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    With the recent passing of the actors Barbara Billingsley and Tom Bosley, we're feeling nostalgic for two of our favorite TV parents and their iconic homes.

    june cleaver and howard cunningham in leave it to beaver and happy daysABC Photo Archives, ABC via Getty Images


    Even if you dreaded coming home to your parents in your teenage years, there were always two homes you could happily retreat to: The Cleaver's and the Cunningham's, via TV shows Leave It To Beaver and Happy Days. The utterly all-American feel came through in every room, right down to the wallpapers, but nobody embodied the feeling more than Barbara Billingsley and Tom Bosley, June Cleaver and Howard Cunningham.

    barbara billingsley june cleaver leave it to beaverJune Cleaver's style was a sign of her times, and so was her home. Just look at the pots-and-pans themed wallpaper in her kitchen. Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

    "The late 1950's and early 60's were such a transitional time in design," says Jeff Andrews (who recently designed the home of another famous mom, Kris Jenner). "So many originals came out of this era." And June Cleaver was an original indeed, surely the envy of (or inspiration for) the real housewives of her day.

    Her Style? Classic. American. Traditional. "It probably seemed even a bit modern at the time," Andrews says. On the cusp of the space age (the show actually debuted the same day Sputnik was launched), June Cleaver's design choices do include a few modern flourishes (check out the lamp in the family portrait below).

    barbara billingsley june cleaver leave it to beaverOn the brink of modernity, the Cleaver home featured clean lines and a little modern flair, like the table lamp shown here. ABC Photo Archives, ABC via Getty Images

    What It Says: "There is love in the Cleaver house," Andrews says.

    And it's a classic example of homemaking at the time. June's day-to-day upkeep of the two-story home at 485 Mapleton Drive included a kitchen, dining room, living room and patio on the first floor, three bedrooms on the second floor, a one-car garage and, of course, the iconic white picket fence out front.

    The Cleavers later moved a short distance to a house on Pine Street, which featured a private study and our first look at June and Ward's bedroom -- twin beds and all.

    Even in black and white, June's aesthetic is clear -- simple and easy and uncluttered.

    barbara billingsley june cleaver leave it to beaverFamily time was always at hand in June's immaculate living room. Photo: CBS, Landov


    While Leave it to Beaver fans enjoyed coming home to June's smile and warm greeting, it was the lovably gruff approach of Tom Bosley, a.k.a. Mr. Cunningham, that made them feel right at home with the 70s classic Happy Days.

    Interestingly, the show was an homage to the previous decade and the life June Cleaver carved out for her family. Mr. Cunningham, like June, was the cornerstone of his home, dishing out advice and kicking back with a newspaper in his easy chair. The house itself is the kind of place you wouldn't mind ditching your own family dinners to hang out in -- "The Fonz" thought so anyway.

    tom bosley cunningham happy daysHappy days started in this charming hub for Howard and Marion Cunningham. Photo: ABC via Getty Images


    Who wouldn't want to pull up a chair around that sunny yellow kitchen table? Or have a seat on the Cunningham's chintz sofa? These houses have shaped our ideals about family (and our sense of style) in more ways than we think. And they take you back to that "simpler time." In the last episode of Happy Days, Mr. Cunningham toasts his married children -- and the viewers -- saying "Thank you all for being part of our family...to happy days." We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Mr. C.


    For more on mid-century modern style, don't miss:

    -The Return of the Mid-Century Roadside Motel
    -High vs. Low: Mid-Century Modern Lighting
    -Mid-Century Clock Collection

     

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  • 10/22/10--16:24: Color Diary: Orange
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    My love affair with orange does not begin and end with Halloween.

    I could have chosen any other color for the mini casserole dishes I recently bought: blue, red, green, basic black or white. Instead, I went with orange.

    And now the twin set of dishes are a burst of color underneath a window sill in my walk-in pantry -- a ray of light in a kitchen that is decorated in neutrals.

    orangeA couple of drool-worthy orange rooms. Photos: Anastassios Mentis, Red Cover | Trine Thorsen, Red Cover.

    I should admit upfront -- I've long despised the color orange. Fashion magazine spreads told me that the color never looked good against my fair skin, not even during the 80s Pop-Art phase where shades like neon green were kosher. But I found myself drawn to it recently; I just bought an orange V-neck sweater from Target convinced that I could suddenly wear the shade. (I returned it a few days later after realizing that my love of orange should be limited to items in the kitchen.)

    Retailers are also digging the color, finding creative names for the different shades, like pumpkin brown (thanks to Crate and Barrel), squash (props to Room & Board), tangerine (Fiesta dinnerware's orange) and pumpernickel (what Design Within Reach terms orange). CB2 calls its knitted pouf "blood orange," while JCPenney, in describing a set of orange and white striped sheets, used the name "cabana orange."

    Now those are color names that inspire the imagination. They evoke images of pumpkin pie or a hike through the woods when the fall color is brilliant. Or in the case of "cabana orange," a far-flung tropical vacation.

    It makes me think I could actually take a decorating plunge...and outfit a room with orange as the primary color. In the two rooms shown above, orange is indeed the star. The spaces are colorful and vibrant, and capture just how happy orange can make any room in the house. With winter upon us, and the sun setting early, who wouldn't want to waltz into a house that's partly awash with citrus tones after a long day at work?

    If I could buy anything right now, here are some of the products I'd swoop up and arrange in my home this fall. Who knew that orange could be so lovely and multi-dimensional?

    Bertoia Bird chair, Design Within Reach, $2,494
    Wall clock, Lamps Plus, $50
    Two-piece bath mat set, Walmart, $15
    Bath towel, Greenfeet.com, $30
    Loaf pan, Crate and Barrel, $15

     

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    Apparently, her apartment in Gramercy Park wasn't enough for the Eat, Pray, Love star.

    Stars -- they're just like us! They buy groceries, take their kids to the playground and own two Manhattan pied-a-terres.

    Wait, what?

    julia roberts homeGF, bauergriffinonline.com / Lee Brown, Splash New


    The stunning Julia Roberts has just spent $3.895 million on a penthouse apartment in the charming Greenwich Village neighborhood in Manhattan. We wouldn't count this as all-out luxury for the star if it wasn't for the fact that she already has an apartment 10 blocks away in the Gramercy Park 'hood. She also happens to only spend a fraction of her time in New York. (Most of her life takes place in California and New Mexico).

    Maybe it was the new apartment building's amenities that sold her -- a rooftop terrace and resident-only garage. Or it might have been memories of the neighborhood -- in 1999, Roberts bought a nine-room apartment one block away from the new apartment.

    And in more wild speculation: Is the Roberts-Moder family planning a permenant move to New York? This building is close to the tony preschools and elementary schools in Greenwich Village (twins Hazel and Phinnaeus will be six this year; son Henry is three and a half). It's on tree-lined West 10th Street, which is dotted with mostly single family homes, and we're going to guess that there's enough space to house the brood quite comfortably. Now, if only, we could help with the design...

    For more on celebrity's on the move, don't miss:
    - Nicole Kidman Has a Penthouse of Her Own
    - Rob Lowe's House Wows
    - Pete Sampras' California House For Sale

    And check out Luxist's news that Kevin Jonas put his Texas home up for sale.

     

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  • 10/24/10--15:03: Weekly Link Love
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    Candy wrapper heaven, a spooky twist on "Keep Calm and Carry On" and mysterious public art.. what we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    lily pulitzer furnitureLily Pulitzer furniture at High Point. Photo: I Suwannee.


