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  • 05/17/10--07:57: Decorating With Orange
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    Infuse your home with freshly squeezed orange this season.

    We don't often think of orange as a go-to color for home decor. However, after trolling a photo gallery of sunny, orange rooms on for home inspiration, I was reminded of just how versatile the color orange can be. Sure, it's often hard to find the right shade of orange for your home (pumpkin and citrus and melon -- oh my!), but once you find it, your room can be transformed in an instant.

    Here, a look at the variety of ways orange can be used -- from home offices to living rooms, and every room between! This season, spruce up your home with a healthy dose of Vitamin C:

    turquoise and orange living roomGet beach-y with a dash of turquoise and citrus orange. Photo: Homes & Gardens

    The Look: Coastal Chic
    The Shade: Citrus orange with a bright, sunny undertone and splashes of turquoise.
    The Accents: Pale blue walls and plenty of texture -- glass, leather and natural elements complete the look in this room from Homes & Gardens magazine.

    staircase, orangeA bold orange runner demands attention upon entering. Photo: Dan Duchars via Canadian House & Home

    The Look: Traditional with a Twist
    The Shade: Burnt orange with a hint of tomato red.
    The Accents: Because burnt orange and rust are such standout colors, it's smart that the rest of the space is light and airy with just a touch of green.

    orange libraryIn a fun, flirty mood? Try monochromatic, bold shades of orange! Photo: Domino magazine

    The Look: Bold and Beautiful
    The Shade: Layered tones of yellow-orange.
    The Accents: Try varied shades of orange and yellow with a bold punch of pink for a bold, exciting look.

    orange living roomEqual parts glam and tribal, this color palette works well in a variety of settings. Photo: Michael Robinson Photography

    The Look: Golden Glam
    The Shade: Sophisticated orange with a hint of brown.
    The Accents: Light and dark greens and a few deep mocha accents transform an otherwise basic zone into a glamorous, tribal hideaway.

    orange bedroomA calming boy's bedroom is a perfect home for khaki and orange. Photo: Habitually Chic

    The Look: Casual and Cozy
    The Shade: Basic orange in a simple color palette.
    The Accents: Adding browns and whites keeps this room grounded while giving off a casual vibe. The sweet artwork and lack of clutter keep things looking neat-as-a-pin.

    So, readers --- which color palette is your favorite? Will you be inviting orange into your home this season? Tweet us your thoughts at

    For more color inspiration, read on:
    -Get the Look for Less: Pretty Purples
    -Rainbow-Colored Decor


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    Meg Ryan appears in ELLE DECOR's June issue. Photos: William Waldron/ELLE DECOR

    A look inside the actress's Martha's Vineyard home.

    Our friends over at ELLE DECOR sent over a sneak peek of their June issue (on newsstand May 24th), and we couldn't wait to share it with you. Among the many stories we gushed over was a feature of Meg Ryan's Martha's Vineyard home. We're ready to move into this stunner any time Meg needs a house sitter.

    Ryan renovated and decorated the house with the help of interior designer Marsha Russell, of New York-based Satinwood. The results are a laid-back house that is perfectly at home in its island setting. We love the bright, airy feel of the house and the touches of an industrial, vintage vibe throughout. Here's a quick peek at some of what you'll find in the magazine:

    A classic kitcen like this always feels timeless. Photo: William Waldron/ELLE DECOR

    What we wouldn't give for a kitchen like this: Windows all around, a huge oak island, a stainless steel fridge and, of course, a Viking range. Plus, we love the vintage touches like the counter stool and the pendant lights from Historical Materialism.

    Photo: William Waldron/ELLE DECOR

    The great room in the house features this sweet sitting area. Meg and her decorator have given the room a neutral base with a jute rug and neutral-colored upholstery. The handsome sofas are upholstered in Rogers & Goffigon linen - we love the combo of one white and one gray sofa, paired with gray curtains.

    The accessories have an industrial vibe with a workman-like task lamp on a vintage side table and an industrial metal console table from Intérieurs behind the couch. That wooden cocktail table is by Christian Liaigre, but for a less-pricey model, you could try West Elm's Parsons Coffee Table. The light fixture is a custom-made model by O'Lampia Studio, which sells similar models on its website.

    For more photos of Meg Ryan's gorgeous home, click over to Plus, the editorial team at ELLE DECOR has put together an awesome slideshow of inspiring interiors from some of Meg's most popular films, including Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.

    Bonus: ELLE DECOR got Meg Ryan to spill her interior decorating tips! Our favorite tip: Live in a place before making any decisions.


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    Take your pick of lamp styles. Photo: Lamps Plus

    Design your own lamps, chandeliers and sconces with Lamps Plus's new interactive online tool.

    Whether you prefer a sultry glow from subtle sconces or bright-as-day illumination from a chandelier, one of the best ways to set a mood in your home is with lighting. Decorative, yet utterly functional, lamps and other fixtures make the perfect accent pieces - which is why we're so excited by Lamps Plus's new "Design It Yourself" online program.

    The super-easy tool allows users to choose everything from the style and finish of their fixture to the pattern and exact color of their shade, making for hundreds upon hundreds of design permutations. Looking for a table lamp with a shade that matches the exact cornflower blue of your walls? Just click on the "Advanced" tab in the color section, where you can customize the hue to your exact -- and we mean exact -- specifications.

