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.

Email us with tips or questions.

To read Greengirls posts, go here.

Posts about Furniture

Home trends that have lost their luster

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 22, 2012 - 5:14 PM


Well, that was fast! Just a few years ago, the fancy home theater was a must-have.

Every high-end Parade home had one, complete with a huge projection screen, plush seating with cupholders and dramatic mood lighting.  

Now, it seems, the home theater is already a bygone fad, like poodle perms and "Flashdance" legwarmers.

We still like our home entertainment and electronics. But with flat-screen TVs all over the house and gadgets that move with us from room to room, we're more likely to want a charging station for our devices than a whole room outfitted for viewing.

The decline of the recently red-hot media room emerged from a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.org).  Today's homebuyers are practical and value-oriented, according to an article analyzing the data, by Steve Kerch (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/kiss-these-10-once-popular-home-features-goodbye.html)


Other once-popular features that are now on the wane include:  


 1. Outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces

2. Sunrooms

3. Two-story family rooms

4. Two-story foyers.

5. Master-planned developments.

6. Luxury master bathrooms

7. Formal living rooms

8. Whirlpool tubs


What about you? Which of these home features do you already have? Do you enjoy them? Would you buy or build them again?


Canopy beds for grownups

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 7, 2012 - 5:38 PM


When I was a kid playing with Barbie dolls, I thought canopy beds were the ultimate in elegance and sophistication. I had one in my Barbie Dream House, a white one draped in pink ruffles -- as sweet and sugary as a gumball. I loved it then, but I'd gag if I had to sleep in that bed today. 


I've outgrown my taste for pink ruffles but not canopy beds. We actually have one, a massive king-size model with spiral-cut bedposts as thick as young tree trunks. We bought it about 15 years ago when we moved into our current home.

Our bedroom has one of those high vaulted ceilings so popular in new homes of its heyday (1990). But the room was so tall and cavernous that I decided to bring in some vertical height -- hence the canopy bed.

Our bed is huge -- almost a room within a room. I like that cloistered feeling -- like a cozy retreat from the cold cruel world, not to mention our cold, cavernous bedroom.


At the time we bought our bed, it was popular to loosely drape canopy bed frames with swaths of filmy fabric. It was supposed to look casual, like the wind happened to blow the fabric there, and there it stayed. That lasted a couple of years, but I soon got tired of those droopy dust-catchers and yanked them off.  


I was curious about the history of canopy beds, so I did a little research. Apparently they once served a practical purpose, adding an additional layer of shelter between the sleeper and his or her leaky thatched roof. Later, European noblemen favored curtained canopies that could be completely closed, so that they could create a cocoon of privacy from their servants, who often slept in the same room.

You don't see a lot of canopy beds these days. They always seem sort of old-fashioned and baroque -- at home in over-the-top traditional bedrooms, but not in a sleek, modern boudoir.


But there are actually of lot of stunningly modern canopy beds still being made, in futuristic shapes and artful  metal, like sculptures.


How do you feel about canopy beds? Have you ever had one? And what did you do with the canopy -- drape it, curtain it or leave it bare?



Glorious styles of yesteryear

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: January 31, 2012 - 11:39 AM


A lot of people (most movie critics) think "The Artist" is God's gift to cinema. A lot of other people (mostly average Joe movie-goers) think's an overrated snooze.


For what it's worth, I thought it was a clever idea, beautifully executed, but not the "Best Picture" of the year.

But best movie style?  Absolutely!

You can't help but fall in love with those sleek Art Deco sets and that retro-glamour fashion.  The hats ... the veils ... the shimmy little dresses ... they open the door to a time that seems so much more elegant and sophisticated than our own.

Nostalgic design has a powerful pull, especially when it brings us back to a style era we never actually lived through but  experienced only vicariously.

That's why baby boomers who grew up in '50s ramblers have been so smitten with the earlier Arts & Crafts era, and why their children have fallen in love with mid-century modern.


It was a nostalgic hunger, not a craving for steak, that lured me to Mancini's in St. Paul last weekend. I'd never been there before -- I'm a west metro girl. I knew the restaurant was there and that it was an institution. But I never felt compelled to actually go there until I happened to catch a recent radio show on which people were raving about its old-school supper-club ambience and decor.


