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  • 04/20/11--17:20: The Ultimate Green Kitchen
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    Even in a home designed for sustainability, this kitchen stands out with its wine crate-cabinetry and recycled steel shelving.

    When we saw this kitchen on ReadyMade, we fell in love with its simple, eco-look. Then we fell for the people who live there, since they've committed themselves to green design.

    Throughout the whole process, the owners/designers kept a blog, recording each room they remodeled, and the kitchen is a model of sustainability. The cabinets are made of old wooden wine crates. Although the rest of the home has cork flooring, they went with ceramic green and white checkerboard tiles in the kitchen.

    Untreated wood from IKEA is used on the countertop and recyclable stainless steel shelving supports pots and pans. As for the appliances and lighting, all scored an A+ for energy efficiency. They don't have a dishwasher -- yet; the couple is having trouble finding one that meets their sustainability beliefs. They also hope to find a water-purifying system that can make the faucet water drinkable.

    Best of all, they try to stock the kitchen with only local, non-chemical produce, which arrives every two weeks. Meals are served on recyclable glass plates. And any waste is fed to compost worms. How's that for a green kitchen?

    Check out the whole article at ReadyMade or check out the R3Project blog to read more about their sustainable -- yet tasteful -- home!

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:

    Men Only Clean When It Smells
    Spring Cleaning: Tips From a Pro
    Spring Cleaning For Allergy Sufferers
    Cleaning With Vinegar: Spring Cleaning Guide


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    These clever storage solutions will get you excited to put your shoes away.

    Check out this story about decorating with concrete from our friends at CasaSugar!


    I don't know about you, but my shoe storage situation is not a pretty sight. I have a cubby that hangs from my clothing rod that's overflowing, as well as shelves stacked in my closet, and on top of that my shoes are always piled up on the floor of my closet. Each seems to be vying for my attention, and I always forget about the pairs that are stuck at the bottom of the pile. So I've been on the hunt for a shoe storage solution that'll get my shoes out of the closet and out on display, right where I can see them. As it turns out, there are plenty of clever ideas. The hard part is choosing one!


    Install architectural plaster moldings as picture-perfect rails for your high heels. Paint the moldings to turn them into a focal point!


    Send your stilettos to a home away from home with Hotel Box, a house for shoes!


    Do you find yourself lugging your shoes from dressing room to bedroom and beyond? The Rakuu Designs Shoe Wheel ($65) not only rotates, but it sits on casters, so you can easily drag your footwear from room to room.

    To read the rest of the story, visit CasaSugar.

    For more great stories on ShelterPop, don't miss:

    My Husband and I Prefer to Sleep on Our Couch
    The Case Against Cleaning
    Moving In Together: My Girlfriend Took Over My Space!


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    Kohler unveils its high-tech new toilet, complete with warmers, a remote control and a custom bidet. Find out how this seat earned its price and tell us: Do you want it?

    kohler numiThe Numi, in all its glory. Photo: Kohler

    Last week, I went to a party for a toilet. But not just any old John -- I was out celebrating Numi, Kohler's new top-of-the-line toilet. Between the champagne, gourmet hors d'oeurves and well-dressed crowd, Numi's release might have been just about the most glamour a toilet has ever seen. But it only makes sense: This toilet isn't just new, it's super high-tech. It's got bells and whistles you've never dreamed of having in the bathroom. Like...

    - Custom Bidet: User can control pressure, temperature and angle.
    - Tankless Design: Read: No chains to jiggle!
    - Motion Sensor Lid: After 90 seconds of no movement, the toilet will close.
    - Seat Warmer: Why should your bottom suffer from a chilly toilet seat?
    - Foot Warmer: A vent beneath the bowl blows hot air to warm your feet and the cold tile beneath them.
    - Automatic Seat: For male users, a motion sensor is activated by foot and causes the seat to rise and then lower when you're away.
    - LED lit back panel: Frosted glass is lit in an energy-efficient way.
    - MP3 Hook-up: So you never have to be without your music.
    - Remote Control: This touch-screen pad lets the user control all of these features from a wireless control. Should you want to activate the foot warmer in advance.
    - A flat white surface designed for easy cleaning: Though we doubt anyone who spends over $6,400 on a toilet is planning to clean it themselves!

    Pretty impressive, right? Wait, it gets better. This new toilet uses the smallest amount of water. It flushes on two settings, 0.6 gallons and 1.2 gallons. And yes, the Numi knows which one to use when. The Numi knows everything.

    I snagged a few minutes with Kohler President David Kohler to ask a few questions about his Numi experience. Turns out his favorite feature is the bidet. And while we're busy giggling about the toilets, he and the rest of the team at Kohler take them pretty seriously: At the headquarters in Wisconsin, they keep competitors' toilets in the offices...with comment cards in each stall!

    While the toilet was designed for the luxury market, the Kohler team prides themselves on an "easy to use interface." Which means that when you put aside all the fancy add-ons, the toilet is still, like the regular old model, easy to use. The touch-screen remote won't complicate anything.

    Numi will be making its first public appearance April 26th in Las Vegas at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. As for when you'll start seeing it in homes? Well, that all depends on how the public responds. Start by telling us how you feel.

    What about you?