    The selection of lighting options int he "Design It Yourself" program is nearly limitless:Users can choose from dozens of styles of fixtures, lamps or shades, then you select one of 84 patterns, colors for the patterns (you have 70 choices here) and one of five trim colors -- whew!
    While you may expect to pay big bucks for such a personalized experience, it costs about the same to order a custom lamp as it does to purchase a stock version (most products fall between $100 and $200). Talk about a bright idea.

    Check out four variations on one of the 'Design It Yourself' hanging lamps below!

    Hanging lampsCustome lighting means you get just the right look for your home. Photos: Lamps Plus


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  • 05/17/10--12:52: TwiTalk: Your Go-To Sofa
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    In our column "TwiTalk," we reach out to our readers on Twitter for their opinions. Today's topic: Favorite sofas.

    I've been through a lot of sofas in my day and am (almost!) ready to bite the bullet and invest in a quality, long-lasting sofa for my new home. Yet how to navigate the crazy couch world without paying a fortune for a lemon? Thankfully, our ShelterPop readers have come to the rescue (as always!) with some fantastic options after I tweeted the following question:

    "OK ShelterPop followers! What is your favorite go-to sofa that you swear by? Send us your response and we'll feature them on TwiTalk!"

    Your answers ranged from kooky to classic, and we've listed our favorites below:

    Jonathan Adler sofaHolly from Decor8 says she'd opt for this model in navy and white. Photo: Jonathan Adler

    The Templeton Apartment Sofa by Jonathan Adler all the way, baby. It's cozy and gorgeous. I love it Celery or Navy with a white frame. ;)

    Liam CollectionWith nailhead trim and wood legs, this is one handsome model. Photo: Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams

    I really love this Liam sofa from Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. I love that it is sophisticated, but could work in a lot of different styles - plus it is super comfy!

    Room & Board's Jasper is a classic in the making. Photo: Room & Board

    this is hands down my favorite sofa ever. it's a classic, would look great in so many different spaces and it's not tremendously expensive for a sofa.

    Plus, three more super-sofas:

    Classic Leather Easton Section - Divine and perfect for our big combined family of SEVEN!

    For a modern option, this sofa is amazing in person!

    I don't have the chutzpah or cash to own it, but the Cipria is currently my fave sofa.

    Thanks, TwitFriends! Time for me to do some serious sofa shopping!

    Check out our TwiTalk on white interior paint!


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  • 05/17/10--18:08: Eco-Lingo: Solar Power
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    Who know industrial solar panels could look so majestic at sunset? Photo: zeenikamal00, Getty RF.

    Eco-lingo is being tossed around left and right these days. We're demystifying common terms to help you figure out which words are the real deal... and which are just green jargon.

    Today's word: Solar Power

    Definition: Anyone who's come back from the beach with baked and blistered shoulders knows how powerful the sun is. So it makes sense that everyone's trying to harness all the energy in an efficient way. Since solar power is a free, plentiful resource that creates no pollution, it makes for a great alternative to traditional energy sources. But how can we contain and take advantage of it?

    There's solar cells, which turn sunlight into electricity by absorbing the photons and loosening the electrons. And these cells are the building blocks of solar panels, which produce direct current (DC) to power things like cell phones and cars. And if you run that electricity through an inverter, you can change the current to AC, which will power most of the plug-in appliances in your home.

    There's also solar water heaters, which use glass to heat water, and solar furnaces, which use mirrors to direct sunlight to a precise spot until it's about 6,330 degrees Fahrenheit and ready to produce electricity.

    You can learn about other types of solar power and developments in the field here.

    Verdict: The Real Deal. And you'll hear more and more about it as the technology becomes more affordable and widespread. You may be getting solar panels on your roof sooner than you think!


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    Oprah's organizing guru Peter Walsh tells us how to keep our houses clean and our families happy. Photo: Peter Walsh Design.

    No more nagging. No more screaming. No more "because I said so." Really.

    What came first: The mountain of toys/books/video games on your living room floor or the furious clean-up speech? Or maybe the real question is who's more exasperated: You, from constantly bugging your family to tidy up, or your dear family, from the scolding? And was that an eye roll? Oh don't you roll your eyes at me!

    Enough. Living rooms don't need to be war zones in terms of their appearance, or the shouting matches that go on about keeping them neat. Peter Walsh, author of Enough Already, It's All Too Much and Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? (not to mention, the man Oprah trusts for organizing!) gave us these tips on how to make your family -- get this -- want to pick up after themselves.

    No, it's not some kind of magic mind control that turns them into cleaning-bots that dust while you watch 30 Rock. One of the most important parts of the plan is to stay neat yourself:

    Now, we wouldn't usually advocate being too lazy to take this advice, but in this case, we do have an easy out for you. Walsh has partnered with California Closets on a contest for the messiest space in America. Really! Upload a photo of your most cluttered, disastrous room along with 150 words on why your messy space deserves to be crowned the messiest of all. After eight weeks of voting -- plus lots of chatting about decluttering on the Facebook page -- one lucky winner will get a $20,000 storage system and a visit from Peter Walsh himself to help whip things into shape.

