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    The beloved Pixar film is brought to life by the creative, "Up"-obsessed minds at National Geographic.

    Our friends at Curbed are sharing the most uplifting (literally) photos we've seen all day.

    up house

    Oh, National Geographic -- what will you think of next? As the rest of us were downing greasy brunch food this weekend, these guys -- scientists, engineers, and two balloon pilots -- woke up at dawn to set free a real-life version of the house from Pixar's hit film Up on a private airfield outside L.A.

    up-houseThe "Up" house. Photo: National Geographic via Curbed.



    up-houseThe "Up" house. Photo: National Geographic via Curbed.



    Measuring 16 feet by 16 feet and 18 feet high, the yellow house was buoyed by 300 8' weather balloons -- a total height of more than 10 stories -- setting a new world record for the "largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted."

    up-houseThe "Up" house. Photo: National Geographic via Curbed.



    It reached an altitude of 10,000 feet and flew for an hour. The Up adventure will be part of Nat Geo's new Fall 2011 series called How Hard Can it Be? Show offs!

    up-houseThe "Up" house. Photo: National Geographic via Curbed.


    Want more from Curbed?
    Mary J. Blige Asks Rich Buyers to Take Her Home As It Is

    Minnesota Design Firm Builds Whole Pirate Ship in Kid's Bedroom


    Feeling inspired? We love this video on how to make your own hot air balloon!

     

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    A dilapidated kitchen gets a new life with a few whimsical touches and a whole lot of white paint...

    Check out this great story about a stunning white kitchen makeover from our friends at CasaSugar!

    white kitchen makeover
    Want to see more of the before & afters? See the rest of the story on CasaSugar

    Check out more great CasaSugar stories:
    New DIY-Friendly Shelter Magazine Launches For British Readers

    Before and After: My Man's Cave


    And check out this video about more ways to brighten up the kitchen:

     

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    We heart these pint-size bloggers for their design sense and stylish eye.

    First came Tavi Gevinson, the then 11-year-old fashionista whose blog, The Style Rookie, propelled her to the front rows of New York's most coveted shows. Then came Racked's five-year-old fashion week reporter, Katie, along with a host of other young Anna Wintour protégés.

    While we don't expect to see preschoolers taking to the blogs any time soon, we are curious who's up next in the world of home decor. So we cruised the blogosphere and turned up three promising young bloggers with an eye for the latest trends -- a dash of fashion, a sprinkling of decor -- and a passion for sharing them with the world.

    new-design-blogsClea's proudest design moment: Decorating her bedroom. Photos: Samantha Chesler; Clea Pariseau

    Name: Clea Pariseau
    Age: 11
    Blog: PeekingatPearls.blogspot.com

    Clea's affinity for decor and blogging began...
    "When I was a little girl I wanted to design the insides of airplanes," she says, "but now I want to design houses and clothes...I have always been inspired by my godmother who is an interior designer. My mom and I always make our house beautiful too."

    The designer she loves most?
    "Not a specific designer, but I always like things to be colorful and funky. I love colors and I enjoy things most when they are unusual or surprising."

    Where Clea finds inspiration for her blog...
    Usually websites, she says, "but when I see something I like in real life I base my blog on it. A lot of our friends have lovely houses, my Grandmother lives in a gorgeous old house in London and my other Grandmother has a divine modern house in the mountains of California."

    Decor blogs she can't get enough of...
    "My favorite one is decorpad.com." Her blog roll also consists of desiretoinspire.net, cupcakesandcashmere.com and busyboo.com.

    Clea's proudest design moment to date:
    "I am most proud of my room," she says. "I think people should always customize their space to make themselves feel comfortable."

    Words of wisdom for other young bloggers?
    "It is hard keeping up with your blog, but keep on trying," Clea advises. "The important thing about blogging is that you have to say your personal opinion, not anyone else's. Ever since I've started this blog, my passion for design has increased and gotten better."


    new-design-blogsGianna's put her lessons as a costume design student to work in this DIY bedding. Photos: John Mueller


    Name: Gianna Mueller
    Age: 13
    Blog:
    PrettyBrainy.com/blog

    The style Gianna likes best is...
    "My favorite style is a mix of vintage but with a hint of the present," she says.Her latest post?
    A fun and easy craft project that you can make with household items.

    Gianna's proudest design moment to date:
    "I recently redecorated my room," she says. "I rearranged all my furniture, made a duvet cover and 6 pillows, with more on the way!"

    Words of wisdom for other young bloggers?
    "Blog for yourself, not the people around you," Gianna advises. "Blog to express your feelings through your writing, and to show your true soul."


    new-design-blogs16-year-old Nicole is particularly proud of her family's living room, which she helped decorate. "The pieces on the shelf are mostly comprised of memoirs from our travels," she says.



    Name: Nicole Dominguez
    Age: 16
    Blog: SoDevious.net

    When Nicole's affinity for decor and blogging began...
    "I have always appreciated the art of home decor," she says. "I frequent home furniture and decor stores with my mother, and am usually taken aback by what can be achievable with the right colors and furniture pieces."

    Which style she loves most?
    "I swoon over clean and minimalistic design and bright colors. There is just something about colors that can really brighten up someone's day!"

    Her latest blog post is about...
    "8 Tips for Creating an Office at Home, which explains some of the little things that can be done to create a home office!"

    Where Nicole finds inspiration for her blog...
    "A lot of the inspiration for my blog comes from the things I see on a daily basis. Sometimes it's a color, or items in a store, but sparks of creativity fly all the time. I bring a moleskine journal wherever I am to capture my ideas."

    Decor bloggers she can't get enough of?
    I follow lots of bloggers! One is Jessica at HowAboutOrange, and another one of the blogs I like to frequent is Design*Sponge, it's a great place to draw inspiration from! I love how they show you how to create beautiful pieces for the home."

    What the future holds for SoDevious.net and Nicole's love for design:
    "I long for the day that I have my own home (or apartment) to design myself! One room simply isn't cutting it for me. My room was redone a year ago, and my mom and I designed it. I helped her paint it and we picked out furniture together. I also help her pick out pieces for the rest of the house, we are always changing rooms around!"