That hooked me. Mancini's sounded just like the supper club that my parents brought me to in the late '60s to celebrate a special birthday. I remember feeling so grown-up as I sat with them on the burgundy leather banquettes in the dimly lit restaurant. I wanted that feeling.

And Mancini's didn't disappoint. It felt like stepping back in time -- to my parents' time. By the time I was earning my own money and choosing my own restaurants, supper clubs like that were already a dying breed.

How about you? What style era makes you most nostalgic? Have you incorporated any of those elements into your own home? And while we're at it, what's your take on "The Artist"? 


Trendy table heights

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: January 24, 2012 - 10:47 AM


Buying a table and chairs used to be a lot simpler. You picked the one you liked, in your price range. The table was a standard height (28 to 30 inches) from the floor, and that was that.


But there's nothing "standard" about table height these days, as I discovered when I started looking at them at this month.


We hadn't planned on replacing our beat-up old kitchen table and chairs for a few more years.

But a holiday candle fiasco had left a charred indentation the size of a dinner plate in the middle of the wooden tabletop. I just wanted something simple and inexpensive that didn't look like it had been through the Great Chicago Fire.     

That's when I started to get confused. You can still buy standard-height tables, but they tend to be fancy and expensive, suitable for formal dining rooms. The casual, cheaper sets, suitable for kitchens and family rooms, now come in "counter height" (about 36 inches) or pub- or bar-height (about 40 or 42 inches).

Pub-height was out of the question. I hate those tables in bars and restaurants. I always feel like I'm perched on stilts and in danger of tumbling off (especially after a glass of wine or two).

But counter-height? Maybe. I found a couple of nice-looking, inexpensive models. Back at home, I hauled out a tape measure and extended it 6 inches up from the burned tabletop. It looked and felt kind of high, but maybe that's just because we're used to the old size.

Counter-height tables are great for tall people, I read. None of us are tall, except for our 19-year-old son who's  6-foot-2. But he's a college student, and doesn't eat at home much these days, so it didn't make sense to choose a table based on his measurements. Then there's my 85-year-old mother, who's 5-foot-4 and has a bad hip? She doesn't live with us either, but she visits a lot, and I didn't want to buy something that would be uncomfortable for her.

Too tall? Too short? Or just right? I was starting to feel like Goldilocks

Counter-height tables are trendier than the old squatty ones, I read. I don't really care whether my kitchen table is cool and fashion-forward. But I do plan to keep it a long, long time, and things that become trendy have a tendency to become un-trendy. 

So help me out here -- do you think taller tables are just a fad, or here to stay because they fit the way we live? What height is your kitchen table? And how do you like it?



Designer dog trend has gone too far

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: December 27, 2011 - 11:49 AM


This is Mel. She's a sweet dog, and I love her dearly. But I'm not sure she should be replicated.


Her mother was a St. Bernard. Her father was a mystery, although her mostly black coat and boundless energy make a strong case for Lab genes.

That makes her a mutt.

But no. Apparently the designer-dog trend that has brought us puggles, Yorki-poos and golden doodles has now spawned something called a "Labernard."

People are not only deliberately breeding this dubious combination but they're slapping a fancy name on them and selling them for hundreds of dollars. 

Our "Labernard" was an accident, brought to the Humane Society with her littermates until we adopted her in a weak moment. We knew she'd get big, and we figured she'd be a handful. But no one could have prepared us for the frightening mixture of St. Bernard size and stubbornness combined with Lab rambunctiousness. She was truly the puppy from hell, as destructive as Marley of bestseller fame. No, she didn't eat a wall, like Marley did, but she destroyed countless shoes, carpets and upholstery, uprooted a bush to which she'd been tethered and knocked down every child in our neighborhood in her enthusiasm at finding new playmates. Plus she had a tendency to drool. Still does. 


Mel has mellowed into a reasonably manageable dog in her old age, but I wouldn't wish those first two years on anyone. And I certainly wouldn't spend $500, the price I saw on one website, to buy another Mel. 


I understand that many hybrid designer dogs have their merits. But some of the recent ones I've seen strike me as ridiculous. A Baskimo (American Eskimo crossed with Basset hound)? Schnekingese (miniature schnauzer crossed with Pekingese)? Even a pitbull/shih tzu combo with a name I can't post on this website. (I'm convinced someone bred those two ONLY to combine the names.)

Where do you stand on designer dogs? Do you have one? What's the weirdest combination you've ever seen or heard of?


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters