed a series of cool abstract paintings on his wall. I asked him where he got them and he said that he had painted them over the years. He even gave me one -- It was a canvas of someone looking at a picture in a museum. (Go figure. I thought it was a stick of dynamite with a square around it.) Nevertheless, I took it home and proudly hung it above my TV: my first piece of art. The question was, though, how could I get more without breaking the bank, as "city living" was a lot more expensive than I thought.

    Pick strong pieces to hang in the center of the room. Photo: Ani-Bee, Flickr

    After pondering how to build an art collection, it hit me: Why not ask more friends for things they've done? I knew plenty of people who painted and took artistic photographs. Aside from Chris, who gave me the first canvas, there was my buddy Tommy's wife Christy back home in Alabama, who liked to paint. I thought of Eric, who worked in photo archives at a magazine and graduated from art school. Plus, there was Bill, who I used to work with at a newspaper who drew caricatures of celebrities. So I reached out to all of them -- and they were thrilled that I did.

    So was I. Suddenly, on the wall above my futon, I had a beautiful mix of art: my first canvas as the centerpiece, flanked by two smaller ones on each side with scenes ranging from tropical to abstract collages, as well as four of celebrity sketches and caricatures, including ones of Eminem and Chris Rock.

    As an added incentive for donating their prized paintings, I told my friends that I would display them at my housewarming party. I'd let people know how to get in touch with them if there was interested in buying a piece. That is, if the artist was unable to attend the festivities.

    So after procuring (a big word in the art gallery world) some of the artists' works, I strategically placed them on my poor, barren walls. The place immediately lit up and I couldn't wait to show people my new digs!

    For the big night -- my "studio studio" opening -- I had bottles of wine and snacks to serve as any good host should. Plus, I even made little tags to put up by the artists' work, with contact info if anyone wanted to get in touch with them. When the guests arrived, I gave them the tour of my place ("That corner is the music room. The mantelpiece over there is my library ... "). With a studio apartment, the tour didn't really take that long. Then I directed them to gaze at my walls, my lovely walls!

    Artists and guests mingled, and I overheard a few conversations about the artwork. (That's better than me telling people the centerpiece of Chris' work was a stick of dynamite!)

    As the party ended and the place cleared out, I had to give myself a pat on the back. A good time was had by all, my painterly pals got to show their stuff and I ended up with walls that were no longer blank canvases, all for the low price of free, which my wallet thanked me for!

    Here's some tips on how you can "go for Baroque" with your own pad:

    A Little (or a Lot of) Help From Your Friends

    Do you still keep in touch with those old friends from high school that were always doodling on their notebooks? Or the ones that graduated from art school? Either way, reach out to your friends that like nothing better than to put their creativity to canvas and ask them for a piece of their personal work.

    Light the Way
    Using lighting effectively, be it natural or otherwise, and putting it on your art is probably one of the most important things when it comes to displaying your new canvases or mini sculptures. If you want to get festive for your party, you can even use Christmas lights. (They're good for any time of the year!)

    The Match (or Not) Game
    Personally, my taste when it comes to home decor leans toward the conservative side. I'm big on matching my area rug to my curtains, for example. However, with the majority of the home being uniform, there's more room for expression with the art as far as color and imaging goes. If you like eclectic, you can stay that way with your art.

    Size Can Matter
    You don't want all 8-by-10-foot canvases adorning (or completely covering) your walls. A good mix of sizes, with three to five pieces per wall, can go a long way.

    Party Time!
    Everyone loves a party, right? Once you have a few pieces, why not plan a fun time with your new artwork as the center of attention? You can have wine drinking, cheese tasting and art watching, all in the comforts of your own home!.

    For more home decorating tips, see these stories:

    Design Drool: A New Kind of Beach House

    Give Old Books New Life

    How to Be at Home With Country


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  • 07/15/10--13:05: That Was a Garage?
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    garage conversionThe new exterior of the home. Photo: Randy O'Rourke

    Garage conversions can add square feet -- and style -- to your home.

    Have you ever seen a house where the attached garage was turned into a family room or extra bedroom that basically still looked like a garage with drywall? Converting a garage into livable space is quite a feat, but to do it in a tasteful way so it looks like it was always there is even more of a challenge.

    But Frank Shirley of Frank Shirley Architects did exactly that. In 2009, he and a team converted a two-car attached garage on a lovely ocean-side home in Massachusetts into a beautiful family room.

    The cozy 84-year-old home overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, but like many older homes, it lacked the space needed for today's lifestyle. The homeowners turned to Frank to help them solve their space dilemma.