    Words of wisdom for other young bloggers?
    "Don't underestimate your knowledge or ability. Don't refrain from blogging because of what others might think! There are always people who will appreciate your work."

    Check out this video of one of our favorite (non-teen) design bloggers

     

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    Our writer revisits the horror of his bedbug infestation when he evaluates the latest bedbug-fighting products, and he's frightened by how little the products do.

    In 2008, my Brooklyn apartment got bedbugs. After two failed extermination attempts, I went insane and moved out after throwing away everything I owned except for a laptop, an iPod and two garbage bags of clothes that had been washed in antiseptic. I wrote about it for ShelterPop, and it was clear from the story that the bedbugs had left me on edge and generally not "OK". More recently, ShelterPop asked if I would cover the National Bed Bug Prevention Media Showcase -- yes, this is a real event -- and I agreed. That was a poor choice.

    bedbug infestationThe bedbug infestation starts: Ewww. Photo: AP



    I walked into a storefront in Soho and found five tables set up in a wide open room, every inch of which was painted bright white. Reps from various pesticide companies were on hand to present the latest in bedbug prevention technology.

    I first met Steve Bessette, President of EcoSMART Technologies, the company sponsoring the bedbug showcase, and entomologist Dr. Gretchen Paluch. They proudly presented EcoSMART's bedbug spray as a natural solution made almost entirely from essential oils extracted from plants like rosemary and thyme. In fact, they have a pesticide exemption from the EPA as there is nothing toxic to humans in any of their products. To stress the point, they had the plants displayed on their table.

    bedbug infestationPhoto: Noah Garfinkel



    Dr. Paluch explained that the oils attack the bedbugs' central nervous system and are powerful enough to kill the bugs on contact. While being completely harmless to humans, applying the spray to a mattress can repel bedbugs for up to eight hours at a time. That seemed all well and good, but as someone who's had bedbugs before and had great difficulty killing them, I would have much preferred if their table looked like this:

    bedbug infestationPhoto: Noah Garfinkel



    When I had bedbugs, I wanted them dead at any cost. Safety for myself and those around me became a very distant second priority; I wanted something that could kill me, but diluted down to a bedbug-killing level. So while the botanical spray from EcoSMART seemed like an effective way to keep bedbugs away from me when I stayed in a hotel, it wasn't a weaponized solution for an infestation in your home. As I left the table, Dr. Paluch offered me a dead bedbug entombed in plastic. It now resides in my freezer.

    bedbug infestationPhoto: Noah Garfinkel



    At another table was a product made by a company called BugZip. They make plastic bags that you can put your luggage in while on vacation so that bugs from a hotel infestation can't hitch a ride on your suitcase and follow you home. Smart.

    Then I met Genma Holmes, or "The Bug Lady," a former model and now head of a pest control company in Atlanta. Terrible nickname, awesome lady. She had set up a number of diagrams showing some of the most common bed bug hiding places: Behind bed boards, under the seam of a mattress, in your FREAKING ALARM CLOCK. Also, the alarm clocks pictured in the diagrams were all cleverly displaying times such as 1:00 and the infamous 2:25 A.M. moments at which one is likely to wake up scratching themselves. The Bug Lady and I had a good laugh about that, and we're now Facebook friends.

    bedbug infestationPhoto: BuzZip, EcoSmart, Genma Holmes, aka "The Bug Lady"




    At the last table were two brothers, Daniel and Scott White. Like the others at the show case, they had bedbug prevention products like a ClimbUp Insect Interceptor and a bed bug proof mattress cover. But, unlike the others, these guys had actual experience in extermination, and Scott had even been through an infestation himself.

    Excited to finally be talking to people with an actual bedbug eradication background, I launched into questions about other rumored bedbug exterminating tactics. They had answers.

    "What's the deal with bedbug sniffing dogs?" Apparently, the dogs can be effective in locating bedbugs, but they're only as good as their trainer.

    "How about the freezing option?" Freezing bedbugs can also work, he said, but it only kills on contact; if you miss a spot where bedbugs are hiding, they will remain there. "And heat?" Heat can be a good option too, but it's expensive. A treatment where they heat your whole apartment in order to kill the bedbugs can cost up to 50 percent more than a regular extermination. "And is it appropriate to freak out when you get bedbugs, throw away all your belongings and stay crazy for the next three years?" Maybe not so much.

    I left the showcase with mixed feelings. It's encouraging to see that there are people working to fix the ever-expanding bedbug population. But here's the scary truth: If I ever got bedbugs again, there is not one singular and surefire way to get rid of them. The consensus of all the experts at the showcase seemed to be that bedbugs aren't going anywhere any time soon, and until there is a better solution, containment is about the best we can hope for. In other words: Take a deep breath. Bedbugs just might kill us all.

    For more great cleaning and organizing ideas, don't miss:
    Are You an Organizing Extremist?
    Home Office Org: 7 Tips
    Spring Spruce Up: Organizing Jewelry

    Here's a video on how to tell if you have bedbugs.


     

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    "We wanted the room to look pulled together and not too much like a baby's room -- we need it to be functional as a guest room as well." -Amy Mascarina






    THE HOMEOWNERS
    The Mascarinas

    BEFORE
    With little time to prepare for the arrival of their daughter, Stella, the Mascarinas scrambled to get a nursery together. And to make things more challenging, the space they are using for the baby's room needs to double as a guest bedroom when friends or family come to visit. Goodbye, pink decals and mobiles! A traditional baby theme is not a design option.

    Minute Makeover guru Bob Richter takes on the two-part challenge with ease. First, he divides the room into distinct areas -- key for pulling off the desired functions.

    He chose a queen bed with a soft floral duvet and then brought in multi-use furniture to provide storage. The nightstand and cabinet compliment the white finish of the crib and changing table, which can later be used later to display toys and schoolbooks.

    By combining functional items like reading lamps and sophisticated bedding with more personal touches like stuffed animals and wall art, this room is equally comfortable for baby Stella and out-of-town guests.

    AFTER
    The Mascarinas have a feminine yet sophisticated nursery for their daughter. The room can also accommodate any guests that might visit and has the ability to suit Stella as she grows.

