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Shelterpop

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    HGTV is giving away a brand new NYC apartment, custom-designed by Vern Yip. Interested? Take a look inside.

    Courtesy of HGTV

    In their latest mega-giveaway, HGTV has teamed up with The Residences at W New York -- Downtown to offer every city-lover's dream come true: A custom-designed downtown apartment with a view! Vern Yip, who we all love and know from the network, considered the contest's title -- "Urban Oasis" -- and theme of contrasts as his main inspiration. "New York is a city of contrasts, " says Yip. "There are 19th- and 20th-century buildings right next to contemporary skyscrapers, and it works. All of this contrast ultimately leads to harmony. This apartment represents that harmony, and is a place to relax and unwind after a busy day."

    Courtesy of HGTV

    Want a sense of some of that contrast? Start in the foyer: Marble lions from the 1860s mimic the grand beasts that guard the New York Public Library and work wonderfully by a more obscure photograph of the library's famous reading room by German photographer Reinhard Gorner. The new lucite console table holds jars of candy and paperweights from NYC artist Laura Graham.


    Courtesy of HGTV

    Straight ahead is the kitchen, where Yip strives to capture the diversity of New York City with pieces that vary in style and contrast, but work together in a functional way. Our favorite part of that: The multifunctional dining room table. "You can use it to prep items for cooking, you can use it as a desk (thanks to the hidden power strip built into the legs) and even for storage -- the legs have doors and act as mini cabinets." The glass table top top and Philippe Stark Louis Ghost chairs mimic the transparent, reflective surfaces of skyscrapers, and work well against a rug from ABC Carpet & Home and a geometric 1970s Italian crystal chandelier from Las Venus. The colorful Andrew Moore photograph of the Staten Island Ferry gives us a quiet moment of solitude, unique in a big city like New York.


    Courtesy of HGTV


    The kitchen opens to the lovely, bright living room, which has fantastic views of New Jersey, the Hudson river and Lady Liberty herself. The space serves a multitude of purposes, but manages to look neat, chic and organized. The gray sofa from Dune opens up to a full size bed, so it can comfortably sleep guests. The Haus Interior lamps add a another grey texture to the room, along with the incredible black and white Matthew Pillsbury photograph of the Museum of Natural History's famous dioramas, taken with a long lens exposure. The unusual gryphon sculpture is actually an old iron flag base from the 20th century, found at Demolition Depot.


    Courtesy of HGTV

    The bedroom brings in architectural elements from the urban jungle, especially in the wall behind the bed, which is meant to look like the ice block, limestone foundation of many New York buildings. The two 1910 keystone pediments that flank the bed are from a demolished Harlem brownstone and sit on pedestals that act as end tables and storage. "The great storage features really make the apartment seem serene and orderly," says Yip. "It really keeps with that oasis theme."

    After looking through, what do you think? Would you want to live in this apartment...for free? We sure would! You can get an on-air tour from Vern Yip himself during the HGTV Urban Oasis 2010 special on Monday, September 6, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Get all the contest details at HGTV.com/urbanoasis or start voting now at HGTV.com as well as once per day on FrontDoor.com.

    Speaking of contests...Come check out another top notch home from our design crush (and Martha Stewart's protogé) Kevin Sharkey! And scroll to the bottom for an amazing opportunity to win a personal color consultation with Kevin!

    And check out some of our favorite stories right now from around the web
    Decorating Ideas to Steal From the September Anthropologie Catalog
    Rorschach Coasters Will Blow Your Guests' Minds
    Donna Karan's Private Luxury Estate on Parrot Cay: Take a Peek Inside!
    Corral Your Clutter with Wire Shelving Systems
    Could a Tree House Solve Your Housing Dilemma?

     

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    If only the Oval Office's decor could take a cue from the First Lady's vibrant fashion sense.

    Like an episode of a renegade home makeover show, President Obama's executive lair received a design-team ambush during his recent Martha's Vineyard vacation. The newly revamped Oval Office boasts several American-made features, including a customized wool rug from Grand Rapids, Mich., fresh custom-mixed Benjamin Moore paint, comfy new and reupholstered woven furniture and striped wallpaper handmade in Amagansett, NY. The only thing missing: First Lady Michelle Obama's stylish touch.

    A look at the newly renovated Oval Office. Photo: Brendan Smialowski, MCT


    In his MSNBC interview, press secretary Robert Gibbs described resident White House designer Michael Smith's primarily neutral-toned renovations as "very modest." The America flag (not seen above) adds a vibrant pop of color to the space while keeping a patriotic focus. Yet it's hard not to wonder what a dose of Michelle's signature fashion sense could do for the Oval Office. Beyond visual appeal, could her vibrant style add a jolt of energy to this ultra-reserved power room? Well, we can dream.

    In the all-American spirit of keeping things fresh, fashion-forward and fun, we'd like to offer a few humble decorating suggestions inspired by Michelle's amazing wardrobe. While we doubt President Obama would select whimsical floral décor on his own, we like to think these suggestions reflect what could be if we had the opportunity to make over the Oval Office -- ShelterPop-style.


    Left: AFP/Getty Images. Right: (clockwise from top left) Shibori linen pillow by Kevin O'Brien; Fireworks pillow at Anthropologie; Terai folding chair at Anthropologie; Cranberry barrel vase by Caleb Siemon; Momeni area rug at Macy's.

    Bright, Forward Floral
    The dress Michelle Obama wore for her arrival at the Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, LA featured one of her signature styles: floral in smart, inspired colors detailed with just a touch of ombré. An Oval Office makeover based on this look might mix fresh flowered patterns in clever hues with a matching sunset finish.


    Left: AFP/Getty Images. Right: (clockwise from top left): Anthropologie except rug: Louise settee; Felt rug by Peace Industry; Calandria armchair; Tall Pinched vase; Deep Tropic tiebacks.

    Watercolor Whimsy
    This dress adds a little romance to Michelle's typically graphic florals -- evoking a vibrant but water-washed bouquet. An Oval Office makeover inspired by this look might utilize cool shades and whimsical details to create a sensitive but strong look.



    Left: AP. Right: (clockwise from top left) Waldots wallpaper at Ferm Living; Linked Circles hurricane at West Elm; Totem pillow cover at West Elm; Eva Zeisel coffee table at Design Within Reach; Wood & Resin boxes at West Elm.


    Eye-Grabbing Graphic
    As bold and exciting as the First Lady herself, this one-shouldered Jean-Paul Gaultier stunner blends a no-nonsense print with a strong feminine shoulder detail. A stack of earth-toned bangles add a beautiful, effortless charm. Inspired by this look, Michelle Obama's Oval Office makeover might mix bold prints with clever graphics and just a flash of earthy textures.

    Well, what do you think? Do you prefer the more basic version or our Michelle-inspired looks?

    And check out some of our favorite stories right now from around the web
    Decorating Ideas to Steal From the September Anthropologie Catalog
    Rorschach Coasters Will Blow Your Guests' Minds
    Donna Karan's Private Luxury Estate on Parrot Cay: Take a Peek Inside!
    Corral Your Clutter with Wire Shelving Systems
    Could a Tree House Solve Your Housing Dilemma?

     

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  • 09/03/10--11:13: Flea Market Finds Done Right
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    The key to living with your collectibles isn't knowing what to add -- it's knowing when to subtract.

    Michelle Long of Bohiemenne bedroom and tie back.
    Left: Michelle Long's bedroom is a haven of white with pops of color. Right: A curtain tie-back that has seen earlier days reclaims its place on the wall. Photos: Michelle Long, Karyn Millet courtesy of The Well-Dressed Home.

    Can you shop at your favorite flea markets and antique shops on a regular basis and not end up living in a garage sale gone bad? It's easy, according to Michelle Long of Bohemiennes, an Etsy shop offering "vintage style for modern living." Long, who collects and sells antique and vintage home accessories and clothing, has been living with her found treasures for years by using a simple system. She invited us into her home, which is a lesson in flea market finds gone fabulous, and offered the following tips.

    1. Be Realistic
    Like the boxer Rocky, get into the right mindset before heading into the ring. "Vintage items are rare and often one of a kind. So, when you see something you like, grab it," she says. But be realistic about the amount of time or money you want to put into whatever it is you're buying. "It doesn't take long before you'll have a house or a closet full of projects that you'll never get around to," advises Michelle. Furniture restoring is especially labor intensive and time consuming. You are usually better off buying a restored piece or one with imperfections that you can live with -- or even love.

    Michelle Long of Bohemienne collection of white
    Left: A grouping of Michelle's favorite ironstone plates and silverware are hung together for simple visual interest. Right: The living room has a vintage woven trunk functioning as a coffee table and storage space. Photos: Karyn Millet courtesy of The Well-Dressed Home.

    2. Group Stuff
    When decorating your home, groupings of objects related by shape, color or even theme make a statement. "It sounds counterintuitive, but to avoid clutter, buy a lot of whatever it is you like. Displaying in groups helps keep your house from looking itty-bitty." In other words, it's okay to collect random items, as long as you have an end purpose for them.

