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  • 06/09/10--10:15: Daily Upper: Garden Seat
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    Can't decide between a place to sit and a place to garden? Fear not, friends, this mossy sofa is ready to be your everything.

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    friends apartmentMonica's mis-matched chairs from Friends. Photo: Greg Null, NBCU Photo Bank

    Forget matchy-matchy furniture. Let's try a whole new approach.

    Here's an idea to make your dining room stand out: Mix and match your dining room chairs.

    Who says that you have to get 4, 6 or 8 of the same chair to round out a dining space? That's a silly rule and we think it's meant to be broken. Plus, there's so much fun to be had at the table.

    Ever since I saw Monica's table and chairs on the set of the TV show Friends, I always wanted to do something like it. They had a simple wooden pedestal table surrounded by fun, playful and colorful mis-matched chairs.

    Decorating with mis-matched chairs is a way to make a statement without much effort. Looking back, it was the odd color scheme and wacky furnishings that made Monica's apartment seem so well put together and fresh.

    But don't go just throwing any old chair into the mix. Mixing styles and colors can backfire and make your home feel cluttered and disorganized.

    Here are some things to consider when going for the mix-and-match look:

    1. Different head chairs. If you have a rectangular or oval table, consider adding dramatic chairs to each head. You can scale these larger than the other chairs at the table. Opt for armchairs, if possible, for a stockier look. Adding that extra special touch on the ends will make your dining table feel all the more special.

    mis-matched dining chairsAdd regal thrones at the table's heads. Photos: Elle Decor/Canadian House and Home


    2. Paint them all the same color.
    If you have snapped up some great chairs that don't have much in common, paint them so that the paint color becomes the common thread. Even retailers and designers are catching on to this trend by offering dining chair sets in different styles, such as this set from Design House Stockholm.

    mis-matched dining chairsPaint always makes a difference! Photos: Elle Decor/Design House Stockholm


    3. Mix traditional with modern.
    Don't let your dining chairs dictate your style, especially if you love being eclectic. There's no shame in mixing a Windsor chair or an old country dining chair with an Eames or Bertoia chair.

    mis-matched dining chairsModern dines with traditional at these tables. Photos: Living, Etc.


    What style fits your personality?
    A colorful dining room or an all-white one.

     

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  • 06/09/10--13:15: Rescue Your Recycling Area
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    These simple fixes will make you want to take out the trash.

    Are you using paper bags and old buckets to hold your recyclables? And let me guess, "sorting" only applies to the laundry, right?

    You're not alone. Luckily, it's really easy to set up a recycling area in your home, whether it be in the kitchen, laundry room or garage. And it doesn't have to be cluttered and untidy. Organize your recyclables with the same care you would your spice rack and you'll feel good just taking out the trash. Here's how to do it:

    1. Designate a recycling area in your home. Would you prefer that your recyclables are hidden away or easily accessible? I like to locate my recycling area right next to the kitchen trash can because it makes the most sense for me. But if you don't have room there, try your garage, backyard or laundry room.

    2. Measure. If your space is small, you will need to get bins to fit, so make sure you know how large your space is before you step foot in a store.

    3. Shop. Now you're ready for the fun part: shopping for bins. I skipped the ugly buckets and old trash bins and went looking for style. Trash containers never looked so good.

    4. Organize. Once you've chosen your bins (see below), create a system for discarding paper and plastics. You can label the bins, and be sure to educate everyone in your household as to what goes where. Decide who is responsible for bringing out the recycling and the trash, and who should be in charge of keeping the area clean.

    Okay, now the fun part: Which option do you like best?

    Option #1: Divide and conquer.
    It's easy to get everything in its place with a divided container. You can even choose an under-cabinet option to hide it all away.


    recycle bins



    From left to right: The Smart Bin (3 sections), $80, Walmart; Double Sliding Trash Can, $99, Organize.com; Precision Series Recycler - Divided Recycling Can, $249, Stacks and Stacks.

    Option #2: Stack it up.

    If you need more space, build up! These stacking containers allow you to choose how many you need depending on how much you have to separate.

    stackable recycling bins


    From left to right: 2-bin Recycler, $40, The Container Store; Stackable Recycle Containers (set of 3), $50, Improvements Catalog; 18-gallon Stacking Bin, $40, The Home Depot.

    Option #3: Bag it.
    What makes taking out the trash easier? Handles, of course! Why not use attractive set of bags for your recycling and then easily transport them out to the curb by their built-in handles. No mess, and no dumping or bagging needed.


    recycle bags


    From top left, clockwise: Recyclebags 3-piece set, $80, Target; Recycle Bags, $5 each, Bed Bath and Beyond; Kangaroom Set of 2 Recycle Bags, $12, Amazon.


    Want to know how to recycle your old electronics?

