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    TGuess what fabric these super cool DIY curtains are made of? Hint: Painters use them to protect the floors.

    Check out this great story about DIY curtains from our friends at CasaSugar!

    diy curtains

    diy curtainsPhoto: CasaSugar

    I like to change the drapes in my family room with the seasons. I like something a bit heavier for the fall and winter, and then when spring rolls around I like something a little lighter and brighter. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, but I was definitely itching for a change.

    I decided to make my own drapes using paint drop cloths and a stencil that I already had. The drop cloths were $9.99 each at Lowes. I used stitch witchery to hem the sides, and then used an ikat stencil to create my own drapes.

    I also used a little stitch witchery to attach a ribbon to the edge to give them a nice finished look.

    This was a pretty easy project with lots of bang for the buck! For the full tutorial, visit CasaSugar and Our Fifth House!

    diy curtainsPhoto: CasaSugar

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Vidal Sassoon's House
    Bristol Palin's Arizona home
    Celebrity Bedrooms Have Us Drooling
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's House


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    After breaking up with her boyfriend, one writer moves into a 225-square-foot studio and finds happiness in jewel tones.

    It began, as so many great New York love stories do, with an ad on Craigslist. I wasn't seeking a man, but an apartment, and this one sounded ideal: A charming studio in a former carriage house located in the heart of Chelsea. And then, two words that can stop any city girl's heart: Courtyard garden.

    change my lifePhoto: Mary Kate Frank

    "It's like living in Europe," the ad promised.

    I clicked on the photos and swooned at the sight of exposed brick and hardwood floors. After e-mailing the realtor, I announced to my friends with great solemnity. "I found the place where I am going to live."

    The last time I'd had that feeling was when I glimpsed my old apartment, a roomy one-bedroom in Astoria, Queens. I saw sweet black-and-white checkered kitchen tile, six large windows, abundant sunlight. "This is it," I said and it was, for a while.

    Over the next few years, I worked almost obsessively on crafting the perfect space. (Or, at least, the perfect space for me at the time.) And then, approximately 15 minutes after the apartment felt mostly done, I thought: It might be time to move.

    change my lifeA view of the writer's new apartment before it got painted and rearranged. Photo: Mary Kate Frank

    By that point, most of my neighborhood friends, lured by dropping rents in Manhattan, had moved out of Astoria. My location, a healthy 20-minute walk from the subway, started to feel isolated. Even the generous space was less welcome; a boyfriend and I had just broken up and I suddenly found myself alone a lot, rattling around in all that square footage.

    Despite wanting a change, I shuddered, like most people do, at the thought of moving: The cost, the craziness of the real estate rodeo, the daunting prospect of starting from scratch in a new space. Leaving the familiar, even the familiar irritations -- my impossible-to-reach super, for example -- frightened me.

    By the time my lease was up, I hadn't even picked out a new neighborhood, much less an apartment. So I put my stuff in storage, stayed with my sister in New Jersey, and continued the hunt. I looked at places, but nothing seemed right until the Chelsea listing.

    When I visited the apartment, the renter still lived there and the place smelled of her gardenia candles. She worked as a fashion designer and I found myself charmed by her dress forms, sketches and giant drafting desk. At the same time, I grew giddy thinking of what I would do to transform the space. I signed the lease a few days later.

    change my lifePhoto: The writer's new apartment, after it got the Nick Olsen treatment.

    "Downsizing will be good for me," I told my friends about my imminent transition from a 1,000 square-foot-pad into a space smaller than my NYU dorm room had been. I talked of purging and living simpler. And then I would mention the courtyard garden.

    "It will be kind of like living in Europe," I said.

    But when moving day arrived, so did reality. Gone were the flickering candles and the dress forms. I noticed, for the first time, cracked floors, an ancient refrigerator with a tiny icebox -- an icebox! -- and the chipped tub in the bathroom. And there were the contents of my previous apartment, among them a large pink club chair, an unwieldy bookcase, eight boxes of magazines, and hundreds of books, stacked perilously.

    My excitement turned to terror. I would have crumpled to the floor but there was no room for me on the floor. Really.

    Now, I've written plenty of articles about moving and decorating. And I know an oft-repeated piece of advice is to live in a space for a while before starting to decorate.

    change my lifeA shot of the bookshelf when she moved in (left) and after it got a makeover (right). Photo: Mary Kate Frank

    But I am here to tell you, that advice goes out the window when you're standing in 225-square-feet of pure chaos. I needed to fix the new place up-fast -- for my own sanity and wanted help doing it. In my previous apartment, I'd made a bunch of mistakes, some of them pricey (example: I painted the kitchen four times looking for the right shade) and I also had no idea how to tackle a space this tiny.

    Luckily, I knew who to call. Nick Olsen, interior decorator, former "Deal Hunter" blogger for Domino and a man who won my heart when he wallpapered his refrigerator. One of Nick's many talents is helping people like me -- who find themselves paralyzed when facing a new space or redo -- get started. We made plans to meet at my apartment.

    "I'll wear comfy shoes and am prepared to push all your furniture around if you'll let me," Nick wrote to me in an e-mail. I felt instantly calmed.

    He visited a week later. Seeing him try to pick his way around my clutter to find a space to sit amongst garbage bags? Mortifying. But then he started taking notes and measurements and asking questions. In my old apartment, I told him, I'd played it safe with neutrals. This time, I envisioned green walls and a jewel tone palette.

    change my lifePhoto: Mary Kate Frank

    "I want a big-girl apartment," I said. We sat on the floor and flipped through a fan deck. That perked me up considerably. Is there anything more fun than a fan deck? All those colors! All that possibility!

    The single brick wall gave the apartment a cozy, lodge-like feeling and I wondered how I might incorporate that into my décor.

    Nick considered. "Mod lodge chic?"

    "Exactly." I replied.

