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  • 01/10/11--20:23: Trend We Love: Wall Tape
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    Love the look of wallpaper but can't take the plunge? Give temporary tape a try.

    With all the design choices out there today, sometimes it can be hard to commit to just one look. And if you live in a rented place, you probably don't have the option of committing, even if you wanted to. So how can you spice up your space without doing anything permanent?

    Just grab a roll of colored masking tape, a bottle of glue and voila! -- you've added instant character that you can take down whenever you'd like.

    Case in point: The two projects shown above. Can you believe that the stripes in the dining room on the left were created with wall tape? Featured on Apartment Therapy, the wall was prepared with masking tape to create painted strips. But once the renters discovered that the tape matched their series of prints, they decided to leave the tape up as instant wallpaper.

    In designer Caitlin Creer's entryway (above right), she used floral tape to create the cube-like pattern. You can create a similar pattern with solid or patterned ribbon, attaching the material to your wall along the way.

    According to Jonathan Fong, author of "Jonathan Fong's Walls That Wow", the best tape to use on walls is called Permacel, a kind of high-strength paper tape that's typically used on film sets to secure camera and light cables to the floor. But you won't find this style of tape at your local home-improvement store. Instead, you'll need to check out a craft or art-supply store. There you'll find that the tape comes in a variety of different colors and widths, allowing you to create whatever type of design you desire. And when you want to change the look, the tape peels right off (without taking your paint with it).

    wall-tape pearl street interiorsPhoto: Pearl Street Interiors

    Jenny of Pearl Street Interiors designed her own geometric-inspired wall art in her entryway (above). To pull it off, you'll need to play with the tape on the wall until you find the right proportion for the diamonds, and then start taping. You may want to mark a few spots with a pencil to help guide the placement of the tape. Once you're finished, just use an X-acto knife to clean up the loose ends along your trim and base boards. For more detailed info on the project, see Jenny's post.

    For more simple DIY projects, click here.

    We're also reading:
    -My Nook Will Not Replace My Bookshelf
    -Living in the Other Woman's House
    QUIZ: What Era is Your Home Decor?


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    Oprah, Jimmy Fallon and David Beckham have stayed at this Bali-inspired Caribbean resort. Why you'll want to too.

    I've been to the British Virgin Islands. Tortola, to be exact, where I rented a house with two friends. It remains one of my favorite vacations. I loved the island's gentle ocean breezes, abundance of locally caught seafood and incredible beaches. Think: white sands, bright blue skies and the lush green hills of St. John in the distance.

    Bali Houses -- half a dozen of them -- are one of the island's lodging options. Photo: Necker Island

    If I were a celebrity that vacation may have been a wee bit different. I might have called Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways, and inquired about availability on Necker Island, his 74-acre private island with super-luxe (and beautifully decorated) lodging. Located about 30 minutes from Tortola by private boat, Branson bought the island in 1978 and began renting it out in 1984.

    A who's who of celebrities have stayed at the resort, everyone from Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson to Jimmy Fallon (he married here in 2007), Victoria and David Beckham (who rang in their 10th anniversary here earlier this year) to Princess Diana and Oprah Winfrey. We tried to get the goods on their stays, but a representative of Necker Island was tight-lipped: "I'm afraid that we respect the confidentiality of all of our guests."

    The resort, the site of a 2010 Victoria's Secret catalog shoot, isn't cheap. If you rent the entire resort, it's $53,000 per night for up to 28 guests (5 night minimum). It includes all of your meals, drinks, boat transfers to and from the island and access to a 60 person staff. Still, you have to do your own laundry. Say what? The newest perk is a high-speed submarine dubbed "Necker Nymph."

    In lieu of jetting off to this exclusive celeb retreat, we have photos of the property and the 14 rooms, which are divided between the Great House and six Bali Houses. While we really want to spend a night in this fantasy getaway, we'll settle for drooling over the photos and finding our favorite designer touch in each area of the resort.

    Necker IslandPhoto: Necker Island

    What we love: Decor on the beach.
    In a promo shot for the property, there are piles of pillows grouped together on a torch-lit beach, along with an exquisitely-set table -- the ultimate in outdoor living. I'm not going to say that you should try this at home -- it's pretty cold here in Wisconsin where I live. But here's an idea: Forget the hot chocolate. Mix yourself a tropical drink instead, and sip it in front of your roaring fire. It will lift the winter blues in minutes. Or, just beckon to a staff member, er, your significant other. "We try and provide a 'home away from home' style, but with the luxury of staff to answer your every need," says Leesa Jones, one of Necker Island's general managers.

    Necker Island
    Photo: Necker Island

    What we love: Beachy colors in the bedroom.
    In this master-suite room, located inside the Great House, decorative accents -- in this case, pale blue pillows, bright white bed linens, curtains and seating -- match the seascape outside. Since the Great House is on top of Devil's Hill and affords practically panoramic views of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, a "clean cream and pale-blue color scheme was intentionally chosen," says Jones. The house's six rooms, including this one, have their own private terrace. All of the furniture and artifacts throughout the Great House were sourced from Bali, where they were handmade. Check out the vintage-look Jacuzzi (it looks like a clawfoot bathtub) on the suite's private terrace. We are so there!

    Necker Island

    Photo: Necker Island

    What we love: Open air rooms.
    There are six Bali Houses on the property. Some are situated on a cliff (offering amazing views and equally amazing sea breezes at night) and some are in the middle of the island (with a large private pool at each house). Built in Bali, they were then deconstructed so they could be transported to Necker Island, where they were reassembled. Inside one of the three cliffside homes (shown above), the open air room offers seamless panoramic views.

    Ornately carved chairs and sofas are a nice alternative to the wicker popular in many seaside settings. White seat cushions and blue and green accents make the background stand out even more. Can't you see Brad and Angelina relaxing in this space -- talking about how they are going to change the world next -- after the kiddos are in bed? Or Oprah giggling with her BFF Gayle late into the night?

    Necker Island
    Photo: Necker Island

    What we love: Carefully placed accents.
    Okay, we get that this room -- in one of the Bali Houses -- looks completely staged. There is no way that a duo of straw hats are going to be positioned equidistant at the foot of the bed. No, they will be casually tossed onto the bed or the floor after coming in from the hot sun. But let's take a closer look. Objects in a room can tell their visitors a story and cultivate a feeling. Here, a straw hat like you might wear while lounging in a chaise on a sandy beach is displayed on the bed. Think about arranging a glass bowl filled with sand and seashells on top of a side table or dresser. Or a straw tote-bag slung over a door knob. It may make you smile when you walk in your own room.

    Necker Island
    Photo: Necker Island

    What we love: French doors.
    What I liked best about my vacation on Tortola was the ability to leave the French doors open at night while I slept. Nothing is more relaxing. In this Bali House room, neutral, lighter shades of wood keep up the relaxed vibe, but the real star is the view. Drool. Sigh. Book me a plane ticket now.

    Want to see more Caribbean interiors?

    Kelly Wearstler Makes Her Mark at the Viceroy Anguilla

    Design Drool: Where Kate Moss Vacations
    Far-Flung Friday: Grab Your Sunglasses


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    "The wires to my stove, refrigerator and dishwasher all plug in to an outlet high on the wall. It looks hideous! How can I fix it?" -Tricia Blanchard

    The Blanchards

    When it comes to non-negotiables in a home, garbage cans and electricity top the list. Making them look attractive, however, is always a challenge. What do you do with all those wires? In the Blanchard's kitchen, an awkwardly placed outlet and makeshift trash cans have left one corner in a tangled mess.

    Enter Minute Makeover guru Bob Richter. His plan is to conceal the wiring needed to run all of the Blanchards' appliances and tidy up their garbage collection area. To do so, Richter's starting with an item the Blanchards already own -- a tall white storage cabinet that isn't getting as much use in its current location. He moves the cabinet to a spot alongside the refrigerator where he can streamline the wiring by attaching a power strip to the back. Now there's just one cord to worry about, and that's taken care of by open shelving and family photos. And those paper bags? Gone. Storage bins do the job and look much better.

