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    Whether it's with a spouse, significant other or roommate, it can be tough to share a space. Try these design ideas to ease the squeeze.

    The living room is supposed to be a spot to unwind, yet I find that difficult to do when my boyfriend, who shares the house with me, is on the couch strumming his electric guitar. Conversely, he can't seem to relax with a novel when I'm glued to my medical-drama television shows, which I watch from the living room. (Dr. McSteamy cutting up in the E.R. isn't compatible to the historical-fiction novels he enjoys reading.)

    In a house with only five rooms to hang out in, having a sense of privacy and solitude is tough. Who wants to hang out on top of the bedspread on a Saturday afternoon? Sit at your computer to watch DVDs after you've hacked away at an office keyboard for eight hours? Or spread your papers out on the kitchen or dining-room tables after a meal?

    I've determined that the problem isn't us. It's our living room's design. Envisioning nights where we'd cuddle up and watch a movie, or entertain friends with wine before dinner, every furniture piece was arranged in a conversation area. Cozy and intimate, yes, but what if we occasionally want to -- gasp! -- live separate lives in the same room? Because my knitting on the rocking chair means I am also a guest at my boyfriend's mini concert session. It hearkens back to my college days when sequestered in my bedroom away from my roommates was the only space where I could sit in silence - or in privacy.

    Like any modern couple -- and this goes for roommates and families too -- we crave a living room that speaks to us and our separate interests. So how do you arrange an entertainment center, comfy couches and armchairs, and a flat surface area in one tiny space? Here are eight design tips to get you started.


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  • 06/04/10--12:13: Weekly Link Love
  • Pink, genius kitchen inventions and terrariums...What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    It's official: Adorable babies are the absolute best decorating trick we've seen all month. [Design Mom]

    Janel from Apartment Therapy got a PINK dining table. That's right, pink. Commence envy immediately and check out these cute accessories she picked out for it. [Apartment Therapy]

    Spools as hooks: genius! Hits the big 3 Cs: charming, crafty, CHEAP. [Design*Sponge]

    Two kitchen accessories that we wish we'd invented: Trio Lasagna Pan & Microphone Tongs [both from Swiss Miss]

    Keep Calm & Carry On has officially hit its breaking point. Maison 21 found a Target knock-off. [Maison 21]

    Holy Moly! You have to roll this house (literally push it) to get to the different rooms. Um... [Furniture Fashion]

    The New York Times tackles terrariums...and has us craving a miniature green space to call our own. [New York Times]

    While we're technically happy to spread the word about the giveaway version of our fave Oh Joy! column, we kind of hope you guys don't enter, so we have a better chance of winning. Kidding! Kind of! [Oh Joy!]


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  • 06/04/10--12:13: Daily Upper: Love Rocks
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    D. Sharon Pruitt, Pink Sherbert Photography, Flickr

    Looking for love everywhere you go? You'll find it in some unlikely places.


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    The clothesline is still creating controversy, even today when energy prices are skyrocketing, the practice is banned. Photo: Erix!, Flickr

    Is it still a stigma to use a clothesline or is air-drying making a comeback?

    The simple clothesline is getting a lot of press lately: People either love it or hate it, and that controversy is heating up now that it's warm outside. Many private communities have banned the use of clotheslines because they believe it makes an area appear to be poor, according to an article on Time magazine's Money blog. Another article in The New York Times reported that even a trailer park forbid one of its residents from hanging her laundry.

    However, now that frugality rules, clotheslines are gaining the upper hand. There's even a documentary film in the making about the right-to-dry movement, which is called Drying for Freedom, to be released in late 2010. (You can see the trailer here.)

    We researched the reasons why people love or hate the clothesline, and here are some answers:

    Pro-clothesline folks love air drying because it shaves significant money off of electric bills (in fact, according to Time, dryers account for about 15% of domestic energy). Clothesline fans also say clothing smells fresher and does not wear out as fast. Plus, whites are brighter when dried in the sun.

    On the other hand, anti-clothesline activists say outdoor drying makes allergies worse by capturing dander on fabric. They also claim air drying is a hassle, complaining it takes too much time to hang clothing, that clothes fall off line and need to be rewashed, that garments feels "crunchy" after it dries a line and that the line itself is difficult to install. Plus, they're worried their neighbors will think a clothesline is an eyesore and that clothesline users can't afford an electric dryer. Lastly both clothesline haters and those of us who love clotheslines are not too fond of the love affair that bugs and birds have with hanging clothing.

    So, if you want to put up a clothesline, but you're still stuck on any lingering stigma, there are a couple of options. You can find some streamlined products, such as the aesthetically-pleasing retractable clothesline. Or, you can just tell any neighbors who are giving you the hairy eyeball that you are installing a solar clothes dryer. Who can argue with that?


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  • 06/04/10--12:13: Growing Thyme
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    Common thyme flowers. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Our writer shares her favorite four species of thyme -- a versatile, high-performing herb.

    One of my favorite memories is of walking up a sloping lawn in the Haute Savoie region of France and smelling the air. Thyme. I could not figure out where it was coming from, until I looked down. The grass was full of naturalized thyme plants in bloom. The next day I saw the lawn mowed with a little tractor and the air buzzed with the heady scent of the herb and angry bees.

