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    We're guessing that your friends and family crave more sophisticated goodies than dreidels and gelt: Luckily, these Hanukkah gift ideas inject some style into traditional items.

    Our friends at Curbed have gift guides on the brain -- check out a few of their ideas here!

    Say a menorah bearing the memories of ethnic oppression isn't your thing, even if it happens to be carved by the hand of world-renowned architect Richard Meier. No worries, bro. Turns out there are many other far less depressing gift options for those individuals whose religious traditions are usually relegated to a sad, sorry vignette in a shadowy corner of the mall 'bout this time of year. We pulled eight ultra design-y options from Modern Tribe.

    Hanukkah gift ideasModern Tribe via Curbed

    The goods, clockwise from top left:
    Peacock Menorah from Jonathan Adler, $120; Stainless steel latke server, $5.49; Yiddish ceramic bowls, $15 each

    Hanukkah gift ideasModern Tribe via Curbed

    The goods, clockwise from top left: Travel magnetic menorah by Laura Cowan, $120; Wrought iron menorah by Areaware, $120; Salt and pepper Rainshakers by Israeli designer Sooda Mayer, $18 for the pair.

    There's only enough presents here for six nights of Hanukkah...see the last two in the set over at Curbed!

    Want more from Curbed!
    Life Lessons Learned From the December Issue of House Beautiful
    Editorial, Psshaw! Magazines Double as Home-Goods Designers


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  • 11/30/10--09:39: My Design ADD
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    Obsessive furniture shopping, constantly rearranging rooms, paint color indecision -- When you can't settle on a look for your home, decorating can descend into madness. And yes, Design ADD.

    I have a condition. You won't find it in any medical journal, but it's highly likely that you or someone you know battles with it everyday. I call it Design ADD, and define it as the urge to constantly redesign or redecorate one's home. When not treated, Design ADD can lead to sleepless nights, spending sprees and, for this writer, lots of missed deadlines.

    design addThe author threatening to toss some of the furniture she obsesses over. Photo: Mollie Hull

    My first experience with Design ADD (at least that I was aware of) was not my own. In my early 20's, I sat for an adorable baby boy in Manhattan, New York. His mother -- who had formerly been a set director for a magazine -- had fabric swatches all over the apartment. Some were even draped over newly-recovered chairs which were only one shade lighter or darker than the swatches themselves. One day I'd go in and there would be a new ottoman or side table in the living room. The next day, it'd be gone, already on its way back to a warehouse somewhere in Pennsylvania.

    A few years later, I began to notice similar, though much more low-budget, symptoms in myself. And once I moved from Brooklyn, New York (where I transported everything either on the subway or in my bike basket) to Kansas City, Missouri (where a car is a necessity), it got worse. Quickly. It's amazing what will fit inside and on top of a 1990 Volvo sedan. I won't even start on the fact that my brother-in-law, who lives nearby, has a truck. And a trailer.

    Like its cousins ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), people with Design ADD can switch frequently from one activity to another and often battle with hyperactivity and impulsivity.

    For example: Someone with Design ADD might decide at 10 p.m. on a Thursday that the kitchen cabinets need repainting and immediately take them down. She might buy a new shower curtain and bathmat, even though she only went to World Market to help a friend pick out a rug and promised herself she wouldn't buy anything for her own home. Perhaps you might be quietly enjoying a refreshing cocktail on your front porch and, all of a sudden, see someone across the street exhibiting symptoms of Design ADD as she throws an old piece of furniture off of the balcony on trash night and drags it to the curb (even though she doesn't have anything to put in its place).

    Yes, I've done all of those things. More often than not, though, my Design ADD flares up when I'm thumbing through a magazine and see a fantastic turquoise trim in a bathroom or a colorful arrangement of books. Sometimes it's brought on by watching a design show (Hey, I can design on a dime, too, and I think I hear the dining room calling my name!). Or I might visit a simple home decor blog (which happens a lot, considering I write for ShelterPop) and seeing something I like. Some might call those moments of inspiration. But for me, they're triggers, and the biggest trigger of all, unfortunately, occurs when I'm working.

    design addPatti McConville, Getty Images

    You see, I work from home, for a handful of publishers. And for a person with Design ADD, I imagine working from home is a lot like a recovering alcoholic working in a liquor store -- except an alcoholic wouldn't do such a thing to herself. I, on the other hand, don't really have a choice. And I don't have a sponsor to stop me.

    Sure, there are hours, even days, spent at the coffee shop. But there, I spend money I could be adding to my mid-century patio furniture fund (the furniture I threw off of the balcony happened to be from the balcony). And there are plenty of cool lamps in the five-dollar range at the thrift store, right? (I mean, come on, which would you rather have: a five-dollar latte or a five-dollar lamp?) Being at the coffee shop also puts me in the Thrift Store Red Zone, geographically speaking, of course. Anyway, why would I work at a coffee shop when my office (which has also been a guest room, a dressing room and a storage room in the year-and-a-half I've lived in that apartment) is in my home? In fact, I even rearranged it two weeks ago to make it more work-friendly.

    Rearranging a room to make it more usable, in itself, should be considered a normal activity. But that sort of thing happens to me all the time. Or, more realistically, my Design ADD happens to my apartment (and my to-do list) all the time.

    Case in point: I filed this story late, but last week I still managed to completely rearrange my vintage Pyrex collection -- and, in turn, my dining room and foyer.

    I know I'm not alone in my struggle.

    Gina Kaufmann, who also works as a freelance writer in Kansas City, Missouri (whose design budget I imagine must resemble mine: minimal to non-existent), finds that working from the library is a great way to combat her Design ADD.

    "It's appealing to have a workplace where you aren't tempted to redecorate your bedroom when you hit a hard spot in your writing," she says. Still, even the stone structure is no match for Kaufmann's urge to load up on the supplies necessary for such a task.

    "The Internet, with its deals on throw blankets and such, is a dangerous thing to have inside the machine that serves as the portal to your work," she says.

    paint swatch home decor color design addGetty Images

    Okay, so maybe Gina and I are making this technically non-existent Design ADD thing sound more dramatic than it needs to. But just to be sure, I decided to consult a professional.

    "If someone came to me with this problem, the first thing that would pique my curiosity would be her personality type," says Anne Wagner, a therapist (LPC, MS) in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Referring to the popular Myers-Briggs test, which is often used as a meter for determining personality types, Wagner says she would test to see if that person were a P, which stands for "perceptive." Perceptive types, according to one of the test's creators, prefer to "keep decisions open," unlike the opposing Js -- judging types who like to "have matters settled."

    "Ps love variety and change. They sort-of live for it," Wagner says. "Ps would like to be organized and steadfast like Js, but they just can't do it. Things that are routine and always neat and tidy are uncomfortable for a P."

    Looking at my impossibly messy desk, I didn't need to take the test to know I was a P. I did an abridged version anyway, and sure enough, I'm a P... to a T.

    "Unless it's interfering with relationships, or work, or you're spending thousands of dollars every two weeks and can't afford it, I wouldn't see it as a problem," says Wagner.

    But for some, repainting a room is more than just repainting a room. Or, ahem, avoiding a daunting pile of work.

    "What do you get out of constantly changing the bathroom or the living room? Sometimes it's used as a defense mechanism, a way to keep people away so they don't know what to expect," Wagner says. In that case, redecorating every two weeks is probably not the answer.

    The bottom line, according to Wagner? "If it's not bothering anybody, and you can afford to do it, and you're not avoiding work or relationships or something else by doing it, I don't think it's a big deal. I think it's great. I think it's fun."

    As far as my own Design ADD, I'm a firm believer in the fact that, for the most part, bad habits can be used for good. Sometimes people just need an outlet. Lucky for me, I have a lot of friends who are moving into new homes, so I'll be visiting them (not during work hours, of course) and helping them decorate their new spaces. It will be my reward for getting my work done. On time.


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    Scandinavian interiors aren't all just shades of white and pale wood - color is alive and well in these northern countries.

    scandinavian designLars Bolander discusses the history and use of color in Scandinavian design. Photos: Vendome Press

    When most people think of Scandinavian design, they think of white, open spaces filled with pale, blonde wood furniture and not much else in terms of color. However, this is just one side of Scandinavian style. Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark all have their own styles, all of which celebrate light, but they are all also fond of color. ShelterPop talked to interior designer Lars Bolander, who recently penned Lars Bolander's Scandinavian Design, about the history and use of color in Scandinavian design

    scandinavian designA home painted in the traditional 'Falun red' color. Photo: Vendome Press

    According to Bolander, the exteriors of Scandinavian homes have had an influence on color preferences. Bolander points to Sweden's 'Falun red' pigment, which was originally derived from copper mines near Falun and signified a family's prosperity. This exterior color remains popular today and has become an almost iconic ideal for a home in Scandinavia (and even in New England, where you see barns painted in similar red hues).

    scandinavian designA Norwegian home is painted with images of sailors and ships. Photo: Vendome Press

    Inside, folk art has long brought color to the walls and furniture of Scandinavians' homes. In northern parts of Norway and Sweden, in particular, interior surfaces were painted with figurative scenes, often depicting significant events in a family's history, like a marriage or even a funeral. The ceiling mural above, for example, reveals that the home would have been owned by a seaman because of the references to the sea in the painting.

    scandinavian designBlue is wildly popular throughout Scandinavia, in part, because of the region's interest in Chinese porcelain in the 18th century. Photo: Vendome Press

    Later in the 18th century, Scandinavia developed a taste for porcelain from the East. The craze for porcelain eventually led Scandinavians to produce their own porcelain in Sweden's Rörstrand faience factory and Denmark's Royal Copenhagen company. The blue and white palette of these dishes remains popular today. For example, in a contemporary room in Stockholm, the fabric-covered walls reference iconic dish patterns.