    The Blanchards' trash-sorting area is both practical but personal without a hint of the electrical wiring hiding just beneath the surface.

    To see what IKEA products were used, scroll over the pieces in the video or check out our shopping guide!

    Read more great ShelterPop stories:
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: What's Fresh, New and Fun
    Pattern of the Year 2011: Honeycomb!
    Decor That Says Something
    Fashion-Inspired Rooms


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    Before you invest in an expensive, custom-built kitchen island, you may want to consider these creative possibilities.

    We could all use a little more storage or extra counter space. That's probably why the kitchen island was invented. But what if you're not quite ready to renovate your kitchen or invest in an expensive built-in, but you're in need of a quick fix? Here are a few options to consider. These pieces offer up extra space, convenient storage and a sprinkle of style.

    kitchen islandA small rolling cart instantly adds more storage. Photos: cb2 and Crate & Barrel.

    1. Rolling cart
    There are lots of inexpensive microwave and beverage carts on the market, and if you're looking for something on the smaller side, a tiny cart is just what you need! Plus, most of them are on wheels so they can move around the kitchen with you as you perform your tasks. For example, the Go-Cart Carbon Shelf Table from cb2 or the Belmont White kitchen cart from Crate & Barrel might work well in smaller spaces.

    kitchen island from a deskCan you believe this was once a desk? Photo: ReadyMade

    2. A desk
    Yes! Maybe you just upgraded your office furniture or found a great vintage desk at a garage sale. ReadyMade reader Gail Wilson repurposed her daughter's old desk into a kitchen island. If you're crafty, I bet you could come up with something as creative as Gail, who added beadboard to the front and lumber to the top. Another option is to invest in an inexpensive ready-to-use desk like this rolling one for $260. Not only does it have wheels, but it folds down for easy storage.

    dining table kitchen islandPhoto: Elle DECOR

    3. A dining table
    Although the table might be a little lower than your standard kitchen island, a solid wood table acts like a butcher block and takes a pretty decent beating, like the one we spotted above and below in Elle Decor. If you don't mind bending over a little, you can slap some cute mismatched chairs around it, or try adding a bench to one end and use the other end for rolling dough or chopping onions. If the height gets you down, cut off the legs and replace with some higher ones from IKEA. Adding a shelf toward the bottom is also a great way to make use of the space underneath (above).

    farmhouse dining table islandPhotos: Elle DECOR

    make your own kitchen islandMake your own island! Photos: Cymax and IKEA

    4. A bookshelf
    If you're mostly looking for more storage, try a bookshelf. It's a great place to stash the cookbooks, mixing bowls and dishtowels if you have limited counter or cabinet space. You can also use two bookshelves as table legs, like these Winsome shelves (pictured above), and add a counter on top. Simply find an inexpensive table on Craigslist and remove the legs or even grab a top from IKEA like the GALANT (above). Cymax also has this great bookshelf-meet-work surface for $600 (below), a whole lot less than a custom island with a granite countertop.

    kitchen island optionsAn alternative to the custom granite island. Photo: Cymax

    For more kitchen ideas, don't miss:
    - Kitchen countertops that don't hold up
    - A kitchen makeover that recalls the past


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  • 01/18/11--08:25: How to Be Easy to Live With
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    After being called a grouch by her family one too many times, this writer figured out how to be easier to live with.

    I often think about my sister-in-law's large house in Texas -- it has wings. It's an easy house to get lost in when you've had it up to your eyeballs with family shenanigans. Back on the East Coast, my family and I don't have any wings in which to hide. We use every square inch of our house, which makes it easy for our pet peeves to come to a head. Sometimes we feel collectively cranky when the volume is too loud on the stereo or when we're crowding each other on the couch.

    Although my husband and kids can be difficult to live with at times, I'm the one who has been called a grouch way too many times than I care to count.

    easy-to-live-withWhich one is easy to live with? Photo: Corbis

    I'm particularly tough in the kitchen. It's a tiny galley kitchen, not the kind that easily fits four people. The kitchen is the hub of any house, but after the third time bumping backsides, I tend to get cranky and throw everyone out; that's when I typically hear the mutters about what a grouch I am. I get cranky when my husband drapes the kitchen towels in random places and puts the dish detergent bottle on the left side of the sink, when I like it on the right. My daughter loves to dance around the kitchen, my son brings his hamster in for a visit, all while I'm trying to cook. Is there any wonder why I can get cranky?

    I asked my sister-in-law, Laurie, the lucky one with the big house, if it's easier to live with her husband and three grown kids since she has more square footage. (She used to live in a small house in California.) "Yes!" she replied. No hesitation with that response! She says that she finds places in her home where she doesn't have to "hear or answer to anyone's calls."

    Though a bigger house may make things more bearable at times, there are more tactics and tools I've learned about how to live in more harmony than havoc, no matter what the size of your home.

    1. Accept Murphy's Law of Karma.
    I've learned that if you complain about something someone did in the house -- such as forgetting to turn the oven on when making dinner -- you will inevitably end up making the same mistake. Last week, I, too, forgot to turn on the oven to bake lasagna -- a few weeks after I was irritated with my husband for doing the same with ribs. I was able to laugh it off, but years ago I would have been defensive or weepy over the same event.

    Remember, everyone has irritating habits. I have accepted my own large set of flaws, which helps me to be an easier -- and less defensive -- person to live with. I leave empty jars on the kitchen counter, spill raw rice everywhere and don't always tighten the cap on the orange juice container, which I hear about when my husband shakes and splatters the O.J. Still, these are not deliberate acts of aggression, just human foibles. In addition, I can share with my husband a list of his kitchen flubs, which aren't always fun to live with. If you think about it, you're probably just as guilty of bad habits as others around you.

    2. Establish boundaries with each member of your household.
    My sister-in-law admits that she did not set immediate boundaries once her husband began working from home more and that set up a tense situation -- and neither one of them was easy to live with at that point. Though it's easier said than done, she managed to turn the former upstairs game room into a she-cave/office.

    Everyone's happier out of each other's way during the day, she reports. My friend, Lisa, who has worked at home for years, has lots of tips on how to carve out your own territory in her book about home-based businesses, Working Naked. One example: Regardless of how accommodating and comfortable your kitchen is, never set up shop in your kitchen. You'll be in constant contact with your family or end up being the family Grinch.

    easy-to-live-withLoud kids aren't always easy to live with. Photo: Getty

    And if you think your kids are the only wild ones, you're not alone. I often repeat to myself a random comment I once heard an acquaintance with grown kids say: "Kids break things, they are loud, and they sneak candy." That one comment has continuously helped me to remember that I'm not the only one in the world who has unruly kids at times. It especially helped me to keep my cool when my son accidentally broke the garage window with a basketball -- the second time this year.

    3. Designate a place to be alone in your house.
    Melissa, a neighbor, mom and work-at-home graphic designer with DesignSite, says that it has taken a few years, but she finally has a system down that makes her easy to live with. Since Melissa is always home at work and at play, she's managed to find ways to carve out time for herself, which makes her happy. She spends solo time in the evenings with books and watching movies on her laptop.

    If your house is small, you can still find quiet spots. Make use of doors with working locks. My family knows I like to hide out in our master bathroom -- another tiny space good for only one person, but it has a durable lock and an overhead fan that drowns outside noise. Paradise! When I'm tough to be around, my kids head to the family room and close the door. Two of my friends hide out in their lockable bedrooms when talking on the phone. If I can't find my husband, I know he's crawled into the boat docked on the side of our house to "make sure it's okay." We can all have our hideaways, regardless of house size.

