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  • 02/09/11--11:57: Zebra Rugs: Seeing Double
  • When it comes to finding great pieces for your home, reading price tags can be tricky. Take a look at these almost-identical zebra rugs at very different prices. Can you tell the difference?

    Zebra-print cowhides are a favorite among magazine stylists -- they lend that earthy, sexy vibe to a room and complement just about any color scheme. But how much is that worth to you?

    The main reason for the hefty price tag on the Design Within Reach rug? Quality leather. This one starts with Edelman Leather in cream and is screenprinted in deep brown -- in Italy, no less. We love how the zebra design runs almost to the very edges of the rug, making it look totally polished, in comparrison to the bare edges of the Walmart piece.

    Or Save?
    The Walmart version is also imported -- from Brazil, not Italy. There's no info about the leather used, other than the fact that it's a natural cowhide. The zebra print is stenciled on and at 5' by 7' but in addition to the benefit of its stellar price, it's also slightly larger than the 5' by 6' DWR rug.

    Still have zebra rugs on the brain? Our friends at Good Bones Great Pieces have a fantastic round-up of them. Check it out!

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

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


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    Two set designers decided wallpaper should be super easy to hang and take down. Their creation is a truly temporary wallpaper.

    temporary wallpaperThe 'Skotti' and 'Alto' patterns. Photos: Tempaper Designs

    The Source
    Tempaper Designs

    The Goods
    Tempaper Designs offers self-adhesive, re-positionable temporary wallpaper. This vinyl-coated, self-sticking wallpaper is a great option for renters who can't use traditional wallpaper and decorators who like to change their look frequently. Plus, the patterns are decidedly fashion-forward, with a Art Nouveau look to many of the available prints. There are also three children's patterns in the Tempaper Tots collection.

    temporary wallpaperTwo colorways of the 'Edie' pattern. Photos: Tempaper Designs

    The Secret
    Magazines are constantly touting wallpaper as a fresh way to makeover a room, but it's a lot of work to install! Plus, many wallpapers are available only to the trade or take weeks to arrive. The founders of Tempaper are set decorators, so they had first-hand knowledge of these frustrations. Instead of forgoing patterned walls, they decided to create re-positionable, temporary papers to fill a hole in the market.

    Things to Know
    Tempaper may use new technology for its adhesives, but the printing process involves old-fashioned gravure or intaglio copper plate engraving techniques -- resulting in a traditional look to the prints. If you want to see the prints before you commit, the company offers 5" x 7" samples of almost all of its patterns for $3.95 and ships them at no charge. Tempaper is also available in select retail locations across the country.

    Stay tuned: In March 2011, the company will be releasing a new Tempaper product and new colorways!

    Want to know more of our Secret Sources? Read on:
    Secret Sources: Where to Buy Lucite Furniture
    Secret Source: MUJI
    Secret Source: Jayson Home & Garden


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    A fresh take on romantic style, today's hottest decorating trend is fun and flirty -- without all of the fuss.

    With Valentine's Day right around the corner, it's easy to get lost in romantic thoughts of silk, lace and ruffles. But can those thoughts translate into a timeless style for your home? Of course! You just have to use them in moderation.

    flirty-home-decoratingProducts courtesy of: IKEA, Anthropologie, Plexicraft, Overstock, ZGallerie, Waverly, Serena & Lily, Bellacor, The Rug Company, Pillow Decor, Diane James Home, Lamps Plus

    "Romance in decor is back," says Jenny Komenda, owner of Pearl Street Interiors and author of the popular home-design blog, Little Green Notebook. "I think we're rebelling from the tragic beige microsuede sofas and boxy pleather club chairs of recent past in search of softer lines and colors. Personally, I love feminine and romantic pieces because they add a softness to a room, which looks amazing in contrast with sleek and modern pieces."

    For example, if you're thinking of purchasing a curvy and tufted velvet headboard, like this one from Urban Outfitters, Komenda suggests balancing the look with more modern nightstands, like these from West Elm. And maybe consider something more traditional for lighting, like these Robert Abbey brass swing-arm lamps.

    Some of our favorite romantic-style looks can be seen above in the photo montage. Master of the "modern feminine" look, Komenda created this living room to exemplify the look. Products include, clockwise, from top left: PS Maskros Pendant Lamp, $89.99, IKEA; Coat of Arms Mirror, $198, Anthropologie; Light Foot Mural Wallpaper, Waverly; Robert Abbey Swing Arm Wall Lamps, $179.91, Lamps Plus; Tea Table, $368, PlexiCraft; Pink Peace Rose, $110, Diane James Home; Willow Sofa, $999, Z Gallerie; Ikat Pillow, $130, Bellacor; Round Corner Hot Pink Throw Pillow, $34.95, Pillow Decor; Ponti Yellow Cushion, The Rug Company; Turquoise Moroccan Leather Pouf, $395, Serena & Lily; White Marble End Table, $208.99,

    "You want a room to look collected and curated, rather than appearing like you chose every piece the same day, from the same store," Komenda advises.

    flirty-home-decoratingA romantic and rich room, courtesy of Armonia Decor. Photo: Armonia Decor

    Love this look, but don't know where to start? Here are Komenda's five favorite ways to ease into the "new girly" style:

    1. Think pink. "I think almost every room can benefit from just a bit of pink," says Komenda. "I love blush, almost peach, pinks for wall color and upholstery. I just put a small hot pink velvet pillow on my sofa and it's the star of the show in my living room. Even my husband agrees (though he'll only admit that to me)."

    2. Go soft. Steer away from the stand-by fabrics (think denim, microsuede and leather) and add softer textures to your space. "I love silk, velvet and faux fur," says Komenda. She also suggests using a flokati rug for added softness with a glam factor.

    3. Make a statement. "A good focal point for a room is a big mirror, like this white scrolly mirror from Ballard Designs that reminds me of a delicate coral," says Komenda. "Mirrors are key to opening up and brightening a space." Also check out Craigslist or flea markets for vintage models.