    Thyme plants require two things: full sun (6 hours plus) and excellent drainage. They hate having wet feet and will grow spindly in the shade. They do not need rich soil, prefer no fertilizer, and will reward neglect with fragrant and delicious leaves and flowers.

    There are many different species of thyme, so I will detail the four I love best.

    Common thyme has a misleading botanical name: Thymus vulgaris. So unfair. There is nothing vulgar about this best-known of thymes and the work horse of the kitchen herb community. I have harvested common thyme from the pots on my frozen balcony in the middle of winter in USDA Zone 6b, and I have enjoyed its tiny flowers in late spring. It is always there for me and livens up stews, pizzas, roasts and soups. I have used bunches of thyme, steeped in boiling water, to sooth an aching throat, and have picked the 10" flowering stems to add to small posies of flowers for the table. In short, it performs.

    Lemon thyme. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) is heavy on the citrus scent, and I use it sparingly in savory cooking. It lends itself well to teas and tisanes: Add a sprig to your favorite tea for a subtle flavor, or a small handful to boiling water in a teapot and allow it to steep before drinking. Lemon thyme leaves added to cookie and cake mixes are a fragrant alternative to lemon zest. Sometimes I put a bunch in my bathwater, where it perfumes the steam with its freshness.

    Woolly Thyme. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosis) is a creeping, furry-leafed silver thyme which makes the best outdoor carpet I have seen. It invites you to run your hand over its tiny leaves and gives off that unmistakable thyme scent when you do. It is a great groundcover for in between stepping stones or for shallow planters as an interest-point. It is an alternative for lawns in areas of full sun, superb drainage, and where very little or light foot traffic is expected. Avoid it when in flower or the bees will take it personally. Bees love thyme. Unless you have an allergy, this is a very good thing, as our honey bees need all the help they can get at the moment.

    Elfin thyme. Photo: Alan McClelland

    Finally, for cuteness, who can resist the tiny Elfin thyme? Thymus serpyllum "Elfin". As its name suggests, it is minute and forms small flat mats in sun or tiny hummocks if it has a little shade. This is the only thyme I know that will tolerate some shade. If you are in the Southwest, this thyme actually welcomes shade. Plant it on its own in a pot and allow it to creep over the edge, use it in stone walls to fill cracks, or tuck between stepping stones.

    Growing thyme? Now use it in the kitchen! Try these yummy recipes from our sister site, KitchenDaily:
    Roasted Thyme Tomatoes
    Lemon Thyme Cookies
    Balsamic Chicken with Thyme
    Thyme and Lemon Pan-Fried Trout
    Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Thyme & Garlic


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    Jeffrey Mayer, WireImage

    The home and design news for the week of May 31 to June 4.

    Oprah and Wallpaper* give you a chance to show off your design chops and there's news good and bad at retail. It's all in this week's home news:

    Ballard Designs waited a long time before doing any designer collaborations, but items from its collaboration with designer Suzanne Kasler are on the way, including mirrors, wall decor and display shelves.

    Let's say you've been sitting around thinking, "Hey, I have good taste: I could do a show on interior design." Well, Oprah Winfrey is giving you a chance to make that happen.

    That's not the only way you can potentially show your stuff: Wallpaper* magazine has an online app that lets you make your own cover for the August issue.

    Rumors of Pier 1 Imports' death were greatly exaggerated as the retailer continues its turnaround.

    If you happen to be in Frankfurt this summer for the Tendence trade show, expect to see even more indoor and outdoor furniture and decor there making its debut.

    Wow, we didn't know you thought that way! But according to a survey from Consumer Reports, Costco was rated the best place to shop in America by you.

    Be careful with what you paid for: Ikea is issuing a mattress recall and Whirlpool is doing the same for oh, about a million or so dishwashers.

    It's going to be the dawn of a new day at Architectural Digest as longtime Editor in Chief Paige Rense is retiring.

    Sad news for the design world as artist Tobias Wong passes away.


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    Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel Tired of motels and hotels, Kate Pierson created her own little getaway in upstate New York, which takes overnight reservations. "Roam if you want to!" Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    Take at peek at this retro-mod getaway in upstate New York owned by a famous pop star!

    Every traveling musician needs a place to hunker down and relax; for B-52s Kate Pierson that place is Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel in the Catskills region of New York, a stone's throw from Woodstock. After years of staying at dozens of motels across the country while on tour Kate's finally decided to create the type of retreat she would book in a heartbeat.

    Nestled along Esopus Creek the property, Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel, is a fully functioning vacation stay with six Airstream trailers outfitted as guest quarters and three other rentals: a "cabin," "shack" and "lodge." With the help of artist friends Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker (whose pimped-up home appeared in the "Love Shack" video), Kate has fixed up the varied lodgings with a real focus on the details. Another buddy, Bill Stewart, helped by selecting a groovy color palette.

    Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel"Bubbles" is the name given to this hip Airstream. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    Each Airstream trailer is decorated with a specific theme and has been named; there's "Tinkerbell," "Bubbles," "Tiki," "Hairstream," "Planet Air" and "North to Alaska." The "Bubbles" trailer pops with primary colors with accents of bright, pastel blue. Inside this teeny space are all the usual comforts of a hotel room: a full bed, a TV and DVD player, bathroom and kitchenette. Immediately outside -- and creekside -- is a grill for making dinner, comfy chairs, hammock and a picnic table for soaking up the sun. Guests can even stock the '50s-style kitchen to toast their own bread in the morning or fix a three-course dinner.