    4. Don't hoard.

    A cluttered home makes everyone miserable, as you'll all be tripping over each other and each others' stuff.

    Since Melissa lives in a compact Cape Cod-style home, she's learned to edit the stuff in her house as a way to live better together as a family. In addition, cleaning house and keeping the clutter out shows your housemates that you respect them and their needs. That, in itself, gives people the perception that you're easy to live with, she adds.

    5. It's okay to tune people out.
    Keep a pair of headphones in every room to shut out the world, or to shut out someone else's world. I realized this was a gift of sanity one night when my daughter was camping out in our bedroom watching a loud rock show, so we plugged her in and we went to sleep. Now my son uses headphones when he's playing a turbo-charged racing car game on the computer. (I pick and choose when I plug him in because I do need to hear what he's doing on the computer.) Here's my newest trick: I wear headphones -- just to cover my ears -- so I don't have to hear my son bouncing around in his bedroom before he falls asleep while I'm trying to work at night. Since I don't hear him, I don't have to go into his room ten times an hour to tell him to settle down. Suddenly, I'm easier to live with!

    6. Let it go.
    Do you remember Dr. Phil's famous advice: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Hmm...there's truth in those words. After all, putting up with a husband who uses up a roll of over-sized toilet paper every other day, or listening to kids loudly whoop it up for two hours straight is so much better than not having them in my life at all.

    Most people mellow out as they get older. A number of friends I spoke with, who were once labeled as difficult to live with, noted that they've magically relaxed over the years. Family foibles don't rile them up so often, they say. Lisa admitted that she has naturally mellowed over time. She simply stopped asking her two teen sons so many darn questions, and her new label is "easygoing." Translated: Mellowing out means you've probably become desensitized to someone else's irritating habits. And that's something to celebrate.

    Are you easy or difficult to live with?
    What are some of your pet peeves around the house? Share your ideas and tips here or on our Facebook page! For more ideas on living together in peace, check out this article on Your Biggest Couples Cleaning Fights: Solved.


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    Friends teased our writer when she said she was buying her toddler a toy kitchen for Christmas. Here's why she did anyway.

    From the outside looking in, there's nothing extraordinary about my kitchen. In fact, I already wrote about its lackluster design sense. But the woefully outdated cabinets and ugly countertops are unimportant to my two-and-a-half year old, Max. The only thing he's interested in is that daddy is in the kitchen cooking, and anything daddy does, Max wants to do.

    When my husband, Allen -- a stay at home dad who does 99 percent of the cooking at our house -- heads into the kitchen to start dinner, little feet are often close behind. "Need to cook, too!" Max will say, grabbing potholders, a wooden spoon and the old egg poacher he's appropriated as his pot. "I make gumbo!" he'll say, practicing his ever expanding food vocabulary, which now includes words like paprika, black beans and onions.

    little boys play toy kitchen little tykesThe writer's son Max at his new toy kitchen. Photo: Judi Ketteler

    The boy loves everything about the kitchen: the clang of pots, the sound of food sizzling, the many buttons that need pressing and things that need measuring. So this Christmas, we decided it was time to get him his own kitchen. About a month ago, I started searching for play kitchens. What I discovered is that the majority of them were clearly geared toward little girls. If they weren't pink and purple, then they showed girls playing at them. Not only that, we've endured some teasing from people; it's more in-fun than mean-spirited, but still, it's enough to bring home the fact that we're traipsing on the hallowed ground of masculine identity in America. I'm sure the toy store is happy to take our money either way, but the overriding message in the world of toy marketing still seems to be that boys should get bats, bikes and big honkin' trucks -- better to leave the cooking and playhouses to the girls.

    I came across a story in the UK's DailyMail about a survey from Red Tractor beef and lamb that found that a third of men won't do any cooking at all in the kitchen during the holiday season. According to the company's press release, about half of the women surveyed say they wish they had more help in the kitchen. I know that most of my memories of holiday meals involve the women cloistered in the kitchen cooking and then later cleaning up, while the men watched TV.

    But are we seriously still here, clutching to this division of labor that's been with us for years? As my household illustrates, many of us have evolved beyond such traditional understandings. Still, our messages to boys haven't quite caught up.

    Consider the fact that a little boy is interested in many things: The way a basketball bounces, cuddling with a baby doll, figuring out how things are put together, watching onions sauté, helping put away laundry, racing his toy car and getting messy decorating cupcakes. As he gets older, he's more encouraged to pursue the "boy" interests, and less encouraged to pursue interests related to domesticity. Parents of boys get the message too: After all, if the kitchens are pink and the doll clothes are frilly, parents will pass them over and opt instead for the stuff they can more easily imagine their boys playing with.

    little boys play toy kitchen little tykesMax and his daddy practice cooking together. Photo: Judi Ketteler

    There's a theory about boys: If, as they grow into men, nothing is expected of them around the house, they begin to lack confidence in spaces like the kitchen (about one-third of the men in the survey say they lack cooking confidence). I definitely see that. I've heard some of my girlfriends complaining about how their husbands struggle with basic things, like knowing what to feed their toddlers for lunch. But here's my question: Do you give them the chance to figure it out on their own or just fall back on the same old "husbands are just useless in the kitchen and with childcare" soundtrack?

    And if it's just a matter of confidence, how do we account for the rise of the professional (and super masculine) male chef, as evidenced by the myriad of shows on TV? Does anyone doubt that Bobby Flay is confident in the kitchen? Does anyone doubt he is masculine?

    How can we have testosterone-overdrive characters like Gordon Ramsay in the same world as gender stereotypical pink play kitchens? The same activities mean different things once gender gets factored in, says John Alberti, Ph.D., English professor at Northern Kentucky University, a former professor of mine who follows cultural trends and thinks about this complicated gender business a lot (and loves cooking shows). With the Food Network (and other) shows that revolve around macho competition, there's a great divide. "We have 'professional', out in the world cooking, which is much more culturally valued than 'just' cooking for the family," Alberti says. "Bottom line: Men cook for money; women cook for free (or, as it's sometimes called, 'love')."

    So how do we send a different message to boys? Restructuring the roles, as my husband and I have done, is surely one way. I work and support the family, and my husband is the primary caregiver/cook/housekeeper. He knows more about how to calm a crying baby, season a casserole, get a stain out of piece of clothing and load the dishwasher for optimally clean dishes than most men in suburban America would ever dream. But he's also such a guy in so many ways. Domestic work doesn't take the guy out of the guy, or the boy out of the boy. It just opens up the possibilities for everyone. Our situation wouldn't be right for a lot of families, but it's made everything we think about gender roles in this culture way more transparent. It's also made me realize that our paranoia about emasculating boys is just, well, dumb. And it winds up short-changing them -- and short-changing women in the end.

    So after the thrill of his Little Tikes Cookin' Creations Kitchen wears off, Max may decide he hates cooking. He may decide to be a bounty hunter, or a stockbroker, or an elementary school teacher. Maybe he'll be a stay-at-home dad just like his own dad. We want our girls to get the message that they can do anything. Let's send that message to our boys, too. And let's make sure to emphasize that "anything" starts at home.

    Judi Ketteler is the author of "Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution + 25 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl."

    Now, tell us: What do you think about play kitchens? Weigh in on our Facebook page!

    For more great stories on ShelterPop, don't miss:
    My Nook Will Never Replace My Bookshelf
    Naked at Home For a Week
    The Case Against Cleaning
    Always the Writer, Never the Client


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    So long, neutrals! Color is making a comeback in the kitchen, and countertops (yes, countertops) are leading the charge.

    For anyone renovating a kitchen, choosing a kitchen countertop has been as easy as deciding which neutral you'd go with: crisp white marble, slick black or gray granite, maybe tan Corian. But kitchen countertops are getting a major makeover. Think: fiery reds, soothing aquas -- In other words, color.

