Sunday, August 30, 2009

Retro AND Modern kitchen (link)

I like this look. "Totally retro yet all totally modern. all the appliances you see here including the radio on top of the ref are all vintage in look but modern in technology. Grey and silver makes for a good backdrop to make red stand out."

You can't always tell because of perspective, but that looks like one of the narrowest refrigerators I've ever seen. And "Red Kartell Spoon stools goes [sic] well with the red Smeg refrigerator." Link: Retro kitchen - Kitchen Designs - Decorating Ideas - HGTV Rate My Space

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shuttle launch

I watched the shuttle launch out back from the mesa (septic system) and caught glimpses of a bright light as it rose through the trees to the east; it was really bright, and I watched it for a long time (I got back in about 12:05) until it headed down behind the trees further north. That was probably due to the curvature of the earth. Then I watched a couple replays on the NASA channel. That is so spectacular!

Today I watched more replays on the NASA channel of the astronauts gearing up and getting into their seats. I hadn't realized how difficult that is; they have straps overhead for ease of shifting into position and crew standing by to help them suit up, get ready for the parachutes, put the pillows, etc. back into their seats--not exactly seats, of course, since they're lying down. Lots of interesting background info; and the shot of the shuttle against the sunset was beautiful. I'd love to have that picture.

NASA website:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cleaning help (link)

There are all kinds of cleaning tips on this HGTV webpage, including homemade cleaning products, speed cleaning, and cleaning bathrooms, kitchen floors, refrigerators, and toilets. Link: Cleaning Tips: Spring & Fall Cleaning Advice

My favorite tips: Declutter, make the family help, and if it's not dirty, don't clean it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home ideas

In the September issue of Old-House Interiors, there are some lovely appliances--the Big Chill retro stove, a wood-burning Artisan stove that heats water (ideal for remote homes that are off the grid), and a Northstar streamlined fridge. You've got some great color choices. There are also some beautiful reproductions of WPA posters.

I enjoyed a fun article of a homeowner's adventure on getting his house on HGTV's If Walls Could Talk. Lots of interesting background. And there's a good article on Dutch Colonials. (My family lived in one when I was a kid; ours was one with a sun porch on the side.) Plus a helpful article on furnishing a home dating from postwar America (1940s).

There are more articles full of ideas with great photos, including Hoosier built-ins. I especially enjoyed the reproduction kitchen sink from Signature Hardware. The family had one when I was a kid, and we lived in a foursquare.

I mentioned the Dutch Colonial and American Foursquare I've lived in. Other homes include apartments in Boston and a variety of homes in Florida and Wisconsin. I learned a lot about what I wanted from all those homes--and house books and magazines. When it came time to build, I was ready to put all my knowledge--and my folder full of ideas--to work. You can learn from what I learned--and the occasional mistake--in my house book, Building A Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, which is available from: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook (This is the edition with the color photos.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Patio ideas (link)

Here are some helpful suggestions for your patio from Home Depot, including location, drainage, materials, style, shelter from the weather, etc.: Designing a Patio - The Home Depot - Garden Club

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Design Star (link)

I've watched Design Star from the first season, and I enjoy the designer's ideas and work, though I'm usually sorry when one has to be eliminated. This season's challenges have been imaginative and fun, and, of course, episode five, where they created new rooms for two military families, was really appreciated. Check out the Design Star website for more background, photos, and video. See if you can find something that will work for your home: HGTV Design Star : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Windows and patio doors satisfaction survey (link)

"WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA -- As economic difficulties lead homeowners to curtail remodeling projects, overall satisfaction among consumers with windows and patio doors has declined in 2009, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.
The study, now in its third year, measures satisfaction among consumers who purchased new windows or patio doors based on performance in seven factors (listed in order of importance): operational performance (17%); product quality/durability (17%); appearance and design features (15%); price (14%); ordering and delivery (14%); warranty (13%); and repair and replacement (10%). "

For more, go to: News : Materials : Consumer Satisfaction With Windows and Patio Doors Declines, According to Latest J.D. Power and Associates... (

Friday, August 14, 2009

No need to fear color (link)

Expert advice to help you move beyond beige, or Drab to Fab. Suggestions include thinking about the lighting in a room, learning color terms (hue, value, saturation, intensity), adding depth with decorative finishes, etc. For more, go to: 10 Tips for Picking Paint Colors : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A practical and unique house-warming gift (link)

Every home needs at least one fire extinguisher. Check out these stylish fire extinguishers from Fire Design: Design Happens » Archive » House to Home (HGTV)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kitchen and bath trends (link)

The top ten design trends for 2009 include stainless steel countertops; glass countertops and backsplashes, which can go all the way to the ceiling; stone hearths--including boulders; and "Eschewing color, dramatic black and white color schemes are becoming the norm." For more trends, see Slideshow : NKBA's Top 10 Design Trends for 2009 :

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Planning your dream kitchen (link)

Lots of kitchen ideas on this HGTV webpage. A white kitchen is timeless... You can warm it up with touches of wood. And some people want a kitchen/great room; they put the computer, TV, crafts, etc. there; they might even add a couch--or two--and don't forget the coffee table. This explains the study that says people are spending more time in their kitchen.

