Liz Gray

"In search of Eames-worthy style on a Craigslist budget. And pie."

Liz is a Senior Editor at HGTV.com. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on remodeling projects with her boyfriend and mystery breed puppy, Miles, you can find her buying impractical hats, scheming mad scientist-style in her overworked kitchen and drooling over Danish modern furniture.

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POSTS BY Liz Gray

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With Thanksgiving around the corner and the holiday season in sight, ’tis the season for fresh cranberries. Sure, they make a mean cranberry sauce or upside-down cake, but if you’ve tried one straight from the bag, you know cranberries are nothing short of pucker-inducing. So, I was skeptical when I first heard that sugared cranberries made a great snack. As the kitchen investigator I try to be, I had to see for myself.

You guys. These things are addictive. Soaking cranberries overnight in a maple-scented simple syrup transforms them from pucker-worthy to perfectly sweet-tart. Rolling them in superfine sugar adds a satisfying crunch. As pretty as they are tasty, they make a great cake or cocktail garnish. Make a double batch and wait for the rave reviews.

Sugared Cranberry Recipe on HGTV.com

GET THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES RECIPE

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When Briana asked about the white pumpkin trend in a recent Defend the Trend post, a whopping 81 percent of you said you loved the look. I’m with the majority here — I adore the elegance a white pumpkin brings to the (Thanksgiving) table. Whether you have leftovers from Halloween or are picking up a few just for Thanksgiving, here are 7 of my favorite ways to use these fall gems.

Turn White Pumpkins Into a Fall Succulent Planter
Pint-sized white pumpkins make an adorable vessel for single succulents. Kelly Smith Trimble from DIY’s Made + Remade blog inspired me to use these as take-home place markers at a recent fall dinner party. She used the adorable succulents as part of this modern tablescape filled with assorted pumpkins, squash and sprigs of eucalyptus.

Fall Tablescape With Mini White Pumpkins

More Ways to Decorate With White Pumpkins

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There’s nothing like the threat of company — especially parents, grandparents and mother-in-laws — to create that extra motivation needed to finish those lingering home improvement projects. (Guest bedroom, I’m coming for you.) If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, it’s likely you’ve spent some quality time at the local paint store.

Once the drop cloth is up and the rollers cleaned (or safely stored in the garage…no judgement here), why not use up that collection of paint sticks? That’s the humble material this copper-coated herringbone runner started out as:

Make Paint Sticks Into a Herringbone Table Runner

Give them a second life — kind of like Grandma’s vintage coat — as a table runner that will last from Thanksgiving all the way through the holiday season. Read on to learn how to make this chic and affordable table accent.

How To Turn Paint Sticks Into a Table Runner

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We’ve told you all about our holiday party table setup, from Marianne’s gutter centerpiece to Deanne’s rustic-chic place card holders to Dan’s handmade farmhouse benches. But have you looked up yet? When you do, you’ll see one of my favorite projects from the whole party: A chandelier fashioned from a plain old branch and beautiful dried flowers.

Here’s a peek at the finished product if you’ve missed it so far:

Decorate for the Holidays With an Easy Branch Chandelier

I love how it started as, well, a branch (specifically, a drifter that landed on Marianne’s porch) and, with a little embellishment, became something gorgeous. It’s also an affordable holiday update — the branch is free, the other materials inexpensive — that can last throughout the holiday season. Want to make your own at home? I’ve got you covered. Read on.

MAKE YOUR OWN BRANCH CHANDELIER

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Have you enjoyed our holiday party posts so far? We have so much more to share with you! Last week, we talked all about the fireplace design in the rustic party space at Knoxville’s gorgeous Botanical Garden. This week, we’ll share our DIY project ideas for creating a perfect holiday table. Today, read on to find our top 8 tips to help you plan and create a table setting that sets a festive mood — without making you pull your hair out. But first, here’s a peek at the finished design:

Holiday Table Setting Ideas From HGTV and DIY Network

Let decorations do double (or triple!) duty. When we started planning a holiday celebration for the Design Happens and Made + Remade crews, we shied away from traditional colors. Why? Apart from the fact that we just wanted something a little bit different for our table design, using a plum and turquoise palette with lots of metallics makes these decorations feel perfectly appropriate from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Eve. One set of DIY projects for the whole season? Yes, please!

