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  • 01/25/11--05:49: Gadget Guru

  • A beautiful kitchen is great to cook in, but what really creates the magic are all of the cool gadgets and utensils. The kitchen for a Gadget Guru is a tool belt and creativity comes first. The key is to have an organized, efficient space for everything from your good knives and citrus zesters to food processors and spice containers. Outfit your kitchen with IKEA's stainless steel cabinets and drawers, and NUTID appliances, which will give your space a sleek and sophisticated design. RATIONELL modular organizers can be personalized and are essential for storing gadgets the way you want to. Lighting is important in any kitchen and with IKEA's DIODER lights your drawers are lit every time you open them. For countertop lighting, GRUNDTAL is the right choice for clean, seamless integration. IKEA has the perfect kitchen for all Gadget Gurus to show off.

    For more IKEA product information, click here.


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    Style and kids -- let's just say they don't make much of a match. But we found several coffee tables that won't add any more bumps and bruises to your little one's head.

    You want a stylish coffee table, but here's the reality: Kids will fall and climb on it and probably bump into the sharp edges daily. Since you can't do too much to curb their clumsy ways, you need to be sure that your furniture can break a fall without breaking a bone.

    We've rounded up a variety of attractive coffee tables, most under $300, that won't be a danger to little heads, hands and feet.

    Kid-Friendly Coffee TablesPhoto: West Elm, Hayneedle, Target

    Soft Tables
    Ottomans or padded tables are a great coffee table alternative. You can use trays and platters on top if you need to rest drinks or food, but while your child is playing you can feel relieved to know that he won't be getting any boo-boos if he falls onto it. Here are a few options I found that would work great in any style home.

    From top left, clockwise: Upholstered Dhurrie Slab, $299, West Elm, is a low rider. The patchwork fabric will hide spills and stains and it acts like an oversized pillow so no bumps or bruises. You could probably use this as a body pillow when guests aren't around! Add the removable Raw Wood Side Table, $149, when entertaining guests.

    The Homeelegence Coffee Table Ottoman with Trays, $299, Hayneedle, isn't even real leather so you don't have to feel bad if it gets scratched up. Covered in a soft surface, this ottoman table is perfect for a family and can double as a set of tray tables on family movie night.

    The leather Modular Storage Ottoman, $150, Target, will easily wipe clean and prevent injuries while hiding toys and coloring books inside.

    coffee-tables-kid-friendlyPhotos: Sears, Modern Nursery, Allmodern, Sitbetter, Chiasso, CB2

    Super Soft Movable Cubes
    Sometimes you need extra seating, storage or space more than a coffee table, which is why movable cubes are the perfect option. You can place multiple cubes together to create a cohesive coffee table or separate for added seating when entertaining guests. Some of these cubes are even light enough for the little ones to move around on their own.

    From top left, clockwise: The Safavieh Hud4063A Lorenzo Storage Ottoman, $148, Sears, has hidden storage for toys and coloring books. It's made of leather and has a protective coating for stain resistance. And it makes the perfect footrest.

    The P'kolino Storage Ottoman, $229, Modern Nursery, comes with an upholstered top that flips over to reveal a wooden underside, perfect for sitting drinks atop when entertaining or using as a solid coloring surface for the little ones. Inside, you can stash magazines or toys. And -- bonus -- it's vinyl so cleaning up after sticky fingers is a snap.

    Modern moms take note of the Gus*Modern Jasper Cube, $250,, which is available in simple gray or a cute tree pattern; the Detour Square Cube is a steal at $75,, comes in a nice, bright orange along with a few other neutral colors, too; and the Patent Cube, $198, Chiasso (easily wipes clean).

    Looking for something with a handmade feeling, or perhaps something a little rounder? These Knitted Poufs, $80, CB2, a piece and create a more relaxed feeling then a square ottoman.

    Kid-Friendly Coffee TablesPhoto: IKEA, Raymour & Flanigan, Sears, Macy's, CB2

    Round Tables
    Nothing says kid-friendly like no corners or sharp edges. Round tables aren't going out of style any time soon so don't worry about feeling behind on the trends.

    From top left, clockwise: Back to basics: you won't feel bad if the simple wood VEJMON coffee table, $150, IKEA, gets a little crayon on it now and then. Rounded edges protect baby while protecting you from worry.

    The Brunswick Table, $379, Raymour & Flanigan, combines the rich wood of a round coffee table with the softness of an ottoman.

    If you're looking to buy a table that's fun for kids and adults, try this Powell White Round Chalkboard Table, $118, Sears. With this table, you don't ever have to be concerned if your child decided to draw outside the lines.

    Another more polished-looking coffee table is the Chambre Round Cocktail Table, $299, Macy's. When guests come over, you no longer have to be embarrassed that your home looks like Romper Room.

    The Smart Round Coffee Table, $299, CB2, is a modern-style table with a marble top and metal legs. Note: This is definitely not a safe pick for parents with crawlers and toddlers. But we included it for those determined to have marble in their living room -- If you are going to go with marble, a round option is definitely best. It's a little lighter and more airy than a dark wood table or heavy ottoman, and you don't have to worry about damage because the top is as durable as a marble countertop.

    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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    Go behind the scenes of the Design Challenge with the SCAD students and ShelterPop!

    Have you heard about the ShelterPop & SCAD Design Challenge yet? Here's a chance to get to know the talented students behind the designs and hear about the contest in their own words.

    If you haven't already, check out our esteemed guest judges! (They helped narrow it down to the top three). And more for your favorite! The winning product will be produced and sold, and the winning student will be a guest blogger on ShelterPop.

    Pick your favorite!


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  • 01/28/11--19:15: Jeff Lewis, Reinvented
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    When the housing market crashed, house flipper Jeff Lewis could have lost everything. But his quick tongue and impeccable taste has made him one of the biggest names in home design.

    To say that Jeff Lewis is outspoken would be an understatement. From zinging his staff members with his sarcastic sass to voicing his opinions on everything from paint swatches to patio furniture, when Jeff Lewis speaks, the world listens -- and it's easy to see why.

    Photo: Lou Mara

    A savvy businessman with a quick tongue and impeccable taste, Lewis has been one of the top house flippers in the market for more than a decade. And he's created a name for himself in the television world along the way, thanks to his hit Bravo show, Flipping Out. But his real estate unraveling has forced him to reinvent himself in the last few years -- He's done singing the praises of flipping.

    "If I had all the money in the world, I would buy homes, fix them up, rent them out and hang on to them forever," says Lewis. "Look at my grandmother who bought her house for less than $50,000 and now, even in this market, it's worth $750,000. Real estate is such a great bet and a fantastic way to build wealth -- in the long term."

    Lewis, who began aggressively flipping properties in southern California in his mid 20s, has always dabbled in real estate. Lke his investor father, Lewis spent his summers working for mortgage brokers, real-estate brokers, appraisers -- you name it. "I started off buying things and adding value, but I was always holding them as long-term investments," says Lewis. "But then when the market really started rapidly appreciating, a light bulb went off -- I had the potential to make a lot of money!"

    And quite the opportunity it was. After jumping into the "make money - and fast!" business of house flipping at age 29, Lewis quickly hopped his way up the real estate ladder. Before he knew it, he had flipped 50 homes and was selling his most expensive home for $4.4 million. "It wasn't just like one day I decided to flip houses," he says. "It really was an evolution."