    For past Kohler features on Shelterpop, check out:
    Five Beautiful Bathtubs
    Space-Saving Bathroom Sinks


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    Sip your morning coffee while taking a virtual tour of a celebrity home. Today's treat: Paris Hilton's former house.

    Socialite Paris Hilton called this Los Angeles pad home up until 2007. Now it's on the market again, and by the same agent -- Hilton's uncle. The home, which Hilton sold for $3.865 million, is available for rent. So what would it take to rent this 4-bedroom, 3.5 bathroom? $20,000 a month. Hey, everything fabulous comes with a price tag, including this post-Paris house.

    Thanks to our friends at, we have pictures of the home from when Hilton lived there. How do we know? Just take a look at the very-Paris decor.

    paris hilton

    One large black and white photo of HIlton is centered above the sofa. Aside from this egocentric accent, we like the black and white decor. Of course, Hilton throws in Fendi pillows. How chic! Wait, we take that back. Is that a...stripper pole through the coffee table?

    paris hilton

    The foyer and dining room both stick with the black and white theme. Nothing too ornate is in either room, and from what we can see, there are no self-portraits. The dining room is actually elegant, with a long mirrored table through an arched walkway. The sparkly chandelier and pink floral arrangements look perfect for hosting a grand event. Knowing Hilton, probably cocktails.

    paris hilton

    Another eating area -- far more casual -- has a lucite table and chairs. The wallpaper is a dramatic black chandelier pattern, partially blocked by an oversized, full-length mirror.

    paris hilton

    OK, so mirrored surfaces are definitely a theme in this home during its Paris era. The pale pink bedroom looks a bit Victorian with the four-post bed and chandelier. And look at all those clothes -- now that's a walk-in closet. We wonder if the previous owner and future renter will be able to fill all that clothing space.

    paris hilton

    This guest bedroom has another bold patterned wallpaper. We wonder what kind of guests it's seen. And we had to include this this bathroom. Mirror, mirror...on every wall! Even the accessories -- like the tissue box cover -- is mirrored.

    More black and white outside, with a striped cabana and lounges. Looks like the property is walled in to protect poolside loungers from paparazzi. We wish we could see more of the backyard; the heated pool looks inviting and there's a built-in barbecue.

    How does this compare to the rest of this week's celebrity houses? Take a look at these, and don't forget to check in tomorrow for our celebrity homes of the week!

    Jennifer Garner's Former House with a Former Husband
    Lamar Odom's Pre-Kardashian House
    Jodie Foster's Beverly Hills Home


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    Bedroom feeling dated and boring? Follow the lead of this blogger who painted the walls -- and furniture -- to create a totally new space.

    Many of us spend months decorating the common areas in our homes. And then the bedrooms? Well, those are an afterthought.

    That was certainly the case in this dated bedroom. With bulky brown furniture, bare windows and oddball decor, the room isn't exactly inviting. Enter Addicted 2 Decorating's Kristi Linauer. She gave this room a facelift by using existing furniture -- and lots of paint.

    BEFORE: Solid bedding and white walls are plain Jane. The windows are just as stark with those standard blinds, and the mismatched night stands look uneven, rather than charming.
    The dresser is a nice size (see above) and provides plenty of drawer space for the owner, but the heavy and ornate style of the piece is too much for this room, especially against a white wall. Is that a faux-tree in the corner? Eww, it is. It's clear that this bedroom needs some life.

    Addicted 2 Decorating's Kristi Linauer painted the room a warm neutral color, which transformed it from stark to cozy. She replaced the old wooden headboard with an ivory textured headboard, while the footboard was removed all together to allow more space.

    The space is glamorous and lovely and feels like a room you'd want to relax in.

    They put up a basket weave shade as well as lush curtains to block light and provide privacy. Three tile-like squares fill the space with a touch of color above the bed and bring in a rich teal tone.

    And one of our favorite bedroom ideas from this makeover -- the lighting. Instead of choosing table lamps to place on the night stand, this decorator hung mini-chandeliers. They give the room height and just the right amount of light.

    We're happy to see the owner now has a proper night stand with drawers for additional storage. Here's a look at what they did with that ugly dresser.

    By ditching the hutch, the decorator was able to keep the existing dresser. A simple paint job gives this piece of furniture a whole new look. It's no longer overbearing for the room and looks vintage-y. Over the mirror are a few decorative plates. We love the details on the dresser that make the room inviting, like the old, worn books and brass lamp.

    Paint can transform a bedroom in a weekend.

    See what else fresh paint can do. Check out how A Can of Paint Transforms a Kitchen and When to Use High-Gloss Paint.


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  • 04/21/11--05:16: Coffee Table Makeover Ideas
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    Here's a designer secret: Coffee tables matter more than you think. Here's how to make yours stand out.

    It's easy to forget how important a coffee table is to living room design. It anchors the couch, provides an essential place to display our favorite art books and remotes, and if well chosen, they can make a design statement.

    To help you rethink your coffee table design, we rounded up some of our favorite makeover projects. Get ready to be inspired!

    coffee-table-ideasPhoto: Make

    Coffee Table Makeover Idea #1: Paint it!
    Yes, you'll have to sand your old coffee table. But it will be worth it once you're painting it your dream color. Try a fun spring color, like honeysuckle or Robin's egg blue or a bold spring green. Or have some fun, and paint it in a fun checkerboard pattern or like a playing card, as shown above.

