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 Furniture

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? 



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.








Guy-friendly design

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 5, 2013 - 11:56 AM


Man caves are so last century! Today, manly style influences are inching up from the basement and making themselves comfortable all over the house.


As a reporter who talks to a lot of homeowners about their new homes and makeover projects, I've noticed that I'm talking to more men than I used to. Some guys still delegate "decorating" to their wives and girlfriends, but more men appear to have informed opinions about design and how it can make a home feel like home.

Increasingly, guys are expressing those opinions to influence the design process, and often taking the lead on design projects -- such as a Twin Cities man who hired a designer to put a masculine spin on his formerly feminine interiors (www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/146480965.html).

"In 2013, interior design will begin to mirror male preferences like never before," declared Freshome, a design and architecture blog that last week published its "Top 10 Most Talked About Interior Design Trends." (http://freshome.com/2013/01/29/top-10-interior-design-trends-for-2013/)

No. 1 on Freshome's top 10 trend list: "A New Relationship Between Men and Interior Design." Men in developed countries are spending more time at home than in the past, sharing childrearing and household chores, according to the blog, with the result that they're exerting more influence on their surroundings.

The proliferation of design-oriented TV shows, magazines and web content also has to be a factor, in my opinion. More guys are being exposed to design principles and conversation -- even if they're just accidentally seeing or hearing the shows that someone else turned on. With more exposure comes more opinion and insight.

How will male influence play out in home decor? Expect to see more "functionality over 'cuteness,' less-flashy colors and sober furniture details," according to Freshome. And this is good news, from an aesthetic standpoint, because it creates "visual  balance" that makes both sexes feel at ease.

What do you think? Are guys as a group getting more comfortable with -- and more opinionated about -- home decor? What does guy-friendly design look like at your house? And does male-female balance make for better design? 



Star-struck at home?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: January 29, 2013 - 4:23 PM


During awards season, a lot of us have celebrities on the brain. We're inundated with tidbits about Jennifer Lawrence's peekaboo SAG gown and Jodie Foster's cryptic speech and whether "Argo" will trump "Lincoln" at next month's Academy Awards.

After the Oscars, all the buzz about who got snubbed, and who looked hot -- or horrendous -- on which red carpet will quickly disappear.

But the homestyle industry now seems permanently star-struck year-round. When the celebrity-branded furniture trend  first reared its head, many thought it would be a short-lived fad.



Yes, many big-name brands have come and gone (Elvis bedroom sets, anyone?) But the broader trend of hitching home goods to a star appears to have survived the recession and is still going strong. 

Just in the last year, we've seen the launch of Brad Pitt's high-end furniture collection, Justin Timberlake's "curated" line of art and accessories for HomeMint, Nate Berkus' Target launch, and the Kardashian sisters' "kollection" of bed and bath products for Sears.

We've had furniture and home goods headlined by jocks (John Elway, Steffi Graf/Andre Agassi), fading glamour girls (Cindy Crawford, Kathy Ireland, Jaclyn Smith) and moguls (Martha Stewart, Donald Trump).


We've even had furniture branded for dead celebrities (Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, Elvis) and people associated with dead celebrities (Princess Diana's brother and her former butler).


It's a safe bet that the High Point furniture market in April will feature at least one new collection with a famous name and face attached to it.

I don't get it, frankly. I want my home to reflect MY style, my family members' style, not the style of some famous person I know only from the pages of People magazine. Although I suppose if I fell in love with a particular piece I wouldn't let a celebrity brand stop me from bringing it home.

So how about you? Are there celebrity home collections you like? Have you bought anything for your home with a star's name on it? And if you were a furniture maker, what famous face would you try to partner with? 


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