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Daily Upper: Fun Collection
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    I don't collect anything and whenever I see a collection like Sara's, I get a little jealous. I'm scared of collecting because I don't like having too many things on display at one time, nor am I a big fan of tchotchkes. Not only does it make me happy that Sara collects toys (of all possible things), but she's arranged them so nicely by color, which makes this rainbow toy display so captivating.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Gardening with Grasses
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    Van Dusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C. Photo: Marie Viljoen


    Use grasses to soften edges and to reduce hard labor in the garden.

    When it comes to using grasses in our gardens, there is an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. Ranging from whimsical ground covers, to swathes of undulating, feathery inflorescences, to the drama of a single massive focal point, grasses fill just about every niche that our varied gardens possess. Many grasses are overused in the landscape, so that we tend to see the same miscanthus over and over again. I have chosen four that are less well known and which perform well in shade and sun, en masse, or as potted focal points.

    Panicum virgatum "Shenandoah" in Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    First up, Switchgrass: in this case Panicum virgatum "Shenandoah". Native to the plains, switchgrass likes company, so buy three or more and plant them together. I love all switchgrasses, but Shenandoah, growing to about four feet, is a cultivar which becomes an intense red and whose color deepens as the season progresses. Backlit at sunset it is a gorgeous sight. Plant it in full sun where it can be appreciated from a window or a garden seat, and consider the orientation of the sun for that sunset bling effect. Hardy to USDA Zone 4, and tolerant of drought, wet feet and salt air, the only care it needs is a severe haircut in late winter.

    Pennisetum alopecuroides "Little Bunny" under the Manhattan Bridge. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Another sun-lover is Pennisetum alopecuroides "Little Bunny". This is a miniature form of the familiar, bushy-tailed fountain grasses and is very pretty in bloom, no taller than sixteen to eighteen inches. It was was developed on Long Island and is reliably hardy to Zone 6, and possibly lower. Little Bunny is beautiful planted in sweeps, or set alone as a pot plant on a sunny terrace or deck. It is the perfect grass for a small garden where it can be appreciated up close.

    Chasmanthium latifolium in a Brooklyn backyard. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    I am often asked by the owners of shady gardens to recommend a grass that will cope with little sun. Two come to mind at once.

    The first, wild-oat, or Chasmanthium latifolium, native to the northeastern and southeastern USA, prefers dappled shade, where sunlight filters through deciduous leaves overhead. It is a tall grass, growing three to four feet. Beautiful, arching spikelets turn from rich green to gold as the season progresses. It is tolerant of drought and of poor drainage, and is hardy to Zone 5. Cut back hard in late winter to allow new growth to come through.

    Hakonechloa macra on my terrace. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    My favorite grass for shade is Japanese ribbon grass - Hakonechloa macra. This is a slower-growing grass, so excellent for containers, or planted near a path where its ribbony leaves can brush the ankles. The fine, feathery seedheads are delicately beautiful, and I look forward to them all year.The striped cultivar "Aureola" is well-known, but I prefer the solid green of the species, which turns a delicious yellow-gold in late fall.

    Hakonechloa macra in fall. Photo: Marie Viljoen

    Once you start gardening with grasses, you might find it hard to stop. They are versatile and forgiving, and reward by lending graceful structure to our private landscapes, from our cramped urban rooftops, to lush suburban acreage, to every green place inbetween.

    For reference, and for both inspiration and instruction, I recommend Rick Darke's beautifully photographed The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes.

     

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    Danielle relaxes on a buttery leather Chesterfield at the W Hotel in (where else?) New Jersey. Photo: Getty Images North America.

    Always wished to live in a celebrity's home? OK, fine, how about a reality star's?

    Fans of Real Housewives of New Jersey might know Danielle Staub as the church-going single mom with the memoir, the sex tape and the iffy past. But anyone searching for a new home in Wayne, New Jersey might just know her as the seller of the $1.095 million, 6,000-square-foot Tudor-style house in Wayne's upscale (or, as Staub might dub it: "claaaaassy") Horizon Heights neighborhood. (Though the home was originally listed as 10,500 square feet. We're assuming the true square footage is somewhere in the middle!)

    The exterior and pool. Photos: Realtor.com.

    The current price is a cool $400,000 less than what it was listed for last year and almost a million dollars less than what Danielle and ex-husband Tom Staub paid for it, thanks to the 20-year-old roof and furnace, plus some pool troubles. And Danielle's disinterest in fixing the place up before the sale.

    Holy chandelier! That thing is certainly not subtle. Photo: Realtor.com.

    The stats on the home are impressive -- to the right crowd. Other crowds might find them a bit laughable. Like the double staircases, the in-home tanning room (how else can she maintain that lovely burnt sienna glow?) or the, um, bidet.



    Sure, there are some redeemable features. Not many can argue with a pool and cabana, an on-site gym or the luxury of having seven bedrooms and six bathrooms (but remember, one has a bidet.) Wonder why Staub would ever want to leave? The sale is court-ordered, and once it's complete she'll have to split the proceeds with her ex-husband.

    Pictured: The bedroom. Not pictured: The bidet. Photo: Realtor.com.

