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Shelterpop

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    What's really considered "green" when it comes to your cleaning products? A full investigation and report here.

    Check out this story by our friends at The Stir!






    Cleaning the house usually leaves me awash with guilt over the potentially toxic products I'm using -- which means I'm a sucker for anything that says it biodegrades, or is safe for the environment, or doesn't murder baby seals. But I've also got to keep my eye on my family's budget, which often leaves me standing in the cleaning-products aisle of Whole Foods glaring at the various products and wondering which, if any, are actually doing any good.


    This is why I listened carefully to a recent radio show about the Federal Trade Commission's revamping of their Green Guides -- which left things as clear as (organic) mud.

    If you're wondering how trustworthy the environmental claims of your cleaning products are, here's what I found out after a little digging.


    For the full inside scoop, head on over to The Stir!


    And also check out these stories:
    Best & Easiest Ideas For Commitment-Phobes
    Does Your Garden Drive You Up The Wall? (Maybe It Should!)
    World's Craziest Pet Hotels Pamper Your Pooch To The Extreme

     

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    From precariously stacked tupperware to too many photos on the fridge, one family's kitchen is over-stuffed and overwhelming. Luckily, a few simple adjustments were enough to get it clean and clutter-free.






    Mismatching containers and a photo-covered fridge simply makes the Haskins' kitchen feel small, cluttered, and physically (and visually) cramped. When under-counter storage is limited in the kitchen, it's hard to avoid stacking boxes, containers, and tupperware on top of the fridge and cabinets. This makes it hard to reach things and it can quickly become a precarious situation where things may topple over. For the Haskins, the solution was simple: Make better use of their vertical space with wall shelving and limit their plastic containers to a few handy sets. And remember...while photos can add personality and charm to a room, too many displayed haphazardly on surfaces like the fridge can have an opposite effect.



    Looking for more Minute Makeovers? See our how to baby-proof the kitchen -- stylishly and have fun with changing up your pillowscape.

     

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    Don't have time to browse all the online sample sales everyday? You're in luck: We searched them all and brought back the best.

    Editor's Pick: Gather Round 3-Piece Fleur Cast Aluminum Bistro Set, in White. $135, The Foundary.


    With its timeless Fleur-de-Lis design and parlor-room feel, Gather Round's bistro set is the perfect finishing piece for your backyard decor. Simply add an umbrella and you'll feel as though you're sipping café au laits at a Parisian bistro. With backyard parties in full swing, we can't wait to entertain guests with this crisp, white ensemble.

    Want to snap this up? Move quickly. Sale ends Thursday at 12 A.M. Check back tomorrow for the next Daily Sampling!

     

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    We're making use of old toothbrushes as a cleaning tool this week. And for our final roundup, we're putting the toothbrush to work on our clothing and accessories.

    1. Jewelry and belts. Necklaces, rings, brooches, hairpins, and belt buckles are small in size and they can be easily cleaned with toothbrushes that have soft bristles.

    2. Suede. When cleaning suede, it's important to brush off the dirt and get the material slightly fuzzy. A toothbrush is ideal since it can gently catch and take out any dirt around seams while also working up the suede.

    3. Shoe soles. Last but not least, put the toothbrush to work on the bottom of your shoes. Chances are we walk on more undesirable things than we'd like to think and they get caught in the grooves on our soles. A toothbrush will pull all of it right out.


    Have a cleaning tip to share? Let us know at Twitter.com/ShelterPop.

    Daily Clean-Up tipsChiot's Run, Flickr

     

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    Gwyneth Paltrow has talent, style and...a very good design sense!

    These are a few of Gwyneth's favorite things. Clockwise: Mike and Maaike bookshelf, Antonio Lupi bathtub, Elle Decor and YUBZ retro handset.


    Gwyneth Paltrow is an actress, singer, foodie and arbiter of all things GOOP. But will she add furniture designer to her resume? In the September issue of Elle Decor (out on newsstands August 16th), she says the career change might be in the cards:

    "That's kind of the dream," she says. "Maybe when the kids are older."

    Until then, she's content to showing the style bible a glimpse into her fab home and all of her favorite things inside it. Like that Mike and Maaike bookshelf, which has built-in slots that hold the following books all at the same level: The Holy Bible, Qur'an and Tao Te Ching. She just keeps surprising us, doesn't she?