    Hope swelled. After all, Nick wasn't horrified at the sight of my new digs (well, anyway, he told me he wasn't). He saw potential in my $20 dining table (which I'd planned to toss) and in my old brown couch (which I'd thought curb-worthy). At the same time, he had suggestions for things to sell or donate: the pink club chair, the bookcase, two table lamps.

    When he returned a few weeks later with a complete decorating roadmap, I couldn't wait to get started. First up: Painting the walls, which were the saddest of all colors, rental not-quite-white. Nick suggested creating eight-inch wide vertical stripes using hunter green and Kelly green shades.

    I loved the idea, but also knew I couldn't pull off such a project on my own. Instead I called a painter named Rene that Nick had recommended. Rene did an expert job with the stripes, as well as painting my doors a glossy chocolate brown (people: Paint your doors! It changes everything!), and my bathroom aqua.

    When it was done, my apartment looked like a cute little boutique. "It reminds me of wrapping paper," a friend remarked of my striped walls (yes, she meant this as a compliment).

    I sold my bookcase and put up shelves. Housing Works got my club chair, along with several boxes of books. I purchased a rug and a desk. And I discovered the main joy of living in a small space -- there's less to clean.

    At the same time, I met my neighbors and found my local haunts: 9th Street Espresso for coffee, Entwine for drinks, the 14th Street Y for Pilates classes. I all but retired my MetroCard and walked everywhere, to visit friends, to work (two blocks!), to shop.

    And all of this change -- it energized me. Routines, however comfortable, are anesthetizing. Moving, and then working on the new space, woke me up.

    My apartment, like any long-term relationship, is still a work in progress. I plan to reupholster two chairs, buy a headboard, and hang art. Plus, I have a lot more clutter to clear. And, to be honest, living here is really nothing at all like living in Europe. That's okay. After love at first sight ends, the real work begins -- and that's the fun part.

    Want more Nick Olsen? Check out the great coffee table makeover he did for us!

    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


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    "We have this great open living space...then you have the kitchen which is shoved in the corner. How can we set it apart?" -Laura Harding

    THE HOMEOWNERS: The Hardings

    The Harding's converted factory loft has advantages -- like the spacious open layout -- but creates a bit of a problem in the kitchen, which was placed in a tight corner. With little separation between living areas, they would like to incorporate more modern touches to accentuate the kitchen area.

    Enter Bob Ritcher, Minute Makeover guru. Even though the space is one large, open room, that doesn't mean the kitchen area cannot be set apart. For a visual separation, Richter creates a modern backsplash using stainless steel panels. This paneling is an chic, inexpensive option that instantly divides the space and puts the spotlight on the kitchen.

    With the main makeover element in place, he adds organizational items like a dish drain and knife rack so that the Hardings can store in style.

    The Hardings are left with an urban chic kitchen that is well-defined from the rest of their living space.

    For the details on the IKEA products featured in this Minute Makeover, scroll over them in the video, or check out the shopping guide!

    And check out our other Minute Makeovers for more design ideas!


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    Enjoy your morning coffee while virtually touring our celebrity home of the day. Today: Dennis Quaid's house.

    For sale: Dennis Quaid's Pacific Palisades, CA home. If you're interested in this 8-bedroom, 9-bathroom abode -- and trust us, you will be once you see these photos -- it's on the market for $16.9 million. The award-winning, "Far From Heaven" star seems like he has quite a paradise.

    Built in 2004, the French country home is cozy and welcoming, with a vine-covered exterior and ample entertaining space inside. Our friends at let us slip in to this Texan's California country house.; WireImage

    Hmm, wonder where they hide the key? This gorgeous, over-the-top gate is just the beginning. Wait until you see what's inside!

    The picturesque sunset and illuminated windows makes Quaid's house look like a Thomas Kincaid painting. Who would mind coming home to this every night?

    A decorative rug and understated furniture provide make for a welcoming entrance. And note the scale of the framed photo and gigantic mirror -- a daring move that definitely paid off.

    The red and orange tones of the living room create a warm atmosphere, made even better by the flow of natural light from the window-ed French doors. Meanwhile, a bold rug breaks up all the solid colors.

    No squeezing in this kitchen. The table comfortably seats eight and the large island offers plenty of room for additional guests. The rustic tones speak to the French country style and make us want to sneak in for a snack (or dinner, if anyone is offering).

    This formal dining space also seats several, but gives a cooler, more elegant feel. We love the pale blue walls and rounded white chairs. At a loss for words at a dinner party here? Exotic artwork -- a travel souvenir, perhaps? -- serves as a conversation piece.

    This TV room doubles as a bar area. Nice, right? Along with the three stools in the back, this is just the spot for drinks and a movie. (Maybe Vantage Point or Jaws 3?)

    Quaid's neutral bedding is calming, while a decorative pillow adds a bit of eccentricity. And yes, we appreciate the antique desk with the contemporary sofa and chair but we really just can't get over those floor-to-ceiling windows!

    One last look. We wish we could stroll along the graphic layout of these stunning cobblestones... and through this 1.96 acre property!

    Don't forget- we have a new celebrity home everyday! Did you check out John Krasinski's home for sale?


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    When you leave a friend's home, do you sometimes long for a better house (and maybe even a better life)? One writer shares what she's learned about moving beyond house envy and achieving domestic bliss.

    As Brian and I drove south on Route 93 toward Boston, my throat tightened with each exit. Soon, we'd pull into our driveway -- but I didn't want to go home. I wanted to break away. I wanted to run free.

    No, I don't want out of my marriage. I want out of my house. We'd just visited friends who live an hour outside the city, whose palatial colonial belongs in a magazine. You know the type: The bathrooms outnumber the occupants, the kitchen is as high-tech as the Pentagon, and the just-so nursery could house an island nation.

    house-envyA view of the house where the writer lives. Photo: Kara Baskin

    Yeah, I'm jealous. Brian and I live in a two-family house stylistically peculiar to Eastern Massachusetts (see above). It's charming, with a built-in china cabinet and hardwood floors. The park's a stroll to the right; restaurants are just down the block.

