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    How to choose art? Rule one: Don't be impulsive. You may end up with a piece that is way too big -- or way too small.

    We know you love that family portrait where everyone finally looks perfect. And, of course, you want to put it up front and center for everyone to see. But that feature wall or large expanse above your sofa may not be the best spot if it's a stand-alone 8 x10 framed photograph.

    how to choose artPhoto: Smiley Eyes Photography

    To get the right balance with your wall displays, you need three assorted sizes at a minimum, says interior designer Meredith Heron. "At the very least [you should have] small, medium and large-sized pictures," she says. You also want to keep the weight of each frame in mind, varying those in the same way.

    Once you've got your collection in order, start with a large anchor piece in the center, rather than working from right to left or vice versa, Heron suggests.

    As for scale, "The Golden Mean is the 1/3, 2/3 rule," Heron says. That means your grouping should take up no more than two-thirds of the available wall space. "It can still go from corner to corner, but you need to leave enough room around each picture to total 1/3 of the overall space," she says. Don't go dusting off the calculator either, Heron promises that the ratio is easy enough to eyeball.

    Her trick for perfect picture galleries? Laying the grouping out on the floor first and making any tweaks to the shape there. You can also trace the pictures out of craft paper and then hang them on the wall. When all else fails, hire a professional picture hanger, which will cost you between $45-$75 per hour, depending on the installation.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Need Wall Art? Rent Some of the Best - Shelterpop
    Minute Makeover: Kitchen Art Ideas - Shelterpop
    Wall Art: Cheap, Affordable Decor - DIY Life


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  • 04/03/11--21:47: 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 ideasVicente Wolf for Architectural Digest

    At DIFFA's DINING BY DESIGN events, designers are to create 3-D 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: Architectural Digest's table for DIFFA's DINING BY DESIGN

    Table Idea #1: Think Floral
    After all, it is that time of year, isn't it? But we don't just mean any floral arrangement. Follow the tips of this table setting -- multiply, cluster and use like colors. We're not saying you have to go as crazy as a wall of flowers but do use more than just your average bunch. Clump flowers together tightly to give the overflowing-yet-still-confined look of the flowers above. And lastly, take a color tip from this setting. Stay within one range of colors -- like the white, lavender and pale blue pictured. It's more composed than jumping across the rainbow but more dynamic and visually appealing than a monotone arrangement.

    Table Idea #2: Change the Lighting
    Lighting sets the tone. As soon as guests walk in, this is what hits them first (yes, even before they notice your meticulously set table.) So play with your options, starting with the dimmer. The level of light is super important -- and no, a dimmed tablescape is not just for romantic dinners. It can make your guests feel more festive, more catered to. All just by turning down the lights!

    Table Idea #3: Chair Cushions
    Maybe you've got a set of cushion-less chairs, or maybe the cushions you've got are feeling a little dated. Why not bring in a new set of plush, beautiful cushions for an unexpected new look -- or ever reupholstering if you're feeling ambitious. No, this isn't just a cosmetic change -- Sunday dinners can last awhile. You want to be comfy, don't you?

    Look out every weekend for Sunday Table Ideas, and check out last week's table setting.


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    Sip your morning coffee while taking a virtual tour of our celebrity house of the day. Today: Frankie Muniz's house, currently being rented by Cee Lo.

    What to do if your house won't sell? If you're Frankie Muniz, just call Cee Lo Green. Yes, the Malcolm in the Middle star had his Los Angeles house on the market, but instead of selling, he's renting it to Cee Lo. What did the singing super-star see in this 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom built in 1941? We can show you.

    Thanks to our friends at, we have the pictures of where Frankie Muniz called home...until Cee Lo moved in. Let's take a peek!

    Behind that black iron gate, Cee Lo is singing "Forget You"....or at least that's how we image it. From the outside, this house is traditional-looking. Landscaping for privacy (a celebrity must) blocks the front entrance, so let's take a look inside!

    Wow. We love the stone wall/fireplace and otherwise open layout. This living room is definitely a great space to gather with friends and family. We're going to chalk this up to Muniz's skills in choosing a home stager rather than assume this is how a 25-year-old -- who's a drummer nowadays -- decorates. Let's walk back to the kitchen...

    This is another space that looks designed to entertain. (Coincidence that both owner and renter are in the business? We think not.) You can cook and talk face-to-face with guests simultaneously. But does Cee Lo cook?

    It's official -- the rich-toned hardwood floor runs throughout this home and look just as great in each room. The bedroom is a great size, though we don't understand why they'd bother with a desk in the middle of it all. Isn't there an office? Or maybe the stager was trying to make this look appealing to a workaholic...

    The bathroom has a spacious marble counter and luxurious glass shower. The stone tiling reminds us of the fireplace downstairs. We like the textual elements carried throughout the house and can't wait to see what celebrity rents next!

    Want to tour more celebrity homes? Check out Kelly Clarkson's Tennessee home and Justin Long's L.A. home!


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    Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley has a new line -- but this time, it's for the home.

    We've been a little obsessed with fashion-inspired rooms lately, so when we heard that designer Cynthia Rowley was teaming up with Devine Color's Gretchen Schauffler to curate a paint palette based on her fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection, we knew we had to sit down for a chat.