    Yes, it's a shame for her to lose her home, but also not a bad deal to collect half the money considering how she got the house in the first place. Our friends at The Stir pointed out this quotable gaffe from Danielle in the last episode: "This is what worked for the father of my children. You saw my house, right?" she says, as she finishes up her pole dance. Ew! Dear readers, we love beautiful homes, we even support each individual's right to have a bidet or a tanning salon if that's what their heart desires. But please, don't use pole dancing as your means to get it.

    No need to lay out and tan by the pool when you have your own tanning bed! Photo: Realtor.com.

    Note: This article was corrected and updated thanks to a helpful ShelterPop reader. Thank you!

    Want to get the talking points on RHONJ (without having to watch it?) The Stir's recaps are hilarious.

    More Would-You-Live-There Homes

    'Amityville Horror' House for Sale: Would You Buy It?
    Rent Obama's Old Apartment

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Wow Those Walls!
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    Bold graphic florals, subtle textures and thoughtful details are coming to a wall near you.

    If you thought wallpaper might be a trend, you're wrong. Wallpaper isn't going anywhere. In fact, it seems to be getting more and more popular -- and more and more interesting to look at. Several designers have released bold graphic prints that have us swooning. Here's a look at the best new wallpapers to hit the market:

    new wallpaper trends 2010Put on your sunglasses! Photos: Graham & Brown


    Graham & Brown
    Graham & Brown introduced two new and exclusive designer collections into their catalog at the New York International Contemporary Furniture Fair. First, Amy Butler's wallpaper collection (above) is a continuation of Amy's signature leafy, graphic florals and eye-popping color combos. The collection consists of six patterns in six colorways and reinforces her modern and relaxed approach to decor.

    new wallpaper trends 2010Whether a fancy cocktail lounge or a bedroom, these papers are perfect. Photos: Graham & Brown


    Also for Graham & Brown, designer Kelly Hoppen introduced a series of six simple yet elegant patterns (above) that are so versatile, they can easily fit into modern and traditional, masculine or feminine interiors. The star of this collection is texture (it incorporates fabric weaving and some natural textured surfaces). It begs to be touched.

    A few of the provocative tropical prints from Flavor Paper, designed in collaboration with Lenny Kravitz. Photos: Flavor Paper


    Kravitz Design and Flavor Paper
    Lenny Kravitz -- yes, that Lenny Kravitz -- is coming out with his own line of wallcoverings. I have to admit that after profiling his rockin' Miami former residence, I can see that he has quite the eye for design. He's partnered with funky and fresh company Flavor Paper to design the collection. Called "Tropicalismo," it was inspired by time that Kravitz spent in Brazil, and he's called the collection, "rhythmic and sexy." The bold, graphic patterns, typical of Flavor Paper's previous collections, are influenced primarily by the late 1960's Brazilian Tropicalismo movement, which marries robust graphic patterns and utopian rhythms in art, music and design.

    Haunting scenes from Trove inspired by real events. Photos: Trove


    Trove
    Trove's newest line of papers follows in their previous collections' footsteps. Expect light, airy photographic images, except these are a bit more dramatic. Theater balconies and scenic views of oceans and clouds are more interactive -- the images are larger with one focus, so instead of repeat patterns of birds or flowers, we're invited into the print, per se, for an experience.

    The inspiration behind the natural scenes is the dangerous power of nature, as seen in the past decade with natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and devastating tsunamis. The balcony wallpaper was created using a historic photograph of Teatro La Fenice, a Venice opera house. The photograph was taken after the theater had been rebuilt from a devastating fire.

    new wallpaper trends 2010Rollout keeps wallpaper fresh and trendy. Photos: Rollout

    Rollout
    Rollout is a Canadian company that focuses on more artistic and illustrative designs, and works closely with designers to create fun and trendy wall coverings. Their newest collections feature eye-catching designs from popular design duo Mike & Maaike as well as Rollout co-founder Jonathan Nodrick.

    York's newest collection bejewels your walls. Photos: York


    York Wallcoverings
    York is taking wallpaper to a new level, accessorizing it with subtle embellishments like Swarovski crystals, thread and glitter. Their "Vintage Jewel" collection features optional Swarovski crystals, like Christie's Trellis pictured above left. In the top right photo, San Grass has a pearlized background -- it certainly makes beige a lot less bland! On the bottom right, simple dragonflies are accented with silver and gold wings that are hand-embroidered with metallic thread.

    Looking for wacky wallpaper? Check out these curvaceous designs or this eye-boggling wallpaper!

     

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    Avery Fine Perfumery InteriorPhoto: Avery Fine Perfumery

    What's wrong with a little sensory overload
    every now and then? This London perfume shop is equipped to indulge all five senses: Avian-inspired eye candy, tactile trimmings like ornate bottles and hanging plants, the sounds of birds singing from speakers overhead and artisanal perfumes that smell good enough to eat.