    The dining room in Carl Larsson's highly influential Arts and Crafts home. Photo: Vendome Press

    Bolander also sites the Arts and Crafts movement and artist Carl Larsson as a tremendous influence on Scandinavian design at the end of the 19th century until the present day. Larsson's 1899 book Ett Hem (A Home), which was filled with bright, colorful watercolors of a home filled with painted furniture and folk art, became an aspiration for many Scandinavians. Bolander and his co-author Heather Smith write that Larsson's own house "remains the model of an informal, comfortable and welcoming home."

    Josef Frank and Marimekko shook up the world of Scandinavian textiles. Photos: Svenskt Tenn and Marimekko.

    Traditionally, Scandinavian textiles were subdued and subtle, but all that changed in the post-war period of the 50s and 60s. Josef Frank in Sweden and Marimekko in Finland both introduced bold, colorful and graphic textiles that became a hallmark of the period. The influence of Larsson's color palette is evident in Frank's designs, which often feature reds, greens and yellows favored by Larsson.

    Today, Bolander notes that the bold prints of Marimekko are coming back into vogue. "It was dead for a very long time," says Bolander, but he notes, "Those bold colors are back again," citing the recent opening of a Marimekko shop-within-a-shop in Crate & Barrel. Bolander also says that contemporary art is playing a huge roll in today's Scandinavian interiors. "[Contemporary] art is very powerful," says Bolander, "You see it everywhere. It's like a disease in Scandinavia: They are all into contemporary art."

    Looking forward, Bolander sees color preferences in Scandinavia continuing to evolve and change. "People have started to travel and get inspired by colors," says Bolander. "I remember the last Christmas and New Year, we went to India: The color combinations are just fantastic -- pink, yellow, blue, green and it works." Going forward, the colors of Scandinavia will be influenced by the whole globe.

    For more on color, don't miss our Color Diary column:
    - Painting Your Porch Ceiling
    - Winning Combination: Turquoise and Poppy
    - Decorating With Yves Klein Blue


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    We can't turn down a good house decorating opportunity -- even a gingerbread house! Check out the gingerbread house AOL made for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and get tips for decorating your own gingerbread house.

    You can click here to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

    Back in October, we heard about Neiman Marcus' life sized gingerbread house from our sister sites Slashfood, ParentDish, Holidash and Lemondrop. Our first thought: We could do that! Our next thought: Let's do that! So we asked for help from our supremely talented coworkers, the DIY-ers from DIY Life, the foodies from KitchenDaily and Slashfood, the holiday enthusiasts from Holidash and many more, from MyDaily to AOL Latino.

    The result was a 6-foot-tall house -- a veritable winter wonderland that had AOL staffers' kids (and yes, AOL staffers themselves) feeling giddy. But even our sugar high was no match for the excitement we have about the gingerbread house's next stop: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., for their annual holiday party. AOL is also donating 250 gingerbread house kits to St Jude so the kids can make their own mini holiday homes.

    We were lucky enough to get a discount on candy from Economy Candy and the fantastic logo cookies donated from In Record Time, a full service branding and creative agency. The plywood structure was made by DIY Life contributor Brian Kelsey and our own fabulous Laura Fenton came up with the candy crafting plan for everyone to follow.

    You need the Flash Player to view this. Click here to install.

    As for the decoration -- we used a lot of conventional interior design wisdom. Who knew? Some of the best home decorating ideas make for great gingerbread house tips. If you're making a gingerbread house this holiday (big or small), keep these things in mind:

    1. Symmetry is key: Just like matching end tables can make a living room room feel balanced, matching peppermint stars can do wonders.
    2. Use everyday items in new ways: You already know to use placemats as wall art and baking soda to kill weeds -- why not use gummy rings as grass and candy canes as flower stems?
    3. Don't be too matchy-matchy: You'd never match your carpet to your sofa to your drapes to your wall paint...right? So don't make your gingerbread house monochromatic.
    4. Metallics are your friend: Every room needs a little bling...and chances are, so does your gingerbread house. Foil-wrapped chocolate coins do the job perfectly.
    5. Keep things tasteful: Literally. Tasteful. And tasty. We won't even try to avoid this pun.

    You'll be seeing plenty more of the gingerbread house next week on our sister sites -- check back here for all the links.


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    Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery -- so why not crib some holiday party ideas from a TV show that has style to spare. Happy "Mad Men" Holidays!

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    Let's face it: the employees at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (and their respective better halves) know how to party. When it comes to pouring a Scotch on the rocks midday or getting the suburban home prêt for guests, Mad Men is a prime example for all of us hosts. I've scoured season four for the best tips and decorating ideas, in hopes that we too might have a swingin' '60s-style holiday party this year. With these eight must haves, you'll be well on your way to being the next Betty Draper.

    holiday party ideas mad menIMDB via CasaSugar

    Introduce some festive red and green textiles like the placemats and pot holders in Joan's kitchen.

    holiday party ideas mad menIMDB via CasaSugar

    The '60s were the heyday of tinsel trees. So take a note from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and introduce a silver fir into your holiday décor.

    holiday party ideas mad menIMDB via CasaSugar

    Do as the Francis family does and set your table with some gold-rimmed goblets. Painted glassware was a staple of the '60s, so make sure it's on your dinner table.

    holiday party ideas mad men

    Paper snowflakes are timeless decorations that are both simple and affordable. If it's been a while since grade school, this tutorial will remind you how to make them!

    To read the rest of the story, check out CasaSugar! And check out these other CasaSugar goodies:


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    Save yourself some dough (and the planet!) by making your own cleaning solutions. These actually work! We promise.

    While spending weeks researching our recent series on testing old versus new cleaning techniques (for soap scum, shower curtains, windows, candle wax, clogged drains, scuff marks and red wine) one thing became glowingly apparent: New isn't always better.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsJoyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

    Many of the time-tested tricks of our parents and grandparents prove that homemade solutions can stand up to those high-priced, over-marketed store-bought varieties. Forget about the fact that researchers are finding that many familiar household cleaners contain compounds that may trigger asthma or contain chemicals linked to infertility, eczema, birth defects and (obviously) poor indoor air quality -- making your own at-home solutions can save you loads of money too!

    And with that, we bring you The Essential Guide to Homemade Cleaning Solutions. Never spend another dime in the grocery store cleaning aisle again!

    Here are some of our favorites:

    Air Freshener

    Part of getting your home clean is also knocking out nasty odors in the air. So try this homemade air freshener on for size.

    To make a basic air freshener, squeeze juice from a fresh lemon into a cereal bowl half filled with baking soda. Leave the dish uncovered. *Lemon also kills mold, so when you're done squeezing out that lemon juice, grind up the lemon leftovers in the garbage disposal to get rid of food molds and residue.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsPhoto: Corbis

    All-Purpose Cleaner
    "Antibacterial" cleaners and soaps have become all the rage, yet their active ingredients have been linked to thyroid damage, water pollution and the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA. Instead, kill germs with an all-purpose vinegar solution: Combine nine parts water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle.

    For those extra germy messes, such as a countertop that's been exposed to raw meat, squirt straight white vinegar on the surface, and follow with a squirt of hydrogen peroxide to knock out those germs.

    Carpet Cleaner
    It seems that there's always some spot that finds its way into our carpets. Try this remedy to remove them:

    Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water. For heavy duty jobs, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum, then clean as above.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsPhoto: Getty

    Floor Cleaner & Polish
    Most floors can be cleaned with a simple water-vinegar solution. For damp-mopping wood floors: mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil for a minty fresh smell; shake well to mix. To get other types of floors sparkly clean try these other assorted at-home solutions:

    Vinyl and linoleum: Mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of baby oil in 1 gallon of warm water. For tough jobs, add a 1/4 cup of borox, but use sparingly on lineoleum.
    Wood: Apply a thin coat of equal parts vegetable oil and vinegar and rub in well.
    Painted wood: Mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon of hot water.
    Brick and stone tiles: Mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon of water; rinse with clean water.