    4. Mind the details. Pay attention to the small stuff when it comes to upholstered pieces. Some of Komenda's suggestions: Spring for tufting, add nailhead trim in polished nickel or unfinished brass, or glue a pretty flat tape trim to the skirt of your chair or sofa.

    5. Add pops of pattern. "Floral patterns aren't for everyone, but they can be really great in small doses, like on a pillow or a small upholstered bench," says Komenda. Also, remember if you use a patterned fabric in pleated drapery or a bedskirt, the pattern usually gets a bit lost in the folds, which can be a good thing if you really want a floral but your partner isn't as thrilled about the idea.

    Want some more decorating inspiration, don't miss:
    Best Beds for Sex
    Cleaning-Obsessed Celebs
    Best Wallpapers for Kids Rooms


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    We love a great collaboration. So when one of our favorite home lines popped up at Michaels, we took the opportunity to give Shabby Chic makeovers around the office.

    Even the most decorated to-a-T home has some boring little secrets -- bland, office-grade desk accessories that even the most design-obsessed amongst us can forget to address. And no, we're not saying that every yellow post-it note should be trashed, along with plain black pens. But we do love the opportunity for a quick, light-on-the-wallet makeover. Especially when it comes to the things you see every day.

    shabby-chic-michaelsPhoto: Jolie Novak, AOL

    Enter the genius Treasures by Shabby Chic at Michaels. A collection of goodies from journals to clothespins that have the signature Shabby Chic look. Our photo editor Jolie Novak tried these sweet products out in her home office. Use the slider tool to see the before and after.

    First up: The journal goes from blah to sweet. Wouldn't you be more likely to record daily events if your diary was this cute?

    A pen you'll actually want to carry around.

    Sticky notes that are less of an eyesore, more like decoration.

    What do you say -- would you attempt a quickie desk makeover with these pieces? Or would you rather stick with classic office pieces? Weigh in on Facebook!


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    He wants to live in a minimalist space. She likes a home filled with keepsakes. Will they find decor bliss? We send them to therapy.

    OK, a couch in the living room I get, but do we really need a footstool? Bookshelves, sure, but a school desk from "Little House on the Prairie"? When I look around my house, I often wonder if we really need all of this extra furniture and decor that my wife has outfitted our home with.

    too much stuffThe writer, his wife and their two-year-old daughter. Photo: Van Sias

    A home should be a respite from the busy streets of New York, a calm place where you can stretch out, feel Zen. I picture Danish furniture with spare lines, cool colors and a lot of space in between every item. Blank space relaxes me. Instead, since my wife and I moved in together nearly three years ago, I feel like I'm living on some crazy intercontinental overcrowded train.

    There's a Moroccan rug and a kimono hanging on the wall, a thousand travel books on wall-to-wall bookshelves, an antique school desk, a Pakistani carpet, a Chinese chest and a bright purple painting from Mexico City. There's an orange couch and red walls, plus a dining room table, end tables, a coffee table and a table for our daughter.

    We only live in a one-bedroom apartment -- how is it possible we have that many tables?

    too much stuffThe writer with the kimono his wife used to decorate one of their rooms. Photo: Van Sias

    When I ask my wife Nancy about her kimono and Moroccan rug and all of those tables, she rolls her eyes. "First of all, who complains that there are too many area rugs?" she said. "The floors underneath are not beautiful -- they are laminate. And second of all, each item of furniture is piled high with your stuff, so I suspect we need more, rather than less."

    Maybe it comes with spending so much time living in studio apartments over the years, where every inch was sacred and you couldn't afford to have extra furnishings. But I could do with the bare neccessities: a sofa, a chair, a light and that's about it. I acknowledge this is unrealistic when you have a 2-year-old daughter, but we could at least move closer to it. Right?

    Wrong. Nancy is clearly winning the debate: She believes that beautiful things are what make a home. For a long time, before we were married and after she returned from the Peace Corps, rather than buying furniture, she would buy another plane ticket. "Why would I use this money to buy a couch when I could go to Rio?" she'd think.

    But when she got her own place, she says her home became her newest journey. "My etchings from that fishing village in Morocco are in the living room," she says. "A gorgeous chest from China holds old bank statements, old letters, old pictures and now, your comic books. And the year I became a high school principal, I found an antique school desk -- you know, the kind that was bolted to the floor -- that looks great in the entryway, a perfect place for us to put the mail."

    She says that every item in our house has sentimental value. "My dad passed away four years ago, but the butcher block he built is still in our dining room," she says. "I haven't been home to Maine in years, but our bed is made of beams taken from our old barn, just before it crumbled. For me, none of this is clutter. It's the fabric of my life, and now our life together. It's all essential."

    Is there a way for us to merge our styles? I asked two experts: one designer and a marital counselor for help.

    The counselor, a friend of ours named Carolyn Faust Piro, helps straighten out family-related issues. Her advice: Stop squabbling over something so silly. "Knowing which battles to pick is important. Save your energy for bigger and better things," she said.

    "Think: Will this chair (or whatever it is) be here in 15 years?" she said. "Be able to let go!"

    Designer Jason Bell took our problems a bit more seriously. I figured Bell, an old friend from high school would surely be on my side, right? Well...

    He admits that couples can do a few things to merge their different styles. First, pull it all together with color. "Unify the color pallette and your space will visually mold together and seem/feel much bigger," he said. In doing this, I may not be bothered by all of the extra stuff, since it will all sort of blend together.

    And what about the quadrillion tables we seem to have, I asked him. "If I were your designer, I would highly advise you to give some serious consideration to function and scale," Jason said. "From a function perspective, a living room should have three to four tables; it depends on how many seats you have."

    But for Nancy and I, Jason really has some strong feelings on what we should do: Hire a designer or ask someone you both trust.

    "They will be honest with you and tell you what does and doesn't work, and how to achieve a happy compromise," he says.

    "It might be painful on both sides, but having that middle person solves a lot," he adds. "Sort of like a therapist, they usually only work if you are honest with them and willing to change!"