    Made from 100% organic cotton denim, Jeff Lewis's line of super durable (and super stylish) throw pillows can be purchased through Alluminare and Throw them on any bed or sofa for an instant pop of pattern! Photos: Courtesy of Jeff Lewis.

    But when the market started to take a nose dive in 2007, Lewis knew he needed to get out -- and fast. He was holding about seven homes with enormous mortgages, so he drastically started cutting prices and selling properties. "I made a quick evaluation of what I could hold on to long term, and what I couldn't afford to hold on to," says Lewis. He needed to get liquid quickly to pay back family and friends, as well as his lenders. "Unfortunately, I sold some of my properties at losses, but I managed to come out on the other side without destroying my credit or defaulting on any of my loans. Can you imagine going to holiday gatherings and having to face someone who you owed $200,000? I couldn't have lived with myself."

    When the dust had settled from the housing crash, Lewis was left with a handful of properties that he could afford to hold on to. You'd think such a blow would leave this veteran house flipper with a substantial amount of extra time on his hands, right? Wrong.

    Lewis is now taking his 20 years of design and renovation experience and managing client projects across the country, from hour-long consultations where Lewis gives home or business owners his expert opinion on any advice they may need for their project to managing full-scale remodeling projects. He even took some time out of his jam-packed schedule to design House Beautiful's 2010 "Kitchen of the Year", which was showcased in Rockefeller Center last summer.

    In addition to these individual projects, he's also launched a new line of home accessories by Alluminare. The master of what House Beautiful has dubbed "soft modern," Lewis has parlayed this contemporary-yet-comfortable aesthetic into a collection of lighting, pillows and wallpaper that you can customize to fit your space perfectly. "The colors were picked from a palette of my favorite colors, so you can use my choices as a guide, while still having the flexibility to make it your own," says Lewis. "Plus, the products are priced reasonably, so you can change the items out with your mood. In case you didn't know, I'm very moody."

    Oh, trust us, we know. Which is why we're all wondering: Will this master of house-flipping have a change of heart and return to the biz anytime soon? "Knowing me, I'll get bored and I'll want a project. Will it be a full-time project like before? Who knows," he says. "Because of my decisions over the last few years, I was able to recoup some of my money and my credit is in tact. So now, if and when it's time to go back in, I'll be in a position to do so. I'm very lucky."

    In the mean time, you can check out Jeff and his team on the new season of "Flipping Out," coming in 2011.


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    "Our kitchen is packed with furniture -- it doesn't really fit or work -- but we're not sure how to make it work." - Christina Schmidt

    The Schmidts

    No matter how spacious your kitchen is, storage is almost always an issue. Like most of us, the Schmidts rely on open shelving and counter space as a fail-safe stash spot for food and appliances.

    Minute Makeover guru Bob Richter says that this is one of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to kitchen storage, and for the Schmidts it's not only unattractive -- it's unsafe for their toddler, Angelica.

    Richter's first step in clearing the Schmidts' kitchen clutter is to replace their open storage unit. The piece has no back, no front and no doors, which is a clear indicator that it was designed for display purposes and not storage, Richter says. He opts for a classic, cart-style unit instead, which not only conceals pantry items (and keeps them out of Angelica's reach), but also provides the counter space the Schmidts need to prepare meals.

    A shelf rail, installed above the cabinet, also does double duty, providing easy access to utensils and tying the storage unit together into one cohesive-looking space.

    To give the kitchen a little more warmth and personality, Richter replaced the Schmidts' dry-erase message board with equally functional fabric-covered versions.

    Lastly, he tamed their untidy garbage and recyclables by placing them in covered bins that are taller and therefore, less likely to overflow.

    Just a few new pieces and the Schmidts have a stylish space to store frequently used kitchen items.

    Their next project? Converting an awkward second bedroom into a cozy space for guests.

    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!


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    It may be out of reach, but I dream of owning a lake house someday. Here's how I plan to buy one.

    I opened up a savings account yesterday -- to save for a second home. Since it's going to be a seasonal cottage, I'm looking at spending less than $200,000. So I'm trying to put in $100 a month for the next 20 years. In my account right now: a meager $200.

    At this point in my life, I can only daydream about that cute little white house with Adirondack chairs facing a Wisconsin lake. And the awesome barbecues I'll host. And the canoe rides at sunset. I'm not ashamed to admit I spend many hours cruising real-estate listings. So I decided to at least try to make that dream a reality.

    Turns out that I took the right first step. Ellie Kay -- author of the 2008 book "A Tip A Day with Ellie Kay: 12 Months' Worth of Money-Saving Ideas" and the upcoming "The 60-Minute Money Workout: An Easy Step by Step Guide to Getting Your Finances into Shape" says that the first step is often the most important. "People dabble," she says, but they don't often make a move. While it may take me a couple of decades to save for a down payment, it can't hurt, she says, to begin the process early.

    It's not just me with a lofty dream. Many of my friends in their 30s and 40s are also pondering pre-retirement plans. After the kids are grown and their own student loans are paid off, what is it they want for themselves? For many, it's to have a retreat from the manic lifestyles we've all settled into. For one friend, it's a Chicago condo she's saving up for. Then she can hop onto the Amtrak from where we live in Milwaukee and less than two hours later be in her own urban condo, surrounded by hip bars and restaurants.

    Financial expert and author Manisha Thakor and her husband, who live in Houston, just completed the construction of their dream vacation home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As founder of the Women's Financial Literacy Initiative and author of "Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money With Your Honey," she will begin offering e-courses this month on a variety of topics, including saving for a second home. Drawing upon her personal experience, she was more than willing to dish about the ins and outs of having a vacation home -- and how to get ready for it.

    Don't dive into the dream too soon.
    "We've seen how so many dreams can go awry because you don't see the specifics involved," says Thakor. A perfect example, she says, is the 45-day luxury cruise she just took for her 40th birthday. During her years of daydreaming she failed to inquire about the average age on a cruise; it ended up being 75 years old. "I was surrounded by people who were at a completely different stage of life."

    Schedule a few vacations in the region where you might want to have a second place, just to confirm you like things. Test your access to the beach (it's not going to be fun fighting traffic for 45 minutes on a regular basis) and what's selling in the aisles of local supermarkets (your vegan diet might not be so easy to pull off). You could start slow by renting an apartment in your target area, taking note of the pluses and minuses, before you dump a lot of cash into a home that you own.

    "Really explore the dream and make sure it is what you want. It's so easy to get caught up in what you think it will be," she says.

    If you plan to rent it out, be realistic about when you'll get to use it.
    Many people, says Thakor, turn their vacation home into a temporary rental during the weeks they are not occupying it. But this means being flexible, perhaps giving up some of the winter weekends in your Scottsdale ranch, or deciding to go down to Florida in spring and autumn. "The problem is that everybody wants to rent your place the same weeks you want to be there," says Thakor.

    Even if you do snag vacationers to share your dream home, think about how you'll have to decorate it to suit their fancies. When people are paying $1,000 a week -- in lieu of a hotel with daily housekeeping services and top-notch decor -- they expect appliances and decorations to be higher-end and not show signs of wear and tear. One of Thakor's friends recently dealt with tourists who trashed the place, a situation you do not want to be in.

    Scale back on current expenses.
    We all know that the quickest way to put more money into your pocket is to use less of what you already earn. Evaluate your monthly budget. Is there anything you can drop or reduce the cost of?