    Michelle Long of Bohemienne kitchen and flatware.
    A functional vintage free-standing unit (left) and glass containers (right) add a bit of character without trying too hard. Photos: Michelle Long

    3. Use Your Stuff
    Another tip to remember is that your home lives around you, you don't live around your home. A house full of unused objects feels stuffy. "Don't save your vintage things for special occasions. When you use your old things you don't feel weighed down by them. That goes for vintage clothes too. Wear them," says Michelle. Old things may require a little special care and handling but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying them.

    Use an old bookcase as a shabby chic display unit (above), or pack vintage glass containers with silverware (above). Pick up an old basket at the local flea market recently? Give it a ubiquitous use, like holding a few similar-sized plants (below).


    Michelle Long of Bohemienne vintage basket.
    Giving a ubiquitous item, like a basket, a role in your home prevents it from being forgotten and relegated to the basement. Photo: Michelle Long

    4. Don't Be Afraid of White
    The modern feel of Michelle's home also comes from her theories on the color white. "I love living with white," she says. "A white backdrop makes the oldest, dustiest and most rustic of objects feel fresh and modern. It's also so much easier to clean white fabric." When she has to clean her white fabrics, she uses Oxi-Clean and then lays the fabric on the grass. "I don't know why but there's something in grass that helps get out stains," she says.

    Michelle Long of Bohemienne living room.
    Everything has its place in the living room with simple textiles and decoration. Photo: Karyn Millet
    courtesy of The Well-Dressed Home.

    5. One Piece Can Make a Room
    Michelle's favorite room in her house is her kitchen. "I love our kitchen for one reason - the old wicker couch. It's a gathering spot where everyone who comes to our house -- dogs included -- seems to gravitate towards, especially when the big French casement windows are wide open so the breeze comes in." Check out Michelle's antique and flea market finds at her Etsy shop.

    Looking for a flea market near you? You may be lucky enough to live near one of our top 5 favorite flea markets in the country.

     

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  • 09/03/10--11:13: The Beauty of Mason Jars
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    Rely on this retro glass vessel for more than homemade pickles and jams.

    When used to make a wedding table chandelier (left) or as part of a home display (right), the result is always dramatic and polished. Photo: Erin Ever After, The Print Lover

    Blame it on my Southern roots, but when I get my hands on a Mason jar, I have a hard time letting go. Their late-Victorian charm has inspired generations of firefly hunts, homemade lemonade and straight-from-the source canning.

    John Mason designed the revolutionary shoulder-seal jar with a screw cap in 1858, but his patent on the design expired twenty years later, opening the market to competition. Shortly after, the Ball Brothers -- Frank, Edmund, George, Lucius and William -- began manufacturing Mason jars through the Ball Brothers Glass Company, calling them "Ball jars." (The Ball Company's epic history includes debuting the first primer on home canning, Ball Blue Book, in 1909, bragging rights for not laying off a single employee during 1933's Great Depression, and, more recently, celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2009.)

    Throughout their history, these jars have been used for everything from pickle canning to homespun mousetraps to grenade warfare, but here are a few unique ways to apply the old world ingenuity of Mason jars to stylish modern living.

    1. Create stunning lighting sources
    Few things feel turn-of-the-century chic like using generation-old materials to create modern lighting solutions. Pottery Barn's Exeter Pendant keeps the look classic while Anthropologie and Design*Sponge play with Mason jar lighting display on levels big and small. For a new approach, update the look with more energy efficient CFLs and enhance lighting effects by using aqua, amber or other colored jar options. You can also DIY your own lighting with this neat tea light chandelier or these quick and easy garden lights.


    The perfect place for a miniature world. Photo: Craftzine

    2. Try a terrarium
    The desire to create miniature worlds doesn't have to end with childhood. Terrariums are the latest home trend. A Mason jar is the perfect vessel for creating one; it gives those throwback trinkets a space to shine. Check out this project on Craftzine for inspiration.


    3. Sip and savor summer beverages
    Trust me on this: Beverages straight from Mason jars just taste better. Serve lemonade in them, as shown here at Brides.com, or leave the tops off, fill them with ice and pour in some fresh-brewed iced tea. Another brilliant idea: gifting limeade mix in mason jars as a sweet summer soiree treat.


    4. Say goodbye to pretty (but overpriced!) hand soap
    Drill a hole in a Mason jar lid and secure a reusable soap pump to make an enviable, refillable soap dispenser for under $3. Check out this great DIY project at Apartment Therapy.


    5. Enjoy endless organization options
    Whether mounted on a wall or placed on a shelf, Mason jars can add uniformity and structure to any mound of clutter. A few can-do ideas:
    -Show off your silverware by dividing each type of utensil into separate jars.
    -Store your sewing supplies, as seen in this idea at Martha Stewart Living.
    -Use different sized jars to sort your work space -- pens and pencils in one, scissors and letter openers in another.
    -Take snacks out of their bags and use Mason jars as tight-sealed containers.


    6. Top your table
    Used as single-stem vases or centerpieces, Mason jars can make the most basic candle or bunch of flowers look tabletop-ready.

    Ready to get your fill? Kmart offers 12 authentic Ball Mason jars for under $12, as do most hardware stores and container depots. You might consider scouring vintage booths and antique bins to rediscover firsthand both the jars' timeless aesthetics and that childlike feeling of capturing something really, really great in your two hands.

    And if you're feeling inspired about reinventing household items, check out our gallery with several other fun ideas.

    And check out some of our favorite stories right now from around the web
    Decorating Ideas to Steal From the September Anthropologie Catalog
    Rorschach Coasters Will Blow Your Guests' Minds
    Donna Karan's Private Luxury Estate on Parrot Cay: Take a Peek Inside!
    Corral Your Clutter with Wire Shelving Systems
    Could a Tree House Solve Your Housing Dilemma?

     

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    The Oval Office gets the Michael Smith treatment, and Vera Wang wants to give your bed a makeover. It's all in this week's home news.

    We chuckled at the clever headline accompanying The New York Times story about the Oval Office; it was called "The Audacity of Taupe." Photo: Brendan Smialowski, MCT

    A number of New York companies put their touch on the redesign of the White House's Oval Office -- and so did we! Check out our Oval Office Ambush!

    Sorry, AT&T U-verse subscribers: It looks like Martha won't be gracing your screen on the Hallmark Channel after all. It looks like you'll be missing out because she has major ambitions for her own prime-time talk show. Martha vs. Barbara Walters? We'd love to see that!

    If you haven't already, enter our contest to win a free color consultation from Martha Stewart's right-hand man Kevin Sharkey: 5pm today is the deadline!

    Univision Network's star talk-show host Christina Saralegui is teaming up with Sears Holdings on a new line of bedding and bath textiles that will be found in Sears and Kmart stores.

    Bloomingdale's is celebrating its 20 year relationship with star designer Vera Wang by offering an exclusive decorative bedding line from Revman.

    The LivingRoom for iPad app, which lets you play interior designer, gets a major upgrade.

    Consumer confidence may be down, but spending on your home was actually up, which we at ShelterPop always think is a good thing!

    Home Depot selects a supplier for the cabinets in its Martha Stewart Living kitchens line.

    Hooray for Bollywood as a star couple promotes their home brand.

    Superstar Iman hopes her new home line is a runway success with a debut during New York Fashion Week.

    A new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York shows how women have influenced kitchen designs in the last 100 years.

     

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  • 09/03/10--12:13: Weekly Link Love
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    First Lady-worthy fabric, a faux-fur message board and our kind of guided museum tour....What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    Courtesy of Kravet


    Did you know Kravet has created tablecloth fabric for the First Lady's luncheon since 2001? This year's pattern, inspired by White House chandeliers, makes us kind of giddy. Wouldn't you love to frame a piece? [inspired.talk]

    Organizing? Love. Dollar stores? Adore. Organizing your office for under $50? Total no brainer. [The Stir]

    Leave it to Mrs. Blandings to make us crave needlepoint like it's cake...gorgeous, exquisitely-designed cake. [Mrs. Blandings]

    Proof that brilliant inspiration can be found just about anywhere: Look at these picks inspired by Notting Hill carnival drummers! [CasaSugar]

    Design Star winner and Secrets of a Stylist star Emily Henderson takes you behind the scenes of the show's first episode! [The Brass Petal]

    Let's be clear -- we'd never endorse installing a home stripper pole. But we do endorse watching this DIY-disaster video. [The Frisky]

    Add this to the list of things that sound crazy but look awesome: A faux-fur message board. Serious! Check out the photos. [Design*Sponge]

    Can you imagine working in the middle of a forest? (In a stunningly-designed office, of course). This leaves us breathless. [swissmiss]

    A virtual trip to the LACMA to see John Baldessari's work...with commentary by the fantastic Christian! [maison21]

    Even if you're over the artwork, you can salvage the frame. So clever! [DIY Life]

    Yes, Tiger Woods has a bachelor pad in NYC now. What's left to do? Make fun of it! [Curbed]

     

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    Too much light can break down fabrics, wake you up in the morning and drive you a little bit crazy.


