POSTS BY Hilary Johnson

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Have you heard? The United States Postal Service released its new stamp collection featuring the works of the Pioneers of American Industrial Design.

Copyright USPS :: Pioneers of American Industrial Design Stamp Collection

Copyright USPS :: Rhead and von Nessen Stamps

From the iconic “Trimline” telephone designed by Henry Dreyfuss to the highly collectible Fiesta® dinnerware of Frederick Hurten Rhead, does this envelope art inspire you put down the computer and send off some snail mail? (By the way, notice that Greta von Nessen — yes, a woman! — is included among the 12 stamps.)

Which stamp is your favorite and why?

Peter Muller-Munk, “normandie” pitcher; Frederick Hurten Rhead, fiesta® dinnerware; Raymond Loewy,  streamlined pencil sharpener; Donald Deskey, table lamp; Walter Dorwin Teague, “baby brownie” camera; Henry Dreyfuss, “trimline” telephone; Norman Bel Geddes, “patriot” radio; Dave Chapman, sewing machines; Greta von Nessen, “anywhere” lamp; Eliot Noyes, “selectric” typewriter; Russel Wright, highlight/pinch flatware; Gilbert Rohde, electric clock

Tell us in the comments below.

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Baseball season’s in full swing, and Americans are filling the stands at little league fields and stadiums alike. While it may look a bit like a vintage Louisville Slugger, this week’s “What the…?” isn’t a baseball bat. If it were, it would definitely break MLB regulations.

What the...?

Give us your best guess in the comment area below, and be sure to check back tomorrow to see who hit a home run with their answer.

Play ball!

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As we gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence, let three of our favorite red, white and blue Etsy “treasury” finds inspire your 4th of July patriotism.

Stars and Stripes Cookies

Etsy Seller sugarandflour :: Star Bangled Sugar Cookies

Red, White and Blue Candle Jars

Etsy Seller usedandabused :: Red, White and Blue Mason Jars

Lady Liberty Rubber Stamp

Etsy Seller SweetSpotStampShop :: Statue of Liberty Hand Carved Rubber Stamp

What makes the 4th of July special for you? Homemade apple pie? A plethora of American flags? Or simply watching fireworks with your family? We’d love to know!

Tell us in the comment area below. And have a happy and safe holiday!

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Don’t let the photo below, taken at HGTV headquarters, mislead you. We didn’t get a new row of cubicles. What we did get is a cool new design installation from Laura Ostendorf and Monica Blair, students at the University of Cincinnati‘s prestigious design program and our latest HGTV Home Studio interns. In addition to mentoring from world-famous Vern Yip and traveling to Chicago to check out his work on the Urban Oasis 2011 high rise pad, Laura and Monica collaborated on two vignettes for their final internship project. While Monica pinpointed the iconic design of the revolutionary and timeless Panton chair, Laura focused on the pervasive “interactive” trend with materials like an iPad, thermochromic paint and molo softseating. Take a look at their displays, and find out what they had to say about interning at HGTV.

Home Studio Vignette Installation

Laura Ostendorf:

Interactive Design Trend

Hilary: As part of your deep dive into the interactive design trend, you incorporated thermochromic paint in your vignette. What is thermochromic paint, and why did you choose to use it ?

Laura: The way that thermochromic paint works is the pigment is temperature sensitive. So basically, thermochromic paint changes colors when it reaches 83 degrees Fahrenheit. I wanted to use it in my vignette since it’s a newer product that not a lot of people know about. As a design student, I study cutting edge design, and here was a perfect opportunity to get hands on experience in this area. I was able to share with HGTV staff what some might view as an off-the-wall concept in actual use.

Thermochromic Paint - Hand Print

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To be honest, I thought we’d see more “paper weights,” but you guys weren’t fooled. Heather was the first to chime in with “bookends,” followed by an assured agreement from AmberBamber. Amy PureHome had a great idea that they “could probably also work as some cool door stoppers.”

Ben Seibel Bronze Bookends

These “orb” copper bookends are a specialty design from Jenfredware by 1950′s architect and artist Ben Seibel. While most of Seibel’s works are light dinnerware, these heavier copper bookends are a rare species. (They look like the perfect fit for a bohemian-style interior or mid-century modern home to me.)

Are you one to use bookends? Or are your bookshelves exploding with too many books to fit bookends? Let us know in the comment area below.

And if you happen to come across something strange that we could use in our weekly “What the…?”, let us know at designhappens@hgtv.com.

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Last week’s set of sconces generated some interesting responses, so I can’t wait to see what you guess for this oddly-shaped pair. Hint: If you didn’t notice, you can see the photographer’s reflection. That should help a little with its size.