    Cynthia Rowley Gretchen SchaufflerFashion designer Cynthia Rowley, left, has met her home decor match. Photo: Devine Color/Cynthia Rowley

    Rowley's no stranger to the world of interior design, having flexed her decor muscle as a judge on HGTV's Design Star. And Schauffler's no newbie either, launching her own paint line 13 years ago. In fact, Schauffler's been honing her color sensibility since her childhood in Puerto Rico where it's customary to repaint your home for the New Year.

    When fashion meets home furnishing (and in one case a paint color called Flamingo), beautiful rooms abound. Here's how they did it.

    Divine Color FlamingoDevine Flamingo, right. Photo: Devine Color/Cynthia Rowley

    Which came first...the clothes or the paint?
    "With every collection, the first thing that we do is put together the color palette," Rowley says. "We started off for this season with these really decadent, luxurious, rich colors, then layered on these pops of bright." On her model it's the salmon-colored jacket and olive-green belt, at home it would be this Flamingo paint. Rowley says she couldn't resist.

    Fashions come and go, but are paint colors trendproof?
    Rowley says it depends on how much of the color you use. She's all about experimenting, mixing two unusual colors even. "That's a big trend on the runway," she says. "I don't think trendproof is really a big deal when you're talking about paint. It's OK to be a little trendy because it's just paint and it's a wall and in a few months if you want to change it, just change it."

    Divine Color IguanaDevine Iguana, right. Photo: Devine Color/Cynthia Rowley

    It's not so much a seasonal proposition in fashion and the home, Rowley says. "The same way people wear boots in the summer, it's sort of the same thing." Above: A flowy olive jumpsuit pops against a hardwood runway, while Devine Iguana paint brightens up an entryway.

    Divine Color SplashDevine Spray, right. Photo: Devine Color/Cynthia Rowley

    Is inspiration really everywhere, as they say?
    "Definitely. For me, it never really comes from other clothes or other fashion. It comes from a lot of contemporary art, bits of fabric, travel," Rowley says. "If you see something, whether it's a flower or a matchbook cover or a painting, you can jump from there into a color that you want to live with in a bigger way." Above: Picking up on the colors in a pair of velvet boots, left, Rowley chose Devine Spray, right, a watery blue paint that's the perfect counterpoint to a lit fireplace.

    Divine Color CanyonDevine Canyon, right. Photo: Devine Color/Cynthia Rowley

    Do any of these colors work better in certain rooms of the house than others?
    "Gretchen talked about using Flamingo maybe in a bedroom or a bathroom, but I think there's no boundary," Rowley says. Schauffler says she's seen it in a kitchen with beautiful white cabinetry and touches of lime and dark chocolate. "The colors just allow you to be effortless in your self expression," she says. Above: A chocolate-colored jacket grounds an otherwise light ensemble. At home, Devine Canyon has the opposite effect, adding an airy pop of color to the dark, heavy furnishings in a living room.

    Check out all ten of Rowley's picks and these other great stories from ShelterPop:
    Painting Tips: From Choosing a Color to Tackling the Ceiling
    Sweet Furniture Inspired by Your Favorite Treats
    Color Diary: Decorating Blue and White Rooms


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    Forget the florist -- here are some simple DIY centerpiece ideas to wow any special guest.

    Help Me! I have special guests arriving within the hour, and I don't have the time or money to head to an expensive florist. What are some cheap and easy centerpiece options?

    Home Rescue: You're actually in luck. Regardless of budget or time constraints, overdone, grandiose centerpieces are so out. Showing off a minimal, but creative piece is oh-so-chic.

    creative-centerpiecesPhoto: Alamy Images

    "It's important that your dining table looks attractive for a sit-down dinner -- either formal or casual," says entertaining expert Baroness Monica von Neumann. "You want your table to have a sense of simple elegance, and a centerpiece is the perfect finishing touch."

    Here's what to do:

    If you have an existing flower arrangement or a pre-arranged grocery store bouquet, you can put it to re-use. Toss out any wilted flowers or greenery. Find three small glasses or containers for an oblong table, and cut the remaining stems down to fit, separating the arrangement equally among all three containers. Then place the trio along a table runner. If you need to fill any holes to make up for the tossed-aside stems, trim some simple branches or stems from your backyard. Even a simple leaf branch can add color.

    For a round table, take the existing arrangement, place in a clear round vase filled with a layer of fruit at the bottom -- lemons, limes, oranges or tangerines are best. This adds a pop of color and life; add a little extra ambiance with tea lights scattered around the table.

    If you're in a flower drought -- nothing to be found in the yard and no time to run to the store -- all hope isn't lost. Simply create a fruit vignette in a stylish pedestal bowl or another decorative piece. Or loosely arrange several tealights onto a pedestal plate (or cake stand) with seasonal decorative items: fallen leaves, beach rocks or shells, etc. This will quickly add life and beauty to any table. Just don't overdue it; keep it simple and elegant.

    Want more centerpiece ideas?
    8 DIY Wedding Centerpieces
    Video: How to create a floral centerpiece
    Video: How to make centerpiece luminaries


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  • 04/04/11--10:12: Is Bravo the Next HGTV?
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    Martha's network is a flop. So is Oprah's. And Bravo seems poised to win with a new crop of lifestyle programming. We assess the current roster of home shows -- and offer some makeover advice of our own.

    Bravo recently announced that fast-talking house-flipper Jeff Lewis is getting a new reality show, and this time he's playing shrink. (At least he knows a great couch when he sees one!) In "Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis," the design star will move into a stranger's home, diagnose their design problems, and help them redecorate, all while pointing out their bad habits. And in typical Lewis fashion, he'll probably cross the line more than once.