Holiday Table Setting Ideas From HGTV and DIY Network

Low centerpieces keep the conversation flowing. We chose a short-in-stature, tall-on-style centerpiece (how-to video coming to tomorrow’s Weekday Crafternoon!) made from a length of gutter and winter florals, plus a hanging branch centerpiece strung with dried cockscomb. That left eye level open, making it easier for guests to chat and enjoy the party.

More Holiday Table Setting Tips

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I’m a DIYer to the core. (Also see: Obsessive Craigslister, craft store aficionado, Pinterest project beta tester.) My first thought when I see a vase or a bookshelf or a wreath I like is usually “How can I make this?” But I’ll admit, I’ve always been a bit intimidated when it comes to upholstery projects.

So when I saw a lampshade-making class on the schedule at Altitude Design Summit, I decided to give it a shot. That’s when I met HGTV.com and Design* Sponge contributor Amanda Brown for the first time.

We started with funky, amazing fabrics you wouldn’t find in most big-box stores. After gluing the fabric to plastic backing, we clamped it around metal rings and embellished it with ribbon. I went home with a pretty amazing lampshade, and a desire to learn more about the craft of upholstery. (Come back to Design Happens next week to learn this process!)

Amanda Brown - Spruce Upholstery

Just a few short years ago, Amanda was just where I am: Eager to put her own DIY stamp on furniture finds, but not sure where to start. She enrolled in some upholstery classes, and before she knew it she had jumped in with both feet. She started rehabbing furniture as a side project; then started Spruce Austin to make her side job her day job. Over the last several years, she’s learned the tricks of the trade. Luckily, you don’t have to start an upholstery shop to learn her process. She wrote the new book, Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design to be the textbook she wished she had when she was first starting out.

Spruce Design Book

The book delves into the step-by-step process of revamping the furniture pieces in Amanda’s real-life living room, from a bold wingback chair to an upholstered ottoman to modern-lined sofa. It’s full of practical knowledge like how to find and use the tools of the trade, plus tips to choose the right fabrics and figure out the proper yardage for each project. There’s also a handy glossary to help you decode upholstery terms.

EXCLUSIVE: SEE HOW AMANDA PREPS FURNITURE FOR UPHOLSTERY

Along the way, she also shares some of her favorite furniture transformations, and fun moments from the upholstery shop. Here are just a few of the items Amanda and her staff have recovered while reupholstering pieces (no diamond rings or pearl necklaces yet, though!):

New Upholstery Book by Amanda Brown

Ready to start your upholstery journey? Meet up with Amanda and the Spruce team in person on their cross-country book-signing tour, or attend a workshop and learn to make your own bench or lampshade. Find her in HGTV’s stomping ground of Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, November 12. (See the full schedule here.)

RELATED: MAKE YOUR OWN UPHOLSTERED DOOR

But don’t just take my word for it…see more design bloggers’ thoughts on the book here:

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery And Design, is available now.

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By now you might have heard that the Design Happens crew has teamed up with DIY Network’s Made + Remade to host a handmade holiday party. You’re invited to follow along as we design the invitations, put together our moodboards, plan the menu and make the decorations. And of course, we’ll show you how to create it all in your home.

We’ve already shared our plans for the fireplace and mantel, bar area and main dining table. Now, back to that menu. The party space has a rustic vibe, so we chose casual recipes and in-season produce to match.

Holiday Food Table Ideas

We’ll start with a rustic tree backdrop (1) , then line the table with a wood-burned cheese board (2) , homemade lavash (3) and custom winter relishes (7). A DIY tablecloth made of metallic marbled fabric (4) is the base of the table. We’ll also serve sweet potato soup shooters (5) and a variety of savory galettes (6).

Holiday Dessert Table Ideas
For the dessert table, we went for a mix of refined and rustic. Here’s the plan:

Getting hungry yet? We’ll share the recipes and DIYs for the food and dessert table throughout the month.

