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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Color us ready for spring!

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Design + Architecture, Flowers, Decoration and design, Gardening and landscaping, Improvement and repair, Home Improvement Updated: April 2, 2013 - 11:12 AM


We're all starving for a little color after this exceedingly long gray winter.

I'm already dreaming of the palette for this year's containers flanking my front door. Will I go dramatic, with orange-red blooms and some black foliage to set them off? Or more fresh and springy, with bright pink and lime green?

Maybe I'll even paint my boring brown door a fun new color. I tried that once on my first house, after admiring a taupe-and-mulberry color scheme on another house in the neighborhood. But the color that looked mulberry on the little paint chip ended up looking bright purple once it covered my whole door. I grew to like my purple door, but the next owner painted over it immediately. Back to boring brown.

If you're curious how a bold color might look on your front door, check out this gallery at Curbly, the St. Paul-based DIY website  (http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/10559-eye-candy-6-colorful-front-doors)



Color can do a lot to perk up and unify a landscape, as well as the house itself. One of last year's Beautiful Gardens contest winners used bright cobalt-blue containers to create a unifying color scheme in her garden. Even a vintage clothesline pole, used as a trellis, got a coat of cobalt spray paint. 

If you could use some help with your exterior color scheme, considering entering the "Shake It Up" Exterior Color Contest now underway via DaVinci Roofscapes, a Kansas City-based roofing company. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash grand prize to help add color to the home exterior.

To enter, you can "Like" the DaVinci Facebook page  and submit a digital photo of your home's exterior, along with a brief description (250 words or less) of how you want to "shake up" the exterior of your home with color. (Deadline is April 21). A color expert will  choose five finalists, then work with an artist to create renderings and product lists showing how the five finalists could transform their home exteriors. Then the five photos and artist renderings will be posted on the contest site from May 13-26 for online public voting, with the cash going to the home with the most votes.

What color are you craving this spring? And how do you plan to use it on the home front? 




Where "on-trend" is trending

Posted by: Kim Ode under Decoration and design Updated: March 26, 2013 - 11:02 AM

Someday, I will be on-trend -- a phrase that has been defined by some as an oh-so-trendy way to say trendy. Right.

I was once, I think, when we painted a room Burnt Olive, a dark green risk that remains quite sophisticated. Good thing, too, because it would be a bear to paint over.

In any case, the recent International Home + Housewares Show (IHA) in Chicago provided a glimpse at what's going to be on-trend NEXT year. Color is always the big factor, and Pantone, the company that proclaimed a peculliar shade of green called Emerald this year's hot color, laid it all out in a special exhibit.

Reports from the field describe it thusly:

Hot color palette themes "include Techno Color, Physicality, Sculpted Simplicity, Tribal Threads, Moda, Eccentricities, Intimacy, Collage and Fluidity.

What does this mean? Techno colors are Dark Citron and Methyl Blue. Look for those shades in the kitchen.

Sculpted Simplicity shows up in gear such as knife sets, corkscrews and travel mugs. Trudeau, in fact, has a knife set that's completely red, blades and all.

Colors in the Tribal Thread palette  -- and I quote --include a neutral kangaroo-like color [that] balances well with Arabesque burnt orange."

The Moda palette goes for a "svelte and voluptuous" vibe with colors such as Blackberry Cordial and Wood Violet.

In short, on-trend looks like deep colors, vivid colors, big colors. In a landscape that remains both wonderfully and depressingly white, I'm vulnerable to these suggestions. Should I take the risk?

Have you taken a color risk and had it go well? Ever been surprised at how the color swatch looks different when it's a whole wall? Are there tricks to helping that transition from small to large work best?

I mean, I'm thinking Blackberry Cordial would make me very on-trend ... somewhere.


Minnesota's coziest wine cellar?

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Design + Architecture, Furniture, Construction, Decoration and design, Home Furnishing, Home Improvement Updated: March 25, 2013 - 11:25 AM


I was on my way home from church, and the time was closer to noon than to "happy hour."  But after I visited a home on the Remodelers Showcase tour, I felt like popping a cork and pulling up a chair. 


It was a wine cellar, maybe the cutest, coziest wine cellar I've ever been inside. With barrel-vault ceilings, stone walls and a granite tasting table, built-in racks, a wine-glass "chandelier" and even a stained-glass window, it was an oenophile's dream hangout.