    It was perfect when Brian started grad school -- close to campus, convenient to Boston, with a spare room for my office. We loved the fireplace, we loved the kitchen (one friend described as "straight out of Stowe Mountain Lodge"). We figured we'd buy a bigger place when Brian graduated. Then I got laid off from my magazine gig and got pregnant (all in the same three-week period!), switched jobs, had my baby boy Andy...and real estate wasn't the first thing on our mind.

    house-envyThe writer and her darling baby. Photo: Kara Baskin

    But these days? It's always on my mind. Our once-adorable sanctuary is stifling me. Charting out personal space requires a GPS. Take, for example, venturing from living room to kitchen. First I have to circumnavigate the coffee table (which doubles as a laptop station, since my office is now a nursery), then wind my way around Andy's Exersaucer (a hulking piece of plastic that monopolizes a doorway), then crab-walk past the dining table without overturning my houseplant. By the time I reach my Stowe Mountain kitchen, I'm ready for a tumbler of wine.

    After returning from our friends' mini-manse, I shoved my closet shut, kicked aside Andy's toys, crawled into bed, and emailed our realtor -- a guy we've strung along like a ho-hum boyfriend. Sweetly and not too desperately, I asked to recommence our housing search pronto. But here's the thing: Sure, I wanted him to find us a house. But really, I wanted him to find me an identity.

    house-envyLeft: A shot of the writer's bookshelves, which she had to move from the office to the kitchen when the baby was born. Right: The famous "Stowe Mountain Lodge" kitchen. Photos: Kara Baskin

    Our friends' house makes me feel insecure about my choices. I can't help it: I'm envious because their sprawling abode makes them seem so together, so in lock-step with what adults do: Have a baby, buy a house, move to the suburbs. My friends must be responsible, settled, content. They have adult toys like ride-on mowers! They have adult problems, like flooded basements and leaking roofs! I imagine they flip through swatch books and dreamily wonder which color might really say: "Welcome to my fourth bathroom!"

    My problems are collegiate and confusing by comparison. Our narrow closet isn't big enough for my ballet flats, but my kid's Exersaucer is too big for my living room. Am I where I "should" be at 32? Having a baby forces the issue, physically and mentally. I know we can't linger in our two-bedroom. Eventually, Andy will walk, at which point he'll toddle into the same wall so many times that he'll develop a complex. Rationally, I know this is dramatic. Emotionally, inadequacy consumes me. A house is an extension of yourself: an announcement of your taste, your priorities, and really, your financial reach. It cements your place in the world.

    Which is why buying a house feels so frightening and revealing for me. It will expose my priorities and my economic wherewithal. Some days, I just don't know what I value in a home (and, Capricorn that I am, what I feel comfortable buying). I think I might feel restless in the suburbs, but I also don't want to live right in the city. Rural? I'd develop twelve personalities and drive myself nuts.

    house-envyA shot of the writer's former office, now a nursery. Photo: Kara Baskin

    Silly, really, since I like where I live. It's limbo, but it's home. A home I've carefully decorated, a home that's five minutes from great pizza, a home that houses a devoted son and husband (whom I am slowly driving crazy with my fretting). But I often find myself getting defensive about the home I once adored. I hate that my poor mother-in-law offers to sleep on the couch when visiting. I feel like an urban weirdo, since her two grown daughters have children and houses in small towns. When my mom comes over to watch Andy, she's barely in the door before mentioning the latest four-bedroom for sale down the street.

    It got to the point that I couldn't hear about another person buying a house without feeling left behind. I'd Google the address and summon Brian to my laptop, point and fret. Why do they have what I want? It didn't matter if they'd bought an estate or an outhouse. It drove me crazy that someone knew what they wanted, while I languished behind a laptop, ambivalent and bitter, stalking Zillow like Single White Female. Meanwhile, my physical home -- warm, cozy, happy -- was becoming my mental purgatory.

    I know what you're thinking: I sound spoiled, with my overcrowded closet and inconvenient Exersaucer. I have what my friend Elizabeth calls a "first-world problem." But I'm willing to bet I'm not the only person to feel this way. Accepting my jealousy, and letting it guide me, was my first step toward house-healing.

    Do you need to get beyond your own house envy? Here's what works for me:

    Fight house envy by... letting jealousy work for you.
    I think about what I covet, then I let my jealousy function as a guidepost. It's telling me what I want. I love my friend's sleek condo on Beacon Hill. I also love my colleague's herb-filled treehouse. I allow my wants to narrow my focus -- not remind me of what I don't have. How can I combine urban and rustic into my own dream home?

    house-envyLeft: A view of the writer's dining room. Right: Her husband Brian and their baby boy. Photo: Kara Baskin

    Fight house envy by... imagining living that person's life.
    Not living in her home, but living her life, making her bed and kissing her husband and cuddling her kids. Almost immediately, I realize how much I'd miss my own life.

    Fight house envy by... remembering that everyone compromises when they buy a home.
    Maybe the flashy condo owner has a spouse who works so hard to afford the mortgage that they rarely see one another. Maybe the bungalow-dweller gave up a city-based career. It's dangerously easy to imagine a house (or life) as "perfect" on the outside, as black and white as my friend's gleaming kitchen tiles. Perfection is for magazine spreads and Facebook albums. Not life.

    Fight house envy by... letting uncomfortable feelings guide you, not ruin you.
    Let jealousy bring your own dreams into focus. And remember that a home is only as happy as the people living in it. Really, there are some things you just can't mortgage.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Best Celebrity Bedrooms
    Wallpaper Trends 2011: New, Fresh and Fun Designs
    ShelterPop Predicts 2011 Pattern of the Year: Honeycomb
    Trend Spotting: 2011's Hot Color Combos


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    Here are small bathroom design ideas to help you bring that tiny boring bath back to life.