    For the full scoop, visit Elle Decor.

     

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    We recently reported on the Core77 Design Awards. This week, we're celebrating our favorite winning designs in the 15 categories.

    The Category: Design For Social Impact: "Projects specifically designed to directly benefit social, humanitarian or environmental causes."

    The Winner: Matthew Ryan, 4th Amendment Wear

    The Design: Simply put, this undershirt featuring the 4th Amendment printed in metallic ink hits close to home. The ongoing discussions about the government and privacy issues come full circle in Matthew Ryan's observant design and really drives the point home. And we applaud Matthew for the tongue-in-cheek concept--we would totally wear it with a smile through security screenings at the airport.

    Core77 Design Awards Social ImpactCourtesy of Core77 Design Awards




     

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    After reading about former pro-skater Pierre-André Senizergues's fully-skateable house in the New York Times, we had to take a closer look.

    "Skating has a strong relation with architecture," architect Francois Perrin told the Times. "[Skateboarders] adapt themselves to public space and outdoor furniture. A skater, when he goes around the city trying to find the right space and surface, he really looks at architecture with a different eye than someone that's walking around. It's a more fluid approach. So this idea of people skating in a house has been the dream of many generations of skaters."

    Dubbed PAS House (after the owner's initials), the residence features a ribbon of continuous surface that integrates much of the furniture, including a sitting area, kitchen and bathroom. Stand-alone objects, such as a dining table, kitchen Island and bed also bear skate-friendly surfaces (and visitors can enter the house via a ramp). A full-scale prototype of the construction was presented at "Public Domaine," an exhibit on skate culture currently on view in Paris; the final version will be built in Malibu, California.

    Here, take a gander at some of the house's coolest features ... if you're so inclined (get it?).

    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire



    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire




    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire




    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire




    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire




    Mike Manzoori and Sam McGuire

     

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    Some rules apply when it comes to cleaning...the right way.

    The general rule of thumb when it comes to cleaning is that if you're not sure about how to clean something, it's best not spray it down right away. Most of us know the obvious (capital) don'ts, such as soaking knives in a sink full of sudsy water and wiping down sockets and electrical outlets with liquids. But we've found a few more cleaning must-nots after some digging that even we didn't know about and have been guilty of doing. Scroll down for our report on the biggest cleaning no-nos.

    Top 5 Cleaning Faux Paskevindean, Flickr


    Cleaning with Air Conditioning on. It's summer and it's hot out. We're much better about ice-cold winds than we are about humidity. But as hard as it is, turning your air conditioner on while you clean means you'll have to keep the windows shut to keep the heat out. This means that all the dust and chemicals that are floating around in the air stay in the supposedly "clean" room, and you'll be breathing in it. Instead, bear the summer heat and crack open the windows when cleaning. Natural air is the way to go.

    Using Heavy-Duty Scrubber Sponges. It makes sense when you think about it, but heavy-duty scrubber sponges can easily scratch surfaces, which then allows for stains to form. (This is especially true for dishware, but also for metal pots and pans.) If you're confronted with serious caked-on messes, let the dirty dish, pot or pan soak in soapy water for an hour. Then, use the smooth side of a sponge to wash the dish.

    Trapping Fumes in Microwaves. While there are fancy cleaners just for the microwave, the best way to ensure your microwave is clean and odor-free is to use lemon and water. Wipe down the inside (including the roof!) with a damp cloth. Scrub as needed and make sure that all the food bits and stains are cleaned off. Then, wet a piece of paper towel and place it on the center plate. Turn on the microwave for 30-45 seconds. This will steam clean the vents. Then slice a lemon in half and put one half in the oven with the door slightly ajar to get rid of lingering smells.

    Cleaning Windows During a Heatwave. Most of us are used to cleaning during the day, but if there's one thing you shouldn't tidy up in sunlight it's your windows. Window cleaners evaporate extremely fast in intense sunlight, which is where those annoying streaks come from.

    Attacking Textile Stains. Whether it's from dirt or a cocktail, don't try to sop up a stain on a textile by repeatedly pressing a paper towel against the mess. This will just push the stain further into the fibers. Instead, blot from behind. Turn the textile over, place it on top of a few paper towels, and blot the backside of the stain using the cleaner of your choice.


    For more cleaning tips, keep an eye out for our Daily Clean-Up tips for every room in the home.