    You can click the badge below to get more information and enter today. Good luck!


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    Just a taste of the under-$50 pieces. Photos: ShelterPop

    Think antique shows are full of expensive pieces? Check out these 20 finds for under $50 at the Brimfield Antique Show.

    If you're ever been to the Brimfield Antique Show you know that it's filled with passionate people (it can take an entire day to set up a booth), delicious snacks (from lobster rolls to funnel cake) and some pretty incredible buys. If you've never been, we suggest you check out the next show, July 13th through 18th. And for now, live vicariously through our posts, where we'll highlight the best buys, our favorite pieces and a DIY project that'll knock the gray-backed floral right off that bench's back. (Yep, we're looking at you, in the top right-hand corner!)

    We're starting with our favorite pieces under $50. You'll see a table that costs less than an ice crusher, and a painting that's less than most frames. Remember, these pieces are old -- some vintage, some antiques -- so while we wish we could give you the links to buy every last one online, they're all one-of-a-kind pieces -- even the ones we've given seller information for can't be purchased.

    Let us know which pieces you're crazy about (and which are just crazy) in the comments! And check out the Brimfield-love from Good Bones, Great Pieces, Design*Sponge, Bellevue and Rose and 52 Flea.,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=882112&pid=882111&uts=1274124556

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Our only issue with this adorable trivet: It spends too much time hiding under hot plates. This deserves a prime spot on the table, long after the dishes are cleared. From Mr. Goodbyes (

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Dogs and cats and teapots, oh my! Each set is only $5 so it's easy to start a collection. Spy those lightbulb shakers in the back? Pure genius.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Spindly candlesticks look so Kelly Wearstler in gold. Pop them on the mantle for some glitz and keep them handy for flirty low-lit dinners. From Mr. Goodbyes (

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    This little red number is just begging to be topped off with a stack of magazines and a latte. Just note: your mags might cost more than the table.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Just the right size for a few bottles of perfume and some crystal earrings -- we want to see that vibrant pink shine through the baubles.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Why do we prefer these kidney-shaped saucer sets? Ample space to store cookies for dipping.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Elaborately carved wood gets a royal touch with gold spray paint -- the perfect frame for your lovely face.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Wouldn't you feel so old Hollywood, picking up one of these pastel receivers to make a call? From Christie's Corner (

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Chunky Lucite salad servers would look fantastic peeking out of any salad bowl. Tomatoes and arugula have never had it so glamorous.

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50

    Had Mondrian been painting in the 80's, we wouldn't put it past him to create this electric grid-like piece. From Mr. Goodbyes (

    Brimfield Finds for Under $50


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    From gongs to zebras -- the craziest pieces from Brimfield.

    We've already dispelled the myth that all antique shows are expensive, now we're determined to make it clear that these shows aren't stuffy either. Sure, walking around the Brimfield Antique Show we saw a fair amount of typical pieces -- trunks, Louis chairs and gilded frames abounded -- but these 15 pieces got our attention, and we thought they deserved yours too.,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=882758&pid=882757&uts=1274197143

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    We're used to patterns in the bathroom -- shower curtains, bathmats, towels and the like -- but a fabric-covered tub? Seems terribly impractical!

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    While most homes don't have the space (or need) for a meter-wide gong, it doesn't mean we can't entertain fantasies of pounding it with a mallet to command attention from family members. From The Traveling Buddha.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    We love the Saarinen-inspired base and moody see-through seat back, but can't help wondering if the Cookie Monster was the designer's true inspiration?

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Don't stare too closely or this mirror will punish you for being so vain. Hand-carved wooden spikes surround this mirror. Might we suggest you pluck your eyebrows somewhere else! From Splurge Avl.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Classic linen, a streamlined shape and shopping cart parts? This industrial-chic loveseat doesn't take itself too sersiouly and plays the role of conversation piece smashingly. From Rustbelt Rebirth.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Who thought we'd swoon over a stove? This stunner has all the panache of a vintage piece, with a brand new electric cooktop. From Erickson's Antiques Stoves, Inc. (

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Oh excuse me, I didn't see you there! While we appreciate the creativity, these are ultimately too childish for an adult's room, and too creepy for a kid's.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Sure, the idea of bringing a pink horse home raises a number of questions and a slew of reasons to say no. But really, doesn't your inner child kind of love this guy? From Splurge Avl.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    What's wrong with this sofa? Well, nothing, if you're of average height...for a toddler. This sophisticated velvet piece is only 46" high, and ideal for entertaining guests over some apple juice and Cheerios.

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Just how tall is this mirror? Well, ShelterPop Senior Editor Allison Mezzafonte is 5'3 and this baby's almost her size. Who thought we could find a full-length mirror with such an ornate frame? And who could focus on choosing an outfit in the morning while staring at those gilded arms and faces?

    The Wackiest Pieces from Brimfield

    Want More?
    See our cheap finds from Brimfield
    Winter Antiques Debut on Park Avenue
    A Peak at the LA Antique Show


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    If only your filing system were this pristine! Photo: Monalyn Gracia/Corbis

    If you don't have a filing method and your papers are all over the place (you know who you are), its time to get your papers organized -- once and for all!

