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    This week, the President and the actress announced their unrealized dream jobs: Architect and interior designer.

    J.D. Pooley; Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

    Can you imagine a parallel universe, where your house is conceptualized by Barack Obama and decorated by Eva Mendes?

    On Thursday, while presenting the Pritzker Architecture Prize, President Obama said: "My interest in architecture goes way back. There was a time when I thought I could be an architect, where I expected to be more creative than I turned out, so I had to go into politics instead."

    The next day, Eva Mendes told a reporter: "If I wasn't an actress, I'd be an interior designer. From the actual architecture to designing it decoratively. It's really challenging but I love it."

    Would you hire either of them for your home?


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    The humble aluminum foil pan gets upgraded to shining decor by this clever artist.

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

    foil pans

    Designer and artist Idan Friedman of Israel's Reddish Studio has created a series of portraits embossed on aluminum foil pans. Friedman via IIHIH

    All the people featured in "Ordinary People and Disposable Objects" are part of his everyday life, ranging from close friends to passers-by.

    Idan Friedman via IIHIH

    Idan Friedman via IIHIH

    Looking for more weird design? Check out:
    Decorating With Barbie: How Weird Will You Get?

    Would You Wear Your Furniture on Your Sleeve? (Or Stomach, Or Knuckles?)
    Decorate With... Manhole Covers?


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    New rule: Before bringing anything new into your house, make sure the things you have are doing their job.

    We're so excited to get a peek inside the new book "The Meghan Method: The Step-By-Step Guide to Decorating Your Home in Your Style." Text by Meghan Carter; Published by Gem Multimedia LLC, distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group.

    Many people assume that when you redecorate you ditch everything and buy all new stuff. But that's not even remotely true. More often than not, you'll find a gem or two among the things you own. Which means you've got to sort through your stuff to see if you have any diamonds in the rough.

    Sometimes, you'll get lucky and have tons of things to reuse. Other times, you'll have none. Either way, it's a good idea to sort. For one, if you find things to reuse, it saves money that you can spend on splurge items. And two, it's convenient. You don't have to schlep around town or spend hours online searching for the perfect item, because you already have it.

    But don't let those two benefits persuade you to keep things you don't truly love.
    When you decorate, the only tools you have are the things you put in your room. That's it. In the end, decorating is just filling a room with objects, and the objects you choose tell the whole story. They're what dictate what you can do in your room. They're what elicit the emotions you want to feel. They're everything, which means you must choose the objects you use in your room wisely.

    So no compromising. Don't hold onto things out of guilt or because they're convenient. Every single item you put in your room must fit the following criteria:

    Furniture and other tools must be...

    Comfortable & Easy to Use. Test the item. Sit on it. Use it. If it doesn't easily work or is terribly uncomfortable, get rid of it. Keep in mind, if you truly love the item, it can be fixed. So don't ditch something you love simply because it wobbles or needs new padding.

    Functionally Necessary. Look at your functional needs sheet. If you don't see the item on your list, ask yourself if you forgot to include it. If not, it needs to go. You don't need it.

    Congruent with Your Emotional Wants. Look at each item and see if its characteristics are similar to those listed on your muse and style sheets. If not, it's not right for your room.

    If they are, ask yourself if you like the item. Keep in mind, you can have things reupholstered and refinished in different colors. So focus on the shape and texture of the item - not its color or pattern.

    If you're having a tough time deciding, move the item to another room. Seeing it in a new setting will help you to see it with fresh eyes. Why? The stuff around your item influence the way it looks to you. So it may be the combination of it with your current decor that you don't like - not the item itself.

    Decorative accessories must be...

    Congruent with Your Emotional Wants. See above.

    If a piece doesn't fit those criteria, it's not right for your room. Get rid of it. Give it to a friend. Donate it to charity. Sell it at a garage sale, on eBay or Craigslist.

    Of course, saying that is easy. Actually doing it, that's another story. Especially when we're talking about getting rid of Grandma's rocker or a painting from a dear friend - even if we never liked them in the first place. But remember, it's the memories and sentiment we've attached to those things - not so much the things themselves. And while you may feel like you're losing a piece of the past, you're really trading in for the future. The "what could be."