    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Salvaged Art Gone Chic
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    Salvaged items glued to a wall. Metal containers displayed as art.
    At left: The "Junk in the Trunk" installation proves that beautiful objects don't have to sit in a cluster on a shelf. At right: The installation, "A Watched Pot," gives seemingly useless metal containers a new life. Photos:
    Bahdeebahdu

    A few talented artists turn found, recycled and flea market items into sculptures.

    Have you ever been to a flea market, picked up an object with love and promptly said, "I love this but what am I going to do with it"? Well, here are some artists who know exactly what to do.

    Bahdeebahdu
    , a working studio in Philadelphia dedicated to developing sculptures, furniture and one-of-a-kind lighting, recently invited nine artists to create artwork made from repurposed or discarded items. The results reveal an interesting scavenger's point-of-view, and a little about human consumption.

    Envelopes made from porcelain slip.
    As detailed by these cleverly sculpted pieces to resemble used and wrinkled envelopes, called "Envelopes," used items can be quite beautiful. Photo:
    Bahdeebahdu

    Artist Rebecca Pulver culled ceramic objects from thrift stores and resale shops over several months to create "Junk in the Trunk." The installation is a functioning shower wall covered with ceramic plates, cups, vases and anything else Pulver could find ($300 per square foot by commission). "I am drawn to found objects because they have a past, and I allow them to dictate what they become," she says. She's often inspired by what she calls "urban dumping grounds," or areas overrun with plants that slowly break down man-made structures. "My inspiration are plants and the deterioration of anything that is marked with the visibility of time," she says.

    The passage of time can certainly be seen in "A Watched Pot," by Bahdeebahdu co-owner RJ Thornburg. The work was created when he accumulated a pile of rusted and deteriorated metal objects while cleaning the grounds of his country home. Thornburg has taken these objects and created a series of them encased in plexiglass giving ubiquitous household items a certain elegance ($1200 to $3200).

    From a different viewpoint, "Envelopes," interprets artist Lauren Herzak-Bauman's vision of everyday, disposable products made into porcelain slip sculptures ($40 for small, $50 for large).

    For those who love flea markets and thrift shops, what should people look for to inspire creativity? Pulver suggests looking at trash differently. "Anything discarded can be made into something useful if you harness your creativity and focus on the object," she says.


    All works available at Bahdeebahdu.

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Front Porch Ideas
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    Your home's entrance is your first chance to show off your personality. Why settle for a boring white door when it's so easy to make a few quick changes?

     

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    The Nelson Mandela Bridge with a banner portrait of the former President flying over head. Gianluigi Guercia, Getty Images/AFP

    How the World Cup has called for fast-moving gentrification and revitalization of downtown Johannesburg.

    In 2004, when South Africa won the bid to host the World Cup Soccer Tournament in 2010, property developers with their sights set on gentrifying Johannesburg's Central Business District (downtown area) were determined to ensure that the event expedited the process. "City officials hope that by the time the world's gaze rests on Johannesburg in 2010, squats will have been replaced by up market loft apartments, smart delis and trendy boutiques," reported the local Sunday Independent newspaper while also highlighting the many social and political challenges that the city had yet to face.

    Getty Images


    Downtown Johannesburg has been through numerous incarnations. Under apartheid it was classified as a "whites only" area and black South Africans were bused in to work there. But come nightfall, the law dictated that they return to the townships like Alexandra and Soweto. Skyscrapers, including the the Carlton Center (still the tallest building in Africa) were built during the economic boom in the 1960s and 1970s. But as apartheid started to crumble in the late 1980s, previously disadvantaged black people and many illegal immigrants from neighboring African countries streamed into the city center, some squatting in the abandoned buildings. Meanwhile, middle class white people fled to the surrounding suburbs and many businesses followed (a second business district has developed in Sandton, an area north of downtown Johannesburg). By the late 1990s, downtown Johannesburg was bustling with informal industry during the day but it was also crime-ridden. At night, it was deserted. (For a biography of the city, seen through its architecture and planning, look out for the recently published Johannesburg Transition: Architecture and Society from 1950).

    In the past decade, ongoing efforts by the Johannesburg Development Agency as well as private developers have slowly worked to make certain areas usable (if not entirely livable) once more -- an unusual path for gentrification, which should happen more organically as communities shift and change. "In terms of the inner city, the early nodes like Newtown and around Marshalltown [the center of downtown Johannesburg] have maintained what was done [a few years ago], but they have not realized the 'million dollar inner city lofts everyone will want to live in' dream just yet. I think these might still be coming," Nechama Brodie, author of Inside Jo'burg: 101 Things To See And Do tells Shelterpop.

    Still, Brodie agrees that over the past two years, even with the recession slowing certain projects, there have been successes. "One area where good things are happening is Braamfontein [an area to the North of Newtown]. And this is partly because of the reintroduction of inner city nightlife at places like the Alex, a new concert and party venue. People can finally walk the streets at night again. It's so liberating," she says. "But also I think it's about residential apartments. Because it's so close to Wits [the University of the Witwatersrand], Braamfontein doesn't just have office workers."