    Take Baby Steps
    Rather than tackling those mountains of papers all at once, limit your organizing to just ten minutes a day. By keeping what's important and tossing out what's no longer valuable you can sidestep that anxiety-provoking mind-grind and turn your heap-ing into routine housekeeping. (FYI: That colossal mess on your desk is your life on paper. If something goes missing, things can and will go wrong.)

    Start by Piling
    Tedious as it might seem, however, file organization can be as easy as 1-2-3, just by using common sense. To get started snatch a stack of papers and clear a counter. Start by building ten "like with like" heaps, each separately labeled as follows:

    o. career/work
    o. education
    o. financial
    o. health/fitness
    o. hobbies
    o. home
    o. legal
    o. paid bills
    o. bills to be paid
    o. miscellaneous

    Once you've made your way through your mayhem by sorting your formerly chaotic pile into 10 neat stacks, begin to break down each new pile by group i.e. electric bills, student loans, parole violations (What? Things happen?!?), résumés, etc., and then create labeled folders for each. You can additionally eliminate some of the piles of files by signing up for e-bills and using online banking to make easy and secure electronic e-payments through the internet.

    Hang Onto The Essentials

    There are other personal documents, that, for obvious reasons, you might just wanna' hold on to: Birth certificates, deeds, messy divorce junk, marriage licenses, social security cards, wills - you get my drift. Make a permanent and easy-to-find home for these essential documents, and share its location with your family members.

    Tax Tip
    Also, for tax purposes, the IRS has three years to issue an audit from your date of filing. To make it easy on yourself, when finishing your taxes, put them in a new folder labeled for that year and create a new tax folder for the present year.

    Shred The Rest

    a shredder is an essential tool in the paper organizing process. If you forgo the cathartic kick of shredding, you run the potential risk of having your identity stolen when your documents end up in the recycling.

    Enjoy Your Newly-Found Free Time
    Organizing helps you not waste your time looking, looking, looking for that certain napkin with that important phone number on it. Instead, organize your files, make a plan, and stick to it.


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    Modern birch wood chair with classic lines. Context Furniture's William and Mary Side Chair is made of birch with a choice of a maple or walnut veneer. Photo: Design Public.

    The William and Mary Chair reinterprets a 300+ year old period style using a bit of technology and good ol' hand craftsmanship.

    Do you like a little dash of modern here and a bit of 17th-century there? Thanks to the melding talents of Bryce and Kerry Moore, the husband and wife team of Context Furniture, the William and Mary Side Chair gives the silhouette of a 17th-century classic with a decidedly modern twist.

    This unique chair is a collaborative effort between Bryce's background in crafting, sculpture and furniture, and Kerry's focus on graphics merging industrial with natural materials, and mass production and hand-craftsmanship. Each piece is made with layers of Baltic birch plywood with a strip of hardwood incorporated into the plywood. We love the detail of the veneer on the side profile.

    What drew me to this design more than myobsession for history was the pure creativity to allow people to enjoy living with an "antique." Far from being a purest, I do think incorporating something classic or historical in nature into a decorating theme is good for the senses. The William and Mary Chair ($1,098) along with Context Furniture's entire collection sells online at Design Public.


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    Top NY designer Inson Dubois Wood outfits a luxe show house for newlyweds -- affordably.

    Inson Wood in the living room of the newlywed penthouse he furnished from Ikea. Photo: Theo Wargo

    To create a fabulous show house a designer needs inspiration.

    So when Bride's magazine approached top New York designer Inson Dubois Wood to transform a $3.5 million Manhattan eco-luxury penthouse loft into a "Newlywed Nest," he conjured up fictional clients and adopted the theme of "two people coming together to share a common space," as the basic concept.

    It's prime time for weddings, after all.

    But there was a challenge attached to the project: use Ikea (the sponsor's) furniture. Yes, Ikea Fans, this one is especially for you -- though it's fascinating to see how Wood used affordable furniture to create the posh pad.

    So, we're taking a guided tour of the cool 25 x 14-foot living room to find out how exactly Inson pulled together the main space and which pieces he chose for his newlyweds.

    "The overall design is about marrying two unique personalities, two sets of belongings and two distinct points of view," he explains. "The theme of 'his and hers' runs throughout the apartment -- you will see [matching] pairs and dissimilar items." He believes that symmetry creates a sense of organization and interrupting it occasionally produces a whiff of intrigue.

    So it follows that the large, rectangular living room has two furniture groupings plus an activity area at each end.

    For drama, Wood chose a paint-color palette of whites and grays, plus Ruby Red (2001-10) from Benjamin Moore (another sponsor). "I wanted to use neutral colors with splashes of red and dramatic art to activate the spaces. I tell clients not to be afraid of using color. You want to love your home."

    The Bride's Newlywed Nest show house is located in Penthouse 2A at the Village Green condominium, an "eco-luxury" building at 311 East 11th St., in New York City. The 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath triplex has 1,970 square feet of interior space and a 2032 square foot terrace. The show house is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May 22.


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    Think your home is too small? Try living on a houseboat.