    Photo: Joe Pugliese, Bravo | Mike Coppola, Getty Images

    This is a feather in the cap of Bravo who continues to make a push for style and home-related programming. And with the popularity of "Million Dollar Listing" and previous seasons of "Top Design" and "9 By Design," they've got another show to add to the home line-up: "Million Dollar Decorators," which will premiere in early summer. The show will feature celeb designers like Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Kathryn Ireland as "they navigate the high-pressured design industry for their wealthy, famous and extremely demanding clients," says a Bravo press release.

    Hearing the news inspired us to assess the other home shows on TV, other than the regulars on HGTV. Here's a guide to which shows are winning, which are losing -- and which ones are in need of a makeover.

    jeff lewisMCT

    1. Martha Stewart Network
    When Martha Stewart moved her show over to the Hallmark Channel, we assumed her audience would follow. Well, they didn't. Apparently, the network is failing to attract a regular audience. It may be because the channel runs more chick flicks than they do quality programs. In October, it was reported that Hallmark cut back MSLO's 10am to 6pm program block.

    Will Stewart's daughter save the day? Hallmark recently announced that Alexis Stewart, who just gave birth to a baby girl, will host two new shows on the channel: the first is a continuation of "Whatever, Martha," a show where she critiques old Martha shows, and the second is "Whatever, You're Wrong," a show that will pair her up with Jennifer Koppelman Hutt to discuss parenting. (Who comes up with these names?)

    What the network needs: More lifestyle shows! While Bravo is experimenting with home decorating and personal beauty programming, Hallmark is relying on tear-jerker films and "Little House on the Prarie" to boost ratings. Give us a new reason to visit the network!

    jeff lewisJohn Lamparski/

    2. "The Nate Berkus Show"
    The design world went abuzz when this Oprah darling left to start his own show. Nate Berkus is gorgeous. He's got great style. He's got a great personality. So why is his show so boring?

    I think it's the format: Sometimes he plays Oprah interviewing celebrity guests, sometimes he plays decorator. But he doesn't move seamlessly between the two roles. He was so fun on Oprah because he was dishing out his creative advice. Now he's interviewing other people for theirs, and he's not a strong interviewer.

    What the show needs: To commit to being a design show. If a celebrity comes on, they should decorate with him, the way that Martha has her guests talk to her as she cooks. Sometimes there's so much going on in the Nate Berkus Show that it feels like a circus. Nate: It's time to simplify.


    3. Gwyneth Paltrow. The celebrity world was abuzz this week with rumors that Gwyneth was getting her own food magazine. Whether it's true or not, it got us thinking about the Hollywood starlet. Since Oprah's network is struggling, here's an idea for a turnaround: Hey, Oprah, let's help Gwyneth transform GOOP into a lifestyle talk show for OWN. Imagine if Gwyneth had a show with segments about home decorating, beauty and fashion? Now that's a show I would watch. Say what you will about GOOP, but Gwyneth understands the power of branding -- and a television show is a natural next step.

    Brooke Lea Foster is an editor at ShelterPop. Get more Brooke at

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom
    Moving In Together: My Girlfriend Took Over My Apartment


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    Sip your morning coffee and take a virtual tour of our celebrity house of the day. Today: A flashback to Elizabeth Taylor's old stomping grounds.

    The dearly departed Elizabeth Taylor used to frequent this Miami Beach, Florida residence back in the 1950's, when her fiancé's family. Now it's for sale -- or rent -- for a large price tag. For those looking to purchase, $13.9 million will get you this 6-bedroom, 7-bathroom. Worried about commitment? You can rent for $50,000 a month. And no worries -- your friends and hangers-on will also have a place to lounge in this waterfront property. The guest house helps take up some of the home's acre of land.

    Thanks to our friends at, we can take you past the guarded gate and inside.

    Even the aerial view of this property is mouth-watering. The location and size of the house is amazing. The landscaping looks so lush and warm! Let's take a closer look...

    A palm tree-lined walk leads you up to the front door. Dramatic, tall pillars support the roof over-hang. With all that sunshine, we don't mind a little extra shade.

    This living space is huge! The open room is perfect for gathering with friends and family. Even though the room isn't adjacent to any of the giant windows, open walls make sure the light gets all the way to the middle of the home.

    Moving closer to the exterior, you have this sunroom with even more room to lounge. The wall of windows allows for a spectacular water view. And if you don't mind the humid heat, you can sit on the shaded patio.

    This extremely modern kitchen has sleek, high-gloss cabinets, a sleek counter, a sleek get the idea. We like the black and white color scheme -- very 1950's, yet so very now.

    The whole house has lots of windows, but the light spilling into this room is breathtaking! (And so is the unobstructed view of green palm trees and blue skies.) The hardwood flooring and white walls make the bedroom a serene, relaxing place. Feeling like going outside? French doors lead you to a patio.

    We had to include a photo of this picturesque pool! Can't you just see yourself lounging on a chaise, sipping a frozen drink? We sure can. The Florida sun probably keeps the water at a perfect temp. If you walk from the main house pictured across the pool area, you will get to the guest house. But our big question is this: Is that where Elizabeth Taylor stayed on her visits?

    Check out more celebrity home! Did you see where Cee Lo Green is staying? Be sure to check out Justin Long's house too!