    If you're feeling guilty, take photos and videos of the item before sending it off. Or do what my Granny did - keep it in the attic, and only bring it out when that person comes to visit.

    Either way, get all the things that don't fit functionally and emotionally out of your room. That way, you'll have space for all the things you want and need.
    So get to it. Sort all of your items - your furniture, accessories, light fixtures and everything else - into three groups: the keepers, the maybes and the goners.

    The Keepers. Without a doubt, these things perfectly fit all of the necessary criteria. They're the items you truly love.

    Make a list of all those keepers. Take a picture of each one. Write down each depth, width and height. Make note if any need repairs, refinishing or reupholstery.

    The Maybes. These things fit all of the necessary criteria, but you're not in love with them. However, you don't hate them either. If your budget is tight or you can't find anything better, these items could work.

    Make a list of all those maybes. Take a picture of each one. Write down each item's depth, width and height. Make note if any needs repairs, refinishing or reupholstery.

    The Goners. These are the things that don't fit the necessary criteria and need to go. For each, decide whether it can be used elsewhere in your home, or if it should be given to a friend, donated or sold.

    If you're looking for more great DIY decorating advice, pick up "The Meghan Method: The Step-By-Step Guide to Decorating Your Home in Your Style."

    Or check out some of our favorite decorating stories:
    Want to Look Younger? Start With Your Home

    How to Decorate: Start With a Statement Rug


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    Before the dog days of summer kick in -- and the kids start shouting that they're bored -- Carter shows you how an old tire can easily be recycled into a fun and functional backyard tire swing. All it takes are a few simple tools, basic materials and a shady tree, then you'll be in the swing of things in no time flat.


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    Decorating a room from scratch is overwhelming. The solution? Pick one piece to start with and we'll guide you through the rest.

    Starting Piece: Statement rug. Bayou Plumage Rug, $498, Anthropologie).

    The great thing about starting with a statement rug is that you've got your color palette built-in. It may seem like a risky move but it actually will make the rest of your decorating process much easier.

    Step 1: Color Coordinate

    Pick out two colors from the rug: One bold, one tame. Bring in one piece of furniture and one accessory in these colors. Here, we used the bold color for an accent (Cylinder pendant light by Oilo, $149, Design Public) and the more tame hue for furniture (Hyde Loveseat, starting at $1,699, Ethan Allen).

    Step 2: Bring in Textures

    Rooms can't survive on color alone. Pick two textures from the following list: Glass, mirror, wood, leather, fur, ribbon, metal, plastic, enamel, stone, cork, wicker. Then choose two more pieces of furniture/accessories in those materials. Here, we used a mirrored coffee table ($130, Target) and wood chair (J chair by Roost, $413, Velocity).

    Step 3: Bring in Patterns

    This is tricky when you're working off of a piece that already has a big pattern. Think small and think simple. A throw pillow's the perfect piece to try -- and make sure the color palette is safe. By jumping off the base color in this navy rug and keeping the pattern simple, this throw pillow (Chevron Stripe pillow, $62, decoYellow, Etsy) adds flair without overwhelming the room.

    Need help matching things up? Check out this simple guide:


    Check back next Monday when we show you how to decorate a bedroom around a duvet. Or if you have a piece you're struggling to build a room around, let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

    And check out these other decorating how-to's:
    Want to Look Younger? Start With Your Home

    Decorating Styles 101: Flirty

    Decorating an Empty Room


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    Soon-to-be daytime talk show host Katie Couric shows off her weekend place.

    Things we learned from Hamptons Cottages & Gardens' story about Katie Couric's house: First, that Couric has a sister ... an award-winning landscape architect that created the home's lush, elegant landscapes (and treated little sister Katie the same as any of her other clients in the process).

    katie-couric-houseKeith Scott Morton for Hamptons Cottages & Gardens

    Next, that Katie's design style -- and approach to decorating -- is super low-fuss. From her requirements ("casual and relaxed") to the design process ("a casual, unrushed collaboration with decorator Eric Hughes") to the ease of the slipcovered sofas and playful shell-framed mirror, it's clear that this is a house meant to be lived in, not just admired.

    katie-couric-houseKeith Scott Morton for Hamptons Cottages & Gardens

    Last: That despite all the great pieces in the home -- an antique drum table, a collection of bugles -- the best part is the pool.

    katie-couric-houseKeith Scott Morton for Hamptons Cottages & Gardens

    Want to see more? Check out the full story in Cottages & Gardens online or pick up the issue on newsstands now!