    While some people would never give up their garage, this family needed more bedrooms and a family room. Plus, the large driveway leading up to the old garage, often full of cars, blocked the home's entryway. Frank had an idea: Don't give up the garage, move the garage to the other side of the home. Then you'd improve the home's curb appeal -- and the family wouldn't lose the much loved storage space.

    garage conversionA garage-turned-family room. Photo: Randy O'Rourke

    The result is a spectacular conversion and addition that looks like it was part of the home's original cottage-style. It added about 2,500 square feet to the home, including a family room where the old garage was once located, as well as a new 2-car garage, a mudroom, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a laundry room.

    The family room is divided into two areas: the game area (pictured above), which houses a pool table and a window seat, where you can wait your turn, as well as rich wood built-in cabinetry for storing board games and other recreational items. On the other side of the room is where the family can relax and watch movies or television on the flat screen TV that sits inside a custom-built wall-to-wall entertainment center.

    Frank's team wanted to pay respect to the original home, so he carefully selected woods to fit the character and craftsmanship of the house. To replace the old garage doors, he selected leaded glass doors that open onto an intimate front garden area, perfect for relaxing on a cool summer evening.

    For before pictures of the garage, see below. Yes, your cluttered garage could look this good.

    garage conversionBefore: The front of the house before the remodel. Photo: Frank Shirley Architects

    garage conversionBefore: The 2-car garage was a catch-all storage spot. Photo: Frank Shirley Architects

    Thinking about a big remodel? Or maybe even a small one?
    Touching Story Amid a Bathroom Remodel
    5 Ways To (Almost) Instantly Decorate Your Home
    Before and After: A Renovated Ranch
    And see more of ShelterPop's fantastic makeovers


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    Time and Life, Getty; John Chillingworth, Getty; Knoll; Herbert Gehr, Getty

    It goes from old-school glam to modern chic, boudoir shots to Grey Gardens -- this trend fits in anywhere.

    Before searching for tufted furniture on eBay for The Inside Source, we took a look at where the trendlet came from.

    Its Roots:
    Where exactly did tufting begin? Could it have been a whim of a bored seamstress who brought her needle and thread inward? We know that it was popular enough in the 1800's that an actual apparatus for tufting cushions was patented in 1899. And that in 1901, House Beautiful recommended the style as perfect for low long couches: "Stuffed until they look positively apoplectic". (Attractive, no?) Like any good trend, it's also spent time on the outs -- an aging Edith Wharton referred to herself as "the literary equivalent of tufted furniture and gas chandeliers" after hot young thing F. Scott Fitzgerald sent her a signed copy of The Great Gatsby in 1925. Luckily, only four short years later it was back in vogue: Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe debuted his Barcelona chair, turning glammy, luscious tufting into an icon of modernity. And since then it's been a staple in chic homes and movie star portraits (our faves: Leslie Brooks and Helena Rubenstein).

    Sweetiepie; AMC; Peter Stranks, HBO

    Seen in: One of our favorite New York City restaurants SweetiePie, where the walls are lined with electric pink tufted banquettes. It can be seen on the cover of House Beautiful magazine's July/August issue, as well as in Sex and the City-writer Candace Bushnell's Manhattan apartment, as featured in Elle Decor. Tufting is also a favored look for movie and TV sets -- we think the most famous luscious tufted headboards belong to two very different, very iconic families: the Beales of Grey Gardens and the Drapers of Mad Men.

    Loved by: Gwyneth Paltrow, to start. While she may not have included any girly tufted pieces in her temporary Nashville home,the mom of two is a fan of the cotton-candy sweet tufts; "Sweetiepie is my favorite find for grown-up/kid hybrid paradise," she wrote in the GOOP newsletter. When it comes to designers, the list of fans is long but certainly topped by Kelly Wearstler, known for her over the top Hollywood Regency rooms. And of course, like all trendlets we cover, tufting is loved by ShelterPop! Amy has a tufted sofa and headboard while Allison has her eye on a few tufted pieces from Urban Outfitters -- yep, they've got some stylish stuff. Our not-so-secret feelings have led us to cover DIY tufted headboards and a cactus chair.

    Want to see more amazing tufted furniture pieces? Check out The Inside Source for more of our eBay favorites!

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

    All this tufting is making us feel so girly and glam. Here, some other faves:

    We toured Jonathan Adler's studio (have you seen his tufted headboards & sofas? Divine!)
    Good, Better, Best:Mid-Century Tufted Sofas
    Your Favorite Fashion Designers Show How They Decorate Their Homes
    Sun-Filled Coastal House Tour With Mary Swenson


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