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    A green home doesn't necessarily mean throwing some solar panels on the roof and tending an organic garden in the backyard. So with Earth Day 2011 approaching, we're highlighting homes using unique materials -- and redefining green living.

    In an effort to reduce the environmental impact that sourcing all new materials for a home can have, some builders have become quite creative in using repurposed and recycled options to craft their dwellings.

    earth day 2011A house made out of plastic bottles. Photo: The Ecological Bottle House

    In Argentina, one family built their home entirely out of plastic bottles - more than 1,200 to be exact! While in another part of that same country, a man spent 19 years building a massive home out of glass bottles and other salvaged garbage. According to him, 6 million bottles have gone into his behemoth of house.

    But if those sound a bit too trashy for you - then check out architect David Hertz' ultra-chic Malibu Hills, California design that involves repurposing a jumbo jet to create the home.

    Hertz isn't the only architect looking to turn waste into tasteful and artistic elements for a house. Dan Phillips builds eye-catching abodes from mostly recycled and repurposed materials, using everything from broken glass and license plates to assorted materials salvaged from other construction projects. One of his recent creations, the "Bone House," has gained notoriety for its macabre décor that stylistically incorporates bones into the design, lining counter-tops and staircases.

    According to EPA estimates, 60% of the nation's non-industrial, non-hazardous solid waste comes from annual building construction, renovation and demolition-derived waste - adding up to 170 million tons.

    While deconstructing a defunct home or building piece by piece to be reused in a new project can cost three or four times as much as simply demolishing it, that cost can be mostly offset with tax deductions. Non-profits like RE Store or Reuse People Of America are happy to accept donations to put such materials back to use. Clearly, the long-term value for the environment makes the extra effort worth it, giving old building materials new life in a truly green home.


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    Reupholster old furniture and transform your bedroom overnight with these sleek seating ideas.

    Check out this story about inspiring furniture makeovers from our friends at CasaSugar!

    diy curtains

    Earth Day is April 22, and in anticipation I wanted to inspire you with some eco-decorating ideas. Going green in your home doesn't just mean using biodegradable cleaners and CFL bulbs; it also means choosing your furniture and accents with some eco factors in mind. One of the most green ways you can go when it comes to furniture is to buy a vintage piece and have it reupholstered -- or try your hand at reupholstering things yourself.

    Check out a few projects that may just inspire you to try this green decorating technique at your home.

    1. Sofa Makeover

    furniture before and afterPhoto: CasaSugar

    BEFORE: Community member DIYwithADD inherited this sofa from her father. She writes, "The base was sagging and the slipcover was threadbare, but there was no mistaking the quality in this family donation."

    AFTER: What an improvement (below)! Read more about the change here.

    furniture before and afterCasaSugar

    2. Accent Chair Before & After

    BEFORE: The chair was sad and tired until this DIYer got their hands on it.

    AFTER: A vibrant print and contrast piping modernizes the chair and shows off its shape. Read more about it here.

    furniture before and afterCasaSugar

    3. A Flea Market Find

    BEFORE: Emily Henderson found this Milo Baughman at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, but its upholstery was ratty.

    AFTER: Emily writes, "I had it reupholstered in grey linen (the linen was $6/yard from Grey Lines in New York and reupholstering it was $250). "

    furniture before and afterCasaSugar

    For additional furniture makeovers, don't miss the slideshow at CasaSugar! And Taylor Swift fans won't want to miss this.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Is Bravo the Next HGTV?
    Cheap Chic Ideas From Gwyneth's Bedroom
    Moving In Together: My Girlfriend Took Over My Apartment


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    When searching for window treatments, you have to consider how much light -- and how much privacy -- you need in the room. Here are three great ideas for balancing your needs and bringing in some style.


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    Grab your morning coffee and take a virtual tour of today's celebrity home. Today: Jack Nicholson's Malibu house.

    Jack Nicholson has been residing in this home since 1977. But it must be time for a change, since it's now on the market for $4.25 million. The 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom sits on over 28 acres and has unique attributes, like a putting green and tennis court. And depending on your mood, you can view the mountains or the ocean. (Must be nice, Jack.)

    Thanks to our friends at, we can tour this huge property. Good thing this tour is virtual, or else we'd need hiking boots!

    This ranch-style mansion's best quality? The ability to stand out on the porch and take in the view!

    We love the vaulted, exposed-beam ceilings. If you're not interested in playing basketball or tennis, you can relax in the cool shade thanks to this patio. A similar, indoor version of this space functions as a casual eating area with bold graphite-colored tiles and rich wood beaming.

    The exposed brick fireplace is a unique bedroom feature. And the French doors leading to the pool are a nice touch. This bedroom isn't the most extravagant of celebrity bedrooms, but it goes along with the ranch hideaway feel of this property.

    Ah, the private pool area. There's plenty of room to lounge, and you can keep an eye on the kids while they play on the swing-set. The lush foliage makes this outdoor space feel like a hidden haven.

    Of course we've included photos of the view. It's surely accounts for a portion of the hefty price tag. Past the pool, you can see the mountains and boulders of California. And if you look the other way...

    There's the Pacific Ocean, right out your window. Hey -- Jack -- can we come visit? We'd love to wake up to the rolling ocean. We can't all be this lucky and have both, so which do you like better- the mountains or the ocean?