    Ever wish you could live in your fave Lily Pulitzer dress? You're now one step closer. The brand launched a furniture line at High Point! [I Suwannee]

    A chat with the delightfully whimsical artist/author Maira Kalman about what's in her toolbox. [Design*Sponge]

    The all too ubiquitous "Keep Calm and Carry" poster gets a new spooky twist for Halloween. What do you think? Played out? Or are you happy to play? [CasaSugar]

    Another trend that seems to keep in going, both in fashion and at home -- plaid. We like it. [The Inside Source]

    Get wacky-mad-scientist style for Halloween and decorate with specimen jars. The possibilities are endless, and the price is right. [The Stir]

    A public artist anonymously transforms cityscapes -- and wins an award for his work. [The Frisky]

    Think you carved a great pumpkin this year? After seeing these 10 incredible creations, you might think again. (No offense, we're sure yours is lovely.) [DIY Life]

    We love these vintage candy wrappers from the Candy Wrapper Archive. Wouldn't they be cute framed in the kitchen? [Lemondrop]

    Apartment Therapy founder Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan interviews one of our favorite rug designers, Madeline Weinrib, about her inspiration. [Apartment Therapy]

    Check out the gorgeous Indian resort where Katy Perry and Russell Brand will tie the knot this weekend.Our invitations must have been lost in the mail. [Curbed National]



     

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    What's creeping and crawling in your home this Halloween? More than you might think.

    You may no longer be spooked by ghosts or goblins, but we bet you're not too old to be frightened by these creepy, crawly stories. Here are five gross things, both dead and alive, that could be lurking in your home.

    gross things bugsGetty Images


    1. Bats

    Last week, when I took my air conditioning unit out of the window, a bat flew out from under the unit, leaving a pile of feces in my windowsill. Though he wasn't quite in my house, he was still a little too close for comfort.

    When I think of bats, I prefer to imagine them in their native habitat: Caves. But attics and other dark, dank places can offer an appealing home for bats. If you have an infestation, they might even move into the walls. This family found hundreds of bats living in the walls of their Houston, Texas house over the summer. And unless you have an infestation like that, you might not even know you have bats in your home.

    "People don't really find out they have a bat problem until they see them coming in and out of the house. Or when they're selling their home and an inspector goes up in the attic," says Chris, the owner of Creature Catchers of Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, who declined to give his last name. And if you're lucky enough to only have one bat, "You should play the lotto," jokes Chris. Well, not exactly, but you can relax a little knowing that at the very least that bat is a worthwhile defender from other pests. "Bats eat their body weight in insects in one night," he explains.

    If you think you might have an infestation, call a qualified professional to take care of the problem for you, so you don't end up contracting rabies or, worse, Histoplasmosis, a lung infection transmitted by airborne spores.

    And if you're curious about bats, check out Bat Pictures from around the world.

    gross things batDerrick Alderman, Alamy


    2. e. Coli
    We've all heard the scary stories about the bacteria e. Coli being found on toothbrushes that are kept too close to the toilet. But recent studies found that the kitchen towel is the dirtiest item in many homes and it too, can be a breeding ground for bacterias such as e. Coli.

    While I'm not scared enough to switch back to a less-eco-friendly option like paper towels, I'm definitely going to switch out my hand and dish towels more often.

    3. Gas and Carbon Monoxide
    A few weeks ago, my friend and her husband stopped at my Missouri home on their cross-country road trip. As I was setting them up in the guest room/my boyfriend's man cave, my friend's husband said he smelled gas. I remembered smelling it in that room when I first moved in, and I figured it was a result of turning on the heaters for the first time in a long time. I hadn't really noticed it since.

    "Moving into the colder season, a lot of times when folks turn on the furnace they'll smell something musty because it hasn't been operated for a while and think it's a natural gas leak and call us," says Jason Fulp with Missouri Gas Energy (my gas company). "That's okay. Call the gas company any time, whether or not you're sure."

    I did just that and 20 minutes later two employees were inspecting every room of my apartment. It turns out that in addition to the gas leak in the guest room (coming from the furnace and leaking through the vent into that room), there was one in the kitchen, coming from the stove.

    Because they were small leaks, I hadn't noticed them, but I probably should have. "Natural gas, by nature, is odorless. We insert a chemical called Mercaptan that makes it detectable," says Fulp.

    "The best thing you can do if you smell natural gas is leave the house immediately," Fulp says. "Call the gas company from a neighbor's." And because natural gas can be combustible, he warns against calling from inside the house with your cell phone.

    Even scarier than a gas leak is carbon monoxide -- a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that's responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Unlike gas leaking from a furnace or stove (which you should be able discover with your nose), carbon monoxide requires a detector, which can be found at hardware stores and big box stores for less than $50. If you don't already have one, you should.

    And learn more about how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning on DIY Life!

    gross thingsCDC / PHIL, Corbis

    4. Brown Recluse Spiders
    In nature, Brown Recluse spiders live under rocks, logs and woodpiles. But indoors (a place they seem to like just as much) these scary spiders can live for quite a while without food in attics and basements. When they do come out to feed, they'll find dark secluded areas, like shoes, clothes or beds -- which is why many people get bitten at night.

    So why are these particular spiders so scary? Because their bites can cause necrosis -- a localized death of cells. People who have been bitten by Brown Recluse spiders have tales of crater-like scabs, some even wearing down to the bone.

    Though bites are rare, in areas where they're most prominent -- the south central and Midwestern United States -- they get around. One study found Brown Recluse spiders in about 70 percent of homes that were sampled in Missouri.

    Brown Recluse Spiders are identified by the violin-shaped marking on their backs. But we're warning you: If you Google pictures of them, you'll be sorry.

    5. Water and Mold

    Sure, everyone has water in their home, but you want it in the right places. When I returned from a week-long vacation a while ago, my dining room ceiling was all over my table. That's because the pipe that ran between my apartment and the one upstairs had a leak, and eventually there was enough water to collapse the ceiling. Even if it doesn't get that bad, a slow drip lurking in your home can lead to mold.

    "Anywhere you have moisture and a little bit of warmth, mold is encouraged to grow," says Danie King with AMC Construction and Mold Remediators in Kansas City, Missouri. The most common places you might find mold are the basement, roofs and around pipes, she says.

    And mold in your home isn't only gross -- it can lead to stuffiness, and irritated eyes and skin. (More severe reactions include fever and shortness of breath). But everyone reacts differently. "What might make somebody deathly ill might not have any effect on the person standing right next to them," King says. (Read more about the health effects of mold at the CDC's website.)

    Luckily, mold is pretty easy to clean up, if you can find it. In most cases, you'll see it or smell something musty. But if you have a headache or cough you just can't shake, you might want to more closely examine your home for mold.


    Who says Halloween is only scary for kids? What scary (or gross!) things have you found lurking in your home?

     

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    Designers are hot for gray hardwoods, and carpet might just make a comeback.

    Choosing flooring can be a daunting task: It's expensive, and it's not easy to change once you've committed to a style. Plus, looking at a few boards, tiles or squares of carpeting rarely gives you a good idea of how a particular material will look covering your entire floor. So when we heard that Shaw Floors, one of the biggest, if not the biggest flooring manufacturers, was hosting a panel on flooring, we decided to stop by and hear what they had to say.

    Shaw called upon three experts, interior designer Alexa Hampton, president of Mark Hampton, LLC, interior designer Linda Woodrum of T.S. Hudson Interiors (she designs the HGTV Dream Home and is the HGTV Green Home Designer) and Victor Ermoli, dean of the School of Design at the Savannah College of Art & Design, to discuss current floor trends and preferences of flooring. We were thrilled to hear what they had to say, and we're even more thrilled to report that one of our favorite color trends has made its way into the flooring market! Here's what to expect underfoot:


    floor trendsWhen it comes to floor trends, gray and "greige" are in. Photo: Shaw Flooring

    Gray is the new blond.
    While hardwood floors have been popular in recent years, the color choices have swayed from pale blonds to dark ebonies. The latest color trend is shades of gray, a hue that feels both contemporary and classic at the same time. Plus, it's more forgiving when it comes to wear and tear -- unlike darker floors, which can chip. Even Ermoli admits he wished he'd avoided this in his own kitchen.

    floor trends A tactile rugThe Rhythm and Blues rug from Shaw (shown in the HGTV Green Home) is a treat for the senses. Photo: HGTV

    Hardwood is still winning the war, but carpet is gaining interest.
    The trend toward hardwood continues as fewer and fewer consumers opt for wall-to-wall carpeting. However, designers and homeowners are increasingly interested in carpet and other flooring options that really feel good under their toes. It's all about the tactile experience. Case in point: Shaw's Rhythm and Blues area rug, which elicited enthusiastic responses from the panelists. Plus, Woodrum notes, carpeting is still the go-to choice for bedrooms where comfort, temperature and acoustics are concerns.