    "We're definitely seeing a growing trend toward solid colors for the kitchen counter," says Stephanie Pritchard, kitchen designer at Middleburg Design in Middleburg, Virginia. "Variations of slate gray and white are still popular, but braver souls are taking the plunge with choices like lime green, orange and fiery varieties, like Red Dragon granite."

    It's easy to see why these counters are so alluring -- they can brighten up the dullest of kitchens -- but Pritchard says to think it through before settling on something so bold. "Color is great, but it has to be in the right home or setting," she says. Still, it's an exciting development in kitchen countertops, especially since designs needed some shaking up.

    If you do live in a colorful setting or just fancy yourself a home design risk taker, we say go for it! Joining the ranks of other colorful trends (think red refrigerators and cobalt blue dishwashers by companies like LG and Whirlpool), many of these punchy possibilities are also made from eco-friendly materials, making them stylish and smart. Here are a few of our favorites:

    Photo: CaesarStone

    Made from one of nature's hardest materials, quartz surfaces like Silestone and CaesarStone are pressured into dense, non-porous slabs, before being polished to a high-gloss shine. Vibrant color options include Apple Martini, Magenta Energy and Ruby Reflections. Unlike granite and other natural stones, quartz is also more consistent, with virtually no veins or surface flaws.

    color-countertop-ideasPhoto: Alkemi

    Recycled Scrap Metal
    Made from aluminum milling scraps, these stunning countertops are filled with eye-catching metallic flecks, as well as a rich colored background (available shades include Plum, Paprika and Root Beer, just to name a few). Plus, it's extremely strong and durable, and it can be polished to your preferred level of shine. For more information, check out Alkemi.

    color-countertop-ideasPhoto: Pyrolave

    Lava Stone
    Available in an unlimited amount of colors and finishes (it can actually be dyed to match any area in your home), this ultra-resilient material is made from enameling natural volcanic rock (aka lava) at more than 1,000 degrees. Plus, it can be used outdoors, as it also holds up to freezing, thawing and heavy impacts. If you're interested, learn more at Pyrolave or check out these blue counters from Bis Bis.

    color-countertop-ideasPhoto: ThinkGlass

    Solid Glass
    No longer just for dishware, glass countertops are available in a variety of colors (both solids and patterned variations) and textures, such as bubbled designs that mimic the look of a babbling stream. Plus, it's surprisingly sturdy (it comes in 1.5-inch slabs or thicker), and it can be customized with swirls of color to create your own personalized touch. We like this example from ThinkGlass.

    color-countertop-ideasPhoto: Vetrazzo

    Recycled Glass & Concrete
    Strong like granite and heat-resistant like stone, countertops made from recycled glass and concrete are also an eco-friendly option since the majority of the countertop consists of old multi-colored glass from curbside recycling programs, windows, stemware, stained glass -- even traffic lights. Check out the colors at Vetrazzo and IceStone.

    color-countertop-ideasPhoto: PaperStone

    Recycled Paper
    With more subtle color options (think hues like Chocolate, Gunmetal and Cabernet), recycled-paper countertops (made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, resin and natural pigments) are a nice alternative for those with more understated tastes. Worried about it absorbing liquids? Don't be -- paper countertops' non-porous surface is extremely solid and stain resistant. For examples, check out PaperStone and Richlite.

    Interested in other countertop alternatives? Check these out.


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    A textile designer makes room for baby in her Brooklyn apartment, and it's nothing but sweet, sweet style.

    Rachel Doriss, a textile designer for Pollack, moved to her Brooklyn building back in 2004. Over the last seven years, she and her husband Joel Hamilton, a record producer and musician, have watched the surrounding Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood grow and change. And in 2009, Doriss and Hamilton welcomed their own change: Their daughter Coco. Faced with a third member in their household, they had to figure out how to reconfigure their space.

    Rachel Doriss

    After brainstorming ways to make their 500-square-foot apartment work for three, Doriss and Hamilton realized their best option was to move. However, they didn't go far: The couple rented out their ninth floor apartment and moved into a roomier unit on the seventh floor with a terrace. While the new pad is bigger, it's still a one-bedroom -- leaving the pair to figure out how to fit a nursery into the apartment.

    Their solution was to cordon off a portion of their large bedroom for Coco without putting up any permanent walls -- it is a rental, after all. Instead, the couple purchased a bookshelf from IKEA to act as the base of the "wall" and then had a handy friend create a drywall box -- a sort of temporary soffit -- to sit on top of the bookcase. Moldings and paint make the makeshift wall look like it's actually built into the room. And floor to ceiling curtains made from a Pollack fabric make the space into a cozy cocoon for Coco to sleep.

    Throughout the rest of the house, Doriss and Hamilton made minor changes to make way for Coco, but they didn't change much. Their mid-century furnishings stayed, including a dresser that was topped with a changing pad for Coco instead of the usual changing table. With unlimited access to Pollack fabric, Doriss has many pillows made from beautiful textiles (sewn by her crafty grandmother!), but she decided to opt for a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-clean sofa for her living room when she knew Coco was on the way.

    Doriss and Hamilton have managed to fit a baby into a one-bedroom apartment, but their space remains sophisticated and chic. "You constantly have to edit," says Doriss. "I think you need to limit the number of toys and have good places to put them away," A lesson that any new parent can learn from.

    Shall we take a tour of Doriss and Hamilton's family-friendly Brooklyn pad?,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=964386&pid=964385&uts=1294689138

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Rachel Dorriss and Joel Hamilton had to rethink their home to make room for their daughter Coco.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Doriss and Hamilton's apartment is filled with art, including several works by Doriss's best friend from college, artist Molly Smith. Smith created the top left painting shown here. The sea coral was collected in Puerto Rico from a beach near Hamilton's mother's home.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Dorriss found this vintage lamp at a junk sale for just a few dollars and had it re-wired. "It's a great spot to hold all my earrings on a bedside table -- out of Coco's reach!" says Dorriss.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    The accordion-style photo collage was made as a surprise for the couple by friends in their wedding party; HAMILDORISS is a mash-up of the two names.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Coco's nursery is tucked into a corner of the couple's bedroom. While it looks like a permanent wall, the nursery is actually contained by a bookcase and a removable dry-walled box.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    The bookcase has open slots for books and closed compartments for necessities like diapers. The red squares open to the inside of the nursery, while the white doors open out in to the main room.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    The living room is flanked by many windows and opens onto a patio. "Because you have such a deep view, it feels really open and airy," notes Dorriss.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Dorriss found the daybed on Craigslist and re-upholstered it in a Pollack pattern. A smart solution for a petite pad, this day bed also functions as a place for overnight guests to lay their head.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Hamilton bought the John Robshaw bedding for Dorriss as a birthday gift. "I never would have picked it out myself," Dorriss confesses, "But it works really nicely because the walls are a purple-gray, and I love that the pattern's a hear-shape." (Heart bedding from your hubbie, how sweet is that?)

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    The kitchen is open to the living room, meaning light can reach the space for an open feel. A bookshelf hold baskets for Coco's toys.

    Happy Homes Make Happy People: Rachel Doriss

    Read more great ShelterPop stories:
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: What's Fresh, New and Fun
    Pattern of the Year 2011: Honeycomb!
    Decor That Says Something
    Fashion-Inspired Rooms


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    With snow and mud caked on our boots, wouldn't it be nice to have a dedicated place to stomp it off on the way in? Here's how to design one.

    Many of us may never have a home with its own dedicated mudroom. In my apartment, we have a tile entryway, which is sizable enough to remove shoes and coats and dry off the dogs, but it's not large enough to be called a "room." The house we just bought (yay!) is three times the size of my apartment, and yet it has even less usable entryway space. So that had me thinking about how I could create a mini mudroom area in an entryway -- a sort of "landing strip" to help keep me organized when I leave and return from a long day's work.

