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    With a decorative window film, you can hide an ugly view -- and let the sun shine through.

    There's nothing worse than working hard to get a room just right and still having to put up with the one thing you can't change: an ugly view.

    Sure, curtains would solve the problem, but if you keep them closed, you'll lose natural light. Blinds are as outdated as halogen lamps, and the wrong sheers can have a way of making any room look like a dorm room.

    But there is one chic solution that will help you block an ugly view and still let the sun shine in: window films.

    Easy to apply, and even easier to remove, window films work like contact paper for your windows. But we're not talking about the faux-stained-glass films that are unfortunately popular on many front doors -- we're talking about colorless or light opaque patterns that look great in any room of your house or apartment.

    window film home decor bathroomPhoto credit: Door Sixteen

    In the bathroom, window films like this plain, matte version from IKEA let in all the natural light you need for getting ready and give you as much privacy as curtains or blinds.

    Window films are also great for the kitchen. Unlike curtains, they won't absorb the fragrances of your delicious meals.

    window film home decorPhoto credit: All Buttoned Up

    In the bedroom, my boyfriend and I use a home-made version inspired by All Buttoned Up under semi-sheer curtains to ensure extra privacy and block the view of the bedroom next door. To get the look, we actually used a light fabric (a sarong, in fact) and attached it to the window with spray starch.

    window film home decorPhoto credit: Emma Jeffs

    Perhaps the most drool-worthy window films come from UK designer Emma Jeffs. Introduced in 2006, Jeffs's window films are elegant and modern, but they're also fun. And pricey ($76 a roll). We've had decent luck finding what we like to call "Emma Jeffs knock-offs" that do the trick on eBay for about $12, and the less-fun but still practial version from IKEA is $4.99 a roll.

    For more decorating ideas, check out:
    - Design Tricks From the Kips Bay Show House
    - Wall Ideas: Color, Pattern and Style
    - The House That Fashion Built

    And don't forget to consider window insulation film!


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    Maryam Montague, her husband and their two kids left home looking for an adventure. What they found was a far-flung place to call their own.

    Maryam Montague was working for a consulting firm in Washington, DC when she realized she was ready for a change. She didn't want a new job; she loved her work. She wanted to live somewhere else. She could move anywhere -- her husband, an architect, was ready to head to a new locale, her two kids, Tristan, 9, and Skylar, 11, adapted easily to new places, and her boss told her she could work from anywhere. The couple was living in Africa at the time, and they considered going back to the U.S. or making a home in some of the other places Maryam has lived, such as Senegal and France.

    They settled on Marrakesh, Morocco.

    "Once upon a time...," she writes on her blog My Marrakesh, "in a kingdom far, far away (not kidding about the kingdom part) an American couple with two children decided to eschew any plans that they might have had for house with a white picket fence (do people still have those?) and move to a city that was not their own. This blog is their tale to make that city their home, to make it their Marrakesh."

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global styleMaryma (left) and her collected treasures (right). Photos: Maryam Montague

    Maryam, who has lived and worked in Senegal, Nepal, Pakistan, Namibia and Bangladesh, says she was drawn to Marrakesh for the "delicious food, hospitable people, the fantastic weather and the amazing architecture and design," she says. "It was just the right combination of new world conveniences and old world exotica."

    Most of all, it seemed like the perfect place to raise her family. Living a nomadic and international jet-setting lifestyle as a humanitarian worker, while exciting and adventurous, can also make one feel like no place is truly home.

    But home is what they now have at Peacock Pavilions, an 8-acre estate that she and her husband built from the ground up. Surrounded by olive trees, Peacock Pavilions is both Maryam and her family's home as well as a boutique hotel. Two of the three pavilions are guest houses (Atlas and Medina Pavilions); the getaway sleeps ten people (double occupancy) in five bedrooms with access to the estate's five acres of olive groves and an 800-square-foot pool and pool pavilion. Maryam's part of the estate is about 4,500 square feet with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a den, great room, kitchen, library, dining room and two offices in an attached tower.

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global styleGlobal patterns and worldly decor are mixed with graphic modern furnishings and art. Photos: Maryam Montague

    While Chris did most of the designing and overseeing of the build, Maryam did all of the decorating for both her home and the guesthouses. She channeled her parents in the decoration, filling the home with curiosities from every country that she visits. When Maryam was younger, her father, also a humanitarian often on the road, would bring back souvenirs from his travels. "Depending on where he was going, he might bring back silk rugs from India, tribal masks from Swaziland or inlaid furniture from Syria. My home looked like a gallery of strange and curious things," Maryam recalls.

    Living in Morocco has had a profound effect on the way she's decorated the home's interiors -- she has embraced lots of color and pattern, and mixed in different styles for an eclectic look. When it comes to pattern and color, Maryam says that there's "never enough!" The home has modern conveniences, like clean, modern lines and open concept living, yet the design is distinctly Moroccan through the addition of fountains, arches and a dome.

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global styleA cozy bedroom and bath rich with texture and pattern. Photos: Maryam Montague

    Maryam still works for her Washington, DC employer, but she's taken on a few different roles since moving to Morocco. She runs a side business selling Moroccan carpets and textiles, which can be seen covering most of the surfaces of her home. She also designed Moroccan lanterns that she hung throughout the house. "I'm stimulated by a mixture of pieces both old and new and both Moroccan and global," she explains. "It's a crazy jumble that I find interesting and amusing. I am a strong believer in surprising interiors."

    And surprising they are. Traditional and modern Moroccan and worldly goods live in harmony at Peacock Pavilions, where you might find vintage Spanish billboards alongside a table made from old Moroccan street signs. Or perhaps a Moroccan tent covered in painted embroidery designs and filled with plastic furniture from the 1960s.

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global styleFrench poster art is mixed with religious iconography and glittery pillows. Photo: Maryam Montague

    Although Peacock Pavilions officially opened its doors this fall, Maryam says she'll never be done renovating and decorating. "I find my style is constantly evolving, and I like to experiment with my interiors. I recently lugged back from Cairo seven hand blown glass lanterns that I am concocting into the Arabian chandelier of my fantasies," she says. I suppose that's what happens when you're always traveling to inspiring places -- the imagination runs wild.

    Since the weather there is often comfortable in the 60s and 70s (with the exception of the scorching summers), Maryam and her family spend a lot of time outdoors and even enjoy an outdoor cinema. Living as expats has afforded them the luxury of having some domestic help; the family has a cook, housekeeper and gardener to assist with the household chores. Apparently, the dollar goes quite far in Morocco!

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global stylePeacock Pavilions overlooking the pool. Photo: Maryam Montague

    Besides chronicling her adventures and family life on her blog, Maryam is working on a coffee table book that is part memoir, part Moroccan design treatise (to be published by Artisan Books in the US in 2011). She offers her eye as a designer alongside her husband, and she's hoping to launch an eclectic homewares line inspired by all of her travels: lanterns, poufs, slippers, hooks and curiosities. She calls it "ethnic glamour."

    Although she's found a place to call home, Maryam isn't ready to stop traveling. Says Maryam: "So far I have traveled to 72 countries. And if I haven't been somewhere, it's on my list!"

    moroccan design Peacock Pavilions Marrakesh global styleSouvenirs from her travels. Photos: Maryam Montague

    Take a few more house tours:

    -A Show House Made for the Movies
    -San Francisco Home Has Walls that Wow

    If Maryam's tale has put you in the mood for Moroccan food, you'll love these recipes from KitchenDaily.


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    Reduce, reuse, recycle -- in greener storage bins.

    While it's fabulous to be able to sort paperboard from glass jars in the comfort of your own kitchen before lugging it all out to the curb, I've found that most of the recycling containers on the market aren't very eco-friendly. They're often made from non-sustainable materials like plastic and stainless-steel.

    In search of a better solution, I searched the web for recycling bins, bags and boxes to help close the recycling loop. Here are some of my favorite options.

    home-recycling sustainable recycling binsEco Fabric Market Tote and The Newsprint Bin, both sold at The Container Store. Photo: The Container Store

    Eco Fabric Market Tote, The Container Store, $20 each
    While these were designed to use as a shopping basket at farmers' markets, I see no reason why you can't collect recyclables in them. Maybe one for glass containers, another for paper. With a bamboo frame, the tote's tweed-type fabric consists of between 76 and 79 percent polyester made from recycled plastic bottles and 24 percent cotton fibers.

    The Newsprint Bin, The Container Store, $10-$20 each
    Newspapers you've already read - as well as junk mail you don't intend to - stack neatly inside this bin that's available in three sizes (small, medium and large). Newspapers were actually used to construct these bins, with the papers woven and hand-rolled into the design. How cool is that?

    home-recycling sustainable recycling bins
    Stylish recycling bags and a shabby-chic spot to put pesky junk mail. Photo: KangaRoom and Sears

    KangaRoom Recycle Bags, KangaRoom, $13 for two
    These perky green bags are born out of recycled materials. They stand on their own, but when it comes time to take them to your outside recycling containers, simply grab a hold of the reinforced handles. They can be washed as easily as plastic bins too -- Use either a wet sponge or a light-spraying nozzle.

    Wood Strips Magazine Rack, Sears, $38
    Wood planks that have been resurrected from aging boats, buildings, homes and schools in Thailand are reborn into a spot to store discarded junk mail and magazines. I like the shabby-chic/coastal look of this container with its pastel pieces of wood and rope handles. It would go well in a cottage-y or vintage-decor home.

    One last idea: Don't spend more than a few bucks!
    Consider using reusable shopping bags sold at many grocery stores, like Whole Foods to organize your recycling -- Each of the Whole Foods' bags contain 80 percent post-consumer recycled content (mainly plastic bottles). They cost no more than a few bucks, and even if you don't use them to lug home your groceries, you won't feel so guilty if you find another use for them.

    We have lots of eco-friendly decorating ideas on ShelterPop! Don't miss:
    - A Green House You'll Actually Want to Live In
    - Make Your Bedroom Greener With These Simple Tips

    And this story from Lemondrop made us chuckle: Have Greener Sex -- Really!


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    A found collection of mirrors is a fun, affordable way to reflect your style.

    Mirrors are a great way to make a space look bigger and brighter, especially if you have few or no windows. But the right mirror can also work as a piece of art on your wall.

    If you have the wall space to play with, forget hanging one extra-large mirror. Instead, hang a collection of smaller mirrors -- matched, mismatched or somewhere in between.

    "Compared to art, decorating with mirrors is less expensive and more neutral," says Claudia Juestel, the principal and founder of Adeeni Design Group, a firm in San Francisco, California offering green design services. "Still, you can combine and arrange mirrors into different layouts, just like you would with art." (Here's a tutorial on hanging art.)

    And if you want your mirrors to lighten up a room, a collection can also help break up a not-so-nice view.

    "It's always important to remember what you're reflecting. If you're hanging them to bring in light, and the reflection is not that attractive, a collection of small mirrors will fragment the view and make it more abstract. A not-so-interesting reflection will immediately become more interesting," Juestel says.

    Still, the best thing about any collection of mirrors is that it can completely reflect your style. Your montage can be shabby chic, rustic, contemporary, funky, stately or casually elegant, depending on what pieces you use and how you put them together. Luckily, when it comes to vintage and antique mirrors, finding smaller pieces is a lot easier than over-sized mirrors, Juestel says.

    Here are a few of our favorite mirror montages:

    Anthropologie mirrors home decor mirror-decoratingMirror decorating made easy. Photo: Anthropologie.

    This collection of mirrors from Anthropologie is actually one piece, made up of vintage finds bolted together, ($698). If you want a more rustic feel, or would like to create a collection like this from scratch, Juestel suggests picking frames with more distressed finishes, or even ones made of wood. And if the pieces look too new, sand the frames a bit to distress them yourself. But, Juestel warns, "If you have lots of different shapes and colors of frames, it might get too casual and rustic feeling."

    On a big, brick wall, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    mirror-decoratingThe trend finds its way into a charming restaurant. Photo: Megan Garrelts, Bluestemkc.

    When arranged over brick, a collection of mismatched mirrors like these at bluestem restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri brings a rustic elegance to an otherwise plain room. They're also a great way to expand the radiance of a small window.

    This collection screams "shabby chic." The etched lace and heart-shapes on their own could come off as too cutesy or country, but when arranged so close together, it works wonderfully.

    White-framed mirrors bring a shabby chic sensibility. Photo: Flickr, kimhas8cats

    A collection of mismatched mirrors painted the same color as the wall can add uniformed texture and depth, and brighten up a dark, narrow space, like this hallway. It can also add modern flair to older pieces.

    "If you have mirrors with all different kinds of moldings, shapes and colors, you can paint the frames all one color to tie them together in a more contemporary look," Juestel says.

    If you'd like to try this at home, here are some great tips on freshening up vintage mirrors.

    Whichever style suits you best, Juestel offers three suggestions for making your montage of mirrors shine:

    1. Combine a mixture of different sized pieces.
    2. Map out the layout on the floor in front of the wall, before you start hanging anything.
    3. When it comes to your arrangement, "start from the center and go outwards," she says. Or align the outer edges and work inwards. "With the second option, the middle may become irregular, but that's fine since the outside edges align."

    You can also make a wall montage using family photos or your favorite dishes.


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    Arnold Schwarzenegger is leaving office, Sarah Palin is quietly (or not so quietly) leading a revolution. But all we want to know is: Where do these people live?

    The ads for any political election can be contentious, but this year's ads are hitting home -- literally. Candidates are being battered in political ads for having second homes, sprawling estates, anything that reads extravagance. At a time when unemployment is high and thousands are losing their jobs, "living large," as The New York Times reports, translates to out of touch.

    Try to guess the candidate who lives in this luxe apartment building? To find out, click through our gallery. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

    In an ad released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is up for re-election in Nevada, was accused of "living at the Ritz-Carlton while thousands are losing our homes." (Reid says he lives in a 2,200-square-foot one bedroom condo on the second floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC -- not the penthouse, like the ad suggests.)

    In the West Virginia Senate race, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin III accused his opponent, Republican John Raese, of owning a mansion in Florida. While a photo of the home is revealed in the ad, a narrator reports: "That's O.K. for John Raese, who lives in a Palm Beach, Florida, mansion with a pink marble driveway. But it's not O.K. for the rest of us, who work to pay our bills and struggle to afford insurance." (According to the Charleston Daily Mail, Raese does own a mansion in Palm Beach.)

    So what do the homes of the election all-stars look like? Check out our gallery! We're peeking into the homes of Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and more of your favorites (or least favorites).,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=949802&pid=949801&uts=1288643341

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    The home of President-elect Barack Obama is located in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    Image #: 566943 President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton entered a $1.7 million contract to buy this house, photographed September 3, in Chappaqua, New York, that will give Mrs. Clinton residency in the state for a possible senate race. The 100-year-old, five-bedroom Georgian Colonial-style home is in Westchester County, north of New York City. pm/Photo by Peter Morgan REUTERS /Landov

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, Tuesday, June 19, 2007. The San Francisco home of Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Before becoming Speaker, she was the House Minority Leader from 2002 to 2007, holding the post during the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses of the United States. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi ranks second in the line of presidential succession, following Vice President Dick Cheney. She is the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Government. The 3,332 square foot brick home, originally built in 1938, has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Photograph:

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    BRENTWOOD, CALIFORNIA - August 31, 2005 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver live in this $11.9 million dollar Brentwood, California home. The property which is on six acres boast within its 6,000 square feet living area five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The extensive hillside grounds also contain a swimming pool and tennis court. The property is located in a gated community and has stunning ocean views. Photograph: (C) Mike Carillo,

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    Sarah Palin's home

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    ca. 2009 --- Todd and Sarah Palin at home with their two youngest children, Piper and Trig. --- Image by (C) Nathaniel Welch/Corbis Outline

    Home of the Election All Stars!

    Which of these homes are your favorites? Weigh in on Facebook!


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  • 11/04/10--21:24: Designing In...London
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    If you lived on the other side of the world, would you decorate your home differently? In our new column, "Designing In," we investigate home trends in far-flung locales, from Paris to Istanbul. For our first installment, we talk to a designer in London to find out what's hot in her hometown.

    When I'm flipping through a magazine or reading a blog, I'm always curious to see where the person featured lives. Although the internet can make the world seem like it's shrinking, there are still many differences when it comes to design, decor and style, depending on where you live. In the US, we have a mixed style; most of what we've adopted as "American" was brought here by someone of another culture.

    To find out what's popular in London right now, we spoke with Rebecca James, creative director of Interior Desires, a London-based interior design studio.

    london design rebecca james interior designRebecca (left) says a big trend in London is mixing natural materials with glitzy glamour, which she calls "organic glam" (right). Photos: Rebecca James

    Defining London Style
    What is London style? And no, we're not talking about Keep Calm posters and Union Jack pillows. We're talking about the essence of real British style.

    While Londoners seem particularly fond of retro style, says Rebecca, folks here are also drawn to shabby chic. Londoners travel and collect things, and many of them infuse many different styles into their homes. Their rooms become almost a mish-mash of collectibles: "I would say there is no herd mentality in London as people are more confident of their personal identities, so there is no dominant style," Rebecca explains.

    Here, individual expression is more valued than a particular brand of home furnishings.

    Latest Trends
    Rebecca says that she's noticed a style she calls "organic glam" emerge in the last few years. Think: "glamorous objects or pieces in natural, earthy surroundings," she says. As with most trends, this one started with fashion. "You can see it in the latest fashion campaigns where diamonds are shot against rainforest backgrounds or glamorous watches against earthy backgrounds," she says.

    Londoners are currently drawn to red wood flooring -- like cherry and iroko -- and Brazilian wood floors. Rebecca has also been seeing a demand for natural stone and Italian porcelain tiles.

    When it comes to furniture, a mix of solid wood and burr veneer finishes have been a popular way to cut costs in both kitchen cabinetry (as shown below) and furniture. On the high end, Londoners have been drawn to onyx, a pricey stone that packs a big shiny punch on counter tops and sinks.

    london design designing in londonClean, clutter-free and space-conscious is a trend adopted from Eastern influences. Photo: Rebecca James

    What's Changed in the Last 5 Years
    London homeowners are embracing what Rebecca calls "understated decadence," where simple and minimal boxy lines are replaced with softer curves and details. While we noted that country style is coming back in a big way here in the US, it seems like they're dealing with similar recession challenges by focusing on details. She's noticed a rise in the desire for accents like piping, rusching and 3D textured fabrics.

    Londoners are also embracing global trends, such as Asian influences in the form of functionality. By this, Rebecca means that pieces of furniture are doing double duty as storage, and less clutter is key. And in true zen form, more people are interested in purchasing functional furniture that serves a purpose rather than adding something to the home just for show.

    What are some of the most popular products that Londoners are purchasing for their homes?

    Here, Rebecca's picks for what's hot at home in London right now.

    london design interior design in LondonWhat's popular right now in London.

    Above, from top left: Simpsons mirrored console tables are made and designed in England with quick turnaround; Butler sinks, or as they are commonly known in the US, farmhouse sinks; Tom Dixon copper light pendants -- we love these too!; High end contemporary rugs from The Rug Company; bespoke furniture by Timothy Mark; George Smith handmade chairs.

    london designIn London, Asian influence is front and center. Photo: Rebecca James

    From London to Your Home
    Looking to infuse some London style into your own home? Rebecca knows where to get the good stuff: These stores "have very exciting and affordable collections for homeowners varying from traditional to modern and they are all easily accessible to homeowners."

    Here are some shops you just can't miss:

    - India Jane: "Perfect for replicas of classic pieces"

    - Brissi: "Shabby chic, particularly love the silver wrap furniture."

    - Mrs Robinson's: "Gems from Scandinavia and beyond."

    - Habitat: "One stop shop for home owners."

    - Liberty: "Legendary British institution with quirky and exciting pieces."

    Not quite ready for a British home invasion? Keep calm and design on with these great posts:
    - Design Drool: Eco-Luxe Huts in Spain
    - Best Flea Markets in the World


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    Please -- please! -- don't forget about your garden in the winter. Instead, check out these 10 easy steps to keep it in shape for the upcoming chilly season.

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    The days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are getting chillier, which most likely means you'll be spending less and less time outside. But before you abandon the outdoors and hibernate for the Winter, tackle these 10 essential tasks to ready your yard for the change of season.

    garden in winterFlickr; Drew And Merissa via CasaSugar

    1. Mulch. Before the first freeze, clean up perennial beds, give them a thorough soaking, and then spread a generous layer of mulch to protect them through the long Winter.

    2. Store hoses. If hoses are left on outdoor spigots, they can cause the spigot to freeze and crack. After taking the hose off of your spigot, turn off the water supply, and leave the spigot screwed open so remaining water can drain out.

    3. Prep your pots. Empty out all terra-cotta pots, and turn them upside down in a shed, garage, or other protected area to prevent cracks and breakage.

    4. Give your garden tools some TLC. Make an appointment to have tools such as pruners and saws sharpened; if you do it now, you won't have to deal with a pair of dull snips when you need them in the Spring. Clean trowels, rakes, shovels, and other tools, and give them a good oiling to prevent rust before storing them out of harm's way.

    5. Clean up your veggie garden. Turn over beds, pull out weeds, and make sure everything is harvested from your plot. If you're overwintering hardy veggies such as parsnip, carrots, or rutabaga - which actually turn sweeter after a frost - these vegetables should be covered with a layer of straw or mulch.

    6. Coddle your compost pile. To prevent your compost pile from going dormant in freezing temperatures, keep the aerobic activity high by turning it and adding fresh amendments of straw, leaves, and kitchen scraps.

    7. Trim dead wood.
    To prevent dead branches from breaking off and flying through your window during a windy storm, trim all dead branches on trees on your property. Store the wood for use in a backyard bonfire on a chilly evening.

    8. Make notes.
    Before you forget, make a list of what worked and what didn't in your yard and garden this last growing season. What vegetables loved your veggie patch? Anything hate it? Do you need to add a particular bush or flowering plant in the Spring? How about hardscape issues? Write it all down now, then file it away on your computer as a handy reference come Spring.

    9. Inspect your Winter tools.
    Are your snow shovels in good shape? Does your snow blower need an oil change? Do you have supplies of sand and salt for combating slippery steps? Preparing now will save you time and worry.

    10. Clean your gutters.
    While not the most entertaining task in the world, it is an essential one. Cleaning debris out of your gutters will prevent them from breaking mid-Winter, which means one less headache for you. Learn how to do it here.

    Want more CasaSugar goodies?
    Decorating Ideas to Steal From the November Anthropologie Catalog
    Setting the Table With the Novogratz Family of SIXX Design


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  • 11/04/10--21:24: Decor That Says Something
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    Get an instant pick-me-up with inspiring word decor.

    The other night I was eating dinner with some friends when John Mayer's "Say What you Need to Say" came on. It got me thinking: These days everyone says what they need to say, and they even say things that they don't need to say at all. Twitter, statement tees and Facebook walls have allowed us to easily express our moods and what's on our minds.

    And it hasn't stopped with the internet and t-shirts -- like most trends, it has made its way into home decor.

    word decor decorating words signsHang a message made from paper or fabric letters above the bed and be reminded of it morning and night. Photo: Courtesy of papernstitch

    There are lots of ways to say what you need to say while making decorating choices, whether it's through a poster, pillow or vintage-style sign. But beware: Traditional "words on wall" decorating can easily veer into old fashioned, Holly Hobbie style. (How many more "To The Beach" signs can people buy for goodness sake?)

    When the recession hit, we saw the emergence of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters; the message seemed to encapsulate the kind of thing we all needed to hear as the stock market and housing prices fell. And the messages have become sunnier since.

    There are other creative ways to decorate with words. Check out a few of our favorites:

    word decor Because they are in several languages, anyone can understand what you're trying to say with these two posters by Made by Girl. Photo: Courtesy of Made By Girl

    Affordable Prints & Posters

    There are countless small presses creating witty, hand-printed posters that you're bound to find something that suits your personality. We love this clean, graphic poster (above left) that says "hi" in several languages. Wouldn't this be perfect for an entryway?

    Some other sources for fab posters: Keep Calm Gallery, Vllg. and Etsy, specifically Lisa Barbero, All Good Things, and Tucker Reese.

    word decor Why cover part of the wall when you can cover the whole room? Blik customized this wall decal for their client, Allison Thomas.

    Personalized Wall Decals
    The popularity of wall decals has increased exponentially since they first came on the scene a few years ago. Besides beautiful imagery, wall decals now come in the form of quotes and letters. A few companies even offer the option to create custom decals, so you can say whatever you want, however you want to say it!

    created the custom wall decal shown above, which looks more like wallpaper, and sites like Wall Candy Arts, Vinyl Silhouettes and Hu2 will do the same.

    word decor Wouldn't it be great to wake up and have a cup of coffee in this kitchen? We love the over-sized letters used to form the word "cup." Courtesy of James Merrell through Lushlee

    Spell It Out
    The trend of propping letters up on a mantle or mixing them in with a variety of other objects is nothing new, but it doesn't seem to be going out of style any time soon. (Wouldn't you love to drink a cup of coffee in the kitchen above? We would.)

    These days letters come in a variety of materials -- metals, wood, vinyl and and paper -- so it's easy to come up with a very personalized statement. We love these options from Anthropologie, Wall Candy Arts, Woodland Manufacturing and Happy Monkey Designs.

    word decor Design Sponge shot Jen Bilik's of Knock Knock's home in Los Angeles. She used to live off 14th street in NYC, and looking at the subway sign every day in LA makes her remember her old stomping ground. Photo: Courtesy of Design Sponge

    Subway Pride
    Hanging a subway sign on the wall is a great way to express your love of all things urban. It can also be nostalgic. Jen Bilik's of Knock Knock used to live near 14th Street in NYC, so she looks to the sign in her California home (shown above) as a reminder of her times in the Big Apple.

    Ebay is a fantastic resource for finding authentic signs, but we thought that the reproductions from, Amazon and Underground Signs were as good as the real thing.

    We're also loving these decorating ideas:
    - Got an Extra Room? Here's what to do with it.- Decorate a Room Inspired by Fashion
    - Get Inspired by Staying in Someone Else's Home For a Week

    Head over to DIY Life for some great advice on how to buy shower doors!


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    A new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York explores the twentieth-century transformation of the kitchen.

    When you go to defrost a packet of edamame, you probably don't think about the decades of social change and technological advances that went into the design of your kitchen. But the kitchen is constantly changing to reflect different social realities and values of the day.

    "The kitchen has always been politicized," says Juliet Kinchin, who recently organized, Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, on view at the Museum of Modern Art. "It has a bearing on these really huge issues about how we want to live. In a world of shrinking isn't just a matter of the more or less efficient arrangement within one room of the house. [The kitchen] has a bearing on these really big issues: Where our food comes from and what type of food we want."

    history of kitchen The Frankfurt KitchenThe 1926 Frankfurt Kitchen is a model of efficiency. Photo: MoMA

    In designing kitchens, we've had to explore similar questions over time to figure out how to make them functional: How often do we shop? How long do we keep food -- since that's dependent on how much design storage we need. What sources of energy should we choose? Much of this is dependent on a much larger infrastructure than any individual kitchen, and the same was true in the past.

    In the beginning of the 20th century the kitchen transitioned from the realm of the servants to part of the main household for a combination of reasons. First, there were new, cleaner forms of energy, like electricity and gas, which made a kitchen more attractive to cook in. Plus, the times were changing. Kinchin says that more women were going to work in factories, rather than rich people's homes. And as less women were trained to be servants, more women had to learn their way around the kitchen.

    While hard to imagine now, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several domestic reformers (including Catherine Beecher and Christine Frederick) addressed the servant-less household -- a topic not discussed in proper society at the time. These middle class women were trying to raise the status and visibility of housework, a revolutionary idea at the time. Christine Frederick argued for more rational and efficient layouts of kitchens to reduce the drudgery. She even adapted the principles for Frederick Taylor, an expert in time-motion studies, for her book on household efficiency: The New Housekeeping.

    history of kitchen The Frankfurt KitchenTime-motion studies and interviews with real housewives influenced the design of this compact and ergonomic space. Photos: MoMA

    The study of efficiency in the kitchen gained prominence in the years after World War I with Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen. Designed in 1926, this highly efficient kitchen wasn't the first ergonomic cooking space, but it was the first to be produced on a large scale. "[The Frankfurt Kitchens] were at the core of a really ambitious urban modern housing project," says Kinchin. "They were modernizing the whole infrastructure - thinking about how to get in electricity, gas and hot water. How to get these amenities piped into affordable housing: It's a really revolutionary idea that was rethinking how people should live."

    history of kitchen Storage bins from The Frankfurt KitchenFactories that made ammunition in WWI were converted to manufacture bins for the Frankfurt Kitchens of the 1920s. Photo: MoMA

    Proof that small is beautiful, the Frankfurt Kitchen is very compact with lots of built-in features. Its design was planned to allow people to move easily within it, echoing the idea of "triangle" design that is commonplace in kitchens today. MoMA's exhibit includes a remarkably complete example of the Frankfurt Kitchen, complete with the original gas stove and a slow cooking bow, which cooked food over the duration of a whole day (not unlike a contemporary Crock Pot!). The kitchen's removable aluminum storage bins were industrially produced at the factories that had made ammunition in WWI.

    history of kitchen Glass pans by the Corning Glass WorksGlass cookware was developed in reaction to the shortage of metals during World War II. Photo: MoMA

    While the kitchen is the woman's realm and the garage is the man's, the development of new technologies in arms, aviation and car design has always tied to the kitchen. "These innovations really become tested in the domestic sphere through the kitchen," says Kinchin. "In that sense the kitchen has really changed the way we relate to technology. It's shaped our tastes." Case in point: The Corning Glass Works' glass pans were developed in response to the shortage of metals during WW II.

    history of kitchen Wesslemann still life This Wesselman still life addresses the abundance of post-war American kitchens. Photo: MoMA

    In the post-war period of abundance and mass-consumerism, Kinchin says that the kitchen has become a status symbol. Today, the kitchen is a multi-purpose living space, one that is constantly on display. Hence, all the usual talk about Viking ranges, Sub-Zero fridges and the usual kitchen design conundrums.

    So, the next time you find yourself considering a remodel, consider the kind of future you hope for and design a kitchen that helps realize those goals. Do you want more solar energy? Do you want fresh, homegrown herbs and vegetables? Do you want to conserve water? These questions are about lifestyle, design -- and politics.

    Interested in reading about kitchen design? Check out these posts:

    - Make Your Kitchen Comfortable
    - Computerized Cabinets: Kitchens of the Future?
    - A Budget Kitchen Remodel

    And we couldn't talk about kitchens without sending you to our sister site, KitchenDaily!


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    Before you rush out to buy seasonal decor, take a look at these easy ways to bring the autumn season indoors.

    1. Turn a scarf into a table runner.

    There's this striped J Crew scarf I own that, while I love the chocolate-browns, creams, turquoises and mustards, doesn't come out of my closet often enough. I was about to drop it into a donation bag for the local Goodwill store when a decorating idea spun through my head. Why not repurpose it as a table runner? No stitching or cutting necessary. I simply laid it horizontal across my coffee table. Voila!

    fall decor ideas apple pie crust pan foodGetty Images

    2. Perfume your abode with apples and pumpkins.
    I get tired of all of the fake smells that waft from candle wax, like "apple cobbler" and "pumpkin spice." Why not go for the real thing? Slice a pie pumpkin in half vertically, scoop out the seeds and stringy insides with a spoon, place the two shells in a shallow baking dish in the oven (pre-heated to 375 degrees) and drizzle them with maple syrup. In 90 minutes you will have the most delicious, warm pumpkin you have ever eaten. And it will make your home smell divine. Trust us on this one.

    Short on time? Buy a frozen apple pie from your market's frozen-foods aisle and bake it in the oven. Mmmm. This scent throughout your house will beat out lit candles any day!

    3. Decorate with throw blankets.

    Drape hand-knit, chunky, cable-knit, cashmere or mohair throw blankets -- the more texture the better -- over armchairs, rocking chairs and the backs of sofas. Or fold into large squares and arrange on top of ottomans. This is the time of year when there might be a chill in the air.

    Red Throw, Crate and Barrel, $60

    "Lauren by Ralph Lauren" Cable-Knit Throw (in tan, white or red), Bloomingdale's, $50

    Cashmere Throw (in seven different colors), Williams-Sonoma Home, $298

    "Quirky Heirloom" Throw, Anthropologie, $198

    fall decor ideas
    Alamy | Getty

    4. Frame fall color.
    What I like to do during autumn is pluck a few brilliantly colored leaves off the lawn of my favorite park, lie them flat between sheets of wax paper inside a book, and then frame those leaves after a few days of drying. You don't have to deal with matting or any kind of expensive frame. Just drop them into the picture window of any 5' by 7' frame. Even if you don't have leaves in your yard, chances are that a neighbor does. Take a few of those fall leaves without any guilt and use them in your framing project. It will be a reminder of this glorious season long after it's over.

    If you live in a climate where the tree leaves don't change color, look to pine cones or any kind of tall grass growing nearby. For a reminder that the season is changing, arrange pine cones in a bowl on the living-room table or place the grasses inside a tall vase.

    Hang a wreath on your front door.
    No, we don't mean an evergreen or cypress wreath for the winter holiday season. We mean one built from dried fruits, berries or vegetables, or pine cones, or even fake leaves. Above are two wreaths that we'd love on our front doors.

    Mixed Leaf Wreath, Pottery Barn, $29

    Corn Wreath, Williams-Sonoma, $70

    Preserved Magnolia & Pomegranate Wreath, Restoration Hardware, $89-$199

    For more ideas on how to ready your home for fall, check out:
    -Fall Trends 2010
    -Brights For Fall in Home Decorating
    -Flowering Fall Herbs


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    A Seattle homeowner gets a crash course in decorating small spaces as her dark, top floor storage area is transformed into a play space, guest room, home office and TV room. Really!

    Most people have it -- that dreaded space that you've been dying to makeover but you're not quite sure what to do with it.

    When a friend contacted me to help her solve such a conundrum for the top floor of her Seattle townhome, I immediately wanted to help.

    decorating small spacesPhotos: Allison Lind

    Then she asked me if we could turn the approximately 11x14 foot, oddly-shaped room into a multi-functional space that would serve as an office, TV lounging area, guest sleeping quarters and a play area for her two toddler nephews. Hmm...

    The task seemed daunting. But I decided to take on the challenge.

    The room was previously just a glorified storage area where guests occasionally slept and the homeowner occasionally worked. The first priority was to bring some life -- via color and pattern -- into the room. I started with the walls. Should I paint the space or wallpaper it? I decided that the perfect wallpaper could transform the room and brighten it up, so I went on the hunt.

    decorating small spacesPhotos: Allison Lind

    As soon as I saw this graphic turquoise wallpaper, I knew I'd struck gold. It served as the inspiration for the rest of the design. (And it's shimmery pearl background certainly helped to reflect light into the poorly lit room.)

    There are a few odd alcoves in the space, and I wanted to paint them colors that would contrast nicely with the wallpaper. In one alcove, I located the play space for her nephews. Here, I chose a rich turquoise that was playful enough to please the boys but serious enough to still feel grown up.

    My friend has a vibrant personality, and I wanted the space to reflect that. While it may seem like there's already enough color here, I sensed that we needed more. I decided to begin hunting for a piece of furniture that would add even more color to the space.

    I was thrilled when I came across a burnt orange daybed, which just happens to fold out into a queen-sleeper for even more guest sleeping space. The orange offered the perfect colorful contrast to the bright blue. (Orange is, in fact, fun to decorate with. Check out our round-up on orange!) I chose black chalkboard paint to help offset the intensity of the hue.

    With so much bright color and pattern now there -- and more to come -- we kept furnishings sleek and simple.The lounge chair and sofa provide ample space for guests to hang out and watch TV, or for business clients who visit her home office to sit for a comfy meeting. Plus, the sofa folds out into a queen-sized sleeper. Jonathan Adler helped (Thanks, Jonathan!) add some extra quirky personality with his ceramic Giraffe Lamp.

    decorating small spacesPhotos: Allison Lind

    Everyone needs a TV room in a guest space, right? But this room posed particular challenges in its oddly-shaped lay out. And since the space is small, we had to take advantage of every angle. The area near the stairwell was dead space, housing nothing but an ironing board when I started the makeover. I decided that this was the perfect spot for a TV area, especially because it faced the lounge/guest area. Bingo!

    Here, I painted the half-wall with more chalkboard paint. (It's like instant decor since you can scribble sayings on it or draw different pictures on it everyday, if you wanted to!) Then I picked up a funky locker-style cabinet (find it at IKEA!) and adorned it with a flat screen and shapely black lamp with black shade for effect.

    The result: An unused corner suddenly has a purpose.

    Lastly, we fixed up the home office area, which is located on the other side of the stairwell. We kept the desk and chair because they do the job and look nice (and my friend was working from a small budget). But we added low shelves for extra storage behind the desk, including some green filing bins to match the green chair. Surprisingly, the green plays really well off the orange and turquoise in the room. (I was a little worried about it clashing!)

    The homeowner was obviously pleased -- she called me complaining the next day that she was still stuck in her new office because she "didn't want to leave." All the difference that a little money and two days of work can get you!

    Want more fun before and afters?

    Here's another office that's sure to wow.
    Get a load of this bland to glam bedroom.
    What can three days and only $1500 bucks get you?
    Sometimes all it takes is a can of paint.


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    Looking for a way to fill that extra hour you'll gain this weekend when daylight saving time begins? Here's a few of our favorite quick and easy projects.

    Daylight saving time begins on Sunday, November 7, at 2am local time. So unless you're up until 2am Saturday night, get ready to turn your clocks back an hour when you wake up on Sunday. Yes, it's that dreaded time of the year when the dwindling daylight hours get even shorter, while the temps drop even lower. Really, couldn't we just crawl into our beds and hibernate until spring arrives?

    Sadly, no. But, as it turns out, there is a bit of a positive spin on the dreaded daylight saving time. Think about it: This weekend you'll have a whole extra hour to dedicate to one of the many projects you've been putting off all year. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite project that only take an hour! (We promise.),feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=950864&pid=950863&uts=1288879889

    Daylight Saving Time

    According to Sherry Petersik, one half of the duo behind Young House Love, "paint is absolutely the easiest and most inexpensive way to update your home -- the perfect one-hour project." Some of our suggestions: Take the time to touch up your home's trim, paint your front door, add some color to your ceilings or add art to your floor in the form of stencils, a project Petersik and her husband took on this summer. "Once you have the tools, stenciling your floor is a piece of cake," she says. "So brush off that paint paralysis and go for it. Worst case scenario: You might want to repaint in the future. But more likely, you'll end up with an entirely new space that you love coming home to."

    Daylight Saving Time

    Organization projects tend to be last on people's list because sometimes the challenge seems like just too much to handle. Erin Doland, editor-in-chief of Unclutterer and author of "Unclutter Your Life in One Week", actually suggests starting small. "Many people just say 'I want to get more organized,'" says Doland. "Avoid these lofty ideals, and focus instead on specific projects with tangible outcomes. Even if you only tackle one small project at a time, eventually it will all get done." Some one-hour projects that Doland suggests: Make over your junk drawer, wrangle the wires behind your desk or media center, create a wrapping paper station or just simply switch out your warm-weather clothes for your winter wares. For added motivation, Doland suggests putting on some upbeat music. "Groove while you work! You'll be surprised at how quickly you can get things done when you're having a good time."

    Daylight Saving Time

    "With a little time and patience, anyone can make homemade crafts to be proud of," says Katie Fagan, one of the crafters behind home inspiration blog Because Sis Said So. From creating your own wine cork board, to designing personalized stationary for family and friends, to whipping up a batch of chalkboard paint, crafts don't have to stem from a completely original idea. "I'm not the most creative person in the world, but anyone can look like Martha Stewart with a little help from the professionals," says Katie. And speaking of Martha, why not create a festive holiday wreath in your extra hour?

    Daylight Saving Time

    We know, we know -- the last thing you want to do is spend your weekend cleaning. But anyone can take an hour to, say, speed clean your pantry. Or what about tackling all the windows in your home with help from our no-streaks-allowed guide? Or, if you're really looking to get down and dirty you can give your bathroom tiles a strong scrubbing (no toothbrush necessary) or making your very own homemade polish then polish your picture frames and furniture. "These are all really easy tasks to handle and can easily be completed in an hour," says Sophie Uliano of "Gorgeously Green." "The key to cleaning quickly is focusing on one task at a time. Before you begin, take a look at the clock and vow to work for one hour straight. You'll be amazed at how much you can get done."

    Daylight Saving Time

    Even though the weather might be taking a turn for the worst, it doesn't mean you can't head outside to tackle a few">create a container garden; or plant some spring-blooming bulbs, like crocuses, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Nancy Ondra, gardening expert and author, also suggests prepping your yard for winter. "Like all gardening projects, this will depend on what types of plants you have, where you live and how big your beds are," says Nancy. "But remember: There's no magic formula for creating and caring for your garden and its surroundings. Just do a little homework, and you can tackle any task in a short amount of time."

    Daylight Saving Time

    Then again, if you want to put these projects off for awhile, we don't blame you. After all, what better way to prepare yourself for all these projects than one extra hour of blissful sleep. Sweet dreams!

    Daylight Saving Time

    Still have Daylight Saving Time on the brain? Check out these pieces from our sister sites
    Daylight Saving Time saves $12 in electricity per year
    Daylight Saving Time May Throw Off Our Internal Clocks
    Daylight Saving Time Costs Us More Than Sleep


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    Animal prints in the silverware drawer -- Yes, please! Just add shelf paper.

    The Source
    Chic Shelf Paper

    The Goods
    When Francie Christenson and her husband Eric moved to a new home two years ago, they had a hard time finding shelf papers that they actually wanted to use in their home. Says Francie, "We knew if we were frustrated with this lack of selection, there had to be many others who were as well." So, the couple decided to create a one-stop-shop online for shelf papers. The result is a website with 275 designs to choose from, including several customizable designs.

    shelf paper drawer linersLeopard and lavender shelf paper makes for a much more lovely drawer-opening experience. Photo: Chic Shelf Paper

    The Secret
    The Christensons didn't just go out and stock up on the prettiest Contact paper they could find. Rather, they set out to create their own shelf papers, using materials from the digital printing industry. By sourcing their own materials, the Christensons have been able to offer higher quality and greater variety than any local housewares stores could ever offer.

    Things to Know
    Chic Shelf Paper offers tons of basics with solids and stripes in addition to their funkier patterns. However, with 275 patterns, not every pattern is as "chic" as the next. We're big fans of the selection of graphic designs offered on Chic Shelf Paper's site. See some of our favorite prints below (clockwise from upper left): Cross Me Yellow, Pink Scallops, Greek Spiral - Navy Blue, Hexagon Highway - Lime Green, Black and White Triangles and Interlocking Links - Peacock Blue.

    shelf paper drawer liners shelf paper

    Here are some other fun ways to transform everyday furnishings:

    - What I Learned After 500 Makeovers
    - Budget Furniture Makeovers
    - Make Your Own Lampshade


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    Actress Tiffani Thiessen and celebrity designer Lonni Paul of HGTV Design Star team up to launch PetitNest, a sophisticated line of furniture and decor -- for kids!

    You may remember her as the bubbly bombshell, Kelly Kapowski, from "Saved by the Bell," but today Tiffani Thiessen (she dropped the "Amber" back in 2000) is taking on two new roles: Mother to baby Harper Renn and most recently, designer. That's right -- Thiessen has joined forces with Lonni Paul, the award-winning designer and reigning female finalist from HGTV's hit show "Design Star," to launch PetitNest, a new line of infant and childrens' room furnishings.

    tiffani-thiessen-furnitureCourtesy of PetitNest

    The design duo first met when Paul designed a guest room for Thiessen on HGTV. But it was when they worked together on Thiessen's kitchen in her 1920s traditional-style home that inspiration hit. "We were just beginning to work on the baby's room when we realized that there wasn't a lot of furniture out there that appealed to adult taste," says Thiessen. "From there, Lonni and I decided to create a line that would aesthetically connect the nursery to the rest of the home."

    The result: A "modern contemporary" furniture and bedding collection that looks all grown up but still boasts plenty of childish charm.

    "We really wanted to create something that could also be used as a child grows -- and could even work in other areas of the home," says Paul. "It's really furniture that you won't outgrow because it doesn't look too juvenile."

    tiffani-thiessen-furniturePhotos: Courtesy of PetitNest

    And she's right. Breaking away from the traditional formula of "pink + blue = baby room," PetitNest consists of cribs, dressers, gliders, wall art, bedding and more, in a variety of sophisticated colors (think chocolate and plum). And, in contrast to some other kids furniture lines, PetitNest represents a smart, solid investment: The entire line is eco-friendly, certified by the Sustainable Furnishings Council.

    "We express ourselves every day through style: From what we wear to where we live," says Thiessen. "We want to give parents the freedom to express themselves and to create a room for their child that is a true reflection of who they are." And Paul agrees: "Kids rooms should flow naturally with the design aesthetic of the rest of the home, while adding a bit of whimsy and playfulness. That is exactly what PetitNest offers."

    tiffani-thiessen-furniturePhoto: Courtesy of PetitNest

    Want to hear more about the collaboration? Check out ParentDish's interview with the designers!


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  • 11/07/10--05:53: Weekly Link Love
  • A new online magazine, setting the table for nine and candy creations... What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    This home really got around -- it was featured in seven magazines. Photo: Courtesy of Decorology.

    Is this the most popular house in the design world? It was featured in not one, not two, but SEVEN publications! [Decorology]

    Another online design magazine announces its arrival -- High Gloss Magazine's first issue will be out in January. We can't wait... [La Dolce Vita]

    Like all things vintage, wallpaper is making a major comeback. Check out some of the past's greatest hits. [The Inside Source]

    A wood plank ceiling painted white evokes Scandinavian living and make the whole house feel clean-lined and fresh. Design for Mankind's lovely Erin Loechner chronicles the process of installing one in her own home. [The Stir]

    Do you think that setting your own table for two, three or even four is tough? Try setting a table for nine. Cortney and Bob Novogratz of SIXX Design show us how it's done, and give us their spin on the modern holiday table. [CasaSugar]

    Wouldn't this beautiful bottle subtly glam-up any bathroom/vanity/dresser? Come to think of it, the sophisticated yet sweet color scheme would be fantastic for an entryway or guest bathroom... [The Frisky]

    Nail polish can repair window screens? Who knew?! DIY Life doles out several other unusual uses for nail polish -- you'll be surprised to find out what else it can do around the house. [DIY Life]

    Get happy -- and stop eating all of those snacks lying around the house -- by turning your leftover Halloween candy into something super cute. [Lemondrop]

    Check out this lovely apartment that marries more-is-more inclinations with modern style. Designed by Scott Guthrie in Ian Schraeger's super-luxe building in downtown NYC, 40 Bond, it will get give you your fancypants fix for the week. [Curbed National]

    Holly shares photos and inspirations from her trip to Marrakesh, and makes us all want to infuse our homes with tons of color in the process. [Decor8]


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    For this totally offbeat home just outside of Mexico City, architect Javier Senosiain was inspired by a snail.

    Architect Javier Senosiain was inspired by a snail's spiral shapel when he designed "The Nautilus," a residential property completed in Mexico City in 2007. "Nature is my biggest source of inspiration -- observing and not copying it," he says.

    Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail HouseThe exterior of a house called The Nautilus. Photo: Francisco Lubbert

    And so the result is actually more than a snail, says Senosiain. It's about the fluid space along a coastline where that snail might lie, with lots of curves and hips in the home's shell, and the reflective sunlight bouncing off of the textured eggshell-colored walls and stained-glass windows. All of these elements remind Senosiain of an oceanfront setting where a sunrise might create colorful patterns on the grainy, sandy shoreline.

    Owners Magali and Fernando Mayorga, who have two sons, requested a simple mother-of-pearl finish for their home's interior and exterior walls and ceilings, which Senosiain promptly delivered. The result is a walk through one of the oddest (and oddly beautiful) homes you've ever seen.

    In looking over photos of this uniquely shaped home, we quickly came up with ideas on how to use the space.

    Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
    Photo: Francisco Lubbert

    Seriously, is there any room more colorful and sunnier than this one? The outdoors comes in, quite literally, with pockets of lush grass growing next to curvy couches. This is the ideal spot to sip morning coffee or afternoon tea. Even during a tropical rainstorm, one can keep dry indoors but still relish the sweet scent of rain.

    Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
    Photo: Francisco Lubbert

    I bet you've never seen a TV room like this one. We certainly haven't.

    Senosiain calls this space the "belly" of the house. It's where the structure bloats outward. Perfect for hosting movie nights! Otherwise, the room could be used as a gathering space for a small, intimate party; the pinwheel seating style makes it easy to carry on a conversation with several guests.

    Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
    Photo: Jaime Jacott

    Peaceful naps and nighttime slumber wouldn't be a problem in this room since there is a lot less light than in other areas of the home.

    The absence of stained-glass windows -- a dominant feature elsewhere in The Nautilus -- provides for more of a retreat-like space in the bedroom.

    Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
    Photo: Jaime Jacott (left) and Francisco Lubbert (right)

    The home was designed to invite waves of rainbow-like color, as seen in the photo above left. Wouldn't this be a sweet spot to host a dance party? Who needs disco globes and smoke machines when you've got patterns of colorful light zipping across the floor and walls as twilight approaches?

    On the right, a sink displays exquisite handicraft with small blue stones molded into Grancrete, also used to construct the home's exterior. The trickling sound of water helps cultivate a relaxing feeling, sure, but it also helps us to imagine the sounds a snail hears along the water. Pull up a chair next to this stone-and-gem work of art. Who needs a spa?

    Check out a few other inspiring spaces
    -Cottage Living in L.A.
    -The Real Jersey Shore
    And we love the Awe-Inspiring American Architecture from AOL Travel!


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    Designer and author Lotta Jansdotter gives ShelterPop a tour of her Brooklyn studio and talks about her latest book. Enter our giveaway, and you might just win an autographed copy!

    Lotta Jansdotter is like the big sister you wish you had - the one who always looks cool and was really good in art class. Jansdotter was at the forefront of the handmade movement before words like handmade, craft and blog became a part of our everyday lives. Before the days of Etsy, Jansdotter, the author of six craft books, built an empire with her silk-screened homewares and accessories. Today, you can find these items everywhere from independent boutiques to big brand stores like Barnes & Noble and West Elm.

    lotta-jansdotterLotta Jansdotter in her Brooklyn, NY studio. Photo: Laura Fenton

    ShelterPop visited Jansdotter at her Brooklyn studio to see where she works and discuss her latest book. The workshop, which is housed in a former factory, is a three-dimensional embodiment of her handmade life.

    Jansdotter's latest book "Handmade Living" is a departure from her how-to books of the past. Instead of a project-based book, Jansdotter has created a tome dedicated to what she calls "handmade living," with nary a step-by-step instruction in sight. Instead, the book is more of a portrait of Jansdotter's life. It features a sneak peek into Jansdotter's home and studio, an inside look into how she entertains at home and a list of her favorite design resources.

    Jansdotter published a similar book with a Japanese publisher a decade ago, but her U.S. publishers balked at the idea of a less structured craft book. Finally, Chronicle Books decided to take a chance on the avant-garde lifestyle book. "We didn't want to spell things out so much," says Jansdotter of the looser, laidback vibe of her new book.

    A few examples of how Jansdotter lives the "handmade life" everyday: She sews her own table linens. With leftover fabric scraps, she makes an impromptu mobile. When she craves a new pillow, she makes one. She's noticed that more and more people are embracing the crafting life. "When you said 'craft' five years ago, it meant something different," says Jansdotter. Today, craft is "fancy, refined, good-looking - almost a luxury."

    Jansdotter is clearly full of energy with several new projects on the horizon, including a book about creative people's work spaces, a 2012 calendar, a limited edition of hand-screened prints and a t-shirt design collaboration with her seven-year-old god son, among many others. ShelterPop toured the space where these projects come to life. Take a peek inside:

    Above: Jansdotter looks over designs for a new wall calendar - she figures out patterns and designs using photocopies of her own drawings.

    lotta-jansdotterJansdotter's space is full of life and is clearly being used by a creative individual. Photo: Laura Fenton

    The main work area is centered around two industrial tables pushed together; the tables were in the space when Jansdotter moved her studio into the former factory. At left, Jansdotter created an oversize ironing board with a tall pair of yellow sawhorses.

    lotta-jansdotterJansdotter has a similar set-up of shelves over cabinets in her living room at home. Photo: Laura Fenton

    A wall in the studio is covered in shelving to hold Jansdotter's ever-growing collection of books, which she sites as one of her main sources of inspiration.

    lotta-jansdotterA mobile made from fabric scraps hangs at the center of this photo. Photo: Laura Fenton

    A mini living room is set up at the center of the studio for guests to sit. Jansdotter and her employees sip tea here when they need a break. The furniture is all vintage with Scandinavian style designs.

    lotta-jansdotterLike many Scandinavians, Jansdotter has a penchant for natural fibers and the color blue. Photo: Laura Fenton

    This collection of pillows is a perfect example of Jansdotter's DIY designs: The one at left is a classic Jansdotter print, the center pillow is printed with a potato stamp and the one at right was a store-bought model dressed up with handmade felt appliqués. Plus, the print on the fabric of the sofa is actually Jansdotter's very first design. She handmade the quilt.

    lotta-jansdotterNatural light floods Jansdotter's studio even on an overcast day. Photo: Laura Fenon

    Jansdotter's desk sits in one corner. While she has a computer for emailing, Jansdotter still draws by hand and works through her designs by enlarging pictures on a copy machine and cutting them up and pasting them back together with rubber cement.

    lotta-jansdotterInspiration lies in favorite photos, a child's drawing and even a faded blue shirt. Photo: Laura Fenton

    Throughout the studio Jansdotter has large-scale bulletin boards, which act as both places to pin up projects and inspiration boards. This collection of pinned-up ephemera sits behind Jansdotter's desk, and no, she's not several months behind on turning her calendar page: Her son's name is August.

    Do you love Lotta style? We sure do.
    One lucky reader will get a mega-dose of Lotta's style. We're giving away an autographed copy of "Handmade Living."

    * To enter, leave a confirmed comment below telling us about your best crafting project.
    * The comment must be left before 5pm EST on Friday, November 12, 2010.
    * You may enter only once.
    * One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
    * One winner will receive a copy of "Handmade Living" (valued at $29.99).
    * Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
    * Click here for complete Official Rules. Winners will be notified by email, so be sure to provide a valid email address!


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    Anxious to remove soap scum from your shower or bath? Don't fret -- we have a winning solution.