    For more great coupling stories, don't miss:
    Best Beds for Sex
    House Tips to Jumpstart Your Sex Life
    10 Feng Shui Tips to Improve Your Romance and Love Life


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    This year, let your homemade Valentines extend beyond the card. Here are sweet, simple ways to remind the people you live with how much you love them.

    Cards are sweet, yes, but why not go for a bigger impact Valentine's Day message? For my husband, I took advantage of a blank wall in our apartment to create a super-sized message of love. The only supplies you need for this easy Valentine's craft: Some tape and a stepladder.

    homemade-valentinesA super-special homemade Valentine. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien

    I used Japanese masking tape for this craft, because it's not very tacky (it won't take off your wall paint) and it comes in every color under the sun. Painter's tape would also work. For any curvy letters, use small strips of the tape so you can make round shapes.

    homemade-valentinesJapanese masking tape, ready for action. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien

    Can you imagine coming home to see this on your wall? Or seeing the face of your partner/children/roommate when they come home? (Obviously you can adjust the message to the audience!)

    homemade-valentinesA homemade Valentine, at its best. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien.

    Still feeling all love-y? Here are a couple more (easy) homemade Valentine ideas crafted by a few of our favorite bloggers:

    And these DIY candy bags created by Chelsea of Frolic! for would make sweet Valentine's treats for friends or co-workers.

    We heart this homemade heart wreath created with candy wrappers by Twig & Thistle.

    Have some fun this Valentine's Day! It doesn't have to take a lot of money or time to create a homemade Valentine surprise. And check out more great Valentine's Day stories!


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    Forget the Sex and the City single girl pad. We went home with "The Science of Single" writer Rachel Machacek and fell in love with her cozy studio.

    Rachel Machacek just might be the next real life "Bridget Jones." After spending several years spending too many weekends at home with her cat in her small Washington, DC studio, she decided to take finding a mate seriously, embarking on a year-long adventure to find out "what happens when you use all of the resources you possibly can to meet and date the opposite sex." She went on blind dates, visited with dating coaches, tried online dating -- even met with professional matchmakers.

    science-of-singlePhoto: Amazon, Sara Brown

    And it's in her 265-square-foot "grandmother chic" studio in the trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood where she finds solace from her dating woes.

    The apartment, where she writes her popular dating blog and where she spent two weeks holed up writing "The Science of Single," is painted in sorbet-inspired paint colors, like cantaloupe and periwinkle; her kitchen is bubblegum pink. On the walls is a collection of mix and match artwork she inherited from her parents and grandparents. A red-trimmed chalkboard covers up an unsightly power box. She says that her apartment is filled with found items and special things she's picked up over the last several years. "For some reason it all kind of goes together in this weird, eclectic mish-mash sort of way," Machacek says. "I walk in now and I just love it."

    While the size of her apartment is womb-like, which can be comforting, it can also get to her sometimes. "There are periods when I feel like everything's falling down around me," she says. "If I don't stay on top of my stuff, I'll literally start running into things."

    science-of-singlePhoto: Sara Brown

    Plus her dates can get a little distracted when they walk in and see a bed in the middle of her living room. She beckons them to the couch. "I don't use the bed unless I'm sleeping in it, but I have invited guys up who've gone straight for the bed," she says with a laugh. "If it's after a night...after a couple of drinks, it doesn't take much to make your way to the bed, so you have to make an effort not to even go there."

    Because of the aparment's shape and size, there isn't really a way to avoid the situation. "When I first looked at the place, the girl who lived here before me had her bed in the closet, too," she says. "I thought I could think of a better way to lay out the space, but put the bed anywhere else and you can't really have a couch. At least now I can at least offer my dates a place to sit down."

    Despite the tiny footprint, Machacek has come up with ways to break up the space. One of her first (and only) real furniture purchases, a wooden folding screen, currently hides her cat's litter box; it's also used as a room divider, creating a private nook for her writing desk. Also, by simply facing her bed and her sofa in different directions, she's created two separate "rooms" -- a sitting area to chat and watch TV and a cozy bedroom.

    Machacek has considered moving to a new place, but much like her dating life, she's having a hard time singling out "the one." "When I was looking at condos last year, I had an experience kind of like dating -- I kept finding things wrong with every potential place. It wasn't old enough. Or they had renovated, so it had all of the typical trendy amenities that don't attract me. I had a hard time finding a place with real personality or soul, which makes it hard to commit to anything more than what I already have."

    science-of-singlePhoto: Sara Brown

    Did she find a man after her year-long search? Nothing permanent. But that's okay with her. She's become a little hesitant about moving in with a guy.

    "The whole idea of merging things and styles with a guy makes me a little anxious," she says. "Alot of guys' apartments turn me off. I understand that a lot of guys are less prone to coming up with a real design scheme, but it's a good thing when a guy puts some thought into his home. That's how you can tell that he's a grown up."

    Since Machacek has designed a comforting respite from the ups and downs of her dating life, we asked her for five must-haves to help our single readers do the same.

    1. Invest in a comfy place to lounge.
    Machacek swears by her big, billowy, chenille couch -- it's the perfect spot for that much-needed pre-date nap or a good cuddle with her cat after coming home.

    2. Give your place a signature scent. Like an invisible security blanket, Machacek loves the smell of Anthropologie's Capri Blue Candle. "The aroma is soothing after bad dates and romantic for good dates," she says.

    3. Stock your shelves with picture books. "I have a hard time reading when I'm nervous about meeting someone new, but I do find that browsing picture books like "Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same" calms me down and makes me laugh," Machacek says.

    4. Make Room for a Full-Length Mirror. Even in the smallest spaces, it's important to get a good look at yourself before heading out on a date. Plus, as Machacek points out, it's a must-have when playing dress-up and trying on potential outfits for future meetings.

    5. Don't Underestimate the Tiny Bathroom. Not much bigger than a phone booth, Machacek admits that her bathroom is a wee bit tight, but close the door, turn on the shower and it turns into her own private "shed the bad date" steam room. Brilliant.

    To learn more about Rachel Machacek, buy her book here. Or check out her hilarious dating blog,

    Want to find out how single men live? Check out Shelterpop's bachelor pad transformation. And check out more Valentine's Day stories!