    Many developments were fast-tracked for the World Cup. Nikki Temkin, the author of Chic Jozi: The savvy style companion [to Johannesburg] highlights the nearby Arts on Main and Main Street Life as must-visits for anyone attending the soccer tournament. The two newly developed areas are down the street from one another on the east side of the city in an area known as the Maboneng Precinct. The Arts on Main complex is made up of an old construction company's offices and five warehouses converted late last year to art galleries and artist studios (William Kentridge has his studio there), an art bookstore, a restaurant and a fashion boutique. Main Street Life, which has opened just in time for the World Cup, houses a boutique hotel, penthouse suites, shops, restaurants, an independent cinema and dedicated common areas for creative collaboration and exhibitions. Both are developments by property company Propertuity who believe that by bringing artists into the area, gentrification will follow like it has done in areas like SoHo or the Lower East Side in New York. During the World Cup, the Goodman Gallery space at Arts on Main is well worth a visit to see work by local and international artists who are participating in the In Context project.

    For the duration of the tournament (June 11 to July 11), according to the official web site of the City of Johannesburg, Newtown, with its famous Market Theater, bars, restaurants, museums, galleries and nightlife, will operate as the larger cultural hub. On match days, 22, 000 people are expected to watch the game from the public viewing area at Mary Fitzgerald Square, an open air area which is equipped with a large screen. On match days there will also be live performances by South African artists, deejays, multi-cultural dances, poetry, food festivals, arts and crafts and comedians.

    The development has also brought public art into the streets. When the Johannesburg Development Agency transformed the nearby Ellis Park sports precinct and refurbished the stadium, a R2 billion project (about $257 billion) which hosted soccer fans for the Confederations Cup last year, they also restored the outer facades of three 1920 miner's homes nearby. And at the foot of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, as you head from Braamfontein to Marshalltown, is a 36 ft. high metal sculpture by artists William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx. The Fire Walker, as she is called, is inspired by the Shangaan women who walk through the area carrying a burning brazier [metal bin] on their heads. The women set up their braziers at street corners to roast mielies (corn on the cob) to sell.

    Phil Cole, Getty Images

    But during the World Cup, one of the most marveled at sites will be the Nelson Mandela Bridge, which links the central business district to Braamfontein. It recently had it's massive suspension pylons trussed with the now famous image of the former president holding the Fifa World Cup Trophy after the country learned they had won the bid to host the tournament. "Nelson Mandela and [South Africa's] staging of the 2010 Fifa World Cup cannot be separated," Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo told journalists during the unveiling ceremony on Saturday. "Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty, Sydney has its Opera House ... and Johannesburg has the Nelson Mandela Bridge. This bridge symbolizes the bringing together of our people. Johannesburg was segregated in the past; this bridge crosses that divide and brings the city together."

     

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    Marie Viljoen

    One flower against the world: "I'm pink. I'm in the sun. Hear me roar!"


    Want more Daily Uppers? Get 'em here!

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Why I Hate Air Conditioning
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    hate air conditioning
    Not everyone loves air conditioning. Photo: SMercury98, Flickr


    As the temperature outside climbs, one writer's rant heats up.


    I hate to sweat, really. But I'd rather sit on the couch with a cold compress draped around the back of my neck than turn on one of the four perfectly fine air conditioners in my house. My friends think I'm a martyr. My kids can't understand why everyone except us has the air conditioners running when it's 75 degrees outside.

    That's a cold spell to me.

    The truth is that I hate the artificial feeling and stale smell of air-conditioned air. I'm always chilled to the bone, even when air conditioning is on its lowest setting. It also makes me feel closed off from the world -- I like hearing the birds chirping and a breeze rustling through the trees. And let's not forget how much money air conditioning costs to run. You might have guessed -- I'm a frugal Yankee. (If you'd like to see how much wattage per hour a typical central air unit uses, log onto "Ask Mr. Electricity" for a shocker.)

    Geography has no doubt affected my anti-air conditioning stance. I grew up in the Northeast and lived in mostly older, drafty New England houses without central air or window units. Instead, my mother, like most of my friends' mothers, insisted on opening the windows for cross ventilation in the summer. To this day, I still think that there is nothing more refreshing than a cool breeze coming through an open window as I sleep under a slightly sticky top sheet on a humid night. Had I grown up in, say, Arizona, things might be different.

    There was a time, however, that I relied on air conditioning. When I lived in New York City, where summer air is stale and still, I turned on an outdated unit to stay cool. When I finally moved out of the city to my first house, I slept with the air conditioning on in the bedroom to drown out the ongoing traffic noise from the nearby highway. But I froze every night and had a perpetual headache from the din of the air conditioner. To this day, I associate the sound of a running air conditioner with the Long Island Expressway, which isn't a pleasant memory. All I wanted was peace and quiet and cross ventilation.

