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.
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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?
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?
Have you taken the video virtual tour of this year’s HGTV Dream Home? Every year, it triggers the question “If I win, would I leave Minnesota and my family and friends and move in?” I was on the fence about last year’s remote Utah lodge, but this year my answer is “heck, yes.”
All it took was a photo of the tropical wood front porch furnished with charming woven chairs to make me fantasize about living in the “coastal cottage” on Kiawah Island, only 20 miles from Charleston, S. Carolina. The marshland surroundings and nearby Atlantic Ocean give it a “walking on the beach with Nick Nolte in Prince of Tides” kind of feeling.
The house is just my style - old-fashioned beachhouse-cottage architectural details on the outside and a clean-lined modern aesthetic on the inside. My to-die-for space is the second floor loft awash in a “tidal blue” color palette and suspended above the great room. And on hot and steamy evening, I’ll sip a cocktail on the back porch surrounded by southern palmetto trees and an Infinity Plunge Pool that’s lit up at night.
The builder/designer thought of every amenity for Southern comfort -- the structure can even withstand hurricanes. That’s a relief.
I'm going to enter twice a day at www.hgtv.com and www.frontdoor.com until the Feb. 15 deadline to win the completely furnished home – plus $500,000 and a GMC SUV to sweeten the pot. Eight-one million dreamers entered last year.
What do you think of this year’s charming potential life-changer on the S. Carolina coast?
Photo provided by HGTV.
I spent Sunday night with my 22-year-old daughter, watching the Golden Globes. She stuck around long enough to see Lena Dunham and "Girls" pick up awards, then headed home to her apartment in Uptown, where her roommate and the "Girls" season 2 premiere were waiting.
Like the characters on "Girls," my daughter doesn't make a lot of money and can barely afford her rent. Her apartment is nothing glamorous, but it's in the heart of Uptown. That makes it perfect in her eyes.
It's also a magnet for her friends and their friends, which is both good and bad. Everyone wants to hang out there, which is fun at happy hour but kind of a drag at 1 a.m. when random acquaintances want to crash on her couch rather than pay for a cab.
Hearing her stories -- and watching "Girls" -- reminds me of my own early 20s, and the "perfect" and not-so-perfect places I called home during those dramatic years.
There was the duplex in Prospect Park, the one I shared with my two best friends from college. I couldn't afford a car, or even much food, but at least I got skinny.
Then there was the duplex in Seward that I shared with two other friends and an army of mice. (Couldn't wait to get out of that one!)
My first solo apartment, at age 24, was actually in a senior citizens' apartment complex, where my comings and goings were closely monitored by self-appointed surrogate grandparents.
Finally, at 25, I found my "perfect" home -- a freshly renovated century-old house with a built-in buffet, pocket doors and a fireplace. It was still a rental, but a palace compared to my previous dwellings.
A decade later, I was a young mom, and the perfect home became one with a good school district and a cul-de-sac full of little playmates for my kids. But now that my kids are young adults, I'd like to unload my too-big house, leave the 'burbs and find a perfect little house back in the city.
No doubt, my daughter's definition of the perfect home will continue to morph as well. I think she'll remain an urban dweller for years to come, but maybe she'll tire of Uptown's constant bustle and sky-high rents. Or maybe, as her career -- and hopefully her paycheck -- grows, she'll be able to afford a slightly more spacious and stylish apartment.
The cash-strapped girls on "Girls" can only dream of the apartment inhabited by Charlie, Marnie's ex-boyfriend, who used his architectural and handyman skills to put a distinctive spin on his space. ("'Girls' has a breakout star: Charlie's apartment")
A blogger at Houzz has even imagined the homes the "Girls" girls will create once they grow into their own style -- and have the cash to express it. (http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2518280/list/Screen-Style-Forecast--When-the--Girls--Grow-Up)
What's your idea of the "perfect" home? And how has it changed over the years?
Still miss Domino? Lonny.com is the next-best thing.
I’m a regular reader of the bi-monthly online shelter magazine because it’s just like flipping through a real glossy mag. It’s also full of relatable down-to-earth design ideas and offers a smart take on how real people outfit their interiors
This month’s issue ponders “Interior Design Rules You Should Break.” DIYers are intimidated by conventional wisdom regarding how to put together a room, said Lonny. When I went through the checklist, I discovered I was a already a decorating iconoclast – unintentionally.
Rule: Match Your Wood Finishes
Many people are afraid to mix wood finishes in a single room, said Lonny. I must be pretty brave because my family room is an assortment of whitewashed wood hutch, dated 1990s golden oak coffeetable and dark walnut side table from a junk bonanza. No worry. “Varying wood tones create a layered look,” said Lonny.
Rule: Every Window Needs a Window Treatment
Two walls of windows remain bare and exposed in our family room addition finished four years ago. At night, the neighbors can easily watch me watching “Gray’s Anatomy,” and during the day the space feels unclothed and cold. I’ll dress the windows some day. “There’s no shame in a naked window,” says Lonny.
Rule: Use Small Furniture in a Small Room
I have a tiny dining room and it’s overstuffed with a huge mahogany dining room table. At Thanksgiving, guests have to take turns pulling out chairs before sliding in. But beggars can’t be choosey when given a cast-off from a relative who moved to Florida. “Using a few large pieces in a small space often creates the illusion of a bigger room,” said Lonny. Often doesn’t mean always.
Are you a decorating rebel? Tell us what works for you.
If you’d like to see the complete list of rule breakers, go to www.lonny.com.
Photo from Lonny.com
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