    If you're transforming your room from whites to woods, try painting it a deep espresso to match your new furnishings. If you're going from white to wood, try a distressed look. Or paint your favorite pattern on it, like this designer who used a Marimekko print as inspiration for her coffee table makeover.

    Coffee Table Makeover Idea #2: Change the topper.
    If your table is wood, but you'd love a glass table -- you can still change the look. Buy a piece of glass large enough to cover your table, put your favorite postcards (or any other collage of beautiful imagery) between the wood and the glass, and voila -- tres chic. If your prefer an upholstered look, but can't afford a new piece, buy or sew a cushion to sit on top, like Creative Little Daisy did. Instant update! See photos below.

    coffee-table-ideasPhoto: Sew Many Ways

    Coffee Table Makeover Idea #3: Make a new one.

    Get inspiration from Project Pretty. She bought three end tables, pulled them apart and then reconstructed them into one fantastic looking coffee table. Check it out here. It may have you DIY your own creative version.

    Coffee Table Makeover Idea #4: Cover it with your favorite print.
    Sew Many Ways had one particularly fun idea. She tore pages out of an old dictionary, artfully arranged them on the coffee table and stuck them on with Mod Podge adhesive (see above). The end result: One great lesson in creative thinking. Try her idea with your favorite wallpaper, like this DIYer on Design*Sponge, or fabric. Or you might even cover your table with leather.

    coffee-table-ideasPhoto: Pottery Barn

    Coffee Table Makeover Idea #5: Choose new tabletop decor.

    If you're too lazy to paint or take on a DIY project, maybe it's time to swap out your coffee table decor. Try an artful fan of magazines or a well thought out collection of items that play off one another, like a white porcelain figurine, a candleholder and a quilted bin for your remotes. Maybe there's a color that you can't get enough of. Introduce it through items on your coffee table, then pick it up in a throw pillow on your sofa or a couple of strategically-placed items on your shelves. For more inspiration, flip through your favorite home retailer's catalog. I often look at Pottery Barn (shown above) for ideas.

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Spring Trends: We're Seeing Stripes
    Small Space Design
    "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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    If you're new to gardening -- or looking to redeem yourself for dearly departed plants -- why not make the most of the super hardy cacti? No green thumb required.

    Succulent plants thrive in arid climates and soil conditions, thanks to their ability to store water in their roots, stems and leaves. Their roots grow close to the surface of the soil enabling them to absorb moisture from light rain showers and dew. Many varieties of succulents possess a tough skin. The skin may appear waxy or may be covered with hair-thin bristles or spine-like protrusions.

    succulentsGetty Images

    The most well-known variety of succulent plants is cacti from the Cactaceae family. Other popular succulent species occur in the Aizoaceae and Crassulaceae families. Succulents are found naturally all over the world. These plants are usually inhabitants of semi-desert, desert, sub-tropic and tropic regions, but they can also be found in some seaside coastal areas.

    You'll Love Succulents If: You're a lazy gardener. These plants are hardy and durable. They can survive long periods of arid weather and withstand wind and rain. They don't require a large space to grow, so they're great for container gardens and hanging baskets. Plus, their roots are shallow so little soil or potting mix is required for planting or transplanting making them easy for children and beginning gardeners to care for. Now how can you argue with any of that?

    How to Find Succulents: There are numerous options for purchasing succulents at a great price. Home improvement stores and gardening sections of major department stores often carry these plants. Online specialty nurseries like eBay offer the convenience of online shopping.

    How to Care for Succulents: Succulent plants prefer bright light. Placing them near a south-facing window will ensure that they receive adequate light. Temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for most succulents to thrive. These plants also need generous amounts of water in the summer but in winter months, watering is only necessary every other month. Excessive watering will lead to plant rot and the end result of this disease is death. Fertilizing during the summer will enhance the health of your succulents but this should be avoided during winter.

    Lori Ritchie contributed to Shelterpop through To find out how you can contribute go to

    For more gardening ideas, don't miss:
    Winter Flowers
    Spring Gardening: Get Your Garden Ready
    Winter Gardening Myths: Busted!


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  • 04/22/11--01:05: 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 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: Jodie Foster

    celebrity homesGetty;

    Foster's Beverly Hills home looks more like a New England cottage -- true to it's Cape Cod style. The front entrance has lush greenery and flowering vines growing across the walkway and porch overhang, yet it still looks so well kept.

    Lamar Odom lived in this Mediterranean mansion before he got hitched to Khloe Kardashian. Our favorite pic of his home is the backyar -- huge pool, huge patio and huge amounts of privacy. Almost as appealing as marrying a Kardashian...

    celebrity homesGetty;

    Jennifer Garner and Scott Foley used to live here, pre-divorce. We chose a photo of the gated entrance because we love the tasteful privacy it provides. It doesn't look overbearing but still shields celebrities from the paparazzi -- or regular old homeowners from nosy neighbors.


    No need to add a celeb picture to this one. Paris Hilton used to own this extravagant home, and the photos are definitely from when she lived there! How could we not include the living room with her personal portrait as decor? Guess she thinks of herself as a celebrity too.