    Hampton noted that some of her favorite floor coverings are traditional flooring patterns re-interpreted as carpets; for example, a traditional tile pattern might be re-imagined as a rug. (Hampton has used this trick in her own line for Stark Carpet.)

    Eco-friendly is everywhere.
    Whether it's tile made from by-products of construction or carpet fabricated from recycled plastic bottles, the flooring industry -- and consumers -- are embracing ecological responsibility.

    Green means eco-friendly, not eco-styled.

    Hampton says that while she and other interior designers love to use green, sustainable materials in their designs, they don't want products that look "green." Instead of a late 90s eco-chic vibe, the new eco-friendly flooring options look just as sophisticated as their less earth-friendly counterparts.

    floor trends Flooring on the ceilingShaw Floors's hardwood flooring was featured on the ceiling in the 2009 HGTV Green Home. Photo: HGTV

    Hardwood flooring comes off the floor.
    Woodrum, who helps coordinate and design HGTV's show houses, notes that hardwood flooring isn't just being used on floors. When cookie-cutter homes are stuck with boring sheetrock, hardwood flooring is becoming an option for walls and ceilings to add character and warmth. Woodrum herself used this trick in a recent HGTV Green Home.

    Neutrals reign.
    It's not news that most people favor neutral flooring, but you can't ignore the trend. Ermoli notes that with people moving more often, they're more likely to select neutrals for their floors since it's the wiser choice for resale purposes.

    Words of wisdom.
    No matter what flooring type or style you choose, all three experts agreed on one point: Hire a professional to install it. Whether its tile, hardwood or laminate flooring or wall-to-wall carpet, professional installation is the way to go. Despite the seeming ease of installing carpet tiles and the flooring makeovers you may have seen on TV, some tasks are best left to the pros.

    For more stories on flooring, check out:
    -Painting Your Hardwood Floors White
    -Dos and Don'ts of Cleaning Hardwood Floors
    -Odd and Unusual Flooring Options

    Think you have what it takes to install laminate floor? First check: How much will it cost?

     

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  • 10/25/10--17:40: Set a Cool Halloween Table
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    Here's a treat: Halloween as a decidedly grown-up affair.

    There are a ton of fun ways to deck out your table for Halloween. But if you're tired of the same old Halloween decor (orange plastic pumpkins, cotton spider webbing), don't fret. We picked out some of our favorite tabletop items, and they're pretty cool. Dare we say, they're even a bit sophisticated, especially for a holiday that revels in kitsch.

    Skulls and spiders never looked so chic!


    cool halloween table Photo (clockwise, starting in upper-left corner: Blackbird, Neiman Marcus, Cost Plus World Market, Lillian Vernon and Grandinroad.com


    Clockwise, from left:

    Laura Zindel espresso cup and saucer
    , $42, Blackbird
    A cup made for a bewitching brew.

    Sudha Pennathur cat coasters, $25, Neiman Marcus
    No kitsch here: These coasters are killer.

    Orange candlesticks, $12 (for two), Cost Plus World Market
    Two side-by-side pumpkin towers add a shot of classic holiday orange to your table.

    Salt and pepper shakers, $11, Lillian Vernon
    Add a dash of flavor to your Halloween table.

    Martha Stewart wine labels, $12, Grandinroad.com
    Pick your poison with these fun labels.

     

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    The Los Angeles designer puts another one of her wildly glamorous homes on the market. If you have $46 million and love animal prints, this one's for you.

    kelly wearstlerDonato Sardella/WireImage.com; Everett Fenton Gidley for Westside Estate Agency.


    Nobody could ever convince white-hot decorating daredevil Kelly Wearstler that there's even a shred of truth to the minimalist mantra, "Less is more." For Wearstler, a plucky and gorgeous gal almost as famous for her fearlessly outlandish fashion choices as her kooky but always carefully conceived decorating style, more is always better.

    Nowhere is that more apparent than in her own home, a legendary Beverly Hills, California mansion that she and her smashingly successful property developer/hotelier husband Brad Korzen bought five years ago for $25 million. They renovated, decorated and now they're ready to sell -- for a vertigo-inducing $46 million.


    The design-oriented duo hired Los Angeles architect Brian Tichenor to work over their über deluxe new digs in a manner that preserved much of the mansion's original architectural details.

    Naturally, the lady of the house did up the interiors with the sort of audaciously maximalist décor that has become her signature stock in trade and has made her both revered and reviled by the notoriously difficult-to-please interior design world.


    At the entrance, electronic gates swing open to a long celebrity style driveway. The drive swoops dramatically up the gentle slope to a motor court, which stretches out in front of the sprawling and architecturally dignified 11,000+ square foot Georgian-meets-Hollywood-Regency style mansion.

    The mansion's main entrance, marked by a cluster of potted topiary balls, gives nary a hint to the extreme decorative fantasia that lies beyond.


    Passing through the front door into the octagonal sky lit foyer feels a little like Alice going through the looking glass. Here is a world of bold architectural details, dizzying patterns and surreal tableau, where a cheeky glass topped table with a gilded base of arms and hands (by Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg) and four Mackintosh-style ladder back chairs. The room speaks a decorative language that perhaps only Wearstler can comprehend.


    A surprisingly muted palette prevails in the paneled formal living room where charcoal-colored wide plank wood floors stand in delicious contrast to the grayish-taupe colored paneling that covers the walls and ceiling. Upholstered arm chairs and a tufted black leather sofa form a seating area in front of the fireplace. On the coffee table is a suggestively lurid sculpture of a nude woman. A paneled alcove off the living room juxtaposes the pale black, white, beige and brass color scheme with the vibrant and lush foliage seen through the multi-paned window that stretches from floor to ceiling.


    The dining room is daring in its decor but contains little more than a dining room table covered in a dense assemblage of busts and other sculptural bits and pieces. One would be hard pressed to find a square inch on which to set a champagne flute, let alone an entire place setting.

    The room opens out onto an interior courtyard dotted with carefully trimmed boxwood balls.


    In the paneled and pilastered den, there's a cacophonous but clear-headed mélange of 1970s decor: large-scale herring bone hardwood floors, a ceiling painted to look like a game of Pick-up Sticks, a glitzy antique crystal chandelier, and a black and white checked slab coffee table on top of which sits a shockingly large bronze bust. It's all wrong for a thousand reasons and yet, somehow, Wearstler makes it work.


    No design stone was left unturned at the jaw dropping Wearstler/Korzen crib, not even in the dazzling and colossal cook's kitchen. It's kitted out with a glitzy combination of stainless steel and high-gloss black cabinetry, brass accents, marble counter tops and every high-grade and high-cost appliance money can buy.


    An office/library, wrapped in custom wallpaper with a paint spatter pattern, has ebonized wood floors, a tiger-striped rug on top of which sit a pair of bizarre chairs shaped like bowing three-legged swans, and a handful of free-standing book shelves.

    The room seems to have little use beyond looking picture perfect given that the flamboyant black lacquer and gilded Louis XV style desk has been rendered entirely unusable due to the spectacular throng of statues, vases, objet and stacks of books that cover every inch of its flat surface.


