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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Posts about Decoration and design

Out of Africa, into your family room

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: March 12, 2013 - 11:14 AM


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? 

Confessions of a gawker

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: March 5, 2013 - 11:10 AM


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 Everything looks a little shabbier and more outdated after gazing at all that pristine, styled perfection.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?

Get the dirt at the H&G Show

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 28, 2013 - 10:17 AM


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.


The graying of America -- 50 shades of confusion

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 19, 2013 - 10:36 AM


I was at the paint store last night, struggling to find the right color to complement my countertops without overpowering my cabinets, when I overheard a conversation between another customer and the guy behind the counter.


The customer was stumped. He was trying to find the perfect gray for his project. He'd tried several shades already, but nothing was quite right. One gray was too cool. Another was too muddy.

I know the guy at the paint store isn't alone with this color conundrum. Gray has been the "It" neutral for several years, showing up increasingly in chic shops and magazine spreads.

Now it appears the rest of us have gotten the memo -- and fallen madly in love with gray. The latest evidence comes from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, which recently released its 2013 style report (www.nkba.org). 

"Gray color schemes have witnessed a dramatic escalation since 2010, particularly over the last year," according to the NKBA. Gray was used in 55 percent of kitchens and 56 percent of bathrooms during the last quarter of 2012, up from 9 percent of kitchens and 12 percent of bathrooms just two years earlier.

White and beige are still the top colors in both rooms, but gray is coming on strong, while browns are in decline.

Choosing colors is always tricky,  but gray is especially so. The wrong shade can make a room feel chilly and dreary. But adding undertones to warm it up sometimes pushes the gray into purple territory once it's splashed on a wall. That's a good look in some rooms, but definitely not all.

The design/decor website Houzz has some good tips on how to pick the right gray (www.houzz.com/ideabooks/454963/list/Choosing-Paint--How-To-Pick-the-Right-Gray)

How about you? Have you caught gray fever? And if you have, what gray did you choose -- and what did you pair it with?  

What does your sofa say about you?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 12, 2013 - 11:21 AM


I was wasting time online Sunday, wandering aimlessly through cyberspace, when a headline caught my eye: "What your sofa color says about you." I'm a sucker for stories like these --  (Hey, I minored in psychology) -- so I clicked the link.


It took me to a website called Homesessive (www.homesessive.com), from AOL-Huffpost Home. The color revelations weren't exactly earth-shaking. If your couch is red, you're probably confident and full of energy. If it's yellow, you like to have fun. Blue, you're a traditionalist. White? You're looking for new beginnings.

I trolled some more and found another sofa-color analysis, this one on Modern Sensibility (www.modsensibility.blogspot), a blog published by a Canadian furniture store of the same name.

According to this blog, black conveys an air of "power and sophistication," and choosing it for your sofa suggests you are "confident, self-aware and enjoy the finer elegant things in life."

Gray, "the new beige," is chosen by those who are conservative, knowledgeable, "know their worth but don't feel the need to brag or boast about it." (As opposed to those confident people who like to throw their high-energy red and powerful black in our faces, I guess.)


Then there's brown. It's the most popular sofa color, according to Modern Sensibility, because it's practical, offering stability and blending into just about any color scheme. It's also a good choice for those who like to entertain because it creates a "comfortable, inviting atmosphere" that will automatically make guests feel closer to you, because you will be seen as a warm, approachable person.


Well! I had no idea my sofa was sending out so many signals. (It's mostly brown, by the way, but it has a pattern, which may or may not mean I'm more -- or less -- inviting and approachable than those who choose the solid color. Neither of the blogs ventured into the psychological significance of patterns.)

In my world, sofa-color choices are less about personal expression and more about finding something that works with what you've already got. The fabric we settled on was one that harmonized with our carpet and woodwork, without clashing too badly with our chairs.

To me, a white sofa says you don't have kids or pets. A pink sofa may be "playful" (Homesessive), but it also suggests there's no man of the house -- or if there is, that you're trying to keep him from hanging out in that room watching football games.

So what color is your sofa? Why? And does it sum up your personality -- or not? 




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