    We have more to celebrities homes to check out! Did you tour Elizabeth Taylor's old stomping grounds?


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  • 04/06/11--04:13: Brooch Decor
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    Brooches are sparkly and decorative. So why not use them as home decor? Here are creative decorating ideas to get you started.

    From metallic paint to chrome knobs and shiny iridescent bathroom tile, I'm a sucker for things that sparkle. So it's no surprise that I owned a Bedazzler machine back in the day or that I'd fall for this new breed of embellishments for the home -- brooches.

    Not that brooches are new by any means (we've seen what they can do to spiff up a plain jacket or keep a pashmina in place), but they have been popping up in new ways around the home, adding easy and almost instant glam to tabletops, window treatments and more. The key, we found, is to keep the look classic (sorry, Bedazzler fans, that look isn't coming back just yet). Here's how:

    Napkin Rings
    Brides-to-be were gawking over this idea on the Wedding by Color blog where we spotted it. Luckily you won't need quite as many brooches as they do if you're hosting a brunch or dinner party at home. Keep an eye out for vintage ones as flea market season gets underway. To fashion a napkin ring, loop a length of wide ribbon around your napkin and pin the brooch at the center to close.

    Brooch Curtain TiebackPhotos: Urban Outfitters

    Curtain Tie-Backs
    Vintage-inspired and made of glass, Urban Outfitters' curtain tie backs come ready to mount. You could use your own antique brooch, too, as long as the pin is long enough to hold the fabric in place.

    Brooch CenterpiecePhoto: JL Designs

    The designers behind this chic potted succulent aptly included it in their "Glamazon" collection. We're thinking it's going to be our go-to centerpiece for impromptu party decor. To get the look, simply wrap a length of wide ribbon around a rectangular glass vase, securing it at back with hot glue, then pin or glue your favorite brooch front and center.

    Lamps & Pillows
    A single stripe gets instant appeal with the addition of a rhinestone-studded brooch, right. We're willing to bet it would work on any graphic pillow, too. On the left, the thrifty crafter behind Creations by Kara blog fashioned rosettes out of canvas fabric and then attached them to a matching lampshade. We've got our eye on these felt dahlia brooches for a similar effect.

    Don't miss these other ShelterPop stories:
    Creative Centerpieces in a Cinch
    Custom Decor Featuring...Your Face!
    Decorate With Food: The Most Delicious Way to Makeover Your Kitchen


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    I didn't recycle at all until a couple of months ago. Here's how I got started -- and how you can too.

    I was at the grocery store checkout buying a dozen jars of Earth's Best baby food when I heard the woman next to me say, "I wonder what her recycling bins look like?" I cringed. My recycling bins are empty, because I don't recycle at all.

    how to recycleAmazon

    Don't judge. I'm a busy mom. Most days I'm just trying to find time to apply my makeup and take out the trash. Who has time to recycle?

    But I still carry the guilt, especially when I see women in my neighborhood carrying their groceries in eco-friendly bags -- and pushing a stroller down the street. (I own a dozen eco-grocery bags, but I forget them every time.) The truth is: Often, I'm just too lazy to recycle.

    Last month I decided to become a more committed recycler. I told my husband of my plan. "Let's see how long this lasts," he said. But I decided to see if I could pull it off.

    I saved two sets of brown paper bags and put them side by side next to my trash can. One was for paper and plastics, the other for cans. As my baby finished eating jars of baby food, they went into the sink for washing and then into the recycling bags. When the milk emptied, I rinsed it out and tossed it in. Sunday's paper -- sometimes it went in before I even read it.

    We filled the bags with recyclables overnight. We had way more trash than I'd even realized, and each morning I had a fresh set of recycling bags ready for the next crop of recycling.

    And I started to feel really, really good. Recycling wasn't a drain on my time, it became a daily meditation in simple living. And like doing the dishes, it had a big payoff. When I dragged the recycling bags down to the trash every day, I hoped someone would see me. I'm a recycler now, I wanted to say.

    Here are a few things I learned during my 30 day recycling challenge:

    1. You don't need fancy recycling bins. Just re-use brown paper bags you pick at the grocery store. When you recycle your paper and plastics, you can recycle those too.

    2. Easy prep. Place items that are ready to be recycled in the sink, and wash and drop them in to the recycling receptacle at the same time that you do your dishes. Then it feels like it's part of doing the dishes, rather than an extra set of chores

    3. Do as much as you can, but don't overdo it. If you're too lazy to recycle a few items one day, it's okay. If you don't put pressure on yourself to be an over-the-top recycler, you're more likely to stick with it.

    4. Take your recycling bags out often. You don't want to add clutter to your kitchen with bins overflowing of trash.

    Brooke Lea Foster is an editor at ShelterPop. Get more of her at MommyMoi!

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    "I Hate It When You.." -- What are your biggest home fights?
    Got Frugal Fatigue? One writer is tired of penny pinching.


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    What's 17 feet tall, four feet wide and determined to help you choose the right color for your home? The newest home-related record-breaker: A giant paint swatch!

    Ever held a paint swatch up to your wall and thought "I just can't see it!" PPG Pittsburgh Paints feels your pain. So much so that they've made their commitment to you repainting your home in a big way -- a 68-square-feet big way, in the form of a paint swatch that could sufficiently help the Statue of Liberty choose a new color.

    paint swatchLeft: PPG's CEO Charles E. Bunch and National color brand manager Dee Schlotter accept the Guinness World Record certificate. Right: PPG's Voice of Color site. Photos: PRNewsFoto/PPG Pittsburgh Paints.