     

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    Don't have time to browse all the online sample sales everyday? You're in luck: We searched them all and brought back the best.


    Editor's Pick: Duo Bookshelf by Ana Linares. $99, Fab.com.

    This minimalist bookshelf is an easy way to add a modern touch. Playful without being flashy, its light look and unique structure allow it to draw just the right amount of attention. Most importantly, it promises to hold even your heaviest books - although you wouldn't think it to look at it!

    Want to snap this up? Move quickly. Sale ends Monday, 11am.

    Check back tomorrow for the next Daily Sampling!

     

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    Combining our obsession with interiors with our love of fashion into a shoppable room.

    This Weekend's Pick: Elizabeth Olsen

    The younger sister of the Olsen twins is making a name for herself. A lot of buzz hints at the young actress as being the next up-and-coming "it" girl. And it's all without any help from her older sibs. So naturally we've been keeping an eye on her and we were pleasantly surprised to see her appear in this casual chic ensemble at a recent luncheon in Beverly Hills. And, of course, we couldn't resist putting together a coolly modern living room for her that has just a touch of, what else, Boho.

    Elizabeth Olsen RoomSteve Granitz, wireimage


    And you can get the look in your home with these products:

    Clockwise from top left:
    Beryll quad spotlight, $39, IKEA.
    Encore sofa, $899, Room & Board.
    Colorful ceramic foil spheres, $4 each, Pier 1 Imports.
    Strut coffee table, $399, Blu Dot.


    And if you haven't yet, head over to see this week's Well-Suited Room inspired by our favorite best dressed men.

     

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    You've seen our Fashionable Room column where we look to some of the best-dressed starlets for decor inspiration. Now we're turning to the best-groomed men for some pointers.

    This Weekend's Pick: Ryan Gosling

    We wanted to take a step back this week to applaud the handsome actor's outfit at the premiere for Crazy Stupid Love. This shiny metallic, checkered suit would've probably been a fashion disaster on anyone else, but Ryan really pulled off a sleek and stylish look (as he always does). To match, we dreamed up a bar area for him that's anchored by a luxurious leather-covered console.

    Ryan Gosling RoomJim Spellman/WireImage


    And you can get the look in your home with these products:

    Clockwise from top left:
    Industrial bulb pendant, $99, West Elm.
    Beatrice mirror, $1,000, Williams-Sonoma Home.
    Preston console table, $1,950, Jonathan Adler.
    Turner barstool, $229, Crate & Barrel.

     

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    We recently reported on the Core77 Design Awards. This week, we're celebrating our favorite winning designs in the 15 categories.

    The Category: Design For Social Impact: "Projects specifically designed to directly benefit social, humanitarian or environmental causes."

    The Winner: Matthew Ryan, 4th Amendment Wear

    The Design: Simply put, this undershirt featuring the 4th Amendment printed in metallic ink hits close to home. The ongoing discussions about the government and privacy issues come full circle in Matthew Ryan's observant design and really drives the point home. And we applaud Matthew for the tongue-in-cheek concept--we would totally wear it with a smile through security screenings at the airport.

    Core77 Design Awards Social ImpactCourtesy of Core77 Design Awards




     

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


    A balcony garden in Tribeca. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Remember to look up...

    Poised above a busy New York street is this small wrought-iron balcony bursting with summer annuals, a sign of an apartment dweller who adores and needs flowers. Down below, one out of a dozen passersby looks up and smiles.

    This urban garden reminds us that we need not over-analyze our plant choices. I can't identify every plant up there, apart from the obvious handful of sunny marigolds and a probable wisteria vine. But the spotlight in this aerie shines upon the fragrant heads of an often overlooked and overused flower: Petunia. Garden geeks may shun them as being too commonplace while new, wary, or by-rote gardeners buy them by the tray-load year in and year out, which makes the garden geeks sigh. But these flowers are hardy creatures. They're charming when planted with a keen eye for color, forgiving of neglect, and unexpectedly perfumed at night.

     

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  • 08/08/11--03:41: Daily Clean-Up: Shoes Off
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    The easiest way to keep carpets and rugs clean isn't a vacuum. It's the most obvious but often ignored rule...shoes off.