    Kate's Lazy Meadow MotelCute (and tidy) as a button, the "Tinkerbell" Airstream trailer flaunts some contemporary color to complement a retro vibe. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel
    "Tinkerbell" is cute but sassy. Note the black/white funky floor tile and the geometric doors on the entertainment center. It has the same indoor and outdoor amenities as does "Bubbles." We're already dreaming about a siesta in the hammock or Scrabble on the picnic table.

    Kate's Lazy Meadow MotelThe Lazy Cabin, which has three bedrooms, has got midcentury-modern flair in every nook and cranny. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    In addition to Airstream trailers, Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel offers the Lazy Cabin for overnight rentals. Located away from the rest of the property, in the town Lake Hill, it's got three bedrooms, an eat-in galley with a wood stove, gas fireplace in the living room, a deck with a barbecue and a funky decor that may take you back to afternoons spent at your neighbors' 1970s ranch house.

    Kate's Lazy Meadow MotelMore off the beaten path -- but only five miles from the main motel -- The Lazy Lodge would be a great spot to finally finish writing that novel or take your sweetie on a romantic getaway. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    Only a stone wall separates The Lazy Lodge from Woodland Valley Stream. Wade into the water on a sweltering day or simply chill with a book in one of the chairs that overlook the stream. The decor successfully combines mid-century modern details with modern amenities -- like the overhead lighting and cooking areas -- for a comfy, stylish cabin that's unlike any we've ever seen.

    Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    The Lazy Lodge, the property's newest lodging choice, was a design collaboration between Kate and her partner, Monica Coleman. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    Kate Pierson designed The Lazy Lodge with her partner Monica Coleman. The lodge sits five miles away from the rest of the motel on a dead-end road beside the Woodland Valley Stream. With beautiful water views, a huge stone fireplace in the living room and an authentic vintage kitchen, the place is oozing with cabin charm. We love the combo of the aged leather sofa, Native American-inspired pottery and blankets, retro bar stools and wood paneling throughout.

    This ode to one of America's most famous sharpshooters, and a star in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, is outfitted with funky wood paneling but also has a contemporary color palette. Photo: Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel

    Various "Meadow Suites" on the property have unique (and kitschy) themes, such as the "Annie Oakley Suite" (above) and "Daddy's Tiki Hideaway" (below). Some of the Meadow Suites are in a standalone buildings while others share walls with another suite.

    Designed for two people, the Annie Oakley Suite is a place that Kate spent a lot of time decorating because she wanted to get it "right." Right meaning lots of Western details celebrating the famed cowgirl. There is a queen-size bed, full bathroom and shared access to a private back deck with breathtaking mountain views. Seriously, is there a better place to be lazy?

    Kate's Lazy Meadow MotelWith wood paneling, a kidney-bean side table and humungous lamp shades, "Daddy's Tiki Hideaway" screams 1960s. Photo : Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel
    Daddy's Tiki Hideaway is a totally cool throwback to the 1960s with classic black-and-white decor. It's got a bedroom, living room, whirlpool tub in the bathroom and an eat-in kitchen. Everything, and we do mean everything, in this suite is iconic to that era. Carved Tiki-style pieces are on the living-room walls, as are Polynesian-inspired artworks, and the furnishings contain the "chi" (curvy lines in the side table and coffee table, as well as lamp bases) that got many a party started -- and still do today. All that's missing is a dirty martini...


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    Some pattern, a sisal rug and a coat of black paint are just a few easy ingredients to update your living room. Photo: Monica Pedersen

    Save yourself some remodeling money and try these steps for an affordable makeover with impact.

    Interior designer Monica Pedersen has worked on her fair share of living rooms. Monica, whose work has appeared in Domino and the Chicago Tribune, among others, is also a member of the HGTV family, appearing in Designed to Sell, Home for the Holidays, Bang for your Buck and a few other programs. This self-taught designer's experience is far reaching, so when we asked her for some of her best tips for easy living room updates, she jumped right in.

    Bringing a whole new look (or "feel") to your space doesn't require a full-blown makeover, Monica says. Even the simplest of swap outs can alter a room and give it a freshness that feels like new. Take a look at her tips below, and get ready to spruce up your space one simple step at a time.

    Monica Pedersen


    1) Bring old lamps back to life: Just swap out their tired, old shades for a modern drum shade. Drum shades aren't just for contemporary styles, either. Even in a more transitional or traditional home, the look still works -- and a fresh new shade can do wonders to brighten up an interior. Check out the collection of affordable drum shade options at Lamps Plus. Shown below at left: Platinum Grey Dupioni Silk Lamp Shade, $39.99, Lamps Plus.

    2) Paint something black: When you ask many designers for tips on refreshing a room, most might advise to paint a wall or piece of furniture a bright, cheery color. Not Monica. "Paint something black," she says. "A piece of black furniture grounds a space and fits any design style." Try Really Really Black from Benjamin Moore.

    3) Choose accessories that transcend seasons: Artwork and pillows are always a go-to when it comes to simple updates. Instead of using these items to refresh a space just for the season (think: bright colors or summer-themed art), Monica likes to use affordable accents that will have a lasting effect (think: pattern). Wallpaper can be expensive, and patterned area rugs can overwhelm, so instead introduce pattern through throw pillow covers -- and select colors that you won't tire of once the season ends. Shown below, middle: Poppy Pillow Covers, $34 each, West Elm.