    Kay suggests looking at two big monthly expenses: auto insurance and homeowners policy. "It should be a once a year thing," she says. "Only one in four people actually do this." Hop onto where quotes from four providers (for auto insurance) are provided at no cost. Armed with a lower quote you can either ask your current provider to match it -- or move to a new provider. Kay estimates you can save between $300 and $400 a year by consistently searching for the best rate.

    What vice can you pledge to give up in pursuit of your second house dream? It could be anything from ditching the monthly French manicure in favor of DIY nail-care to cutting down on the number of magazines you pick up off the newsstand (remember, subscriptions are always a better deal!).

    You can also save on grocery bills by simply visiting, say Kay, where when you enter your zip code all of the food sales in your area come up. Since food is estimated to be the third largest expenditure, and includes toiletries and household cleansers, you can always stock up when you see a sale. If you like to eat out often, don't think you have to give that up for the next 20 years. Subscribe to sites like,, and -- deals are sent right into your inbox. (With Groupon, I got half-off tickets to Summerfest, an annual music festival in Milwaukee, so it's not just for dining out.) Also follow your favorite cupcake, cafe or coffee shop on Twitter for news about code words that can save you money on your next visit.

    For me, I need only look at the cup holders inside my Honda Civic to see where I can best save money. I'm famous for pulling into cafes four times a week and ordering a latte or -- when I feel money is tight -- a plain old cup of coffee. David Bach, a financial expert, coined the "latte factor" as one piece of the puzzle in why we aren't flush with money. On his web site ( is a link to an interactive calculator to help you figure out where your money is going each month, in terms of frivolous expenses, and how to reclaim it by funneling that cash into a savings account.

    I bought a $15 stove-top espresso maker at IKEA ("Radig") last week and plan to prepare lattes with this, as well as milk in my Bodum frother, and I figure if I invest in some $5 bottles of syrups I will pretty much have a mini Starbucks in my kitchen -- but for a fraction of the cost.

    When you save, really save -- Put it into your savings account.
    Now that you've latched onto some savings, rule #1 is to not spend that money. Instead, put it into a savings account attached to your vacation-home dream. "I'm a firm believer that at the point of savings, you transfer the funds," says Kay.

    Buy a cheaper first house.
    Yet even with all these cutbacks -- and for me, that might mean taking fewer vacations -- the biggest thing you can do is not buy an expensive house as your primary residence. "The place where we live in Houston is well below what we can afford," says Thakor. "If you really feel strongly that you want to have a two-house lifestyle, unless you expect your income to accelerate dramatically, the best way is to be more conservative with that first home."

    To read more about house dreams visit:
    The Small House Movement is Gaining Momentum and I Want In
    California Closets and Peter Walsh's Mega-Makeover
    Real Estate Love: A San Francisco Dream

    If you are considering buying a second home take a look at this video for more information!


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    In our new column, "What Blooms This Month," garden writer Marie Viljoen tells us what to expect in our gardens every month of the year. We begin with February, a month with a surprising number of blooms.

    Living in the Northeast, it never ceases to amaze me that there are trees that will bloom in the depths of our winters.

    february-flowers-witch-hazelWitch hazel in winter.Photo: Marie Viljoen

    The first time I saw a witch hazel in bloom it stopped me in my snowy, February tracks. In fact, the trees bookend the coldest months neatly, with the North American witch hazels (Hammamelis vernalis and H. virginiana) flowering at the end of fall, and Asian cultivars (of Hammamelis mollis and H. japonica) opening their bright streamers in the cold of the new year.

    Witch hazels are small trees at maturity, reaching about fifteen feet, often with a typically horizontal structure. For best bloom they should be planted in full sun (six hours plus) in USDA zones 5-9. Ideally, soil should be slightly acidic, moist but well-drained. Maintain the tree's shape and size by pruning lightly immediately after flowering.

    february-flowers-witch-hazel-pussy-willowHammamelis x intermedia "Diane".Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Different cultivars of witch hazel provide a color palette from acid yellow (H. mollis "Pallida") to warm red (H. x intermedia "Diane"). "Jelena" has an orange center with bright yellow tassels, and "James Wells" holds onto its neatly rolled brown leaves that lie like secrets beneath its pale yellow flowers.

    Witch hazels tend to have very attractive fall foliage so there is another reason to plant one of these pretty and surprising trees in your cold climate garden.

    february-flowers-witch-hazel-pussy-willowPussy willow in February. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    The cashmere-soft flowers of North American pussy willow (Salix discolor) are one of the earliest reminders that spring will arrive. Soon.

    Like all willows, pussy willows love water and can be a problem near leaky pipes or drains, to which their roots will be attracted. In roof gardens I plant them away from roof drains and prune their roots in late fall every few years. In-ground, they are an excellent small tree (if kept pruned) for poorly drained areas. Otherwise plant them in Zones 4-8 in full sun and water them deeply and regularly.

    Pussy willow responds very well to very hard pruning. As soon as the catkins have bloomed, select a third of the oldest canes (grayer in color) and prune them right back to the ground, or to the trunk. This will result in fatter and more prolific blooms the following year. Branches cut in January and brought indoors will open to give you a midwinter taste of spring.

    It might be cold outside, but that does not mean that beautiful trees cannot be part of your garden.

    Stay tuned for more flowering trees for every month of the year. Although I admit that January might pose a problem!

    Looking for more gardening? Check out these pieces:
    Winter Gardening Myths Broken!
    A Writer's Inspiration is Her Garden
    From Backyard to Jungle


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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 silver floor lamps at very different prices. Can you tell the difference?

    If you're looking to give any room a dose of gleaming, modern design, a silver lamp with a Saarinen-esque base will bring enough oomph to make even the most beige room feel exciting.

    The Spun light by Flos gets its name from the spun aluminum frame -- and its clout from its designer (design-world hero Sebastian Wrong) and country of provenance (Italy). There's a light dimmer so you can adjust how bright the 240-watt halogen bulb should shine. And at 69.5", it's nearly a foot taller than Kenroy Home's version.

    Or Save?
    Yes, Kenroy Home's Keystone lamp stands a little shorter and offers less wattage (only 150-watts) than the Flos version but since it's less than one-tenth of the price, you can afford to buy an extra one to make up for lost light -- or accessorize further with the Keystone table lamp for an extra $106.

    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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    When I wrote a story about how I hate to clean my house, I never thought that readers would get so fired up about it. Here's what they had to say.

    You never know who is going to read your stories on ShelterPop. After writing about how I rarely clean my house in "The Case Against Cleaning," (and how I pay a cleaning lady to the dirty work), I got a Facebook message from my 6th grade health teacher who read all about my slovenly ways: "Was just strolling through my aol mail and i suddenly saw a very familiar face- YOU. hope all is well," he wrote.

    Photo: Getty Images

    Um, embarrassing. Yes, I'm well -- I just don't clean my house much.

    But my former teacher wasn't the only one who wrote in. I heard from readers who offered criticism, praise and even tips to get me cleaning.

    "I totally agree with the author," wrote Patty Linck Oberg. "I would much rather spend time with family and friends than have an immaculate house. I read a poem that said something like, housecleaning will always wait for you, but your children grow so fast. They remember the good times you had with them, not how clean their house was." Indeed.

    One commenter made me laugh when she heard how little I clean: "Makes you wonder how many days the woman wears her panties before changing them," said Beth DeRoos.

    Then came Kristine O'Malley-Levy, who called readers out for saying they'd rather spend time with their kids than clean. "If you want to spend every second playing with your child instead of tending to life's normal responsibilities, you will create a child who has learned to be the center of attention. That is not reality and not a good lesson."

