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.


Contributors: Kim Palmer, Lynn Underwood, Connie Nelson, Kim Ode and Nicole Hvidsten.

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Grading the HGTV smart home

Posted by: Lynn Underwood under Design + Architecture, Furniture, Decoration and design Updated: April 26, 2013 - 3:17 PM

I feel like a shallow guy at a college party. I’m in love with an HGTV sweepstakes home for its beauty, not its brains.

 I’m sure you’ve all heard of the HGTV Dream Home giveaway. This spring, HGTV is awarding the first Smart Home -  in a smart part of the country climate-wise - Jacksonville Beach, Florida. And only five blocks from the beach. (Go to www.hgtv.com to see photos and enter the contest. Deadline is May 31.)

You’d never guess that the old-fashioned shingle-style cottage with a beadboard ceiling front porch  is wired with a whole-house automation system. I’d just be happy with the fabulous vaulted living room decorated in animal and Floridian prints and a giant blue sailfish. I’d love sitting in those bamboo leaf stools in the beachy blue kitchen.

But right off the kitchen is a “launch port” that looks like something out of “Star Trek.”  With two smart tablets, the homeowner can control the security systems; heating and cooling, lighting,  whole-house audio system, and energy monitoring. Heck,  you even can program the raising and lowering of window shades and built-in seat warmers on the toilet.

 It’s not quite the Jetson’s -- - where’s  Rosie the Robot to make dinner and sort laundry? But I’m guessing that the  HGTV Smart Home is foreshadowing the typical home of the future.

But do we really want  to be plugged into our abode 24/7? Or is monitoring daily email, Facebook and texting on your Smart phone enough?

Photos by HGTV.


 

Bracing for spring

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten under Flowers, Gardening and landscaping, Home Improvement, Weekend chores Updated: April 24, 2013 - 8:04 AM

Lately I've had a lot in common with my tulips. I've been hunkering down close to the house, covered with a soft white blanket, peeking out every once in a while to see if it's safe to leave my comfort zon

Will we finally  break free from the snow?

Will we finally break free from the snow?

e. And just when I thought it was safe to come out, Mother Nature strikes again and it's just too much work to bloom.

Could this weekend finally be our shining moment?

With a forecast heralding 70-plus degrees, I'm almost giddy about what the weekend holds. Here are the top spring-weather priorities in my house; let's hear yours:

Fresh air. Eager to rid the house of the stale winter smells (special thanks to our dog, Stella), I start cracking the windows in my house as soon as the weather hits 40 degrees. Come Friday, everything will be wide open which will probably lead to ...

Cleaning windows. Last year I took advantage of my kids having a bonus day off of school because they didn't use all their snow days. This year I'm not so lucky. But that won't stop me. I'll be armed with window cleaner, soapy buckets of water and old toothbrushes to wash away the last of winter's charm. With spring finally here, I want to be able to see it.

Airing our dirty laundry: Or at least our bed linens. One of the first things I did when we moved in almost 14 years ago was put in a clothesline. It's like an old friend: we've both seen better days, and even though we go months without seeing each other, once spring comes it's like we were never apart. Plus, is there anything better than crawling into bed under covers that have spent the morning basking in the sun?

Assessing the damage: How did everything fare over the winter? Do my trees all have buds on them? Are the lilacs that we had so much hope finally going to look like something besides a bunch of twigs? What shrubs will we have to replace? Will our yard always look like one of the 10,000 lakes? Will my sump pump EVER stop running?

Prioritizing the priorities: I've been wanting to move my garden for years, but I've also been wanting to plant shrubs along our property line to add privacy. Edging needs to be replaced, dirt needs to be brought in to fill around the house. Do we want to replace the rock with mulch? And what about my front door? Will I finally find time to paint it, and the trim around it? (Again, special thanks to Stella for making that necessary.) So many decisions, so little time, and even less money.

The great clean-up: Thank goodness my town still does spring clean-up, so this weekend will be spent kicking things to the curb, literally. Fair warning to the basement, garage and my children: judgment day has arrived. But then, at the end of the day, it's ...

Patio season opener: Time to sweep off the patio, wipe down the chairs and replace the legs on the table. The grill will be out, and so will the spring and summer menus. Good bye, pot roast; hello, grilled steaks. Who's with me?

What are your top priorities this spring, besides just basking in the fact that it's finally here?

 

Sneak peek at craft show's inspired "rooms"

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Design + Architecture, Furniture, Decoration and design, Home Furnishing, Home Improvement, Minnesota newsmakers, Shopping Updated: April 19, 2013 - 12:03 PM

 

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

 

 

Conquering the world, one plunger at a time

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten under Improvement and repair, Home Improvement, Weekend chores Updated: April 17, 2013 - 9:09 AM

With thoughts of spring cleaning delayed with spring itself, it's been the perfect weather to curl up and start whittling away at the stack of magazines that have been accumulating. After recycling anything related to the holidays (what can I say, life is busy), I was left with a manageable pile of inspirational articles beckoning me to improve my life, home and everything in it.

The May issue of HGTV magazine highlighted 10 things everyone should know how to fix, and gave a short primer on how to do them. I was feeling good that I knew how to do the majority of them, and even better that my two teenage daughters are starting to chip away at the list, too:

Unclogging a toilet. Nothing causes more arguments in our house than a clogged toilet. We have a strict "you clog, you fix" rule, which comes with a fair amount of finger-pointing and is often i

gnored. One year we put toilet plungers alongside the candy canes in the Christmas stockings. I found it amusing and practical. Teenage daughters? Not so much. But even if it's not a Christmas gift, a good plunger is a must-have.

Snaking a shower drain. Three females in our house, all with long hair. A necessary -- and sometimes disgusting -- evil. You won't be sorry to have a small plumbing snake around the house. But you might want to keep it in a safe place -- little boys have a field day.

Installing a dimmer switch. Thanks to a poorly lit house, I have little need for dimmer switches. But if you know how to install one of these, a new light fixture isn't far behind. Nor are the automatic sensors that shut off lights when your children fail to do so. (The sensors are currently on my to-do list; lightbulbs are not cheap.) Fresh light fixtures can have a big impact on a room or the outside of a house. And now you can do it yourself!

Patching holes in the wall. Spackle can be a gal's best friend when you're just filling nail holes, but bigger holes require a little more effort. This article used wooden matches (not the end you light) to fill holes; I've also read that glue-soaked paper towels can do the trick. Mastering one of these will help fill the gaps left by those annoying yet necessary wall anchors.

Switching out a showerhead. Sounds easy, and it is. But did you know that wrapping plumber's tape around the threads will help get a better seal and prevent leaks? You're welcome.

Removing a broken key from a lock. If part of the key is still sticking out and you have a needle-nose pliers, you're in luck. Key buried inside the lock? Take a deep breath and call a locksmith.

Repairing a stripped screw hole and removing a stripped screw head.  After more than a couple of misfires with the electric screwdriver, you'd think I'd be a pro at dealing with stripped screws. Will definitely go back to this one.

Caulking around the tub. Three kids, all love water and long baths and showers. I should have mastered this years ago.

Using a fire extinguisher. I hate to even admit this, but I don't even have one. But I do have a birthday coming up ...

What are some fix-it tips you think everyone should know? Share your best tips with us.

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