    Help Me! I have a small guest bathroom -- how can I turn the dark, bland space into something I'm proud to show off?

    Home Rescue: "Refresh" is the operative word for a bath that needs to be guest ready. So for some expert guidance, we turned to Barbara Sallick, founder and Senior VP of Design for the refreshingly chic luxury bath company Waterworks.

    small bathroom designsPhoto: Waterworks

    1. De-Uglify: It's simple, but to get started remove anything that is ugly from the space - such as the old eye-sore medicine cabinet or the "Hollywood" bank of lights. The peeling wallpaper is probably dated, as is the paint choice made years ago. Out with the old soaps, apothecary, towel bars and anything not deemed absolutely necessary!

    2. Bathe the bath: Give your new blank slate a good scrub down. Then hit it with a refreshing coat of paint or some great wallpaper. The palette you select will drive other decisions, such as new towel colors perhaps to coordinate with the adjacent rooms -- and the color you paint the existing vanity (a way to to save money). Don't forget to buy new knobs, they make a world of a difference!

    3. Find the perfect mirror: It may seem like an ordinary, functional item, but a fabulous mirror, either vintage or new, can freshen up any bath without having to spend a lot. Decorative sconce lights in a finish to match the lavatory fittings will finish off the update.

    4. Bring in the extras: "I would add a three-tier shelf over the toilet for decorative objects," says Sallick. "I love vintage but bring in anything that tells a story about your personality." Speaking of the toilet, a new seat is a must. If you opted not to wallpaper, a printed shower curtain can add extra decoration to the space. And new towels are essential, layered on your new towel bar.

    If the flooring is unattractive, make it so with an attractive rug. There are many off-the-shelf designs that are a perfect fit for a small bath. It should feel more like a real rug than a fluffy bath rug. Finally, a framed photograph or two on the wall will make the space more interesting and a new candle adds a welcoming fragrance.

    5. A final note: The aesthetic of your new bathroom should work with the rest of your home. It's important to think through your choices with this in mind, and take into account the transition from room to room.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Hallway Decorating Ideas: Five Ways to Brighten Up Your Hallway
    International Home and Housewares Show 2011
    Nursery Ideas: Unique Baby Mobile

    Here's a video on small bathroom design.


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    Some people play their piano. Our writer painted hers. And discovered that she's not the only one.

    We'd had the piano for years. It just sat there. Brown. Old. Untuned. No one in my family played the piano, but no one had the heart to get rid of it either. So we came up with an idea: Why not paint the thing and make it a decorative accessory to the room?

    painted pianoThe piano in the writer's childhood home. Photo: Courtesy of Kylie Pepper

    We called an artist friend who does murals and hired her for the day to help with our endeavor. Being a professional, she had the right brushes and paints, and knew how to properly prime the drab brown wood. She embraced the project, excited to transform something other than her typical canvases, walls and furniture. An afternoon later, our piano had a polka dot bench, striped legs, and dare I say, crimson tulips blooming from the pedals. Given the room, I decided to keep the palette to pastels, but this didn't mean we had to give up an ounce of whimsy.

    Since our piano project was such a success, I wondered how many others had taken the same route. I decided to start doing some research. Who else -- if anyone -- has stripes and polka dots or a rainbow of on their piano? Turns out, plenty of people...

    Last July, 60 pianos were placed around New York City as part of "Play Me, I'm Yours," a public art project. These pianos weren't your average instruments, though. They were painted by various artists with designs ranging from primary color geometric prints to tie-dye rainbows.

    And in Denver, a shopping area was adorned with about a dozen pianos -- again, painted by local artists -- as part of "Your Keys to the City" (apparently puns and painted pianos go hand in hand).

    Since painting pianos have been such a popular tool for nonprofit events, it makes me want to pull my piano into the street. But alas, my family enjoys the extra shot of cheer it brings indoors. If you're feeling inspired, use these painted piano photos as a guide to create your own musical masterpiece. Then take a brush to your keys. Hey, why not?

    Get started! For project tips check out these posts:
    A little nervous of going free-hand? A stencil is a helpful alternative.
    Why not take these decorative wall ideas and apply to your piano?
    To avoid the brush, stencil with spray paint.


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    Enjoy your morning coffee while virtually touring our celebrity home of the day. Today: Dr. Phil's 90210 house.

    Our favorite (and Oprah's favorite) therapist Dr. Phil has his house of the market. While this listing might not be new, the price reduction is. This 8-bed, 7-bath was just reduced from $16.4 million, a price that left us asking "does the house come with Dr. Phil?"

    Now that the listing is down to a still-staggering at $13.8 million we wanted to see what this Beverly Hills, California home had to offer. Thanks to our friends at, we can walk right in. Come along, won't you?

    Dr Phil HouseGetty;

    Welcome to Dr. Phil's home. But wait, not so fast. Take a second to admire the dark brown gate juxtaposed with flowing greenery and bright flowers.

    At first glance, this villa-style home looks more like a Mediterranean paradise rather than a California home. The clay roof, lush landscaping and do you see that carpet of a lawn!? The home has character, in a good way. A very good way.

    Ahh, our favorite kind of therapy -- relaxing in the sun. Set off a ways from the house, this pool and jacuzzi is a getaway within a getaway. The gardens flanking the walk add colorful flowers to the green backdrop.

    That's a pretty big driveway, which makes us wonder...what's parked in those five garage spaces?

    Don't miss our other celebrity homes of the day. Did you sneak a peak at John Krasinski's house and Dennis Quaid's french country home?


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  • 03/26/11--13:47: Why Men Take Out The Trash
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    Someone's got to take out the trash. But why is it always the man's job? Three experts weigh in.

    Taking out the trash was a nightly routine when I was growing up. My dad would pack it up, take it outside to the trash can and, before trash pick up days, haul the can to the curb. While I was asked to do the dishes and clean my room, my parents never asked me to take out the trash. And I never offered.

    take out the trashPhoto: Alamy

    When I moved out on my own after college, I started to take it out myself, although I often put it off and took it out only once it was clear that something was rotting. When I got married and my husband moved in, taking out the trash was just like old times -- in my mind at least.