    When you think about it, your soles pick up a lot of dirt and...who knows what from walking around on the streets and numerous other places. Thus when you keep your shoes on in your home, all of that is being dragged around on carpets, rugs, and the floor. Place a shoe rack next to the entrance and make it a habit of keeping your shoes at the door and off in your home, it'll save many hours of sweeping and vacuuming.


    Have a cleaning tip to share? Let us know at Twitter.com/ShelterPop.

    Daily Clean-Up tipsChiot's Run, Flickr

     

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    Decorator Jonathan Adler talks about how the sets in the classic film have inspired him the most and taught him the best decorating tricks.

    The ceramist and interior designer Jonathan Adler recently told The Wall Street Journal that he has been and continues to be most inspired by the fictional yet dazzling set decoration in the 1958 classic movie Auntie Mame. "When I first watched it, in college, what hit me was the gestalt of it: the life of fun and glamour that can be yours if you manage to claw your way to New York City," he says. "But the awe-inspiring sets are what continue to inspire me today."

    We can definitely see Mame's lavish style in Adler's designs. And we especially love these two decorating tips from Adler: Use one high-style design piece as artwork in a space, such as a Pedro Friedeberg chair, and add flair to an area by filling a vase with peacock feathers. Very Mame indeed.

     

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    For August, the ever-so-chic label Kate Spade is celebrating the color blue.

    One of our favorite brands, Kate Spade New York recently announced blue as their color of the month. The style-setters over at Kate Spade have curated a selection of coveted fashion pieces, pretty prints, and charming accessories in varying shades of blue--from bright sapphire to aquamarine to cool cobalt. Our favorites? A fashion illustration by Mats Gustafson and John Kalymnios's neon artwork "Beautiful." See the other must-have picks here.

     

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    Don't have time to browse all the online sample sales everyday? You're in luck: We searched them all and brought back the best.

    Editor's Pick: Novica Blue Caribbean summer hammock. $59, One Kings Lane.


    What says summer better than a gauzy hammock--especially one whose colors are so gorgeously reminiscent of the ocean? Handwoven by skilled Mayan artists, this summer hammock is perfect for stringing up in a backyard, porch, or at the beach. So grab a book, jump in, and make the most out of the last few weeks of summer.

    Want to snap this up? Move quickly. Sale ends Thursday, 11am.

    Check back tomorrow for the next Daily Sampling!

     

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    In Random Recast, we give ordinary things a more stylish second life. This week: Egg cartons.

    Photos: Andrew Wagner


    An egg carton certainly isn't the first material that comes to mind when you think of chair/seat construction. But then again, the story of how this stacked egg carton stool came about is a serendipitous one.
    And it goes like this: Andrew Wagner (yes, you know him-he was the editor-in-chief of the incomparable ReadyMade) had found the stack of egg cartons while walking around New York's Chinatown neighborhood. It looked exactly like this...


    When Andrew saw the nice stack, conveniently tied up with red ribbon, he didn't exactly have the resources to pick it up and take it home. (Meaning: His hands were full.) So he tucked the stack in an alleyway and hoped for the best while he came up with a good use for this goldmine of egg cartons.

    The answer was: A stool. The stacked cartons already kind of resembles a stool as it was, and a test sit proved that the composite cardboard material was surprisingly comfortable. And since the cartons nestle together nicely already, he didn't even need to add any sort of adhesive to keep the stack together.

    To balance the seat, Andrew cut "feet" from the bottom of the stack. Criss-crossed straps added a final aesthetic detail that further unified the piece. Here's a closer look at the feet and straps.


    We have to say, we're pretty impressed!

    Did this project inspire you to take another look at everyday objects? If so, you might want to check out previous installments of Random Recast...
    Random Recast Round-Up: 5 New Uses For Map Pages
    Random Recast: Wallpaper Round-Up
    Random Recast: T-Shirts Round-Up

     

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    Wood floors have undeniable rustic charm but they can also scratch and scuff easily. For heavily trafficked areas that are especially scuffed up, pour a little water on it and rub it down. More resilient marks may require some light scrubbing with a cloth that's been sprayed with floor cleaner, or gently scrub the spot with an extra-fine steel wool pad.


    Have a cleaning tip to share? Let us know at Twitter.com/ShelterPop.

    Daily Clean-Up tipsChiot's Run, Flickr

     

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  • 08/09/11--07:35: Where I Write: Rebecca Hale
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    Take a peek inside the spaces where some of today's authors write, ponder, and procrastinate. This week: Cat-lover and How To Moon A Cat author Rebecca Hale's flowered couch.