    The premise is pretty simple -- through research, PPG Pittsburgh Paints found that homeowners have a hard time visualizing what a paint swatch would look like on their walls. So in addition to developing larger take-home swatches in 8.5" x 12" and paint samples, they rolled out the record-breaking swatch made of yes, the same material as its 24-times-smaller counterpart, complete with real paint.

    But will we be seeing the 17' tall version in stores? Well, no -- it's stationed in downtown Pittsburgh at 2 PPG Place and will later move to Las Vegas for a trade show. But we spoke to Dee Schlotter, PPG's National Color Brand Manager (hello, fun job) to talk more about choosing colors, how often to paint and why your deli counter might be your first stop on the way to the perfect paint color (really).

    ShelterPop: First things first: Your job has "color" in the title. What colors are in your home?

    Dee Schlotter: I've actually used one of the colors on the giant paint swatch! It's called "Lichen", and it's that mossy color you see out in the woods, the one that almost glows. That's on three walls of my family room -- the fourth is "Summer Suede." In the kitchen, we have a really rich orange and my breakfast nook is yellow gold.

    SP: You don't disappoint! How often do you repaint?

    DS: It's been six times in the last 10 years. If you ask my husband? Too often. But I would literally paint every single season if I could. That's the biggest wow factor, the wall color. Why not change it up?

    SP: What other colorful projects are you working on?

    DS: We're kind of thinking about doing the world's largest paint can! But for now, we're working on a living wall. We're painting it a different color every day, just to see color BIG. Today it's "Autumn Fiesta" -- tomorrow is "Pink Geranium!" It's a great way to see how color can completely change a room.

    SP: What about for people at home without living walls and gigantic paint swatches?

    DS: You can paint right on your wall, behind a framed picture to get a sense of it, or paint a piece of poster board and put it up. Or if you want to change the color of the ceiling, try this: Go to your local supermarket deli and get a great big piece of unused meat packing paper, the white real thin kind that they use to wrap a roast. Paint the white side (not the shiny side) the color you're considering and then put double-stick tape on the shiny side and stick that up on your ceiling. Because it's so thin, it will stay up and because it's so large, you'll really get a sense of what it looks like.

    Thanks, Dee! And if any of you are considering a big color change at home, check out the Voice of Color site for a fun color-choosing game that'll help you narrow things down by your favorite mood, smell and decor style.

    paint swatchA glimpse at the Voice of Color ColorSense game. Photo: PPG.

    Looking for more color inspiration? Check out:
    High Gloss Paint: The Best Colors and When to Use It
    Decor Don't: Choosing Paint Colors at the Store
    Minute Makeover: A Can of Paint Transformed My Kitchen


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    Sip your morning coffee while taking a virtual tour of our celebrity home of the day. Today: Penelope & Javier welcome us in.

    Hollywood hot couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem have had their Los Angeles house on the market for awhile now. Originally listed at $3.695 million, the house is now down to $3.15 million. Still out of our price range, but we can dream, can't we? Cruz purchased the home for even less back in 2005. But now with her beau and their baby living there, they might have outgrown the 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom house.

    Thanks to our friends at, we get a peak inside.

    At first glance, this house looks a bit... ordinary. But don't be fooled- as soon as the main gate opens, you enter paradise.

    The solid main gate of a door leads you into an outdoor foyer. It's as if we just gained access to a secret garden. The fern-lined, marbled walk shows the way to the decorative french doors.

    The foyer is a large, open space leading down wide halls. From your first step, hardwood flooring is under foot. This continues throughout the house.

    This living area is vast and complemented by floor-to-ceiling windows. It's staged now to share off the sheer amount of space but we'd love to bring in a few more seating arrangements to make this homier. Ah, for now we'll just have to settle for the view.

    Who wouldn't want the luxury of having a large, in-ground pool steps from their back door? Plenty of patio space allows sun-bathers to relax and soak up California rays. Looking for shade? No problem. The cabana has you covered.

    And if it's not a pool day, you can still sit just feet away. With the walls of doors and windows, you can view the pool from several areas of the house.

    Want more celebrity houses? Check back every morning. For now: See inside Jack Nicholson's Malibu Ranch.

    And check out this breaking news: There's going to be an HGTV Magazine!


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    Shelter category giants Hearst and HGTV to launch HGTV Magazine this Fall.

    Last year we told you that Hearst and HGTV were whispering about starting a new magazine. And now? It's official. This morning, HGTV announced that the first test issue of HGTV Magazine will hit newsstands in Fall 2011.

    hearst hgtv magazine

    Former Coastal Living editor Sara Peterson will be at the helm and if it's anything like Hearst's Food Network Magazine, we can assure you that it will be packed with television talent-turned-columnists and see major newsstand success (Food Network Magazine is the #1 selling food magazine).

    But what will the magazine offer readers that the TV channel doesn't? According to the press release, "personal tips, tricks and expertise, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at their shows." And that's ranging from real estate to renovation to decorating and, um, food? Not sure why that's included, though we do suddenly have the urge to see Vern Yip in an apron.

    The magazine test is just one more step in Hearst's not-so-secret plan to take over the shelter market -- not only do they own House Beautiful, Veranda, Country Living and Town & Country but they've recently added their fiercest competitor, ELLE DECOR, to their stable.