    If there is a man around, I kind of expect him to take out the trash. And I don't think I'm alone, which raises an interesting question: Why is it that men usually take out the trash? Or, more importantly, why do women expect them to?

    I asked three people -- a historian, a marriage counselor and a kid -- to explain why it's often assumed that trash duty falls to men.

    The Professor
    Christine B. Whelan, visiting assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, says that the assumption that men will take out the trash is a holdover from the breadwinner/homemaker model. Men were in charge of the "dangerous" and "dirty" tasks outside of the home -- this included factory work and manual labor -- while women remained "delicate" and "pure" in the home.

    She says that government data shows that this is still a trend today, with men putting in time doing chores like lawn care, car maintenance and yes, taking out the trash. (Women, Whelan notes, do practically everything else.)

    The Marriage Counselor
    Men tend to take on this task for chivalrous reasons, says marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, author of "Connect to Love." "Trash tends to be heavy," he says. "And it's often put in a part of the yard where animals and bugs might congregate." Since it's often taken out at night, men would rather not send their wives or girlfriends out in the dark.

    And while times have changed and plenty of women take out the trash, Neuman says one thing remains the same. "Men and women believe they have their strengths and weaknesses," so they defer to each other at times. The difference is that those strengths or weaknesses are no longer dictated to us by society; we now get to choose.

    "No matter what we choose," says Neuman, "couples need some roles, no working system can share everything 50/50." (Amen to that.)

    The Kid
    "I think when women see garbage they get lazy and very scared," says five-year-old Shawn Brown, Jr. "Since men are brave, they have to be the ones to take the garbage out." Ha!

    So what does it say about your man if he insists on playing the garbage man? "There is certainly a benefit in moving away from gendered roles within relationships," Whelan says. "The idea is to move toward equality and shared responsibility within the home, but woe unto the man who says he doesn't want to be pigeonholed by the 'man's job' of taking out the trash and doesn't do something else in place of that chore!"

    Shared responsibility is the name of the game, whatever that looks like for your and your significant other.

    Check out these other great stories on ShelterPop:
    Quiz: How Clean is Your Home?
    How to NOT Get on "Hoarders"
    Maximize Space in a Big Kitchen

    Here's a video on how to build a kitchen cabinet trash bin.


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    Jason Mecier's one-of-a-kind celebrity portraits couldn't get any sweeter.

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


    Los Angeles born, and now San Francisco-based, mosaic artist Jason Mecier creates portraits of famous personalities with assemblages crafted of candy, food, yarn, dried beans and just plain junk.

    Photo: IIHIH

    In his licorice mosaics, he artfully twists red and black licorice to create uncanny likenesses of some of today's most popular entertainers and images from popular culture, including Kim Kardashian (above) and Taylor Lautner (below).

    Photo: IIHIH

    In his "junk" portraits, he uses objects to craft the images, including things relevant to the celebrity or personality of his subject. For example, he composed a portrait of artist Andy Warhol using Campbell's soup cans.

    He's also used Good & Plenty candies to create a spot-on likeness of pop star Taylor Swift (see below).

    Photo: IIHIH

    For more on Mecier and his art, check out IIHIH's fantastic photos!

    Don't miss these great ShelterPop stories:
    Top 5 Flea Markets in the Country
    Best Flea Markets in the World
    Antique New Furniture


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    "While our industrial-style island works great, it's pure function. There's no aesthetic. Can't we have both?" -Laura Harding

    The Hardings

    With only one base cabinet, the Hardings are in need of functional storage space. But the wire unit they've been using isn't exactly their ideal design. They need to store bulky items like small appliances and pots and pans in a sleeker way.

    Enter Minute Makeover guru, Bob Richter. After defining their kitchen area with a backsplash makeover, he brings in a major solution for all that clutter: An overhead rack for pots and pans to get them out of the way.

    Next, he tackles the industrial shelves by replacing them with two stainless steel islands. Not only does this create a work space, it compliments the existing backsplash and carries the motif from the kitchen towards the living space.

    With the functional issues solved, he moves to the details. By adding wood and ceramic accents, Richter balances the stainless steel finishes. Plants and vases soften the kitchen and gives it that homey feel.

    The Hardings have a kitchen island that organizes and stores all their items -- and looks sleek doing it all.

    For more information on the IKEA items featured in this Minute Makeover, scroll over the items in the video, or check out our shopping guide!

    And watch our other Minute Makeovers for more great ideas!


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  • 03/26/11--13:47: Molly Sims' House For Sale
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    Enjoy your morning coffee while virtually touring our celebrity home of the day. Today: Molly Sims' house.

    Molly Sims' Spanish-style house is on the market. This 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom in Hollywood Hills is listed at $2.825 million. The gorgeous model -- who, for the record, we are envious of -- has a breath-taking home as well.

    Thanks to our friends at, you can sip your brew of choice and check out this California abode that's just as striking as it's owner:; Getty Images

    Zebra is daring for fashion and the home, but Sims makes it work in this metallic foyer. The grey neutrals create a calming entrance-way into the home. We wish we could see who's in those framed photos on the table!

    The floral art decor mirror would have us staring all day- especially if we were Molly Sims! The rectangular stone sink reflects the Spanish style and the uniquely shaped painting makes a subtle statement in this (relatively) smaller space.

    Inside or outside? The glossy floor and vineyard pergola have us stumped. Either way, this ethereal space is made perfect for evening entertaining with the wall-mounted and hanging lantern lights.

    We're not ready to walk away from this luxurious, model-status home. But without the $2.825 million, we're out of luck. At least we got to share this peak! Everyone's allowed to dream, right?

    Ready for more celebrity tours? Virtually walk through Dennis Quaid's house and John Krasinki's house, both on the market.