    In this video, our ShelterPop designers go nautical and take a tour of a gorgeous houseboat -- complete with a not-so-gorgeous floor plan. How can anyone manage to live in such tight quarters? Find out:

    Just like on a boat, you can create a place for everything in your own home, making use of wasted space by following a few simple steps.

    1. Built-ins, bookcases and window seats are all useful space-savers that offer form and function.

    2. Try creating a closet under the stairs for additional hidden storage in your home.

    3. To bring efficiency to your kitchen, maximize space that's often wasted deep in the corners or high on shelves with the use of pull-out shelving, dividers, mountable spice racks, drawer organizers or lazy susans.

    Ready to tackle your own space-saving solutions? Check out The Container Store for stylish and affordable ideas.

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


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    A touch of Milan awaits in the East
    The facade of Armani Hotel's crown jewel in Dubai. Photo: Armani Hotel Dubai

    The fashion designer expands his empire to hospitality with the brand's first-ever hotel in Dubai.

    Dubai, the glittery flagship of the United Arab Emirates is hardly known for its restraint. And yet, Giorgio Armani, king of understatement, luxury and elegance, might very well be the perfect match for a place that defines itself by opulence. The fashion designer and lifestyle impresario's first hotel is a mini-Armani universe and a study in luxury in Dubai.

    A low-lit sexy hallway seems straight out of an Armani runway
    A hallway en route to Armani Lounge. Photo: Armani Hotel Dubai

    Located in Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, the 160-room hotel offers the high-end spartan look that Mr. Armani has come to be known for. Details like stone floors, fabric-covered walls and zebra-wood flooring? Check. A sexy, low-lit vibe? Check. Rooms entirely decked out in furniture from the designer's Armani Casa line? Check. All the signature touches that you'd expect abound in the space which occupies the first eight floors as well as number 38 and 39 of the skyscraper.

    The lobby of the Armani Hotel. Photo: Armani Hotel Dubai

    But there's much, much more. The Armani touch can also be seen in the hotel's eight restaurants, including Peck Deli, a Milanese institution, as well as others, all bearing the Armani name and specializing cuisines as varied as Mediterranean, Indian and Japanese. And of course, there's the shopping! An Armani Galleria shop featuring couture accessories from the Privé line is the first of its kind.

    The Ambassador's Suite -- luxury digs, indeed! Photo: Armani Hotel Dubai

    Sleeping Armani, eating Armani and shopping Armani... what else is there? Well for one, you can also stop into Armani Dolci for chocolates and sweets, or pick up some flowers at Armani Fiori designed by -- you guessed it -- Armani! And if all the revelry and shopping leaves you tired, there's always time for a breather at Armani Spa. You've got to hand it to Mr. Armani for thinking of it all.

    Though this particular brand of luxury doesn't exactly come cheap -- rooms begin at about $750. Too far to travel? A second Armani Hotel is set to open in Milan next year and next up -- locations in Marrakech, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai and London. Perfect for the Armani aficionado. For now, I think I'll settle for an Armani chocolate-covered almond.


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  • 05/19/10--09:15: Til Bed Do Us Part
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    Why some married couples are choosing to sleep in separate beds.

    It was somewhere between the incessant snoring and the choking sounds coming from her future husband that Paige Barr decided she wasn't going to go through it every night. That was more than 13 years ago, and Barr, a 36-year-old casting director/actor, still married the man she loved -- she just doesn't sleep in his bed.

    It's a decision that was the best for their relationship, Barr explains. Before separate beds, she was so bereft of sleep that during the day, she was a nightmare. Her husband Daniel Craft, a 38-year-old manager of music rights and data, suffers from sleep apnea so sleeping apart, "means we both get some well-deserved 'me' time, even though we're both pretty independent."

    Barr and her husband aren't alone in their decision to split their sleeping arrangements. The National Sleep Foundation took a 2001 telephone survey of 1,004 random adults and found 12 percent of married Americans slept in a bed alone. The same survey in 2005 found that number had climbed dramatically to 23 percent.

    And it's not just an American quirk. The Sleep Council of England reported in 2008 that an online survey of 1,408 adult couples found 1 in 4 regularly had a spouse who found a good night's sleep waiting for them in a guest room or on a couch.

    For some couples, it just makes sense to seek refuge in another bed. Heather Miller, a 46-year-old marketing director, and her husband, Mike, often find themselves sleeping separately thanks to the crazy hours her husband works -- such as 24-hour shifts about five days out of each month. "He's an emergency room doctor who works different shifts," explained Miller. "That's pretty much made him an insomniac. He's up and down and moving a lot. I'm a mom and I'm a light sleeper, so he sleeps in the guest bedroom and we both get some sleep."

    It's not uncommon for such differences in sleeping styles to lead to a departure from a same-bed routine. Stephanie Coontz, the author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage," explains how couples are making adjustments to better suit their lifestyles. "Constant sleep deprivation does not foster sexual feelings, " says Coontz. If one partner snores or kicks and keeps the other awake, she suggests separate sleeping arrangements, having learned the benefit of such arrangements first hand. "For several years, my own husband worked a shift that required him to get up at 3 a.m., so we found that our relationship was much better if we slept apart on his work days and together on his days off. It's really important that couples work out arrangements that meet their needs instead of listening to one-size-fits-all advice."

