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I still remember my shock and dismay when I realized that sofas had to be bought. Somehow I thought sofas just happened. They always simply showed up in homes, hotels, and offices without explanation or fanfare, like feral kittens or bills.
Maybe it’s because I was the youngest in my family. Maybe it’s because I’m five-foot-three and have a voice like snow white, but I lash out like a cornered rattlesnake when someone doesn’t take me seriously.
I know, I know, to many of you the idea of decorating an empty room feels as horrifying as one of those dreams where you're suddenly in public naked. But I'm going to fix that.
Quick: Which room in your house needs attention the most? Kitchen? Bathroom? Garage?
The author of "Garage Sale Millionaire" had come to Orlando to visit theme parks with his wife and 3-year-old son. I took it as a sign. Divine deliverance.
Like my mother, the Roman God Janus — for whom January is named — had eyes in the back of his head. In fact, he had an entire face on the back of his head, so he could look backward and forward at once. This feature earned him the distinction of “god of doors.” He ruled comings and goings.
This time of year I always feel a little sick to my stomach, and not just because of those midnight romps at the dessert buffet with the bottomless glass of Prosecco. (Do they make a combo antacid headache tablet?)
Those snobs who say there's no reason not to have a good-looking, pulled-together home are just plain wrong — and irritating. I know plenty of reasons.
Among the first impressions the old house gave off was its smell. The place hadn't been lived in for months, and rather reeked of neglect.
The pent up emotions were volcanic. It was only a matter of time before the collective angst that builds with home improvement found a virtual outlet. Thus, Hometalk.com, free online therapy for home improvers, erupted on the scene last February.
If clutter truly is decisions delayed, I'd better start making up my mind. My house is giving me a case of purge fever. I want to go back seven years, to the last time I was in control, that one brief day. I had moved from California to Colorado, and put my house on a major diet. My mover wa…
Confessions of a home magazine editor groupie: I have a thing for home magazine editors, probably because I always wanted to be one.
"We're stuck." That's all my husband, Dan, had to say to get my wheels turning. "How stuck? For how long?" I pester him. "Like most people in this real estate market, we can't afford to move," he says.
I'm thinking, as I knead my throbbing temples into pie dough, of how so many things that look easy aren't, like ice skating or making lasagna (those layers!), or, more specifically, picking throw pillows.
Just when I thought I had this decorating business down, I find out a basic rule I had relied on – pick your wall color first – is just as wrong as a purple cat. I learned this the same week I learned that a 13th zodiac sign (Ophiuchus) had wedged its way into the cosmic circle, which means …
When the angels were handing out patience, I was in the thick hair line. I hate to wait. I like fast service, fast thinking, fast computers, fast lanes and fast results. When I was a child, I thought Slow Down was my name.
Sometimes other people make me feel so dull. I mean, I look at a burned out light bulb or a used subway ticket and see trash. Others see a vase or material for a woven placemat. This feeling of non-cleverness came over me yet again this week as I viewed an online slideshow of the top 20 DIY …
Ahh, January, the month when people the world over resolve to eat less, exercise more and visit their plastic surgeons. I, for one, was first in line this year with my resolution to get a nip here, a tuck there, eliminate wrinkles and firm things up. And I did all that this week.
I did not set out to be a home design expert. When I began writing this column seven years ago, I was just another frustrated home improver who wanted a great look on a shoestring budget.
Here's what I love about my job. Not money. What money? Not fame. Who's she? It's access. In the name of American journalism I get to call up the smartest people on a given subject and pick their brains about stuff I want to know, or need to know, or wish I'd known before I'd gotten into som…
I know some of you like to make a scene during the holidays. Not the kind of scene that results in a pink slip after the office party. But the kind that involves Santas and reindeer, snowmen and snowflakes, Christmas trees and presents, and lights all aglow. And I am now qualified to help yo…
Last week, while talking to an informed woman about what is wrong with most holiday parties, I had one of those forehead–smacking moments. Dang! That's what's wrong with my parties.
Like every kid, when I was a girl, I drew pictures of houses. They always had a pointy roof, two equally spaced windows with four-square panes, and a door smack in the middle. Occasionally, I'd add the obligatory stick-figure family in the yard standing by an apple tree.
A real estate agent I know called last week to ask a favor. She was showing a prospective buyer a home that had the same floor plan as mine, and wanted to bring her client by to see how different decorating styles look in the same model.
Breaking up may be hard to do, as singer Neil Sedaka melodically pointed out, but not breaking down. No sir, breakdowns are a snap. Just come to my house, and I'll show you. Things are wearing out, breaking down and generally falling apart -- and that's just when I look in the mirror.