    (Confidential to Dwell and Architectural Digest, you two better shack up to try and compete.)

    Now -- time to play a game of imaginary guest editor. What columns would you like to see in the magazine? We'll start:

    The Obvious: Dear Genevieve. The glamorous host can easily turn her advice-based, drawings-fueled show into the Dear Abby of design.

    The Risk: Shopping With Candice. We adore Candice Olson. But she gets A LOT of flack for her inventive outfits. What if she had her own fashion page? Could maybe inspire people to give paisley a chance.

    The One We'd Tear Out and Save:
    Being Emily Henderson. HGTV's answer to the hipster set, Emily Henderson, is so freaking cool that we'd be willing to dye our hair blonde and start styling catalogs for free just to be like her. How about a page that tells us how to do it, step by step. Too crazy?

    The Lady-Pleaser: Work it Out With David Bromstad. David shows us how to decorate and renovate while burning calories. And he's not wearing a shirt.

    See also:
    Hearst and HGTV to Release HGTV Magazine in Fall 2011
    Big News: HGTV Magazine -HGTV
    Hearst, HGTV to Launch Magazine Based on Scripps-Owned Network -WSJ


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    This week, Estée Lauder heiress Aerin Lauder and unofficial First Lady of New York Sandra Lee announced upcoming home lines. Here's how they stack up.

    It's a good week for anyone who gets excited by new home lines -- or the goings on of New York's elite. After Page Six reported that Aerin Lauder would pull away from the family's beauty business to dip her toes into the lifestyle market, Curbed alerted us that Sandra Lee would also lend her name to a home line to be sold at Sears and KMart.

    sandra lee aerin lauder homeWhich of these women would you trust with your decor? Photos: Getty Images; Andrew H. Walker, Getty.

    Let's see how the two ladies-who-launch stack up:

    Name: Aerin Lauder

    Age: 40

    Claim to fame: Heir to Estée Lauder

    The Line's Name: Aerin

    What She's Saying: "It's about making it easy for the consumer and knowing what she is looking for," Lauder told WWD .

    What Others are Saying: "Aerin wants to be the next Tory Burch," sources tell Page Six.

    The Backers: Lauder is consulting with VOGUE Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker. And she's rumored to have hired White House deputy social secretary Ebs Burnough.

    Aerin Lauder's home style seen here in ELLE DECOR. Photo: Simon Upton

    What We'd Trust Her With: Budget-busting accessories loaded with low-key bling.

    When We'll See the Results: Spring 2012.

    Next up: Sandra's line!

    Name: Sandra Lee

    Age: 44

    Claim to fame: Girlfriend of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Food Network star

    The Line's Name: Sandra by Sandra Lee

    What She's Saying: "It's a wonderful opportunity to help their customers live their lives beautifully and simply," Lee said in a press release.

    What Others are Saying: "Will holiday themes -- Halloween, Thanksgiving -- be involved in some way? Will the face of gubernatorial boyfriend Andrew Cuomo be rendered onto a plate?" asks Curbed.

    The Backers: Kmart & Sears

    Her Home Style: White, silver, glass (as seen in VOGUE).

    What We'd Trust Her With: Cheerful cookware and dish towels.

    When We'll See the Results: Spring 2012

    What do you think -- which one would you buy?

    And check out the latest news: Hearst & HGTV are set to launch a new magazine this fall!

    And check out our past posts about celebrities playing designer:
    Justin Bieber to Launch Home Line
    Rachel Bilson's Edie Rose Collection Hits the Table

    Grown-Up Baby Furniture From Tiffani Thiessen


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    Bring a little spring cheer into your home with this made-for-the-season chair.

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

    flower chair

    The Bloom Chair by Kenneth Cobonpue will make you feel like Thumbelina enveloped in a flower. Made of deep soft folds of handmade microfiber fabric stitched into a steel base, the chair is available in Red, Moss Green, Light Green & Yellow (see below).

    flower chairPhoto: IIHIH

    The unusual lounge chair was the winner of the "Coup de Coeur" Award at Maison et Objet Paris, September 2009. And we can see why. It's captivating. Don't you want to try it out?

    The chair pops in poppy. And the price is a bit over-the-top as well. The $2,465.00 chair is available for purchase at Unica Home and Switch Modern.

    flower chairIIHIH

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:

    Extreme Green Homes
    My 30 Day Recycling Challenge
    Planting the White House Veggie Garden Row by Row


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    Celebrity homes are luxe, over-the-top and often expensive. And they're getting greener too, thanks to designer-to-the-stars Kari Whitman.

    Interior designer Kari Whitman has a very cool job. Not only does she help celebs decorate their homes, she helps them create the green homes of their dreams. "I just don't do anything that's not green," she says. She'll help clients find salvaged or upcycled materials, help them choose non-toxic cleaning products and encourage them to reupholster an old sofa, rather than buy a new one.

    "Any time you buy new, we have a problem," says Whitman, who has a knack for giving sparkle to tired old furniture.

    Photo: Roger Snider

    Whitman shared some of her favorite celeb decorating projects -- the homes of Jessica Alba, Emilio Estevez and Virginia Madsen -- and offers up tips to help all of us get a little greener.