    Silhouette window shadings, shown here in the Bon Air fabric, softly filter out the light so you can sleep through the night. Prices start at approximately $424. Hunter Douglas

    Natural light is both beautiful and healthful (hello, vitamin D!), but sometimes we just want less of it. Aside from abruptly waking us (or a sleeping infant) from sweet Saturday morning slumber, too much light streaming in from the windows can also cause distracting glares on computer monitors or worse, faded fabric on our favorite sofa.

    "Sunlight is a natural energy boost, but it also has its downside," says Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas. "Natural light needs to be managed, and the proper window treatments are the best way to do it."

    Finding the right treatments can definitely be a challenge, especially with the availability of so many options. It's important to educate yourself about not only what's out there but also what your needs are.

    "If blocking out the light in your bedroom is your top concern, figure out which direction your window faces," says Morse. If it's east-facing, then your windows probably get lots of direct sun in the morning. She suggests drapery that has black-out lining. "If you're choosing blinds or shades, go for something that's opaque to diffuse the light," she says.

    When shopping for opaque blinds or shades, always check the product's opacity rating. This will tell you just how much light will actually filter through. For example, the Hunter-Douglas line of Duette honeycomb shades diffuses up to 100% of natural light and is available in four levels of opacity: sheer, semi-sheer, semi-opaque and opaque.

    Not sure what's right for you? Morse suggests taking a sample of each opacity level outside and holding them up to the sun. "You'll find out very quickly just how much light you'll be blocking out," says Morse.

    Another option we find appealing is a trend in top-down/bottom-up options for shades. Several manufacturers are offering this smart design, that allows you to let some light in while still keeping say the bottom half of your window protected. Great for rooms like the kitchen, bath or even your bedroom, there's also plenty of options to choose from. For example, Levolor has the top-down/bottom-up design feature as an option for their cellular, woven and roman shades.

    If your heart is set on horizontal blinds, focus on slat size. According to Morse, the thicker the slats, the more coverage they will provide. This is one of the reasons we like Christopher Lowell's line of 2" wood blinds for Smith and Noble. In addition to providing lots of coverage, they come in a variety of wood finishes such as Walnut, Blush and the pretty Rosewood.

    Finally, if you have south- or west-facing windows in your room, you'll most likely get a lot of heat and glare from the sun. To protect the fabric on your furniture and flooring, choose something with a UV filter already built-in. "Most people don't realize how quickly the sun's rays can fade fabrics," says Morse.

    Perfect for bathrooms, the top down/bottom up feature of the Duette Architella honeycomb shades allows for just enough light and privacy. Prices start at approximately $202 for a 24" wide by 36" high shade. Hunter Douglas

     

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    Notes and snippets for people who love decorating with color. Today, a look at an unlikely duo: turquoise and poppy.


    In a cozy kitchen, don't be afraid to make an impact with bold color choices. Photo: Apartment Therapy

    What started out as a popular wedding combination (just flip through the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings or a few of the popular wedding blogs) has recently made its way into the world of interior design. Just ask Erin Olson, the face behind House of Turquoise, a home-inspiration blog dedicated to -- you guessed it -- all things aqua.

    "I've been seeing these shades together here and there since I started my blog three years ago," says Erin. "It's a great pairing because it can be used in retro design styles, as well as more traditional or modern looks. It's just a really fun, cheery combination. Plus, it's unexpected."

    A vintage diner-style table (left) fits in surprisingly well on this beachy porch. Right: Jazz up a casual outdoor space with red and turquoise accessories. Photos: House of Turquoise


    But as cheery as these colors may be, you may want to ease into using these bright shades in your decor. "This color combination works great against a more neutral background--not necessarily on all four walls," says Erin. A good place to start? "I especially love this combo in the kitchen, where you can incorporate a pop of color through red or turquoise dish towels, utensils and cookware," she says.

    With that said, if you're not afraid of vivid colors, go ahead and go big with painted walls or poppy and turquoise focal points, like an area rug or sofa. Here are some ideas to get you started:

    Above products, clockwise from left: Azure Fern Sheet Set, from $68, Anthropologie; Circle Round Sheet Set, from $68, Anthropologie; Circle pillows, $80 each, Deseta; Bay Bench, $850, Maine Cottage; Floral Turquoise/Red Rectangular Rug, $28, Bellacor. Below: Dragoon, Aurora Red & Turquoise wallpaper, $295. Photo: The Wallpaper Collective

    Dragoon, Aurora Red & Turquoise wallpaper, $295. Photo: The Wallpaper Collective

     

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    Many twenty-somethings are moving back in with their parents, so why are they leaving their childhood rooms in tact?

    That boy band poster. The lava lamp. Those pink stereo speakers you just couldn't live without. Most of us would like to forget our adolescent tastes, but Georgette Pierre has constant reminders of hers. Since she moved back in with her parents a year ago, the 25-year-old wakes up each day to walls that bear her childhood decor choices, including pictures of Sean "Diddy" Combs and Tigger, her favorite Winnie the Pooh character.

    Your parents' house is a safe and familiar place to call home. Photo: Getty


    These items don't jibe with Pierre's adult style sense, but leaving them up -- and her grown-up stuff packed away -- is one way she deals with being home again.

    "I actually live out of my suitcases," she says. "The moment that you unpack is the moment that you're getting complacent, so I don't unpack a thing. Also, if [a potential employer] says 'Georgette, we want you here in a week,' all I have to do is throw it in my car and I'm there."

    Going home to your childhood room means living with childhood decor choices. Photo: Getty

    Many recent college graduates are in the same boat as Pierre --living with Mom and Dad while on the hunt for full-time work or trying to save up to move out on their own. In fact, according to a recent CollegeGrad.com survey, 80 percent of 2009 college graduates moved back in with their folks after graduating. Many blame the down economy for this growing trend, but some experts, like psychologist Kit Yarrow, psychology department chair at Golden Gate University, say it started before the recession. They believe it has more to do with kids taking longer to transition to adulthood than a lack of available jobs.

    "Generally speaking, kids are maturing a little bit later today," says Yarrow, whose research focuses on the millennial generation. "They are dependent on their parents a year or two -- or sometimes three -- after college."

    In a recent cover story, "What Is It About 20-Somethings?", in The New York Times Magazine, one sociologist called the phenomenon "the changing timetable for adulthood." Kids are maturing into adulthood at a later age, and it's creating a new life stage altogether -- "emerging adulthood," as coined by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a professor at Clark University.

    Clearly, buying your first Jonathan Adler throw pillow or decorating a room for under $100 at IKEA doesn't make you a grown up, but decorating your first place is a rite of passage. It's part of growing up and developing adult tastes. It's doubtful that stalling this particular developmental milestone -- leaving home -- will stall other milestones. But when you're living without permanent belongings and a home that reflects who you are, life may certainly feel like it's on hold.

    Still, Yarrow doesn't regard the absence of this period as cause for concern. Though members of Generation Y may live on their own, get married, and have kids later in life, she says, they'll still manage to grow up.

    "They're going to live longer; they're going to work longer," Yarrow says. "I think it's no big deal that they stay a little bit more dependent on their parents for a longer period of time."

    Safe House

    Post-graduation dependency wasn't part of Pierre's plan. After walking away from Emerson College with an M.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications in May 2009, she struggled for a couple of months as she searched for TV and radio gigs in the Boston area, crashing at friends' apartments until she finally bit the bullet and moved back home.

    "The first thing I thought was, I don't want to move home," Pierre says."Then I realized that home is only what I made of it. If I looked at it only as a temporary place for me to get myself together, then that's what it was going to be. So it changed what I thought about being at home."

    It's not a sign of failure when young adults move home; it may be a part of a new life stage. Photo: Jupiter Images


    According to Barbara Risman, sociology professor at the University of Chicago and executive officer for the Council on Contemporary Families, it's not that weird for millennials to view their parents' homes as safe havens. "It's a very comfortable arrangement," Risman says. "The parents, Baby Boomers, with their now adult children, do not have a generation gap."

    Yarrow agrees. "Kids are closer to their parents today than previous generations were; they like being with their parents. It's not a sign of failure if they move back home."

    Peter Lorenz, 25, experienced this comfort level when he moved in with his mom a couple months after graduating from Northeastern University in April 2008. "I'm very lucky that it was a good situation, a good environment," says Lorenz, who finally landed a full-time job in October 2009. "There weren't rules. At first you think, 'This isn't that bad.' But the allure wears off after a couple weeks. Then you say, 'OK, I'm living at home, and I'm 23, 24 years old.'"

    Next Steps

    Pierre has tried to use her time back home to be creative and motivate toward the next step. She does temp work as she continues to look for a full-time gig, but she's also started an online radio show and a magazine with two of her girlfriends.

    "I can do a lot more things at home than I think I would have done if I was still in Boston," Pierre says. But she still does dream of the day she'll have a place of her own. She even has ideas for the decor.

    "I'm really into earth-tone colors," she says. "And exotic colors that really don't match. Anything unique -- anything that when you walk in you're like, 'Yes, this is Georgette. This is the essence of Georgette.'"

     

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    These clever beds have storage built right into them.