    Angular contemporary artworks and animal prints in the sexed-up second floor master suite play against the classic paneling that wraps the room. A pair of doorways topped with matching pediments that repeat the shell motif found over the home's front door lead into a window-lined sitting room. In addition to the master suite, there are four family bedrooms plus two more for staff.

    The expansive and lavishly maintained grounds include rolling lawns, rows of meticulously trimmed boxwood hedges and topiary, majestic mature shade trees, various fountains, a lighted tennis court and several outbuildings with a screening room and home gym. Sitting below the house, a quintessentially Old Hollywood-style swimming pool has an adjacent pool house/guest house with three bedrooms for overflow guests.

    This isn't the only home Kelly's put on the market -- check out the Malibu Beach House she listed for $21.9 million.

    For more on celebrity real estate, don't miss:

    - Julia Roberts Buys Second Manhattan Apartment
    - Inside Nicole Kidman's NYC Digs

    And girls, ready your checkbooks, Kevin Jonas put his Texas house on the market.

     

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    The city of Savannah, Georgia is the next place to get the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition treatment. Savannah residents -- watch our for that bus!

    Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been making audiences tear up for over 160 episodes as Ty Pennington and his crew rally volunteers to build a new house for a family going through a hard time. All in just seven days, with donated materials and labor, while the family is on vacation.

    40 cans, painted to resemble Van Gogh's "Wheat Field with Crows." Cans supplied by Second Harvest. Photo: Amy Preiser


    Today it was officially announced that the next show will be filmed in Savannah, Georgia. The construction company for the project will be J.T. Turner Construction, Co. and the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) has also taken on a supporting role, providing a collection of forty cans painted by students to look like Van Gogh's "Wheat Fields with Crows." These cans will be spread all around town for residents to fill with donations to the Second Harvest food bank of Savannah. "You may not be able to come out to the site to hammer a nail, but you can drop off a can of food at your local school or bank," said Mary Jane Crouch, executive director of Second Harvest.

    SCAD has also offered up their student drumline for a pep rally next Monday to garner more attention for the cause.

    Mayor Otis Johnson at Second Harvest. Photo: Amy Preiser


    "This event places our great city on the national stage," said Savannah mayor Otis Johnson. "This is designed to benefit one family that has fallen on hard times, and we're certainly proud to have the ability to lift one more family out of dire circumstances."

    As for the house and family -- it's still up in the air. ABC is choosing from a select group of Savannah families that they've identified. But the city will find out when the project begins on November 13, 2010, and the rest of the country will see when the show airs six to eight weeks later.

    We'll be tuning in since Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is one of the few reality shows we can watch without feeling like our brains are numb (sorry, Snooki). And no matter the family's situation, the over-enthused celebrity guest or how silly Ty's hair looks, we can't help but root for the team. Because really, who can argue with a family overcoming tragedy and getting the house of their dreams?

    Still not convinced that the extreme home makeover is a win -- check out the hilarious SNL spoof! And if you're looking to get involved with the upcoming Savannah build, check out the new website ExtremeMakeoverSavannah.com.

    Do you watch the show? Will you be tuning in for the Savannah episode? Let us know on our Facebook page!

     

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    Young House Love's Sherry and John Petersik decorated a home perfect for newlyweds. Then they had a baby, and they had to rethink their home's design -- and style. (Hint: Their dining room is now the nursery!)

    Talk to Sherry Petersik, and she'll be the first to admit that she wasn't completely onboard when her husband, John, suggested starting a blog about decorating their home back in 2007. "We were putting in so much hard work and it was kind of getting us down," says Sherry. "John thought a blog would be a good way to feel fulfilled by all of the changes we were making."

    baby decorating nurserySherry and John Petersik's baby Clara in her 22nd week. Photo: Young House Love


    He was right, and they went on to record all of their trials and tribulations fixing up their 54-year-old ranch house in Richmond, Virginia on their blog, Young House Love. The blog now has a loyal following, in part, because the couple is so relatable. "When we bought it, we had never even picked up a sledgehammer," says Sherry. But with a little bit of research and a whole lot of enthusiasm, the duo got to work. Four years and dozens of successful home projects later, it's fair to say that the couple's cozy abode is still a work-in-progress.

    Their latest addition is a bit more permanent. In May, they had a baby girl named Clara (shown above). And with baby came a new list of home design challenges, namely where to fit all of that stuff?

    Edit, Edit, Edit
    Sherry says that after a baby shower full of gifts on top of necessities like a high chair, stroller, swing, etc, she quickly learned that editing was her best friend. She figured out what the baby would actually use once she was born -- and skipped the other "necessities." "If you bought everything that every kids' retailer told you you needed, you wouldn't have room for the baby," says Sherry. "We discovered early on that Clara loves to swing, so we chose a neutral-colored, small, travel swing that folds up. This way, the small footprint doesn't overwhelm our living spaces and can be stored away easily."

    baby decorating nurseryA bookcase in the couple's home office is poised to keep Clara busy. Photo: Young House Love


    Quick and Easy Storage

    She also relies on something she calls a "stash spot," an extension of the couple's pre-Clara motto: "If everything has a place, it's easier to clean up and maintain the house."

    To keep the baby stuff in check, they devoted a small kitchen cabinet to bottles (and spoons, sippy cups and snack holders). They keep the Boppy seat and blankets on the floor in Clara's play space so they can easily be tossed into the closet on a moment's notice. The foam bath mat (a smart space-saving alternative to a larger bath tub or chair) gets wrung out and slipped into one of the baskets in the open linen closet, without taking up precious laundry folding space.

    Rooms With a Purpose
    Another new priority, says Sherry, is creating room that can pull double duty. Take their 10 by 10.5 foot home office (shown below), which also serves as a guest bedroom and (now) playroom. Because Sherry and John both work from home in their home office, they knew that they needed to create a work space that would also accommodate baby Clara's daily routine.

    baby nursery decoratingSherry and John needed a home office that would function for baby too. Photo: Young House Love


    First, they decided to pump up the room's rug space to create a cozy floor space for Clara to lounge around on. Then they brought in one of their existing bookshelves and stocked it with a collection of her favorite toys and books stored in woven baskets (the bookshelf featured at the top of the post), which complements the existing style of their home.

    Sherry says that their style has changed a bit since Clara was born. "We're much more attracted to pops of color and more playful décor," says Sherry. "When we first designed this house, we really wanted to show how mature we were, but now we're embracing a little whimsy. It feels like our home reflects our life at every stage."

    A Baby Nursery Can Go Anywhere
    Also, in a smaller house like the Petersiks' 1,350-square-foot charmer, it's a good idea to design a baby room that flows with the rest of the home's décor. As you can see, Clara's nursery is a bit more sophisticated than the average baby.

    Since the house is short on space, they decided to turn an unused dining room into Clara's nursery. Here are pics of the dining room (below left) before it was renovated into Clara's nursery (below right).

    baby nursery decoratingAn unused dining room becomes a nursery (right). Photo: Young House Love


    When Sherry and John first bought the house, they knew they didn't need a formal dining room. "The dining room actually had a closet, so it seemed like it was destined to be a bedroom," says Sherry. To accomplish this task, the two simply closed off the wall between the dining room and the kitchen and - voila! They had a guest room.

    When Sherry got pregnant, they realized that the guest room would make the perfect nursery. They didn't change anything structurally when they made the room into a nursery for Clara. Instead, they simply took the door off the closet and added a print curtain. "Her little clothes are so cute, so the closet actually makes for an adorable focal point in the room," says Sherry.

    For more on kids rooms, check out:

    - Kids' Room, Nothing Kid-Like About It
    - That's Smart: Kid-Friendly Glass

    And get more ideas for nursery products from AOL Shopping

     

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    If you carved this pumpkin, you could probably live in it.