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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You’ve probably noticed that we’re starting the holidays a little early this year. That’s because we’re throwing a party with our friends over at DIY’s Made + Remade, and we want to bring all of you along with us! This week, we’re sharing the moodboards that helped us plan the festive look and feel. Now that you’ve seen our fireplace and mantel plans and bar area overview, take a look at our plan for the main event: The holiday table.

If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner like we are, it’s important to add festive touches while still allowing guests plenty of room for food, drink and conversation.

Here’s a detailed look at our table plans:

We’ll also bring plenty of sparkle through metallic accents, handmade mercury-glass votives and more. And, of course, we’ll show you how we made all of the elements for the table in the coming weeks.

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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Home for the Holidays - Holiday Party Planning SeriesHere at HGTV headquarters, we start to plan our winter holiday projects pretty much as soon as we get back from the previous year’s celebrations. Yes, really. As we go through the process, though, certain projects are a little closer to our hearts than others. You know what I’m talking about: That wreath or cake or centerpiece or vase that you *keep* repinning on Pinterest, peeking at in a months-old magazine, gawking at in your favorite retailer, or sketching out on a notepad while at a stoplight (okay, that could just be me.)

This season, we decided to team up with our friends over at DIY Network’s Made + Remade blog to bring those dream projects to life at a real holiday soiree. You’re invited to follow along with our party-planning process all month long, from the color inspiration to the moodboards to the DIY projects to the setup to the final celebration. Along the way, we’ll share tips and step-by-step photos to help you host your own shindig. Here’s a sneak peek of the party as it all came together:

Holiday Party Ideas From HGTV and DIY

Read on to see the colorful moodboard that kicked off our planning process. Later this week, come back to see our moodboards for the four separate areas of the party space.

HGTV and DIY Holiday Party

From the plum, deep turquoise, copper and cream palette, we drew the inspiration for the rest of the party. I can’t wait to show you the rest of our planning process!

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Fall colors are peaking here in East Tennessee, and we’ve just launched a cornucopia (sorry!) of new Thanksgiving ideas to help you plan your fall feast. So this month, we all came to the color showdown with vibrant hues on the brain. It’s no surprise, then, that our final choice was a bright, spicy hue from HGTV Magazine online editor Alyssa.

What is it? Paprika! This bold red-orange hue is a richer version of spring coral. Look around outside and see it in vibrant maple leaves, or spot it in the grocery store in the form of in-season persimmons. (Try Dessert for Breakfast’s Persimmon-Oat Crumble on a cold morning. Mmmmm.)

Persimmon Oat Crumble From Dessert for Breakfast
Get your living room ready for guests with vibrant new throw pillows in this trendy hue. Here are four of our favorites:
Fall Trend 2013: Paprika Throw Pillows 4 Ways

Clockwise from top left: Mira Mesa Pillow, Trinka Turk; Kilim Santa Fe Pillow, Leif Shop; Tassel Pillow, Anthropologie; Bird Pillow, Dwell Studio

Get More Paprika Color Inspiration

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Congratulations to our winner, Megan. Check back next month for another great giveaway!

Halloween is officially over. Daylight savings time ends this weekend (set your clocks back an hour this Saturday!). That means it’s time to start bundling up your home for the cooler weather. The bedroom is the perfect place to start, so that’s why we partnered with Blissliving Home to give one lucky reader a luxurious new bedding set.

Blissliving Home Bedding Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive one of Blissliving’s gorgeous new arrivals: a Birch Duvet set in his or her choice of full/queen or king size. This duvet has a bold, graphic pattern inspired by birch trees, and the 300-thread-count cotton sateen makes this extra soft and cuddly. To round out the new bedding look, the winner will also receive a luxe velvet Addison pillow in vibrant gold and an ultra-soft woven blue throw.

So, what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win. This giveaway’s question: How do you warm up your home for cooler weather? Adding soft throw rugs? Firing up the stove? Leave your tips below.

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 9:00 a.m. ET on November 1, 2013 and 12:00 p.m. ET on November 4, 2013. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of the prize: $425.00. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932

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Congratulations to our winner Josh, who loves to mix up pumpkin martinis with a cinnamon and sugar rim. Come back on November 1 for another great giveaway.