    Drain Cleaner
    It's inevitable: Drains get clogged. To put a stop to the stop of water flow, try these options:

    For light drain cleaning, mix a 1/2 cup of salt in 4 liters of water, heat (but not to a boil) and pour down the drain.

    For stronger cleaning, pour about a 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then follow it with a 1/2 cup vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Caution: Only use this method with metal plumbing and do not use this method if you've recently tried a commercial drain product.

    Household dust is full of allergens, so knock it out with your own fragrant lemon oil solution. Mix 10 drops of pure lemon oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil in a spray bottle.

    Spray onto surfaces and wipe clean with a clean (recycled) flannel cotton cloth.

    Furniture Polish
    No need to invest money into those expensive, over-marketed furniture polishes. Try this instead:

    Varnished wood: Add a few drops of lemon oil into 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft, slightly damp cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with the cloth, then wipe clean with a soft, dry cotton cloth.

    Unvarnished wood: Mix two teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes to distribute the oil evenly.

    Magic Degreaser
    If you have grease spots that the All-Purpose Cleaner can't tackle, try this:

    Combine a pinch of washing soda, a couple drops of castile soap and two tablespoons of vinegar into two cups of boiling water.

    Oven Cleaner
    If you've ever scrubbed out your oven, you know that those chemical oven cleaners are a bit tough on your lungs. Try this instead:

    Mix 2 cups of hot water, 1 tablespoon of natural dish liquid and 1 teaspoon of borax in a spray bottle. Spray on the designated mess, let sit for 20 minutes and wipe off with a clean cloth. For handling an extra-greasy mess, wipe off as much loose goop as possible first with crumpled newspaper, then use the spray.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsPhoto: Flickr, EraPhernalia Vintage

    Plant Cleaner
    Want to get down to the details of cleaning? If you're a plant lover, chances are your indoor plants get covered with dust just as your furniture does. As strange as it sounds, polish your leaves with a soft rag dipped in mayonnaise. Don't ask us why, but for some reason this has a magical way of leaving plants sparkling clean without any leftover smell (or damage to the foliage).

    Rust Remover
    Rust residue can be a tough one to fight, but try this remedy next time you're facing a seemingly losing battle:

    Sprinkle a little salt on the rust, squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked. Leave the mixture on for 2 to 3 hours. Use the leftover lime rind to scrub at the residue.

    Spot & Scuff Eraser
    Marks on walls and painted surfaces are a common household occurrence. Simply clean ink spots, pencil, crayon or marker spots from painted surfaces with baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, then wipe and rinse with water.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsPhoto: Getty

    Toilet Bowl Cleaner
    Harsh toilet cleaners no more! Opt for a more lung-friendly version.

    Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar. Then pour them into the toilet basin and let set for a few minutes. Scrub with a toilet brush and rinse.

    Tub & Tile Cleaner
    Apparently, the popular cleanser Comet contains 146 air contaminants, including seven chemicals linked to cancer, two chemicals linked to reproductive damage, and two chemicals that interfere with hormones, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). So it might be best to err on the safe side and make your own scrubbing paste.

    5 to 10 drops of pure essential oil of lavender, tea tree oil, or rosemary (optional for fragrance)

    Place 1/2 cup of baking soda in a bowl and slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring until it looks like cake frosting. Add optional essential oils, like 5 to 10 drops of pure essential lavender, tea tree or rosemary oil. Scoop onto a sponge, scrub and rinse. You can also try cutting a lemon in half and using that as a scrubber.

    Wallpaper Remover
    It may not be a daily cleaning task, but it's a common problem for many, so try this remedy the next time you need to remove some stubborn wallpaper:

    Mix equal parts of white vinegar and hot water, apply with a sponge over the old wallpaper to soften the adhesive, then gently pull paper from the loose corners.

    best homemade cleaning solutionsPhoto: Getty

    Window Cleaner
    We all have them and thus likely go through gallons of store-bought window cleaner each year. Make your own solution to save some pennies in 2011:

    Combine ¼ cup vinegar, ½ teaspoon natural liquid soap and 2 cups water in a spray bottle and shake to blend. Spray on the glass, working in small sections so that the solution doesn't have time to dry before you're able to wipe it clean.

    Scrub as needed with the rough side of a kitchen sponge, and squeegee off. Use a cotton cleaning cloth to dry off the blade of the squeegee between swipes and to wipe up any liquid that puddles at the bottom of the windows.

    Looking for other cleaning tips: We solve your biggest cleaning jobs!


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    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelPhoto: Claridge's

    The famed fashion designer takes a turn as decorator for the newly revamped Claridge's Hotel in London.

    Diane von Furstenberg has been flexing her interior design muscles a lot recently, with a collection of rugs for The Rug Company and a new line of home goods for Springs Global. While your ShelterPop editors weren't wowed by the home goods collection, we were thrilled to see von Furstenberg's style translated into three dimensions at the American Fashion: Designers At The Aldyn show house earlier this year. However, von Furstenberg's latest interior venture may be out favorite so far: A series of hotel suites and rooms at London's venerable Claridge's Hotel.

    The von Furstenberg suites, designed in collaboration with interior decorator Olivier Gelbsman, all exhibit DVF's signature prints and style -- think big, bold and feminine. While a night at the luxury hotel is out of most people's price range, we can all still drool over the photos of the DVF-inspired rooms. Better still, we can learn a thing or two from Diane's super-chic decor style.

    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelOne of the DVF-designed guest rooms at Claridge's Hotel. Photo: Claridge's Hotel

    Lesson #1: Black and white is always right.

    For crisp contrast, you can't go wrong with classic black and white. Von Furstenberg, who is known for her colorful prints, demonstrated some restraint with color in her design for the suites at Clardige's. The bedroom above, for example, features a palette of mostly black and white. Follow von Furnstenburg's lead for a color scheme that will never go out of style.

    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelA huge headboard is a whimsical touch in this bedroom. Photo: Claridge's

    Lesson #2: Play with scale.

    The oversized headboards in the von Furstenberg rooms give the spaces a sense of drama. While the headboards at Claridge's are custom-made, you could create a similar look at home. Simply take some instructions for a DIY headboard and scale up the dimensions to make a big impact.

    Lesson #3:
    You can never have too much of a good print.

    Never shy of pattern, von Furstenberg has used her fabric on multiple items in each room: Curtains, headboards, bedskirts, pillows, upholstery, etc. The result is a highly finished look that you can mimic in your own home: Find a pattern you love and buy yards and yards of it to use in your decor (IKEA is a great source for affordable, graphic prints by the yard).

    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelThe living space in the Piano Suite is a luxe mix of prints. Photo: Claridges

    Lesson # 4: Mix your prints.

    In the living room of the Piano Suite, von Furstenberg mixed a plethora of patterns. However, she's limited her palette and used patterns that relate to one another to keep things from looking too crazy. A pair of solid-colored arm chairs and fresh white walls ground the look.

    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelAll the rooms' seats get special attention with DVF fabrics. Photo: Claridge's

    Lesson #5: Invest in great upholstery.

    The lines for most of the upholstered pieces in the Claridge's rooms are fairly simple and unassuming. However, when clean-lined pieces are upholstered in a handsome print, like The China Vine pattern above right, they go from ho-hum to how-now in a flash.

    Diane Von Furstenberg hotelA canopy bed gets the DVF treatment in this room. Photo: Claridge's

    Lesson #6: Traditional doesn't mean boring.

    In this bedroom of the Piano Suite, the look is more traditional than in some of the other von Furstenberg rooms, but that doesn't mean it's stuffy or old-fashioned. Give traditional rooms a bit of a twist with an unexpected color palette like this purple-themed room. A bold, contemporary area rug like the one above is a subtle way for a traditionally-furnished room to show some personality.

    Tour more drool-worthy spaces:
    - Say Aloha to a Fun Hawaiian Hotel
    - Fashion Designers Open Up Their Homes
    - Why We Love This Kitchen


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    A Chicago designer's kitchen makeover brings the room into the present day with classic bones, confident mixing and a little bit of fun.

    When Rebekah Zaveloff, principal designer to kitchen design firm KitchenLab, was enlisted to rehabilitate the kitchen of her client's Chicago home, the space was in a sorry state. While the rest of the house had been left relatively untouched with original custom-milled trim around the doors and oak strip flooring throughout, the kitchen was stuck with an ugly 1970s renovation.

    kitchen makeover pictures tableFrom bad 70s to seems-like-it-was-always-there contemporary. Photos: KitchenLab

    Zaveloff and her client wanted to bring the kitchen up to the present, but they still wanted it to fit into the home's Victorian charm. "The challenge was to bring the detailing and the style of a period kitchen without taking itself too seriously," says Zaveloff. The finished results feature white subway tiles, industrial light fixtures and vintage details appropriate to the home's age.