    Here are three examples of different style mini mudrooms you can design in the smallest of spots. You only need a few items to get you started: a spot to stash the shoes, hooks for coats and scarves, and smart stow spaces for everything else. Take a look at what I whipped up.

    mudroom-ideasPhotos, from left, clockwise: Pottery Barn, Miles Kimball, Overstock, Bed Bath and Beyond, See Jane Work

    Traditional Mudroom
    From left, clockwise

    With the all-in-one Entryway Organizer, $249, Pottery Barn, you don't need much more!

    Add a Wicker Letter Holder, $10, Miles Kimball, to organize your mail.

    The Umbrella Stand, $60, Overstock, is a nice complement to the hardware on the organizer.

    Keep your floors clean with a basic Boot Tray from Bed Bath and Beyond -- a steal for $7.99.

    Next to your letter holder, place a Vinea Pencil Cup, $8, See Jane Work, and you will have everything you need to jot down a quick note.

    mudroom-ideasPhotos, from top left, clockwise: ZGallerie, Generate, ferm LIVING, Emmo Home, The Container Store

    Modern Mudroom
    From top left, clockwise:

    This Mirror Wall Clock, $75, ZGallerie, allows you to check your hair and the time.

    The Aki Umbrella Holder, $149, Generate, adds a splash of color.

    A wall decal can free up much-needed floor space while still feeling like a standing coat rack: Coat Tree Wall Decal, $128, ferm LIVING.

    Don't forget to get those muddy shoes off the floor with a small J-Me Shoe Rack, $90, Emmo Home.

    The Magnetter Key & Letter Holder, $13, The Container Store, keeps your keys in reach while also holding important mail.

    mudroom-ideasPhotos, from top left, clockwise: Etsy, Audio Video Furniture, Amazon, Pier 1 Imports, Anthropologie

    Vintage Whimsy Mudroom
    From top left, clockwise

    Create a vintage-inspired, whimsical entry starting with an inspiration piece such as this Vintage Milk Glass Bowl, $13, Etsy seller merrysunshine.

    If you have the space, add something with lots of storage but a slim profile like this Winsome Milan Storage Shelf, $125, Audio Video Furniture.

    How can you resist this Two's Company Owl Umbrella Stand, $140, Amazon -- worth the splurge in my book.

    Add a little shimmer with an intricate mirror like this Round Shell Mirror, $199, Pier 1 Imports.

    Vintage-looking brass Ceramic Melon Hooks, $18, Anthropologie, hold your coat, purse and whatnots while adding a little soft color.

    Whether you gravitate toward a modern, traditional or vintage bohemian style, the inspiration boards above demonstrate that you can truly create the perfect mini mudroom with some simple essentials. And, if you're really pressed for space, try a door knob organizer like this one.

    Want more of-the-moment home decor ideas?
    Pattern of the Year 2011
    Designer Rugs: Look Who's Making Them Now
    Decor That Says Something
    Fashion-Inspired Rooms
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: What's New, Fresh and Fun


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  • 01/18/11--08:25: Fortuny Lamps: Seeing Double
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    When it comes to finding great pieces for your home, reading price tags can be tricky. Take a look at these almost-identical Fortuny lamps at very different prices. Can you tell the difference?

    In 1907, Mariano Fortuny invented the reflective stage light and illuminated the theater world. Love the drama? These bold, stylish lamps are inspired by his genius -- and are sure to add some theatrical flair to any room.

    Fortuny LampsFortuny lamps, left to right: DWR; Alphaville Design via Furniture XO.

    DWR's version has a steel frame (where Alphaville Design's is plastic and metal) and is taller -- 94.5" to Alphaville Design's 59"). It also comes in beige in case you're looking for a more toned-down take on the piece.

    Or Save?
    Not only does Alphaville Design's lamp have a much more practical price tag, it also comes with free curbside delivery (shipping for DWR's model adds on an extra $250 to the price -- almost the cost of the entire Alphaville version!)

    What choice would you make? Share on our Facebook page!

    To see more great finds at all different prices check out Copy Cat Chic!


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    Take a virtual walk through the most beautiful garden in Africa.

    Thanks to the FIFA 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa, Kirstenbosch now has many more fans worldwide to supplement its strong local support base. While it is one of nine National Botanic Gardens in the country, it is touted as the most beautiful...

    kirstenboschPincushions flowering at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    This gorgeous garden plays host to every type of visitor: the serious botanist, the horticulturist, the home gardener, the flower lover, the herbalist, the gift-buyer, the bibliophile, the picnicker, the photographer, the student, the hiker and the ladies who lunch. And let's not forget the children who need to get their feet wet in tadpole-rich mountain streams and roll on endless lawns, the elderly who are driven around on neat little golf carts, the blind or visually impaired, for whom a Braille Trail and a Fragrance Garden were designed, and above all, seekers of peace and beauty.

    Have I left anyone out?

    I am lucky enough to have known the garden since I was a teenager, but I am beginning to look at it with newly appreciative eyes, as I become more and more interested in how and why gardens work.

    kirstenboschThe Tea Room and Centre for Home Gardening. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Situated at the foot of the eastern ramparts of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch's location is impossible to beat. The dramatic green slopes dominated by Castle Rock and Fern Buttress support a natural and indigenous mix of Afromontane forest in the koofs (ravines) and fynbos (fine bush) in the open spaces.

    Down below in the gardens, plants indigenous not only to the Cape Peninsula, but to the whole country are planted in specific sections. Kirstenbosch was in fact the first botanic garden in the world to devote itself to the indigenous flora of a country when it was founded in 1913.

    The oldest part of the garden is the Dell, dominated by shade trees (African Holly - Ilex mitis), tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and shade-loving plants, such as plectranthus, clivias (Clivia miniata), streptocarpus species, blood lilies (Scadoxus multiflorus) and foxtail fern (Asparagus africanus), with a clear stream that gurgles between a stepping stone footpath.

    kirstenboschColonel Bird's bath in The Dell. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Colonel Bird's bath is still the site of midnight skinny dipping sessions for brave students of the University of Cape Town, but it remains off limits to law-abiding souls. The stepped bath is fed by underground springs and spills clear, clean water into the stream that meanders through the gardens below. The bird-shaped bath was built by and named after one of the early owners of the Kirstenbosch estate in 1811. The water was piped to his house after it had clarified in the pool.

    kirstenboschCycad flowering cones in the Cycad Amphitheatre. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Above the cool and shady Dell is the hot and sunny Cycad Amphitheatre where cycads, the oldest seed-producing plants in the world, have been collected. Many cycads are endangered in the wild due either to the destruction of their habitat or, more insidiously, to unscrupulous cycad collectors buying from disreputable sources who gather plants from the wild. The nursery at Kirstenbosch propagates plants from this collection of southern Africa cycads which are sold to the public to take the pressure off the wild population.

    kirstenboschAgapanthus 'Lydenburg'. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Known as African or Nile lilies in the rest of world, agapanthus are an extremely popular garden and commercial landscaping plant. They also make wonderful cut flowers. Most garden agapanthus are hybrids of Agapanthus praecox.

    They are one of the first flowers to greet summer visitors at Kirstenbosch, with recent hybrids flanking the entrance at the upper gate and now appearing in almost every shade of blue, from the palest whisper of the color to a deep purple black. There are also combinations of white with drops of blue. To make life even better, many of these hybrids are available to local gardeners at the nursery in the Centre for Home Gardening, where you can get expert advice from Richard Jamieson who has bred these beauties himself.

    kirstenboschThe Fragrance Garden at Kirstenbosch. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Near the upper entrance of Kirstenbosch (known as Gate 2) is the Fragrance Garden. A sinuous path weaves between raised beds of fragrant and highly tactile plants growing at waist level. The signage, which is also in Braille, explains what the plants are and how they can be used.