    Looking for more celeb home news? Check out AOL Real Estate to see...
    'Law & Order: SVU' Star Selling NYC Apartment

    Unusual Frank Lloyd Wright House for Sale
    Glenn Beck Sells Connecticut Estate
    Ron Paul Selling House His Way -- Independently

    And be sure to stop by Monday morning for a peek inside another celebrity residence.


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    The finalists of the "Art of ReUse" contest were announced this morning. See what won -- and what pieces were most-loved by Tori Spelling, Andy Cohen and Lauren Bush.

    When he heard Green is Universal teamed up with Etsy for a contest to find the best upcycled product, we were already excited. But then they had to go and throw in celebrity judges like Martha Stewart and Kathie Lee to get us even more jazzed about recycling pieces into beautiful, innovative products.

    For the past month, crafters have been uploading their creative wares to Green is Universal, where users voted and Facebook "Liked" their favorite pieces. Once the 10 products with the most votes emerged, those celebrity judges waltzed in and named the top three, which were announced on the Today Show this morning. And here they are...

    art of reuseGreen is Universal

    We're unbelievably proud to point out that the Cast Iron Claw Foot Bathtub Couch from artist Jill Morrison is already ShelterPop-approved...maybe you remember seeing it on the site back in August. As for the Firefighter Coast Messenger Bag by Evon Cassier and 20-Minute Dog Sweater by Jennifer Kerr -- we're going to call them new favorites. Who can resist that level of creativity -- or that dog?

    But we're not the only ones enchanted with these pieces. See what judges Andy Cohen, Tori Spelling and Lauren Bush loved the most.

    Both Cohen and Spelling adored the clawfoot sofa. Can't you imagine this on set of Watch What Happens: Live...or in any of Tori Spelling's shows?

    art of reuseGetty Images; WireImage; Green is Universal

    Lauren Bush picked the jacket-turned-bag as her favorite -- high praise from the creator of the FEED bag! i"I love when something fulfills one purpose and then is re-made to fulfill another," she said. "And the look of the bag is really great!"

    art of reuseGetty Images; Green is Universal

    Of course, those are just the top three. Check out the rest of the top 10:

    Flying alumifish by John D. Richards
    "This amazing Flying Alumifish Mobile was created using cat food can lids, the business end of a burned out light bulb, glass globs, galvanized wire and ordinary box staples."

    Weego the Scarecrow by Leslie Wilton
    "Weego is made of gigantic old tools and junk the artist's neighbor was going to throw out. There's old gigantic wrenches, a water meter, some sort of homemade bug sprayer, an animal trap, bolt cutter arms, old gun and garden shears, lots of scrap metal and junk."

    Re-Zip It! Zipper Brooch by Heather Sennabaum
    "All zippers used have been taken from old clothing. After taking all the threads off the zipper I either bleach out the zipper or bleach the zippers to get all the stains out of them. I also will dye the zippers a different color that is more vibrant to the eye."

    Coloring Markers Jump Rope by Jenna Riggs
    "Markers without caps... caps without markers... useless, dried up leftovers from art project fun. Every parent has a box of these around the house or in the junk drawer-pair them with some lonely leftover kite string and make an old-school jump rope!"

    art of reuseGreen is Universal

    Brightly Colored Twirly Skirt of Upcycled Sweaters by Kelleyanne Wank
    "This fantastic twirly skirt was constructed from a white turtleneck sweater with brightly colored embroidery, a yellow sweater and a green sweater. The turtleneck was ready to become the waistband. Then the rest of the sweaters were cut at the seams to become pieces of fabric to cut into the different panels for the skirt. The remaining white sweater fabric was pieced together to create the ruffle at the bottom."

    Gift card earrings by Jennifer Kerr
    "Used gift cards & expired credit cards that would have otherwise been thrown out are repurposed into eye catching jewelry. Thanks to friends, family, and local cashiers, the artist has hundreds that get a second life as eco-friendly jewelry."

    Tab Top Pet Collars by Elizabeth Pickett
    "Clean tab tops from soda and beer cans are woven with ultra durable polyester grosgrain ribbon. A durable snap link closes the collar, while a welded D ring provides a place to hang ID, and to hook a leash to."

    art of reuseGreen is Universal

    Looking for more great green stories? Check out our page on everything Earth Day! And don't miss...
    The Ultimate Green Kitchen
    Unplugging Appliances: Do I REALLY Have to Do This?
    Celebrity Homes: Eco-Friendly Edition


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    Easter Sunday is only two days away. We know it's not as easy as hiding a few eggs, so we compiled helpful hints for your weekend.

    Here's everything to keep in mind...

    Easter Sunday Idea #1: Put Your Peeps to Work
    We rounded up these tasty crafts that make even better use of the sugar-y marshmallow treats. Whether you want to spend your Easter crafting with your family or the days after doing something creative with those leftover Peeps, these projects should keep you busy -- and your home downright festive.

    Easter Sunday Idea #2: Egg Decor
    Our editors got together to decorate eggs that represented each of their sites. With a little dye, a lot of imagination and plenty of help from our craft stylist, we showed off our areas of egg-spertise: pop culture, health, style, holidays and more. Get egg-travagant Easter egg ideas to jazz up your own hard-boiled batch.

    Get the kids involved with these 15 quick and simple Easter and spring crafts you can make this weekend. You can even have them make their own Easter baskets!

    Martha Stewart provides lots of egg-cellent ideas in her Easter special. From emu eggs to ostrich eggs, all are decorated, dyed and displayed with techniques you can do at home! We love the look of the marbled eggs.

    Easter Sunday Idea #3: Non-Egg Decor
    For those of you tired of the yearly egg theme: We decided it's time to collect fresh ideas for crafts that think outside the egg -- err, box. Check out our no-eggs-allowed Easter crafts.

    Keep your home smelling spring-y with these easy-to-make air fresheners! (Easter-themed of course.)

    Easter Sunday Idea #3: Decorate With Chic Easter Bunnies
    We've been seeing rabbits pop up on all kinds of decor lately. Which gave us this idea -- Why not gift your most stylish friends rabbit decor instead of chocolate bunnies this year? We have some adorable finds -- and a few will even fit in that Easter basket!

    Easter Sunday Idea #4: Gifting
    Easter is a wonderful time of year, when the gift-giving spirit is in the air. If you make soaps, and thought you'd given them away in just about every way, shape, form ... well, maybe there is one simple way you haven't tried yet. Give your Easter hostess handmade soaps in a reusable basket.

    Why not crochet this weekend? These bunny crochet crafts are so adorable!

    Easter Sunday Idea #5: DIY Projects
    Easter weekend is peak time for getting started on spring maintenance. And according to a new study, getting hurt in the process. Here's how to stay safe this holiday.

    Happy Easter, friends!


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    Decor that will leave you hopping -- err, jumping -- for joy all year round.

    We've been seeing rabbits pop up on all kinds of decor lately. Which gave us this idea -- Why not gift your most stylish friends rabbit decor instead of chocolate bunnies this year? We have some adorable finds -- and a few will even fit in that Easter basket!

    To get this spring trend for your home, scroll over the images for product details and click to buy!

    1. Keep your kitchen clean by keeping paper towels at hand with this adorable paper towel holder ($60, Alessi). The carrot and bunny are the perfect cheery spring accessory.

    2. For under your feet, an adorable garden scene with a rabbit seeking out fresh carrots ($595, Design Public).

    3. An adorable Swarovski bunny ($55, Macy's) sparkles pink wherever you decide to place it. This tasteful accessory makes the perfect gift.

    4. Cuddle up with this pink bunny pillow ($28, Velocity). It looks so real (but requires less care).

    5. Another fun kitchen accent -- these white salt and pepper shakers ($6.99, World Market). Have two mini-rabbits waiting on the table for you.

    6. We have rabbits for your living space too. Who can forget Alice's white rabbit? Now you can hang his 5x7 mug -- in a gold frame -- right on your wall ($18, Urban Outfitters).

    What other trends are on tap this season? Check out...
    Spring Trend: We're Seeing Stripes
    2011 Design Trend: Watercolor Decor
    Home Decorating Trends: Tech Decor


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    April is full of rain, but it's also full of beautiful flowers. Here's a guide to what's blooming this month.

    Spring has arrived in this USDA Zone 7 neck of the woods, as warmer weather makes its way slowly north. And choosing just a handful of flowering trees to highlight for this month is like trying to choose your favorite child -- It's difficult and a little risky.

    april flowersKanzan cherries at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    With Hanami Festivals scheduled all over the country, it is impossible not to talk about cherry blossoms. Hanami is the Japanese tradition that celebrates every moment of cherry blossom bloom, from the opening of its earliest flowers to the falling of the very last petals.

    The lush and frilly flowers of Prunus "Kanzan" are the best known of ornamental cherries. But it's the earlier, more delicate cherry blossoms that tug at my wintered-out, blossom-starved heart strings. Pale pink Prunus x yedoensis, rose-colored Prunus "Okame" and magical Prunus subhirtella, which blooms in late fall and again in spring, bring a lump to my throat. Keep in mind, if you want to grow these beauties, that cherries require full sun.

    april flowersPrunus x yedoensis in Central Park. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    April is magnolia month in the northeast. Their silky, sheathed buds are a hint of what's to come for much of late winter, and by mid-month, the trees have exploded in fat-petaled profusion. Early-blooming star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), with its supple white or pale pink starburst petals, is helpfully adaptable and will flower well in dappled shade as well as full sun.

    april flowersMagnolias in bloom in April. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    It is smaller than its saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) counterpart, which needs room to move. With over 125 species and dozens of magnolia cultivars with flowers shifting from white to pink to yellow to deep mauve, choosing just one for your garden is either a torture or a treat. If you are lucky you will have room for more. Have I mentioned that they are scented?

    april flowersBurgundy-flowered crabapple in April. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    One of my favorite small trees is the crabapple (Malus species and cultivars). Their distinctive tangle of branches within an elegantly rounded top combine wildness with order, a compelling recipe for life and beauty in a tree. Crabapple blossoms are cup-shaped and profuse, and range from pure white to pink-flushed to burgundy-red. The buds open once the trees have fully leafed-out giving them an even fluffier appearance. Hardy, wind-tolerant and very pretty, all crabapples ask is that they are planted in full sun.

    april flowersLilac in bloom in late April. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Of all the scents in the world of flowers, one of the most loved is that of lilac (Syringa species and cultivars). In my fantasies I sometimes plant an entire hedge of lilac, and wish more people would. The world would be a better place. Their panicles of minute flowers are rich with perfume and hang heavily from their slender branches late in the month. White, pale pink, lilac, purple and blue, from modest shrubs to small trees, lilacs can be planted as part of a border or as stand alone specimens. They do not like acidic soil, and require full sun for best bloom.

    april flowersJuneberry blossoms. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Native to the Northeast, Juneberry (Amelanchier canadensis or A. arborea) is a choice addition to a garden that values many seasons of interest. From their white froth of blossoms to their sweet red berries ripening in June, to the deep orange of their fall foliage, this is one of the most rewarding plants I know. Grow in dappled shade or full sun, and harvest the berries in early summer for delicious pies or jellies.