    With nearly16-foot high ceilings, Zaveloff was particularly careful not to go overboard. "If we'd gone too glam or too Victorian, it would have been too much," says Zaveloff. "We really tried to restrain and go more humble, more industrial."

    kitchen makeover pictures tableCarrera marble, a relatively affordable stone, tops the counters and island. Photo: KitchenLab

    The first step in the renovation was to create a more functional space by taking down the wall to the butler's pantry and reorienting the entrance to the mudroom. These two structural spaces made the kitchen slightly larger and also made it fit in more naturally with the rest of the house.

    A self-described "tile nut," Zaveloff and her client were inspired to tile to the ceiling by a local Italian restaurant that made grand use of white subway tile in its design. Zaveloff notes that the effect of running the tile all the way to the ceiling is actually similar to the way that these iconic tiles are used in subway tunnels. Love the look? White subway tiles are an affordable option -- so go ahead and tile high in your own home.

    When it came to finishes, Zaveloff was deliberate in her choices of hand-rubbed brass and oiled bronze. "I didn't want the kitchen to be too sweet," she says. "If all the hardware was polished nickel -- it would be a very different look. Even if you're not planning a full kitchen re-do, new hardware can refresh your kitchens look."

    While one wall features two windows and no cabinetry, the wall next to it is built-in with ample storage. The design of which harkens back to the original butler's pantry. "We treated it more hutch-like with the glass fronts," says Zaveloff, who is a big fan of open shelving and glass-fronted wall cabinets. The backs of the cabinets are papered with Farrow & Ball's Silvergate wallpaper -- an easy trick to copy.

    While this kitchen was custom built, Zaveloff encourages homeowners with existing wood cabinets to break out some paint and brushes to refresh their cabinets. "You may want to wait to remodel, but that day can be so far away," says Zaveloff. "Rather than living in a space you can't stand, why not try painting and putting effort into it?"

    kitchen makeover pictures tableIn the breakfast nook, a farmhouse table, mismatched chairs and soft Roman shades give the space a laidback feel. An antique hutch provides additional storage. Photo: KitchenLab

    Zaveloff and the homeowner also took great pains to make sure there were vintage elements in the space to give it texture. "You can't fake some patinas," cautions Zaveloff, who sourced vintage Victorian tiles for the desk area and an antique table for the island. "It creates that feeling of always having been there," says Zaveloff.

    Industrial touches keep the space from seeing too sweet. The lights are detailed reproductions from Circa Lighting while the drawer pulls are sash pulls for windows that were originally meant for an industrial application, not a home. Don't be afraid to incorporate a little toughness into your own design for contrast.

    kitchen makeoverGet the look of with these materials and products. Photos: See below.

    Love the style of this classic kitchen? Get the look with these products:

    Clockwise from top left:
    American Olean 3" x 6" Designer White Ceramic Tile, $55 for 100, Lowe's; Marian 6 Ceiling Mount Light, $125, Schoolhouse Electric; Barn Light Bermuda Pendant, $107, Barn Light Electric; Shaws Original Fireclay Single Bowl Kitchen or Prep Sink, Rohl; Mid-Century Studio Stool, $245, Sundance; Simplex Chrome Whistling Tea Kettle, $120, Sur La Table.

    More kitchen inspiration is just a click away:
    -A $500 Kitchen Makeover
    -Kitchen Trends You Should Avoid
    -A Small Kitchen Gets Storage


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    Top fashion designers help Pantone forecast spring's hottest colors. We predict how these colors will translate to the home.

    pantone color forcastPhoto: Pantone

    It may only be early winter, but it's never too soon to start thinking about spring. If you're among the trendsetters who like to keep things "au courant" in your interior, take a look at the spring fashion color report, courtesy of the expert forecasters at Pantone.

    Each season, Pantone surveys the designers of New York Fashion Week to identify the most directional colors to guide the season. Take a look at these hue choices -- and what inspired them -- then pick a hue or two and start thinking of ways that you, too, can get inspired and revamp your style for the coming seasons.

    pantone color forcastPhoto: Pantone

    Picked by: Cynthia Steffe by Shaun Kearney, inspired by upbeat, new-wave French electronica music.
    We Predict: This hue is definitely chic and sexy -- even in small doses it can be powerful, which is why we're certain it'll be seen making small (but important) appearances in new textiles and wall dressings. We're especially loving this Amy Butler wallpaper pattern!

    Picked by: Erin Fetherston, inspired by a "sense of wanderlust this season."
    We Predict: Soothing yet refreshing, this is the perfect color for a kitchen revamp. Paint an accent wall or, better yet, give your old cabinets a face lift with a dose of this hue.


    Picked by: James Coviello
    Inspiration: 1950's garden party.
    We Predict: Always a standard color for pretty, feminine bedrooms, it's high time for this hue to move into the bath. This will be the "it" color for creating modern spa-like spaces.

    Blue Curacao
    Picked by: Carmen Marc Valvo because "blue has great social significance." It's the signature color of colon cancer awareness, the platform of his spring 2011 collection.
    We Predict: This turquoise hue is the perfect accent to brighten any room via small accents. We predict it'll be "the hot" color for kitchen accessorizing this year. Just take a look at the new hue for Le Creuset cookware!

    Picked by: Tibi, inspired by a modern take on the spring season.
    We Predict: This sunny orange will find its fans in those wanting to welcome guests with a cheerful entryway. It's the perfect color to paint on an entry wall behind a sunburst mirror!

    pantone color forcastPhoto: Pantone

    Picked by: Charlotte Ronson, inspired by "the vibrant romance of Spain paired with the minimalist androgyny of '90s grunge."
    We Predict: When opting for richly hued walls, we're certain we'll see a return to brown. It's the perfect universal color -- great for dining rooms, entryways or even accent walls for a dramatic living room.

    Coral Rose
    Picked by: Christian Siriano, inspired by African, Indian and Asian influences.
    We Predict: It may seem like the standard color for fall and winter, but we're certain this sophisticated orange will stay strong throughout the year in accessorizing. Just check out the new colorway of West Elm's popular Zig Zag rug.

    Picked by: Lela Rose, inspired by textiles and clash of cultures in Lima, Peru.
    We Predict: Blue is a class color, but this particular hue adds an air of opulence. We predict it will have a strong presence in modern accessorizing.

    Silver Cloud
    Picked by: Ella Moss by Pamela Protzel Scott, inspired by modern bohemia.
    We Predict: Gray is the new go-to neutral, but it's especially lovely for modern spaces. Jonathan Adler's new Hollywood and Yellow Flame bedding collections prove this color has staying power.

    Silver Peony
    Picked by: Monique, inspired by "a dreamy state of mind," she says.
    We Predict: This will be a color of choice when it comes to achieving just that. Think pretty silk throw pillows and creamy window coverings.

    For more trend spotting, don't miss:

    - Oversized Nailhead Trim
    - Learn the Ropes


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    When it comes to beautiful old trim, it's hard to cover it in paint. But sometimes it makes sense.

    You bought an older house. You love it. It has character, it has charm. It has ornate baseboards, trim and moldings -- all original wood. But what if you aren't such a big fan of wood trim? What if you wanted to paint it another color? Would it look brighter and fresher with a few coats of white paint, or would you be ruining a piece of your home's history?

    I read Nicole Balch's Making It Lovely blog and have been following her ever since she bought her cute little 1910 bungalow in Oak Park, Illinois. She recently posted about her decision to paint her untouched original wood trim white.

    It was a controversial decision. Many commenters on her blog took one side or the other. Some felt that it was sacrilegious to touch the original wood, while others were quick to whip out a paint brush and go to town.

    "Painted wood trim, no matter how much you agonize over the color and paint it perfectly, is just never as special as the original wood," commented one person who objected to her decision.

    "it's your home in the end, so do whatever makes you happy," said another more supportive commenter.

    I asked Balch to tell me a little more about how she made the decision. It was a difficult one for her. Her Craftsman bungalow was originally a 2-bedroom/1-bath house, and the attic was converted in the 1960s or 70s to add more bedrooms and another bath. When they moved in three years ago, she was in the mindset that the trim was going to remain as is. She recalls thinking "this house has been here since 1910 with its natural wood in tact. I'm not going to be the one to change it."

    However, after years of decorating around the wood trim and trying her hardest to live with it, she gave in to her desire for white trim. "We're going to be here for a while, and I want to be happy with the way my home looks...I've always liked the look of white trim more than stained wood." Ultimately, she needed to make the right decorating decision for her since she is the one who has to look at it ever day. "This is where my family actually lives, not a historical time capsule," she wrote on her blog.

    A few things influenced her decision. First, the trim wasn't in the best shape. There were signs of wear and tear that would be easier to hide and freshen up with a few coats of white paint. Also, the wood itself is fir and paint-grade quality. Perhaps she would have reconsidered had her trim been flawless mahogany?

    paint trimNicole's dining room before and after. Photos: Nicole Balch

    But when she first put that paintbrush to wood, was she sure she'd made the right decision? "I was 97% sure...but that 3% of doubt had my stomach in knots. What if I didn't like it? What if I was ruining my house or driving it's value down?"

