Welcome to Homegirls. You'll find a sassy sampling of décor and design tips, frank conversation about everything from holidays and homekeeping to home improvement and our picks and pans of new products, stores and events.
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It was worth the snowy drive last night to get an early peek at "Make Room," the inspired room vignettes at the American Craft Council show (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/202743811.html), opening today in St. Paul.
Ten interior designers each chose a favorite item of fine craft -- a handwoven rug, a piece of handcrafted furniture or an art piece -- .then created a "room" to complement their find.
The idea was to put craft in context, and encourage visitors to fall in love with a piece, then imagine how they might bring that piece home and incorporate it into their decor.
Here are just a few examples of the diverse and intriguing designer "rooms" on display at RiverCentre through Sunday, April 21:
The graphically geometric room at right was designed by Lucy Penfield of Lucy Interior Design
This room (below) , inspired by the "well-traveled collector," was created by Andrew Flesher, Andrew Flesher Interiors
A colorful handwoven rug by fiber artist Kelly Marshall inspired this room, below, by Lisa Ball, Design By Lisa
Greg Walsh, Walsh Design Group, drew inspiration from multiple craft artists to create the organic, moden room below:
Robb Whittlef of Historic Studio describes the room below as "Eccentric Minimalism." Check out the retro 1960s floor tile, recently removed from Liberace's last house in California, which Whittlef is helping to renovate
I was on my way home from church, and the time was closer to noon than to "happy hour." But after I visited a home on the Remodelers Showcase tour, I felt like popping a cork and pulling up a chair.
It was a wine cellar, maybe the cutest, coziest wine cellar I've ever been inside. With barrel-vault ceilings, stone walls and a granite tasting table, built-in racks, a wine-glass "chandelier" and even a stained-glass window, it was an oenophile's dream hangout.
Tucked into the corner of a walkout basement in Eden Prairie, in a former toy-storage space, the wine cellar was just one part of a much larger remodeling project by Murphy Bros. Design Build (www.mbros.com) and designer Cherie Poissant. The new kitchen, mud room and master suite were beautiful, too, but the wine celler was the spot that I most coveted.
It wasn't climate-controlled, so it's not a cellar for a serious wine connoisseur and collector, who wants to age and preserve valuable vintages.
But for the casual wine afficionado who just wants a fun place to sip with a few friends, it was perfect.
I've never seriously considered adding a wine cellar -- I was trolling for master-bathroom ideas -- but a spot like this is now on my home fantasy wish list.
Move over, Tuscan. There's a new ethnic style influence emerging in fashion-forward showrooms and home interiors. Think tribal masks, zebra stripes and all things African.
African-inspired decor was recently identified as a top trend for 2013 by Freshome, a design and architecture blog. (http://freshome.com/2013/01/29/top-10-interior-design-trends-for-2013/) The style is considered "dynamic and exotic ... bringing warm colors and animal-skin imitations back into the eclectic interiors of fashion enthusiasts." We'll be seeing more wooden furniture decorated with carvings or wrought iron, sculptures and handmade decorations in the months ahead, according to Freshome.
It makes sense. The bold graphic patterns and rustic elements we associate with African style marry well with the simple, modern aesthetic that is also trending upward.
I don't see a lot of African-influenced decor here in frozen Minnesota, but I did see a spectacular example recently: an entire house designed to reflect a local couple's love for their favorite place. Watch for a story and photo gallery in an upcoming edition of the Sunday Homes section.
In the meantime, what do you like best about African style? Were you ahead of the curve, with African influences already incorporated into your home's decor?
I have a love-hate relationship with the Parade of Homes. As a house junkie, I love looking at gorgeously staged rooms, trophy kitchens and state-of-the-art fixtures and finishes.
But I always come home a bit discouraged with my own humble dwelling. Everything looks a little shabbier and more outdated after gazing at all that pristine, styled perfection.
The most luxurious homes are the best -- and the worst. They offer great eye candy, but the contrast between somebody else's dream home and my reality can be pretty stark.
I know the Parade is supposed to be for people who are thinking about building a home, and are looking for ideas and resources. But I also know there are a lot of gawkers like me who just like to fantasize about living in the sorts of homes they never will.
My own personal "Dream Home" is probably a cozy cottage or a warm Mediterranean-style home with a red-tile roof. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate Dream Homes with a very different aesthetic.
I got a sneak preview of one of this year's Dream Homes last week, the day before the Parade opened. It's sleek, modern and high-tech, with state-of-the-art everything and a black, white and gray color palette. It felt cool and calm, even with people running all around arranging wine bottles in the cellar and elegant vases on the tabletops.
What would it be like to actually live in a house like that? Would such a clean, uncluttered space inspire a cleaner, less-cluttered life? Or would we soon overrun it with knick-knacks, disorganized bills, newspapers, magazines and tufts of dog fur?
I know the answer to that question, unfortunately!
How about you? Do you check out the Parade of Homes just to gawk? What kinds of houses do you like to look at?
Consider me inspired. I spent some time yesterday wandering the Home & Garden Show, always a fertile place for ideas on the home front. I had spring fever, so I lingered in the display gardens, where this year's theme is classic TV shows.
A garden inspired by "I Dream of Jeannie"? Yep. And "Miami Vice" and "Gilligan's Island." The nine TV-inspired gardens are a blast to stroll through. Don't miss 'em!
But even if you're not planning something that elaborate for your own landscape this year, you'll still find plenty of ideas and resources for beautifying your home, both inside and out.
Greengirls, the Star Tribune's garden bloggers, will be at the show to dish the dirt.
Want to be in the know on what's new? Tonight at 6 p.m., you can learn about the hottest garden trends, from edible landscapes to the latest water features, presented by Greengirls Connie Nelson, Mary Jane Smetanka and Helen Yarmoska -- on the Lifestyle Stage.
Stick around after the presentation for free seed packets and gardening calendars, which will be handed out between 7 and 8 p.m. in the garden area.
If you can't make the show tonight, the Greengirls also will be making the show this weekend, handing out free sees and gardening calendars, and answering your toughest garden questions. On Friday, March 1, 5:30-6:30 p.m., the Greengirl of the day will be Helen Yarmoska. And on Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m.-noon, it's Martha Buns.
Come say "Hi," pick up your free seeds, and check out a garden fit for a genie -- or a shipwrecked castaway.
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