    I could go on, but I have to stop somewhere. Planting a tree to ensure blooms in every month turns your garden into a botanical calendar, telling the time as surely as a clock. And watching a clock was never such fun, or as good for the planet.

    Turning the clock back, check out our flowers for February and March.


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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 shop-able, fashion-fueled room?

    This Weekend's Pick: Helen Mirren

    The lovely Helen Mirren stepped out of a London hotel looking bright and totally of the moment in a printed salmon and navy dress covered by a matching salmon cardigan. She paired the daytime look with cute textured flats and natural make-up to keep it casual. And the chain-strap bag added just the right amount of classic glamour. Mirren's cheery look got us thinking of a bedroom just as bright. After all, it is springtime. Get this bedroom look! Click on the images below for product details and buying info.

    We started with a print sheet set (starting at $48, Anthropologie) that reminded us of the darker hue and print of her skirt. The tuxedo ruffle quilt and sham ($129; $36, Urban Outfitters) top off the bedding just like Mirren's cardigan does her dress. The coral ruffles are like big, beautiful signs shouting "wake up!".

    We chose a navy linen headboard (starting at $1,250, Serena and Lily). The fabric is dark in color but light in weight to keep with our spring style. Mirren's bag matches the color and the chain-strap looks like the nailhead detailing along the headboard.

    Long, sheer linen drapes (starting at $19.99, West Elm) give a fresh effect to the bedroom window, like Mirren's make-up and hair. One more cheery accent to finish off our bedroom- this coral ginger jar ($250, Williams Sonoma). The hand-painted blossoms and crisp coloring is the perfect detail to our room. It reminds us of Mirren's textured flats in the same color.

    Like our spring set-up inspired by Helen Mirren?

    Check in every Saturday for a new fashion room inspired by a celebrity look:
    Jennifer Garner
    Diane Kruger
    Evan Rachel Wood
    Thandie Newton


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  • 04/23/11--05:20: Weekend Table Ideas
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    Spice up dinner this weekend with simple ideas taken from over-the-top designer tablescapes.

    At DIFFA's DINING BY DESIGN events, designers 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 in place for tonight!

    Today's table: Ralph Lauren's outdoor dining set-up. The rustic wood and hanging lanterns give a rugged feel, while the crisp white chairs and neatly arranged flowers keep the tablescape fresh.

    Table Idea #1 Eat Outside
    No need to wait for pool weather to enjoy dining outdoors. With the sun staying out later everyday, take advantage of the additional light and warming temperatures.

    Table Idea #2 Lighten Up
    Sure, your wall-mounted outdoor lighting is bright enough, but why not have a little fun for style's sake? Lanterns and strings of bulbs create a warm, cozy atmosphere.

    Tables Idea #3 Mix the Chairs
    We're not saying bring out the basement folding chairs for additional seating. (Use them for garage sale merchandise instead.) But Lauren's tablescape does a nice job of incorporating similar, yet slightly varied, seating options. All chairs are kept a crisp, clean white that brightens the decor. Various heights and angles are used to add a bit of dimension and fun to the setting.

    For more designer table ideas, check out...
    Donna Karan's sophisticated mix-and-match ideas
    Arpad Baksa's abstract mannequin table
    Architectural Digest's floral tablescape


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    Who ever thought that a dumpster covered in graffiti could be so cute?

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

    art graffiti

    Designer Ryan Christensen of Steelplant has come up with a very chic urban way to store books and desk accessories -- miniature dumpsters. These containers, which are covered in straight-from-the-streets graffiti, can also be used as a container for live plants.


    The artist's Steelplant Edition One are a series of artist-decorated "Desktop Dumpsters." The graffiti-painted miniature steel dumpsters are each one of a kind and look just like the real thing. Dumpsters are cut, formed and welded up from 14 gauge (1/16") 25-35% recycled steel.

    When empty, the dumpsters weigh nine pounds. The lid tiles are milled from a wood/plastic composite material that is made from plastic bags and sawdust that would otherwise go to a dump somewhere. Creative re-use as its best.


    Once they're built, they're given to an artist, or multiple artists, to be painted, inked, glued, printed, distressed, whatever. Each dumpster is unique in the first edition. The art and application methods will change with each release.


    "Steelplant was born out of a massive year-long brainstorming session I had," says Christensen. "Back in November of 2010 while working like mad on a catalog for a client, I got a serious overuse injury that crippled me for a year. During this time It occured to me how important it was to make objects with my hands. I also realized that I needed a creative outlet that wasn't limited by factors out of my control. When I was finally well enough to use my hands again, I turned my thoughts into sketches, and my sketches into Steelplant."

    Would you put one on your desk?