    Looking for more enviable homes? Check out...
    House of Worship: Erin Fetherston's Closet

    House of Worship: Ruschmeyer's Hotel
    House of Worship: Hotel Missoni Kuwait


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    Can high-end laundry detergent make washing your clothes feel less like of a chore? I took $21.50 glass bottles to the laundry room to investigate.

    I'll admit it -- when I first laid eyes on the Good Home Co.'s Line Dried detergent, I thought it was a bottle of something expensive and delicious -- something to drizzle over food or sip delicately. When I learned that the glass bottle housed laundry bubbles I nearly choked on my coffee.

    I'm a no-frills kind of girl when it comes to my laundry rituals. Those intensely orange plastic jugs suit me just fine. However, there is something enticing about detergent that's 100% vegan and cruelty-free, one that "captures the refreshing and natural beauty of clothing dried outdoors." Living in a small apartment with no outdoor space, there's not much of an opportunity to air dry clothes, so I might as well take the opportunity to smell like I have a country house.

    The writer takes the glass bottles for a spin. Photo: Danielle Krauthamer.

    Off I went to the laundry room, glass bottles in tow. I figured I'd get a few stares, but lucky for me, the only other people there were three men transfixed by Game three of the NBA Playoffs ... perhaps I would go unnoticed.

    Not likely.

    The detergent and fragrance. Photos: The Good Home Co.

    "Why are you bringing liquor into the laundry room?" asked one older gentleman. Flustered, I fibbed: "I'm trying it out for my mom!" (The laundry detergent, that is.) Later, when I asked a woman if she would use the product, she commented that it looked a little bit pricey for her, and I suddenly felt self-conscious. At $21.50 a bottle, it's a little pricey for me, too. If I had that kind of cash to drop on laundry, I'd send mine out to be washed, dried and folded while I sipped something else out of a glass bottle in the privacy of my own home.

    The result? My clothes still had that slightly starchy feel that only comes from HE machines, but did smell a shade more lemon-y than usual. Refreshing, yes. But you still won't find me poppin' bottles while doing laundry again -- unless I'm handwashing my clothes in the Tuscan countryside.

    Looking for more cleaning products? Check out...
    Get More Closet Space (Today!)

    Clean Your Floors With Colorful Supplies
    Laundry Room Ideas: Cheer Up Your Chores


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  • 06/07/11--05:49: Boutique of the Week: Pieces
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    Don't let yourself fall into a shopping rut. Instead, explore some of the best boutiques around the country. Today: Pieces in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Lee Kleinhelter's seven-year-old shop in Atlanta's Buckhead district has such a glamorous, movie star-off-duty feel to it that if it weren't for the space's inherent southern charm, you'd swear it was an LA import. Here's a snapshot of how she makes it work, in her own words.

    1. What's your best-selling product?
    There's never one single item, it changes constantly. Recently, customers love our exclusive custom-made oversized, odd shaped pendants. And they've always come to us for unique, updated vintage pieces and great accessories; they come for the Pieces style & look.

    2. What keeps customers coming back?
    The past seven years we've strived to build good relationships and remain accommodating and helpful to everyone. The relationships with our customers, designers and editors over time have made a huge impact on my business. We have a lot of customers come in for inspiration, to pet our dog Rider and just to say hello. We love building these relationships. (And, of course, Rider loves being the super star.)

    3. Fun fact:
    Pieces is the result of me being slightly obsessed with design and furniture, mixed with a lot of OCD. I constantly walk around, perfecting everything in the store ... and at home. I think I've even created a cleaning mini-me in my two-year-old son, Holden, who loves his fake mini vacuum. Hopefully it's not just a phase!


    On ShelterPop's wishlist: Rope Handled Lucite Cube, $985.