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    Need to do some last-minute entertaining? These easy dinner party ideas will help you plan a no-fuss, thoughtful evening.

    Help me! I have unexpected guests coming over for dinner in a couple hours, but with all the other prep work (cleaning, organizing, etc) I have to do, I'm worried about pulling together an "effortlessly" delicious dinner.

    Home Rescue: We turn to interior design and entertaining extraordinaire Baroness Monica von Neumann for advice.

    To get you through the dinner party doldrums, the Baroness offers some simple steps to make it look as if you've been party prepping all day.

    dinner party ideasPhoto: Alamy

    1. Set your table with simple style. "People take for granted the look and appeal of a place mat," the Baroness says. She suggests keeping a set of stylish place mats on hand to use for impromptu dinner parties. If you can, add chargers as well -- lay the place mats, then top with a charger and dinner plate. Don't forget the napkin rings. "Even the simplest napkin ring makes a difference," she says. "If you don't have any, use ribbon. Roll your napkins and place in the center of the plate."

    2. Cheating is encouraged. Not much of a cook? You can still impress. Ordering takeout is okay in necessary circumstances, the Baroness says. But etiquette lesson number one: The food should be presented in serving dishes. Number two? "If it's not asked, don't mention it," she says. "There is no need to inform your guests that you didn't cook this." If you are asked, be honest. "Your guests will be grateful for you opening your home to them."

    A few things to keep in mind: Don't order things that will get soggy or won't serve well. Order at least 30 minutes before your guests arrive and use the proper method of heating the food to ensure the dishes aren't ruined. "No matter where the food comes from, presentation is key," she says. "Whether you cooked it or not is irrelevant."

    3. Don't forget a centerpiece. Use whatever you have on hand or items that you can buy quickly and cheaply. Whether it's a hurricane lantern filled with lemons or a vase of colorful Gerbera daisies, a dinner table doesn't feel complete without a centerpiece.

    4. Serve wine and hors d'ouevres instead. The Baroness suggests keeping things simple with no-fuss appetizers. Think: Serrano ham, olive oil and manchego cheese on slices of crusty baguette. Or an anti pasta platter with green and black olives, sundried tomatoes, cheese and prosciutto.

    Lay this out over the platter for everyone to enjoy while having a glass of wine and a cocktail. This is an easy and elegant way to make it look like you spent much more time preparing this than you have, she says.

    Don't miss these great ShelterPop stories:
    Brighten Up Your Hallway
    Rescue Your Recycling Area
    How to Organize a Closet: The Fun Way


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  • 03/26/11--13:47: New Wife, New Kitchen
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    When our writer got engaged for the second time, his fiancée came with an ultimatum: She wanted the dark, small kitchen remodeled. Here's how it changed both of their lives.

    I left Russia in the 1970's and headed straight to a place I'd only heard about in movies: California. My wife and I bought a two-bedroom house in Long Beach, a bustling suburb of Los Angeles, where we slowly started building a new American life with our two daughters. But as we acclimated to our new home and adopted country, we started to grow apart. After a difficult divorce, I found myself in that house alone.

    As the dust settled, life started coming back to me. Maybe it was the California sun that helped me to heal. But I was determined to give marriage another try.

    new-kitchenLeft: The writer's first wife in the original kitchen in 1979. Right: The kitchen in 2011. Photos: Arnold Preiser.

    I got very lucky -- I met and proposed to a beautiful woman, but I was hesitant to invite her to my house. The house, built in the late forties, was still in the original condition. The kitchen was dark and narrow with brown plywood cabinets, orange Formica countertops and yellow appliances. A small breakfast counter separated the kitchen from the dining area and the floor was covered with a commercial-grade red carpet. The only natural light came from the small corner window over the sink. That meant the fluorescent lights suspended in the plastic ceiling were always on -- not a good look.

    I knew that my house -- and especially kitchen -- would not impress my new fiancée.
    To soften the impact, I invited her for her favorite dinner: Lobster. I think I impressed her with my culinary ability but did not tell her that I had just learned to make it the previous day from a friendly manager at my local supermarket.

    Even after the lobster, the house visibly upset her. She suggested we move to her two-bedroom apartment, which she had recently redecorated in light blue and lavender colors. Her style, yes, but too feminine for my taste. And with two daughters from my first marriage, I needed a home where they could stay comfortably on weekends. She fought back: "I just can't deal with an orange kitchen," she said. "And it's too depressing with that fluorescent lighting. How am I supposed to cook in there?"

    I ended up convincing her to move in on one condition: The kitchen had to undergo a serious makeover. And because love makes you do crazy things, I agreed to take it on myself.

    I've always been a handy person. Growing up in Russia, I learned to repair everything myself, using limited tools and my imagination as a guide. When I moved to America, I was in awe of all the resources available -- I walked through hardware stores like they were museums. But while working as an engineer at a desk job, I hadn't had much of a chance to explore that side in recent years. I started to work on the house right after the wedding -- weekends, evenings, vacations, any time I could steal away. My new wife knew exactly what she wanted and as I got more and more into the project, I discovered tremendous joy in working with my hands and building something new to my wife's delight. I also discovered more talent than I'd known: Carpentry, electricity, plumbing, creativity -- it all came to me naturally.

    new-kitchenThe writer, hard at work on the kitchen in 1985. Photo: Arnold Preiser.

    I turned the old kitchen floor plan around 180 degrees. The wall behind the old cabinets was completely demolished to make room for a wide sliding glass door to the backyard.

    new-kitchenThe kitchen in 2011, with plenty of natural light from outside. Photo: Arnold Preiser.

    The new white cabinets with modern navy blue countertops were installed. The separating wall between the kitchen and the dining area was removed, making it a one large, airy area united by terracotta tiled floor. The blue and white tiled backsplash and bright yellow walls were my wife's idea -- she was inspired by Monet's kitchen, and determined to bring that level of charm to our own space.