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    Spring Trends: We're Seeing Stripes
    "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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    Believe it or not, it was red paint that transformed this bedroom. Who knew it could be so calming?

    Plenty of people remodel their bedrooms last. Why? Because noone but you sees your bedroom. But hey, you count! So here's some bedroom inspiration to get you decorating.

    After getting her whole home in gear, Dani Miller of KSC Designs was left with a super plain bedroom: A couple different woods, a practical ceiling fan, ho-hum's the type of room that one has to struggle to come up with compliments. But oh, don't think it'll stay that way for long...

    BEFORE: Let's count the way this bedroom misses out on opportunities: 1. Bare walls. 2. Standard blinds on the window. 3. Plain carpet. 4. No accessories. Should we stop? We're getting anxious and want you to see the reveal!

    AFTER: A bold accent wall -- like the red one above -- will give any room an instant jolt of life. Dual nightstands make the bed a more welcoming place (remember: No one should have one nightstand!) and dramatic sconces add height. Paddles above the bed bring in a fun, personal element and new bedding brightens up the space and fits right in with the rouge color palette. And notice how even though the bedding is fresh and bright, the patchwork feels a little bit country comfy and complements the paddles.

    BEFORE: Simple but stark -- another blank wall surrounded the dresser, making it look out of place. The vase and flowers are a nice touch but it feels almost hotel-like since there's nothing else around.

    It's amazing what a cluster of family photos in various frames can do! Instead of just hanging one piece in the center of the dresser, the owners chose brought in a collage-style display, which helps anchor the dresser. They painted a neutral tan/taupe on the other three walls -- warmed than the original white but not as dramatic as the red accent wall! And take note of the chair and mirror -- These two simple additions help expand the function of the room. Wouldn't you love to perch on that chair with a coffee?

    Want more makeover tips? Check out these other ShelterPop bedroom makeovers!
    Makeover your Bedroom...Spam?
    A Grown-Up Bedroom Makeover


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    Wake up this morning with a cup of coffee and a virtual tour of our celebrity home of the day. Today: Don King's waterfront Florida property.

    Don King has his Florida mansions for sale. Oh yes, we said mansions, plural. This property is so large, it has two addresses. One lot was developed in 1985 and the other followed in 1994, creating the ultimate Floridian getaway. For $19.995 million, the whole property -- which includes 14 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms -- can be yours.

    Thanks to our friends at, we have the aerial view and photos from inside the homes.

    Here we can see the two houses on King's property in Florida. A water view from the front and back of the house? Not a bad set-up. Residents can gaze at the water or dock their boat. Neither of those sound appealing? You can always play tennis on the private court.

    Stucco and clay tiles create a very Florida-tropical style. The grand driveway and front door overhang look more like a luxury resort than a house.

    An ornate foyer welcomes visitors -- and possible buyers -- with extravagantly detailed columns and tables. A grand chandelier glimmers in the center of the room and reflects off the marble flooring.

    One of the mansion's huge assets? The huge kitchen. Light finishes give an airy feel which is helped by the ocean view.

    Take a seat and relax while gazing out the wall of windows to the blue Florida waters. We love the open layout of this room and the amount of natural light that flows in.

    And if the ocean isn't your favorite, there's a pool to cool off on those humid Florida days. An expansive patio and outdoor cabana area create a perfect party setting. Drinks by the pool, anyone?

    How does King's property compare to last week's features, including Paris Hilton's and Jennifer Garner's former homes? Check out our Celebrity Homes of the Week to take a look.

    And take a look at AOL Real Estate's celeb info:
    Law & Order star Selling NY Apartment
    Frank Lloyd Wright House for Sale


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    We interviewed two flea market fanatics -- a longtime seller and a devoted buyer -- to get the scoop on how to get the best price on the octopus-shaped pendant or shabby chic credenza you've got your eye on.

    You like wearing other people's used clothing. You're not afraid of bedbugs. You love shopping at flea markets.

    Somewhere along the line, someone decided that the word "vintage" was a synonym for "cool," which is why we have legions of women dressing like grandmothers and decorating with needlepoint pillows.

    But regardless of how many old-timey pieces you want to pick up when you're cruising the flea market circuit, your ultimate goal is to get a good deal. Just because something is old doesn't mean it's worth a million dollars, right? So, how can you be sure that you're going to walk away with the best deal upon leaving your favorite flea market?

    Consider the following:

    Bargain by... Knowing Where You Are
    Flea markets are like snowflakes: No two are alike. "Think about the market's overall vibe: Is it aiming to be some D-list joint, shilling sunglasses, socks and cheap clock radios, or does it feature things you'd find on Etsy?" says Ashlea Halpern, a New York City-based freelance editor. "I could spend hours wandering the latter, but if I've stumbled across the former, I eat some funnel cake and get out."

    Bargain by... Shopping Around
    Your mama told you right. When it comes to flea markets, you better shop around. Remember that just because something is "vintage" doesn't necessarily mean it's one-of-a-kind. "Always walk once all the way through the market before making any purchases," Halpern advises. "I was so annoyed at one market last year when I dropped $18 on what I thought was a rad copper octopus pendant, only to discover an even radder copper octopus pendant for $15 two booths over." Unless you've fallen completely and totally in love with an item right on the spot (if so, get a grip), it may be better to assess what's on offer at other booths before making a deal.