    Pieces is located at 3234-A Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA. And psst, fellow non-Atlanta residents -- Pieces will launch their e-commerce site soon! Get excited...


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    What's more intimidating than a big empty wall? The endless options of photographs, drawings, screenprints and shadowboxes out there. We're making it a little easier by zeroing in on our favorites.

    For the past five years, every budding interior designer and their best friend was plastering their walls with the now infamous 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster. First seen in red, then green and pink, then with alternate (and sometimes hilarious) catchphrases, it was almost more than a design choice, it was nearly a movement. The one problem with that design movement? It didn't actually do anything other than make your walls look really pretty.

    The 'Art for Joplin' project is the answer to our prayers. In the same vein as the punchy 'Keep Calm' posters, Moosylvania's super-cute designs center on the themes of love and help, each one declaring a message of hope for Joplin, Missouri, the town at the center of the recent tornado.

    All 16 of the 18" by 24" screenprints run for just $25 each with proceeds benefiting the United Way fund for Small Business in Joplin. Stop by Mooslyvania's shop for more info and to hang one of these beautiful limited-edition prints on your wall.


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  • 06/08/11--01:33: Father's Day Gifts From Etsy
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    Father's Day gifts that go far beyond the standard mug.

    Check out this great story from our friends at CasaSugar!


    Don't forget - Father's Day is coming up quickly. Make sure to mark your calendars in time to get Dad's gift in the mail or ready to be shipped for celebrating on Sunday, June 19. This year, why not add something to improve Dad's home style? Whether you live with the dad in question and will directly benefit from some handsome bedding and accessories, or will be shipping the gift across the country, it's sure to be appreciated. See some of my favorite Etsy finds for Father's Day - from the practical to the ultimate wish-list gifts.

    fathers-day-giftsEtsy via CasaSugar

    Encourage the dad in your life to stop texting and start crafting handwritten notes with this Canary Wood Pen and Pencil Set ($42).

    fathers-day-giftsEtsy via CasaSugar

    The home-chef dads out there will appreciate some kitchen towels not printed with florals, like these Menswear Cotton Dishtowels ($20).

    fathers-day-giftsEtsy via CasaSugar

    Is your dad a numbers geek? Encourage some cocktail hour math conversations with these Pi Old Fashioned Glasses ($47 for a set of four).

    fathers-day-giftsEtsy via CasaSugar

    Retro camping dads will be tickled by this Vintage Czech Mess Kit ($58). Pack it up for a weekend trip in the Airstream, and then use the stacking boxes as chic storage on the home front.

    Looking for more great gift ideas? See the rest of the picks on CasaSugar. Or check out...
    Artists and DIYers Transform the Ubiquitous White Lawn Chair
    Kathryn Ireland Shares Her Favorite Inspiring Spaces!


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  • 06/08/11--09:01: Plant of the Week: Clematis
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    Each week, bring something new to your garden/windowsill/favorite vase -- and impress your friends with your ahead-of-the-curve picks.

    clematisClematis viticella "Etoile Violet". Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Plant vining clematis for vertical blooms. Try it in pots, in full sun, or in-ground, where it can grow up and over arbors, air conditioners or shrubs, like roses. Over 200 species of clematis are divided into three groups based on their cultivation requirements: "Etoile Violette" (violet star) belongs to Group 3, meaning that it blooms on this year's growth, and flowers in early summer, with reblooming through fall. Prune in spring for more shoots and a better root system. And for more clematis info, check out the American Clematis Society.

    Looking for more gardening ideas? See:
    Green Spotlight: A Lily Garden
    Plant of the Week: Edible Amelanchier
    What Plants Grow in Full Shade?


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    Tonight, Anthony Weiner's bringing home a Jonathan Adler gift bag. Here's what should -- and shouldn't -- be inside.

    Gregory P Mango / Splash News

    Over at Daily Intel, they're taking guesses as to what's in that big blue and green Jonathan Adler bag that Anthony Weiner is bringing home. Us, we're more concerned about what should be in there. Is there any decor that says "Sorry for sending obscene photos of myself to women on the internet and then lying about it"?