    Choosing a bed can be stressful: It's a major commitment, since it's the focal point of the bedroom. There's the frame, the headboard and the mattress to consider. I won't even get into the myriad of decisions that must be made about sheets and bedding.

    However, my number one concern for my next bed is storage. That's right, at about 33-square-feet, which is approximately 10 percent of the usable floor space in the bedroom of my small New York City apartment, I want a bed that works twice as hard as your standard mattress and frame: Not just a place to sleep, but a place to stash my stuff.

    Knowing that there are probably lots of other people who would like to maximize their under-the-bed storage, I rounded up seven smart storage beds. Here they are:

    With Pottery Barn's Stratton bed, the storage is right at-hand. Photos: Pottery Barn

    Stratton Bed with Baskets, $999 to $1,199, Pottery Barn
    Style: Country Charm
    Pros: Hardwood construction makes this is a quality bed. Plus, it attaches to any of Pottery Barn's queen or king-sized headboards, if you want to add a headboard. Assembled in your home by Pottery Barn's delivery team at no extra charge.
    Cons: The rattan baskets are not lined and therefore would not be good for storing delicate items, like knits.

    Also available in a dark wood tone, this bed is simple and sleek. Photo: West Elm

    Storage Bed Frame, $899 to $1199, West Elm
    Style: Cool Contemporary
    Pros: Comes in twin, full, queen, king and California King sizes, so you can get the right size for your space. Plus, the frame accommodates mattresses with or without box springs.
    Cons: You only have one headboard choice, and assembly is required.

    It may not be a looker, but this bed has room to spare. Photo: Gothic Cabinet Craft

    Cal King Storage Bed, 6 Drawers, starts at $809, Gothic Cabinet Craft
    Style: Back-to-Basics Traditional
    Pros: Available in 20 finishes, you can match this storage bed to your decor. With six drawers on this option and twelve on another, you really get a lot of additional storage space.
    Cons: This piece is strictly functional, not design conscious -- you'll have to rely on your bed dressings for style.


    Yup, there's storage beneath that handsome frame. Photo: Room & Board

    Hudson Storage Bed, Queen, $2,299 to $2,699, Room & Board
    Style: Mid-century Modern
    Pros: Made from solid maple, cherry or walnut right here in the U.S., this bed is built to last; the headboard is included in the price. It doesn't look like it belongs in a dorm room.
    Cons: This model offers less storage than some of its counterparts; finish choices are limited.

    Wood plus powder coated drawers add up to a winning finish. Photo: Blu Dot

    Modu-licious Queen Bed, $1,999 to $2,249, Blu Dot
    Style: Utilitarian Chic
    Pros: Three wood finishes and six color choices for the powder-coated steel drawer fronts add up to many options. Blu Dot's designed-by-architects furnishings have been added to the collections of several contemporary museums.
    Cons:
    At $2000 (and up), some might find the price high for a piece with a mildly juvenile look.


    If Lenny Kravitz had a storage bed, this would be it. Photos: BoConcept

    Limo Bed, White Lacquer, Queen, $1,798, BoConcept
    Style: Sleek and Slim
    Pros: This low-profile bed won't steal the show from your collection of designer furnishings.
    Cons: You'll be disappointed when your friends ask if it's from IKEA. The single drawer means less compartmentalized organization.


    Storage is an open-and-shut case with IKEA's box spring. Photos: IKEA

    Bonus: A storage box spring!
    Leave it to IKEA to figure out how to cram more storage into your home. The Sultan Alsarp box spring ($220 to $350) stores extra linens, clothes and the like right inside the box spring itself. This would be a great option if you already have a frame and mattress you love: Simply switch out your existing box spring for IKEA's space saver.

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    Jeffrey Mayer, WireImage


    The actress is selling her very Hollywood Hills mansion for $4.3 million. (Don't worry, it's nothing like the Bundy's home.)

    Forget Peg Bundy, the cigarette-smoking and sex-starved housewife with an eye for trashy fashion and tacky furniture. In real life, Katey Sagal is a sophisticated actor and singer with a smart sense of style and a lovely, well-dressed home in a secluded cul-de-sac in the Hollywood Hills.

    Sagal, who currently stars on Sons of Anarchy and voices the character Turanga Leela on the long-running animated series Futurama, shares her home with her writer/producer husband Kurt Sutter. Property records show that Sagal and Sutter scooped up their 1937 half-timber mock-Tudor style mansion in the summer of 2005, shortly after they were married.










    Welcome in. Photo: Teles Properties.

    In early 2010, the Sutter-Sagals put their 7,200-square-foot mansion on the market. A few months -- and price chops -- later, the asking price for their six-bedroom, eight-bathroom dwelling is $4,325,000. The airy formal living room has dark chestnut-colored hardwood floors, a brick fireplace, a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and a semi-circular bump-out with a grand piano that opens out to the terraces. And oh yeah, an unobstructed view of San Fernando Valley's city lights. Nice, right?



    Juxtaposing genius. Photo: Teles Properties.

    The wood floors and panoramic view extend into the formal dining room with rough-hewn exposed wood beams, multi-paned floor-to-ceiling windows and a traditional dining set. We love the juxtaposition of classic furnishings with a contemporary drum-shaped chandelier shot through by a tube of glowing crystals.



    Heart of the home. Photo: Teles Properties.

    The heart of the home is the slate-floored gourmet kitchen. Here, you'll find high-grade appliances, white glass-fronted cabinetry and a mix of butcher block and decorative blue-and-white tile countertops and back splash. (Those tiles are also used on the fireplace in the adjacent sitting area.)



    Family gatherings. Photo: Teles Properties.

    The library, painted a bold and brave Chinese red, is only one of a few casual family gathering spaces. Others include a media room with a soaring vaulted ceiling, and a cozy family room with heavy exposed beams, a fireplace and French doors that open to one of the many terraces that surround the house.



    Home gym gem. Photo: Teles Properties.

    A fully-equipped fitness room ensures that Sagal stays in camera-ready shape. Another celeb-worthy perk: A guest apartment with kitchen is perfect for live-in staff, extended family or guests.



    So close yet so far. Photo: Teles Properties.

    While it's minutes from everything LA has to offer -- including the film and television studios in Burbank -- the property seems a million miles away. Encompassing almost three-quarters of an acre of rugged terrain with quiet, shaded patios, the house boasts brick and gravel paths that meander down and around the hillside. Tucked down below the house and swimming pool are a sport court and a custom-built tree house that's larger than some Manhattan studio apartments.



    Poolside paradise. Photo: Teles Properties.

    A multi-level brick terrace wraps around the back of the house and steps down to a boomerang-shaped infinity-edged swimming pool and spa with decorative Spanish tile. The hillside location offers supreme privacy and jaw-dropping views of the mountains during the day and the sparkle of the city lights at night.

    For more information on the property contact Ernie Carswell (424-202-3226) at Teles Properties in Beverly Hills, CA.

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    What do Cher, Kid Rock and Cheryl Tieg have in common? They all hired Martyn Lawrence Bullard to design their homes. Here, the designer gives us a peek into some of his most cherished spaces.

    When I spoke to Martyn Lawrence Bullard last week, he was in a decidedly chipper mood. The interior designer had just gotten word that his work was being featured in the latest issue of Departures magazine. This coming just a week after being selected for the Andrew Martin award, one of the interior design world's most-coveted prizes. (Not to mention, back in January, Architectural Digest called him one of the top interior designers in the world.) However, I suspect that this designer, who peppers his clipped British speech with enthusiasms ("gorgeous!" "sexy!") and intimacies ("my darling"), is pretty cheerful all the time.

    Hollywood designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard just won the interior design equivalent of an Oscar, the Andrew Martin award. Photo: Martyn Lawrence Bullard


    Los Angeles-based Bullard originally hails from the U.K., making the honor of a British Andrew Martin award that much sweeter. If you aren't familiar with Lawrence Bullard's work, perhaps you will recognize his clients. The humble list includes Cher, Sir Elton John, Christina Aguilera, Eva Mendes, Ellen Pompeo, Kid Rock and the Osbournes, among others. To mark his winning of the Andrew Martin award, ShelterPop caught up with Mr. Lawrence Bullard. With all of these honors accumulating under his belt, we had to wonder what some of his favorite projects have been. We asked, he shared. Here's a peek into Lawrence Bullard's star-studded world.

    Cheryl Tieg and Cher are both fans of Bullard's eclectic and glamorous style. Photos: Tim Street-Porter

    This serene bedroom (above left) belongs to none other than Cher herself. "It had been very Gothic before," said Lawrence Bullard. "Cher wanted to create something more Moroccan-Indonesian in feeling, with that magical Moorish flair." The early 20th-century Syrian headboard -- inlaid with mother of pearl and bone -- set the tone for the room. It pairs beautifully with the Moroccan lanterns Lawrence Bullard placed on the bedside tables. The walls are covered in hand-stenciled, tea stained silk -- a subtle luxury.