    What weight would you guess for the biggest pumpkin ever grown? 500 pounds? 1,000 pounds? Try, 1,810.5 pounds. The giant pumpkin, grown by Wisconsin's Chris Stevens, is currently on display at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) until Halloween, along with two other prize-winning pumpkins from regional weigh-offs across the United States.

    I've seen these pumpkins, and let me tell you: These are some palace-sized pumpkins. Stevens's pumpkin is the current world record holder!

    biggest pumpkinThe world's biggest pumpkin: It weighs more than 1,800 pounds! Photo: Laura Fenton

    Stevens didn't end up with such a big pumpkin on a lark. Giant pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are grown for display and contests. These heavy squashes are so big that they grow lying flat on the ground, which is why all of the winning pumpkins at NYBG are laid on their sides, rather than standing up like a traditional Halloween pumpkin. Another difference between these maximus pumpkins and their more humbly-sized counterparts is their light-colored skin, which is the norm for these over-sized squashes.

    The growing and judging of giant pumpkins is serious business, with an organization, The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, dedicated to the oversight and jurisdiction of pumpkin weigh-offs around the globe.


    Here are the two runners-up to Chris Stevens's world record:

    biggest pumpkinIt's hard to believe all these differently-sized pumpkins are the same vegetable! Photo: Laura Fenton

    Grown by: Ken Sweet
    Location: Washington, Michigan
    Weight: 1,725 pounds

    biggest pumpkinThis gigantic pumpkin dwarfs the large pumpkin at its side. Photo: Laura Fenton

    Grown by: Steve Connolly
    Location: Sharon, Massachusetts
    Weight: 1,674.5 pounds

    For more great gardening stories, don't miss:

    - Make Your Backyard Into Wildlife Habitat
    - How To: Plant An Indoor Herb Garden That You'll Actually Use

    This story on maniac pumpkin carvers on Holidash is a must read!

     

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    home makeoverPhoto: Courtesy of Martin Amado

    When designer Martin Amado walks into a tired room, he knows exactly what it needs. Here, he shares some of his best home makeover photos and what he's learned along the way.

    Every time I go into a home for a design consultation, I'm anxious to see the possibilities waiting inside. In a majority of cases, the room suffers from what I call an "identity crisis" because the homeowners don't know how to reflect their style in their home décor. There is usually a mismatch of furniture, paint colors that clash and a layout that doesn't showcase the room's potential.

    That's when I think: It's time to work my magic.

    After completing nearly 500 home makeovers for clients (my company, The Wow Factor!, focuses on one day makeovers), I've seen first hand that most homeowners don't believe their home can look good without spending lots of money. They're often shocked when I say that they already own many of the elements necessary to transform their room.

    What they lack is vision. Many people know what they like, but it's hard for them to pull it together into one cohesive design.

    I begin the same way with every client: Break down the decorating process into three steps -- paint, figure out the furniture and add accessories. It helps to focus on each individual component and see how it relates to the other.


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    Home Makeover Lesson #1: Dress Your Room Like You'd Dress Yourself

    A perfect example is this master bedroom makeover (above). Here, the room suffered from a lack of paint and accessories. Even though it had nice furniture, the bedding was distracting, and the white walls were stark. The homeowner wanted a serene and cozy bedroom, so I started by painting the room a soft ivory. I kept the color scheme monochromatic, but I didn't want it to feel boring, so I gave the room depth by working in different shades of beige and adding textures.

    For those afraid of committing to color, a neutral earth tone like gray, tan or cream always makes a space feel warmer, and it is often better than leaving the walls white. We already had the furniture, so we focused on adding accessories. The right lamps, pillows, curtains and artwork helped transform this bland bedroom into a hotel suite-like retreat.

    Decorating a room is like deciding what to wear. You choose what colors to put on, what textures work best together and then layer yourself with jewelry or accessories. It's the same when it comes to home decorating -- you're literally "dressing a room." Remember: You can certainly wear a cocktail dress with tennis shoes and a cowboy hat if you want to, but most would agree the outfit would not match and look disconnected, right? Now, be honest, does your home décor suffer from the same identity crisis?


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    Home Makeover Lesson #2: Save Your Cash, Use What You Have
    Check out the dining room above. It was extremely dated when I first saw it. To update it, I gave some of the old pieces in the room a new look. I took the glass doors off of the china hutch so the shelves would be open, which gives the piece a more contemporary feel. Rather than the matchy-match dining chairs, I picked a few seagrass Parsons chairs at Pier 1 Imports to break up all of the wood finishes in the room.

    I also rearranged the furniture. It's obvious but oftentimes a room can get a fresh feel just from changing up what's in it. In this room, I moved the hutch to the opposite side of the room; suddenly, it was the focal point and helped distribute the visual weight of the furniture. After adding a new chandelier and wall sconces as well as an area rug and window treatments, the room was finished, and it cost less than $1000 to makeover.

    Still, you can makeover a room for much less. If you're looking to do a one-day makeover, focus on one room at a time, and shop at affordable home stores. I'm often asked: "Where do you shop?" or "Where did you find that piece?" Usually it's Target, Pier 1 Imports, HomeGoods and Marshalls. I affectionately refer to these stores as my "office," since I'm always there shopping for projects during the week.

    Home Makeover Lesson #3: Skip the Furniture Set
    Many of us can get so overwhelmed shopping for furniture that we're sometimes drawn to matching room sets (think: Sofa, love seat, two end tables and a coffee table for one low price!). I don't blame you -- it certainly makes shopping easier. But these sets often come with pieces that won't fit your space, and you'll end up cramming them all in. There's the clutter!

    My advice is that you mix pieces from different collections to create a more unique style. Keep in mind that a living room setting doesn't have to include the traditional sofa, love seat and chair. You can create a grouping all your own by using a sofa and two accent chairs, or a sofa, chair and ottoman. The options are endless, so come up with an original combination that works for your space.

    It's best if you buy less at the beginning and add pieces over time. Don't make the mistake of buying too much since the additional money can be spent elsewhere, like those ever-important decorative accessories. Remember: The finishing details are the jewelry of the room!


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    Home Makeover Lesson #4: Size Matters
    Before I got my hands on the living room above, the furniture wasn't all bad -- it was just all too much. Maybe those pieces could have worked together in a larger room, but certainly not in this one. Notice how in the "after" I actually put more furniture into the room. But it looks much more spacious, due to the scale of the new items.

    In fact, those natural woven chairs aren't actually new -- the were previously crowding up the family room. So I brought them in the living room, where they were a perfect fit. And while the scale of the beautiful exotic armoire was right for the room, it was wrong for the specific spot they put it in. By moving it from the corner and placing it on the biggest wall, it became the focal point of the room.

    One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is buying furniture that is the wrong scale for the home. Instead of enhancing the space, the furniture actually makes the room feel cluttered. (This is a mistake that can be easily avoided if you take measurements before you buy anything!)

    I always recommend that you create an outline of each piece on the floor using painter's tape to help you visualize the layout of the room.

    Home Makeover Lesson #5: Start With One Piece
    Find one inspiration piece to build the room around. Use it as a reference to pick the paint color for the walls, decorative pillows and artwork. In general, a color scheme works well when you introduce three colors in a space through the wall color, furniture and accessories.

    Home Makeover Lesson #6: Accents are Key
    Use accent walls and area rugs to bring color into a room and texture onto the floor. This is important if you have tile, wood floors or even wall-to-wall carpet because it helps you define the spaces -- especially in an open floor plan.

    Home Makeover Lesson #7: Beware of Leather Overload
    Don't go leather crazy when picking furniture. Combine leather with upholstered pieces to add contrast and softness in a room.

    Home Makeover Lesson #8: Kid Friendly Can Mean Style Friendly
    Don't compromise your sense of style because you have small children. You can still create a living room space that's functional by using upholstered ottomans as coffee tables, round end tables to avoid sharp corners, and storage baskets to hide the toys as drawers in your entertainment center.

    Home Makeover Lesson #9: Make Your Furniture Multitask
    Make your spaces multi-functional. In a guest bedroom, replace a standard mattress with a daybed or sleeper sofa and turn the space into a multi-purpose room that can be used year-round as a study, for arts & crafts or home office.

    What are your favorite ways to makeover a room? Are there any that Martin missed? Let us know on our Facebook page!

    For more makeover inspiration, don't miss:

    - Minute Makeover: Faking Built-Ins
    - Sexy and Tasteful Bedroom Makeover
    - 6 Inspiring Bedroom Makeovers
    And we love DIY Life's story on a fireplace surround makeover too.

     

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    Five interior designers curated photographs for the New York Times Store. Here, Jonathan Adler talks about the honor and why he loves masquerade photos.

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!



    Earlier, I announced that the New York Times has asked five celebrated interior designers (Vicente Wolf, Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, Laura Kirar, and Thom Filicia) to each curate 10 of their favorite photographs from the NYT Store's new photo archives. The collection, called 50 Photographs, is available for purchase online today. I chatted with the illustrious Jonathan Adler on Friday about his selections and his work as a designer. Check out the interview below!

    jonathan adler photographsNew York Times Store via CasaSugar.

    CasaSugar: So I was able to take a sneak peek at your collection of the New York Times photos, and I see you've chosen mostly photographs of glamorous revelers all wearing masks. What is it about the masquerade theme that you're drawn to?
    Jonathan Adler: I just think there's nothing more fun than looking at pictures of glamorous in fancy dress having fun and I think masks are sort of . . . they're all about intrigue, and that's what a picture should be about. A picture should be provoking and intriguing and a little bit titillating.

    And then . . . so I chose I think nine mask pictures I believe and then I chose one picture that's particularly grim and sort of an American version of a Martin Parr picture of the New Jersey Turnpike just to remind me of where I came from!

    CS: Right! I'm from New Jersey, also. So I very much appreciate that!
    JA: Holla! It's a great place to be from because it gave me somewhere to want to crawl my way out of.

    CS: Exactly! Well, it worked for you, or at least it seems like it!
    JA: Yea - it worked! And that picture is a good reminder.

    CS: You had to chose through literally thousands of images in this new New York Times Store, and it seems like it will be a great new resource for all of us. But it's also daunting to have to go through so much. Where did you begin to look when choosing photos for your own collection?
    JA: I guess I began with sort of the idea of glamorous people having fun, staring into the camera, and sort of the idea of glamorous intrigue. So that's sort of what was in my mind: glamorous intrigue and faces, and so masked balls just made a lot of sense.

    CS: So can we expect to see a Jonathan Adler Mask Collection anytime soon?
    JA: Never say never!

    jonathan adler photographsNew York Times Store via CasaSugar.


    Want to see the rest of the photos and read the full story? Check out the original post on CasaSugar.

    Want more CasaSugar goodies? Check out these pieces:
    Jonathan Adler Shares His Tips For Beginner Art Collectors
    Love It or Hate It? Aakkoset Bookcase

     

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    As it cools down outside, you can keep things warm and cozy inside with some décor inspired by my favorite season: Fall! It only takes a few small changes to get the look and feel.

     

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    Sink full of dishes, clothes tossed on the bedroom floor -- No more! Manageable solutions for ten common cleaning problems.

    Unless you can afford a housekeeper or you're as OCD as Monica Geller, there's a good chance your home is not as clean as you'd like it to be. Mine sure isn't. I do make an extra effort to pick up when I'm expecting company, but more often than I'd like to admit, there are piles everywhere: Clothes in the bedroom, junk by the door and dishes in the sink.

    With the holidays just around the corner, there's sure to be a constant stream of people in and out of my apartment, sometimes with no warning. So, for your sake and mine, I consulted a few experts and my own common sense (even if I don't always practice what I preach) for tackling some of the biggest everyday cleaning problems of the ShelterPop team.

    easy cleaningGetty Images


    Problem #1: Clothes on the Floor
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Anticipate the Mess
    "Wherever clothes accumulate, stick a hamper there. At least they'll be off the floor and in the hamper," says Nancy Heller, a professional organizer and owner of Goodbye Clutter in Manhattan, New York. She also emphasizes that it's much easier to keep up than catch up. Rather than letting clothes pile up for days or weeks, try and start a new habit of picking up the clothes every day.

    If, like me, you have too many clothes to even think about making room in your closet every time you do laundry, make this resolution: Every other week, sell five pieces that don't flatter you, and buy one you really love. Not only will you have more room in your closet or dresser, you'll be more likely to take care of your new, beloved piece and hang it up immediately.

    When it comes to piles of dirty laundry, "You've gotta just do it," says Linda Hendrickson of Maid Brigade, a green cleaning service in Redwood City, California. If separating your laundry is causing you to overload on wash anxiety, she suggests throwing everything together in the machine on the "warm" setting and adding some OxiClean to protect the colors and the whites.

    Problem #2: Unmade Bed
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Start a New Morning Ritual
    "It takes less than half as long to make a bed with two people than it does with one," says Hendrickson. So, if you share your bed, and you both get up around the same time, devote a minute every morning to sharing bed-making duties. If it's just you, smoothing the blankets takes even less time and makes your bedroom look ten times more put together.

    easy cleaningGetty Images


    Problem #3: Sink Full of Dishes
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Take it Step-by-Step
    I don't mind doing dishes, but I'm especially unmotivated to do them when the rack is full. So, I have my boyfriend put away the dishes when they're dry. It's a small thing, but it eliminates a step for me and makes the dishes so much less daunting.

    Still, nobody wants to wash a bunch of crusty dishes. So if you don't clean your dishes immediately after each use, tackle the really dirty ones in steps. When it comes to pots, pans and other heavily-soiled plates and bowls, load a scrubber with dish soap and a little hot water. Then (without the water running) scrub the food off of all of the dishes and give them all a very quick rinse in hot water. Once you have an empty dish rack and a sink full of dirty (but not-very-dirty) dishes, the rest is a breeze.

    Problem #4: Filthy Stove Top
    Easy Cleaning Solution: A Super Soaking Agent
    While you're at it (dishes, that is), go ahead and wipe down your stove top. If you do it every time you do dishes, it will never get so disgusting that you're afraid to use your dish sponge on it (and if you are, keep a separate sponge and spray nearby).

    If it's really bad, Hendrickson suggests dousing the stove top with water and then sprinkling it with baking soda. But only if you have an entire day or can let it sit overnight, she says. "The baking soda will eat into the grime and in about 12 hours everything will wipe away with a paper towel. It works on the oven, too."

    Problem #5: Fridge Full of Leftovers
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Sunday Night is Trash Night
    There was a time, not too long ago, when I'd clean out the refrigerator only when bad odors began to waft through the rest of my apartment when I opened the fridge's door. For me and my roommate, parting with unidentifiable former foods became a monthly gag and giggle fest. Now that I'm older, and slightly more responsible, cleaning out the fridge is part of a regular Sunday-night routine. Before the trash goes out for morning pick-up, we fill it with whatever we didn't manage to freeze or eat that week.

    And don't let your good conscience get in the way of a clean fridge. If you didn't eat leftovers in a week, you're never going to eat them. Plus, says Hendrickson, "The odors from moldy food actually do get into your good food."

    Problem #6: Dusty Bookshelves
    Easy Cleaning Solution: A Wet Microfiber Cloth
    For dusting, Hendrickson suggests wetting a microfiber cloth, then squeezing it as dry as possible. That way it will grab the dirt without leaving the water behind. To clean the cloth, simply rinse it in a bucket of clean water and repeat. "The microfiber will let go of all of the dirt and you can use it again and again without having to wash it," she says.