    (clockwise from left): Stacked Ball table lamp, $119.99; Platinum Grey Dupioni silk lamp shade, $39.99, Lamps Plus. Silver Hardback fabric drum shade, $20, Lamps Plus. Classic Home Handspun Jute Collection 4x6', $180, RugsUSA. Poppy Pillow Covers, $34 each, West Elm.

    4) Go sisal: Oriental rugs are stunning, but they have a way of making a room feel ancient. Traditional pattern rugs do the same. So Monica recommends hunting down an affordable eco-friendly sisal or mountain grass rug. The style is an easy refresher for a dreary room, especially in the sunny months. Shown above, right: Classic Home Handspun Jute Collection 4x6', $180, RugsUSA

    5) Ask yourself: "What do I really need?" Once you have your answers, making a shopping list. Does your room need some new vases? Or perhaps a tired, worn accent chair needs to be replaced. Even larger items need not break your bank. Monica, who is a spokeswoman for, an online coupon and deals site, recommends scouring the web for sales and steals on items from your shopping list. If you're a MasterCard holder, the market place is a free site that features offers from stores like Home Decorators Collection, Target and Kohls. But you could also take a look at sites like, or (of course) to find great deals.


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  • 06/08/10--02:13: Chic Coffee Table Dining
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    Dining tables, be afraid. Photo: Alys Kenny.

    Eating dinner at your coffee table doesn't have to be a rushed or messy -- designer Nick Olsen makes over the depressing ritual.

    Not everyone has room for a full dining table -- and those who do? Well, most of them don't bother sitting at it for weekday dinners. It's so much easier to plop on the sofa and eat off your coffee table while flipping through everything -- magazines, bills, channels -- all at once. Dining tables can feel fussy when it's just one or two people, and who are we kidding -- no dining chair is as cozy as your sofa (or offers as good a view of Modern Family.)

    But after one too many pot pies served on a cardboard "placemat", it can start to feel a lot less Bridget Jones and a little more Miss Havisham. So how can you make coffee table dining a lovely, pleasant -- and non-depressing -- affair? Read on...


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  • 06/08/10--02:13: Daily Upper: Bright Windows
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    Paco CT, Flickr

    Not-even-close-to-mellow yellow. Daring paint colors are not just for small rooms, furniture or picture frames. Electric yellow on your home's exterior is like wearing your heart on your sleeve.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!


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    open shelving done rightScared to put it all out in the open? Relax and follow these easy steps. Photo: Getty Images

    Getting rid of your kitchen cabinet doors? Read this first.

    We're seeing open kitchen shelving everywhere these days. Sometimes the cabinets have no doors, other times there are simply open shelves hung above the cabinets and appliances. Either way, they always look so well-kept. Whenever I flip through shelter magazines, I always see at least one open kitchen with perfect dishware, well-staged and sometimes looking like no one ever actually cooks in it!

    If you're looking to try this in your own home without feeling the need to re-stage it every single day, it can be done. But, I suggest you take a look at some of our tips before ripping off those cabinet doors.

    1. Stage it the way you will use it. Put function first, because the kitchen is the last place you want to be hunting around for a casserole dish or running across the room for that bowl you need. Put things where you need them -- items you use for cooking and baking should go next to the oven. Plates, cups and glasses should be further from the cooking center. Do what works for you. It might some time to get it just right but once you do, you will be amazed at how fast you can cook without having to open up cabinets and root for the right item.

    2. Don't buy things just because they will look pretty. No one has a perfect set of dishes. Sometimes we inherit things that we love and they don't go with anything else. Or, we buy bowls because they're on sale even if they don't match the set at home. We fall in love with finds at thrift and vintage shops. Or, we have a teapot collection or cookie jar that we just adore. Put it on display! There is no shame in showcasing your existing dishes and plates. In fact, sometimes it can be even more charming than a boring old perfectly-matched white set.

    3. Invest in some good dusting cloths and products. Dust is going to be your nemesis with open shelving. Not only will things get dustier when out in the open, but they're there for all to see! Instead of dusting around items, once every two weeks remove the items from the shelves and thoroughly clean the shelf surface. I never said having open shelving wasn't more work!

    4. Create groups of items. Grouping items by color or size is more aesthetically pleasing than random placement. Treat each item or grouping as a sculpture. Step back and take it all in. Group your drinkware, plates and bowls, and baking items. Also, be sure to place heavier and larger items on the bottom shelf otherwise it will be more difficult to grab them at a moment's notice.

    5. Avoid showing food items. Try to hide your food-related items with storage boxes, bins or baskets.

    6. If you don't want to go all the way, ease into it. Add some glass-front doors or frosted glass to get the open feeling without -- well -- actually being open!

    Looking for another kitchen "wow factor"? How about computerized kitchen cabinets?


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  • 06/08/10--02:13: 10 Ladder Safety Tips
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    Each year in the United States ladder mishaps lead to more than 160,000 emergency room visits. Pay attention to the following tips and avoid becoming a statistic.