    Now that I have my own slightly drafty New England home, I'm still not interested in air conditioning. We never installed central air -- and I keep those windows open all summer long. I only put on the window units when I absolutely have to, those few nights in the summer when the air is so thick that it's hard to breathe. Or maybe I'll turn it on if I need to drown out the noise of a neighbor's outdoor party. If I need to get dressed up on a hot and humid day, I simply dress in front of a fan. Luckily, my husband feels the same. And we're not alone in our sentiments. There's even a fledgling Facebook group called "I HATE Air Conditioning." There, you will meet over a hundred other anti-air conditioning activists who gripe about air-conditioning induced chills.

    To those who cannot live without air conditioning, my husband and I are extremists. One friend, who cranks her air on 80-degree days, scolded me for not putting on mine -- but it was May! While visiting family in Texas, my husband and I insisted on reading the paper outside in 100-degree heat on the otherwise unused patio, much to the horror of everyone watching us from inside the house. They were trying to escape the heat, but for us it felt good to escape the cold of the indoors.

    My kids have tried to turn on the air conditioning without me knowing. I make it difficult for them, however, by keeping wall units in their rooms that might be considered antiques. The control knobs on the units are so dated that they're confusing and my kids will ultimately give up and turn to their easy-to-use trusty fan boxes. If they complain, I tell them to lay still to reduce the heat created by friction on the sheets. (Try it! Even my kids admit that it really does work.)

    This is how we survive summer: We eat cold fruits and salads on our screened-in porch. I throw my humidity-touched hair into a bun. And when I need to cool off, I do it the old-fashioned way: a dip in a pool, a cool shower, a walk on the beach, relaxing in a shady spot. I'll drink an ice cold glass of lemonade, avoid baking in August and, yes, apply an ice pack to my neck.

    I look forward to summer all year long -- Why would I hide from it once it arrives?

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Ultimate Man Caves
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    We love our dads. But do we love their taste?

    In honor of Father's Day, we're taking a look at the most manly room in the house -- the man cave. Whether you love them or love to hate them, they exist -- and boy, are these photos proof of that! They're packed with taxidermy, guitars, and a vibe that we're going to go ahead and describe as dude-tastic. Of course, not all caves are created equal.

    Dear readers, if you've never shared a ShelterPop article with your dad, this is the one to pass on.


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    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    We love the fearless color pairings in Cory Berry's man cave -- and while we know that the MEGO 1970's Planet of the Apes collection on the table probably means the world to him, we can't say we "get it". But know what? We love him for loving it.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Think all man caves are furnished with cheap coffee tables and cheesy leather barcaloungers? Not this one. "All of the furniture is vintage 1960's and 1970's," he tells us, "And the tables on either end of the green couch were hand made by my grandfather in the 1950's." Very impressive.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Who says you can't make a salon wall with vintage Grateful Dead posters? We love the way the posters look framed above another MEGO collection -- this time it's Planet of the Apes figures. And they couldn't be lined up any neater. Bravo!

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    No, John Harr is not a minimalist. But he is a computer programmer, a Mensa member and a candy lover. "Sure, it's cluttered and unorganized and full of WD-40 and screw drivers," says his daughter Laura Hammet, "But it is also full of marbles, buttons, clocks and hand radios."

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Ever find yourself tearing your home apart searching for something? We bet John has it stashed somewhere in his man cave (and he probably knows exactly where it is.) "It's a pocket protector wearing dad's treasure trove!" says Laura.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Music Man Cave

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Music Man Cave

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Father and son Michael and Ryan Harty share this "guys hangout" -- a freestanding shed that Mrs. Harty never visits. Ever. "When she wants us to come in, she calls our cellphones," says Ryan.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    Above the doorway to the shed is Barry the Barry, a taxidermy bear courtesy of one of Michael's hunting trips. Originally, it was planned as decor for the house but after being deemed too scary, it went straight to the man cave.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves

    What good is a man cave without a good tool area? We love the old school computer and boom box, for staying entertained while fixing things up.

    Enter If You Dare: Man Caves



    And let us know about the man cave situation in your home...

    Now spill: Fun, or just crazy?

     

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    A glimpse at some of our favorite zebra finds on eBay. Check The Inside Source for more of our picks! Photos: eBay.

    Zebras, zebras everywhere! A trend so fun, it goes beyond stripes and highlights the friendly creature in entirety.

    Before hunting for zebras on eBay for The Inside Source, we took a look at where the trendlet came from...

    Its Roots: Poor zebras. While their graphic stripes have garnered enormous popularity -- and even backlash! -- in the design community, the zebras themselves don't get nearly as much love. Sure, they've had their moments in the limelight from time to time -- they're popular in African folktales, they had cameos in Madagascar, Racing Stripes and oh, does anyone remember the sweet Fruit Stripe gum zebra? But when it comes to decor, these striped horses finally got some love in the late 1930's, when Scalamandré introduced the iconic (and now recreated) zebra wallpaper for the New York restaurant Gino's. (Sadly for us -- and for Tory Burch -- it's now shut down.)