    Yes, I thought, but cleaning makes me unhappy -- it's not only about spending time with my baby. But Kristine brought it back to the kids when she added an interesting point. She suggests getting your child to help you clean. "To a child," she wrote, "it's all play anyway."

    Amanda Regan got me thinking when she saw the fault in my mindset. "Notice that the author describes things SHE will give up or the additional hours SHE will work in order to pay for a cleaning lady," she says. "Even though she is able to contract the physical act of cleaning, the burden still falls on her and not so much her husband." Good point! Why is it assumed that women are responsible for all of the cleaning?

    Stacey Staaterman Feeney echoed that when she said that her husband lobbied against hiring a housekeeper. "I let him know I was down with that as long as he understood that I would not be cleaning. He slogged through the housecleaning for about 4 months, then found us a new one." Mary Nelle Clendenen did something similar to her husband. "I went to work part-time in the '90s just so I could afford a housecleaner once a week. Hubby was not happy about it. I told him, fine, here is the Comet, Windex, rags. Never heard another word about it."

    Becky Avery Brennan's tongue was sharp. "Personally, I say anyone who won't clean the place they live in is lazy...The fact that the author doesn't change their sheets for 3 to 4 weeks is disgusting. Sorry, but I have worked full-time, taken care of my family & pets, volunteered and still kept my house clean." Ouch. Well, maybe some women are just better at juggling. And you know what else, Becky, I could do it, I'm choosing not to. I'm thankful that I have the choice.

    Photo: Getty Images

    "I don't like to clean either," wrote Robin Baker. But she offered this tip to make it more bearable: turn on your favorite music and get out your favorite toothpaste. "It cleans, polishes and smells good too. I have used on all types of sinks, showers and a few toilets...It saves time, gets rid of soap scum. Hope this makes you smile." It did.

    We love that we inspired some people to hire a cleaning lady. Ann Campbell says, "Don't even have kids or a fussy husband, but I just always have something better to do. This article convinced me to pull the trigger and hire that cleaning person!"

    DeCarla Jenkins Steels is currently deployed, but she's already thinking about hiring a cleaning lady when she comes home. She says she actually loves to clean -- Hmm, maybe she just misses home? But she can't stand a dirty house. "But it seems I'm always cleaning and doing laundry with little time for anything else. Sooo, when I return from deployment I'm going to hire a cleaning lady as a reward to myself. Not because I'm lazy or spoiled but I want to spend time doing other things like gardening which I love."

    A few housecleaners themselves piped in. "I love all of you spoiled women. You keep me in a job...I love the thank you's I get from all of my clients when they come home to a clean house it makes me feel good that they're so happy about something I've done," writes Nicole Vatala Keesler.

    My favorite commenter by far was Lora Cali: "I'm absolutely proud of the author and the other ladies for making this breakthrough! Cleaning sucks, and for most of us women it is an annoying chore! It sucks up your time like crazy and just before you know it you need to clean again. So I say screw cleaning! Don't stress yourself and your family over crumbs on the floor or the mess in the bathroo. Life is too short to waste it.. Happy mother = Happy home!!!"

    We couldn't agree more. Thanks ShelterPop readers for your spirited comments!

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Wallpaper Trends: What's Fresh, New and Fun
    The Writer's Garden: Tour Elizabeth Buchnan's Sacred Space


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    The tranquil hills of Westchester County, just north of New York City, is home to hordes of high profile folks who crave a quiet country setting close to midtown Manhattan. Here's who lives here.

    Pastoral and pristine Westchester County has been a bucolic haven for horsey and high society types since the late 19th-century when huge homes on vast estates were built by some of America's wealthiest families including the Rockefellers (Pocantico Hills).

    where-celebrities-live-bedford-nyPhotos: Getty Images | Bauer-Griffin | Wikimedia Commons

    Many of the quaint and upscale communities that dot the countryside claim celebrity residents, including political movers and shakers Bill and Hillary Clinton (Chappaqua), divorcing Tinseltowners Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (Pound Ridge), late night talk show king David Letterman (North Salem), "Desperate Housewives'' Vanessa Williams (Chappaqua) and New York City's multi-billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg (North Castle).

    As many celebs as may be strewn around throughout Westchester County, it's in and around the three itty-bitty unincorporated hamlets that comprise the Town of Bedford (Katonah, Bedford Village and Bedford Hills) where a veritable crush of notable names from the rarefied and glammy worlds of politics, high finance and Hollywood own country getaways and sprawling estates.

    where-celebrities-live-bedford-nyAn aerial view of Martha Stewart's Bedford home. Photo: Michael Appleton / NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

    Homemaking honcho Martha Stewart, the reigning queen of Katonah, has bunked in Bedford since 2000 when she shelled out around $15 million for a historic 150+-acre working farm (shown above). Stewart spent many more millions more restoring and customizing her Katonah crib. She even went so far as to lift a 1925 farmhouse, spin it around so it would face her pasturelands and add 4,000 square feet of interior space, including a kitchen any gourmet chef would die for. It was here in this residence, called the "Winter House," where in 2005 Stewart endured five months of house arrest after she was released from a Federal prison on a conviction related to obstruction of justice charges.

    Stewart painted every structure on her big Bedford spread a particular shade of gray she dubbed 'Bedford Grey' and now sells to all the regular people who want their homes to look like hers. When Stewart sought a variance on the height of a barn she wanted to raise she reportedly handed out chocolate chip cookies at the town hall meeting. She was granted the variance for the barn but she ran afoul of some of the local residents a few years later in 2007 when she audaciously attempted to trademark the name Katonah, the name of the Indian chief from whom the town was originally purchased. Her request was denied.

    where-celebrities-live-bedford-nyDowntown Katonah. Photo: sonjalovas, flickr

    Just down the road a piece from Stewart's spread, close enough to send a day-maid to borrow a cup of sugar, is a vast estate owned by billionaire financier George Soros who added an adjacent 63 acres and a 19-room mansion to his existing property in 2003. He reportedly paid around $21.5 million for the property he bought from "Jurrasic Park" author Michael Crichton.

    Since the early 1990s American fashion icon Ralph Lauren has owned a lavishly maintained 250+-acre estate in Katonah that actually abuts Martha Stewart's farm. A long tree-lined driveway meanders through the property until it comes to Lauren's 17,000-square-foot Norman-style stone manor house, built in 1919. The posh pad, photographed for Architectural Digest back in 2004, includes a mahogany-paneled library and a 5-room master suite with a colossal custom-built dressing room far larger than most Manhattan studio apartments.


    Michael Douglas and his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are some of the town's newest celebrity residents. The A-list couple reportedly leased the Colonial-style mansion (shown above) for at least six months before they paid paid $5.075 million for a 5.7-acre estate tucked down a long driveway and surrounded on three sides by a famous horse farm. The 6,300-square-foot main house and includes 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms and a separate cottage perfect for overflow guests or staff.

    Celebrated actress Glenn Close and her bio-tech entrepreneur husband David Shaw are long time Bedford Hills residents who purchased the first part of their 10+-acre homestead that includes a 1910 Federal-style farmhouse in 1989. The couple scooped up an adjacent parcel in October of 2000.

    where-celebrities-live-bedford-nyThe Bedford Post Inn attracts the local power crowd. Photo: Bedford Post Inn

    Academy Award winning actor and activist Richard Gere and his wife Carey Lowell, who own a residence in nearby Pound Ridge, recently re-opened the low-key but very luxe 8-room Bedford Post Inn (shown above) in Bedford Village that includes a well-regarded restaurant popular with locals and local celebs.