    By Robert Harris and G.V. Pape

    Before stepping onto the rungs of any ladder, a few issues should be considered for your personal safety:

    1. What type of work will you be doing from the ladder? If you will be performing electrical work or will be anywhere near live wires, choose a fiberglass or wooden ladder, as opposed to one made of aluminum. Their non-conductive properties will prevent you from being electrocuted in the event that you touch a live wire or bump into one while moving your ladder.

    2. Is your ladder big enough for the job? Always respect warning labels, especially on stepladders, which are free-standing and do not lean against anything for support. If a label says not to step above a certain rung, and you still cannot reach your work, then it's time to get a taller ladder. Check the ladder's load rating if possible (look for a sticker on the side of a ladder) and never exceed it. Make sure you take into account the weight of the materials you're bringing up the ladder.

    3. Think about your working environment. When working indoors on a stepladder, try to orient yourself so that if you fall backwards you will fall to the floor and not down a staircase, or into any large piece of furniture which could, in turn, fall on top of you. Never open a ladder in front of a door that is not locked or at least guarded. A door opening into a set up ladder can hurt both the person opening the door as well as the person on the ladder. If you are working outside with an extension ladder, try to push the cleats at the bottom of the ladder into a soft material like grass or mulch, rather than rely on the feet to sit flat on a surface like asphalt or brick, where they risk slipping.

    4. Watch where you lean.
    Take the few extra moments to climb down and move the ladder when you need to reach a hard to get to spot. Do not try to lean over to reach it. When leaning you may feel secure on the ladder but your weight can move the base of the ladder without you being aware of it. When using an extension ladder to access a roof, never lean on the part of the ladder protruding above the roof edge. This can lift the bottom of the ladder off the ground, causing the ladder to slide down the roof edge, and taking you with it. For this reason, it is best to leave only a foot or two of ladder protruding above the roof edge. Do not climb onto the top three rungs of an extension ladder.

    5. Consider your footwear. Be sure to wear shoes with sufficient tread that will grip the sometimes slippery rungs. Boots can be especially useful when standing on a ladder for a long time, as you can 'hook' the rung between the boot's heel and arch.

    6. Ask for help if you are not comfortable moving a ladder by yourself. It is best to grip it high with your stronger arm and low with your weaker arm, getting as wide a span of rungs as you find comfortable, for maximum leverage. If you are not absolutely confident that you can move a ladder by yourself, ask someone for help or you risk serious injury and possible property damage when you drop it.

    7. Check the locks. Always check all of the locks on any kind of ladder. Take the few extra moments to make sure they are in place.

    8. Watch where you step. Never step on the top shelf or the bucket shelf on a step ladder. Never try to climb up the backside of a step ladder. Stay in the middle of a ladder at all times.

    9. Keep checking the steps and rungs of a ladder.
    Dripping paint or grease tracked up the ladder can turn a safe ladder into a slippery ladder that is very dangerous.

    10. Never leave an opened ladder unattended.
    Ladder safety doesn't just mean your own safety but applies to those around you. Be responsible, you never want a situation where a child, or any other unauthorized person, finds your opened ladder and starts to climb it.

    Ladder safety isn't complicated if you follow the ten tips above and use some common sense.

    Robert Harris and G.V. Pape contributed to Shelterpop using To learn how you can contribute go to


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    Kristan Cunningham has launched her own website! Photo: Live A Little Lovelier

    HGTV star, and ShelterPop design expert, launches Live A Little Lovelier, a website full of design resources.

    It should come as no surprise that HGTV star Kristan Cunningham has launched a new website -- after all, she has gotten some practice in the online medium as one of our resident design experts here at ShelterPop! Kristan is known for her upbeat approach to design challenges and for finding do-it-yourself and affordable solutions to decorating challenges.

    We took a tour of Kristan's site, the adorably named, Live a Little Lovelier, and well, it's pretty darn lovely. The first post in the 'Do It Lovelier' category suggests storing your mouthwash into a glass decanter -- a simple touch that makes a home "a little lovelier." Other favorites included Kristan's suggestion for a vintage carnival theme for a nursery, a round up of alarm clocks and the aptly named 'Affordable and Adorable' section.

    We're also psyched to see that Kristan has included a way to 'Go Ahead, Ask Kristan' -- you can ask her questions directly via Facebook and Twitter. What reader doesn't love the ability to be heard? Hey Kristan, can you help us pick a fabric for the ottoman we found at Brimfield Antique Show? We're dying to reupholster that puppy.

    "The thinking behind the site is for me to have a place to share my thoughts, ideas and inspiration with anyone looking to tackle a project at home -- and to have it all live in one place," said Kristan in a recent statement. "I want this site to be a resource for all the DIY'ers out there and to help people improve their lives one project at a time." Three cheers for that: We can't wait to see what Kristan has up her sleeve!

    Want to see more of Kristan's work?

    Check out Decorating With Kristan Cunningham on ShelterPop!


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  • 06/08/10--09:14: On the Hunt: Metal Beds
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    Iron, brass, whatever -- metal beds are in season.

    Metal beds are typically traditional in style, and many times have just a touch of femininity. I often picture a brass or iron bed adorned with floral bedding and frilly pillows next to an open window where the breeze is ever so slightly fluttering the white window sheers. Screeching record -- wait. If you don't like the shabby chic or overtly feminine style, that certainly doesn't mean that you can't have a metal bed!