    Got a small space? This video shows you how to decorate one.


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  • 02/11/11--10:41: Floral Centerpieces
  • Looking to dress up the table for Valentine's Day -- of just brighten up a winter tablscape? Here are some of our favorite floral centerpieces.

    It doesn't have to just be red roses in a glass vases -- floral centerpieces can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And yes, you can make them yourself. Try these arrangements for a romantic dinner or even a weeknight non-event (you don't always need reasons to bring in floral centerpieces.)

    Check out more great Valentine's Day stories!


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    Don't let ugly bathroom tile keep you from a beautiful bathroom. Here's how to decorate around those less-than-idea tiles to make the whole room shine.


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    What's better than a peek at the Diane von Furstenberg home collection? A guided tour by the designer herself. Viva DVF Home!

    You'd think that during Fashion Week, there's nowhere chic-er to be found than Lincoln Center or MAC & Milk. But this morning, the place to be was Bloomingdales -- half an hour before it actually opened -- to walk through the Diane von Furstenberg home collection with the legendary DVF herself. The collection is flirty, stylish and fashion-forward enough to impress anyone you know -- let along the crowds at Fashion Week.

    diane von furstenberg homeDiane von Furstenberg shows off her namesake home collection. Photo: Jemal Coutness/WireImage

    We'll try not to gush too much but we'll say this about the collection: We covet just about everything, from the bed linens to the coasters.

    diane von furstenberg homeDVF at work. Photo: Jemal Coutness/WireImage

    Luckily, you can see the whole collection online now. Our favorites pieces?


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    In the last decade, the bedskirt began to feel like it belonged only in grandma's room. Here, designers share why they're once again dressing their beds with one.

    A bedskirtis the unsung workhorse in the boudoir. Typically used to hide an exposed box spring, frame or to protect legs from scratches, a bedskirt can also hide the piles of lost socks, old magazines and any other unwanted items that usually linger under our beds (yes, we're talking about YOU, little dust bunnies!).

    In the last decade or so, bedskirts seemed to fall out of fashion, thanks in part to the popularity of sleigh beds, upholstered beds and other types of platform beds that don't need the coverage down below. But with everyone needing a cozy bed to retreat to these days, designers seem to be responding by dressing up every aspect of the bed, even the bedskirt.

    Serena Dugan, co-founder and designer at Serena & Lily says that she thinks of the bedskirt as an extension of the headboard. "We love the idea of coordinating the bottom of the bed with an upholstered headboard. By bringing some fabric around the perimeter of the bed, you have a low-impact, surprising way to present a design or color that complements other elements."

    Dugan says that layering is a popular concept in bedding right now. She predicts we'll see more blankets and decorative pieces, even a return to more tightly made beds. "Adding a bedskirt or a duvet folded at the foot of a bed is a fun way to change this up. You can introduce new colors and test drive new patterns. Everyone's always looking for a way to freshen up and using layers is definitely a way to do it."

    Pine Cone Hill
    is another wonderful source of inspiration when it comes to layering. The company is known for its bold, bright prints, patterns and lots and lots of color. Here, they're showing how to have fun with its striped Dawson bedskirt by pairing it up with quilts and bedding in various prints; somehow it all coordinates back to one another.

    Another one of our favorite looks is a two-tone bedskirt. As you can see, a clean, tailored look doesn't necessarily mean all white. Instead, the two-tone bedskirt adds a bit of unexpected color to the bottom -- and helps conceal dust a bit more than, say, an all-white one would. "It's a nice way to ground the bed," says Dugan.

    Dwell Studio
    is fond of a tailored, clean look when it comes to beds. According to the team there, modern bedskirts seem to be much more structured, simple and box-shaped rather than ornate or frilly. They prefer bedskirts to "disappear" -- and not steal the attention from the rest of the linens. Their selection of textured, matelasse bedskirts add a little extra something to look at and feel.

    For those who appreciate a little frill, a bedskirt is the perfect item to indulge your feminine side. We love Pine Cone Hill's Flamenco Pink bedskirt. Talk about girly! This bedskirt is packed with personality and those pink hues would punch up even the simplest bedding set. For a softer look, we're loving these scallop and embroidered options from Serena & Lily. "Sometimes a little detail such as a scallop edge is just a nice consideration paid to what can otherwise be an afterthought," says Dugan.

    Finally, we know bedskirts can be an added expense so why not make one yourself? Back in 1994 our favorite homemaker, Martha Stewart recommended transforming a piece of fabric or tablecloth into a bed skirt with a few simple folds and a hem. We love this idea, as it saves you money and lets you get a little creative. Mixing in an outrageous print with your solid bedding or vice-versa can really take your bed to a whole new level of fabulous.

    Looking for more fresh bedding ideas for 2011? Check out these stories:
    Kate Spade Jumps Into Bedding
    Bedroom Makeover: Make it Tasteful and Sexy (video)
    Patterned Bedding: Making it Work

    Add a wallcovering to your bedroom -- and spice up your room!


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    Kevin Haley has designed rooms in Brad Pitt's house and a handful of other A-listers, but what does his house look like? Take a tour.