    THE GOODS
    To see the IKEA products used in this Minute Makeover, scroll over the items in the video, or check our the shopping guide!

     

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    We help you weigh the options for choosing your new kitchen floor.

    Need a new kitchen floor? Tile, stone, wood, laminate- you have plenty of options! Learn about these types of flooring in the videos below. We also included a DIY clip in case you want to embark on this project yourself. Good luck!

    First, it's good to know your options. And there's enough of them out there! This video walks you through the pros and cons of the materials available.


    So you decided on tile. To add a bit more for the eye, consider doing a pattern layout. See what we mean, here:


    A great option -- especially if you want a DIY project -- is the self-adhesive squares in the video below. But before you can start the new floor, you need to remove the old one and clean up! Check out a step-by-step:



    Want more? Remodel your kitchen based on your budget and read about how to incorporate the 2011 Pattern of the Year: honeycomb.

     

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    There are no interior photos of Russell Brand and Katy Perry's house -- but that doesn't mean we can't have our illustrator take an educated guess.

    According to the Daily Mirror, Katy Perry and Russell Brand had decor skirmishes when they first moved in together. Brand's London home was "dark, gothic and quite sinister," Perry said. "My apartment was like Candyland, every room in a different pastel and very over the top. He didn't want to live in a cracked-out fairyland and I didn't want to live in a goth house, so it's a balancing act."

    How did they merge their tastes? We took a guess.

    Katy Perry HouseWe kind of want to move into Katy Perry's house now! Custom illustration by Michaela Hogarty, Flight of Design.


    There are staged home photographs of Perry and Brand's 4,706-square-foot love nest in Los Angeles, but none since they moved in and decorated. So we took some creative liberties and imagined what their living room looks like. Noting Perry's love of color and Brand's wild side, ShelterPop's newest contributor Michaela Hogarty drew up a room with funky decor, an unexpected lighting choice, a lush rug and enough classic reminders of home to make any rock star happy. (And guess what, you can afford everything in this room!)

    Here's a list of products featured:

    Sofa: Baxter sectional, West Elm, $699 to $839

    Settee: Daydreamer settee, Urban Outfitters, $579

    Rug: Handwoven rug from Turkey by Color Reform, ABC Carpet & Home, $4299

    Coffee table: Smart Glass Top coffee table, CB2, $199

    Side table: Stockholm side table, IKEA, $99

    Red exposed lights: Pendant Cord Set, West Elm, $29

    Swan figurine on coffee table: Medium Bird Bowl, Jonathan Adler, $85

    Yellow throw pillow: Leisure Yellow pillow, CB2, $39

    Cross pillow: Cross Pillow Gray and Black, Jonathan Adler, $98

    Map Art Work: Pegster by Plodes, $198 (you make it yourself!).

    Michaela Hogarty is an independent interior designer and illustrator living in New York City. For an in-home consultation, email mhogarty519@gmail.com.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Makeover Tips From Celeb Kitchens
    Where Celebs Live: Montecito
    Where Celebrities Call Home: Hancock Park
    Where Celebrities Live: Bedford

    Here's a video with tips to help you decorate your own living room.

     

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    You asked: "I've always had a long-distance love affair with linen -- there's a pile of photos featuring this upholstery fabric in my design file. Can you help me get to know it better before I commit to living with it?"

    ....Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams answer:

    You've come to the right place. We're long-time linen lovers, too. It was among the first fabrics we chose for our upholstery collection 20 years ago, and it remains a big part of our style.

    what is linenMitchell Gold + Bob Williams


    What is Linen? The Versatile Classic.
    Linen gives a sophisticated look, yet still conveys that all-important welcoming quality. As a natural fabric, it's also meshes with our green spirit. It drapes and tailors well, making it work for slipcovered and upholstered pieces. In fact, it's hard to find a style linen doesn't suit. It swings traditional or modern with ease, equally at home on a wing chair or a square-arm sofa.

    Linen can be a good investment; it's classic and perennially in style. (And we mean it - the fabric dates to ancient Egypt!) And its simplicity makes it easy to update with a change of accessories. It also "reads" as luxury, in a subtle way, without the glitz. If you want to add sparkle, however, linen looks particularly elegant with nailhead trim. And a sofa in linen is a perfect background for a display of decorative pillows.

    what is linenMitchell Gold + Bob Williams


    What is Linen? A Color/Texture Pop.
    Natural and bleached-white linens are rich neutrals that fit with our serenity-oriented color philosophy:To keep things calm, chose no more than three or four hues for a room, with one or two of those being accents. This is where linen's slubbed texture is a bonus, adding another layer of subtle interest to the scene.

    Linen takes dyes beautifully, giving you wonderfully rich color options. (We've fallen in love with some beautiful grays this season.) It also conveys subtleties well - for instance, our Spring 2011 line includes a linen-cotton blend in a bright white, a warm white, and a crème so that you can get the shade you need.

    Linen is especially durable and resists pilling. However, like any natural product, it has slight inconsistencies and color variations, which, to us, is part of the charm. For overall care, we recommend professional upholstery cleaning.

    What is Linen? Yes, a Fabric with a Few Drawbacks.
    However, as in clothing, though generally crisp, wear or use tends to wrinkle it. So, if your linen slipcovered sofa will see a lot of lounging, you'll need to appreciate a more relaxed look. And, as one of our customers once said, linen "isn't ideal for sitting around in your underwear on," though it does soften over time.

    As much as we love linen, we have to say there are probably better ways for a busy household with kids, pets, and the occasional sloppy guest to achieve sophistication, especially in the main seating area. Stains are difficult to remove. Spilled red wine will be a permanent addition. A darker color might help somewhat, as might picking a linen-cotton blend, which is slightly easier to clean, wrinkles less, and has a softer hand. But from our make-life-easier viewpoint, family-friendly faux suede in the living room and luxe linen in the master bedroom sounds much more relaxing.

    Here's more of Mitchell & Bob's great advice:
    Small-Space Living Room Seating

    Expert Q&A: Warm-Weather Spruce Ups for the Living Room

    Want to know more about linen? Check out this video about the fabric:

     

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  • 03/13/11--01:29: 2011 Bathroom Trends
  • Filed under: , , ,

    Bathrooms have a brand new look, thanks to these fresh 2011 bathroom trends.