    Um, nope. Then again, congressman Weiner has proved recently to not have the best judgment. So here's our handy guide:

    Charade Moulding Frame; Enamel Clover Frame. Both from Jonathan Adler.

    Picture frames. We see the appeal. Pop in a photo of your happy family and bring back good memories, yes? Maybe. We'll leave that part up to you. Just remember this: Stick with frames with no sharp corners. In case your plan backfires. At your head.

    "It Wasn't Me" Pillow; "You're Right" Pillow Both from Alexandra Ferguson.

    Expression Pillows. A risky move. Anything even remotely cheeky and/or bed-related is risky. Alexandra Ferguson's "It Wasn't Me" Pillow pillow is probably the worst idea ever. But the "You're Right" version is at least appropriately groveling.

    Joyce Bud Vase; Rubber Vase. Both from CB2.

    Vases. Filled with flowers. This is probably the no-brainer of the bunch. But have you made sure that your vase is big enough for the amount of flowers your transgression calls for? And is it sturdy enough to be hurled across the room? Glass bud vase? No. 8" high rubber vase? Yes.


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    It's a big day for modern design fans: Allegra Hicks and West Elm launch a clean-lined, nature-inspired collection. Here's how to shop it before it's in stores.

    west-elm-allegra-hicksWest Elm

    Been holding out to buy a new chair? Nice work. Because you're going to be glad you saved a spot for the stunning seats from the brand new Allegra Hicks for West Elm collection. At $499 a piece, the classic Greek Klismos and cozy round armchair look far more expensive in Hicks' bold prints and soothing palette.

    No room for more furniture? We feel your pain, but don't put down your credit card just yet. There are pillows, window panels, fabric by the yard and most exciting, some dreamy rugs that start at $39. ELLE DECOR has a preview -- and link to shop the collection before anyone else. Get over there!

    Looking for more collaboration news?


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    Great design doesn't exist in a vacuum. So we're interviewing designers about the inspiration and motivation behind their most innovative pieces.

    Anyone else might be satisfied with a successful career as a writer and magazine editor. But Christopher Tennant, author of The Official Filthy Rich Handbook and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has a new, quirkier line on his resume: Dioramist. The longtime collector of curiosities launched his line of aquatic cases at Haus Interior, the New York City shop of designer and fellow taxidermy enthusiast Nina Freudenberger. "I love the dark themes within the cases juxtaposed with bright, vibrant colors in the background," Freudenberger told us. "They're a huge hit in the store. People can't get enough!"

    Christopher Tennant and Nina Freudenberger pose together at Haus. Photo: David X Prutting,

    Wondering exactly how these cases came to be? Us too. So we went straight to the source...

    ShelterPop: What chic cases! What lead you to the medium?

    Christopher Tennant: I've been a collector all my life. When I was a kid, it was shells, fossils, butterflies, coins, the usual boy stuff. About ten years ago, I started buying old taxidermy on the cheap and fixing it up myself. I'd been thinking about making a cased Victorian-style diorama and after falling down a rabbit hole on eBay searching for Megalodon teeth and then finding a perfect-sized wine crate, I gave it a try. After several weekends of trial and error, I had something resembling the boxes I'd been collecting, and friends told me I should make more.

    ShelterPop: Why sea creatures?

    Christopher Tennant: I'd never seen an underwater diorama before -- aside from cases with a single trophy fish -- and liked the fact that you could play with movement, light and the general mystery of the ocean. Almost all of the materials are from Long Island, where my girlfriend and I spend a lot of our time. The more exotic fish are from an island in the Phillipines. They have a small trade in marine species that get snared in fisherman's nets and would otherwise be thrown away. I'm recycling, basically.

    ShelterPop: How do you balance your artwork with writing?

    Christopher Tennant: The cases began as a weekend hobby and have mostly remained that, but it helps that all of my tools and materials are out in Long Island. During the week I focus on writing and editing and leave the fun stuff for my off hours.

    ShelterPop: What challenges did you run into creating these?

    Christopher Tennant: Too many to list, really. Weight was an issue with the first one, but only because I was using real sand for the base instead of papier mâché covered in sand. I definitely made it a lot harder for myself by not studying the techniques of taxidermy beforehand, but that's also what's made it interesting. With each case I learned a little bit about what not to do. The biggest challenge and source of anxiety comes at the end. After you seal a case under glass, there's no turning back.

    ShelterPop: I'm guessing you have some fantastic stories about building dioramas a kid.

    Christopher Tennant: Not too many, though I've always been fascinated by them. My diorama-building experience was mostly confined to shoeboxes, though I did make a pilgrim scene once with little green trees and a toothpick cabin. Wish I still had it.

    ShelterPop: What's next? Will we see bigger aquatic cases? Jungle cases? Downtown NYC cases?

    Since completing this first series I've started building both larger and smaller cases from scratch and collecting more specimens, but I've been thinking about the desert -- I have a stuffed armadillo hanging around in need of a home.

    Inside Haus Interior. Photo: Haus Interior

    We also asked both Tennant and Freudenberger if we could expect a possible collaboration -- after all, wouldn't her glamorous, moody interiors look exquisite in diorama form? "That would be a dream. I would love nothing more," she said. And Tennant is on the same page, admitting that he's thought this through and would use the designer's brown and cream zig-zag pattern.

    Those pilgrims from his grade school diorama would be jealous. And yes, so are we. Who wouldn't want to live in such a stunning space?

    Looking for more interviews? Check out:
    Q&A With ELLE DÉCOR's Michael Boodro

    Q&A With Sir James Dyson

    West Elm and PATCH NYC Come Together


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    "I love my bright white kitchen. But it can feel a little cold. How can I give it more personality?" -Mary-Paula Allegart

    Sometimes, in our quest for creating the perfect home, things end up looking a little too perfect. And that kind of extreme decluttering can translate to an impersonal, almost sterile look. Lucky for the Allegarts, we were able to bring in just a few cozy touches that made a world of difference. Curtains in casual cotton, a low-key rug and chair covers set the tone, while small accessories like pot holders, dish towels and placemats tie the look together. Now, the kitchen still looks tidy and put-together ... but it's much more welcoming and comfortable. Want to pull up a seat?

    Watch our other Minute Makeovers for more great ideas!


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    The fashion designer branches out with his first collection of glassware.


    Swedish company Orrefors is offering up a haute new take on their signature hand-blown glassware. Karl Lagerfeld's collection is, as you'd expect, sleek and glossy pieces in his signature color palette of milky white, black and crystal. A few pieces even have his special touch: An engraved monogram. No, not your monogram, though. His. Anyone KLs out there would be smart to add this to their wishlist. The collection includes glasses -- from flutes to coupes to water glasses -- as well as vases, bowls and coasters.

    The collection is beautiful, no doubt about it. But the quotes from Lagerfeld in this video are kind of the best part. He describes one glass as a "freestanding geometric cloud" and reveals that not only does he hate to drink diet coke out of heavy or cheap glasses, but that plastic cups are even unacceptable while traveling. "Even when you're on the road, if you're spoiled like me, you carry a little box with your own glass."
    The collection hits stores September 1st. But in the meantime, watch this video about the process, and to get more Lagerfeld gems.


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    Sick of hitting the snooze button? Four designers show us how to decorate a bedroom that you'll love waking up to.

    Last week we explored how your home can make you look younger. Now, we're putting it to work again. Because who doesn't want to wake up a little easier, a little happier, a little more ... awake? We reached out to the New York Design Center's new Access to Design designers to get their thoughts and tips.

    Joan Michaels of 2Michaels Design shares how she made her own bedroom morning-friendly:
    "Moving the freestanding bed against the windows opened up the room. Pillows add a finishing touch to the bed, flowers add a splash of color to the room. Instead of a large piece of art, a composition of smaller framed works can personalize and fill a wall. With a Southern exposure, the morning light floods in from behind the bed."

    Michelle Slovak is all about comfort and calm.
    "Life is hectic and our living spaces have become multi purpose ... so why not create a spa-like bedroom? Start with soothing walls -- paint them the color of pale leaves (or crystal clear aqua surf). Try island-inspired touches like a bamboo and caned bed, soft lighting and comfy linens. Fill the bookcase with objects that you love; baskets or beautiful vessels. Clutter? Get it out of there! Studies show that the less clutter in the bedroom, the better we sleep."

    John Chadwick is focused on the items just adjacent to your bed.
    "For me, the ideal bedroom to wake up in has a padded headboard so that I can sit up in bed, read the morning newspaper and drink coffee while I watch the news on a discreet yet convenient television. My BlackBerry charger is conveniently within reach on the bedside table which is large enough to hold my Kindle, recent publications that I am behind on reading, some pretty flowers and a pad and pencil."

    And Vanessa De Leon shares her favorite bedroom.
    "The color palette for this space are rich in golds, beiges, and creams -- it transform the room into a tranquil escape. The layers of Dupioni silk curtains, Hunter Douglas shades and gold chandelier make this one of my overall favorite opulent bedrooms. Who wouldn't want to wake up here?"

    Looking for more problem-solving home ideas? Check out:
    How to Decorate: Start With a Statement Rug
    Decorating Styles 101: Flirty
    Decorating an Empty Room


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    Like any great room, a great garden needs to balance style and substance. Here, the spaces that do it right.

    Sidewalk garden on Union Street, Brooklyn. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    A pottery studio in Brooklyn greens the sidewalk in a semi-industrial neighborhood. That eclectic mix of containers -- terra cotta, wood and cement -- echoes the materials and colors in the building as well as the sidewalk itself. Even the dark pots mimic the manhole covers!

    An impressive collection of plants is contained in a small space: Wisteria and honeysuckle add vertical interest, growing up burglar bars; low maintenance grasses, lamb's ears, datura, tradescantia and sedum weather the hot southern exposure well. Purple wood sorrel in the windowboxes may have a harder time of it, in the heat of summer. Blackberries, tomatoes and herbs round off the planting, effectively combining edible elements with the ornamental. The flamboyant repeated stripes of the awning, the pop of the orange door and the pale blue burglar bars turn an ordinary facade into something memorable, the use of color pulling the spread-out garden together.

    Looking for more gardening ideas? Check out:
    Plant of the Week: Clematis

    Plant of the Week: Edible Amelanchier
    Green Spotlight: A Lily Garden


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    Why should picnic baskets have all the fun? We joined forces with StyleList to round-up the best raffia accessories, from shoes to rugs.

    Courtesy photos

    Mesh and Canvas Wooden Espadrilles by Stella McCartney, $223, NET-A-PORTER.

    Zizi Original Oxford by Repetto, $265, La Garçonne.

    Rattan Minaudiere by Tory Burch, $275, Neiman Marcus.

    Jute-Shade Pendant Light by Jamie Young, $395, Horchow.

    David Stark Zebra Rug, $129, West Elm.

    Raffia Silver-Plated Frames, starting at $31, Pottery Barn.

    Looking for more product round-ups? Check out...
    On the Hunt: Flat Screen TV Stands

    On the Hunt: Kid-Friendly Coffee Tables
    On the Hunt: Eco-Friendly Lighting


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    Forget a low-key family room -- one Florida family is building a home theater that's entirely tricked out in pirate paraphernalia.

    These images may be digitally rendered, but they're the blueprints for Elite Home Theater Seating, the company building this over-the-top pirate cove for a Palm Beach-based family.

    What exactly does $2.5 million buy you? Apparently a tavern, ship wheel, paved entrance and ticket booth, all in your own home. And we're guessing the respect of your pirate-obsessed children.

    pirate home theaterPhoto: Elite Home Theater Seating, REX USA

    Take a look at these wild photos and then tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook: Would you want a spare-no-expense home theater? Or is this far too nuts for your taste?

    pirate home theaterPhoto: Elite Home Theater Seating, REX USA

    pirate home theaterPhoto: Elite Home Theater Seating,REX USA

    pirate home theaterPhoto: Elite Home Theater Seating, REX USA

    pirate home theaterPhoto: Elite Home Theater Seating, REX USA

    Looking for more crazy design? Check out:
    Weird Designs: Decorate With... Manhole Covers?

    Decorating With Barbie: How Weird Will You Get?
    Weird Design: Lamps with Hair


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