    Despite sleeping in separate beds, sexuality doesn't have to suffer. Barbara Risman, the executive director of the Council on Contemporary Families, said there's no reason that separation between a husband and wife during sleep would have to affect their sex life. "There doesn't seem to me to be any necessary impact of sleeping apart on the sexual relationship," she said. "Couples can have sex, and then go to a separate place to sleep. And presumably each one knows where the other is, and can surprise them."

    Alisa Bowman, a 39-year-old author of several books and the relationship blog Project Happily Ever After, said she and her 43-year-old husband, Mark, sleep in separate beds at times due to incompatible sleep habits, but it doesn't stop the romance. "We have sex during the day, so it truly doesn't matter where either one of us sleeps at night," she said. "If anything, it helps because I'm a lot more likely to be in the mood if I'm well-rested."

    Coontz, however, admits sleeping in separate beds may take some of the spontaneity out of sex, but says it's not necessarily detrimental. "Yes, sleeping apart prevents you from doing the cuddling that can sometimes lead to spontaneous sex," she said. "But it can also be a real turn-on to know that you have to make a special effort to have sex, not just roll over and do it. It all depends on how the couple handles it and what their preferences are."

    Getting a good night's sleep is just as important as intimacy, said Barr. She had so much trouble sleeping with her husband that her entire day was ruined by a bad night's sleep. Now, she said, the idea of curling up alone in bed and sleeping through the night trumps having him roll over and be romantic. It helps that they make a point of not abandoning other intimate moments. "I suppose it affects some spontaneity, but if I get solid sleep instead, it's worth it," said Barr. The pair is able to sneak in some snuggle-time before going to bed when they read together.

    For Miller and her husband, it wasn't separate sleeping areas that hindered their spur-of-the-moment romps. Instead, it was having four children -- three teenagers and an 11-year-old. While her husband's insomnia is what sends them to their own rooms at night, she hardly blames him. "It's definitely not him, it's me," she admits. "I'm the one who can't sleep when he's moving around, and I worry that if I roll over when he's just about to fall asleep that I'll wake him up."

    Bowman and Miller said they hadn't pictured sleeping separately when they first got married. Bowman used to fall asleep with her head on her husband's chest each night. Miller and her husband spent their initial married years in a three-quarter size bed.

    Of course, sleeping in separate beds isn't an entirely new phenomenon -- after all, Lucy and Ricky slept comfortably in separate beds at night. While it may have been more common in years past, Risman notes that separate sleeping quarters have been on the rise as seen in the number of suburban homes being built with two master suites. The fact of the matter, says Coontz, is that sleeping in the same bed was a growing trend for the past 60 years but before that, it wasn't the norm at all.

    "It is important to note that up until the mid-19th century it was quite common to sleep in separate beds for middle-class couples who had the space," she said. "It was in the 1950s and 1960s, as sexuality became a bit more open for married couples and therapists insisted that they should have as much togetherness as possible, that it became really popular to have the same bed. Today, more couples are feeling free to go back to other arrangements, if it meets their needs."


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  • 05/19/10--09:15: Eco-Lingo: Bamboo
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    From shoots to seats. Photos: timcammett00, Corbis RF; ptkphoto, Corbis RF.

    Eco-lingo is being tossed around left and right these days. We're demystifying common terms to help you figure out which words are the real deal... and which are just green jargon.

    Today's word: Bamboo

    Definition: Yes, bamboo is a major food source for adorable pandas, but that's not all the good it does. We've heard plenty of buzz about bamboo being a great resource for flooring and furniture materials -- after all, it's the fastest-growing woody plant on Earth, growing to harvest-able size in only three years (40 times quicker than oak's maturity process). It also has the benefit of releasing 35% more oxygen into the air than most trees.

    While bamboo itself is a terrific resource, in order for it to become a usable material, it goes through less noble processes: To turn natural bamboo into flooring, many manufacturers use energy-intensive methods and some even use formaldehyde. And to make bamboo fabric, the most common process involves strong chemicals that aren't healthy for the people working with them, or the environment.

    But not all bamboo is created equal -- or equally green. Green Daily gives the scoop on sniffing out the most eco-friendly bamboo for your money (hint: look for farmed, not wild, bamboo). And Treehugger played environmental watchdog on this one, pointing out that bamboo isn't as green as it could be thanks to enterprising growers who are clearcutting natural forests to make way for more bamboo, and the chemicals they use to speed up the already quick growth.

    One way to make sure you're not being bamboo-zled (sorry! couldn't help it), is to look for bamboo products that have third-party certification, like Smith & Fong's Plyboo, which comes from bamboo that's grown with no irrigation or chemicals and is harvested responsibly. It's even the first non-wood product to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a not for profit group committed to protecting the world's forests.

    Verdict: The Real Deal. But don't buy bamboo blindly! Keep an eye out for greenwashing.


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    West Elm's Dhurrie Poufs. Photo: West Elm

    Eleven footstools for every taste and budget.