    Every year the members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) get together to discuss up and coming trends in the marketplace -- More than 100 designers who worked on a kitchen or bathroom during the last three months of 2010 participate in a survey and reveal the hottest styles for 2011. Here, Stephanie Pritchard, a kitchen and bath designer at Middleburg Design Company in Middleburg, Virginia, weighs in on the biggest bath trends of 2011. Don't miss our report on NKBA's 2011 Kitchen Trends.

    bathroom trendsPhoto: NKBA



    Bathroom Trend #1: Green Color Schemes
    "The trend in color for bathrooms has been softer, more neutral tones, like sea greens, with natural elements like bamboo and stone added to the space," she says. And she's right: While whites, creams, beiges and browns are still the most commonly used colors in bathrooms, green color palettes rose from 14 percent to 24 percent over the course of 2010.


    Photo: NKBA



    Bathroom Trend #2: Quartz Countertops
    A year ago, 85 percent of NKBA bathroom designers incorporated granite into a recent design, compared to just 48 percent for quartz. That gap has narrowed to 83 percent for granite and 54 percent for quartz. "The trend in bathrooms is to create more of a spa-like or hotel-like feel," Pritchard explains. "People are making their homes equipped with the items they love when they go on vacation, such as high-end countertops. They want those aspects of luxury incorporated into their own bathrooms."

    Photo: NKBA



    Bathroom Trend #3: Vessel Sinks
    Under-mount sinks continue to dominate in new bathrooms, but vessel sinks have become the clear second choice among designers, as 51 percent of NKBA designers used them in the final quarter of 2010, up from 39 percent a year ago. "Vessel bowls remain popular due to the switch to a more transitional or contemporay home," Pritchard says. "It creates a cleaner, more calming feel, while eliminating the chance of clutter since vessel sinks are typically mounted on less countertop space."


    For more bathroom makeover ideas, don't miss:
    Bathroom Makeover: From Decrepit to Dazzling
    3 Bathroom Renos You'll Want to Copy
    Retro Bathroom Makeovers

    Here's a video about how to makeover a small bathroom.

     

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    We've written about unique wallpapers before, but this one may be the coolest we've seen yet.

    Check out this great story from our friends at If It's Hip, It's Here!

    spam-decor

    You know those god-awful spam advertisements you receive in your inbox promising a greater sex life, a larger penis or wealth beyond your wildest dreams? Well, finally someone has taken those and put them to good design use.

    unique wallpapers spam-decorPhoto: IIHIH


    Italy based design studio, ToDo, has brilliantly turned that e-mail spam into purchasable and customizable wallpaper or wall coverings under the name "Spamghetto."

    The result is a print-on-demand, "green" FSC-certified, non-woven wall covering that has won international recognition with a Silver Award at the 2010 European Design Awards.

    unique wallpapers spam-decorPhoto: IIHIH


    The process is just as fascinating as the product itself: ToDo created a generative software that feeds on spam's enticing claims, creating mesmerizing, subtly offbeat digital patterns in which one striking offer leads to the other in a compelling, unique design.

    You can choose between various styles according to your taste, with thin or chunky strands forming different patterns.

    If you want a custom version, provide them with your room's dimensions and using their generative software, they can produce a design that wraps and folds around all the objects that sit on the on the wall's surface.

    For the complete story, head over to If It's Hip, It's Here.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Best Celebrity Kitchens
    Where Celebrities Live: Montecito
    Tour a Colorful California Charmer

    Here's a video about how to create an inexpensive wall covering.


     

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    Lego pieces taking the place of bricks and sheetrock? Check out these Lego videos where small blocks make for hugely impressive structures!

    We couldn't help but share these Lego Land videos! The White House, Statue of Liberty, Las Vegas -- all these iconic structures are recreated in miniature version.


    For an insider peek, check out the video below. All the Lego pieces are arranged by style and color. And much like a blueprint before a house, scaled sketches are made before the lego creations are built.


    Learn more about the world of Lego in this video. There's fun stuff for everyone.


    And to see the full-size version of a Lego world, check out this life-size Lego House. (Yes, really!) Too much Lego for you? Well, keep the pieces to the kitchen counter.

     

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    Think interior design is only for a certain type of people? These major decor brands and blogs are out to prove you wrong.

    Let's get serious: Sometimes, interior design can feel way too serious. We're talking about an industry where pillow shams and dust ruffles are legitimate points of conversation. It could use some lightening up.

    That's why we're glad to see the quirkier side of interior design cropping up all over the place. Finally, a dissenting voice that will take the power out of the Martha Stewart DesignBots and say, "It's okay to laugh sometimes. I mean, really, we're talking about dust ruffles."


    Leading the trend -- House Beautiful. It seems ridiculous to say that a publication that started in 1896 is on the cutting edge of this but it's true. For example, take their "Pink Chair Giveaway." House Beautiful dropped pink chairs all over the city of Chicago for super lucky Twitter followers and Facebook fans to snatch up. Then what did they do with the resulting photos? They filled those empty chairs. Filled them with what, you night ask? Sad Keanu Reeves, obviously. This Tumblr meme takes on a whole new air of legitimacy as House Beautiful photoshops Keanu's sad, sad body onto pink seats placed all over the Windy City. (And shares the photos with us -- thanks, HB!) They've also been doing more community-friendly events like a "designer speed date" event with Duralee where readers were invited to meet with designers on the spot and share photos of their home.

    We've already shared our favorite spots to get a free interior designer and now we can add our friends at Anthropologie to the list. They're making professional interior design help more accessible with the upcoming launch of their Decorator Concept -- a workshop-style set-up in 11 US stores where designers can help shoppers with advice and assistance. This will hit stores on March 24th but the online-component -- where you'll get tools like a wallpaper calculator and glossary of common home terms -- rolls out on the 17th.