    Cheryl Tieg's home was the project that put Lawrence Bullard on the map 14 years ago when it graced six magazine covers around the world. Since then, he has worked with Tieg to redesign various rooms in the house, letting them evolve over time. The image (above right) is her living room in its latest incarnation. "I love that house," says Lawrence Bullard. "I love that she's grown with it, and I've grown with it. The initial interior design has remained basically timeless, but we've added new color and new shapes. It's a beautiful stamp of our friendship."

    For actress Ellen Pompeo and her family, Lawrence Bullard was careful to keep things young and laid-back. Photos: Time Street-Porter

    A recent project that Lawrence Bullard is clearly fond of is actress Ellen Pompeo's family home. The Hollywood Hills home originally belonged to Ronald Regan in the 1930s. "It has a fantastic, fantastic vibe to it," the designer says. "It's very Mediterranean." Pompeo and her husband are very easy going and young, he says, so when it came to the design, "It had to feel young, fresh, sexy." The boho-chic bedroom (above right) with a 1920s Egyptian hanging and earth-friendly bed linens certainly exudes the sexy vibe he hoped for.

    The living room (above left) demonstrates the designer's attention to a home's architecture, something that is always a consideration in his designs. "It's not so much what I did with it," he says. It's what he didn't do with it. Lawrence Bullard allowed it to speak for itself. "I wanted to let the architecture sing," he says. The furnishings are a well-balanced mix of modern and antique pieces to keep things fresh and interesting.


    Over-the-Top? Yes. Totally perfect for the client (Sir Elton John)? Absolutely. Photos: Tim Street-Porter

    Perhaps it comes as no surprise that this over-the-top apartment belongs to Sir Elton John and David Furnish. For this project, Lawrence Bullard drew on the building's 1969 architecture, the couple's extensive art collection and Elton John's rock-and-roll sensibilities. In the living room (at left), a backdrop of lacquered green walls shows off multiple pieces of 70s artwork, including the Wan Guangyi painting above. Because Elton John rarely spends time in the apartment, Lawrence Bullard says he was free to make it "great fun, with mad color and wild, wild flavors."

    The Guido Mocafico snake photos in the bedroom (at right) relate to the bed, which is covered in python skin. The mirrored-metal cabinet and the mink blanket on the bed are disco-luxurious touches.



    A Bali-inspired retreat for a rock-and-roll personality. Photo: Francois Dischinger

    At first glance you might think this natural, subdued kitchen belonged to a down-to-earth star like Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts, but it's actually the Malibu home of Kid Rock. "He has great style," says Lawrence Bullard of the singer. "[The house] is like a sanctuary for him. He actually recorded his last album in that house." With its Zen vibe and Balinese influences, it's no wonder Kid Rock gets creative in this home.


    Gloria Seanson would happy to be see her chandelier is still in use. Photo: Tim Street-Porter



    While most of Lawrence Bullard's picks for favorite rooms belong to his celebrity clients, one of his pet projects is the dining room in his own home. The house has a storied past, having been inhabited by both William Faulkner and Gloria Swanson. Says Lawrence Bullard, "I wanted to honor the history of the house and feed back into its historic roots." In this eclectic room, Bullard incorporated the chandelier, which dates to when Swanson inhabited the house, a set of 18th-century ebony and ivory inlaid chairs, a vegetable-dyed Moroccan rug and curtains made from his own fabric collection. The ceiling is stenciled with a pattern taken from a piece of antique damask that he found in Venice.

    The headboard in Tamara Mellon's bedroom is actually an antique textile found in Istanbul with Lawrence Bullard. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

    Lawrence Bullard designed a London townhouse for Tamara Mellon, founder and president of Jimmy Choo. The predominant feature in the master bedroom is the spectacular headboard, which Mellon and Lawrence Bullard bought together in the Grand Bazaar on a trip to Istanbul. The cloth is a deep, deep purple with gold thread stitched into a motif of the tree of life. The rest of the room's textiles -- the bedding, bed skirt, pillow and drapes, -- are all custom-designed silk that complements the Ottoman Empire-era piece. Lawrence Bullard summoned the Jimmy Choo vibe with the 1940s cream lacquer bedside tables and some 1970s lamps picked up at the Portobello Road flea market in London.


    A living room fit for the woman who dreamed up the Jimmy Choo brand. Photo: Tim Street-Porter


    In Mellon's vast living room, the designer was faced with a unique challenge: What do you do with a grand space for a young woman who doesn't entertain in a highly formal manner? "It was important to make it very inviting but open; something to accommodate a group of 40, 50 or 60 people, but also to be intimate for just her and her daughter," says Bullard. The resulting design features deep, cushy sofas covered in brown, silk velvet, cream-colored antique alligator chairs and a custom rug stenciled in a signature Jimmy Choo leopard print -- not exactly your average family room. The mix of mid-century furnishing and photographs form a 1967 Vogue shoot give the space a little bit of a David Hicks feeling, without feeling like the space is stuck in the past.


    How did Lawrence Bullard end up with a roster of clients that reads like the cast of a blockbuster movie? For one, he says, "I don't decorate for me, I decorate for my clients. You can see in the variety of work and the many different looks." He also seems to have a knack for creating beautifully and subtly dramatic spaces that are actually livable. "I want people to feel comfortable -- that they can sit on everything, every day." No doubt, his good looks and English charm also help him attract such a glamorous following.

    Looking to the future, we asked who would be his dream client. He didn't hesitate. Lady Gaga, he says. He met the star through his friend and client Sir Elton John. "She is beyond the sweetest thing," gushes Lawrence Bullard. "And she is the most extraordinary and incredible talent. I love that she lives her life as an art form. Can you imagine doing her home? That would be a dream!"

    Hear that Gaga? Martyn is ready to decorate, and we can attest the man knows a thing or two about drama, glamour and luxury -- you'd be in great hands.

     

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    In the French countryside, one very determined archaeologist isn't just building his dream home -- he's constructing an international landmark.

    It's the stuff of fairy tales, except this one is for real. Two hours south of Paris in an abandoned quarry, a real-life medieval castle is being constructed by a passionate group of individuals using authentic medieval building techniques that haven't been used in over 700 years.

    Building this castle is the long-time dream of archaeological historian Michel Guyot. While restoring Saint Fargeau castle, located just miles from the current castle construction site, he and the team discovered that hidden in the walls of the 15th-century castle were original stone walls from a medieval fortress from the 13th-century. The discovery planted a seed in Guyot and it eventually inspired what is now the castle of Guédelon -- a medieval-style dream home built using 13th-century building techniques.

    new medieval castle in FranceA new medieval castle sounds like an oxymoron, but it's really happening. Photo: Guédelon

    The dream, which some people have called crazy, took years to realize. But Guyot did not give up and eventually he teamed up with entrepreneur and co-owner Maryline Martin, who instantly saw it as a way of boosting the local economy, creating new jobs, providing people with real training and bringing tourists to the area.

    Martin and Guyot hired a team of about 50 workers, obtained the correct permits, located a site and finally broke ground. Nothing about building this castle has been easy or fast. In fact, they've been at it since 1997 -- that's almost 13 years, and it's not expected to be finished until 2023. It's taken longer than it would have in medieval times, due to the small size of the work force and a constant flow of tourists.

    Finding the right spot
    Where can you build a 13th-century castle? The French countryside, of course. Martin hunted for the best piece of land, and struck gold when he located an abandoned sandstone quarry. And what a fateful location! The quarry contained almost all of the materials that they needed to get the castle off the ground, such as wood, stone and clay. The only items that they bring in are limestone, extra wood and the lime used to make the mortar.

    building a medieval castleA stone cutter (left) and hamster wheel device that helps to lift stones (right). Photo: Guédelon

    Building it right
    With no specific historical plans, how were they to build an authentic medieval castle from the ground up? Jacques Moulin stepped up to the challenge of being the head architect, designing a building that would emphasize the medieval building techniques. The goal of the entire project was not the castle itself but the experience of learning and understanding the process.

    Some of the first challenges they faced were meeting building codes and regulations. They certainly didn't want to replicate the unsafe conditions of medieval times, so a good partnership with the county safety committee was a must. Some of the ancient techniques took years to get approved. To ensure that the practices are safe for modern day workers, many wear protective gear such as hard hats, safety glasses and steel-toed boots; workers also wear medieval-style clothing. This helps separate them from the tourists but also helps make the experience seem even more authentic.

    finished medieval castleWorkers raise the roof (sorry, couldn't resist). Photo: Guédelon

    So what does it take to build a castle without the assistance of cranes, bulldozers or power tools? A lot of trial and error, research and education. The workers certainly didn't know how to use "wattle and daub," an ancient form of wall making, or medieval quarrying techniques, so there was a steep learning curve for just about every skill. Construction techniques and materials were researched by the castle's archaeological committee, mostly taken from illuminated manuscripts, stained glass windows and financial documents. Under direction of master mason Florian Renucci, the work is supervised to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of every step.