    Brushing against the velvety leaves of native Pelargonium tomentosum releases a strong scent of peppermint into the air. Honey-scented helichrysum is both feathery to the touch and warmly perfumed. Fox-tailed fern is soft unless you press too hard: Watch out! This garden is often visited by children who are so often told to look but not touch. Here they are invited to touch everything.

    Opposite the Fragrance Garden, the Braille Trail leads into preserved Afromontane forest along a wide mulch track, with a thick, strong rope for guidance along the edge. Here, shade, birdsong and stream sounds accompany the signposted walk.

    kirstenboschStrelitzia seeds are protected from grey squirrels. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    On the protected slopes of The Table Mountain National Park, animal visitors are also present. Little grey mongooses might trot silently along the edge of paths, hunting for insects and small rodents. Bat eared foxes have in the past raised their pups in the nearby shrubs and let them out to romp on the upper lawns in the evenings. Elusive rooikat (meaning red cat, describing the caracal) have been seen here on rare occasions in the early mornings or evenings. Cape river frogs breed in the mountain streams, spotted eagle owls raise their young in the trees of the garden, and on the lawns flocks of guineafowl and small families of Cape francolin stroll. Sugar birds, sun birds, canaries and prinnias flit through the flowers and grasses.

    One local rodent is a real pest: The grey squirrel eats the seed of strelitzias (known as birda of paradise in the rest of the world) before they can be harvested for propagation. Consequently, special wire cages are built around the drying flowers to lock the squirrels out.

    kirstenboschKirstenbosch in summer. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    One of the friendliest aspects of Kirstenbosch is that it encourages visitors to picnic anywhere in its grounds. The picnicker is spoiled for choice: On rolling lawns beneath old oak trees, or near the Otter Pond? In the Dell where the soft sounds of the stream are audible, or overlooking the expanse of Cape Town? On a bench, under a thatched gazebo, or perched on a wide rock? Picnics are either brought in or can be ordered from the excellent Kirstenbosch Tea Room.

    There are no trash receptacles in the garden. A discrete sign explains that what comes in must go out. The grounds are absolutely spotless. For this inviting attitude towards the public Kirstenbosch gets top marks from me.

    kirstenboschPicnics in the shade. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    The Summer Concert series takes place every Sunday evening on a stage on the lower, sloping lawns, hidden from the rest of the garden, and concert goers bring picnics early in the evening and camp out on the smooth lawns before the music starts. Kirstenbosch also supports the arts by collaborating with local artists on installations hosted by the gardens, and there is a permanent exhibition of Zimbabwean stone sculpture in the Sculpture Garden.

    kirstenboschCommiphora kraeuseliana growing in the Conservatory. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Kirstenbosch is located in one of the highest rainfall areas in South Africa, which makes showcasing some of the country's famous and fascinating succulents a challenge. Mathews' Rockery is a north-facing (hence sunny) ridge where many of the xerophytic plants from drier parts of South Africa are collected. Cotyledons, many aloes, crassulas, mesembs and euphorbias are found here.

    But for heavy-duty dryness in this abundant winter rainfall region, the Conservatory had to be built. It was opened in 1996 and houses a collection of plants from arid regions in southern Africa, including seedlings of the long-lived Welwitschia mirabilis plant, which has a lifespan of between 400 and 1,500 years.

    kirstenboschCotyledon orbiculata. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    For the serious hiker and flower-hunter, Kirstenbosch is also a gateway to the steep trails up the eastern flanks of Table Mountain, ascending via the ominously-named but accessible Skeleton Gorge, where ladders help you over large boulders in a streambed, or the endlessly stepping trudge up Nursery Ravine. Both walks start within Kirstenbosch's forests and gradually work their way up the green kloofs until you emerge in the sunlight (or clouds -- the weather turns suddenly on this mountain). If scaling the mountain seems like too much trouble you can break left or right above the gardens to walk along the easy Contour Path.

    Markers on the mountain point out the major routes, but never walk without a good map or without knowing where you are headed. Wear good shoes, take water, a warm sweater (regardless of the weather), wear sunscreen and tell someone what your route will be. This is not a tame mountain. There are many charted walks, ranging from short hourly ciruits to all-day affairs, with everything inbetween.

    For the more casual walker, Kirstenbosch has a network of excellent paths within the garden and plenty of hills to keep you in shape.

    kirstenboschHiker Vincent Mounier takes a break above Kirstenbosch. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Kirstenbosch is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. I cannot think of another garden to rival it for its 360 degree knockout views, for sheer floral beauty and interest, for its high standard of upkeep or for its welcoming attitude to all visitors.

    Put it on your bucket list.

    Looking for more gardening? Check out these pieces:
    Winter Gardening Myths Broken!
    From Backyard to Jungle


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    That space-saving dining set is the Fusion dining table, with chairs that fit snugly up against the table's corners. The chairs' compact design frees up space when they're not in use. Perfect, right? Just add a bunch of fresh blooms in a PS Brunn vase to give the room a dose of color.

    Storage and counter space is taken care of by the Norden sideboard. Its near 50-inch top is roomy enough to prep meals and the open shelving below allows for easy access to frequently-used items. Strapel baskets keep kitchen wares tidy underneath and Droppar jars with lids add some contrast to the black finish and corral edible items on top.

    Loving the window treatments? Get the look with three great pieces from Ballard Designs! The Ball Finial Outdoor Rod set in Black ($45-$55) is a classic choice to hold up the charming Concorde Medallion Panels. Add some contrast with a traditional print -- the Three Button Tiebacks in Black ($15 for two) are great -- and you've got a picture-perfect window.

    Ballard Designs


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    Josh Altman, a Hollywood realtor and the newest cast member of "Million Dollar Listing," spills the beans on celebrity real estate shopping.

    Real estate: It's one of those topics that anyone can talk about, but Josh Altman, the latest addition to the cast of BRAVO's "Million Dollar Listing," can really talk real estate. Altman, who was recruited to join the show for his A-list clientele, including Kim Kardashian, rapper Eve and football pro Reggie Bush, has helped clients buy and sell dozens of million dollar listings. In fact, he's sold eight of his personal houses in six years!

    Josh Altman is the latest realtor to join the show Million Dollar Listing. Photo: BRAVO

    ShelterPop caught up with Josh Altman to ask him if it's true: When it comes to real estate, are celebrities just like us? Turns out, the answer is both yes and no:

    They're just like us!

    The firm matters. Whether you're shopping for a one bedroom in Cleveland or a $20 million dollar manse in the Hollywood Hills, Altman says the quality and reputation of the real estate firm is critical to your sale. For example, in Altman's line of work, which is super-high-end, it's important for a firm to have listings internationally for prospective foreign buyers.

    You have to know your comps. Price is dependent on recent comparable sales in your area. "Look at the comps around your area," says Altman. "If every five bedroom is selling for $3 million and there's a lot of inventory out there, there's no way you're getting $4 million." The same is true at any price point.

    Buying a house is a big deal. Buying a house is a huge investment -- even for celebrities. "For 99% of people, it's the biggest investment of their lives," says Altman. (Though that private yacht might rank up there too.)

    Where you are counts. "At the end of the day, it's location, location, location," says Altman of the time-tested wisdom about real estate. Celebs and regular folks alike want the best location their money can buy.

    Money is money. Period. Says Altman, "If you're a billionaire, a millionaire or a regular Joe, everyone is going to try to bargain and get the best deal." So, don't be afraid to bargain, but do so in a way that is respectful and informed.

    Personal effects are a no-no. Whether you're a Hollywood playboy with a mirror above your bed or a midwestern family with an excess of family photos and children's toys, Altman says that removing the clutter and personal tchotchkes is necessary for making your house sale-ready.

    However, they're nothing like us at all...