What the...?

Check back tomorrow on Design Happens to see who guessed right. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the first to get it!

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It’s Monday. Again. If you’re still recuperating from an epic morning commute, you’re probably wishing with all your being that you could work from home. But where would you set up your office? On the dining room table? If you do telecommute, is your work space crammed into the corner of the kitchen? (And the fact that you can take meetings in your PJs and slippers your only comfort.) Allocating a specific workspace can help eliminate distractions, and with nearly 25 percent of us working from home part of the time, it’s more important than ever to do your outpost up right. So, no more dull, makeshift spaces for your 9-to-5 time. Here are four expert tips, illustrated with inspiring pics, on how to make your work nook vibrant, elegant and YOU!

1. Natural Light:

Naturally Lit Office

Especially for those of us who itch for the outdoors, bringing natural light into your workspace can be necessary. When research tells us that naturally, well-lit offices directly correlate with better health, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and financial savings (by golly…I’m convinced), finding natural light for your work endeavors becomes a priority. With wall-to-wall windows and a large skylight like these from RMS user flgirlaol, get ready to be invigoratingly productive.
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A red, white and blue theme is pretty much required when throwing a Fourth of July bash, don’t you think? However, if you’re looking to go a little less John Philip Sousa/Stars and Stripes Forever and instead want to try something modern and chic, you’ll love these Independence Day party ideas from our featured blogger Brian Patrick Flynn. After all, Brian is the go-to-guy for daring and wonderfully different. (And if you’re all about a classic look with American flags a plenty, we’ve got that covered with this table setting theme featuring Old Glory and old-fashioned lemonade!) Here are three fabulous tips from Brian:

Simply Chic 4th of July Entertaining

  1. Layers, layers, layers. Pull out the red, white and blue in unexpected ways by substituting those stars and stripes with modern graphic patterns. Like the table setting pictured above, steer clear of clutter by layering large, medium and small prints.
  2. Fireworks. Who wants candles when you can add sparklers to your Fourth of July dessert? (Leave it Brian to figure out how to pack style and flames into a cake!) But don’t forget that safety comes first. Only light these babies outside.
  3. Popsicles. If you’re ready to start your summer soiree early, try making these fruity Fourth-of-July popsicles. All you have to do is pick your favorite red and blue juices, pour them into popsicle freezer trays, and freeze them overnight. Nobody will be able to turn down your patriotic pops in the heat of July.
  4. Check out #4 – #11 of Brian’s modern and chic 4th of July entertaining ideas.
  5. Bonus. Check out these mouth-watering patriotic dessert ideas from our featured blogger Kim Stoegbauer. Yum!

What do you think? Do you prefer a traditional or non-traditional 4th of July celebration? We’d love to know!

Tell us in the comment area below.

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I can totally see how Greg and Lana thought these were some sort of Rolodex. Jeff, Amber and Amy PureHome were so close, but Mel Heth said the magic words! This week’s What the…? are custom (or ”funky” as Mel put it) wall sconces by the Danish design firm Fog and Morup.

Architect Aage Herlow Wall Sconce & Pendant

Wall Sconce :: Pendant

Modernist architect Aage Herlow custom designed these wall sconces we found on 1st Dibs for the St. Michaelis Church in Fredericia Denmark. The aluminum blades were painted in alternating colors, giving them a look that today is so retro-industrial. (I added the ceiling pendant on the right to show what they look like lit up.)

What do you think? Would you put these retro wall sconces in your home or house of worship?

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Anyone who works in the interior design industry would agree that it’s so cool to have a job where, on any given day, the big topic of discussion might be whether bees are the new birds or octopi are the new owls. At HGTV, we’ve been talking a lot lately about furry, feathered and scaled creatures, as have some of our favorite bloggers. So, if you’re into the animal decor trend as much as we are, then you’ll love this collection of what we’ve seen popping up on Design Mom, Oh Joy! and more.

H&M Woodland Creatures Pillows

Casa Sugar :: H&M Woodland Creatures Pillows

Soubiran Home - Hanging Jackelope

L.A. Times at Home :: Alix Soubiran’s Home, Hanging Jackelope

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In response to a comment we received last week, your hint for this week’s What the…? is that it’s absolutely not a coat hanger, bench or chair. So what is it? Or rather, what are they?

What the...?

Mull this one over, and give us your answer in the comment area below. Tomorrow we’ll announce who was the first to guess correctly.

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Here at HGTV, we were sad to hear the news that ReadyMade Magazine is closing its doors. We commemorate ReadyMade for the way it helped us “rethink, reimagine and reinterpret everyday life.”