I tend to go a little overboard with Halloween party preparations. Partly because I’m a lifestyle editor and partly because Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, I’ve been thinking about pumpkins, DIY costumes and creepy food for months. But you can still have a low-stress Halloween gathering even if you haven’t planned a thing until this very minute. Yes, really.

Here’s your game plan: Make a sweet and a savory snack (say, maple nut popcorn and creepy chips with guacamole) and both kid- and adult-friendly punches. Kids will love our cemetery slime punch (complete with gummy worms!), and adults will be crazy for this Pumpkin Spice Sangria served inside a pumpkin. For a large group, ask guests to bring an additional appetizer or drink to share.

Pumpkin Spice Halloween Punch Recipe

To help you out with last-minute decorations, we’ve partnered with Target to give one lucky Design Happens reader a free party pack complete with plates, napkins, straws, decorations and more. Read on for the full Pumpkin Spice Sangria recipe, plus enter for a chance to win this party pack.

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN

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Congratulations to random winner smhall820, who plans to retile a bathroom this fall! Check back on October 18 for another great Halloween giveaway. 

As we tick towards the end of daylight savings time (Sunday, November 3 this year), it’s the perfect time to update outdated light fixtures. A stylish new ceiling fan, modern kitchen lighting and pretty patterned pendants are all on my personal fall shopping list. (Bonus: Choosing new lighting is much more fun than raking leaves!)

We’ve partnered with online lighting retailer EuroStyleLighting.com to help you illuminate your home in style this fall. One lucky winner will receive $150 to spend on the light or lights of their choice. Here are some of my favorite trendy pieces, all available for less than $150:

Win Free Lighting from EuroStyleLighting.com

Clockwise from top left: Chevron Ikat Teal Pendant, Dipped Chrome Mini Pendant, Bronze Floor Lamp With Honeycomb Shade, Modern Square Accent Lamp  

READ MORE

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Have you noticed a pattern in our last few Color of the Month picks? We’ve chosen apple green, watermelon red and peach — all inspired by our favorite seasonal edibles. HGTVGardens.com editor Jessica was more than happy to continue the produce-inspired trend this month with a pitch for bright eggplant.

HGTV's Color of the Month October 2013: Eggplant

While the dark, plummy hue of Italian eggplant lends itself well to late fall decor and tabletops, we’re loving the brighter hue that long, skinny Japanese eggplant varieties bring to the table. Gorgeous, right? Bonus: This nearly-seedless variety makes the best eggplant chips.  Best of all, this prolific crop is still in season — pick up a pile at a farmers’ market near you!

This almost-glowing purple also shines bright alongside traditional Halloween hues like orange and black.

Halloween Cupcake Decorating Party

Add it into the decorating mix for your kids’ Halloween party or use it as an accent in your DIY Halloween costume. (Get our step-by-step makeup tutorial for this dark fairy costume here.)

Or dress up your everyday decor for fall with a little…

Puple Glass Bottles Accent Color

…or a lot of this saturated shade. Are you daring enough to try purple-on-purple like designer Brian Patrick Flynn did here?

So, what do you think of this month’s color choice? Tell us in the comments below.

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The leaves, they are a’changin. (Cue the Bob Dylan.) Now that it’s officially fall, I’m seeing the first few leaves flutter to the ground. I love this bridge between the seasons, when the summer plants fade and the very first fall color shows up on the lawn. The absolutely gorgeous weather doesn’t hurt, either.

Fall Color Palette Ideas

 Leaf Wall Art | Green Shoes | Park Bench

Take a cue from Mother Nature like Cuppet Architects did here with a display of prime leaf specimens behind brilliant green bottles. Or, just wear green shoes while you rake up some of said leaves or enjoy the seasonal show from a park bench.

Get more color palette inspiration from our previous Tuesday Huesday posts.

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Congratulations to this giveaway’s random winner, CPlusE, whose most successful costume to date was a gypsy. Come back on October 4 for another great giveaway.

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. I love it all: Decking out the yard with completely over-the-top decor, dressing up as someone else in a fun Halloween costume and greeting friends with intentionally-creepy food and cocktails. Plus, any spider webs that might get missed just add to the spooky vibe.