    And it worked -- not only was our kitchen now full of light, life and beauty, it became the unofficial living room of the house. Dinner time became more of an event and as I started to move on to renovating other rooms in the house, I was guided by its design principles.

    new-kitchenAnother look at the new kitchen. Photo: Arnold Preiser.

    Some years later, I lost my engineering job. And instead of looking for a new one, I started my own business as a remodeling contractor. The kitchen became my calling card -- in the beginning, I'd invite over potential clients to give them a sense of my work. Before long, I had a practice based wholly on word-of-mouth recommendations.

    My second wife changed my life in many ways -- she brought me an enlarged social circle, an appreciation for Mexican food and yes, a third daughter. But she also pushed me -- however inadvertently -- to follow a different path. One that led to a successful, satisfying career.

    And it all started with that kitchen.

    Arnold Preiser is a remodeling contractor in Long Beach, California. He is the father of ShelterPop editor Amy Preiser.


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  • 03/26/11--13:47: Bed & Breakfast
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    Hey early riser, take Saturday morning easy by indulging in these yummy picks.

    bed breakfastGramercy; New Media Publishing via KitchenDaily

    What would you rather start your Sunday with? This week, The Decorista's Ashlina Kaposta shares her fantasy weekend picks: Gramercy's sweetly elegant bedding ($898 for Queen duvet cover) and Apple Pie from KitchenDaily.

    "My favorite indulgence for springtime weekend evenings are decadent and delicious homemade apple pie and crawling into light and crisp bedding with beautiful monogrammed linens! There is something about these springtime treats that are totally traditional and remind me of home. Both are the perfect addition to add a little bit of luxury to my home for instant domestic bliss!"

    Thanks, Ashlina! What do you think? Bed or breakfast? Tell us on Facebook!

    And check in next Saturday to see another guest-curated bed & breakfast!


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    We're obsessed with StyleList's "Look of the Day." We're obsessed with decor. So why not put them together in a shoppable, fashion-fueled room?

    This Weekend's Pick:
    Evan Rachel Wood

    Her long sleeve jersey cocktail dress by Elie Saab made us think of a chic, old-Hollywood living room. Wood added a diamante clasp and vintage earrings for a sophisticated aire. And her long golden locks finished the look by up-ing the glam factor.

    Now: Get this look at home...

    fashion roomDimitrios Kambouris, WireImage. Clockwise from top left: Ballard Designs; 2Modern; Horchow; Patricia Field; Horchow.

    We instantly knew we wanted to design a room around the strong yet elegant hue of Wood's dress. So to start, we chose this deep "Wine Paradise" chaise ($3,299, Horchow). The color and style invoke the old-Hollywood feel of Wood's look.

    Next, we added height to the room with a gold dressing screen ($579 for fabric shown, Ballard Designs) reminiscent of her lengthy golden hair and a wire-y black floor lamp from 2Modern that emulates the ruching of her dress. The pair of Bronze Candelabras ($2,425 for set of two, Horchow) accessorizes the room with the glam, vintage touch of Wood's clasp and earrings.

    And to top off this luxe look? A glitzy Lucious Lips Phone ($110, Patricia Field) inspired by Wood's stunning bold lipstick.

    Want more fashion-inspired decor?
    Anthropologie's Spring Dresses Inspire Stylish Decor
    A Fashionable Room: Inspired by Thandie Newton

    And check back next Saturday for a new fashion-inspired room.


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    It's tempting to pick a paint color on a whim, but don't do it! Here's why.

    You've been on the hunt for that perfect shade for your bathroom walls, and you finally think you've found it -- in the paint aisle, at your local hardware store.

    Word to the wise: Don't do it.

    choose paint colorsPhoto: Corbis

    "Lighting has a huge effect on the appearance of colors and many stores use 'cool white' fluorescent lighting that casts a bluish tint, even though you may not notice it," says interior designer and color expert Kelly Porter. The lighting in your home, on the other hand, is most likely incandescent, which gives paint colors a warmer appearance.

    "In addition to lighting, most paint chips are small, so it's sometimes hard to see the color's true undertones or level of intensity," Porter says.

    Take time to test the colors. Try painting a one-foot square in the middle of the wall and observing it for a day or two. Then you can see how the color looks at different times of the day, in various lighting conditions.

    If you're hesitant to actually paint a test area on your wall, ask about ordering a larger paint chip, not a painted poster board. "Taping a larger color sheet to the wall will work better than painting on poster board, which absorbs paint differently than your walls."

    And most importantly, be committed to the painting process. That way, you'll be willing to test colors until you find the one that's right for your space.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    How Moving (And Redecorating) Changed My Life
    Lucky Home Mag: Sniffing Out a Sneak Peek
    How to NOT Get on "Hoarders"
    Maximize Space in a Big Kitchen


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  • 03/27/11--14:06: Sunday Table Ideas
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    Spice up Sunday night dinner with simple table setting ideas taken from over-the-top designer tabletops.

    table ideasDarren Ornitz

    At DIFFA's Dining by Design events, designers are challenged to create 3D dining installations that push boundaries, inspire guests and set the stage for fundraising. Yes, these tables are, by definition, extravagant. But that doesn't mean they aren't filled with small, simple take-home tips that you can put into place for tonight!

    Today's table: The New York Design Center's table for DIFFA's Dining by Design

    Don't have the chandelier and velvet banquette. Here are a few bite-size table ideas to take away from this luxurious setting to make it your own.

    Table Idea #1: Multiply
    Who says a table only deserves one centerpiece? Notice how circular vases are placed end-to-end. Use this table idea to include all your guests, not just the ones lucky enough to be face-to-face with a singular centerpiece.

    Table Idea #2: Switch It Up
    Now that you're decorating with more than one focal point, vary the size of the vases you use. This adds some height to your table and keeps things from looking too uniform. Use a few variations of a floral arrangement too -- this creates a more dynamic space and will keep your guests (even if they're just your family) more engaged.