    Helping the economy
    The project was funded for the first three years by investors, but after that the whole project has been self-funded. At first, there were only local French visitors, but now the site attracts people from all over the world. Last year, more than 300,000 people came from far and wide to see Guédelon. Besides unguided or guided tours of the construction site, there are various activities for kids, like stone-carving workshops. Just over 100 miles from Paris, it's a nice drive through the French countryside if you're up for an adventurous day trip!

    building a medieval castleRendering of what the castle is expected to look like in 2025, after completion. Photo: Guédelon

    The road ahead
    So who will be the proud owner of castle Guédelon once it is complete? It's unknown at this time. It will likely continue to be a tourist attraction and a place for education. One thing's for sure -- you won't find Guyot living there. For him, it's all about the journey. One stone at a time.

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    When it comes to pets, our dogs are as much a part of the family as children. Sure, they may snore during the night, track dirt on your new carpet and shed all over your white sofa, but face it -- you love their company. In this video, our ShelterPop designers prep their home for a pet-friendly environment Fido will love:





    Ready to tackle a pet-proof home of your own? Check out these simple tips:
    1. Upholster furniture in outdoor fabric, which is both stain-resistant and durable. Darker fabrics will work best, as you can count on your pet to track in a hefty amount of dirt and/or dust. Three other great alternatives? Suede, leather or washable slipcovers.
    2. Utilize throws to your advantage. Easier to wash and transport, throws are a must for keeping couches and beds fur-free.
    3. Stick with light-colored sheets. If your dog sleeps in bed with you, avoid dark sheets that can't often be washed in hot water. Instead, opt for white, fuss-free sheets that can be bleached and laundred when needed.

    Of course, if you'd rather your pet not sleep in bed with you, there's always the option of making a cozy pet bed for your loved one. Not up for crafting your own custom dog bed? Try Molly Mutt's stylish dog duvets -- the perfect accessory for your four-legged friend.

    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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  • 09/08/10--09:41: Welcome to the Passive House
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    A new home design standard that cuts energy costs by 50 percent

    When Joe and Rebecca bought their Salt Lake City home ten years ago, they thought they were in for a simple renovation. That is, until they heard about the new Passive House concept.


    "Our architect, Dave Brach, introduced us to the idea," says Joe. "We always knew we were going to build a home that focused on green principles, but we never imagined we'd completely tear down our existing house and start from scratch to build a Passive House."
    But that's exactly what they did. And when you take a look at the facts behind this innovative design concept, it's easy to see why.
    So, here's how it works: The Passive House concept refers to a performance-based standard that can be applied to new or existing homes. The key is not so much in the materials, like those used in most green buildings in the U.S., but in the attention to air infiltration, BTU use and total energy consumption. Instead, home positioning is an important factor. By reducing the size and number of north-facing windows, homes get more heat from the sun. It's a simple idea that can have a big impact on the amount of energy used; a home that has met the Passive House standard will use only about 50% of the energy consumed by a house built to the current national building code. Just imagine living in a house that spends half of what the neighbors spend on energy bills. Sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it?

    The Passive House standard originated in Germany in 1996 by two scientists, Dr. Wolfgang Feist and Bo Adamson. Feist and Adamson took many of the ideas developed by the people who built the first super-insulated houses in the 1970s, and then improved and refined them with the help of current technology. The movement has only recently made its way to the United States, with Illinois-based architect, Katrin Klingenberg, leading the charge. Today, only a handful of Passive Houses have been built in the United States, but the numbers are growing.

    "The key to these homes is that they maintain a comfortable indoor climate without large 'active' mechanical systems, hence the term 'Passive,'" says Katy Hollbacher, a certified Passive House consultant with Beyond Efficiency Inc. "While heating systems generally can't be completely eliminated in a Passive House, they can be drastically downsized and simplified since the building is primarily heated from passive solar gains and internal heat generated from cooking, bathing, lighting, appliances and, actually, just breathing in and out."

    It's been seven months since Joe and Rebecca moved into their Passive House, and they're now big believers in the Passive House movement. "Our house is incredibly quiet and comfortable, staying a mild 72 degrees no matter the weather outside," says Joe. "Even our concrete floors stay warm year round."
    So, how do you build a Passive House yourself? Check out the design tools and standards published by the Passive House Institute. And to read more about Joe and Rebecca's building journey, log on to www.ourpassivehouse.org.

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    The award-winning designer has a new kitchen device -- and he's giving his only US interview to ShelterPop!

    With the at-home soda craze in full swing, it's only natural that SodaStream -- maker of the DIY soda maker -- would bring some design cred to their machines by teaming up with award-winning designer Karim Rashid. Together. they've created a fun and bubbly limited edition home soda maker that us seltzer-aholics here at ShelterPop are crazy about. So when he agreed to give his one US interview to us, we jumped at the chance to talk not only about the DIY soda trend, but inspiration and good design as well.

    Karim Rashid SodaStreamCourtesy of SodaStream



    Mad Men might be responsible for the resurgence of all things retro -- style-wise -- but a sluggish economy and the desire to be green might explain the recent rise in a more back-to-basics, DIY lifestyle. One trend that's making a major comeback (besides pickling, farm-shares and basically anything local and seasonal) is homemade soda. According to SodaStream, about four million people around the world are using their soda makers to make fresh sodas and seltzers every day.

    So, what drew a busy designer like Rashid to collaborate with SodaStream? Surprisingly, he was drinking regular sodas and seltzers like the rest of us. "I didn't make my own seltzer before SodaStream came into my life. I too was wasting bottles of Perrier," he says. "I believe good designs should replace three products in one. SodaStream already does that with their wonderful, responsible products. I was inspired by this and wanted to take my energetic, fun, colorful spin on the product."

    Energetic and fun it is. Rashid's bubbly take on the SodaStream is similar to his other designs, which all emit a playful and happy vibe. "Everything needs to be designed, so why not design with delight in mind?" he says. For this piece in particular, Rashid looked toward the influence of technology in our everyday lives. He explains, "My Digipop series of patterns is a graphic movement that has its roots in the computer age and is driven by digital technology. I see our new domestic environment becoming more casual, and more technological."

    When asked about what other products he'd like to get his hands on, Rashid has no limits. "So much of the industry needs a makeover: Air conditioners, coffee pots, blenders, toasters, irons, hair dryers and bathroom scales. In fact, I would love to design everything that we come into contact with as human beings, especially when they have a large impact on our psyche and experiences."

    But he left one out: We wanted to know, why hasn't anyone been able to design a well-make, non-flimsy unbreakable umbrella? Rashid, thankfully, has that in the works. "I actually am working on a line for a Japanese company. The umbrellas will have beautiful and ergonomic handles, and fun Digipop patterns to brighten up gray days."

    Besides the umbrella, we have a lot more to look forward to from Rashid. "September will be a big boom, design-wise. I'm working on furniture upholstered in fiber optics, LED lighting, new kitchen designs, liquor bottle packaging and identity, a new KarimSpace retail store in Belgrade, a hotel lobby and bar in China, a concept house in Egypt, new tabletop work with Alessi and so much more!" One has to wonder, does this man ever sleep? (Surely, if he does, the sheets must be pretty divine.)

    As for design predictions, Rashid's thoughts are pretty hypercolor-space-age -- which is to say, totally his style. "Smart materials that change shape, memory, temperature and conduct electricity are in their infancy," he says. "We can look forward to a toothbrush changing color due to wear, a plastic chair changing color due to body heat, or a plastic mountain climbing rope changing color to warn me that it's wearing out." Pretty cool. Or hot. Or both? Only the future knows...

    Love the soda trend as much as we do? Here are some of our fave items that bring it home to you.

    Clockwise, from top left:
    Red/Kenga Tray: Angela Adams
    Paper Straws: Kikklerland
    Bubbles Pillow: Home Decorators Collection
    Red Vintage Seltzer Bottle: Grasshopper 510
    Purple Vintage Seltzer Bottle: Grasshopper 510
    Green Vintage Seltzer Bottle: Grasshopper 510
    Bubble Glass Tumblers (Set of 6): Target
    Diner Bar Stool: BarStoolsandChairs.com

    Now, if you're dying for one of Rashid's limited edition SodaStream machines (pictured up top, alongside his handsome face) you can call your local Bloomingdales to see if they have any in stock. Otherwise, we recommend checking out other models, like the Genesis kit in shocking red or check out SodaStream's fantastic selection.

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  • 09/08/10--14:29: Color Diary: Yves Klein Blue
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    Named for the French artist obsessed with it's pure qualities, Yves Klein Blue has been inspiring designers for decades.

    There has to be something very special about a color if it inspires an artist to create an entire series of work around it. Such was the case with French artist Yves Klein who did exactly that with the eponymous color he created -- Yves Klein Blue, also known as International Klein blue.

    Clockwise from left: Yves Klein and a model during the performance, "Anthropométries de l'époque bleue"; Yves Klein, "Untitled Anthropometry (ANT 100)" 1960; Yves Klein, "California (IKB 66)," 1961. Photos: Courtesy of Smithsonian Museum.


    In the late 1950s he embarked on a series of monochromatic works and performances in which naked models were painted in the color and then used to mark canvases with their bodies. The rich, lapis-lazuli toned blue was the works' central theme. According to Gabriel Riera, Director of Communications for the Smithsonian Institute -- where the Hirshhorn Museum is having a major retrospective of Klein's work until September 12th -- Klein saw more to this breathtaking color than just a pretty shade of blue.