    Jessica Alba: Decorating With Curbside Finds
    According to Whitman, Jessica Alba, a 29-year-old mom-to-be -- who already has a two-year-old daughter (Honor) with husband Cash Warren -- is gung-ho about creating an eco-friendly home for her family. Right down to the backyard grass that surrounds her outdoor pool. "Jessica is probably the greenest client of all my clients," says Whitman. "She really, really cares about the earth."

    Photo: Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images

    Alba chose Forever Lawn, a waterless "grass" that's created from recycled tires and has a 15-year guarantee. "It's expensive, but in Beverly Hills if you do something 'green', you get 25 percent off your entire water bill, excluding the pool," says Whitman. As for the pool, Alba opted for saltwater so when the pool is drained, chemicals are not released into the environment.

    She's also quick to buy second-hand furnishings. "We were buying stuff off Craigslist and running down to the antique store. We were even finding stuff on the road that people were throwing away, and we'd take it home and redo it," says Whitman.

    Alba paid attention to the smaller details too. To top off her eco-friendly home, Alba chose hemp and bamboo linens throughout her home.

    Emilio Estevez: An Eco-Friendly Wine Cellar
    Most people don't know that Emilio Estevez, that actor hunk who starred in "The Breakfast Club" and, most recently, "Bobby," doubles as a winemaker. He also owns a small vineyard. When he realized that he needed a wine room to store his oenophile interests -- a tasting area and temperature-controlled aging barrels, and bottles -- he turned to Whitman.

    Photo: Henry Cabala

    "He's fantastic -- he's my favorite client of all time," says Whitman. "Everything in that room is recycled except for the wine barrels that hold his wine." No-VOC paints were applied to the walls. An antique chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Molding was sourced from a train station in India that was going to be torn down. Whitman recycled a door that used to be the entrance to an antique store in Portugal as the wine room's door. And the piece de resistance? Gym flooring recycled from Stanford University is underfoot.

    Together they bought antique smoking chairs and redid them with pleather; Whitman's has an interest in animal-rights activism. "The biggest harm for the environment is the bones of the furniture," says Whitman. "They're not made like they were 10 years ago."

    Virginia Madsen: Green Flooring Fanatic
    We know her as "Maya" in the film "Sideways" but until chatting with Whitman I didn't realize how passionate she is about eco-friendly design. "Virginia is pretty green," says Whitman, who started her home's renovation by looking to the floors.

    Photo: Chris Covey

    The two decided on bamboo flooring sourced from Hawaii for her first floor living room, dining room and entryway. The wood contains palmwood, which is sustainable because a palm tree lives at most 100 years. Whitman took the theme a step further and, taking a sheet of the same material, made a dining room table that converts to a pool table.

    And just like with Alba, she encouraged her client to incorporate vintage finds. The women found an old couch online and reupholstered it.

    Celebrity Green Decorating Tips for You
    Whitman suggests making your home as sustainable as possible. Here's where to begin:

    1. If you want an eco-chic kitchen countertop, choose one made from recycled glass as it offers built-in color and style. Whitman's favorite company is Coverings Etc. "Amazing products! They come in all different colors and they're all recycled."

    2. Only use eco-friendly cleaners and clean often to remove toxic grime and dirt tracked in from the outdoors. "It's very important that you clean everything. Mrs. Meyer's is the best. I don't know what they put in their products but I just had a friend spill wine on my sofa and it pulled it right out."

    3. The most eco-friendly insulation for the home is one made from old denim jeans. Not only is it sound-proof but it is 40 percent more effective that most insulation products sold, Whitman says.

    4. For a cozy deck, fence or railing in the yard, ditch the thought of pure lumber and go with a product containing 12% post-consumer recycled plastic, the rest wood that is pre-consumer recycled. It's called TimberTech.

    5. Opt for no-VOC paints for your walls. Whitman recommends SafeCoat. Whitman actually developed her own eco-friendly paint-mixing kit called WallMakeUp. "Most of the time the paint chips you get at the store are never the same on your walls."

    Want to read more about celebrity homes?
    Cheap, Chic Ideas from Charlie Sheen's Home
    Katy Sagal's House on the Market
    Jennifer Lopez's House in Veranda


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  • 04/08/11--02:53: Celebrity Homes of the Week
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    Take your morning coffee with a side of celebrity homes. Today: A round-up of the week's celebrity real estate news.

    Celebrities are known for over-the-top, glamour, and extravagance. And their homes aren't any different. So let's toast the end of the week with a look at our favorite photos from celebrity homes on the market. First up: Cee Lo Green

    celebrity homesAP;

    Cee Lo Green gets to gather with friends in this spacious living room. We love the stone fireplace and open lay-out. And check out that gigantic range hood peeking out from the kitchen!

    celebrity homesAP;

    Elizabeth Taylor used to wake-up and see this water view when she stayed at this residence with her fiance. The palm trees and blue water remind us of a tropical paradise (and honestly, look so perfect we wondered if it's photoshopped in!).

    celebrity homesGetty;

    Jack Nicholson's view of the Pacific Ocean from his house is definitely envy-worthy. And the best part? He has a full view of the mountains too. Best of both worlds.

    celebrity homesGetty;

    Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are raising their baby in this home until they are able to sell the property. Is it weird that we're jealous of a baby? We wish we could lounge in a poolside cabana!

    Want more celebrity homes?
    Check out famous rentals like the "Jersey Shore" house and Kate Middle's childhood home.
    Take a peek at where Leno and Late Nighters Call Home.


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