    Table Idea #3: Bring in Color
    The rich reds seen in the napkins and banquette really give this setting the "wow" factor. Don't be afraid to experiment with color, especially in your napkin choice. It's an easy way to brighten your china set without spending too much.


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    Enjoy your morning coffee with a virtual tour of our celebrity house of the day. Today: Actress Charlize Theron's home.

    Charlize Theron's Malibu house has recently been reduced to just below $7 million. The film star originally had the 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath listed at $7.5 million, but buyers weren't biting.

    This Malibu Beach, beachfront bungalow is worth a look. And thanks to our friends at, we have the pics!

    charlize theron housePhoto: Getty,

    Can you imagine walking down your back steps and onto the beach? Well, with this bungalow there's no need to imagine. Theron's home is located just a few feet above the sand. Ready to take a look inside?

    We love this room -- with it's bold, striped fabric couches -- but we're obsessed with that wall of windows! That view would have of us staring at the rolling waves for days.

    This living area keeps with the beach feel with the linen seating. The bursts of plum and lime liven up the neutral space.

    Move through this circular kitchen with ease. Ample counter space and a huge stovetop provide the perfect set-up for dinner parties on the beach.

    The best part of this additional seating area -- the decorative keys on the wall. We love decorating with atypical wall art!

    What a peaceful, relaxing bedroom! The light woods and white linens bring beach elements indoors. Who wouldn't want to spend a night on the beach sans the sand?

    Imagine washing away the day by lounging in this tub while looking at the ocean. We couldn't think of a more perfect ending.

    For more celebrity homes, check out Dr. Phil's Mediterranean House and Molly Sims' Spanish-style House.


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    Feeling like your home is a money pit? Here are four ways to put your home to work for you.

    Having a home costs money. And whether you're paying rent or a mortgage or paying for your digs in full, it's rare that you see any significant return on the cash you put into it.

    That doesn't mean your home is a total money pit. We found several creative ways that you can actually make your home work for you -- and your wallet.

    get rich at homeEtsy seller ItzFritz sells these colorful yarn wreaths for $40 a pop. Photo: Etsy

    1. Become a Crafty Entrepreneur.
    Handmade is hot right now and online markets like Etsy are the place to cash in. Danielle Maveal, Etsy's Seller Education Manager, says you don't need much space to start your own home studio. If you're a traditional artist, you'll need a bit of space and ventilation (a spot in your garage, basement or a spare room). However, if you go digital, all you need is a spot to prop a laptop, a drawing tablet and a nice printer -- perhaps a box to stash some shipping supplies, and you're good to go.

    But "just because you create it (or collect it, if it's a vintage item) doesn't mean people are going to start buying by the hoards," she says. Curating, or editing, is definitely in order. Take all the work you've created and start to create a line of work; think about what exactly you want to say.

    When it comes to actually selling the work from your home, how you present it makes all the difference. Jamie Shelman, blogger and Etsy artist says, "Taking great photos of your work is key! How you present your artwork is just as important as the work itself, and more often than not it's what makes the difference between someone understanding/buying your work."

    Context is everything; it is important to remember the item isn't just an image on a screen. "For flat 2D objects, such as drawings and prints, show a scanned version of the work, but also a shot with space around the work. You want to give your viewer an idea of the size of the piece, as well as its presence," Shelman explains.

    2. Cash In On Your Clutter
    "Holding a garage sale is probably the easiest, no nonsense way to make money fast," says Lynda Hammond, author of The Garage Sale Gals' Guide to Making Money Off Your Stuff. And she knows first hand, having made up to $1,000 a day hosting garage sales of her own.

    The biggest money makers, Hammond has found, include furniture and electronics -- working or not, since people will buy them for parts. Collectibles come in third, though they don't bring in quite as much money, Hammond says.

    Her best advice for garage sale success: Do your research, head out early (serious buyers are early birds), and "don't waste your time pricing stuff," she says. "You'll likely get more money if you don't and it's more fun to throw out a price then haggle from there."

    3. Get Paid (For Your House) To Be in Pictures
    Turn on the TV or open up your favorite shelter magazine and there it is, someone's house. Believe it or not, that home could just as easily be yours, and you could be getting paid to have it featured.

    Location scout Debbie Regan has been asking homeowners to open their doors for cash for over twenty years -- seeking out locations, including homes, for movies, TV commercials, magazines, catalogs and music videos. And it doesn't have to be a zillion dollar estate to be considered either, she says.

    "We have had shoots at very large estates, townhouses, as well as smaller suburban homes," she says. It all depends on the project. Regan's company has used a dated three bedroom ranch, for example, for magazines like Elle and Vogue. A 100-acre horse farm was the perfect fit for Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren ad campaigns.

    "Pretty much anything can work at one time or another," she says. All you have to do is list your property with an agency like hers and plan on having a crew there for as little as a half day if your space is chosen.

    How much do they pay? "It ranges from an on-page credit to ten thousand plus per day," Regan says. The average pay for filming a commercial is a few thousand.

    4. Be A Host With The Most
    Who wouldn't want to get paid to party? Maegan Garvey-Walter does it. The New York school teacher hosts Pampered Chef parties (along with cooking demonstrations) out of her home four times a month, bringing in about $200 per party.

    In addition to what she makes selling products, she gets 1 percent of the sales from an "active recruit," she says. "The more people you have working under you, the higher the percentage of their sales you get. Plus, then you get monthly bonuses."

    Once you've got a starter kit (Garvey-Walter paid $150 for hers, but says you can get one for $80 now), it's all about sending out invites, talking it up, following up with guests and getting some outside order beforehand. "In order for the business to truly be a success, you need to work for it," Garvey-Walter says.

    But what's better than working from home.

    Check out these other great stories from ShelterPop:
    Storing Wine: Solutions for Every Budget
    Security Tips: Keep your Home Safe
    Marianne Williamson's Course in Weight Loss -- for Your Home


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