    "The blue canvases acted as a starting-off point or gateway to Klein's real artwork, which represented the idea of a pure, expansive void," he says. This all stemmed from a spiritual experience Klein once had at the beach with friends, where he was enchanted by the vastness of the ocean and sky. "In person, the large blue canvases vibrate and the pure color almost jumps off the painting," says Riera. This unique effect is a result of the way this color is created. Ultramarine blue pigment is placed -- not mixed -- into a liquid binder, causing it to stay suspended. Riera adds, "The physical properties make the color hard to reproduce."

    Lacquered in the bold blue color, a Manhattan couple's hallway looks cool and modern; designed by Miles Redd featured in Elle Decor, a detail of bust (at right). Photos: Manuel Flores Vienna


    But that hasn't stopped people from loving and using it. In face, several other interior designers and architects have been enchanted with the color -- using it in their clients' homes, as well as their own. New York City-based interior designer Miles Redd remembers his first experience with Yves Klein Blue. "The first time I ever became aware of Yves Klein was at age 10. GQ had done a fashion story inspired by the parties Klein used to throw, where he would paint models in cobalt blue. Everyone was blue and dressed in tuxedos and gowns. The color and images really fascinated me and I became curious about the artist."

    Redd has since used the color in several of his clients' homes -- considering it a neutral of sorts. "It's such a strong, intense cobalt, yet it can be [used] in any room. The very nature of it's strength makes other colors pop," he says. "I designed the hallway of a young Manhattan couple and lacquered the walls in Yves Klein Blue. Applying it as a lacquer really brought out the color's inherent luminosity and made it work with bold reds and other primaries." It can also bring a modern edge to a room. "That apartment was filled with very traditional Virginian brown furniture. The color made everything look young, fresh and ultimately timeless."

    Josh McHugh


    But what makes it so versatile and timeless? Interior designer Amie Weitzman has a theory and it relates to her background in fashion. "Basic menswear fabrics serve as the base of so many rooms that I design -- gray flannel, a neutral brown tweed -- they all are neutrals that go with everything." And what's the number one neutral in clothing? Denim. "You can wear denim with any color or any style and the finished look works," she says. She designed the room (at left) to serve as a cigar lounge for a music industry executive. "I wanted to take something really classic, like a simple tufted sofa in a cotton velvet, and make it really pop. That, combined with edgy contemporary art and turn-of-the-century wood paneling, created an interesting juxtaposition."















    The "object-ness" of the freestanding wall in Annie Schlechter's dining room was highlighted by painting it Yves Klein Blue. Photo: Annie Schlechter


    The color also helps to highlight a home's architectural elements. Architect Joe Serrins worked with photographer Annie Schlechter to create a sharp, clean dining room that included a freestanding blue wall (seen above). The color was really Schlechter's idea. "She suggested it, and by suggested, I mean she had a eureka moment and told me this was the only option." Luckily, the color compliments the space. "It acts as an anchor and focal point for the room and as a beautiful background for the other vivid colors and furnishings."

    Whether you use a little or a lot of it, in a modern or traditional room, this color will make a statement. And if history is any indicator, Yves Klein Blue will remain fresh and timeless for countless years to come.

    The Yves Klein Blue retrospective is on display until September 12th.

     

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    Take a peek inside an eco-friendly home that is 100% California chic.

    Just north of San Francisco is a home that's not only smartly designed with the highest in eco-friendly standards -- it's Marin County's first LEED platinum (administered by the U.S. Green Building Council) custom home -- it rocks with style. Tucked into towering oak trees and built into the hillside, the home's architectural design and contents are well-kept secrets to most, as they're largely invisible from even the driveway.

    The entrance to this custom home is simple (lots of wood, brick and glass) which puts more focus on the architectural style. Photo: Mariko Reed


    Designed by Scott A. Lee, president of SB Architects, the Mill Valley, Calif., home serves as his personal residence. But the four-story beauty is also a testament to his success as an architect. Light pours through floor-to-ceiling windows and every room has its own terrace. Surfaces are constructed from sleek and neutral materials. Cabinetry is custom designed with beautiful finishes. The lighting evokes midcentury-modern but with some contemporary interpretations. Modern gas fireplaces, and bath and kitchen fixtures, marry practical needs with strong design. McDonald Construction & Development, an Oakland, Calif., firm that has built many custom green homes, constructed the house.

    Green-wise, the home has LED lighting, natural insulation, solar-power supplied electricity and hot water, radiant floor heating and a recirculation system that keeps the interior either cool or toasty, depending on the season. Products were chosen for their eco-friendly qualities, including Kohler low-flow plumbing fixtures, Mythic zero-VOC paints, stone veneers from Eldorado Stone that are sustainably produced, Concreteworks high-recycled content interior concrete, sustainably harvested floors and cabinetry from Plantation Hardwoods and New World Millworks.

    In looking over the photos of this place and falling in love with its serene qualities, we quickly saw a few opportunities to adopt the look elsewhere, even if you live in a studio apartment. Besides, it's often the little things that are the heart and soul of a home's design.

    The home's open-concept kitchen and breakfast counter. Photo: Mariko Reed


    Instead of an intricate backsplash or a boring coat of white paint on the walls, all of which require fossil fuels to produce and ship, purchase only one thing: "chalkboard" paint from Benjamin Moore. Arm your kids -- or yourself -- with sticks of colored chalk. Not only are you saving on Post-its and other scraps of paper but this is a great way to fill in a small space that's not large enough to hang artwork or is just an awkwardly positioned spot. Now you can indicate seating assignments for mealtime. Or leave messages for one another to help the house run smoothly.


    Now this is a bathroom we'd love to hang out in! Photo: Mariko Reed


    Having an eco-conscious attitude is synonymous with feeling present. Use meditation and journeying as inspirational themes to spike up a small space. In this case, a travel book is among four titles on the built-in bookshelves. And a Buddha goddess alludes to the peacefulness in remaining calm. Paired with dark woods (the blinds and the drawers) and light-colored tiles it's a mini-Zen sanctuary.




    A contemporary take on a fireplace, and the perfect space to cozy up with a book. Photo: Mariko Reed


    When going "eco" in a room, it's tempting to stick with nature's palette -- such as shades of blue, green, white and brown -- but here a punch of color is incorporated. Many retailers and designers now sell organic-cotton fabrics and furnishings in bold colors that were created using natural dyes. And while this color might normally compete with other bright shades, here it's the sole focus. If you have a color that's just dying to be noticed, make it the only color in a room and watch for your friends' jaws to drop when they enter.


    A palette of black and white contrasts nicely with the taupe/white pattern on the ceiling. Photo: Mariko Reed


    Wallpaper the ceilings (consider eco-friendly options from Madison and Grow and MDC Wallcoverings' Angela Adams line) rather than the walls -- or, if you're really motivated, hand-stencil using non-toxic paints -- to create a hidden surprise that only reveals itself after a little time spent in the room. It can also make smaller spaces appear larger than they really are. Stick with no more than two colors in the design, so that it isn't too busy or distracting.


    One of the home's bathrooms and the dining area. Photo: Mariko Reed


    Ditch convention (in other words, iron or ceramic drawer pulls) and take on a nautical, earth-inspired look by using rope pieces for drawer pulls. Better yet, pick natural hemp or organic-cotton rope, which are biodegradable and sold at craft stores or via Amazon.com. Also, choose large pieces of furniture that convey a "green" mindset, such as this dining-room table that looks like it was harvested right out of the forest and with rich wood grains intentionally left in the simple construction. The furniture should be certified by Forest Stewardship Council as containing smart, eco-friendly and sustainable wood.



    Don't you just want to cozy up to this fireplace and watch the San Francisco fog roll in? Photo: Mariko Reed


    White never had so many shades! Here we have ivory, off-white, beige and eggshell mingling with khaki and brown -- paired with natural straw in the side table and in the decorative balls -- to convey simplicity. Also, large picture windows only illuminate a home's natural setting.


    Architect and homeowner Scott A. Lee made sure that the home's lush hillside setting is viewable from every room. Photo: Mariko Reed


    Support local designers of home goods, everything from plates and bowls to art on the walls. This homeowner bought tiles from Heath Ceramics, which is headquartered in the Marin County town of Sausalito. Local artisan Brian Kennedy, who specializes in steelwork, was tapped to create objects throughout the house. Supporting local artists not only keeps the local economy humming but it gives you accessories that hundreds of other homes do not have.

     

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    Watch out Italy, the Brangelina brood is headed your way. The power-duo reportedly dropped $40 million on an Italian villa.

    Steve Granitz, Wireimage.com

    Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have added yet another historic and insanely high priced European estate to their already bulging property portfolio. In 2008 the perpetually peripatetic ex-pats picked up a 1,000-acre estate in the South of France known as 'Chateau Miraval' and recent reports reveal that the comely couple dropped some big bucks on a rustic retreat in the scenic northeastern Italian countryside.