    They've got cash. While Altman notes that everyone likes to bargain, he admits it's much easier for the super rich, who can often offer to pay all in cash. "It makes the deal cleaner and easier," says Altman. "In turn, you can get an even better deal."

    Their checklists are more luxurious. While most of us are hoping for a little extra space in the garage and a recently replaced boiler, jet-setters in LA have two decidedly luxurious must-haves: A pool and a screening room. "You've gotta have a screening room," insists Altman. "Half the people in this town are in the movie business."

    Their homes are immaculate. "The good thing about celebrities is that most have interior designers, which is a HUGE help," says Altman. If you can afford it, he recommends bringing in a design professional to help prepare your home for resale.

    Their bodyguards need a place to stay. While everyone enjoys privacy, Altman notes than many of his clients are looking for extreme levels of solitude. "Longer gated driveways, security systems and space for the security to be on the property are key," says Altman who caters to celebrities and bold-faced names.

    Details matter more. Forget your wallet-friendly, flip-this-house notions about selling a home. "You can't go cheap on an expensive house," says Altman. "When it comes time to sell the property, you're not going to trick a high-end client -- they know what's good."

    OK, so obviously it's a little easier to buy and sell real estate when you're a big star, but we'll add one thing we're grateful for as lowly non-celebs: The abscence of paparazzi!

    More celebrity real estate gossip:
    J. Lo's house is more elegant than we expected
    Lindsay Lohan's Post Rehab House
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom


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    Take a look at the photo and read through the clues. Can you figure out who lives here?

    What newly engaged and preggers Golden Globe-nominated actress will be bringing up baby in this stately paneled living room? It's located in an exclusive gated community in Los Angeles that's been home to a myriad of Tinseltown types since the 1920s.

    But note -- don't let the decor sway you. This is the listing photo, so those wingbacks and the opulent chandelier are not of her choosing.


    She once co-hosted a New Year's Eve bash with Britney Spears at the Hudson Hotel in New York City.

    She was discovered in a pizza parlor at the age of nine.

    She has a pooch named Charlie.

    She was born on the same day in June as her mother.

    She has a psychology degree from Harvard.

    What do you think?

    Want the answer? Get it here!

    More celebrity real estate gossip:
    - J. Lo's house is more elegant than we expected.
    - Lindsay Lohan's Post Rehab House
    - Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom


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    The Facebook founder moves into a new Palo Alto home: Another rental!

    We just can't get enough of the real estate moves of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Most recently, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, moved into a new home in the College Terrace neighborhood of Palo Alto. The 3,800-square-foot house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms and some questionable decor, including a granny-style bedspread and a lumberjack-plaid sofa.

    Photo: Paul Morillo, | Bloomberg via Getty Images

    No worries, we're sure that Zuckerberg will give it a new look that's much more appropriate. Our prediction: Plenty of blue.

    Use the slider tool to see how it compares with his old house!

    Want to see more?


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    Old vinyl floors and drab walls are no match for determined DIY-ers (and a seriously beautiful clawfoot tub).

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    Wedding and lifestyle photographer Ashley Vaughn of White Rabbit Studios has kindly been taking us on a tour of the renovations that she and her husband Andy have finished thus far in their Huntsville, AL, home. If you haven't taken the other tours yet, be sure to check out their dining room, their living room, their bathroom, and kitchen. Today, we'll take a look at their bathroom. Like all of the other areas of the house, the couple had to complete a lot of work to get it looking its best. Let's take a tour and hear what Ashley has to say about this room!

    Bathroom makeover: Before and After. Photos: White Rabbit Studios via CasaSugar.

    Ugly vinyl was only one of many sins this bathroom was living with. "We completely rebuilt the floor," Ashley told me. "When we tore up the (disgusting) vinyl floor that was there when we started working, we found that all of the subflooring was totally rotted. I was shocked the bathroom hadn't fallen through!"

    Ashley and Andy scored this clawfoot tub for only $100, but it needed some spiffing up. "It took us several days to complete the tub . . . mainly waiting for paint to dry," said Ashley.

    White Rabbit Studios via CasaSugar

    Not only did Ashley and Andy have to contend with the bathroom's exterior, they also had to replace the roof on this portion of the house, which was rotting out. Ashley explained, "During the roof work we found the original hole where a transom window was above the door. Since the kitchen and bathroom used to be a porch, this was once the exterior door. We added back the transom window, and it helps the morning light flood in!" They found the chandelier for $1 and spray painted it red. It adds such a playful touch to this space.

    White Rabbit Studios via CasaSugar

    The wallpaper was sourced from Brocade Home. While it's no longer available in green, you can get it in a silver foil color. And the bathroom shelf was found for a nickel at another estate sale. While it was originally bright pink, a quick cover of white spray paint brought out its potential.

    Want to see all the steps in between the before and after? Check out the rest of the story on CasaSugar!

    Or if you're looking for more CasaSugar goodies...

    Target Revives the Smith & Hawken Brand
    Are You Resolving to Learn New Home Skills in 2011?


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    Shout claims that their new Color Catcher sheets allow whites to be washed with colors. But do they work? One writer puts the spin cycle to the test.

    You know the saying: "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." Well, let's just say that was the thought running through my mind as I walked out of Target the other day with Shout Color Catcher in hand.

    Yep, Shout has come out with a new product that claims to put an end to the old "white + colors = pink laundry" rule. Maybe you've seen the commercial, where an enthusiastic woman brags about how she can wash her husband's white shirts with her red dress. There's a "dramatization" of the sheet in the washing machine, absorbing all of the red dye while the spiffy work shirt remains untouched and then -- tada! -- a perfect white shirt, right out of the laundry. But really, how could this be? Even I, the dunce of all things domestic, know that mixing laundry is a recipe for disaster. So, when my ShelterPop editor asked me to put the new product to the test, I decided to throw in a load of a laundry.

    shout-color-catcher-reviewPhoto: Sara Brown

    Things didn't exactly go as planned.

    After purchasing three brand-spankin' new Hanes white t-shirts, I rounded-up the boldest blue and red t-shirts I could find:

    Photo: Sara Brown

    All of the t-shirts' tags specifically said to wash in warm water with LIKE colors. I cranked my washing machine up to warm and tossed them all in together, along with two of the Color Catcher sheets and the designated amount of laundry detergent. (Instructions suggest using 2 to 3 sheets when washing brand new items.)

    Thirty minutes later the load was done and here's what I found:

    shout-color-catcher-reviewPhoto: Sara Brown

    Two purple dryer sheets and -- whoa! -- three Hanes t-shirts, as bright as white could be!

    Shocked? So was I. Here's how the Shout Color Catcher technology works: The sheets, which look and feel just like your average dryer sheet, absorb and trap loose dyes in your water, safeguarding your laundry from color bleeds and runs, and helping to preserve your clothes. No more wasted time spent sorting your laundry and waiting to finish two loads when you could be doing one!

    Photo: Sara Brown

    Photo: Sara Brown

    Not to mention saving money by eliminating half-size (or in my case: one-item) loads from your wash routine. Call me over-the-top, but I'm naming this product one of the coolest cleaning innovations of 2011! Step aside Magic Eraser, Shout Color Catcher just put a whole new spin on cleaning up fast!

    For more cleaning-product reviews, click here.


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    Housekeepers rely on it. Housewives probably haven't heard of it. But Bar Keepers Friend may just be the most important cleaner in your life.

    New cleaning products are rolled out weekly, each batch smelling better than the last. And they all promise cleaner results, like none you've ever seen. But there are a few tried and true products that don't need any revamping.

    Bar Keepers Friend has been in production since 1882, and with all of the products on the market, it still holds up as one of the toughest cleaners out there. Cleaning guru Rebecca Page owns Concierge Home Services in Ottawa, Canada, and cleaning house is among the company's specialties. She says that she and her staff rely on the product to get out the most stubborn stains on everything from kitchen fixtures to stove tops. "We do a lot of move-in and move-out cleans, and this is definitely in our kit," says Page. It does the job of baking soda, she says, only much, much better.

