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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 Everything looks a little shabbier and more outdated after gazing at all that pristine, styled perfection.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.
You can't miss the media blitz trumpeting this weekend's arrival of the Parade of Homes and the Home & Garden Show, both signs that spring is finally within reach.
The timing couldn't be more perfect. I'm sick of the inside of my house and am ready to focus on the outside, even though the inside is still in desperate need of my attention. I'm ready to throw open the windows, trade my painting tools for garden tools and start dreaming about making my yard into a backyard oasis. When it comes to dreams, I don't mess around. I dream big -- otherwise why bother? -- and I let the dreams stay with me through all the home shows, garden displays and magazine spreads. Reality will kick in soon enough.
Dream 1: The 12x12 cement slab is converted to a huge paved patio -- half of it covered -- that will become our outdoor "living space." Bugs are not allowed, but a fire pit is.
Dream 2: Said patio also includes a living room's worth of furniture, complete with a chair for napping. Outdoor naps are pretty hard to beat. And if my table should all of a sudden appear with legs that aren't corroded, all the better.
Dream 3: We'll say goodbye to our trusty grill to make room for an outdoor kitch
Dream 4: My salsa garden is now a flower bed filled with daisies and some of my other favorite blooms because I now have a larger vegetable garden -- and time in my life to maintain it.
Dream 5: Privacy will become a reality, thanks to the line of shrubs I will plant and the fact that our trees will grow eight feet this spring. Wait, this is a dream: someone else will plant the shrubs for me.
Dream 6: Our past-its-prime siding will be replaced and I will finally paint my front door the turquoise I've been eyeing.
Dream 7: I will be able to maintain my new living space, along with the flower pots, beds, herb garden, etc. the entire summer. I will NOT give up by the end of July.
Do you have spring fever? What are some things you're looking forward to accomplishing this summer? Dream on!
The success of Hennepin County's Fixit-It clinics has prompted a company east of the Mississippi to do likewise.
Fixity is a small St. Paul business founded in 2011 for the purpose of giving people a place where they can bring many household items that are on the fritz. At best, they can be repaired. At worst, recycled. The whole Idea is to keep landfills from being loaded up with old toasters and lamps.
Fixity's cool company image is at right.
The repairers on Fixity's staff usually charge a nominal hourly fee for their expertise. But on Saturday, March 2, they're opening their shop for their first-ever F.R.E.E -- Fix and Repair Everything Event -- from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Linwood Recreational Center, 860 St. Clair Av., in St. Paul.
Volunteer handy-people wil be at your service, helping you learn how to repair zippers, small appliances, VCRs, lamps -- or at the least, give them their best shot.
According to a news release, Fixity "hopes to strengthen and generate more community aware in 'the art of fixing.' " Katherine Hayes, Fixity's founder and owner, said she wants people to see the value in repairing something for likely less than its replacement cost. Plus, it's cool to learn skills, right?
For more information about the event, visit Fixity at www.gofixity.com.
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