    With lots of traditional, transitional and modern designs on the market, there's sure to be a metal bed to fit your style. You can make them work with masculine textiles, modern patterns and mix them up with bold, graphic patterns. Plus, you can find one to fit just about any budget from under $200 to over $2000.

    For those of you who might have a more traditional or transitional decorating style, here are a few of my favorites:

    metal iron and brass bedsKeep it traditional.

    From top left, clockwise: I bet you didn't know that you could get a metal sleigh bed: Bittersweet Metal Sleigh Bed, $490, Rooms & Things; The traditional Savannah Bed has simple lines with a tiny bit of sweet detail, $249 to $799, Pottery Barn; Metal meets wood in the Hillsdale Madison Bed, starting at $309,; Think you can't afford a metal bed? How about the LILLESAND Bed, $179, IKEA; Go back in time with the Traditional Rainbow Brass Bed, $1299 to $2599, Charles P. Rogers; Finally, if you're looking for something a bit more opulent, try the Blaisdale Queen Canopy Bed, $799, Ballard Designs.

    More contemporary or modern folks might like to rest their heads on one of these:

    metal iron and brass bedsMix it up with modern metal.

    From top left, clockwise: Go graphic with the rectangular pattern of the South Beach Bed (Queen), $299, Overstock; Keep it minimal with this Mercer Metal Bed, $162, Walmart; Or, go for a more industrial look try the Grid Iron Headboard (Queen), $240, Target; Artistic, a simple, clean and modern metal bed: Isabella Queen Bed, $498, Chiasso; And finally, contemporary types might like the Calligraphy Bed, $2,498, Anthropologie.

    For more bedroom ideas check out Angela Adam's new quilts for Macy's or discover a new headboard idea!


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    What's a more beautiful creation -- a golden omelet or a sonata? We like having the option of both in the kitchen.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!


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    Corcoran / Scott Stewart

    Whose house is this?

    What lefty-liberal, temper-tantrum throwing television and film star with both Emmy and Golden Globe Awards slept in this surprisingly feminine bedroom located on a high floor in a legendary building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?


    His first major television role was on the campy nighttime soap 'Knots Landing'.

    Once kept a wolf as a pet.

    Is a vehement vegetarian and animal rights activist.

    Has publicly admitted to having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

    Has a complicated relationship with his famous ex-wife that often gets played out in the tabloids.

    What do you think?

    Want the answer? Get it here!


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  • 06/08/10--10:14: Rent Obama's Old Apartment
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    Obama and Phil Boerner in apartment, Phil Boerner '84

    Want to share an address with Barack Obama? No, it's not the White House.

    It's always annoying to get mail from your home's previous tenants. But can you imagine if those letters were addressed to Barack Obama? The next residents of a New York City apartment at 42 West 109th St, Apartment 3E might find themselves scrawling "Forward to: WHITE HOUSE" since the President shared the space with a roommate back in 1981.

    The Upper West Side apartment -- which borders on the slightly less tony Morningside Heights neighborhood -- is only blocks away from another cultural landmark: Tom's Restaurant, where the Seinfeld gang famously talked about nothing for hours on end. (And where Obama frequently ate breakfast with former roommate Phil Boerner.)

    Listed for $1,850 a month, the two-bedroom is advertised as having hardwood floors, exposed brick, a marble bathroom, high ceilings and big windows: All the favorite buzzwords for New York City realtors. That's the sell now, but back in 1981, the ad was quite different when placed by Boerner:

    SUBLET AVAILABLE: Three-room railroad flat, third floor, West 109th Street. Near Columbia University. Ideal for roommates who do not need privacy, reliable heat or steady hot water. Kitchen modest, but take out available, including New York bagels for only a quarter.

    It's worth noting that despite the downfalls (Obama supposedly left the apartment because the of the less-than-ideal heat situation), the place certainly sounds nicer than the Yorkville apartment he moved into afterward, described in Dreams From My Father as "Small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn't work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station."

    If you think that the nearly-$2,000 pricetag is too much, think again. The apartment's broker, Dalila Bella of CitiHabitats, has been fielding calls non-stop. "I've gotten about 20 people who want to see the apartment -- I don't know if they just want to tour it, or if they actually want to live in it, but either way is fine," she told us by phone. "It's a pretty small place, about 600 square-feet, and it's amazing to see that Obama went from living in such a small space to doing such big things. Being an immigrant myself, from Algeria, seeing that is pretty inspiring," she continued, also saying that she didn't expect to feel so impressed by the apartment until she was actually in there.

    Small space, huh? Wonder if Obama would have tried any of the tricks that architect Gary Chang did with his 300-square-foot apartment? And we're sure he would have benefited from our debunking of these 5 small space myths. Perhaps now that his old digs are on the market, he's feeling nostalgic and wishing to get the White House in on the small house movement.

    Tell us -- is a famous former tenant enough to make you want to move in?

    Now spill: What about you?

    Want to see more famous homes?
    Anna Paquin's Venice Beach Dream Home
    Lenny Kravitz's Former Miami Villa
    Jennifer Aniston Shows Off Her New Home
    Or browse through all of our celeb homes


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    Getty Images

    With so many gorgeous and affordable decorating options to choose from, decorating the mailbox is a great way to add instant curb appeal.

    The mailbox is an integral, and often overlooked part of your home's initial appearance. It's somewhat ironic that we never think about decorating our mailbox when you consider how the address -- generally located on the mailbox -- is the first thing you look for when driving to an unfamiliar place.