    Billionaire real estate pooh-bah Donald Trump has owned the historic 'Seven Springs' estate in Bedford since 1995 when he paid a reported $7.5 million for the 200+-acre property once owned by the Rockefeller family. The 39,000-square-foot Georgian-style mega-mansion, built in 1919, was the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize winning powerhouse Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post. Previous reports on the property reveal that Trump's mansion includes 13 bedrooms, 12 baths and an indoor swimming pool made of gleaming white marble.

    Because of its exclusivity and proximity to New York City. Westchester County will likely continue to attract celebrities and other monied types for many decades to come. It's long been rumored that superstar music moguls Beyoncé and Jay-Z bought a house in Scarsdale and this reporter was told that Alex 'A-Rod' Rodriguez was interested in a Bedford estate on the same road as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    For more celebrity news coverage, don't miss:
    J. Lo's House is More Elegant than We Expected
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom
    Million Dollar Listing Star Dishes Dirt


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    If you're a world traveler or flea market shopper extraordinaire who likes to mix things up, the third installment of our living room decorating series -- the eclectic aesthetic -- is for you. Previously, we looked at traditional and contemporary living room decor.

    While eclectic design is more conducive to you collectors out there -- it's not bound by strict rules dictating adherence to specific genres -- there are still formulas to live by, lest your space wind up looking like Sanford and Son's junk shop. Read on for ways to make your layout and décor sing in perfect harmony.

    By incorporating bold colors and a cool mix of decorative accessories and furniture -- all representative of different styles and periods -- this eclectic living room strikes just the right balance. Photo: Joseph Pubillones

    Eclecticism is arguably the most misunderstood style and the trickiest to successfully achieve, even for designers. "It's not a frenetic mishmash of furniture and accessories but rather a carefully edited mix of pieces that actually go well together, regardless of their eras," says Florida designer Joseph Pubillones.

    Start by pairing up pieces and color schemes that seem dissimilar. Sometimes the boldest risks -- like beige bookshelves with an orange background or a high-backed Mission-style chair flanked with two skirted robin's-egg slipper chairs by the fire -- end up looking gorgeous. Photos: tvr, Amish-Made, Unique Interiors, Williams-Sonoma

    Use too many decorative pieces and you'll weaken the room's impact; you need to strike a proper balance. Filling your space with things you've collected from different yard-sale excursions won't cut it, either. "Just because you like something doesn't mean it will always work in your space," says Pubillones. "Aim for a cool blend of fine-tuned glamor and comfort. Like a good cocktail, it's all in the mix."

    For Pubillones, the element of surprise is key in making an eclectic room cohesive. Utilize unexpected pops of color. Or through process of elimination, try creating bold yet complementary combinations (neutral beige with, say, orange and purple) to get accustomed to mixing opposites. Once you've mastered that, gradually incorporate whimsical pieces. "Like a Mission style chair with an unusually high back, or one that's suspended from the ceiling. Or pair a contemporary pendant lamp with two traditional slipper chairs" says Pubillones. Try thinking outside the box. To get an idea of what he means, check out the montage above.

    The height and scale of the larger pieces give the earthy textures (sisal rope, wicker) and modern lines (rectangles, cylinders) a cohesiveness among more traditional details, like the tufted upholstery and traditional wall-frame molding. Photo: Joseph Pubillones

    Furniture scale is also a very important component. Pubillones doesn't recommend coupling dainty French Provincial chairs with, say, a hulking squared-off couch. "Think more along the lines of a tufted floral sofa with a solid, no-fuss contemporary chair," he says, "But above all the stylizing, a living room should be comfortable."

    Although these patterns may not seem a likely duo, a throw pillow covered in the tropical fabric at right would perfectly complement the small-scale print on the welcoming occaisonal chair at left. Add some striped black-and-white drapery to the mix for even more interest. Photos: Room & Board,

    Add warmth by creating one coffee table from two smaller tables. "And maybe you don't even need to own a sofa if it suits your lifestyle; a whole living room full of club chairs could very well be what gives it its eclecticism," he adds.

    A substantial bronze sits atop a chunky Lucite pedestal, striking a near perfect dichotomy. Photo: Joseph Pubillones

    While he says he's a staunch advocate of creative tension, (such as the heavy sculpture atop the Lucite pedestal, shown at left, for example) Pubillones thinks it helps to approach designing an eclectic room as if it were one big art installation, "so it doesn't end up looking like a thrift shop," he says.

    All elements should heighten, enliven and complement. But when you're working with prints and patterns, that's often a challenging concept. The designer doesn't recommend displaying two small-scale prints next to one another -- or pairing florals and plaids. Rather, he advises choosing different-sized patterns and then fiddling around with their placement. "Try a large pattern on the drapes, a medium one on a throw pillow or two, and a tiny, clustered print on a smaller accent chair," says Pubillones.


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    Three top designers dish about the hues they're excited to mix, match and play with in the new year.

    Good news everyone! When it comes to design and decorating (and yes, fashion too), this year it's all about color, color and more color! And with 2011 kicking off a brand new decade, it's finally time to bring a little happy into our homes. Here, three fresh color combinations we're noticing right now.

    interior designer john loecke living room trend color 2011-colorsPhoto: Courtesy of John Loecke

    Honeysuckle & Peacock Blue, Honeysuckle & Taupe-Grey
    It made perfect sense to us when Pantone declared Honeysuckle 2011's color of the year. This perky shade of pink represents the optimism that's finally peeking through across the country.

    "I definitely think honeysuckle is an optimistic, playful color," says interior designer and color expert Eileen Kathryn Boyd. "Even the name sounds happy and fresh. It's also a color that I think a lot of people look good in."

    Photo: Courtesy of Eileen Kathryn Boyd

    Interior designer John Loecke agrees and points out its global influence as well. "Pink is the navy blue of India," he says. "Just like navy or denim is a classic American color, pink is a go-to shade in India because it's so flattering. Everyone wears it and you'll see it in all the homes and hotels there."

    And what do they pair it with in India? "Strong shades like a deep turquoise or this peacock blue that is emerging as a hot hue," says Loecke. That seems just about right for what's happening here too.

    Boyd is also using peacock blue with honeysuckle. "I'm actually working with this color right now with a client," says Boyd. "I really love this peacock blue, this green-cast turquoise we're seeing right now," she says. "Since honeysuckle has a pink cast, it stays light and fresh with that greenish-blue shade."

    Boyd also recommends grounding such a vibrant hue as honeysuckle with a fresh neutral such as grey. "When you're using such a bold shade, you need a neutral and grey is sticking around," she explains. "But it's warmed up, think of a taupey grey, which grounds all that pink perfectly."

    Peacock Blue & Oregano Green
    Author and interior designer Elaine Griffin has also fallen for peacock blue and is having fun pairing it with a color she's calling oregano green. "It's not a celadon, not lime, but a brighter green that looks and feels fresh and is going to take the place of last year's orange as the accent color of choice."

    Interior Designer Elaine Griffin Living Room Makeover 2011-colorsPhoto: Courtesy of HomeGoods/Elaine Griffin, Courtesy of Little Green Notebook

    We've noticed her prediction coming true already as bloggers such as Habitually Chic and our favorite shelter and fashion mags such as Canadian House & Home, House Beautiful and Elle are talking about and showcasing this shade of green too.