    I'm sure we would all have had the same doubts. After 15 hours, one coat of primer and two coats of paint, Balch can happily say that she made the right choice. She says she doesn't mind the nay-sayers: "[At first] it can be hard to move past worrying about what other people will think, especially the hypothetical future people that may live in your home after you. The best way to approach it is to think about what will make you happy. If you really love the look of painted trim and the natural wood isn't doing it for you, go ahead and pick up that paint brush."

    After all, it's you who lives there.

    Need more decorating help? Don't miss:
    -Great Walls Without Paint
    -How to Think Like An Interior Designer-Decorating Styles 101: Comfy and Casual


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    Have you ever wondered where the Hollywood elite pick up fab furnishings for their homes? Check out the goods of this Manhattan furniture designer.

    Craig van den Brulle, a furniture designer who dabbles in acquiring unique antiques and limited-edition pieces, owns a 3,000-square-foot shop named after him in the Nolita section of Manhattan. It opened in 2007. But his creations have found their way out to L.A. and into the homes of a number of celebrities.

    His client list includes designer-savvy folks like Kelly Wearstler, Tom Ford and Helmut Lung, as well as notable actors and actresses like Kate Hudson, Oprah Winfrey, Chloe Sevigny, Ryan Reynolds, Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon.

    We were able to get details on what two of these celebs have bought -- and we're pretty impressed by their good taste!

    famous-furniture-designerPhotos: Dave M. Benett, Getty Images |

    Actress (and now singer) Gwyneth Paltrow has always flaunted a minimalist, chic style -- she's often dressed in black and white or neutral tones. Naturally she's going to pen her country-music lyrics on a classy desk, right? van den Brulle's The Extrados Lucite Desk/Table is the perfect fit. She purchased the piece six months ago from the designer; the item costs $7,600. It can also be used as a table in a breakfast nook for morning coffee and croissants. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to clean if Moses or Apple spill a juice box on it.

    famous-furniture-designerPhotos: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images |

    Nothing but the best for this year's sexiest man, as deemed by People, right? Reynolds picked up this ornate metal sculpture on wood base from van den Brulle that is signed by the American artists (Belva Ball and Thomas Hibben). The 19-inch tall sculpture was created during the spring of 1968 and later exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago until 1969. We wonder what Scarlett Johansson, his wife of two years, thinks of this work of art? In other words, is it in his man cave or in their home's entryway?

    As a designer, van den Brulle is constantly at work on a new line of furniture that carries his name. His latest line is the Delaunay Collection, containing lamps, mirrors and chairs and employing a laser-sintering process on a Rapid Prototyping machine. Starting at $7,500 and going on up to $75,000, the pieces are available in steel, gilt bronze and chrome.

    Want to read more about how celebs decorate their homes?

    Tommy Hilfiger's Home at The Plaza
    Fashion Designers Open Up Their Homes
    Rob Lowe in Architectural Digest


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    There's no shortage of oddball cleaning tips, but which ones really work? We put Tang, shaving cream and Jello to the test.

    Polish wood furniture with a slab of Spam? Yup! This is one of the weird tips we've come across in our research for unusual housekeeping ideas. We gathered several wacky cleaning ideas from ServiceMagic, a network of professional cleaners, and Merry Maids, and then I put them to the test. The verdict? Crumpled newspapers may work better than rags to clean faucets; Tang does a heck of a job cleaning a dishwasher.

    Here's what else we discovered:

    cleaning tips clean with toothpicksWhen you just can't get the gunk out from under the sink rim, try using a toothpick! Photo: Flickr, Basykes

    Shaving Cream Cleans Grout and More
    Jolie Ramsey, owner of C&R Housecleaning in St. Louis, told me to use shaving cream and lemon juice to clean grout. I was leery about dumping or even dabbing lemon juice on my recently tiled bathroom floor, but the grout near the sink was definitely dirty. I opted to squirt old-fashioned white Barbasol shaving cream on a bit of the grout, work it in with a dry washcloth, then wipe and rinse it away.

    Verdict: It worked! But I just used shaving cream, no lemon juice. (Hint: Shaving cream quickly expands, so squirt a tiny bit.) The bad news? It didn't make a dent on the dirty old grout in my other bathroom. If you'd like to give the lemon juice a try, Ramsey says to liberally pour lemon juice from a bottle or fresh lemon directly onto the floor and scrub.

    Shaving cream is also effective as a spot carpet cleaner, especially on neutral-colored rugs. How do I know? I tested a squirt or two on a gross hairball that my cat left on the hall carpet.

    The one thing shaving cream is purported to do is clean mirrors and make them fog-free, but it didn't work on mine. The shaving cream cleaned the crud off of the mirror, but left it blurry. However, it did not fog up after my steamy shower.

    Priscilla Miliner, owner of Priscilla's Cleaning Service in the Pittsburgh area, offers one last tip: She once worked at a nursing home, and the staff used shaving cream on surfaces to eliminate virtually all odors in patients' rooms.

    Tang and Jello in the Dishwasher
    If you can find Tang in your grocery store, try using it to clean your dishwasher. Not the dishes, the dishwashing machine. I poured a cup of powder into my dishwasher, set it to hot water and hoped it would dissolve the light orange residue inside.

    It worked! A cycle of Tang did leave the interior of my once dingy machine sparkling white. Miliner says Tang's acid dissolves mineral deposits. Ramsey of C&R Housecleaning says in her experience, a citric Jello powder works just as well.

    Newspapers to Clean Faucets
    Although we all know to use newspaper to clean windows and mirrors for a streak-free shine, I read that it can make faucets gleam.

    Verdict: It disappointed. I'd say that it will work depending on the material of your fixtures. It left a black streaked mess on my bronze finished faucet, but it worked fine on the silver finish. Crumpled newsprint should be saved for cleaning windows spritzed with vinegar or generic window washing cleaner for a streak-free shine.

    Pencil Erasers for Water Stains
    Ramsey also mentioned that a pencil eraser will erase water stains on faucets.

    Verdict: It disappointed. While it worked fine on my faucet with a silver finish, it didn't work at all on my bronze finished faucet. One of the best tips, which I use to this day, comes from the book, Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: Use a pencil eraser to eliminate sticky price tag and label residue left on items such as picture frame glass.

    Diapers Fix Leaks
    The ServiceMagic blog said that a diaper is a temporary fix for leaks. My washer hose often acts like a garden hose during the rinse cycle, so I tested a Pull Up by wrapping it around the hose, and securing it with packaging tape where the leak originated.

    It worked! It held the moisture in through one large wash cycle, which typically produced about three cups of leaking water. The diaper was heavy with moisture, so I would only use it on minimal leaks like this, not on burst pipes, for example. Though it looked somewhat comical, it's a great idea for a quick fix. Don't forget about recycling old cloth diapers -- they pick up dust better than microfiber cloth. And, dare I say, if you need a highly absorbent item for a quick mess and you don't want to harm your towels, dig out those sanitary pads and put them to good use.

    cleaning tips shaving cream on mirrorThough shaving cream is thought to clean and defog mirrors, this is the actual result of one homeowner's trial. I got the same results -- a big blurry mess. Photo: Flickr, grantlairdjr

    Coffee Filters and Dryer Sheets For Cleaning Windows
    There are a number of uses that we've seen for good old-fashioned coffee filters, but here's a new one from Debra Johnson, training manager with Merry Maids in Memphis. "Coffee filters are great for cleaning windows as the filter contains no lint and doesn't leave behind ink on hands as newspaper does," she says.

    Kim Hinkley, owner of multiple Merry Maids franchises in Kansas and in Canada, says she uses dryer sheets to wipe away soap scum on shower doors. It's more effective than paper towels, sponges or brushes, she says.

    It worked! The coffee filters left behind no lint on the windows at all. I sprayed window cleaner onto an unused basket-style coffee filter and scrubbed my kitchen window. But it was kind of a pain since the coffee filter is so small.

    You may ditch your daily can after reading this, but there are many myths about the cleaning powers of the original Coca-Cola. It's been reported that it can take rust off bolts and blood stains off asphalt. For more mundane uses, Hinkley of Merry Maids suggests pouring a can of Coca-Cola into a pot or pan with burnt on food, soak overnight and then scrub. She says the charred food will come right off. (To see why this is so, plus many more ideas on how to use Coca-Cola to clean the house, check out this article.)

    : I didn't use soda on a burnt pan, but I used Coca-Cola to try to take rust off of a heating vent. I soaked a rag with Coca-Cola, then let it sit on the rust stain for about five minutes before aggressively wiping up the liquid. The soda seemed to have eaten away at the rust. It definitely made the metal brighter and eliminated some of the rust, but it wasn't perfect.