    Here are five of our favorite ways to decorate mailboxes:

    Do It With Decals Vinyl self-stick decals are the newest trend in home decor for their flexibility and variety of choices. Unlike stickers, these decals adhere via static cling and can be used over and over again. With hundreds of selections covering everything from inspirational phrases to your favorite sports team, self-stick decals are one of the most hassle-free ways to try out a fabulous new look.

    Pretty It Up With Paint A quick and colorful option for sprucing up the look of your mailbox instantly. Be daring; if you don't like it, you can always paint over it again. Try a few coats of glossy red, a color that goes with nearly any neutral decor and adds instant curb appeal.

    Clever Cover-Ups For ease of use and an infinite selection of themes, mailbox covers come in a dazzling array of colors and prints. Varieties include both static-cling and magnetic and can make even the grungiest mailbox come to life in seconds.

    Focus on Flowers
    That tiny two foot area below your freestanding mailbox is just the right size to add a touch of landscaping charm. Consider adding a flowering vine such as Ivy or Clematis which will naturally wind itself around the post for an English countryside look and feel.

    Walk on the Wild Side If your tastes run towards the eclectic, you might consider incorporating your mailbox into a much grander design. From John Deere tractors to impossibly long-necked giraffes, if you can conceptualize it then chances are that someone, somewhere has created a mailbox out of it. And if they haven't, with enough imagination -- why not you? Blue Women from Mars, anyone?

    All it takes is a little imagination and your mailbox could be the talk of the neighborhood. And don't forget the number one neglected mailbox detail, the post that holds it up. At least once a year, give the post a fresh coat of paint, choosing a color that compliments the exterior trim of your home.

    Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman contributed to through Find out how you can contribute at


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    A Brooklyn townhouse effortlessly merges old architecture with the modern era.

    When I first moved to New York City (by way of Seattle), I scoffed at the idea of living in Brooklyn. Why live in the boroughs when you have Manhattan at your fingertips? But then I toured through interior designer Julia Mack's Cobble Hill townhouse -- and I was a converted Brooklyn wannabe. Take a quick tour and you may become one too.

    Step Inside
    In classic townhouse fashion, the entry leads into a narrow-but-grand stairway. Mack maintained the original carved-wood banisters -- updated with a fresh coat of glossy white paint. Decor in the entry stays neutral (with the exception of an eye-catching chandelier) to let the architecture take center stage.

    Sleek, modern furniture in the living room blends seamlessly with the ornate fireplace and moldings. To maintain the architectural integrity of the townhouse, Mack's architect husband crafted molds to duplicate the original molding, which had crumbled throughout certain areas of the home.

    Knock Down Those Walls
    One common design problem townhouse owners face is creating a functioning floor plan for the notoriously long, rectangular spaces. Mack floated her sofa toward the middle of the room to create a fireside seating arrangement, and the furniture is primarily in a warm palette to help the space with towering ceilings feel more cozy.

    Opposite of the sofa, Mack (shown at right) also floated a lounge chair, side table and reading lamp for a comfy reading nook that feels far from disparate from the rest of the room (as it easily could were it tucked back in the corner).

    A Dated Kitchen We Love
    The kitchen, at the end of the main floor opposite the living, is a truly modernized space with floor to ceiling wood cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. The dining area is a tribute to mid-century design, providing ample seating for city entertaining. And, of course, it wouldn't be Brooklyn without access to outdoor space. Just beyond the kitchen a door leads to a deck, overlooking their enclosed yard, that Mack and her husband built to take full advantage of the sunny months.

    Small But Functional
    Just because a space lacks ample square footage, doesn't mean it can't be comfortable and multi-functional. In her master bedroom, Mack utilized the typical city-dweller floor space to its fullest, without making the room feel crowded or cramped. A king-sized bed feels airy in a modern canopy frame. Because of a wall of windows the room lacked the ideal wall to place a bed against. Mack solved that by building a "wall" of curtains, which also serves as a headboard when drawn to the width of the bed frame.

    Popping With Color
    Guest bathrooms are a good place to have some fun, design speaking. Every city dweller craves a little more of the outdoors -- so Mack brought that vibe into one of her bathrooms. Everything is crisp and white, then a leafy window dressing serves as the art piece in the room.

    Mack utilized an empty corner in the back of her family room for a home office. Because she didn't have an entire room to spare for the space (few do in urban living), she built up, adding shelves for storage. A bright wall enlivens the room that could otherwise feel boring and uninspiring (read: ordinary office). But, as these photos prove, this Brooklyn townhome is anything but ordinary.


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  • 06/09/10--07:15: Home Slow Home
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    Our writer examines the impact (and challenges) of going local when it comes to home design, following in the footsteps of the Slow Food Movement.