    And then there's Blu Dot: A modern furniture maker aiming to distinguish their collection in a creative way. They're hosting an online swap meet that allows users to trade their ridiculous art projects or childhood toy collections for a piece of legitimately nice furniture from their collection. Everything we said about hoarding is wrong. Now is the time to trade in your 400 egg cartons for a beautiful oak credenza! Actual swaps pending on the site include a sock money chair for a $1,000 bench and a spork collection for a $600 desk chair.

    Taking a less-zany but equally open-minded approach: The Company Store. Remember when you were a little kid and you thought you were going to be an artist when you grew up? Well, The Company Store is supporting kids in 2011 with that dream with a contest. Get your kid to upload a drawing and its automatically entered to become a comforter design. The winning design will be printed on comforters that will be given to homeless children.

    design-for-the-peopleDesign Blahg; If The Lamp Shade Fits; My Favorite and My Best; Catalog Living

    We also have to pay tribute to the crop of design blogger renegades -- these ladies are covering the design world with more attitude, more skepticism and really, more laughs than we've seen in years.

    Design Blahg: An outlet for ranty columns like "Design WTF" and non-traditional gift guides. They'll tell you if they hate your wall decals (they do), but also if they love your painted white floors (they do).

    If the Lamp Shade Fits: The Denver-based designer behind the blog pronounces that "life is too short to live ugly," and with her beautiful shots of interior spaces and imagined conversations at retailers' design meetings, she proves that philosophy to be true.

    My Favorite and My Best: Serious eye-candy with decidedly un-serious commentary: Regarding a post with drool-worthy sofas: "Only aliens can afford it" or her upcoming weekend paint project: "I miss paint fumes".

    Catalog Living: If you've ever flipped through a catalog and thought, "Why are there pine cones in that martini glass?" look no further than this hilarious blog. Her subtle humor not only skewers catalog design but also makes us consider the fact that maybe the addition of the life-sized anchor to our nautical themed-living room was a bit overboard.

    Not only do these bloggers have solid followings but they're getting even more attention as larger sites have recognized their terrific voices -- both If the Lamp Shade Fits and Catalog Living have columns on Curbed National. (Editor's Note: And we discovered Amanda through Design Blahg.)

    And of course, we can't ignore our favorite part of the design-gone-democratic revolution: The rise of big designers taking their name and style to more affordable retailers. Marimekko for Crate & Barrel (and Converse), Shabby Chic for Michaels (and Target), Jonathan Adler and Nate Berkus for HSN and many, many more.

    What do you think -- are we heading towards a design revolution? What are your favorite decor brands and blogs doing to keep up with the changing face of design?

     

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    We ask the best design blogs to pick the 10 new blogs you should add to your morning must-read list.

    You are probably familiar with the usual suspects when it comes to design blogging, but blogs haven't stopped popping up. In fact the blogosphere is still growing, and we're thankful because there's a whole new breed of eyecandy that's just a click away!

    I asked some of my veteran blogger friends -- Jessica Baker from Black.White.Yellow., Kelly Beall from Designcrush, Holly Becker of Decor8, Joy D. Cho from Oh Joy!, Sherry and John from Young House Love, and ShelterPop's very own Lauren Fenton -- to help me create a list of 10 new blogs that we're currently reading. I've defined new as having launched in the past year. As we all know, sometimes it takes a few months for a blog to find its mojo...

    From stationery to photography to home interiors, you'd better clear your schedule and get ready to spend some quality time with your RSS reader:


    Jessica's pick:

    The Marion House Book
    "The Marion House Book is a fantastic source of inspiration," she writes. "Her house is fantastic. Emma is featuring a series called 52 Objects where she is documenting her life through objects in her house. It is a fantastic concept, and I'm enjoying following along."



    Kelly's pick:

    CMYBacon
    "All awesome design, all the time," says Kelly. "Martin Refsal has a great eye for cutting edge design. My favorite recent post was on pothole yarn bombing where the artist, Juliana Santacruz, 'repaired' Parisian potholes by filling them with vibrant crocheted pieces. To me they ended up looking like urban incisions that I couldn't get out of my mind. I've found more times than not CMYBacon provides these little tidbits that I'll be thinking about hours later."



    Holly's picks:

    A Creative Mint
    "Leslie Shewring is a stylist and photographer who lives in Los Angeles and never fails to inspire me with her delicious eye candy," says Holly. "Everything on her blog is styled and photographed by her making it so appealing to me personally as I love seeing how she translates her inspirations into projects."

    Arianna Interiors
    "UK design blog written by Arianna who is an interior designer and blogger who once worked for some pretty big design firms in London," she says, "so she has a background in the field and a genuine passion for her subject matter."



    Joy's picks:

    Lovely Stationery
    "From the folks behind Lovely Package, Lovely Stationery is a graphic designer's & type lover's dream," says Joy. "The blog compiles the best of logos, business cards and other corporate stationery which I find so inspirational when working on new projects or even when I'm procrastinating and just need some paper and type eye candy."

    From Me To You
    "Jamie Beck's blog From Me To You not only kills me (in the best way possible!) with her amazing photography," she says, "but the subtle bits of motion she adds to each photo is unreal. Those images give me goosebumps!"


    Sherry and John's pick:

    House*Tweaking
    "Dana has an amazing sense of creativity, using everything from a painting drop cloth to make a giant and graphic entryway banner and an empty mirror frame to stencil a seagrass rug," says Sherry. "The girl has even used reclaimed fence boards to DIY an insanely cheerful sliding barn door in her bedroom (along with the help of her handy hubby). I always love peeking in on her life to see what she's up to! Check out some of our favorite posts like DIY Fence Headboard and How to Stencil a Seagrass Rug."


    Laura's picks:

    Wood&Faulk
    "Victoria from SFGirlByBay lead me to Wood&Faulk through a link -- and I am so glad she did," says Laura. "On a personal level, I love Matt's style -- from his vintage Barbour jackets to his sliding barn door. Plus, I'm a sucker for a blog that's not the least bit precious. It's also refreshing to read a site written in man's voice."

    Manhattan Nest
    "I discovered Daniel's blog," says Laura, "after Anna from Door Sixteen linked to his site. I immediately loved Daniel's very funny voice and his low-budget DIY projects. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I hang on every word of a sophomore at NYU. Yet when I see him giving his thrifted Bertoia diamond chair a bath or read his account of a particularly good score, I felt a deep kinship with Daniel -- no matter how old he is."