    So I tried it again, this time on my bathroom floor. Last year, I dried a bath mat for too long in the dryer, and when I put it on the bathroom floor, the backing melted off onto the tile; it's been a challenge to take off. Well, I poured a liberal amount of Coca-Cola over the mess, it fizzed a minute and then the corners of the caked on rubber came right up. With a bit of elbow grease, I was able to flake away the melted-on rubber. For about a buck a bottle, it may be the cheapest industrial strength cleaner I've ever used.

    For more cleaning ideas, take a look at ShelterPop's archive of housekeeping tricks and tips.


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    The handsome Ryan Phillippe is letting go of his Los Angeles home and ShelterPop has the first look. Come on in!

    In 2008, a year after Ryan Phillippe's divorce with America's sweetheart (and current Glamour cover girl!) Reese Witherspoon, the actor purchases a five-bedroom "Zen Palace" in the Hollywood Hills. Now Phillippe has put the place on the market and ShelterPop has a first look at the property. Does this decision have anything to do with the curly-topped MacGruber actor's recent night out with Amanda Seyfried? We won't dish dirt on his personal life, but we're happy to snoop around inside. Join us, please? It's free to look but if you want to buy, we hope you have $7,450,000 handy for this 7,447 square foot home.
    (See listing and more photos at


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    We've all seen our share of failsafe colors in recent years, and maybe even used them in our homes. Here are some that you'll want to give a rest.

    Choosing a paint color for your home can be about as overwhelming as naming your first born child. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's a pivotal decision no less. You've got the year's top choices, the classics and the ones inspired by generations (or in this case, homeowners) past to choose from.

    To help narrow the scope of this feat, I reached out to San Francisco designer and color expert Kelly Berg for help. For starters, "any color that's used strictly because it's trendy should be tossed out," Berg says. "And sometimes it's not the actual individual color that gets overused, but the color combinations."

    Paint ColorsKlaus Tiedge/Corbis

    I thought Berg was on to something. One color in a home rarely stands on its own after all. The accent, the trim and the furnishings all factor into the scheme as well.

    Think gray meets beige for a monochromatic effect, fresh off the pages of a Restoration Hardware catalog. This neutral shade could work wonders for a modern, minimalist home, but if it's overdone, greige can easily turn into "cold, sterile and uninviting," Berg says.

    To update it: Give gray a jolt of energy and vitality by pulling in vibrant yellows and grassy greens. If romance and femininity are more your style, infuse the room with playful pinks and smoky violets. And since greys can often absorb more light than other hues, reflective surfaces such as glass and metal are the perfect addition to help bounce light around the room (and add some sparkle).

    Colors to try: Kelly's favorite greens of the moment include Benjamin Moore's Bunker Hill Green and Dill Pickle and Pratt & Lambert's Triton Green.

    Chocolate Brown and Blue
    Cocoa is a natural complement to many hues, but its pairing with Tiffany, turquoise or robin's egg blue has gotten the most attention in recent years -- perhaps too much attention.

    To update it: Add in a third color from the warm end of the spectrum. Berg suggests hot pink or coral. Metallics in tones of silver and gold are another great way to freshen up a brown-and-blue palette.

    Colors to try: Benjamin Moore's Passion Fruit is the quintessential coral.

    Paint Colors Chocolate Brown and Blue RoomsFlickr, xJavierx; Apartment Therapy

    "Faux Italian" (Red, Gold and Green)
    It's the go-to palette for a rustic, Tuscan-themed home, but it's feeling a bit over.

    To update it: When working with any tri-color scheme, Berg suggests keeping the saturation levels similar, but not exactly the same. If you're using a bold cherry red alongside green and gold, for example, play down the green and the gold a bit by graying them up. You also want to avoid using equal portions of all three colors. One hue should be the star of the decor, while the other two play supporting roles. This way, you'll create interest and balance in the overall design.

    Breathe new life into this trio by switching out the red for a deep violet. You could also add in a fourth color like turquoise or indigo blue.

    Colors to try: Noir by Pratt & Lambert is closer to indigo than black, like a dark pair of denim jeans; California Paints' Purple Potion is not as psychedelic as it sounds, it's a deep violet.

    Paint Colors Faux Italian Color PalettePortola Paint

    The All White Kitchen
    It has been a design fave "ever since Something's Gotta Give," Berg says. And while the freshness and uncluttered nature that white cabinets, subway tile and carrera marble evoke is undeniable, "there are so many amazing materials available today in so many amazing colors," Berg says.

    To update it: Select a hue that is present in an adjacent space, or in your favorite dishes. (White matches just about anything.) You could also look to your favorite flower for inspiration. "Like yellow daisies? Yellow walls it is," Berg says. "Got blue and white Danish dishes on your shelves? Try a deep indigo."

    Colors to try: Pratt and Lambert's Days of Sun is creamy with a slight orange undertone that's more like the late afternoon sun than the morning one.

    The important thing with any color choice is to use ones that you gravitate to (yes, even if it's that pea green everyone else has deemed hideous) and help you create the environment that you can feel most authentic in.

    "Sometimes this means you can go full throttle with a trendy color; sometimes it means you can use that trendy color in small doses; and sometimes this means passing up on trends entirely," Berg says.

    Don't miss these other great stories from ShelterPop:
    -A Kitchen Makeover that Recalls the Past
    - Ice Hotels Tell Us How to Warm Up


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    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ditch the house, fire your boss, quit the rat race and set out on the open road? Our writer spoke to three nomadic families who swapped stability for freedom and fun.

    It might sound like some impossible, romantic fantasy, but there are any number of people living that dream right now.
    Tony and Jennifer Miller
    Currently residing in: Oaxaca, Mexico
    Living like nomads since: 2008

    Tony and Jennifer Miller and their four children (shown above) have been on the road full-time since 2008. They have been to Mexico and Hawaii multiple times, and, last year, they traveled by bicycle across Europe and much of North Africa. This years itinerary will take them through Central America. I caught up with Jennifer, who blogs about the experience on Edventure Project, in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

    "We decided that rather than spending our time working to get more stuff, we'd invest in our relationships, and in giving our kids an education in the whole world instead of just in a classroom," says Jennifer. "Once we got everyone toilet trained, we sold our house and all of our stuff and hit the road."

    Before they first took off, Tony and Jennifer spent two full years preparing, planning and saving. "Our first whole year was funded from our savings," says Jennifer. While they were in Africa, Tony launched his own business, Fahrsoft, which specializes in database design and implementation. He also develops iPhone applications. Jennifer is a freelance writer for the home education and travel markets. "We find a balance between working on the road and taking contracts in one location for a few months at a time," she says. "We have found that living a 'location independent' lifestyle only costs us about half of what our 'static' life did."

    According to Jennifer, one of the best things about living on the road full time is that they have friends everywhere. And staying connected with them is easy thanks to the Internet. "We carry two computers with us (for work and schooling) and the kids have iPods with internet capability for keeping up with their friends. Wherever we are we miss people... but we're always making new friends," she says. Plus they have had several friends and family members join them on the road for part of their trip. "Grandma and Gramps flew to Africa last winter to camp with us for three weeks on the Sahara!"

    But don't think the Miller's life is just one continual vacation. "The same difficulties and daily challenges that exist at home exist on the road," says Jennifer. "Feeding, educating and keeping a roof overhead, not to mention hand washing clothes for six people every other day in a bucket, are very real, not-so-glamorous, parts of our lives."

    The day I interview Jennifer, the family are camped in an agave field on a mountainside above Oaxaca in Mexico. Ezra, 7, is copying a paragraph about Diego Rivera into his journal. The other children are up a tree. Tony is working on an iPhone app. for an insurance company in the U.S. "I walked two miles into town to drop off laundry," says Jennifer. "i didn't feel like hand-washing today, and I was unable to find any meat, or ice. I did, however, get a liter of fresh squeezed orange juice in a plastic bag with a straw in it, and half a kilo of tortillas with re-fried beans for lunch."

    For the Miller's, the benefits of their on-the-go lifestyle outweigh the difficulties by far, especially the family togetherness. "Our kids really like each other and they like us, even the 13 year old (maybe especially the 13 year old!)," says Jennifer. "Their education is a huge benefit too. Our kids are all at or above grade level in the usual subjects, but they've also walked through geography, history, culture, language and literature in a way that they never could have from home."

    The other major benefit is that Jennifer and Tony get to live life together instead of being pulled in two different directions with careers, kids and crazy schedules. "We are rarely more than a hundred yards from one another and we work together every single day toward a very concrete and common goal," she says.

    Wade and Chaya Miller
    Currently residing in: Dominican Republic
    Living like nomads together since: 2007

    Wade Miller has been traveling full-time since he was 18. His path has taken him all over Asia, North Africa, North, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East. He traveled solo until he met his wife, Chaya, in 2007, and now the three of them -- they have a six-month-old daughter Petra -- travel as a family. You can follow their travels on their blog Vagabond Journey. (Family pictured above.)

    On the phone from the Dominican Republic, Wade, who grew up on a farm, says he began traveling as soon as he finished high school. That was 11 years ago. "Before leaving [the farm] my grandfather took me aside and gave me my first lesson in budget travel: 'If you ever get hungry,' he said, 'just go behind a doughnut shop.'"

    Wade imagined he would be the penniless wanderer flicking the bird at the rest of society. "I thought that traveling the world as a vagabond would mean panhandling for food and sleeping in ditches," he says. "I had no idea that I could live as well as I do. Traveling has actually taught me responsibility, the value of hardwork, and all of those other [seemingly] lame lessons that your parents try to instill in you."

    In 2000, Wade traveled abroad for the first time, to Ecuador. It was there that he learned how to do archaeology fieldwork at a Florida Atlantic University field school. This soon became the trade that really gave him his wings. "The money that I could make from working as a field archaeologist for three months a year was usually enough to keep me traveling for the remaining nine," he says.

    While traveling, he obtained a B.A. degree while studying in five different countries. He also became TOEFL certified some time ago and now sometimes works as an English teacher. "I construct websites, and I have also found myself doing farm work, gardening and other menial jobs. I've tried to learn as many trades as I can, to increase my freedom to travel. I now I make most of my travel funds from writing on my website," he says.

    In his early years of traveling, Wade was surprised to discover that it is vastly cheaper to travel the world than it is to stay at home. "A traveler only needs three things: food, shelter and transportation. I set the amount of $10 per day as my expense cap in 2001, and I have averaged around this mark ever since."

    In the summer of 2006, he met Chaya for the first time in Costa Rica. They met again a month later completely at random at a farm on Omotepe Island in Nicaragua, and then again two years later in Brooklyn. The pair were married in the summer of 2009 and had their first baby before the season ended.

    "The biggest drawbacks are that we are away from our families," says Wade. "Petra only occasionally gets to see her grandparents, her aunts, uncles and cousins. We don't have a solid base of operations or a support system for helping us raise our child, so everywhere we go we try to introduce her to other children and make friends with their parents. Right now, Petra has some little Dominican baby friends who she plays with as much as a six month old can."

    Wade, Chaya and Petra have been in Sosua in the Dominican Republic for three weeks and already have friends all over town. "We're renting an apartment in a hotel that has a nice courtyard and pool, a short walk from two beaches. We have all the amenities and we are only paying around $22 a day for all three of us, including rent, food and baby supplies like diapers and wipes," says Wade. "Though we have to work a little to live this cheaply -- we cook all of our own meals, only eat the cheapest locally grown food, rented an apartment rather than hotel rooms, and we very rarely pay for anything recreational."

    But, says Wade, the pros of life on the road far outweigh any inconveniences. "We meet all kinds of different people, learn different languages and about other cultures, see the sites of history in person rather than from books, and live our education directly. It's the best way to live that I know of."

    Howard and Linda Payne
    Currently residing in: Welaka, Florida
    Living like nomads since: 2005

    Howard and Linda Payne would agree. They have been living year-round in their fifth-wheel RV since 2005. Now, they keep a web site so others can learn more about full-time RV-ing, at RV Dreams.

    "Some people would call what we're doing a midlife crisis," says Howard when I speak to him from Welaka, Florida. He and Linda love to travel, and after they spent a couple of weeks in Alaska in 2004, out in the wilderness away from cell phones and newspapers they returned home "a little depressed."

    "We had a nice house, a couple of cars, a country club membership, what a lot of people would consider the American dream, but it just wasn't enough for us," says Howard. "We'd come home at night and we were like roommates, we were so stressed out from our jobs."

    The Payne's, both 41 at the time, were debt-free except for their mortgage. One day Linda suggested swapping the house for an RV. "A lot of the people we run into [these days] plan for this for 10, 15, 20 years, but it wasn't even on our radar. We started looking into how we could do it, and it happened very fast," says Howard.

    Between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2004, Howard researched how much it would cost and whether they could make a living on the road. By Christmas they had made a decision and in January 2005, they bought a 5th wheel and a truck. Howard gave six months notice at work, they sold the house in May, and by August they left Louisville and were on the road. "As soon as we figured out that we could get jobs on the road and keep track of all our expenses -- that we could make a living out here -- we started doing some heavy research, and it happened very fast," says Howard.

    Before they set out, Howard developed the web site as a potential way to earn some money. "I took all the research I'd done in one month, and put it together so other people could have it all in one place," he says. Linda learned to make jewelry from some people she met in an RV park, and they sell that on the road, and online, and through a gallery in Louisville.

    "We live what we call a moderate lifestyle -- you can do this for between $28 and $36,000 a year," says Howard.

    Last summer they worked in Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, after that they were at Lake Almanor near Lassen Volcanic park in Northern California for 4 months. "This year we'll be working at a golf resort in Michigan...all the free golf we want to play," he says.

    Do they miss anything about living in a house? "My wife misses the dishwasher, and we both miss the hot-tub we used to have, but nothing significant. Some people miss having a community in one place, but we find we have closer and more friends in the RV community than we did back home," says Howard. "I like to say it's like America used to be. People stop by and sit on your porch and talk. We just walk around the campground for 30 minutes and have 4 new friends, and stay in touch with them for a long time afterward. Its almost like we're in this underground utopia that nobody knows about."

    People live differently all over the world. Don't miss:

    -The Snail House
    - Life in a Bubble
    - The 747 House in Malibu


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    A behind-the-scenes look at the creative thought and decision making that goes into this oh-so-addictive catalog.

    We love catalogs at ShelterPop. Sometimes when we're flipping through Anthropologie's latest catalog, we'll even feel a bit awestruck. How do the stylists make us want every single item featured?

    While Anthropologie's perfectly curated collection is inspiring on its own, pair it up with creative director Trevor Lunn and his genius team, and you've got even more buy-me-now appeal.

    But just how does a brand's rustic-romantic wares go from stock rooms to the stuff your home design dreams are made of? Lunn gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of an Anthropologie catalog.

    Anthropologie December CatalogHome goods never looked so good. Photo: Anthropologie

    The Team

    "Like a magazine, putting together the catalog is a hugely collaborative process," Lunn explains. His team consists of buyers (including head buyer, Keith Johnson, host of the Sundance Channel's Man Shops Globe), merchandisers, designers, stylists, photographers and art directors, all working together to compose the best book possible.

    The Time Frame
    If you've signed up for a catalog, you can bet on a copy showing up in your mailbox each month. That means that Lunn's team is working several months in advance. "For us it really is Christmas in July," he says.

    Inspiration All Around

    "We draw inspiration from artists, photographers, places, film and music. Almost anything can spark that initial creative flame," Lunn says.

    Take the November 2010 catalog, for example. The concept of "dreams" (a child's dream in particular) was conceived when Lunn's 2-year old daughter had just learned the song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." The line "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream" stuck in his head and later graced the catalog's opening spread. "That was our starting and end point for each of the stories," Lunn says.

    The team also found inspiration in a 1930s painting by Belgian painter Rene Magritte, below left. They added their magic and brought a dream of train travel (and a vintage-inspired outfit) to life.

    Once the sparks go flying, it's the season, a place or an artist that truly dictates the ideas and themes for a particular month. Sometimes this even means pulling a product because it isn't a good fit with the scenario imagined. Creating items and stories that will deliver an unimagined experience is the design team's ultimate goal.

    Rene Magritte and Anthropologie CatalogMagritte's 1938 painting "Time Transfixed." Photo: The Art Institute of Chicago; An inspired moment from Anthropologie's November catalog. Photo: Anthropologie

    "When In Doubt, Edit."
    "Our biggest challenge is editing all those ideas, all that inspiration," Lunn says. "We are always asking ourselves if this particular item or shot deserves to be in the book."

    Lunn puts that editing experience to work in his own home, constantly recomposing the items he and his wife already own to transform a room's feel. His best decorating advice: Don't take it too seriously, remember that nothing is permanent, only buy things that you absolutely love and when in doubt, edit.

    Don't miss these stories on ShelterPop:
    - Ice hotels tell us how to warm up.
    - Fashion inspires decor, but doesn't decor inspire fashion? Yes!
    - AOL designs coolest house ever.


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    Brooke Burke of "Dancing with the Stars" shares her favorite decorating tips and shows off her white and silver holiday home.