    Clockwise from top left: Scalamandre Zebras Wallpaper (Photo courtesy of Scalamandre); Turner Pocock Zebras wallpaper (Photo courtesy of Turner Pocock Cazalet); WildLife Prints Stripes Print (Photo courtesy of WildLife Prints); Sian Keegan's Patchwork Horse (Photo courtesy of Sian Keegan); Anthropologie's Through-the-Jungle Dishtowel, Zebra (Photo courtesy of Anthropologie).

    Seen Now: Hip London wallpaper company Turner Pocock is giving Scalamandré a run for its money with their Zebras print, with black zebras reflecting on white zebras. In sophisticated charcoal, it's certainly a more demure way to bring safari flair to your walls. Over in Nova Scotia, Jeff Friesen's funky WildLife Prints put zebras on a backdrop of their own stripes. (So meta.) Brooklyn-based textile designer Sian Keegan brought new life to zebras with her eco-friendly partchworked horses, and you know a trend's in full swing when you spy it at Anthropologie -- their dishtowel has two charming zebras peaking out from behind some lush greenery.

    Left to right: Miles Redd's design in Elle Decor (Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna, courtesy of Elle Decor); Melissa Warner's design (Photo courtesy of Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design).

    Top to bottom: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston, 2001. (C)Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection; THE DARJEELING LIMITED, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, 2007. (C)Fox Searchlight/courtesy Everett Collection.


    Loved By: While Scalamandré's wallpaper was originally created for Gino's, it's been used again and again by zebra devotees. Designer Miles Redd used the iconic Masai Red version in a home featured in Elle Decor that became an instant blog-world favorite, and Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design brought us the Safari Brown version in a guest bathroom. It was also used (in Serengeti Green!) in the lovely Kate Spade's guest bathroom, which should come as no surprise to any fans of Ms. Spade's candy-colored aesthetic. It was also spotted in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite and Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, behind the pouting face of Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot Tenenbaum. Further proof that Hollywood hipster golden boy Anderson is a true zebra fan? The Louis Vuitton-designed luggage in his film The Darjeeling Limited features zebras alongside giraffes and elephants.

    And one of zebra's most vocal adorers is the hilarious and tastemaking blogger Christian May of Maison21. "I like zebras because I love animals of all kinds, and I adore black and white as a decorating motif," he tells us, via email. "And zebras embody the best of both worlds -- I mean, who can resist a horse in fancy evening wear?" Well, when he puts it that way...certainly not us!

    Want to see more zebra picks? Check out The Inside Source for more of our favorite zebras on eBay!

    ...And check out our past collaborations with The Inside Source here.

    Craving more eBay goodness?

    The Stir has two home tours with eBay gems -- here and here!
    The Frisky has the scoop on eBay-obsessed Lynn Yaeger
    Learn about eBay's fair trade marketplace

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Drive This House
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    car-shaped houseWould you live in a car-shaped house? Photo: Markus Voglreiter


    A house designed to look like a car is a true motor home.


    At first glance, this might look like a child's toy -- Hot Wheels, maybe? But it's actually a real house created by master builder Markus Voglreiter. Modeled after the original Volkswagen Beetle and located near Salzburg, Austria, the unique car-shaped structure really does look like a Beetle, enormous wheels and all.

    car-shaped houseRelax on the grill -- er -- I mean balcony. Photo: Markus Voglreiter

    It wasn't always supposed to look like a car. Originally, Voglreiter purchased the lot and planned to renovate the existing house. But the lot was too steep for his plans. After joking with a friend that they might as well live in their cars, he got an idea -- why not build the house to look like one of his favorite vehicles?

    The three-story, 900-square-foot auto-shaped home sits on a cement foundation and is made mostly out of pine. It has two bedrooms located on the second floor, whose windows are the car's headlights. In the evening, the light from the bedrooms brings the car's silhouette alive even more, like a car driving along a dark street.

    car-shaped houseThere's aerodynamic design even in the bathroom. Photo: Markus Voglreiter

    Voglreiter, his wife Ursula, and their two children live in the house. The home created some tension with neighbors -- would you want this house next door? Plus, there are many people coming to the home just to get a glimpse of it. The wheels are partially built to help obscure the interior space and keep lookiloos out.

    The house cost approximately £750,000, or about $1.1 million, to build, and Voglreiter is not opposed to helping someone build their very own "motor home." Could one of these be popping up in your neighborhood?

    car-shaped houseMany of the home's elements are industrial, made to resemble automotive parts. Photo: Markus Voglreiter

    More automotive design: furniture from old car parts, perfect for inside your car-shaped home!

     

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    Valerie Kuypers, AFP Getty Images /

    The Dutch town of Limmen is now home to this 100 foot tall tower.

    What is it about LEGOs that gets everyone so excited? We've seen grown men fall to their knees to get some quality time with the colorful blocks, and even in a culture of tempting high-tech toys and big-eyed cartoon characters, kids are as drawn to LEGOs now as they were when the toys appeared on the scene in the 1930's.