Tucked into the corner of a walkout basement in Eden Prairie, in a former toy-storage space, the wine cellar was just one part of a much larger remodeling project by Murphy Bros. Design Build (www.mbros.com) and designer Cherie Poissant. The new kitchen, mud room and master suite were beautiful, too, but the wine celler was the spot that I most coveted. 


It wasn't climate-controlled, so it's not a cellar for a serious wine connoisseur and collector, who wants to age and preserve valuable vintages. 


But for the casual wine afficionado who just wants a fun place to sip with a few friends, it was perfect.

I've never seriously considered adding a wine cellar -- I was trolling for master-bathroom ideas -- but a spot like this is now on my home fantasy wish list.


Sneak peek at the flower show

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Flowers, Grasses, Gardening and landscaping, Shopping Updated: March 22, 2013 - 6:08 PM


Ever seen this flower before? Here's a hint: You're not likely to find one blooming in a local back yard.


It's a chocolate cherry orchid, one of the many tropical plants on display at this year's annual Macy's Flower Show.

The theme is "The Painted Garden." A team from Bachman's has spent many months planning and growing exotic plants, followed by nine full days of installation, to transform Macy's eighth-floor auditorium into a Southeast Asian-inspired garden getaway. Think of it as a passage to India without the airfare.

This year's show is a kaleidoscope of brilliant color, designed with color-block plantings that take their cue from sets painted to celebrate Indian architecture.


The centerpiece of the show is a giant Asian elephant statue covered with a blanket of dried and fresh plants and flowers and bearing a howdah (Indian carriage) filled with dozens of tropical blooms.


Bachman's designers Karen Ortiz and Leah Schmidt used 20 different kinds of plant material to create the blanket alone.

You can experience this year's flower show firsthand starting Sunday, March 24, when the  show opens for its two-week run. (For information on hours and related special events, including classes and the Bouquet of the Day, visit www.macys.com).

In the meantime, if you need your flower fix, look for a video tour of this year's show that will be posted Saturday on startribune.com.

And if you know your stuff when it comes to plants, see how many of the 20 plants you can identify in the elephant's blanket.




Happy spring?

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten under Home Improvement, Weekend chores Updated: March 20, 2013 - 8:38 AM

Spring is within reach, even though the icy roads, piles of snow and obscenely cold weather say otherwise. But there are some advantages to having spring wait just a LITTLE bit:

Hold off on spring cleaning. If the birds aren't chirping and the weather isn't conducive to hanging winter jackets, quilts, curtains and the like on the clothesline, it's too early to clean. Boots are still tracking grit through the house and carpets are looking sad after barely surviving another winter. Once we have no need for hats and scarves and snow boots are a distant memory, grab your cleaning supplies and have at it.

Stay cozy. Windchills below zero? Keep those heavy throw rugs down and don't dismiss your down comforter just yet. Give them a good shake every now and again, but wait a few weeks to wash them and tuck them away for the season. If you're itching to be out with the old, start the hunt for the spring pillows and curtains that are stored deep inside the basement in one of the many, many plastic totes.

Longer-lasting blooms. Last year my tulips were up way too early and didn't last nearly long

Later spring = longer bloom time.

Later spring = longer bloom time.

enough. Maybe this year there won't be as big of a gap between the end of tulip season and the beginning of annuals planting. Once you go green ...

Daydream while looking out the windows. But don't wash them. Plenty of time for that. Wait until there's a near zero chance of snow and sleet to brighten your view. Meantime, grab a cup of coffee and ponder all the gifts spring will bring.

No dog duty. Literally. Anyone with a pet is in no hurry to see what's left behind when the snow melts.

Leave the yard alone. Early and unseasonably warm springs bring the temptation to start raking lawns way before the lawn is ready for it. Now you have no choice. Use the extra time to finish that book -- guilt-free!

Clothing clarity. With this cold snap, at least you know where you stand. When the weather is 50 one day and 15 the next, the mudroom/entry/hallway gets crowded with everyone's ... stuff. Winter coats, spring coats, thick gloves, thin gloves, snow boots, stylish boots -- once spring hits, the coat tree loses its branches. Keep the sweaters front and center; the linen will just have to wait.

But this is Minnesota; a week from now it could be 60. But I won't be washing windows yet. Putting away my Christmas lights? Perhaps.

What are you doing -- or not doing -- to get your home ready for spring?



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