    I've been growing increasingly dissatisfied with my couch. The reason? No place to rest my tired tootsies after a hard day's work. Since there's no way I'm getting another Barcalounger (long story), and because my L-shaped dream sofa is still just that, I started thinking about ottomans. It turns out there are tons of excellent choices. I've hunted down the most unique footstools, hassocks, poufs and ottomans, and uncovered these 11 kick-back-and-relax-worthy winners. Hope you love them as much as I do!

    Above: Dhurrie Poufs, $200 to $350, West Elm
    Somehow it's not an oxymoron. In cozy sheepskin, soft suede, durable hemp, and hand-loomed Dhurrie fabrics.


    Blue Moroccan Leather ottoman

    Pre-stuffed and hand-stitched, it's a superb way to inject a cerulean pop to a drab room.


    Gus* UpCycle ottoman

    Wake up and smell the coffee! No two are alike: Each cube is made from a different repurposed jute sack.

    Grandin Road

    Kilim Foot Stool
    Grandin Road

    Right off the Silk Road. Another one-of-a-kind option--but with a 40- to 100-year-old provenance.

    Design Within Reach

    Miss Rio Ottoman
    Design Within Reach

    Used Brazilian flip-flops are reincarnated to form this fringed, whimsical pouf. Perfect in a kids' room or on an outdoor terrace.


    Upholstered Skirted Storage Ottoman by Carleton Varney

    Definitely Granny, but in a good way. The top of this traditional tuffet detaches to reveal hidden storage for crosswords, needlepoint, your chocolate stash, you name it.


    Woven Black ottoman by Wayan PJ

    Its sturdy teak-wood base is lashed with wide strips of expertly-woven leather; I'd choose it for a sophisticated sitting-room setting.


    Lips ottoman

    Uber-sassy and satisfyingly plush, this plush pucker would make a cheeky statement in a tween girl's bedroom. Consider it a conversation piece.


    Lipstick-Red Tufted ottoman

    A bold, reproduction antique, this piece screens formal elegance. Red rayon-velvet sits atop a carved beechwood frame -- waiting at the ready for any one of your Gone With the Wind moments.


    Woodstock Adirondack teak ottoman

    Who says Adirondack furniture needs to go outside? We think this (affordable) mid-mod-style gem would look great indoors too.

    Crate & Barrel

    Blake ottoman
    Crate & Barrel

    This model is beach-y and relaxed, with a nice flared leg. And you'll be reclining with a clearer conscience, too: Its teak-wood frame is culled from a sustainably-managed forest and cushions are composed of soy- or plant-based polyfoam.


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    Button up to these sweet, simple crafts -- perfect for spring.

    Amidst my annual spring cleaning session, I've been collecting buttons left and right -- from closets to couch cushions and everywhere between. What to do with jars and jars of miscellaneous buttons? I thought you'd never ask! Check out these super easy button crafts and incorporate some handmade love into your home:

    It's time to put those spare buttons to use! Photo: Flickr, S. Red

    Decorate your refrigerator with sweet fabric-covered buttons for an artful way to hang your grocery list. I'd mix in a few magnet-backed buttons for a mix-and-match method that doesn't scream kitsch.

    Craving a fun way to use up your spare buttons? Try a simple spring pin-on wreath made entirely of buttons, ribbon and wire. Although this is a great wedding project, I'd pin a few to my inspiration board for a nice springtime touch.

    Ever since I first spotted H&M's home collection (with the famous button pillow!), I've kept Curbly's button pillow high on my list of inspiring crafts. Doesn't it look lovely juxtaposed with the hard lines of a mid-century chair?

    Don't have a ton of spare buttons hanging around your home? Make a few brightly-colored buttons out of bottle caps for a modern punch to use throughout your home.

    Buttons are blooming all over the place! Photos, left to right: BellaDia, American Crafts

    Turn your most cumbersome paperwork into a cute-fest with sweet button paperclips. This craft couldn't be easier and infuses surprising energy into your mundane filing.

    Do you love fresh flowers, but suffer from crazy allergies (I'm nodding my head here!)? Brighten your home with a crafty spring bouquet -- complete with button centers.

    Have a feature wall in need of a springtime statement? Frame button-inspired artwork with paper, thrift store frames and recycled buttons; it's cheap and chic.

    And, of course, a craft round-up isn't complete without a nod to Martha Stewart. Transforming a few spare buttons into a unique clock would make the perfect spring addition to a dreary kitchen.

    Feeling crafty? Peruse a few more tutorials we love over at Canadian House & Home:
    -Turn Photos into Art
    -DIY Salt & Pepper Gourds
    -Make Your Own Topiary


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    Not your mama's laundry detergent: Method's new squirt bottle. Photo: Method

    What's new in the world of laundry detergents? You'll be surprised.

    In the past year, the world of laundry detergents (and dryer products, but that's another story) has exploded -- both in choices and in costs. We wanted to give you a rundown on the latest, possibly greatest, products on the shelves.
    According to a Wall Street Journal article, one of the biggest concerns consumers have about laundry detergent is how to best read the inside of a detergent bottle cap for accurate measurements for various sized loads. Thankfully, these new products just about eliminate that problem.