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    For HGTV's annual Celebrity Holiday Homes special this year, designer Sandra Espinet gave the home of Brooke Burke and David Charvet a heavy dose of holiday cheer, transforming it into a Winter white fantasyland with a fabulous mantel display, a delicious holiday buffet, an extravagant formal dining tablescape, and swanky holiday gift wrapping. Sandra has offered up her Winter wonderland decorating ideas to help you get the look of this over-the-top, festive space. Check out her tips below!

    christmas decorating brooke burkeHGTV via CasaSugar

    Christmas Decorating Tip #1:"Hang tree decorations and other charms like glass balls and jewels from the ceiling and chandelier."

    christmas decorating brooke burkeHGTV via CasaSugar

    Christmas Decorating Tip #2: "Gather all the clear glass containers and vessels from around your home, or purchase some inexpensive ones. Use dishes, bowls, vases, platters - and don't forget a fabulous glass or crystal pitcher for some egg nog! Don't forget to haul out your cake stand or punch bowl too! Arrange them on your table and fill with an assortment of white holiday foods. Use a variety of foods for maximum effect and satisfied holiday revelers."

    christmas decorating brooke burkeHGTV via CasaSugar

    Christmas Decorating Tip #4: "Use touches like holiday statuettes, decorative candles, and extra tree ornaments throughout the room to create a cohesive Winter White fantasy theme."

    Christmas Decorating Tip #5: "Use matching stockings on your mantel for your holiday party. A chic line of matching stockings will look beautiful. If your family has personalized stockings, you can always have them on hand for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning."

    Want to see the rest of the photos and get more tips from Brooke? Check out the rest of the piece on CasaSugar!

    Want more CasaSugar goodies?
    What's Your Favorite Online Shelter Mag For 2010?
    Etsy Gift Ideas For Facebook Friends: Great Idea or Not Useful?


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    Did you know that there's actually a formula to creating the perfect house? Neither did we...until now.

    From a creative perspective, designing and decorating a home is a very right-brain type of activity. Matching paint colors, choosing textures, pairing furniture and fabrics - it's like an artist's dream job! But what about those of us who are a bit, well, challenged in the "just wing it!" department.

    Luckily, the experts behind the National Kitchen & Bath Association and Design Works, Inc. have created a formula to follow for just about every space in your home. Use these helpful measurements to help your home flow better:

    plan a roomPhoto: Getty Images

    When picking furniture for your bedroom, you'll want to include at least 4 feet of uninterrupted space in front of closets to allow for adequate dressing room. Also, plan for 30 inches of walking space between large pieces of furniture -- in particular, extra large dressers and armoires, which sometimes require lots of room to open.

    Dining Room
    Your dining room table should provide 2 feet of space per person. So if you're planning on hosting a total of eight people at a time, you'll need a table with a 16-foot perimeter (or 2-by-6-feet) to keep things comfortable. If traffic will pass behind seated diners, allow for at least 44 inches to walk by comfortably. If you will simply need to edge past, you can minimize the space to 36 inches.

    Also, if you're thinking about hanging a chandelier over your table, measure the table (for rectangular and oval table, measure the width; for round tables, measure the diameter) before subtracting 12 inches. A chandelier looks its best if it is about 6 inches in from the edge of the table, therefore the width or diameter minus 6 inches will give you the size needed.

    plan a roomPhoto: Getty Images

    Living Room
    Your living area's conversation space should be approximately 10 feet across. For cozy conversations, reduce the space between furniture to 15 to 24 inches. This way everyone will be able to reach the coffee table without getting up and will be able to talk to one another without shouting.

    The path between low objects (think sofas, coffee tables, ottomans) should be 18 inches wide. At first you may think that's too narrow, but give it a try -- we think you'll find it's plenty of room.

    plan a roomPhoto: jupiterimages

    A hallway is a great place to incorporate furniture like a chest or console table. But make sure to consider depth and height, as well as the length of the piece of furniture. For example, a table that's 5 feet long may be a perfect length for the space, but if it's 2 feet deep, it will be too large for a standard 3-foot-wide hallway.

    And if you have the luxury of planning your spaces from scratch...

    Plan a clear floor space of at least 30 inches from the front edge of all fixtures (lavatory, toilet, bidet, tub
    and shower) to any opposite bath fixture, wall or obstacle. The distance between the centerlines of two vanity sinks should be at least 36 inches.

    The clear opening of a doorway should be at least 34 inches, which means your entire doorway should be 3 feet wide. The average person needs between 3 to 5 square feet of space to comfortably put on and remove a coat, so if you have the luxury of designing your own foyer, keep in mind the volume of guests that could be arriving or departing at one time.

    The recipe for a successful kitchen lies in its work triangle: the refrigerator, sink and range/stove. To optimize efficiency, the sum of the triangle should total no more than 26 feet, with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4 feet. A total of 158 square inches of countertop, 24 inches deep, with at least 15 inches of clearance, is needed to accommodate all kitchen uses.

    In closets, a pole should run parallel to the wall, about 12 inches from both sides, so that all garments can hang at a right angle. In the kitchen, designers recommend at least 18 square feet of general storage. Add another 6 square feet to that number for each additional family member.

    Happy house planning!

    Are you a plan-aholic? Check out a few of our favorite stories for the home-design perfectionist:
    Our Fave Organizer Notebooks
    Recipe for the Perfect Mudroom
    Organize Your Medicine Cabinet


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    Mirrored furniture can add a touch of glamour to any room, but the perfect piece can be hard to track down. Here, our favorite places to find the glossy furniture.

    Mirrored furniture is not a new furniture concept. In fact, it may even date back to the 12th century. But in the last 10 years, mirrored furniture has come back in a big way. Maybe it's because many of us are moving into smaller spaces, and we're looking to make these spaces appear larger. Or maybe it's because it adds just the right amount of glamour and elegance to an otherwise plain room.

    Where do you go for the best mirrored furniture? Here are a few sources to get your reflective motor running.

    mirrored furniture from Glam Furniture

    Photo: Glam Furniture

    The Source
    Glam Furniture

    The Goods
    Glam Furniture has a huge selection of mirrored furnishings, from chests to armoires and stools. You can find just about anything at Glam, and if they don't have it, I bet they can get it for you. Pieces range in price from about $325 to over $3,000, depending on a piece's size and style. I particularly like the selection of chests with black and brown trim details like the Sabrina Three Drawer Chest and Tanner Mirrored Chest (pictured above).

    The Secret
    Boasting the title of the third largest mirrored furniture dealer in the US, Glam Furniture started out as the small dream of Kelly Wells. Wells had a passion for glamorous furnishings and a desire to help others find a good selection, so she started the company. Pieces of furniture from Glam have been featured on Season 7 of Extreme Makeover - Home Edition and The Good Wife.

    Things to Know
    Alabama residents can visit the Glam Furniture showroom to check out the reflective retailer's goods in person.

    mirrored furniture from Horchow

    Photo: Horchow

    The Source

    The Goods
    Beautiful antique and modern mirrored furnishings for any decor. Ranging in price from $399 to over $5,500, the selection runs the gamut when it comes to style and budget. If you have some cash to spend, the John-Richard furniture collection is dazzling, especially the brand new Gatsby chest ($4329).

    The Secret
    Horchow isn't a secret. In fact, in 1988 Horchow became a part of the Neiman Marcus Group. However, as one of the largest retailers of mirrored furniture on the Internet, you can't talk about mirrored furniture and not mention Horchow.

    Things to Know
    Horchow also offers a program to the trade, and you can use your Neiman Marcus credit card for purchases. If you want to see some Horchow pieces in person, select Neiman Marcus stores have Horchow furniture showrooms.

    mirrored furniture from Shades of Light

    Photo: Shades of Light

    The Source
    Shades of Light

    The Goods
    Shades of Light has a nice selection of traditional mirrored furniture, mostly antique-looking chests, stools and console tables. Mirrored items are priced from $400 to $2,500, similar in price point to the other sources. The traditional and regal gold mirrored collection is truly a spectacular combination of gold and silver in harmony.

    The Secret
    Shades of Light has been in operation since 1986, offering a variety of high-quality lighting, rugs and furniture.

    Things to Know
    Like Horchow, you can request a catalog or shop from home from your computer. They also have an email list you can sign up for to get notified of sales and new products. Shades of Light has two retail locations in Richmond, VA and Virginia Beach. They also have an outlet location in Richmond.

    Want more?
    Be sure to check out Target's great selection of basic modern mirrored furniture.

    Keep reading our Secret Source column!
    -Serena and Lily
    -Chic Shelf Paper


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  • 12/07/10--12:31: Country Comfort

  • The heart of Country Comfort starts in the kitchen where you want your friends and family to be. For a classic country look, think of mixing and matching wood and stone. IKEA brings you these options, starting with solid oak LIDINGO cabinets with "soft-close" beveled doors. With zodiac countertops, open cabinets and GRUNDTAL exposed shelving you can show off all of your kitchenware for a comfortable feel. Combine wood, cast iron, glass kitchen accessories and black matte DÅTID appliances to set contrast with materials and color to bring out more country charm. All IKEA kitchen appliances come with a 5-year limited warranty and are made by Whirlpool.

    If your style is Country Comfort, IKEA has the kitchen for you.

    For more IKEA product information, click here.


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