    "I think these shades of blue and green just make sense -- it's a nod back to the sky and grass," she says. "No matter where that pendulum is swinging when it comes to color trends, nature is always an inspiration."

    The blogger Little Green Notebook recently posted her entryway makeover featuring this exact color combination, with a few touches of warm gold, which Griffin is also predicting to be big this year.

    Juicy Colors
    Bright, bold colors in general are making a huge comeback. As evident by the color combos, we've already showed you, we'll see more of yellow for sure. Juicy shades of yellow and fuchsia will be making noise with the colors we've already mentioned (grey, oregano green, peacock blue) and you'll also see black make a comeback as an accent color as well.

    Interior Designer Eileen Kathryn Boyd Living Room Makeover 2011-colorsPhoto: Courtesy of Eileen Kathryn Boyd

    "Yellow is being introduced again in fashion and in the home," says Boyd. "My favorite is that happy canary yellow. It's bright and warm, like a ray of sunshine and feels stimulating to look at. I am seeing yellow paired again, with that taupe-grey for a modern feel."

    As for black, Boyd loves it with fuschia. "I love black. It is the absence of all color so it truly is a statement maker," she says. "I recently saw a spread in Elle Decoration UK and the room was painted in this fuchsia pink and all the trim was black. It was just so striking." Boyd also points out that using black as an accent is a great way to try a new, bold color at home without making a huge commitment.

    "Shades of yellow, fuchsia, deep turquoise and even orange are all tropical, sunny colors," says Loecke. "There's this global influence that's helping to push forward these happy shades and Americans are embracing it. It's all about mixing them up in a way you're most comfortable with."

    We agree. Just look at the living room Loecke recently designed. His use of big, bold colors and patterns is so inviting, we're ready to move right in!

    Ready to welcome color into your home? Here are a few stories for more inspiration:
    Pantone's Color Forecast for Spring Goes Home
    Color Diary: Grey
    Going to Paint a Kids' Room? We Found the Best Colors

    For tips on choosing colors for your home check out this video!


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    Designer to the stars Trip Haenisch has decorated spaces for Ed Norton and Christina Aguilera. Here, he shares his ideas for a playful and sexy Valentines Day at home.

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    Valentine's Day is almost upon us, so if you're planning to spend the night at home with a loved one, it's time to start planning your holiday décor. Unlike New Year's, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, decorating for Valentine's Day isn't so much about making your home look festive as it is about setting a romantic mood.

    Photo: CasaSugar

    To that end, we asked celebrity interior designer Trip Haenisch to share his tips for creating a romantic Valentine's Day atmosphere. Haenisch, whose clients include Ed Norton, Felicity Huffman, Christina Aguilera, and more, is known for his use of unexpected elements in refined, imaginative interiors. Needless to say, I knew he'd have much more to offer than red roses and chocolates. Come along and check out his surprising and playful V-Day ideas!

    Trip makes a modern nod to the holiday with a neon love lamp (above left). As for the rest of the lighting, he says, "Turn off all the lights and use only firelight, including candles, your fireplace, a firepit, etc."

    Dressing your bed with rose petals and a whip (above right) is one way to "keep your relationship fun and playful," says Trip. Another tip for creating a totally romantic atmosphere? "Make sure the bed is freshly made with clean sheets."

    Photo: CasaSugar

    "A burst of red roses in a black and white room," creates statement-making contrast. And last but not least, "Heat the house so you will feel comfortable naked. Turn off your phone and enjoy!"

    Photo: CasaSugar

    Trip recommends getting cozy with a blanket with a heart motif, and integrating sexy artwork like this piece by Barbara Kruger. "Turn on soft music to set the mood," he says. "I love Dinah Washington, Aaron Neville, Amy Winehouse, and Patsy Kline."

    Want to see the other five picks? Check out the full gallery on CasaSugar. Or see some of our other favorite stories...
    5 Inspiring Spaces
    DIY: Fabric Valentine's Day Hearts


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    After a failed attempt to sell her house last year, Mischa Barton puts her Beverly Hills mansion back on the market -- this time for more money.

    Mischa Barton is no stranger to unsavory real estate situations. Last January she was sued for not paying rent on her $7,000-a-month New York apartment and only a few months later she put her Beverly Hills home on the market for $8,395,000. With no bites, the actress took the house off the market and has just put it back on for slightly more: $8,695,000. If you're not ready to commit, you can lease the home for $30,000 a month. Want to take a look inside? We won't charge.

    mischa-barton-housePhoto: Getty Images | As Seen on

    That's just one of the eight bedrooms in the 9,798-square-foot house.

    There's a canyon view, and yes, a view of the heated pool and accompanying spa and hot tub.

    The entry and dining room are a little grand for our taste.

    A chef's kitchen complete with a monster-sized island.

    One of the ten -- yes, ten -- bathrooms.


    The home has both gas and wood fireplaces, should Mischa (or the new inhabitant) ever tire of simply one type of fire.

    Stunning pool, stunning flowers and deck, nothing but jealousy over here.

    Yet another fireplace and plenty of seats for all of Mischa's friends who are staying over in the seven extra bedrooms.

    What do you say -- would you cough up over $8.5 million to live here?

    Check out our other celeb home stories in our famous homes section!


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    If these walls could talk they'd definitely have something to say. Here, 7 things you probably never thought you could use to cover your walls.

    The history of wallcoverings is vast, and while we've personally seen flowers and fabric and even chewing gum (yuck!) covering walls around the world, there are tons of other materials that make for some pretty unusual wallpapers. Here are some that surprised us.

    unusual-wallpaperPhoto: Koziel

    Imagine your favorite winter sweater -- toasty and tactile and neutral enough to match everything you own. That's clearly what the designers at French company Koziel had in mind when they created this Knitting wallcovering. But don't let those soft, knit ribs fool you; they aren't really made of yarn. Koziel specializes in trompe-l'oeil wallpapers (including these fun bookcase and toilet paper designs) that use photos to simulate the real thing.

    Wallpaper isn't resigned to the kind you buy in rolls, as we found in these two rooms. Elle Decor featured artist John Derian's Manhattan entryway, which used pages from vintage books to cover his walls, while designers at Post Typography fashioned a wallcovering out of one ubiquitous office supply -- Post-it notes.

    If you can get past the adorable, cardboard panda head in the front of Smithfield menswear shop in Manchester, England, you'll find a pretty inspiring study in green design. Created by artist/designer Peter Masters, the store's interior is constructed from 100 percent recycled materials, including a wall covered in once-used mailing tubes. (Check out the matching light fixtures, too.)

    Bleu Nature Birch Wall unusual-wallpaperPhoto: Bleu Nature

    If you've lived through any of the 70s or 80s, you know that wood wallcovering is nothing new. But this installation isn't quite the same old wood panelling your parents used to decorate their basement back in the day. "Pixels of Driftwood in Relief" is made of reclaimed pieces that have been cut down and cored, and then glued onto particle board tiles. The designers, Bleu Nature, will not only install the handmade wallcovering for you, but they can waterproof and fireproof it too.

    Not all that glistens is gold. This feature wall at fashion designer Erica Tanov's California shop, left, is actually made of brass -- 4,000 individual pieces to be exact.

    On the right, designers Matthew White and Frank Webb added sparkle to a bedsit at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York with this geometric paneling made of tin can lids.