    A fluke childhood friendship with A-list actress Winona Ryder -- his parents lived next door to her grandparents in Minnesota -- set Kevin Haley on a crash course to become an interior designer and decorator to the stars. Since doing the first house she ever bought in Beverly Hills, Haley has done a couple more for Ryder as well as homes for a laundry list of famous folks, including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meg Ryan and Cameron Diaz.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Since 1997, Haley has made his home a secluded bungalow in the hills above Hollywood. Recently, the low-key designer decided to move on and put his done, done, done house in Hollywood on the market with a price tag of $999,000, otherwise known as a million bucks.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Living Room
    As expected, Haley's interior spaces are quintessential Kevin Haley: A sleek and glammy old Hollywood vibe is paired with a sexy 1970s feel, but all of it is encased in a cottage-style skin. At around 1,500 square feet the bungalow isn't big, but the living room makes a grand statement with its raised tray ceiling, wood burning fireplace and walls nearly completely covered in antique mirrors. A baby grand piano ambitiously anchors one end of the room that opens up through a series of French doors to several terraces and patios that surround the house.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Haley filled the living room with elegantly funky and richly textured furnishings including a deep pile flokati style rug and a clean lined sofa softened with plush, dark gray velvet upholstery. A pair of chairs that may or may not have been designed by another decorator to the stars, Billy Haines, are bravely covered with leopard print fabric and flank the fireplace. A Lucite and brass coffee table between the sofa and the animal print chairs minds the gap and successfully joins a cacophony of wildly dissimilar decorative styles.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Dining Room
    The petite Chinoiserie-style dining room is bright and chic. Matching wall coverings and window shades depicting ancient Chinese landscapes are paired with a contemporary chandelier painted the same pretty turquoise as the window frames and baseboards.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Haley turned architectural lemons into decorator lemonade in the small and oddly configured kitchen. The rich, almost lurid red lacquer that coats the walls that line the staircase in the living room gets another run on the kitchen floor. But it's carefully toned back with simple white Shaker cabinets and marble counter tops, then jazzed right back up with zebra print cushions in the window seat. He finishes the kitchen off with a vintage powder blue range, a funky and fun final thought.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Sitting Room
    A small sitting room is fearlessly wrapped in a dizzying blue and green patterned wall covering. It gets the Kevin Haley stamp with a tufted, somewhat tatty looking but luscious sectional sofa with plush down cushions wrapped in kitten-soft, steely blue velvet. A rose velvet covered ottoman doubles as a coffee table and an oversized mirror, the exact same height as the doorway, leans up against the wall, which makes the room seem twice as large as it really is.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Haley's courageous use of color and intricate patterns continues unabated in one of the bathrooms slathered in itty-bitty navy blue glass tiles and accented with beautifully brash brass accents and shocking hot pink paint.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Master Bedroom
    The small master bedroom gains maximum impact with a coved ceiling bathed in shimmery gold leaf and a square patterned wall covering. A glam headboard is made of mirrored panels, and a pair of matching ridged, green glass cylinder lamps that sit atop glitzy matching Lucite end tables.

    kevin-haleyPhoto: Everett Fenton Gidley

    Outdoor Living
    At the front of the property, atop the garage and shielded by a thick and tall stand of bamboo, a pergola-shaded deck provides the perfect spot for an outdoor room furnished with comfortable and cushy upholstered pieces and lit with a funky multi-colored chandelier.

    For more celebrity home stories, don't miss:
    Jeff Lewis, Reinvented
    Where Celebrities Live: Bedford
    J. Lo's House is More Elegant than We Expected
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom
    Million Dollar Listing Star Dishes Dirt

    Check out this video of some of the most incredible homes in Hollywood!


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    Think staying near the airport means sacrificing stylish quarters? These three hotels may inspire you to plan a romantic rendezvous.

    The phrase "best airport hotel" shouldn't fill you with dread. Sure, there are plenty drab, ugly hotel rooms we could all stay in for the sake of convenience, but a new breed of airport hotel is changing the experience to include high design and occasional touches of luxury. Hopefully the rest of the lodgings based near major air hubs will take note of the trend!

    Here are three travelers' lodgings that offer high design in addition to a place to rest your head:

    best-airport-hotelThe lobby of the InterContinental Chicago O'Hare. Photo: InterContinental

    Hotel: InterContinental O'Hare Airport (shown above and below)
    Airport: Chicago O'Hare
    The Scoop: Hip and attractive, but not so cool that it would turn off the average Joe business traveler, the InterContinental is an attractive place to lay your head. With a lobby art gallery (above), a live music venue and three restaurants all on-site, InterContinental isn't just concerned with improving airport hotel design, they want to change the whole experience.
    How Close: Just five minutes from O'Hare, the InterContinental offers its guests 24-hours shuttle service to the terminals.

    best-airport-hotelOne of the rooms available at the new InterContinental hotel. Photo: InterContinental

    Hotel: The Inn at Oyster Point (shown below)
    Airport: San Francisco International Airport
    The Scoop: Recently re-designed, The Inn At Oyster Point is a seriously cute airport hotel inspired by the designs of Dorothy Draper -- think bold floral patterns, chinoiserie accents and a palette that includes lots of red and green.
    How Close: While not located at SFO, The Inn at Oyster Point is just a few minutes away -- and they offer complimentary airport transportation for guests from 7 am to 10 pm.

    best-airport-hotelThe lobby of the Inn at Oyster Point. Photo: Inn at Oyster Point

    best-airport-hotelA guest room at The Inn at Oyster Point. Photo: Inn at Oyster Point

    Hotel: Radisson Blu Hotel (below)
    Airport: Zurich Aiport
    The Scoop: Known for his modernist, cutting-edge hotel design, it may come as a surprise that Italian architect Matheo Thun's recent projects include an airport hotel: His Radisson Blu Hotel is located steps from the departure gate of Zurich airport. The look here is sleek and modern with iconic mid-century furnishings in the public areas of the hotel.
    How Close: The Radisson Blue Hotel is in the airport, and it's the only hotel with a direct link to the terminal.

    best-airport-hotelThe lobby of the Radisson Blu at Zurich Airport. Photo: Radisson

    Check out more great Valentine's Day stories!

    And for more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Your Biggest Couples Cleaning Problems: Solved!
    Til Bed Do Us Part
    Living in the Other Woman's House

    This video shows you how to decorate your bedroom like a modern hotel. Check it out!


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    From painting cabinets to adding colorful accents, brighten up your kitchen today with these color ideas.

    Things getting a bit humdrum in your kitchen? It might not be your meals that need a revamp -- inject some color in the kitchen and even the most ordinary entrée will appear perked up.

    From juicy oranges to pretty pinks to classic blues, nearly any color can work in a kitchen -- a space where it's OK use creativity to let your personality shine through.

    So what's your hue? Take a look at these photos for some colorful inspiration.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Beateworks / Corbis

    Country Blues
    Adding a classic shade of blue to your kitchen is a quick way to get the cozy country look. Instead of painting a solid wall or coating your cabinets, opt for a washed stain - instant vintage chic.

    Try blue interior stain from Olympic Paint: Indigo Blue or American Blue are both great options (depending on your wood).

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Alamy

    Lovely Lilac
    One pop of color? Try two for one. Selecting a lighter and darker hue along the same color spectrum is a great way to add dimension to a space without overwhelming. The lighter shade on top brings the eye up, while a darker option grounds the look.

    Kelly Moore's Lilac Lady (KM3003-1) and Iris Impact (KM3008-5) are the perfect pair for purple lovers.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhotos: Corbis

    Periwinkle Perfection
    A bold dose of color doesn't necessarily mean in-your-face. Take this subdued periwinkle as an example - it creates a soothing, rich space but doesn't overwhelm like a trendy color you might tire of in a few weeks. A great color choice for the hue hesitant.

    We think that Cloudberry (C43-3) from Olympic is a nice choice.

    Citrusy Sweet
    If you had the choice, would you choose sunshine every day? Then a sunny citrus orange might be the perfect hue for you. When contrasted with a crisp white, the orange goes from glaring to glowing.

    Sherwin-Williams' Mandarin (6891) is a delicious option for orange.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Corbis

    Green with Envy
    With more than a million (we're guessing) hues of green out there, it can be difficult to find the perfect one. If green is already a staple in your kitchen (such as in your favorite dishware or a single beloved vase), take that item to the paint store and match it to a color strip. Choose a darker variation for a bolder look or a lighter one for a more subdued peaceful option.

    We especially love the playful but quiet hue of Olympic's Green Grapes (A68-4).

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Corbis

    Bubblicious Pink
    Many might scoff at the idea of a Pepto-pink kitchen, but the color can create a fun retro vibe or a playful modern one. Find the right hue and guests will know you never take things too seriously.

    It could just be the name, but our favorite hue is Two Lips (A8-6) from Ace Paint.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Red Cover / Alamy

    The All American
    Red has long been a classic kitchen choice, though often it can be a bit too bold - even for the most daring. (And since its been said that red entices the appetite, dieters might want to shy away from it.) We especially like it in small (but daring) doses. For a classic color combo, mix in some white (or off-white) and blue -- but change it up by adding a surprising shade of blue instead of the ordinary navy.

    For for the not-so-standard red-blue pairing try the classic Red Alert (AC216-5) or Bountiful Blue (KM3198-2) both from from Kelly Moore.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Alamy

    Teal Time
    Blue and green are so basic, right? You insist on being more unique - so try a happy medium between the two and opt for teal. It's bright, cheery and soothing all in one. Choose a high-gloss finish for extra pizzazz.

    Sherwin-Williams' Synergy (6938) is a safe bet for a eye-catching teal.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Alamy

    Lemony Goodness
    It's no doubt, yellow is a cheery color. From soft lemon (think mousse) to bright lemon, the color works wonders in any style of space. For a modern look, bolder brighter yellows work well contrasted with sleek dark cabinetry and counter tops.

    Ralph Lauren just released a new color perfect for this job, Monticello Yellow.

    color-in-the-kitchenPhoto: Alamy

    Firey Fuchsia
    Pink isn't just for soft, feminine spaces. A bold fuchsia lends a funky vibe to a contemporary kitchen. Pair it with crisp white for a nice contrast, and keep other colors and patterns at a minimum to prevent overbearing.

    Try a shade like Sherwin-Williams' Radish (6861) for a pretty pop of pink.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Kitchen Island Alternatives
    Refacing Kitchen Cabinets
    Energy Saving Kitchen Appliances

    Learn more about kitchen color ideas in this video.


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    In ShelterPop's column "Cheap Chic Ideas," we tell you how to decorate your home like celebrities. Here's how to decorate your home like actor Charlie Sheen's house:

    The actor may be in home rehab at his Los Angeles estate, but Charlie Sheen's former house in Los Feliz, California is still on the market for $3.5 million. And if this is the way the home looked when he lived here (and not just really good home staging), he's got a flair for eclectic global style worth copying.

    Throughout the subdued 1927 home there are touches of faraway lands, like djembe drums in the living space and Buddha figures in the entryway. (We wish that all of the nods to Buddhism would have helped Sheen find a way to channel some inner calm.) While the home is not an over-the-top star pad, it does have its touches of glitz: The dining room is wallpapered in gold damask and furnished with gilded chairs.

    Get the look of Sheen's home with these look-alike furnishings:

    charlie-sheen-housePhoto: AP (inset) | As Seen on

    This grand staircase is surrounded by sunburst mirrors and small figurines of Buddhas: The result is an entrance to the home that feels both calm and worldly.

    charlie-sheen-housePhotos (clockwise from left):, Home Decorators,

    Get the look:
    Handcrafted Brass Buddha Bust (India), $49.50,
    Sunburst[TM] Antiqued Gold Wall Mirror, $319, Home Decorators
    Gold Plated Sun Ray Mirror, $13,

    Sheen's dining room is glam in a Wall Street kind of way -- with lots and lots of gold. Create a similar look with a gold, damask wallpaper and an oversized Venetian-style mirror.

    charlie-sheen-housePhotos: Graham & Brown (left), The Well Appointed Home (right)

    Get the look:
    Desire: Gold-Mustard Wallpaper, $75, Graham & Brown
    Extra Large Horizontal Venetian Mirror, $1,220, The Well Appointed House

    While there's no easy way to fake the charm of Sheen's wood-beamed ceilings, you can copy his living room style. A white, shaggy carpet and white, leather seating add up to a sleek looking living space. Add in some touches of warmth with accessories like a pair of African drums.

    Get the look:
    KARLSTAD Chair,
    $549, IKEA
    Flokati Rug, $50 to $200, PBTeen
    Djembe Drums, $65 to $78,

    Want more cheap chic style ideas? Read on:
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Jane Fonda's Home
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth Paltrow's Bedroom

    For more decorating ideas, here's a video on designing a cozy sitting area.