    Splash News

    It all started in the spring of 2010 when the Jolie-Pitt clan decamped to Italy for a few months while Jolie filmed scenes for her upcoming thriller 'The Tourist.' It wasn't long before the real estate crazy couple became smitten with the rolling countryside in the Valpolicello region just outside of Verona. So they did what people with mountains of money sometimes do when taken with a locale: They went house hunting. Their search led them to the itty-bitty Italian town of San Pietro in Cariano and the 'Villa Costanza.'


    Splash Images

    The undeniably aristocratic but somewhat down on it's heels 'Villa Costanza' -- also known as Villa Saibante-Mongo' -- dates back to the early decades of the 17th century and was listed for sale with an A-listers only asking price of $32 million euros. Most reports say the couple coughed up somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million for the fixer upper.



    Splash Images

    According to the official website of the Comune di San Pietro in Cariano, the U-shaped villa wraps around a central courtyard guarded by two carved stone lions. A colonnade runs around the interior of the courtyard that includes mythological statues, a well that dates back to 1623 and a lot of overgrown bushes.



    Splash Images

    With 18,000 sq. ft. there's more than enough room for the always expanding Jolie-Pitt crew at the 'Villa Costanza,' which the couple reportedly plans to use as a vacation home. In addition to the 15 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms in the Palladian-style villa, there are at least two gigantic and regal reception rooms that feature antique tile floors, coffered ceilings and walls covered with 17th-century frescos and panels painted with portraits of historically notable people.



    Splash Photos

    The 'Villa Constanza' includes 2 swimming pools, several spas, waterfalls, a cinema, gym, and stables. There's even a vineyard, which makes sense since the Valpolicello region is one of the centers of Italy's viticultural industry. Perhaps the Jolie-Pitts will start producing their own wine that they can sell and donate the proceeds to one of the many charities they support.



    Steve Dennett, Splash News

    Although there is some speculation that the Pitt-Jolies have leased rather than purchased both the 'Chateau Miraval' and the 'Villa Costanza,' the couple do own a number of other swank homes including an historic mansion in New Orleans, a 5+ acre compound in Los Angeles' Los Feliz neighborhood, a sleek house perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, another ocean front compound just north of Santa Barbara, and close to 150,000 acres of Cambodian jungle with a traditional house on stilts that Jolie picked up prior to hooking up with Pitt and just after adopting her oldest child Maddox.

     

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  • 09/09/10--09:31: It's the Soil, Stupid!
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    Composting is a philosophy as much as it is a practical garden application. Here, the scoop.

    The title of this piece is inspired by the sign on the desk of well known public garden designer Lynden B. Miller, who understands that good gardens are planted in good soil.

    If we are what we eat, it follows that our plants are what they eat, too. And what they eat comes from the ground in which they grow. If there is something wrong with your plants, the chances are good that the cause lies in the soil.

    Marie Viljoen

    At the moment our consciousness is turning more and more to where our food crops come from and how they have been grown. We are thinking about herbicides, pesticides and polluted soil. Information has slowly percolated down to us that what's in the soil finds its way into our plants, and in turn, if we eat those plants, into our bodies. Although we can shop carefully and try to choose organic produce as often as possible, we cannot always control the circumstances in which our food is cultivated.

    What we can control -- to a certain extent -- is the quality of the soil in our own gardens. Not only does the attention we pay to soil reward us with better plants, whether edible or ornamental, but it is a tool to teach our children -- in a practical manner -- that the circle of growing is one that directly affects us as humans. If we take care of our plants and understand what happens in the soil, we are more likely to insist that what others grow for us is looked after just as respectfully.

    I grew up taking compost for granted. It was an integral part of our garden's life. My mom, the gardener, always had a huge pile of compost tucked away behind a wall near the vegetable garden. When it was ready, after steaming and breaking down its grass clippings, leaves and vegetable scraps for some months, it was trundled off around the garden to be dug into the top few inches of soil. I assumed that compost was essential and thought that it solved all problems.

    And it can...

    An earthworm aerating garden soil. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    A common soil problem is compaction, when soil is too dense to allow air and water to move freely. No earthworms -- natural aerators -- are able to travel though compacted soil, either. Another problem is nutrient depletion, where plants have grown in the soil for a long time with no addition of organic matter to provide essential nutrients for their growth.

    Then there is soil type: Every region of the country has its own soil type and peculiarities. One can become deeply technical on the subject, but speaking generally is easier as a starting-off point.

    At one extreme we have sandy soil. It is lighter in color, does not retain water easily and is hard on plants which need more organic matter to feed them. At the other extreme, we have soil which is clay-based. Nice for playing in the mud, but frustrating for a gardener. Clay retains a great deal of moisture and drains poorly, creating an anaerobic condition for plants who want good drainage. Clay is dense and literally smothers roots that are not adapted to it. When it dries out in drought, it becomes very hard and cannot absorb the first rain that falls on it.

    While sand runs though your hands, clay clumps. If you are growing only native plants suited to these soil types, fine. In a perfect world, we'd all be growing plants native to our regions. But we like variety -- wanting vegetables, fruits and other flowers and trees to grow. So sand is a problem. And so is clay.

    What we need is something between the two.

    Enter compost.

    Adding compost to sandy soil improves its water-absorbing qualities. This means you water less often, and that the water is absorbed by the plants because the roots remain in contact with it longer. Add compost to clay-based soil, and it does the opposite: It improves drainage by introducing organic particles to the fine, thick clay, and breaks it up. Water moves through the soil better -- wicking away from the roots which suffocate in permanently damp conditions. For tired, un-renewed soil, compost improves it very gently. Think of compost as a healthy, life-long lifestyle diet for your garden.

    Making your own compost requires some space, and some initial discipline, as does any new skill. Practice will make it easy. If you have the luxury of a garden where you can set aside an area for a compost pile or bin, you are lucky. And I encourage you to honor that luck by making compost. Think of the rest of us with 66 square feet of terrace space and no more...we have to compost on a Lilliputian scale.

    Compost added to sandy soil for vegetables. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    There are several options for starting a compost pile: You can build a series of bins or wire cages so that you have different stages of of compost going at the same time. Or you can have a single pile that can only be used once the whole pile has broken down into usable compost. If you have a small space, like I do, you can purchase small bins whose contents are used once every few months.

    Apart from the benefit to your garden, another reward of making your own compost is that you are using much of what you would usually throw away in the kitchen. Putting organic matter (that is potentially useful) in the trash is wasteful. Then there are long-term savings. A regularly-composted garden clearly needs no purchased compost, no mulch and very little fertilizer, if any.

    What goes into compost from the kitchen?

    -- Vegetable matter: fruit and vegetable peels, skins, leaves, stems, leftovers; a roughly uniform size means they will break down evenly in the pile or bin.

    -- Avoid onions and garlic as they take a long time to break down and can inhibit bacterial growth, which you need.

    -- Coffee grounds in moderation. They are very acidic (but good if the compost is going on on acid-loving blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons).

    -- Tea leaves and bags.

    -- Egg shells. But never whole eggs.

    -- Banana peels help compost break down quickly.

    -- Never anything from the cats' litter tray or offerings from the dog.

    -- No meat or bones.

    -- No cheese or dairy.

    When in doubt think, "ONLY VEGETABLES, NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS."

    Keep a designated bucket with a lid in the kitchen for daily collection of compostable kitchen scraps.

    Your garden or yard also produces compost ingredients:

    -- Dried grass clippings are good if used sparingly in layers between other ingredients.
    -- Small leaves and leaf litter. Large leaves should be shredded.
    -- Weeds are OK unless they have set seed, which may germinate and grow.
    -- Small twigs and clippings are fine. Chipped branches if you have a chipper!
    -- Deadheaded flowers and annuals past their best.
    -- No diseased plant matter should be added.

    How long does compost take to be ready? That depends on the size of the bin or pile. When it is ready to be used compost is dark, friable and earthy-smelling. All the ingredients have blended and broken down. Compost does not and must not smell bad.

    Compost bins in my mother's garden. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    When do you add compost to the garden? Whenever you dig a new planting hole, add several cups of compost to it. Ideally, dig compost into empty beds before planting. Dig trenches along the length of your planting space, twelve inches down and about two feet across. For every three shovels of soil you dig out, add one shovel of compost. Then replace the soil. This is called double-digging. It is a lot of work, excellent exercise and worth every drop of sweat. In the fall, instead of mulch, spread a couple of inches of compost over your beds.

    Compost tea is made by adding water to compost and allowing it to steep. You use the water as fertilizer and pour directly onto plants. Unlike synthetic fertilizers it will never burn roots and leaves and adds to the life of the soil.

    Composting is a philosophy as much as it is a practical garden application. Taking care of the soil is one of our oldest instincts, forgotten in an age of agribusiness, where growing crops is an industrial act, but to which we are returning, like children back from a careless and bumpy joyride.

    If you want to be a better gardener, making your own compost, or using compost instead of chemicals, is a sure way to achieve gardening nirvana.

    Resources:

    How to identify the type of soil you have in your garden.
    Simple instructions on how to make compost, as well as more detailed instructions.

     

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