With just over a month left until the big day, it’s time to start putting up Halloween decorations and planning parties. That’s why we’re giving away this party prize pack from Grandin Road, an online style retailer that cares even more about Halloween than I do. Read on to see the whole giveaway list and enter for a chance to win this prize.

Win Halloween Supplies From Grandin Road

Win This Halloween Prize Pack From Grandin Road!

ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY NOW

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In case you haven’t heard, our September Color of the Month is bright and cheery Apple Green. It’s a versatile color that looks as fresh in traditional spaces as it does in modern rooms, but guys? Ever since we announced this color, I can’t stop thinking about caramel apples. Just look at this cookie-crumb-coated version from Cooking Classy:

Caramel Apples - Kitchen Color Palette Inspiration

Caramel Apples | Green Cottage Kitchen

Until I actually get in the kitchen to make a batch, I’m going to fawn over the classic dessert’s color palette. The warm brown and bright green work well together in a traditional space, like this vintage-inspired cottage kitchen designed by Regina Bilotta. Now in addition to caramel apples, I’m obsessing over that green stove. Gorgeous!

Get more color palette inspiration from our previous Tuesday Huesday posts.

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Congratulations to Faye B., who says “My eleven-year-old Cairn is my rehab coach. He walks ahead of me on his leash and makes a soft bark as I work to keep up. He inspires me to keep trying after my heart surgery!” Faye will win a pet-themed pillow of her choice. Check back on September 21 for a special Halloween-themed giveaway.

Fall is (unofficially) here, and that means it’s time to cozy up on the couch. I know I’m ready to settle in with my Corgi-bulldog mix puppy Miles for movie marathons and fall TV premieres. Even if your four-pawed friend isn’t actually allowed on the couch during said marathons, you can add your favorite breed’s likeness to the sofa with this month’s giveaway from adorable pillow purveyor Studio 773 by Eastern Accents. One lucky Design Happens reader will win a dog-embellished pillow!

Dog Pillows From Studio 773

Whether you have a Bichon Frise like Camille’s pups or a regal Beagle like Marianne, your friend will know he or she is 100 percent a part of the family.  The winning reader will get to choose one pillow of their choice.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below. This month’s question: Do you have a pet? What’s your favorite memory of your dog or cat?

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 12:00 p.m. ET on September 6, 2013 and 12:00 p.m. ET on September 9, 2013. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of the prize: up to $184. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

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The day after Labor Day brings a yearly fashion dilemma: Should I pack up my white jeans and dresses for the winter, or wear them year-round? (Mental Floss has a great explanation about the origins of this wardrobe rule.)

Whether you’re a traditionalist or a rebel, there’s one place you definitely shouldn’t skip white in the winter: your living room. As days get shorter and the sun gets weaker, white interiors keep your home light and bright. That’s why white-on-white interiors are a staple of Scandinavian design. But even if you live in a slightly warmer climate, the white-on-white trend is still worth a second look.

Decorate With White After Labor Day

Living Room | Fall Outfit

If you get cold chills just thinking about an all-white room (not to mention the clean-up factor), this room by Julia Buckingham Edelman creates a beautiful compromise. Warm oranges, yellows and browns stand out next to antiqued gold and bright white.

And the white clothing? I’m rocking my favorite pieces as part of my early fall ensembles. How could something this cute be wrong?

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Fall may officially be a few weeks away, but I’m sensing signs of the new season all around: cooler nights, bins of apples at the farmers’ market and yes, even the first fall leaves.

It was fall’s favorite fruit that inspired Kayla to pitch Apple Green for September’s Color of the Month. In her own words: “It’s time to sharpen those pencils, because school is back in session. Forget classic red apples — we’re all about modern green.”

Now that Labor Day’s end-of-summer parties are behind us, this crisp, collegiate color just felt right. Take a look at some of our favorite ways to use this hue, and tell us: Is this color the apple of your eye?

Apple Green Kitchen Artwork From HGTV Magazine

Photo Courtesy HGTV Magazine

SEE MORE APPLE GREEN COLOR INSPIRATION

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