Getting real on update costs

What will your remodeling project really cost? There's a new tool to help you come up with a realistic budget. Houzz, the online home-improvement resource, recently launched its interactive Real Cost Finder to help homeowners access real cost data.

Homeowners can use the tool to research costs for completed projects in their area, ranging from modest to high-end. It also shows products at different price points, offers homeowners' own tips for staying on budget and links to local professionals who can provide estimates. You can find the Real Cost Finder at

Nurseries fit for a royal

Not every baby born into affluence comes with a silver spoon in its mouth. Sometimes it's a $1,500 solid gold one from a San Diego Internet company called the Royal Nursery.

But if parents insist on silver, Tiffany sells a nautical motif silver baby spoon for $150.

Today's well-heeled infant is gazing at crystal chandeliers from monogrammed silk linens and tooling around in a $1,200 air-conditioned Orbit travel system designed by a Stanford engineering grad.

One of Jaana Moisio's clients installed a $60,000 chandelier in her baby's nursery. Moisio, owner of Palm Beach Tots, said her wealthy clients often insist on handmade silk Olena Boyko linens, which start at $1,000 for a four-piece set.

In the United States, where celebrities are our royals, nursery trends are often traced to the rich and famous. Themed baby rooms, with Winnie the Pooh or Disney motifs, are passe among America's well-to-do. But Moisio said she's seeing a trend toward injecting a dash of modern decor into traditional decor, led by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Jay Z, whose baby sleeps in an ultramodern Lucite crib.

At Rooms for a Prince and Princess in Boca Raton, Fla., new mothers gravitate toward the traditional style Mariah Carey chose for her twins' bedroom. In fact, one of the shop's room vignettes is a replica of Carey's nursery.


Last call for water gardens

Ponds, streams and waterfalls offer many ways to go with the flow in landscaping. This weekend, 13 local examples are open to visitors for the Minnesota Water Garden Society's 16th annual Pond and Garden Tour.

The tour is self-guided, and all featured sites have gardens in addition to water features. Sites are grouped together to facilitate touring, with locations in Crystal, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Anoka, Blaine and Shoreview.

Many of the ponds were DIY projects, and their homeowners will be on hand to offer advice about installation and pond maintenance.

The water gardens are open for touring 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on July 27 and 28.

Tickets can be purchased on-site for $20. For more information, visit KIM PALMER