    Problem #7: Piles of Junk by the Door
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Set Rules
    The best way to keep your entryway organized is to have a system for things going out the door and another for things coming in, says Heller. She suggests keeping only outgoing items -- like dry cleaning, keys and mail -- on a table or credenza. Then create a more intricate system for things you bring in.

    "If you set up pegs for coats and purses, some sort of a rack or stand for umbrellas and trays for boots, that's half the battle," she says. "Whatever it is, it's got to be clear, it's got to be simple and it's got to be easy." It can also be pretty. Check out these beautiful wall hooks from Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

    The most important thing to remember, according to Heller, is that order attracts order and chaos attracts chaos. So if you make it clear where things go, they're more likely to end up there.

    easy cleaningGetty Images


    Problem #8: Cluttered Bathroom Sink or Vanity
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Divide and Store
    My bathroom counter looks like Walgreens threw up all over it. After rushing to get ready, I often leave the area around the sink littered with make-up, moisturizers, cotton balls, bobby pins and more. To begin tackling this problem, Heller says to throw out anything that has expired. Do the same for old toothbrushes, near-empty tubes of toothpaste and travel-sized items, which she suggests keeping in a bag in your suitcase. "Travel items are an issue for a lot of people" she says. "They just get in the way of the things you use everyday."

    Once you've done a clean sweep, organize your products by type (lip products, eye products, first aid, etc.). You can either store them in Ziplock bags, or if you have the room, some sort of drawers or stacking bins, like these from Blumz. "When you have some place to put things, they can easily go back where they belong," Heller says.

    Problem #9: Grimy Bath and Shower
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Commit to a Schedule
    Giving your bath a good bath of its own every couple of weeks is the key to keeping it clean. Hendrickson suggests using an earth-friendly cleaner like Bon Ami with a non-abrasive scrubber. You can also try a no-wipe shower cleaner like Tilex's Fresh Shower Daily Shower Cleaner or Method's Daily Shower Spray, which claim to keep scum from building up in your shower if you spray them everyday. But if you can't commit to spraying down down your shower after every shower, just scrub it every few weeks and reward yourself with a nice, relaxing bath.

    Problem #10: Food Lost in Couch Cushions
    Easy Cleaning Solution: Keep Your Vacuum Close
    Have you ever had a guest lose a cell phone in the cushions of your couch, only to recover it along with a handful of hair (dog, human, etc.), crumbs, dust and other nasty particles? If so, the most reasonable solution is to just vacuum under the cushions. Since I regularly vacuum the dog hair off of the couch, it wouldn't be a stretch to lift up the cushions and vacuum underneath. If your couch is one piece, or your cushions are somehow permanently fixed to the structure, Hendrickson suggests getting an edger attachment to get down in there every once in a while -- which is really all it takes.

    If you can, store a hand-held vacuum under the couch or in a side table. Then, next time someone sticks a hand down there (hopefully you, when you're home alone) you'll be reminded to take care of it, and everything you need will already be right there.

    What cleaning problems did we forget? And what are your favorite ways to tackle them? Let us know in the comments!

    Want more cleaning ideas? Check out ShelterPop's archive or our sister site, DIY Life!

     

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    The star is having trouble selling his New Mexico home. It might just be the decor.

    Who knew Val Kilmer had such a soft side? He has described his ranch in the Pecos River area of San Miguel County, New Mexico, as a place that "embodies the alluring natural majesty and splendor of the Southwest." But that didn't stop his attempt to sell it in 2009, nor did it stop him from recently putting the property back on the market.

    We got a look at photos of the home, which is listed at $23 million -- that's down $10 million from its listing price a year ago. Looks like the market isn't so hot even if you're a celebrity trying to unload your New Mexican ranch. Location: check. Size: check. Décor: Well, there are some things about it we like, but we think it needs a mini makeover.

    Here's how we might revamp Val Kilmer's home if given the chance. Call us stagers, if you will, as we are not here to bash his chosen design. Just a few suggested improvements to lure a buyer! And if you like, see more about the ranch in the listing from Santa Fe Realty Partners.

    http://xml.channel.aol.com/xmlpublisher/fetch.v2.xml?option=expand_relative_urls&dataUrlNodes=uiConfig,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=948558&pid=948557&uts=1288215006
    http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/media_gallery/v1/ke_media_gallery_wrapper.swf

    Want to step inside more celebrity homes? Don't miss:
    - Kelly Wearstler's Over-the-Top Malibu Mansion
    - Nicole Kidman's New York Penthouse
    - Julia Roberts Buys Another NYC Apartment

     

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    No need to cringe anymore -- Painting a wall with a faux finish is cool again.

    Along with gold hardware and Formica everything, sponge-painting of the 80s has to go down as one of the worst trends in home decorating history. To put it lightly, it was not a good time for design! Not only was the cottage-cheese-like pattern strange, but popular color combinations like pink and green, and peach and sky blue were questionable. That time has thankfully passed and given way to a new breed of faux-finishing: one that is actually attractive.

    Faux finishing, a decorative feature that involves layering paint glazes and plasters for visual effect, is much more subtle than it used to be. Instead of taking over a room (like brightly-colored sponge paint), today's techniques create effects that mimic natural surfaces -- like stone and leaves -- and old-time finishes like plaster. The other difference is that with advances in paint technology, it's much easier to create a professional look on your own.

    home decor bedroom bathroom wall finishes faux finishesWe love the soft brushed-metallic effect seen in this bedroom (left), and the way the artisan leaf finish echoes the decorative branches in the bathroom (right). Photos: Courtesy of Sherwin Williams


    "Faux-painting went out of vogue because of sponge painting, but never really went away," says Sanda Espinet, a designer based in Los Angeles and Cabos, Mexico. Espinet uses wall treatments in almost all of her clients' homes and focuses mainly on using plaster, which gives walls a certain depth and strength, "like they've been there for a long time."

    But plaster can be a very expensive technique. "Paint techniques are a great alternative for tighter budgets and give the home a richness that plainly painted walls can't achieve," she says. To get a timeless effect, Espinet tries to stay away from trendy colors and stick instead with classic neutrals. "Not only do neutrals let the rest of the house -- the furniture, artwork and architecture -- stand out, they will always be in style. Trend colors might look great now, but on a treated wall, that color might look dated in a few years time."

    home decor stairwell wall faux finishesLook closely -- there is a tissue paper effect on that wall! Photo: Courtesy of Sherwin Williams


    Annie Sloan, author of Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, thinks that people may be drawn to faux finishing because of the recession. "They have never gone away, but there is a great interest in what can be done with paint," she says. "Using paint is an easy way to change the decor and brighten our spirits."

    Sloan focuses mainly on painted furniture but loves using the chalk paint she developed along with wax to create waxed walls. "After the paint dries, apply a clear, soft -- consistency of soft butter -- wax to the wall with a piece of cloth, and have another clean piece to push down areas that are too thick or sticky," says Sloan. After it's been wiped all over the wall, polish areas where you'd like more sheen. For a shortcut to a similar look, try Behr's Venetian Plaster topcoat over regular paint.


    home decor kitchen living room wall faux finishesThe Old World High Polish finish on the orange wall balances out this more modern kitchen (left). In a monochrome space like this brown living room, adding a new texture -- like the Brushed-Quartz finish on the wall -- keeps the room rich and interesting. Photo: Sherwin Williams


    Sherwin Williams' new Faux Impressions collection is a great go-to for trying out different paint treatments. The collection is divided into four categories -- Metallics, Quartz Stone, Old World and Artisan Impressions. The four effects are different, but they all add an element of richness to the wall that regular paint cannot replicate. We especially love the Quartz Stone, which has a matte finish with a little sparkle, and the reflective Metallic finish, which is fashion-forward and dresses up any space. Kept in neutrals like gray, beige and tan, the finishes have a sophisticated look that should stay in style for years and years to come.