    Photo: Jolie Novak, AOL

    You can use Bar Keepers Friend pretty much anywhere in the house, but especially in the kitchen and bathroom. It's really good at removing rust lurking inside cast-iron bath tubs and eliminating food messes that build up on a kitchen backsplash.
    "The primary use is for hard, metallic finishes, like stainless steel, chrome, brass and laminate, which a lot of counter tops are made out of," says Page. "It also makes white fixtures sparkling and clean." And stainless appliances. It is also useful for polishing up brass doorknobs and letterboxes for your mail.

    You can buy the cleaner in a non-bleach, powder-based cleanser at Williams-Sonoma, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ace Hardware, and many supermarket chains; a liquid option does the same job that the powder cleanser does.

    Derek Christian, who owns Cincinnati-based My Maid Service, is a huge fan of Bar Keepers Friend. Here are three areas he suggests using the product. All you have to do is apply a little bit of the product (start with a teaspoon and then adjust based on the size of the area and how terrible the stain is) to a surface or to a wet sponge. (If you're polishing fixtures, you may want to squeeze some of the liquid version onto a sponge.) Then scrub! But not too hard. The product foams easily so that you don't risk ruining your house by injecting scratches and marks from the cleaning process.

    1. Stainless steel surfaces
    Those annoying scratches? Bar Keepers Friend will remove them. "This makes us a hero in many homes damaged by other products that scratch the surface," says Christian.

    2. Glass shower doors
    Bar Keepers Friend contains a mild abrasive to scrub off the soap scum and oxalic acid, which chemically dissolves the soap scum and hard water, he says.

    3. Cookware
    Who wouldn't want a set of pots and pans that look brand-new? "We clean furnished corporate apartments and Bar Keepers Friend makes the pots look like new," says Christian. "The abrasive removes the food residue and the oxalic acid gets rid of the water spots."

    "On the flip side," says Christian, "Bar Keepers Friend cannot be used on pewter or natural stone like marble. The acid that makes it so effective can damage these surfaces. In cleaning homes it is just as important to know where not to use a product to avoid damages."

    Want to be an even savvier cleaner? Read these articles.
    The Dos and Don'ts of Choosing Healthy Cleaning Products
    How to Clean Faster (and Smarter)
    Cleaning Kitchens: Deep Clean Your Kitchen Sink


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    "We have a railroad kitchen. Does that mean we have to choose between a seating area and extra storage? We need both!" - Tricia Blanchard

    The Blanchards

    The first step to a well-designed space is taking stock of what you already own. In the Blanchard's long railroad-style kitchen, the essentials are now in place. They've removed unnecessary clutter and figured out how to hide wires. But the organizing has left one half of the room completely bare and unused.

    The Blanchard's wish list for their blank wall includes a seating area, so they can eat as a family, as well as additional counter space and storage.

    Enter Minute Makeover guru Bob Richter. His goal is to grant the Blanchard's three wishes, without making the kitchen feel cluttered. His first priority, the bare, dead-end window along the far wall, gets a pair of curtains that match the existing cream and black accents, instantly warming up the space. Next, he brings in a clever space-saving dining table and chairs.

    As for storage and counter space? He got it in one shot with a roomy sideboard with open shelving, complete with baskets and jars for hidden storage.

    The Blanchards have a streamlined eat-in kitchen -- and plenty of space to prep their meals. The next step? Creating a seating area in the kitchen.

    To see what IKEA products were used, scroll over the pieces in the video. To learn more about all of the products in the video, check out our shopping guide!

    Read more great ShelterPop stories:
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: What's Fresh, New and Fun
    Pattern of the Year 2011: Honeycomb!
    Decor That Says Something
    Fashion-Inspired Rooms


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    If you're thinking of decorating your living room (or re-decorating) but don't know how to get started, a flip through one of the shelter mags may only confuse you more. We make things simple with a living room decorating series broken down by style. First up, traditional.

    Are you leaning toward traditional furnishings but your prized Saarinen Tulip table isn't going anywhere? Did you always picture decorating your space with richly-hued Baroque furniture, but you end up buying clean lines and muted tones? Whether you're a real wild child (patterns, patterns and more patterns), or you've got more traditionalist sensibilities (good book by the fire, anyone?), it can be challenging to create a look that's cohesive, let alone apropos of your personality and lifestyle.

    Rich finishes and sumptuous, dark leather appointments convey opulence and transcend trends. Photo: Kenneth Brown

    Don't sweat it: We spoke to several designers and asked them to break down what it means to decorate a traditional living room. Don't worry, there's a way to work in other design sensibilities, like modern and eclectic, but first let's stick to the basics. Here's what makes a traditional living room tick and tips for how to pull it all together.

    Often seen as the safest choice in design, the traditional style implements classic appointments (solid wood furniture, rich finishes, sumptuous upholstery, dark colors) that transcend trends. But, if you're not careful, this style could have one drawback: It can easily fall into the matchy-matchy trap, says designer and host of HGTV's Redesign, Kenneth Brown. "The biggest challenge lies in mixing pieces that don't look exactly the same, because traditional interiors should always have a 'gathered over time' look. Be cautious of buying sets of anything."

    According to Brown, four key pieces that really make the traditional living room come together are: A large sofa, two matching chairs and one large, wooden coffee table. For example, as shown above, Ethan Allen's Modern Glamour Adler Coffee Table, $729, Restoration Hardware's Belfort Wingback Chairs, $699 to $999, and Broyhill's Austin Sofa, $1089. While there are countless ways to arrange this grouping, Brown suggests creating two, even three, seating areas if you're lucky enough to have a large, open space. They'll allow guests to have intimate conversations or be part of larger discussions and activities.

    When it comes to smaller rooms, Brown says most folks gravitate toward smaller furniture. "Believe it or not," says Brown, "to make a small living room appear bigger, fill it with larger-scale furniture. Just use fewer pieces."

    A large couch, a wooden coffee table and two matching occasional chairs round out the traditional room. Photo: Kenneth Brown

    Brown insists traditional needn't mean stuffy. He weaves interest into the mix via patterned accent pieces (chairs, drapes), deep, warm paint colors and tactile, textural materials (leather, silk). "I've also been using antiqued-bronze finishes on mirrors and lamps, which adds a hint of Old-World charm," says Brown. He suggests bringing in a few oversize (22 inches versus the standard 18-inch fare) throw pillows in comfy fabrics: "If you can afford down pillows, all the better. Their softness will make the room feel welcoming and relaxed," he adds.

    Brown suggests creating a wall "collage" in a traditional living room -- a blended showcase of similarly presented varying pieces -- to convey sophisticated opulence and a sense of history. Over the sofa, try hanging five to seven works. "They can range from landscapes to portraits to pen-and-ink sketches," he says. "Think of the entire collage as one piece, and keep frames evenly spaced."

    He likes pairing linen liners with dark or rubbed-gold finish wood frames. As for lighting, Brown layers the room with table lamps and floor lamps, and accentuates artwork with picture lights. "And chandeliers, not recessed lighting," he adds. We like the traditional lamps shown above, from left: Bellacor's Medora Resin Table Lamp, $118, Gracious Home's Porter Brass Floor Lamp, $460, and Lamps Plus's Crystorama Seven Light Gold Leaf Looped Arm Chandelier, $670 (no longer available).

    Brown also sees an area rug as essential in anchoring a sitting area and feels it's a "great opportunity to pull the whole room together -- from colors to patterns."

    For more living room decorating ideas, don't miss:
    -IKEA EXPEDIT, 5 Different Ways
    -Love a Vanilla-Scented Home. You're Not Alone
    -Decorating a Fireplace Mantel

    Want more living room decorating ideas? Check out this great video!


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