    So the new world record for the tallest LEGO tower -- set at LEGOLAND Windsor in honor of the brand's 50th anniversary -- is certainly cause for celebration among enthusiasts around the world. Especially since the tower was built with the help of thousands of LEGOs biggest fans: children. Lucky park visitors built their own sections, seven-to-eight inch mini-towers that were lifted into their place by a crane.

    Getty Images | Corbis Images

    While this is certainly on a much grander scale than our previous LEGO favorites -- the LEGO bench, the kitchen, the house -- we still kind of covet it. Isn't a 100-foot-tall tower the perfect backyard conversation piece (if it doesn't drive the neighbors crazy first, that is)?

    Getty Images


    Of course, we can see how all of this could give some of you dear readers a case of LEGO fatigue...

     

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    Clockwise from top left: Vern Yip, Heather Armstrong, Carter Oosterhouse and Candice Olson. Photos: HGTV.

    Yes, they're obsessed with design. But who can resist a glass of red or white?

    HGTV kindly invited us to their Wine & Design event at the Top of the Rock this Wednesday, where we, well, sipped wine and talked design. But what did you expect? We also cornered four of our favorite HGTV stars to find out which of the night's themes they preferred.

    Candice Olson of HGTV Design Star and Divine Design

    I think good wine is better. Because good wine can inspire good design. Really! People always ask me where my inspiration comes from and it's usually from a glass of gooood Merlot at 11 at night.

    Vern Yip of HGTV Design Star and HGTV Urban Oasis
    For me, it's all about the good Diet Coke -- it has to be the right year, the right slice of lime... it's awesome, is it not? My best ideas have emanated from Diet Coke. I went off it for awhile but now I'm back with a vengeance!

    Carter Oosterhouse of Carter Can
    I would have to say a little bit of both -- and I'll tell you why. I've actually just started a winery -- just 20 acres and white wine for now, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio. But I also come from a design background, my family is all contractors and interior designers. So I'm really stuck in the middle.

    Heather Armstrong, HGTV Mommy Blogger
    Ooh, good wine. Because good wine can make even bad design seem good. See, bad wine, that's bad. But real bad design, that will mess. up. your. life. Good design is like your favorite song, it gives you chills and automatically puts you in a good mood.

    Can't you tell -- these guys are just as good in person as they are on TV! (And don't they all look great with fellow ShelterPop-er Jaimie from Design Milk?) But we're dying to know what you, dear readers, think about all this. Weigh in in the comments!

    And now that we've got wine on the brain...
    Have a Wine Tasting Party!
    Under $100: Wine Racks
    How to Make A Cork Trivet
    Affordable Quality Wines -- Demystified!

     

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    Our friends at the much-loved design site, Remodelista are our new international design scouts. Each week, they'll give ShelterPop a dose of amazing design from around the world that (here's the best part) you can buy in the US or better, have shipped to your door.

    Helenekilde Badehotel


    Noted, and admired, at the Helenekilde Badehotel in Denmark: black and white striped bone china Circle Line wall lights from UK company Original BTC; they are especially appealing when illuminated.

    Illumina Lighting & Interiors

    The Original BTC Circle Line Wall Light with hand-painted bone china shade and black and white cloth cord is £89 at Illumina in the UK. In the US, the Circle Line Wall Sconce is $195 (free shipping in contiguous US) from Horne.


    Horne also sells the Circle Line Table Light from Original BTC for $225 (below). Order from Horne by July 1 for a mid-August ship date.

    Horne

     

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  • 06/19/10--01:32: Weekly Link Love
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    Leah Rosenberg's artwork, courtesy of Pattern Pulp.


    Layering paint, removing wallpaper and backyard lighting that really shines....What we're lusting over in the blogosphere this week.

    Who knew that layers of paint could be so gorgeous? Wish we were in San Francisco for this exhibit! [Pattern Pulp]

    Two ways to shake up your life -- rearrange your furniture and paint your walls! We love that this advice always holds true. [The Frisky]

    Bryan Batt: Our favorite Mad Men character, co-owner of our favorite New Orleans decor boutique, author of a new "momoir"...and subject of the lovely Julia Reed's interview. [wowOwow]

    Design rip offs make us pretty angry. Thanks, Apartment Therapy for playing whistle blower on this one. [Apartment Therapy]

    We've been sending ESP vibes to Amy Merrick to feature The Breakfast Club in her humongously popular column "Living In"...and it finally worked! [Design*Sponge]

    Products that multitask: LOVE. This coffee table/shredder is too brilliant for words. [CasaSugar]

    Hey Barbie fans -- are you daring enough to display any of these stunning paintings? [If it's Hip it's Here]

    Sure, it's easy to spot all the pretty things. But Katy's wallpaper stripping post is pretty much a must-read for anyone considering this job. [Katy Elliott]

    Forget drinks, forget fancy snacks. Good backyard lighting is really the best part of an outdoor summer party. [The Stir]

    A lady after our own hearts -- AphroChic self-medicates with (what else?) Anthropologie. [AphroChic]

     

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