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 Home Furnishing

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?  

Everything in its place

Posted by: Kim Ode Updated: February 18, 2013 - 10:39 AM

We are creatures of habit,. whether or not those habits make sense. And nothing reveals the depth of habit like the location of commonplace objects.

I've known this for some time, ever since the vegetable peeler inexplicably got placed in the silverware drawer when we moved to a new house. It made no sense, being apart from all the other gadgets, yet inertia (and bigger fish to fry) enabled the peeler  to remain there just long enough that it cannot be moved.

I know; I tried -- once.

This knowledge of habit, however, did not keep me from removing a wall clock from its longtime location near our dinner table.The clock had been there for years, but  -- true confession time -- it was one of those bird clocks that tweeted with a different bird song every hour. Clever for the first several years, blithely ignored for the next several, and then, suddenly, quite annoying! Time for it to go.

I should have had another clock in hand as a replacement, but I rather liked changing up the space with a painting. Still, not a single day went by when I didn't glance there for the time -- even with the oven's digital clock at hand. Our son was most miffed at the change. I realized that clock had been there all his life. Hmmmm.

So, in the midst of post-holiday putting-the-house-back-together, I moved a cabinet on which our mantel clock sits into that location. Now our glances for the time are immediately satisfied -- except when we look to where this clock USED to be.

All of which has got me thinking about the degree of thought we put into where things end up in our houses. Logic guides most decisions, yet there are those wonderful options for things like clocks or lamps or coat hooks. Perhaps I should have changed things up more regularly, to keep habits from being formed. Although I suspect that may only have driven everyone a little crazy on an equally regular basis.

This came up again over the weekend when I moved my jewelry box from the shelf where it's been for 20 years. It's never fit quite right, yet remained -- 20 years, really? --because it was in the logical place. Maybe it's middle-aged "not gonna settle anymore," but I took the giant step of moving it into an adjoining room. Already, I know it's not going to work there, but I'm determined not to move it back to its old, not quite right place.

Wheels are spinning............where ELSE can I move it? What other habits can I thwart?

How about you? Have you changed the location of something for all the right reasons, and yet consternation follows? Do you reverse yourself and put things back where they were? How long before a new habit takes hold?

Everyone needs a good editor

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: February 13, 2013 - 9:30 AM

My children are never too thrilled when I correct their grammar or spelling. It's an occupational hazard of a journalist, I tell them; everyone needs an editor.

As we're nearing the end of The Basement Project, I tell them the same thing: Everyone needs an editor. This time we're not talking about the content of a school paper, we're talking about the contents of their bedrooms. New flooring has given us the unique opportunity to sort through, pare down, edit -- whatever you want to call it -- and make their rooms a little less cluttered.

Before TBP, their rooms were typical teenage rooms chock-full of stuff. New stuff, old stu

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

ff, school stuff, sports stuff, kitchen stuff, moldy stuff and unidentifiable stuff. Now as we start putting things back and establishing a new sense of normal, I'm asking them to think about everything before they put it back. Do they really need three years' worth of clothes? How about those third-grade notebooks? Are three bookshelves and a kitchen cart really necessary to hold all of your stuff, or is that just a sign you have too much stuff?

Oldest daughter is on board. She wants to start streamlining what's going back into her room. She's asked for a couple of organizational tools (she knows I'm a sucker for those) and has announced that she doesn't need all the furniture to go back into her room. I was elated, and am happy to help in this transformation. Not only is it some bonding time, but it will make preparing for college much easier, at least from a material standpoint.

Second daughter is a tougher sell. She is a pack rat by nature, and wants to save everything "just in case." She also dismisses any offers to help -- "I don't want anyone touching my stuff" -- which makes it all the more difficult to sell her on the concept. It's hard to be the editor when you're not allow access to the content. I can help you make sense of things, I say. She says she doesn't need that. I can help you be more organized, I say. I'm fine, she says. Fine, I say, until the next time you can't find uniform shorts or a cell phone. It's a vicious circle.

So how do you convince someone that they need an editor when the promise of a room that's easier to keep clean just isn't enough? How have you successfully pared down your stuff or the stuff of your teen? Can you really have too many books?

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? 



All the world's a desk

Posted by: Kim Ode Updated: February 11, 2013 - 10:08 AM


LinkedIn, the business networking site, recently posted a item about desks "where big ideas are born." http://linkd.in/UAmhTl


There is Richard Branson, the flamboyant founder of Virgin Airlines, sitting on a beach in the deck chair that constitutes his office, iced tea in hand, surrounded by colleagues for a staff meeting. Arianna Huffington, editor of the Huffington Post, sits at a desk (actually a table) piled with books, in an office piled with books that's a sort of fishbowl in the middle of the newsroom. Steve Rubel of EVP/Global Strategy has a desk "so empty some think it's vacant."


Each claims to have the desk that works for them, and at that level, they should. But most of us who try to eke out a space at home for "desk work" have to make do, fending off it becoming a place for homework to be dumped, laundry to be piled, projects to be begun -- in short, to be used as almost any flat space in a home gets used.


Part of the challenge often is space. Do we have room to dedicate to a desk that may or may not be used every day? And really, a space just to corral the mail, pay bills, make grocery lists? This is digital world, baby - we can do that anywhere!


But the bigwigs who shared their desk spaces with LinkedIn often came back to an underlying benefit of taking time to make your desk space the best ever: A good desk inspires better thinking, better ideas, better organization.


I've been noodling how to carve out a better desk for myself at home - something better than the telephone counter that's served us for, well, years. So I was intrigued by the ideas on this site, www.decoist.com. (Type "home desk" into the search field.


DIY is the byword here, with desks inspired by basic materials -- including stunner made from recycled books in a library! Large or small, they are driven bythe idea that a highly personalized space drives you - the personalizer - to better things.

Nothing groundbreaking, in some ways, yet I recognized in myself a tendency to have a desk that's task-oriented instead of user-friendly. It's a subtle distinction, but crucial, for if you're not happy in your work space, those tasks may perhaps be done less well and - my own challenge -- will take longer because I'll procrastinate about sitting down to do them.









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