    Most Innovative
    : Method Pump Detergent
    Method's streamlined packaging means less space is taken up in your laundry room. Consumers can stop worry about measuring with its pump design: Two squirts cleans a small load, three squirts a medium and four a large wash. You'll get 25 loads from a small bottle and 50 loads from a larger bottle. Plus, who can resist the Peony Blossom fragrance?

    Most Unique:
    Purex 3-in-1 Sheets
    Definitely a compact product for the wash, one of Purex's new 3-in-1 sheets is infused with detergent, softener, and anti-static cling, all released at the appropriate times in the appropriate appliance. It goes from wash to dryer. One pack of 20 sheets will do 20 loads, no need for measuring.

    Most Bang for Your Buck:
    Arm and Hammer Gels
    Arm and Hammer is a staple in many laundry rooms. Not too far off from traditional liquids, these gels, available as Arm and Hammer Plus OxiClean Power Gel and Arm and Hammer Essentials Power Gel Laundry Detergent, are the most affordable of the bunch. Why a gel versus a liquid? According to an article in Brandweek, Arm and Hammer reports that its gels are less expensive than comparable liquid detergents, and they are more concentrated for added strength.

    A most unusual looking laundry detergent, the Robby Wash Ball is filled with detergent pellets. Photo: Orsani

    Most Intriguing and Possibly, Most Money-Saving Product: Robby Wash Ball by Oransi
    With the Robby Wash Ball the detergent itself is in pellet form and is filled into a curious, but cute round object you pop in your wash. It's popular in European laundry rooms, is usable in high-efficiency and traditional machines, but it's only available through mail order.

    We Tried It! ShelterPop tried a ball, and it works, even in cold water. A testament to its effectiveness: A pair of deeply soiled boy's goalie gloves came out of a cold wash gleaming white, not grayed-out like in previous washes with regular old liquid detergent. The ball, which retails for $33, lasts for about 120 washes, which for families could mean less than four months, and for kid-free homes, it could last up to a year. For more info on the ball, click here.

    The bottom line: Do the math to compare if it's worth switching to a snazzier, space efficient new laundry detergent, or, if you're like some frugal folks, keep on using what works just fine regardless of how big the bottle.


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    Slatkin & Co.

    Chat with scent guru Harry Slatkin...and enter our contest to win Slatkin & Co. candles!

    A Facebook chat with Harry Slatkin might be as close as we get to Martha Stewart or Elton John -- after all, both of those undeniably fabulous personalities have Slatkin & Co. candles in their gorgeous homes. So we're delighted to direct you, dear readers, to the Bath & Body Works facebook page tonight at 7 - 8pm EST, where Harry will be chatting on their Facebook wall with everyone who joins in.

    Got plans tonight? Fret not! Harry's also taken time out of his role as President of Home for Bath & Body Works to share his tips on ShelterPop today! Read on for his design advice:

    5 instant ways to redesign your room for under $25

    Spray-paint plastic furniture: Try textured spray-paint for a natural-stone look on ordinary plastic furniture.

    Use a table cloth as a window treatment or wall decoration: Scour flea markets for vintage table cloths and hang it on the wall (framed or unframed) or use as a window treatment.

    Paint a doorframe: Buy a gallon of paint and simply paint your doorframe in a contrasting accent color to make it pop against the wall.

    Use mirrors as wall decorations: Peruse dollar discount stores for several different sized mirrors and hang them side by side. It gives the room an illusion of being larger.

    Use a scented candle: Scent affects a room's energy and décor as much as the color, lighting and furnishings. Candles are a budget friendly way to create a fragrant and warm environment. Try the Slatkin & Co. Sunflower figural, a bright and sunny blend of mandarin, grapefruit green tea, subtle musk and the natural essence of white woods.

    Make sure to catch up with Harry's Happy Hour Blog Tour -- he left tips with Luxist, BeautySundae and StyleList this week. And in the meantime, we have five "Fresh Picked" Slatkin & Co candles, provided to us by Bath & Body Works, to give away to our readers. Post a comment below and one could be yours.

    To enter the giveaway:
    -Leave a confirmed comment below.
    -The comment must be left by 5pm on May 21, 2010
    -You may enter only once.
    -Five winners will be selected in a random drawing.
    -Five winners will receive a figural candle from the Slatkin & Co' Fresh Picked Collection, valued at $12.50 each.
    -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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    Ashley Olsen at a recent event revealed she has home ambiitions. Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images

    The star (and sister Mary-Kate) could be looking homeward in the future with another furnishings line.

    At the launch party in New York City for Belvedere Pink Grapefruit, Olsen twin -- and all-around mega-mogul -- Ashley talked with New York magazine about the sisters' Elizabeth and James contemporary fashion line. Looking past what's out there now in the brand, which includes men and women's collections, and what's slated to arrive -- namely sunglasses and bags -- Olsen said the pair has eyes on adding home furnishings to the mix.

    "It's really getting to the point where it's becoming a lifestyle brand," Olsen said. Wait, hold on the presses: A "lifestyle" brand???

    This wouldn't be their first venture into home as they've created collections for the youth set. However, it could possibly reflect the level of modern fashion they bring to the table in Elizabeth and James, the line named for two of their siblings.

    Here's more on some celebs thinking about what to bring to your house:

    - Beyonce's Home Work
    - LeBron James to Design Furniture Line


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