    Scenario: You return from a long day of work, and the crisp fall weather has chilled you to the bone. You head to the bathroom eager to take a long, relaxing soak in your tub. Gasp! It's covered in soap scum. Forget relaxation -- it's time to clean. But what's the best way to tackle the task? Find out in our next installment of testing old versus new cleaning solutions.

    remove-soap-scum-from-showerA scummy tub leaves little inspiration for relaxation. Fight it with our simple tips. Photo: Corbis

    The Problem: Soap Scum
    If you fall behind on your bathroom cleaning schedule, that pesky residue takes over.

    Old Solution:
    There are multiple theories on the "old way" (or natural way) to clean soap scum.
    - Pour warm vinegar into a spray bottle and apply to the scummy area. Let sit for about 30 minutes and scrub with a sponge or brush. Rinse with water.
    - In a spray bottle, mix one part ammonia to two parts water. Spray where necessary and scrub with a sponge or scrubbing tool such as a brush or scouring pad. Rinse with clear water. (To avoid skin irritation, wear gloves when using ammonia.)
    - Moisten a dryer sheet and rub onto dirty area to remove the soap scum. Rinse with water.
    - Mix one part automatic dishwasher detergent to three parts water. Spray solution onto the dirty area and let sit for about 15 minutes and scrub with sponge or brush. Rinse with water.
    - Make a paste of baking soda and water; apply to walls and scrub. Rinse with water.

    I tried the first option -- spraying vinegar on the tub -- since vinegar's reputation as an efficient multi-tasking house cleaner prevails. I scrubbed and scrubbed...and nothing. This time, sadly, vinegar failed to live up to expectations.

    Perhaps my tub was extra scummy, but this old-school technique just didn't quite do the trick.

    New Solution:
    There are countless tub-cleaning products on the market, but the one that kept coming up as a recommendation from friends, family and experts was Kaboom. I promptly purchased the Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner and took it home to put it to the test. I sprayed a thick layer (for insurance) over my scum and let it sit for about 10 minutes (you could probably do less), and with very minimal scrubbing effort, the scum was gone.

    The Verdict:
    I typically err on the side of using natural products whenever possible. But my soap scum job was just too big of a job, and that's typical in most households where we don't have time to clean our tubs daily. If you're reading this, chances are your scum is more out of control than a day's worth of build up, so grab a bottle of Kaboom next time you're in that grocery store aisle. You won't be sorry.

    Tip to Keep Your Tub Clean:
    After a good cleaning, apply a layer of furniture wax or polish to the walls of the shower and tub to help keep the soap scum from sticking to it.

    Now that you've tackled the bathtub -- remove soap scum from those glass shower doors!

    Still inspired to clean that bathroom?

    Take some time to unclog your dirty drains.
    It's a small space, so opt for healthy cleaning techniques.


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    Here's how to create a visual cookbook on your wall.

    Illustrator Claudia Pearson loves food. She loves it so much, in fact, that she designs art inspired by it.

    Food is a big part of our day to day lives, she says. We decide where our food comes from, how it's prepared, how to present it on the table. And Pearson, who values pure, simple food made from ripe and fresh produce, decided to translate her vision to the canvas.

    food art Illustrated recipes
    Claudia Pearson

    The idea came to her in an unexpected place. Pearson says she does lots of shopping at local farmers markets in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives, to prepare seasonally fresh meals for her family. In speaking to the farmers, she began feeling a connection to the food she purchased, and she began drawing and recording the seasonal produce she saw.

    In collaboration with chef Sung Uni Lee, who runs a business to teach individuals how to cook, the duo created new recipes and illustrated them.

    food art Illustrated recipes as wall art.
    Claudia Pearson

    And we love them: The bright colors, the focus on individual ingredients and easy measurements bring a certain charm back to cooking that is often lost in our busy lives.

    Here's an idea. Use these simple and healthy recipe illustrations to create a cookbook wall in the kitchen. Pearson showed us what she did in her kitchen (above), and the cheerful prints made us smile.

    For more information on the recipes, check out Claudia's blog. Purchase the art on Etsy; prints cost as little as $18.

    And of course, if you're looking for more recipes, we must turn you on to our sister site, KitchenDaily!

    food art Illustrated recipesPhoto: Claudia Pearson

    Searching for more great wall decorating ideas? We got 'em:
    - Design a Montage of Mirrors
    - Decorating With Family Photos
    - Dishes On the Wall. Yes, Please!


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    Clear the runway, this plane home's coming in for a landing.

    When California Mercedes dealership owner Francie Rehwald purchased a 55-acre plot of land above the ocean in Malibu, she knew that she wanted something unique. The land had history: It was the site of Tony Duquette's eccentric residence made of found structures that was destroyed in a 1993 fire. Rehwald wanted to continue on with Duquette's original vision and create something unique using recycled materials.

    plane home wing houseThe main residence is almost complete. Photo: David Hertz

    She wanted a feminine structure featuring sensual curves and rounded edges, and she had been interested in green building, so she began discussing her needs with LA-based Architect David Hertz. Hertz specializes in upcycling and sustainable architecture. When Rehwald mentioned her desire for a curvy house, Hertz had a crazy idea: What if they used a retired plane to build Rehwald's new house?

    He didn't tell her his idea at first. He wanted to do some research. So he took photos of plane wings from his window seat when traveling. He walked through airplane graveyards in the California desert, photographing planes from various angles. Then, at a subsequent meeting, he told her: He wanted to build her a house from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

    plane home  wing house plane residenceAn aerial shot of the house. You can prominently see the plane's wings. Photo: David Hertz

    And why not? There are lots of planes just hanging out in the California desert waiting to be recycled. It was the perfect marriage of supply and demand: A 747 airplane at over 230 feet long, 195 feet wide and 63 feet tall provides more than enough raw materials to build a generous home (one wing is over 2,500 square feet!). Rehwald loved the idea and jumped "on board" immediately.

    Using the airplanes as inspiration, Hertz designed Rehwald more than just a home -- he made her a compound. The plane's wings are designed to function as the home's roof, with two stabilizers from the tail section putting a roof over the master bedroom. A section of the fuselage is being used in the kitchen; a row of several of the plane's windows are now between the kitchen and office.

    plane home  wing houseThe wing roof is the most prominent feature of the main house. Photo: David Hertz

    In addition to three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 4,000 square feet of living space, a 50-foot long section of the upper fuselage will serve as the roof of an art studio. The upper first class cabin will become the guest house's roof, and the lower half of the fuselage will cover the animal barn. Finally, a fire pit and water feature will be created from the engine cowling. What isn't used from the plane -- which isn't much! -- will be recycled. One extra cool bonus: Hertz cut off the nose of the plane and created a 45-feet-tall meditation pavilion in which the cockpit window serves as a skylight.

    You're probably wondering the same thing that I was -- Where do you find a plane? And how do you buy one?

    plane home  wing house plane residenceThe plane that would become a home. Photo: David Hertz

    Many of the planes in the desert graveyards are owned by large airlines and some by private owners. Hertz was able to purchase one of these planes and give it a whole new lease on life as a home. For the price of its raw materials -- primarily aluminum -- Hertz bought a full 747 plane for the reasonable price of $35,000. Comparably, a brand new 747 costs about $200 million.

    With 4.5 million parts to use, the plane was ready to go, but Hertz now had to figure out how to get it to its new home. Unfortunately, he couldn't just fly it there. Most of the pieces were cut up and transported by helicopter. They had to close five highways at night to get it all there.

    plane home wing house plane residenceRenderings of the meditation pavilion and the main home. Photos: David Hertz

    One of the biggest challenges in making this project happen was getting government clearance. Hertz had to get the OK from 17 agencies, which took a year and a half. Using an old plane that still kind of looks like a plane also required registration with the FAA so that it isn't mistaken for a downed aircraft.

    The Wing House -- as it is has been dubbed -- is almost complete. Hertz says that Rehwald should be able to call it home by next summer.

    If this has given you a major case of travel fever, be sure to check out our sister site, AOL Travel.

    Love oddball architecture? So do we. Don't miss:
    - A Modern Cave
    - If You Build It, They Will Come
    - World's Largest Treehouse


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