I'm talking to a designer friend about houses that say things; that is, they display actual words. Not predictable words like "Welcome" and "Home Sweet Home" and "Don't Even Think About Parking Here," but inventive expressions of sophistication and style.
An upscale fashion magazine recently asked me to come up with ways readers could streamline their households to get out the door faster. Then the editors decided, nah, they didn't want a home improvement piece, after all. They wanted a fashion piece. So instead of publishing tips about organ…
Because of my track record with flower bulbs, which is along the lines of Charlie Brown's record with kicking footballs, the Netherlands Flower Bulbs Information Center has appointed me its poster child. Apparently, my unintentional, yet deadly accurate, blend of ignorance, neglect and circu…
I've often wondered what it would like to be famous. I fantasize about having doors open for me, being whisked to the front of the line, getting the best table, and having my calls returned promptly, instead of trudging through life like the hoi polloi. But now I doubt whether fame is all that.
I'm walking down a back alley circling wide around three fierce dogs barking at me through chain-link. I am lost, late for my 8 a.m. meeting, and my cell phone is dead. I summon my nerve to ask the only person in sight -- and a man drinking a Silver Bullet Coors Light from a paper bag - for …
Forget the smarmy euphemisms. Home may be where the heart is, but what really draws people home is food. If it weren't for food, I might never see my family.
I look at the harvest moon hanging in the sky like a heavy pendant and say wistfully to my girls, "Would you look at the moon?"
Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to grow up to be a princess and live in a castle. She dreamed of a large stone dwelling with turrets, strong handsome knights fending off every possible trouble, and ancient hand–woven tapestries gracing the walls.
My daughter and I are at the grocery store, and I'm patting watermelons. "This one's good," I say and load it in the cart.
I want a T-shirt that reads: "Don't Judge Me by My Curb Appeal." Or maybe a tattoo. I'm tired of making excuses for my front yard.
I'm lucky to have designer Lisa LaPorta, host of HGTV's "Designed to Sell," working with me to design and decorate a teen bonus room for my two daughters. The plan includes an art wall, which we all agree we want to reflect the girls, who are different as city and country, but that's another…
The TV interview is about to start. It's a fireside chat kind of show, where a host interviews authors. The guest before me, a statuesque woman with an imperious air, has finished. It's my turn. I sit in the easy chair across from the interviewer, and it swallows me like the whale swallowed Jonah.
If I do the math right, which granted is questionable, my husband, Dan, and I will be able to retire at ages 93.4 and 92.8 respectively, give or take a few months.
"I thought you were planning our vacation?" my husband, Dan, asks looking over my shoulder as I Internet surf.
Be brave. That's always my decorating advice to others - and to myself. Have creative courage. Only problem: My courage runs right out my little toe when I think about introducing a wild animal print into my home. I'm like the cowardly lion: "I'm so afraid."
Of all the things I'm going to miss, I'll miss his cooking most.
When the e-mail arrived announcing the debut of "This New House," a new DIY Network TV series, my finger hovered over the delete button. Seriously? I thought. What are they thinking? Who's getting a new house? Nobody I know. We're all, thanks to a market rebounding like quicksand, stuck in t…
"I like the way the Hogwarts dorms look," the oldest daughter says.
Ask interior designers to share their biggest client peeves, and they'll tell you, it's not clients who have lousy taste, nor ones with miniscule budgets, nor those who can't make a decision without asking their mothers. The leading beef among residential designers is clients who have collec…
"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." - Benjamin Franklin
Attention home appliance manufacturers: Call off the 300-pound gorillas. Close the test centers. If you want to see whether an appliance will hold up under tough use, send it to my house. We break washers. We wreck ovens. We lose our use-and-care manuals. We exceed all appliance-abuse standards.
Finally, welcome news for housebound homeowners. If -- thanks to a housing market that sank like the Titanic - you're underwater with your mortgage, hovering at sea level, or have lost so much equity that moving this decade doesn't make financial sense (and is there anyone left?), here's a p…
The text message read: "I was just in the Rockfords' pantry. It was so fresh and nice smelling. Then I realized -- they don't keep their trash in there!! Fix that!"
When I first heard the title of Lisa Quinn's new book, "Life's Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets" (Chronicle Books, March 2010), I knew she and I were cut from the same non-Martha-Stewart cookie dough. Usually when I read home design books, they leave me screaming, "How can anyone live like th…
I miss those days when you could go to the store, buy a pack of 60- or 100-watt light bulbs in soft white and be done. Now buying a light bulb is harder than picking hair color. The other day I went out for hair color and light bulbs and was gone so long my husband called the National Guard.…
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