    Looking for a new use for that old 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle you never could finish? This installation from an exhibit called "Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things" at the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma may be the inspired moment you've been waiting for. The exhibit featured this wallcovering as part of an artistic discussion on "object reassignment" or, as they put it, "presenting creative repurposed or 'upcycled' objects that both stretch the imagination and suggest how to reduce the impact on the environment." What a cute project for a kid's room!

    Want more fun decor ideas? Check out these ShelterPop stories:
    Striped Tablecloths: Decorate Like the Fockers
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: New, Fresh and Fun Designs

    Thinking of putting up wallpaper at home? This video shows you how:


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    Jane Fonda's Atlanta home is as interesting as her acting career. Here, 5 ideas inspired by her unique decorating style.

    Actress and activist Jane Fonda burned and blazed her own path through life: She stirred up controversy during the Vietnam War, made millions on a slew of exercise videos, married and divorced a billionaire and earned two Oscar statuettes plus five more nominations.

    It should be no surprise then that her unique and personal style is reflected in the décor of her celebrity-style loft in Atlanta that has a quirky entrance hall she herself compared to a "womb with a narrow birth channel."

    jane-fonda-home-ideasPhoto: Nathan Martin, Getty Images

    Fonda bought her Hotlanta loft in 2000 after splitting from media tycoon Ted Turner. The duplex has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a voluminous main living space with soaring windows and double height ceilings and a petite but expertly equipped kitchen. The Hollywood royal, who recently relocated to Los Angeles, heaved her loft in the A-T-L on to the market in May of 2010 with a price tag of $4.5 million, an optimistic number that's since been slashed to $1.95 million. Fonda also put the loft up for lease with an asking price of $10,000 per month and word on the celebrity real estate street is that Queen Latifah recently rented the place while in Atlanta to make a movie.

    While it will cost you two million clams to buy Fonda's loft, there are some great decorating ideas that can be easily recreated on a non-celebrity budget.

    Create Invisible Walls
    Fonda's long living room is split into two living areas with the smart placement of her sofa and accent chairs. Rather than trying to create one large space with accent chairs at either end of her couch, she put them back to back with her sofa. One one side she can watch TV or snuggle in front of the fireplace. On the other side, she can sit with a friend and sip tea. In between the chairs and sofa is a console where she's displayed some eco-chic bowls. Nifty use of space!

    Go All-White With Slipcovers and Paint
    Fonda kept the palette of her loft's main living area neutral with bleached blond hardwood floors, creamy white walls and winter white sofas and armchairs. The pale palette allows the color from the artwork and books to pop dramatically.

    It's extra simple to copy her white-washed space: Paint your walls, ceilings and furniture a crisp white and slipcover your furniture in white. Voila! While it may not be practical for many folks with children and/or pets to spend a lot of money on white furniture, slip covers that can be easily removed and laundered are a practical and affordable option for keeping white sofas looking crisp and clean.

    jane-fonda-home-ideasPhoto: Nathan Martin

    Don't Underestimate the Power of Plants
    In Fonda's dining room a quintet of miniature cacti in identical shallow pots not only add visual interest to the room but also inject a bit of color into an otherwise monochromatic space. Most local nurseries and mass-market retailers like Home Depot sell a variety of miniature cacti and other plants such as mother's tongue and bamboo that can be clustered to create interesting tabletop tableau.

    Don't be limited to just plant materials. Those without the gift of a green thumb can take a cue from decorators and add a grouping of vintage glass, ceramic vessels and/or other funky objet d'art.

    Mix Materials in the Dining Room
    Fonda must host lively dinner parties at her extra large wooden dining table (which is actually two identical tables pushed together), but we love the way she added sleek modern chairs around it, rather than choosing heavy wooden ones to match. Consider replacing your dining table's matching chairs with a contrasting material. Or pick up several mismatched chairs from flea markets and scatter them around. Cheap chic at its best!

    jane-fonda-home-ideasPhoto: Nathan Martin

    Have Fun in the Bedroom
    Fonda really let her decorative flag fly in the master bedroom that features a one-of-a-kind glass fireplace surround, a super-fuzzy flokati rug, an über-femme white tufted chaise and a whimsical canopy bed fitted with bedazzled bed linens. We're not sure we want to re-create this room, but we do appreciate that Fonda decorated a room just for her.

    Consider the bedroom your space to make a mark. Whether you want it to be whimsical or eclectic, don't be afraid to make it a reflection of who you are. This is especially fun when the rest of your home is neutral and simple, like Fonda's.

    Now that you've seen inside, check out the details of the deal -- and see more of the place on AOL Real Estate.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth Paltrow's Bedroom
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Jimmy Choo Founder's Home


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    The Värde Base Cabinet looks like a classic kitchen cart except it's much sturdier. It's the perfect spot to keep food items out of view and out of reach from little hands.

    A shelf rail, like the Ekby Tryggve (set on Ekby Stilig Brackets), ties in with the cabinet and provides the perfect perch for Virserum and Sondrum-framed photos.

    Utensils, including this Trolsk 3-piece serving set, are easy to reach when hung on a Grundtal rail (with S-hooks) or set in a Grundtal Cutlery Caddy (though we used it to house a small plant).

    Keeping garbage and recyclables contained is a much easier feat when you've got the right vessel. Tall covered ones like IKEA's Fibbe bins get the job done and take up little space doing it.

    Extra counter space shouldn't become a catchall for small pantry items. Keep them contained in either Celeber Jars with lids or Tripp storage tins like we did. A plant, set in a Socker plant pot, adds some charm to an otherwise utilitarian space.

    Looking for more ways to add warmth to your kitchen? Forgo refrigerator magnets or that dry-erase message center for one of these fabric covered boards from Ballard Designs instead. The Magnetic Board comes in five different fabrics and hangs for the wall by pretty grosgrain ribbon.


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    A new site allows you to borrow art for your home the way that Netflix allows you to rent movies. And it just might change the way you think about home decorating.

    When Jason Gracilieri moved into a new apartment three years ago, he stumbled upon a business idea.

    Frustrated that the art he adored in his old pad just didn't look right in the new place, he got to thinking about a company where you could rent art -- a mix of landscapes, portraits, contemporary minimalism, you name it.

    From left to right, Jason Gracilieri, founder; Liz Hall, curator/artist community manager; and Matt Hodgson, CTO. Photo: Courtesy of

    "I got to a point in my life where I wanted to move past mass-produced pieces of art. I wanted something substantial, with more meaning. I love the idea of owning original artwork, but it's obviously very expensive," says Gracilieri., which launched in August, allows homeowners to try out art. You sign up for one of three subscription plans; each allows you one piece of art (a print) per month with varying durations of borrowing (from two months to three months to as long as you want). All of the art is from up and coming, emerging artists.

    We like that the monthly fees are affordable. They range from $9.99 to $19.99, depending on how often you want to rotate your art (but use code "SHELTERPOP" for 15% off your first month!). For the $19.99 fee you have an unlimited amount of times you can swap prints. But we love that you can convert these fees to credits, which you cash in to purchase original art (not a print) from the site. It might be the same art you've fallen in love with after hanging it above your couch for two months. Or you might take a chance on a piece you haven't tried yet.

    And if you're worried about trolling stores for frames to match the art, don't. This is one-stop shopping. When you sign-up you pick out a frame -- black or gold -- and your first piece of art arrives in that frame. All future pieces you swap out by keeping the frame and mailing only the print.

    "I can see the benefits of switching out and 'trying out new art pieces' until you figure out what you like and find the right piece for a certain room," says Kerry Schuss, who owns KS Art in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City.