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    Here's how one mom gave her boy a grown-up bedroom makeover. And it only costs $300!

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!

    My son turned nine this Summer and instantly declared his room "too baby!" So while he visited his grandparents out of town, I surprised him with a room makeover. We packed up all the sentimental baby stuff, then painted every square inch of his room and most of his furniture. The best part (besides his reaction), was that the entire makeover cost under $300!

    boy bedroom makeoverCasaSugar

    Check out the "before": The patchwork bedding with puppy dogs had to go. So did the sweet green walls and preschool craft projects.

    boy bedroom makeoverCasaSugar

    And now...the "after": Paint made the most drastic changes in the room. Not only did the walls get a new color and bold stripes, but we sprayed the bed white.

    boy bedroom makeover

    We also made most of the art for the gallery wall using our prints from trips to the animal park. The magnetic strips are actually Ikea knife holders . . . they are a great spot to clip awards and postcards. Check out more before and after posts, along with how-tos on all the projects on my blog Hi Sugarplum!

    Want to see the rest of the great "after" photos? Check out the full piece on CasaSugar, or take a look at these other great pieces:

    Top 5 Kitchen Trends From HGTV's Kelly Edwards

    Gnome Sweet Gnome


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    Why not show some love to one of the most under-decorated, under-appreciated rooms in the house?

    When it comes to the thrill of decorating your home, the bathroom is often overlooked. True, you can't adorn it with throw pillows but that doesn't mean it can't hold their own against the most stunning living rooms and bedrooms.

    beautiful-bathroomsOorbee Roy

    To start -- browse our collection of super cool, totally unique-looking and above all, beautiful bathrooms (don't miss the gilded bathroom!).

    Looking for something wackier? These five quirky toilets are not for the faint of heart.

    If you're after a retro look, check out our secret source for vintage bathtubs, sinks and accessories. Or go high-end and browse beautiful bathtubs that just might make you resent your current tub.

    White Rabbit Studios via CasaSugar.

    Feeling envious of these stunners? Have hope: We've got a bathroom makeover that takes one bathroom from decrepit to dazzling. And another one that went from just fine to just gorgeous.

    And remember, you can't fail when your inspiration is spa-chic. Why shouldn't your bathroom be a sanctuary?

    Once you settle on the inspiration, get some motivation: We love these easy, budget-friendly bathroom updates and expert tips for creating the perfect bathroom.

    And if all else fails, try a sink skirt: All the cool sinks are wearing them.


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    We've seen smart furniture before, like a chuch pew turned headboard and silverware transformed into a chandelier. Now an even more surprising medium is being upcycled: discarded oil drums.

    In trying to create something useful from oil production waste, companies such as Snodevormgevers, Reestore and Vaho have begun creating upcycled furniture from discarded metal oil drums. The results -- a series of chairs, stools and tables in contemporary silhouhettes -- are unique and likely to last much longer than their previous contents.

    But they're not the only ones making furniture from oil drums.

    smart-furniturePhotos from left to right: Vaho, Snodevormgevers , Reestore

    Elena Patterson, a South African born designer and artist, features oil drum chairs in her New York boutiques, each called Peoria Emporium. She says that she was at a trade show at the Piers in Manhattan when she and her business partner, Patricia Stevens, stumbled on some beautiful furniture that looked as though it was made from scrap metal. The creators were the residents of Bamako, the capital of Mali, in West Africa; Patterson later learned that the area there is devoted to scrap metal reprocessing, and scrap metal of all kinds are bought there, cleaned, cut and reworked.

    Patterson was drawn to the fact that they were upcycled, and she appreciated the primitive quality. "You can recognize what they are made from, that they're recycled. The more modern pieces often lack the charm of these pieces. We consider these examples of outsider or folk art," she explains. With a passion for supporting local artisans, specifically women's collectives, Patterson decided to stock her store with some of the eye-catching chairs.

    smart-furnitureOil drum chairs from Mali artisans. Photos: Elena Patterson

    The oil drum pieces (pictured above) are made like this: A wooden form is used to create a chair mold. The metal for the seat and seat back is then cut and bent and even shaped around the metal wire edges of the chairs. The seat metal is then hammered over the wooden mold to shape it into place.

    There is no processing or manufacturing plant in Mali. The pieces are all made outdoors, where Patterson says you'll see shacks and makeshift buildings used to keep things from getting wet if it rains. "It is a place where the sound of hammering is deafening and where metal dust blackens everything," says Patterson.

    smart-furnitureAn oil drum stool from a Mali artisan. Photos: Elena Patterson

    As each piece is made by hand out in the open, you can watch hundreds of artists hammering metal sheets to smooth them out. Welding is also done by craftsman working amidst mountain-sized piles of scrap metal.

    It's interesting that the people in Mali are doing so much with the oil drum, since oil is fairly irrelevant in their lives, says Patterson. Most of the oil there is imported, very few people own cars or trucks, and their homes are not heated.

    smart-furniturePatricia Stevens (left) and Elena Patterson (right). Photo: Elena Patterson

    Whatever your politics on oil consumption, we can probably agree that these chairs are a smart use of scrap metal. It's one less thing taking up space in landfills -- and that is a step in the right direction.

    For more green ideas, check out our roundup of eco-friendly lighting and learn more about decorating and doing good with eBay's fair trade marketplace.

    For more on eco-friendly design, check out this video on DIY furniture from cardboard. Yes, cardboard.


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    From a kitchen sponge to those candles gathering dust on your bookshelf, when home items should be tossed.

    I don't play around with a product's expiration date. If that jar of peanut butter in my fridge has an imprinted date that is now in the past, then into the garbage it goes.

    home expiration date rPhoto: Getty Images

    I suspect I'm not alone in this habit.

    But it's easy to foget about products in the home that aren't ingested. I'm talking about all of the products we employ to clean, cook or beautify our houses as well as our appearance. Some of these come with an expiration date, but many do not.

    We checked in with the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to find out when we should be tossing commonly used household products.