    My pick:

    MyVibeMyLife
    I'm a little obsessed -- okay, a lot obsessed -- with designer Kelly Wearstler, so when I learned she launched a blog recently I let out a gasp of delight. MyVibeMyLife is a place where Kelly shares sneak peeks into her design process, a day in her life, and her stylish life beyond the fabrics and products she uses. Basically, if you like Kelly's unique sense of style, it's eyecandylicious.

    For more of what we're reading in the world of magazines, check out what we think the forthcoming Lucky Home might look like and our peek inside Matchbook Magazine's second issue.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Lucky Home Mag: Sniffing Out a Sneak Peek
    Are You an Organizing Extremist?
    Home Office Org: 7 Tips


    Here's a video from a blogger about a DIY project she did in her home.

     

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  • 03/13/11--01:29: Party Host: Not Me, Not Ever
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    Entertaining comes with too much judgment, says our writer. So she's stopped entertaining altogether.

    Women in my Connecticut town compare their kids' achievements, the type of compact SUV they drive -- and, not surprisingly, their prowess as a Martha Stewart-inspired party host. I heard one woman boast to another at the grocery store before the holidays that she was having 25 people for dinner. "I'm having 35," the woman snapped back.

    Really? I wanted to say. I hate having people over. I'd rather spend an afternoon at someone else's house.


    party hostI was sweating bullets setting up for a birthday party in my backyard long ago. I haven't hosted another in awhile. Photo: Marilyn Syarto

    If you've ever watched HGTV's "House Hunters," you know that most of America loves to "entertain"; nearly every featured family says they're looking for a home with a big enough kitchen, dining room, deck or yard to host parties. But do people really love to entertain as much as they say they do?

    I'm not convinced. Entertaining is stressful, and hosting people feels like judgement day.

    It's the equivalent of throwing an open house when selling a property -- everyone comes to gawk, poke, prod and compare. Knowing this, it's tough for me to relax if I am having people over. Who will think that my house isn't big enough, clean enough, stylish enough or landscaped enough? What if I don't serve enough food? (It's happened -- we ran out of food at my husband's 30th birthday party years ago, and it still haunts me.)

    I've been to enough book club gatherings, Bunco dice-throwing nights, fundraisers and holiday parties at other people's homes to know this much: People are nosy -- even I am -- and we all judge other people's homes. Since we all know how that we pick apart people's houses ourselves, many of us tremble at the thought of opening our doors to a throng of guests. Case in point: My friend, Eloise, recently hosted a Bunco night at her house; she stressed about the decor before the first friend arrived, and imagine my horror when I heard all of the women dissecting her home as soon as she was out of earshot.

    And her house is lovely. My home is small with a dated kitchen and numeous imperfections. When my friend who is an interior decorator -- or rather, a clone of Martha Stewart -- comes over, I tend to panic. To quell my anxiety in anticipation of a visit, I put a sign in a frame to let her know that yes, she's just stepped into an imperfect home. I did this so I wouldn't have to "explain" to her (like I always do) why there's cat hair on the couch, why there's dustbunnies under the table, and why my kitchen hasn't yet been remodeled.

    I'm also self conscious about my home's size. In our affluent community where biggest is best, people -- even kids -- have house envy. We bought our ranch home nearly two decades ago before the square footage craze began, and we were thoughtful about our purchase, sacrificing size for security. Still, ranches are not always conducive to entertaining, and I make that clear to people who ask me to host events. My other friends and fellow ranch-dwellers hate hosting as much as I do. It's difficult to host nighttime events in a ranch because our kids' rooms are all on the same level as our living areas. We can't exactly shush them up to bed while guests loudly gab.

    So rather than even attempting to be the hostess with the mostess, I entertain on my own terms. Instead of hosting a super loud gabfest, I'll invite a friend over for tea or a couple over for dinner at our well-worn dining table. Our home is what it is; no explanation necessary.

    I've read that hosting people at your house is like giving them a gift of love. But I have other things to contribute. Like the awesome orange cream cookies I'm planning to bring to my next book club meeting at a friend's house. Did I tell you that she's got a home I'm just dying to check out...

    Throwing a party? Don't miss:
    Entertaining Tips from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
    Extra Seating: $50 and Under


    Here's a video about the most common home entertaining mistakes.


     

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    "We're lucky to have a great kitchen but sometimes it feels too big and unmanageable. How can we make the most of our space?" - Amy Mascarina





    THE HOMEOWNERS
    The Mascarinas

    BEFORE
    While the Mascarinas love the amount of space their big kitchen provides, the wide countertops create dark, unusable corners. And though they have a formal dining area and stools in the kitchen, they would also like an additional casual eating area for family gatherings at their home. The real issue here -- even though they have a big kitchen, they still need to maximize space to make it work for their family.

    Enter Bob Richter -- the Minute Makeover guru -- who sees several lighting opportunities to brighten the kitchen. He starts with easy-install under-cabinet lighting that eliminates the dark corners and highlights the decorative tile. Over the breakfast bar, he replaces the existing pendants. Not only do these new pendants provide more light, but the bronze finish also compliments the kitchen's accents.

    As for a casual dining option, he transforms a vacant wall with a simple, sleek table set. A standing lamp is also added for additional light.

    One final step -- he hangs family photos above the table for a personal, decorative touch. We love it.

    AFTER
    The Mascarinas have a well-lit kitchen and a casual dining area to utilize for everyday meals or as additional seating when family and friends visit.

    THE GOODS
    For IKEA product information, scroll over the items in the video, or visit our shopping guide for details!

    And check out the rest of our Minute Makeover series for more terrific ideas!

     

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    What's new at the International Home + Housewares Show 2011? More celeb chef lines, eco-friendly cups and, yes, a fresh take on the cupcake pan.

    Every March, the International Home & Housewares Show showcases the latest designs in dining, cookware, housekeeping and personal wellness markets -- both practical innovations like single-serve coffee makers and surprising inventions like a CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. With over 2,000 exhibitors from around the globe, this show is a great place to spot trends in the home and housewares markets for the coming year., so we took a look around. Here's what we found.

    international-home-housewares-show-2011Chef Cat Cora at the International Home + Housewares Show Photo: IHA


    Chef's Choice
    As in past years, celebrity chefs continued to be a presence at the show, both in person and through licensing deals. Show attendees were particularly a-twitter about Mario Batali's new wares for Dansk. Other chef lines included Cat Cora for Starfrit, Top Chef's Fabiano Viviani for Bialetti and three new partnerships for Emeril with Sterling Home, Viking Culinary Group and Zak Design. While chefs rule the show, we hear that a line of Twilight-themed hairdryers made its debut at the show -- really!


    international-home-housewares-show-2011Photos (clockwise from left): Design for Living, ALEX Bottle, Elevate Brands and KOR

    Water Works
    Eco-friendly and re-usable housewares have been a trend for several years, but 2011 seems to be the year of the water bottle. Many manufacturers displayed innovative spins on the water-carrier. Design for Living exhibited Stackable Water Bottles with square sides for easy fridge storage. KOR Delta set out to tackle many common water bottle mishaps with their easy-to-open, push-button cap, ergonomic handle and safety-latch-enhanced sipper. Elevate Brands' Sip N' Go is a foldable reusable water bottle that folds up to a pocket-size. The ALEX Bottle is a new design that unscrews into two parts and packs inside itself from pro-snowboarder Gretchen Beiler.

    international-home-housewares-show-2011Photos: Vynebar (left), ZEbag (right)

    Oenophile Design
    When it comes to new wine-related design, manufacturers seem to have an attitude of wine not? Wine racks, carriers and even wine glass cozies were on display this year. Among the most stylish was the ZEbag, a geometric wine tote/rack new to the U.S. market that should retail for about $65 when it hits stores. Meanwhile, Vynebar is a wall-mounted wine rack that turns your wine collection into wall art. True wine buffs might scoff, but when you want to keep your white wine cold, you might try out an Original Woozie(R) -- that's right, a koozie for your stemware.

    international-home-housewares-show-2011Photos: Bella Cupcake Couture (left), Chicago Metallics (right)

    Cupcake Mania
    Foodies may be predicting that whoopee pies and macaroons are the new baked goods du jour, but cupcakes paraphenalia were everywhere at the Home + Housewares Show. From fancy wrappers to specialized baking cups, these mini-cakes were center stage.

    A very clever Surprise Cupcake Pan from Chicago Metallic lets bakers place fillings (small chocolates, cherries, meringue, etc.) on posts inside each cupcake opening so each cupcake has a filling. Zak Designs showed a cupcake-shaped Confetti Cupcake Tray in the company's signature, speckled plastic. Cupcake wrapper couturier Bella Cupcake Couture was also in attendance with their gorgeous cupcake wrappers. One company even offered a cupcake pan that made soccer ball-shaped cakes!

    For more great trend stories, don't miss:
    Kitchen Trends 2011
    Bath Trends 2011
    Trend Spotting: 2011's Hot Color Combos

    Here's a video on what's new in home decor.

     

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    Hair guru Vidal Sassoon and his wife share their landmark mid-century California home -- and yes, their over-the-top fur bedspread.

    Vidal Sassoon and his wife Ronnie lovingly renovated the stunning Singleton house perched on a peak above Mullholand Drive in Los Angeles. The home was designed by Richard Neutra in 1959 and had fallen into disrepair when the couple bought it: The roof collapsed and part of the property had slid into the neighbor's yard. Yikes!

    Ronnie did her homework. She studied Neutra's original plan for the home and his other work to help guide a sensitive renovation of the 4,700-foot home. And when it came time to decorate, the couple consulted with interior designer and friend, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and stuck to era-appropriate mid-century furniture and art. The result is a home that takes you back to 1959. Take a look:

    vidal sassoon houseVidal Sassoon and wife Ronnie at home with their dogs Lulu and Yoyo. Photo: Todd Eberle/Architectural Digest.



    vidal sassoon houseLooking into the living room of the Sassoon's home. Photo: Todd Eberle/Architectural Digest.

    Like many mid-century architects working in California, Neutra tried to create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor space. He used the same materials -- stone, glass and metal -- on both the interior and exterior.

    vidal sassoon houseInside the living space. Photo: Todd Eberle/Architectural Digest.

    The Sassoon's decorated the home in mid-century furniture and art that could have been in the home when it was first built, including Visiteur armchairs by Prouve, a Perriand cocktail table and an Alexander Calder sculpture above the fireplace.


    vidal sassoon houseThe couple was able to save the kitchen's built-in cabinets designed by the architect. A Saarinen Tulip Table and swivel chairs by Knoll are the perfect white pop for the room. Photos: Todd Eberle/Architectural Digest.


    The home's terrazzo floors had to be re-poured throughout. left, the hallway is used as a gallery with a striking sculptural work by Etienne Hajdu mingling with an Ellsworth Kelly and Lucio Fontana sculpture. The benches are by Perriand.

    vidal sassoon houseThe master bedroom was added when the couple renovated the home. Photo: Todd Eberle/ Architectural Digest.


    The lush fur bedspread is a sexy and luxe touch to the platform bed, which is original to the home. The sculpture is by Harry Bertoia and the floor-to-ceiling curtains allow for some privacy.

    vidal sassoon house

    Want to see more photos of this gorgeous home? Pick up a copy of the April issue of Architectural Digest or read the story and see more photos at Architectural Digest online.

    Go inside more celebrity homes:
    - Bristol Palin's Arizona home
    - Celebrity Bedrooms Have Us Drooling
    - Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's House

     

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    The best way to ensure your guests enjoy your tablesetting? Make it delicious. When you decorate with food, it's pretty easy.

    We love flowers, we drool over decorative vases and obsess over stunning table runners. But chances are your guests will appreciate a centerpiece that's more simple and less expensive: Food. Really. And we don't mean a big glass bowl of mashed potatoes. With these edible bouquets and centerpieces, your decorative table not only looks good, it tastes good too!

    With spring holidays right around the corner, why not decorate your table with these edible, festive ideas. Candy eggs and chocolate bunnies are so cute, you may be tempted to use them even after spring ends.


    Fruits and veggies make up the bouquets in this video. We can't argue with an idea that's healthy and decorative. And yes, this may make you think twice before putting flowers in the center of your table.


    These centerpieces are edible -- of course -- but give a different shape and pattern than the bouquets above. And they aren't even hard to construct! Just open your fridge to get started.


    Next step for your get-together? Edible party favors!

     

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    Christina Aguilera put her Beverly Hills house on the market for $13.5 million. But don't be fooled by the price tag -- there are lots of budget decorating ideas inside.

    Moving right along: Christina Aguilera just finalized her divorce from husband of five years, Jordan Bratman, and now she's putting her 6 bedroom, 9 bathroom, 10,000-square-foot house on the market. According to TMZ, the couple bought the home from Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne in 2008 for $11 million.

    Will the "Burlesque" star move into her nearby 6,500-square-foot bachelorette pad that has been languishing on the market for $5.9 million?


    We can't imagine that this home will be easy to leave with its stone flooring, grand entryway (shown above), super-Christina decor and fun extras. Think: Beauty salon, gift wrapping area, guesthouse with recording studio, game room and pool with water slide and grotto spa.

    While most of the home is pretty over-the-top, there are many easy decorating tips to steal. Here are our faves:





    Cheap Chic Idea #1: Play with wallpaper.
    You don't have to commit to wallpapering all of the walls in a room. Aguilera used a wallcovering to fill a few rectangular panels of her master bedroom, and we think it's beautiful ("no matter what they say.") You'll save money since you don't have to buy enough to cover the room, plus it helps break up a big wall that might otherwise feel like a giant block of color.





    Cheap Chic Idea #2: Pay attention to vignettes.
    When decorating your home, visually break a room into sections. Decide what you want to see when you first step inside. Is there an eye-catching piece of decor you can put in a corner to brighten it up? Paying attention to small details can make a home feel pulled together and finished. Case in point: Aguilera's reflective planter (above left) adds shine to a corner that might have felt stark, while a high back chair positioned below a climbing light fixture draws the eye up.





    Cheap Chic Idea #3: Take a risk.
    This room is full of them: The zebra, the metallic chairs -- even the dark gray curtains. But magically, it all comes together through the power of well-executed risks. "We don't really know what our capacities are until we tease them out of their usual circumstances," designer Petia Morozov told us recently. "I consider every design project an opportunity to give new shape to our daily habits, whether they're how we eat or shop or sleep or mingle."




    Cheap Chic Idea #4: Mix and match dining chairs.
    Think you have to go out and buy a slick new set of matching dining chairs when re-decorating? Think again. Some of the most beautifully-designed dining rooms have a set of mismatched chairs around the table. If you find a side chair that you love, but it doesn't match the rest of your chairs, try it out anyway. Different style chairs add interest, like the velvety antique chair at the head of Aguilera's table.





    Cheap Chic Idea #5: You can never have enough throw pillows.
    Imagine this same outdoor sectional without the pillows. Boring, right? When any chair or couch begins to feel tired, spruce it up with a gaggle of colorful throw pillows. Add a few contrasting Moroccan poufs on the floor, and your room will feel cheery -- and super comfy -- again.





    Cheap Chic Idea #6: Consider a modern nursery.
    You can tell that Aguilera had fun decorating her 3-year-old son Max Liron Bratman's nursery. While some of the decor is over the top (that oversize moon might scare some kids), we appreciate Aguilera's restraint when it comes to choosing a crib. The clean-lined white and wood one she selected is a modern take on the traditional heavy dark wood cribs popular today. Remember, mamas: Sometimes less is more.




    Cheap Chic Ideas #7: Use your coffee table for color.
    While Aguilera's kitchen's sitting area features a yellow lacquered coffee table, you can make your neutral living room pop by painting yours a fun color. Consider turquoise or poppy, pink (yes, pink!), or Yves Klein Blue.





    Cheap Chic Idea #8: Choose a grand front door.
    So what if you don't live in a luxe estate -- you should still think big when it comes to your front door. It's the first thing people see when they walk up to your home. Try painting your door, boost your front door's curb appeal, or just consider the impact of your door's color.


    For more cheap chic decorating ideas, don't miss:
    Charlie Sheen's House
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Jane Fonda's Home
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth Paltrow's Bedroom

     

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    Feeling inspired by Anthropologie's frilly frocks, we hunt down furnishings to match the spring dresses. Bring the look home with you -- literally.

    Check out this great story about matching Anthropologie's clothes to decor from our friends at CasaSugar!

    white kitchen makeover

    I'm having tropical getaway dreams thanks to Anthropologie's March catalog. The catalog's gorgeous new dresses in flouncy cotton and silk blends are the perfect match for a balmy beachfront vacation. Whether or not you're hitting a tropical island anytime soon, you can match the look of the beach-friendly Anthro dresses with a few decor finds at home.


    anthropologie decorPhoto: CasaSugar



    The Canopy Lookout Dress ($128) adds sweet intrigue thanks to its eyelet borders. The Williams-Sonoma Eyelet Garden Seat ($245) employs the same strategy with an overall eyelet pattern.


    anthropologie decorPhoto: CasaSugar



    Pull on the Ancient Myths Skirt ($88), and then lounge on these Wax Print Batik Pillows ($80).



    anthropologie decorPhoto: CasaSugar


    Get ready for a garden party in this Kingston Road Cotton Dress ($288). The Dash and Albert Cotton Rug ($30) keeps the party lively under your feet.




    anthropologie decorPhoto: CasaSugar



    Go long and dreamy in the Tombolo Dress ($268). Dress your bed in a matching pattern with this Handmade Hmong Blanket ($225).



    anthropologie decorCasaSugar



    Get ethereal in the Ardisia Maxi Dress ($228). Keep the motif going in your home with India Rose's White Devil Shower Curtain ($125).


    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    International Home + Housewares Show: Cupcakes Couture and More!
    New Design Blogs: Tween Bloggers
    Where I Write: Separate Beds' Author Elizabeth Buchan
    Sewing Up Modernity
    Designer Interview: Robert Couturier
    The Science of Single Girl Decorating

     

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