Other trends include making an artistic statement on your range hood, cupboard doors, and backsplash. Also, using organic shapes (no straight lines or sharp corners). And, of course, prosumer kitchens (restaurant style features and heavy duty construction). For more design trends, ideas, themes, and color choices, go to Kitchens : Design Guide: Kitchens : Home & Garden Television

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Helpful house ideas

From the September, 2009 issue of Country Living: Cover a small table with yardsticks. (Make a template of the table top and lay out the yard sticks--which need to be the same thickness; arrange them and then mark them so you can cut them to fit--being sure to sandpaper the edges; then nail them down and seal them.) It's not pretty, but it's interesting. Do not do this to a good table.

There are some interesting remodeling articles and ideas in this issue also. One home owner surrounded a dining room doorway (sliding doors) with built-in bookcases--including a shelf over the doorway. [Our dining room includes a bookcase, btw, since we had nowhere else to put it. We did incorporate vintage bowls and aluminum trays to make it fit in.]

On home shows, I've seen a lot of people "update" a perfectly good kitchen, but one kitchen in this issue truly did need a makeover, but using old oak planks for shelves instead of cabinets was not an attractive nor practical plan.

Outdoor living ideas from the August/September issue of Ready Made include creating a lawn chair by covering it with AstroTurf and making a fire pit out of an old wheelbarrow.

For house building help, such as--Make changes on paper, not in mid-project! (We did both, btw), see my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook. It's available at Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts and other online vendors.

The new edition with color photos has this ISBN: 978-1-60749-562-8; you can read an excerpt at: Free Book Excerpts : Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook by Joy Smith

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kitchen remodels (link)

There are useful tips on this HGTV website for remodelling your kitchen. Preparation includes decluttering! Heck, you can do that now to make your life easier. There are tips for working with a contractor and removing appliances yourself to save money. [Even though they give you advice for doing that safely, it's something I--personally--would leave to a contractor...] There's also advice for making design decisions and choosing fixtures. Link: Home Improvement : Remodeling Guide: Kitchens : Home & Garden Television

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get your kids outdoors! (link)

Here are some good ideas for gardening with kids. You want to encourage them to look at, touch, and smell flowers and other plants. They can collect and compare fuzzy lamb's ears with magnolia, sycamore, and maple leaves and whatever trees you have at home or at a park. How many different leaves can they find while taking a walk. Smell the herbs! And don't eat the berries! This is a good time to learn which insects are our friends. And check out the projects like a bean teepee and a pizza garden. Go to: Add a Garden for Kids and Teach Them to Grow - The Home Depot - Garden Club

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Scurtz chair covers (link)

Here's an interesting product I came across recently. I've seen chair covers before--to dress up your plastic chairs, dining room chairs, etc., but these are "stylish, decorative skirts for chairs. They're very upscale, and some people see them as an alternative to tablecloths or place settings as a unique way of decorating for guests."

They come in velvet, tulle, etc.; and some are reversible. Link: Scurtz! Inc. : Home

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Get organized! Check out these ideas (link)

These ideas are school inspired. Cubbies, baskets, bins, and hooks are easy to use and keep your home neat. You can also use color coding and easels for display, plus your basic chalkboard. Use your imagination and have the kids help! Link: Tips for Back-to-School Organizing—Home Made Simple

My house is full of Shaker pegboards (bedrooms, bathrooms, and utility room) and desk file dividers in the office; they cover every flat surface! (I've collected a lot of the old metal ones--vertical and horizontal.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Color tips and ideas for your home (link)

There are a number of color suggestions for your rooms on this HGTV website. What colors go with cork floors? What are the latest kitchen color trends? Should you care? Maybe you should choose colors that outlast the trends. Or possibly you want to be really creative. Or you could go with accents that don't cost so much. And they have natural color suggestions for your Zen bathroom, plus serene color schemes, the hottest trends, or combining or matching colors that you prefer. Link: Color Ideas & Inspiration: Paint Colors, Room Colors, & More