    In the house I share with my boyfriend we try to follow Slow Food mantras. These include shopping for locally grown produce, planting culinary herbs in the back yard, and avoiding fast-food drive-thrus at all costs. Even the dog's food is sourced locally: from a pet-food company located about 40 minutes north of where we live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    At left, an unframed blue-wave painting bought at Pike Place Market in Seattle for $40. At right, a Mayan hand-carving purchased in Mexico for $10. Photo: Kristine Hansen

    Our adherence to Slow Food's principles is reflected in the interior-design choices we make. We don't feel good about supporting a reliance on fossil fuels or a workforce that doesn't pay fair wages. Just as we like to buy local food we like to decorate our home with this same philosophy. For example, hanging throughout our bungalow are pieces of art created by either my boyfriend Tony or his friends, mixed in with art I've picked up while traveling, such as the ocean wave spread across an 8' by 10' canvas (bought from a bearded artist outside Seattle's Pike Place Market), or a handmade wood-carving (from a Mayan teenager in Mexico). I practically jumped up and down inside an antique shop in Apalachicola, Florida, when I came across a bin of picture frames, because the wood was rescued from a 100-year-old cotton plantation in the South. (I am still kicking myself for buying only one.)

    As local as it gets, two prints made by Tony, a skilled printmaker. At left, a print created on a lithographic stone. At right, a print created on an aluminum plate is displayed perfectly in a $20 frame purchased in Florida. The frame is made of salvaged wood from a cotton-plantation building in Florida. Photo: Kristine Hansen

    It's not just handmade art we drool over -- utilitarian items too. I'm saving up for hand-printed table linens from Grotta & Co., made with love and care just a mile from our house. Above the dining-room table hangs a chandelier crafted with copper plate over brass in Brass Light Gallery's showroom two neighborhoods to the north. I've been scrolling Craigslist in search of locally derived Cream City brick to build a back-yard patio, not wanting to throw my support towards a truckload of bricks hauled across the country to my nearest big-box store. For new kitchen flooring, to replace linoleum original to this 1920s home, I chose to browse options at an eco-friendly lifestyle store a few blocks away, which puts cash into a local business owner's pockets. What's not to like about that?

    Photo: Kristine Hansen

    It's hard to argue against the cause when you hear the numbers. The 3/50 Project, a national campaign whose mission is to increase the support of local business, notes that for every $100 spent on local goods, $68 goes back to the community by way of taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If that's not enough for you, they state that if 50% of the employed population were to spend $50 monthly in locally-owned, independent businesses, the impact would be $42.6 billion in revenue.

    Perhaps the word is spreading. Turns out this pull towards locally made or handcrafted objects has a name: Slow Home, a springboard off of the Slow Food movement. It pertains to not just the type of residence you live in (compact and smartly designed, probably in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood) but what's inside too. "I've often thought there's a connection between food and architecture. They are both so deeply connected to our sense of well-being," says John Brown, associate dean and professor of architecture at the University of Calgary, who coined the Slow Home term. On his website,, is a tour of nine North American cities (The Slow Home Project) along with a downloadable Slow Home Test.

    He got the idea to spawn a Slow Home movement after listening to his sister, a chef, talk about the 100-mile diet, which believes that food consumed should be grown within 100 miles. Just as fruits and vegetables ought to be from within the region, so should construction materials to build or repair the house.

    Yet housing is miles behind food, about 10 to 15 years behind, "stuck in the late-'80s," estimates Brown. "There are vast swatches of suburbia still lagging behind in using local products for their construction. Not every city has a manufacturing plant for appliances." And unlike the food community Brown admits, "I don't think we can have a 100-mile house. I also don't think that we need to go that far out."

    "The larger a house gets, the worse it's designed. At first glance, they seem attractive, especially if they have the promise of an extra space," Brown says. "Like extra sugar or something, but when you start to use it, you realize the extra space is really just in the middle of the room and it's a waste."

    Even on a smaller scale, there are times when following a buy-local rule to decorate the home poses a severe financial challenge. If you really want to go "green" and sustain the local economy, expect to be trapped between paying a lot of money and constructing said object yourself. Frustrated with a lack of closet space outside of the bedrooms, I figured I'd invest in a coat rack. My budget called for one under $200. (Sounds easy, right?) After shopping for one made from solid wood and with superb craftsmanship I realized I didn't want to pay $1,000. So I clicked and dragged a cheap $28 black metal coat rack into my shopping cart, closed my laptop and silently sulked. Now, I throw coats over it and try not to feel guilty about contributing to the made-in-China mantra that dominates the furniture industry.

    Next, in search of another wine rack for our growing collection of bottles, and after some sticker-shock, my boyfriend announced he would construct one out of an old bookshelf and wood scraps. A few weekends later and he had completed a 48-bottle wine rack. Honestly? It's a lot sturdier than a mass-market wine rack. But taking time to build would probably not work for every furnishing need unless you suddenly found yourself unemployed and with access to a trust fund.

    One benefit to buying local, or from an actual person, is "knowing that you are supporting an artist and that their personality is built into the product," says Adam Brown, Etsy's press manager. "Most of that money will recycle within the community and stay in the community. It's long-term value, not just a short-term purchase price." He brings up a great point: With utilitarian items made by people you know, there's a greater chance it can be fixed or replaced. That's because you can actually trace back to a phone number or a web site and not a call center. And, if bought locally, no shipping costs or fossil fuels are necessary, perhaps reducing your cost.

    If this attitude towards home design is confusing and at times you feel guilty that you are not doing enough to support the local economy -- because I wrestle with these feelings often -- remember that it's first about being aware, and then it's about acting on what you can within your financial and time budget. "It's an attitude about thoughtfulness and mindfulness," sums up Brown, of Calgary, Canada. "Like Slow Food, it requires more awareness. The more people that ask for it, the easier these items will be to find."


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