    Baking Soda
    It's a good thing that a box of baking soda is cheap because the recommended replacement time if you ask Arm & Hammer is every 30 days. We checked in with for more details. "Baking soda is at peak odor-absorbing performance for the refrigerator within one month after opening," says Good Housekeeping Research Institute's Carolyn Forte, the Home Appliances and Cleaning Director. "It will continue to work after that, but perhaps not as quickly. It can still be used effectively after 30 days, however, for cleaning surfaces and deodorizing drains."

    home expiration date Photo: Corbis

    If the candle no longer has an odor then it has gone bad. It isn't necessary to toss, but if perfume is an important part of your candle-lighting ritual then by all means do not hesitate to do so. Forte sums it up nicely: "A candle without a scent is not harmful if burned. You just won't get the full benefit of the candle experience."

    All-purpose surface spray
    I tend to snap up beautifully fragrant all-purpose surface sprays (preferably with natural ingredients, like those from Caldrea or Mrs. Meyer's) when they go on sale at discount stores like TJ Maxx. Right now I'm armed with two choices: lemongrass or citrus. Walmart's web site suggests replacing the spray every six months. It's a good thing that the product can be applied to most any surface -- bookshelves, countertops, windows, etc. - because otherwise it might take longer than six months to deplete the bottle.

    home expiration date Photo: Alamy

    Dish Rack
    If you can see cracks in the support system or rust (if it's metal), it is time to buy a new one -- you don't want the heavy dishware stacked in the drainer to suddenly drop onto the floor (because then you will be shopping for new place settings). You also don't want rust to attach to the plates and bowls you use for mealtime.

    As for plastic dish racks, Forte has this to say: "Germs don't eat the plastic, but as the plastic ages and starts to break down, bacteria, with the right conditions of food and moisture, can grow in the cracks and crevices. When it reaches a point where it is worn and can no longer adequately be cleaned, it's time to toss it." So if you are scrubbing and scrubbing a yellowed dish rack, it's time to spring for a bright, white version!

    Glass cleaner
    Real Simple editors think that a bottle of Windex, or any similar product (perhaps under a generic name) used to clean any glass surface or window, can be good for up to two years. However, when we polled Forte, she expressed the contrary: "I have never heard that glass cleaner expires. I believe it is formulated to last longer than two years."

    Kitchen sponge
    We don't even want to think about the number of germs hiding in a sponge. After using it to wipe the kitchen table, countertops, the sink and the stove, a lot of bacteria can build up. And most of it is invisible to the naked eye. When you can see that icky grime, it smells disgusting (a sign of bacteria growth), or "the sponge starts to break down and cleaning is no longer effective," says Forte, it's definitely time to toss it.

    But if you're keeping a clean sponge you will never know when it is that time. Forte offered up quick sanitizing methods as a safety net. Sponges should be sanitized weekly, she says, in a solution of bleach and water. Rinse well and dry before using again. "We have also found that putting sponges in the dishwasher with heated water and drying cycles sanitizes them almost as well, but not as completely as bleach and water," she says.

    There is a lot of talk, too, about microwaving a kitchen sponge for 30 seconds as a sterilization method. Don't be afraid to do this. When scientists at Agricultural Research Science in Maryland put this to the test, they removed 99.99999 percent of the bacteria.

    If you ask us, knowing when to replace a mop is among the biggest quandries when it comes to keeping or tossing household products. After just one use, a mop is going to look dirty no matter how many times it is rinsed. Forte helped us sort it all out by likening a mop to a cleaning sponge. Sanitizing regularly will prolong the life of your mop. "Sponge mops can be soaked in bleach and water; string, strip or microfiber mops should be washed in the washing machine," says Forte. "One of the reasons disposable and microfiber mops have become so popular is that they eliminate the cleaning issues associated with traditional mops."

    home expiration date Photo: Getty Images

    Pot holders
    I've often had a look-see attitude about my potholders. If I can see crusted remains of sauces or cookie batter on the fabric, then it is time to invest in a new hand mitt. (I still haven't converted to silicone.) Turns out that cleanliness is the key to longevity with pot holders. Sharon Franke, who is the Kitchen Appliances and Technology Director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, urges consumers to keep pot holders clean and also neatly trimmed. Here's why. "Bacteria can grow on stains. Oil or sugar stains can catch on fire. If pot holders develop loose or frayed threads or ends, they should be discarded. The threads or ends can easily catch on fire," she says.

    Generally speaking, your pot holders -- whether these are squares or oven mitts -- should be flame-resistant. It's also nice to have brightly colored ones so that you can find them easily when the pasta is boiling over or the chocolate-chip cookies baking in your oven are at risk of turning crisp. Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop in Philadelphia strongly urges you to look over the pot holders regularly. If there are any holes or tears, replace immediately. Otherwise, you may burn yourself.

    home expiration date Photo: Getty Images

    Sink Drain
    If you haven't replaced your sink drain in, oh, five years, here is where you can feel as if you have done something right. Forte, of Good Housekeeping Research Institute, says that as long as metal sink drains are kept clean and in working order, there is no need to replace sink drains. "If they malfunction and no longer hold water, then they should be replaced," says Forte.

    Small Appliances
    Now that we've covered common household products it would be silly to not touch on small appliances. Haven't you ever wondered when it's time to splurge on a new toaster or microwave -- and not just because you like the fancy-schmancy red chrome one?

    We polled Good Housekeeping Research Institute for answers. "Small appliances do not need to be replaced as long as they are in good working order," says Franke. "Any appliance with a damaged cord or plug shold be replaced." Some other red flags and clues it is time to toss it: a coffeemaker that takes an unusually long time to brew; any appliance that gets hotter than it used to while operating; when the automatic shutoff feature no longer works; and if you can't properly close the microwave door.

    For more about cleaning, don't miss these great stories:
    DIY Detective: PAO Labels and Expiration Dates
    Green Spring Cleaning: Disposing of Toxic Household Items Safely
    The Do's and Dont's of: Choosing Healthy Cleaning Products

    For more about expired household products, here's a video:


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    Make your home office more personal by taking on one (or three!) of these fun DIY desk projects.


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