    I'm in the process of completing a move, so many of my belongings are still in a state of flux, but one of the first things on my list--after assembling the bed--was to set up a place to write. That is to say, I spent a great deal of time finding just the right location for my favorite flowered couch.

    Portrait: Copyright 2010 R. Parker Blackburn. Cover: Courtesy photo.


    In my view, there are three essential elements for a quality writing space: quiet, comfort, and cats. At my new home, all of these requirements are met from the seat of my beloved couch. Its soft, overstuffed cushions are perfectly conformed to the shape of my posterior. Strategically located in the center of the new living room, the couch is a tranquil oasis amidst a sea of unpacked boxes, positioned for optimal airflow and close proximity to the kitchen's hot tea making facilities.


    Cats advise on all my work, even my non-cat fiction; their collaboration is a critical element to my writing process. So, the next step was to begin arranging the rest of my furniture in such a way that the room's creative cat chi focused in on the flowered couch.

    From the couch's comfortable seat, I now have easy access to a constantly cat-occupied climbing tower, a wooden coffee table-cum-horizontal cat-sleeping surface, and an array of cat-amenable flowered cushions. Should I find myself needing any additional cat mojo, an extra cat or two can often be found in the dark area underneath the couch.

    Don't be fooled by the sleeping poses of the cats in the attached photos. Each of these fluffy, flurry critters is hard at work, intently focused on resolving a troublesome plot issue in my next book. I can assure you, being a feline writing assistant is a difficult, strenuous job.

    Of course, there is an office - or there will be, once all the boxes are unpacked. It will be furnished with a stiff, unrelenting chair and a roll top desk whose surface will soon be cluttered by piles of scribbled on paper, wadded up sticky notes, torn out newspaper clippings, and several ceramic coffee cups with dried up teabags stuck to their sides.

    The office is the spot where writing's darker, more tedious work occurs, a torture chamber dedicated to the task of painful revision. This room is best avoided by non-writer family members, lest they be confronted by a frustrated, emotionally wrought author, who has pulled out half her hair during endless hours of parsing and reworking sentences. Cats, on the other hand, are welcome to lend their assistance.

    The flowered couch is a far more pleasant setting, dedicated to the boundless possibilities of early drafts. I write in my head; I like to see something in my mind before I put it into words. Images, phrases, characters, scenes - these all float through my dreams and rather wild imagination before being converted into keystrokes on my laptop. Curled up on the couch, surrounded by my feline support team, I have the perfect place for implementing that transition.

    Courtesy of Rebecca Hale


    Rebecca HaleCourtesy of Rebecca Hale


    I bought the flowered couch over fifteen years ago. It was the first real piece of furniture I purchased on my own. I had just returned to Nashville for my third year of law school after a summer associate job at a DC law firm. Armed with a couple hundred dollars I'd saved up from my summer employment, a good friend took me to a furniture manufacturer where she helped me pick out the fabric. I selected a pattern with enormous blue and green, Hawaiian style flowers on a cream-and-white background. It was a bold choice, perhaps more suited for a set of drapes than a sofa, but I fell in love with it immediately.

    After my newly constructed couch was delivered, my frail grandmother, then in the last year of her life, insisted on braving the rickety stairs to my second floor apartment so that she could take a seat on my hard-earned purchase. I still remember how proud she was to witness this milestone, and I often think of her when I'm stretched out across its cushions - although I wonder what she might say about all of the cats who now call the couch home.

    Easily the most well-traveled piece of furniture in my possession, the flowered couch was schlepped from one coast to another during my nomadic younger years. While on a sojourn in Northern California, the couch had a near fatal run-in with one of my dates, a man with an inexplicable revulsion to flower-covered furniture. After much discussion, he convinced me to let him list the couch on Craigslist. Thankfully, no one responded to the advert for: "Colorful flowered couch. Free to good home. Elvis once slept here."

    Needless to say, the boyfriend is long gone, no doubt, seated somewhere on a drab divan in a colorless room without a single flower in sight.

    Meanwhile, the couch, the cats, and I are set to continue writing together well into the future.


    Rebecca Hale is the author of the recently published How To Moon A Cat and several other feline-focused novels.

     

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