    Bargain by... Remembering This is Somebody's Job
    While some people exhibit at flea markets as a weekend hobby, others do it as their full-time job. Joanne Adler -- a 35-year flea market veteran based out of the massive Rose Bowl Market in California -- says that's a huge factor on whether or not you'll be able to get the price of an item down. "What I'm selling is not my only source of income, so I don't have to sell something if I don't think I'm getting the right price for it," Adler says. Other people who depend on what they sell at the market that day to support themselves may be more willing to deal.

    Bargain by... Being Polite
    Sellers expect you to try to haggle with them -- it's part of the whole flea market experience. What they don't like is you rolling up to your booth like you're the only person in the place with a $20 bill in your pocket. "As far as I'm concerned, customers are doing me a favor by coming by my booth, so I don't have a problem with them trying to negotiate prices," says Adler. "What really makes me angry is when someone will start an offer out with, 'I'll give you...'" In this scenario, you're dictating the worth of a seller's item to them, and guess what? That's rude. "I'm much more likely to deal if someone says, 'I really love this piece, but it's more than I can afford' and then make me an offer from there." Adjust your attitude and throw out a compliment. You'll be surprised how far it gets you.

    Bargain by... Remembering That Timing is Everything
    Never underestimate the innate laziness that lurks in all of us. "Most sellers get more desperate as the day wears on," says Halpern. "If you shop closer to dusk/close, they're going to be more likely to bargain, because whatever you buy is just one less thing they'll have to pack up and drag home."

    Haggle on, dealmeister, haggle on. And make sure to tell us in the comments or on Facebook -- what's the best deal you've ever haggled?

    And now that you've got flea markets on the brain...
    Our Picks: Top 5 Flea Markets in the Country
    The Best Flea Markets in the World
    Flea Market Finds Done Right

    By Amanda Waas


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    Beloved fashion designer Alexander Wang announced that he's bringing his effortless chic aesthetic to home decor. Here's what we hope it will look like.

    Alexander Wang has seen much success in the fashion world, so we weren't surprised when we heard that he was launching a home line. Home decor is often a natural extention for fashion designers -- Take Diane Von Furstenberg, Christian Siriano and Cynthia Vincent. From Wang, we're expecting designs that are as casually cool as his ready-to-wear collection. And maybe a few surprises, like the mink fur hammock, which is hanging in his Manhattan flagship store.

    The designer told W magazine: "I'm actually working on - or, well, coming soon, I should say - special desk accessories and home lifestyle pieces ... Our own custom Moleskine notebooks and little table lighters and that sort of thing."

    We're so excited that we can't stop imagining what an Alexander Wang Home line will look like. Here's what we'd want to see when he unveils his homewares collection.

    These neutral pants splashed with abstract, floral-like designs would look lovely on, say, a pillow, plates or linens.

    alexander-wang-homeShopbop; Urban Outfitters

    A pop of color on a rainy day -- Yes, please! And how about in the living room with this boho-chic pouf?

    For more great ShelterPop stories, don't miss:
    How to Haggle at Flea Markets
    Guess What Color Saved This Bedroom


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    A standard-as-can-be kitchen gets a pop art-inspired new look thanks to the most creative use for posters we've ever seen.

    We've seen a lot of kitchen makeovers. There's Modern kitchen makeovers and retro makeovers. There's wife-mandated kitchen makeovers, and birthday wish makeovers that maximize space in small kitchens (and big kitchens), makeovers that make the best use of white and makeovers that blow you away with color.

    But we've never seen a makeover like this.

    Designer Jonathan Fong is a man who makes centerpieces out of paint cans and candles out of Spam containers. So how on earth could he live with a kitchen as blah and standard as this white one?

    color kitchen makeoverPerfectly nice, but perfectly boring. Photo: Jonathan Fong.

    So naturally, when it came to redoing this white box, he went above and beyond paint. Fong found a slew of Andy Warhol posters for 40% off and instead of buying them to frame, he took it to the next level: Decoupaging them onto his ultra-plain white laminate cabinets.

    jonathon fong style kitchen makeover picture color kitchen makeoverPhotographs by Jason Radspinner of Image Locations, Inc.

    How do you walk into this room and not grin and say "Wow!"? Really. Even after a long day at the office or coming in from the pouring rain. We know Fong has his haters -- he told the LA Times that people are constantly asking him how he lives -- or cooks -- with such a loud kitchen. But what we love even more than his top-tier creativity is his amazing attitude. "Why do you think I'm so skinny?" he says to anyone who wonders how he eats in a place like this (ha!). And how can you not fall head over heels for a man who approached his redesign with the question "What can I do to bring joy to my home, so I'm happy whenever I'm in it?"

    We could all learn something from Jonathan Fong -- beyond how to cover our own dull-to-death kitchen cabinets with art prints. We could learn to look at everyday objects through a new lens, to never feel boxed in by the standard options available and to always, always remember that your home needs to make you happy. For him, that means Marilyn Monroe on his drawers. For you, maybe it means an electric pink dish towel. Or even a new kitchen mat in a just-left-of-white hue (we don't judge, neutrals-lovers!) We just hope this kitchen inspires you as much as it inspires us.

    Please, head over to Facebook and tell us: What's the boldest design choice you've made in the kitchen?


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