    Fore more paint ideas:
    -Top 10 Neutral Paint Colors
    -How Different Hues Impact Your Mood

    And don't miss DIY Life's piece about the Martha Stewart decorative painting tool kit!

     

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    Cleaning windows isn't about finding the right spray cleaner -- it's about finding the right technique.

    Windows are one of the most necessary but pesky things to clean. It seems that no matter how much we rub and scrub, they're always left with at least one relentless streak or smudge. There are plenty of spray cleaners on the market to help, but what about some good ol' fashioned elbow grease and know how? It may just work better.

    So in our fifth installment of putting old-school cleaning techniques to the test, we're focusing on the best ways to get those windows sparkling.

    best way to clean windowsPerfect windows aren't achieved with a simple solution; it's all about technique. Photo: Junos, Getty Images


    The Problem: Less than crystal-clear windows

    New Solution: Clearly Windex has cornered the market on home window cleaning. The straight-forward spray-and-wipe solution does its intended day-to-day job, but it doesn't perfectly solve the errant streak issue.

    Old Solution: Before that magic blue liquid came about, a homemade recipe (see below) or just a good old bucket of soapy water was all that we needed. For argument's sake, I wanted to put the homemade solution to the test against the store bought, so I made some glass cleaner myself. Instead of ammonia, I opted for lemon (mainly for scent purposes), and then I tried it on the windows. The homemade cleaner actually worked great, while creating a nice invigorating aroma in my rooms! But despite its effectiveness in cleaning, I was still left with some standard streaking. Darn!

    Homemade Glass Cleaner:
    1. Add 2 tablespoons of ammonia to ½ cup rubbing alcohol and ¼ teaspoon dishwashing detergent. (You can also substitute 3 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.)
    2. Add ingredients to a small spray bottle, fill with water and shake well.

    The Verdict: This one is a toss up. Both solutions do the job to the same extent: clean but not perfect. Store-bought solutions are easy but will cost you. If you have the homemade ingredients on hand, you might as well give that option a try -- it's more cost-effective and lacking any chemicals that might be harmful to sensitive lungs.

    So now the question is, how do you get windows to the perfect shine? Here are some tips to get you on your way to crystal clear windows. You employ a new technique. Here's how:

    - Always wash windows from the top down to prevent drips.

    - If you wash one side with horizontal strokes and the other with vertical strokes, you'll be able to spot which side streaks are on.

    - Eliminate tiny scratches on glass by polishing the affected areas with toothpaste.

    - Wash windows on a cloudy day; direct sunlight dries cleaning solutions and quickly causes buildup.

    - Use an old soft toothbrush or cotton swab to clean corners.

    - Dry your freshly washed windows with a crumbled newspaper (wear gloves so your hands don't get ink transfer). The paper will leave a film that's resistant to dirt, keeping your glass shinier longer.

    - To give windows an extra shine, polish with a well-washed cotton t-shirt or old cloth diapers. Or, if you have one, rub a clean blackboard eraser over the freshly washed (and dried) window.

    - To clean windowsills, pour a little diluted rubbing alcohol on a cloth and rub the entire surface. The spots will disappear and the sills will look freshly painted.

    Remember that window cleaners can be bad for woodwork, so don't let them drip onto the windowsill where they can harm the paint.


    Feel like doing a little fall cleaning?
    Follow these Dos and Don'ts for Healthy Cleaning
    Unclog Those Dirty Drains
    Fight the war on scuff with these Scuff Removers

     

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    President Barack Obama doesn't actually work in the Oval Office. So what does his real office look like? We've done some redecorating.

    Ask anyone where the president holds court in the White House, and they'll tell you: The Oval Office. But take a look at his newly renovated Oval Office, and you'll notice something a little strange: There's no computer. There are no stacks of papers or top secret briefings piled on his desk. And where is the television? Shouldn't the most powerful man in the free world be able to watch CNN while working?

    As it turns out, President Barack Obama doesn't actually do much work in the Oval Office.


    According to Slate.com, the Oval Office is used mostly for ceremonial purposes. The president will conduct briefings and hold staff meetings in the iconic space, but when it comes to day-to-day tasks, the article says, Obama spends most of his time elsewhere.

    Instead, you'll find him in the Treaty Room, located on the second floor of the White House, which has been used as an office by several presidents. But mostly, you'll find him working in the President's Study, a tiny room (shown above and below) located just a few steps from the Oval Office. (It looks like he was in the process of selecting some art for the walls in the photo above.)


    Take a quick glance at the study, and it's easy to see that this modest room could use a bit of a makeover. (The study comes standard with a desk, although many recent presidents -- most likely including President Obama -- haven't used computers regularly due to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires presidents to save all of their correspondence and make it available to the public.)

    We know, we know -- the president has enough on his plate without having to worry any more about his office's interior design, but, lucky for him, we're well-versed in the art of stepping up the look of your home.

    And we did a little redecorating.

    obama officeCredits, clockwise from left: Nate Berkus Studio Sofa, $429.90, HSN; Rosette Wall Mirror, $479, Ethan Allen; Jett Desk, $399, Z Gallerie; Dylan Leather Chair; $1,999; Crate & Barrel, Hand-Tufted New Zealand Wool Rug, $343.99; Overstock.com; Mary Kate & Ashley Table Lamp, $118, Amazon.com; Swivel Leather Desk Chair, $299, West Elm; Klingsbo Side Table, $29.99, IKEA.


    Here's what we'd do if that was our office:

    To complement the new-and-improved Oval Office, we'd decorate the president's study in neutral hues with a pop of rich blue in the seating. (We love that Nate Berkus Studio Sofa, and it's on sale for $429.90!)

    We'd also mix modern, clean lines with more traditional pieces, like the buttery leather chair. And last, we picked an oversized wall mirror -- the perfect accent piece to make a small room feel larger. You can get a sense of just how small the room is when you look at the diagram (shown below) of The White House.

    Finally, we can't redecorate the president's real office without doing something about those hideous curtains! Please, please, replace them with anything, even something basic (silk Pottery Barn window coverings?) would be better.

    Do you have a better idea for how to decorate his office? Let us know on our Facebook page!

    obama officePeter Sharkey


    Looking for more news about presidential decorating? AOL News has all the info on the oval office rug that gets Martin Luther King's quote wrong.

     

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  • 10/30/10--06:21: Weekly Link Love
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    Beetlejuice living, organizing for the OCD in you and a little dose of sunshine... What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    Want a sneak peek into the home of a movie mogul producer? Robert Evans -- aka "The Kid Stays in the Picture" -- shows us his home, Woodland. it's the epitome of swanky Hollywood glamour, so if you're the jealous type, stay away. [Curbed]

    Although black is probably the most popular color in fashion, can it work on a home's exterior? You be the judge. [CasaSugar]

    Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! In honor of Halloween, Design*Sponge shows us how to live in Tim Burton's spooky/quirky masterpiece. [Design*Sponge]

    Designer Charlotte Moss teams up with Stark to create a line of gorgeous ikat rugs -- the Passport Collection -- based on her travels to Instanbul. [The Editor at Large]

    Could this be the sweetest, most happy home every? If anything, its colorful motif will inject some sunshine into your day. [House of Turquoise]

    Wall-to-wall carpet is not our first choice for flooring, but sometimes you've got to deal with it. Here's how to make the most with what you've got. [Apartment Therapy]

    If you haven't gotten yourself together for Halloween yet, these last-minute Halloween crafts will inspire you to get spooky. [The Stir]

    The weather is finally seasonably cool again, so what's next to organize? The coat closet! DIY Life shows us how it's done. [DIY Life]

    Speaking of organization, if you're even slightly OCD, this site will appeal to your everything-in-it's-right-place mentality. [Lemondrop]

     

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