    But the idea has its critics. "Artwork for rent seems to be more of a 'fill the walls' decorating kind of thing, which goes against my idealistic collecting goals," says Nicole Reid, gallery manager at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her 22 years of experience in showing art has shown her that art collecting is a very personal thing. Besides, she says, most galleries offer clients the opportunity to make payments over time, like does.

    For those new to collecting art, is very approachable. "It's an original art savings plan," says Gracilieri, whose wife is a gallery director and consultant on the site. There are more than a hundred artists from across the country represented in the collection, which numbers at around 400 pieces. "We add new artists and new artwork every week," he says. He plans to expand to multi-print subscription plans soon. (Unlike Netflix, you can't check out more than one product at once although you do have a queue.) Each Sunday morning a newsletter is sent out to subscribers that contains info about the latest acquisitions.

    We asked Jason to name his five favorite pieces of art within the collection.

    Artwork: Luca Ricco

    1. Cambridge Plant by Luca Ricco (watercolor, $650)
    Ricco started this painting after doctors discovered a tumor on his brain; he subsequently had surgery to remove it. After the surgery left him with limited use of his arms and legs, he re-taught himself to paint. He now paints with his left hand despite previously painting with his right hand. "Although the piece is of an industrial plant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I look at all of Luca's work as an example of our will and ability to overcome -- very important for an entrepreneur," says Gracilieri.

    Artwork: Greg Mamczak

    2. Untitled (Topiary Tiger) by Greg Mamczak (acrylic on canvas, $1,000)
    Graclieri has long been fascinated with skateboarding, which is suggested in this painting. "The description that Greg gave us for this particular piece is 'The complications of a stripe-less tiger.' I'm not exactly sure what that means, but there's a certain fun, irreverence to it. I also like the patterned graphics. You could almost see it as wallpaper, which is a huge trend in art right now," says Gracilieri.

    Artwork: Jodi Chamberlain

    3. Lighthouse by Jodi Chamberlain (oil on wood, $2,300)
    Chamberlain, who lives and paints in New York City, is one of the newest artists to join "There's just something very surreal and peaceful about this particular piece," says Gracilieri. "The first time I saw it, I imagined a very small person looking down on the world below, far, far removed from all the hustle and bustle. It's a similar feeling to looking up at a clear, star-filled night sky."

    Artwork: Marianne Bland

    4. F Line by Marianne Bland (acrylic on canvas, $1,800)
    If you spot a San Francisco influence in this piece then you are absolutely right. Bland was born in the Bay Area during the '80s. By the age of 16 she had a business license for mural painting. "This painting is a wonderful snapshot of modern city life and very accessible for new collectors," says Gracilieri.

    Artwork: David Robbins Estrada

    5. Blue Ball with Stars by David Robbins Estrada (oil on canvas, $670)
    Gracilieri was drawn to this piece because of its conceptual nature. "The rooster is often a very masculine symbol, and when paired with the blue and the stars, the entire piece can be seen as a commentary on an American society dominated by aggressive and war-like males," he says.

    And good news, ShelterPop readers -- if you're interested in signing up, use code "SHELTERPOP" for 15% off your first month!

    Read more about decorating your walls:
    House Tour: Maria Brito's Art-Filled Apartment
    Map Art: From Old Maps to New Decor
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: New, Fresh and Fun Designs

    Now if you're getting ready to display artwork, check out this video about how to keep picture frames from scraping your walls:


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    Filed under: ,

    Starting February 1st, there's a new online design magazine in town. Get ready for your fix of dreamy interiors, travel tips and yes, a surprise celeb guest, in the upcoming High Gloss magazine.

    Houston-based Paloma Contreas of La Dolce Vita has been a charming fixture on the blog scene since 2007. But when she decided to branch out into the new world of online-only magazines like Lonny, Rue and Matchbook, she really showed her design chops.

    A living room from the premier issue of High Gloss. Photo: High Gloss.

    Going from blogger to magazine editor is not as simple a transition as you'd think. While we all rely on design bloggers to search through and curate the best of the best photographs available on the web (or through their scanners), it's up to the editor to go out and produce fresh original content. As you can see from the shot above, Paloma and the High Gloss team took to it easily.

    We asked her to share a little bit about the new project:

    What's the difference between a High Gloss spread and a Lonny spread/Rue spread/Matchbook spread?

    All of the magazines you named have very defined styles and all fit into their own niches. Our style is glamorous and eclectic, and I think you'll notice the Southern and West Coast roots of most of our editors are also a big influence. Rather than focusing mainly on interiors, we'll also have features rooted in fashion, travel and entertaining. We will also have some celebrity features from time to time. We worked on a feature with Chelsea Handler for this issue and two of our team members, Shannon Wollack and Ashley Steen, are designing Chelsea's new home, which we will feature in a future issue.

    Courtesy of High Gloss Magazine.

    What's the best/worst part of putting together an online magazine?

    The best part has definitely been the creative freedom and being able to work with so many amazing and incredibly talented people. All of the girls on the High Gloss team are the best at what they do and they've continually blown away with their level of talent and dedication to the magazine. We've worked with designers, photographers and other talented people whose work we've admired for so long, so we're incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them. I also love to travel, which I've been doing a lot of for High Gloss!

    I wouldn't say that anything is necessarily bad, but there are so many details to keep track of, which can be challenging at times.

    What magazines inspire you?

    I read an obscene amount of magazines and I know the other High Gloss girls do, too. Some of our favorites are Vogue, ELLE, ELLE DÉCOR, InStyle, House Beautiful, Vanity Fair, C Magazine, UK'S House and Garden and AD España.

    Courtesy of High Gloss Magazine

    Ready to see the site? Head over to High Gloss Magazine. Starting February 1st you'll be able to view their first issue. Happy reading!


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  • 02/01/11--05:46: Let the Gift Fair Fun Begin!
  • Filed under: ,

    Can't make it to this year's New York International Gift Fair? Don't sweat it. We're bringing it to you!

    The international home design community descended on Manhattan's Javitz Center Sunday for the opening of the Winter 2011 New York International Gift Fair. Our team of bloggers hoofed it up and down the aisles scoping out the new lines of some of our favorite designers, while I stood and lusted after John Robshaw's bedding -- it's so hard not to shop for yourself at the gift fair.

    Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien

    At the Working Class Studios booth, our first ShelterPop and SCAD Design Challenge winner Corey Green stood with his winning design, the balloon vase. He was often surrounded by a crowd of onlookers wanting to know the inspiration behind the vase -- his mother used to get on him for not watering the flowers and he wanted to invent a visual reminder of dissipating water. "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Justin Bieber?" many onlookers asked. "All of the time," he'd say.

    Photo: SCAD

    But the most common question was: Where do I put in an order? Unfortunately, the vase won't be for sale until August when Working Class Studios completes its production.

    The ShelterPop team dined with Corey after the gift show at Ovest Pizzoteca on West 27th, and we were equally charmed by him and all of his other exciting designs to come. Go Corey!

    But enough about us. We're covering the gift fair all week on ShelterPop, and we're really excited about all of the products and trends we're uncovering. Our first batch of stories are five of our favorite exhibitors. Enjoy!

    HomArt: California Style We Love
    French Bull: Pop and Fun For Your Table
    OXO: Dreaming of Storage
    Vagabond Vintage: Old Stuff Made New
    Oly: Glamour Done Right

    Check back everyday for more great NYIGF stories.


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