ReadyMade Magazine Issues

The simple, hip DIY magazine held a special place in our hearts. In fact, HGTV featured blogger Erin Loechner, who also freelanced for ReadyMade, said, “ReadyMade Magazine not only supported the DIY movement, but spearheaded it. I have no doubt its creativity and presence will be seen in ripples throughout the country for years to come.” With its start in 2001, the magazine was the first of its kind to focus solely on 20-something individuals interested in making everything on their own. From stamping fabric prints to spinning vinyl records, from knitting baby booties to baking 20 types of pancakes, ReadyMade was a true innovator in the DIY world. They will be missed.

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Today is officially the first day of summer, and, for many of us, that means counting down the days, hours and minutes until that greatest of summer traditions…vacation! So in honor of the longest day of the year and those upcoming getaways to the beach, here are our top 5 picks for starfish-themed home decor.

Starfish Flower Box

The Lettered Cottage

Starfish Divided Serving Dish

Etsy Seller: Beyond Jordan Studio

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When The Official Preppy Handbook came out in 1980, the country became enthralled with the world of “prepdom.” Its tongue-and-cheek look at the life of Biff and Buffy cultivated “The legacy of good taste, proper breeding, and the right nickname.” (And it was a freaking hit!) Well, preppy is in again, from fashion to home decor. Just a few posts of the blogs Unabashedly Prep and May December is proof enough. So, if your favorite color combination is pink and green, you adore sailboats and anchors motifs, or you miss plaids and monograms, here’s a two-room introduction to 21st-century preppy interiors from HGTV’s official preppy design handbook.

For Her

Preppy Pink & Green Living Room

Pink and green meets florid British-Colonial in this space by Riehl Designs Inc.. The raspberry pink in the pillow fringe and draperies provides the perfect accent to the predominance of grass green, while the lacquer cabinet and the zebra-print ottoman add a touch of the exotic (so in now!) without going over the top.

For Him

Preppy Plaid Guest Room

While this bedroom is conservative, it’s anything but stuffy or boring. Designer Tobi Fairley makes preppy mainstays – plaids, stripes and monograms – au courant with the introduction of the Greek key geometric. (Houndstooth and herringbone are other manly options for preppy patterns.) The oversized upholstered headboard and drapery accent wall are also of the now.

Click here to see bedrooms perfect for prepsters in training: mini her + mini him. But first…

What’s your favorite preppy look for home decor or fashion? Is it Lilly Pulitzer, Coco + Kelley or Izod and Top-Siders?

Tell us in the comments below.

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Jessica, I’m thinking you must be psychic. Without any hesitation Jessica replied, “It’s a bench.” Barbara followed with an even more descriptive answer that it’s an “outdoor sculptural bench.” (Stephen, you must be a comedian, because no matter how I look at it, I can’t seem to figure out how you see a “turkey baster”).

Extrusions Bench + Manufacturing Process

This intriguing single component creation is called an Extrusions bench and is the work of Heatherwick Studio. To produce it, they scaled up the aluminium extrusion process that is typically used to make small components for a car. “A large press capable of exerting up to ten thousand tons of pressure, shown above, creates the extruded sections by squeezing aluminium through its die (the opening that forms the shape of the profile to be created).” Extrusions is the work of Heatherwick Studio, the same designers who created the Spun Chair we featured a few weeks ago.

I can’t imagine what I’d think seeing this bench in a park: “Do I sit on it or is that artwork?” What would you do?

Tell us in the comments below.

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I’m not too motor savvy, but this object, with its fluid curves and shiny finish, kind of looks like it belongs attached to a souped-up car or motorcycle. As for a hint as to its size, it’s much, much bigger than a bread box.

What the...?

Give us your best guess in the comment area below, and we’ll be watching for the first person to get it right. Find out who that is tomorrow. Be sure to check back.

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  • Would your dad rather be fishing, hiking or camping?
  • Does your father easily identify every bug or leaf he comes across?
  • Would you use any of the following to describe your dad? Outdoorsy, woodsy, adventure seeking?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, why not make your nature-loving dad a cool, rustic Father’s Day present? Here are three of our favorite projects:

DIY Father's Day Crafts

  • If going for a walk with your dad means time spent picking up seashells, acorn caps or pebbles, then the Aged Tin Trinket Box will be right up his alley. This keepsake is perfect for displaying tiny animal fossils and the like.
  • For the geologist-at-heart, the Dad Rocks Paperweight from Shelterness might just be his fit. Kids who are eager to help in the kitchen will love making and baking this dough-based craft. Once “Dad Rocks” is spelled out on the home-made stone, the oven does the rest of the work.
  • This Rustic Wood Frame is a great way to remind dad of all the fun you have on adventures together. Moms, when you’re helping the kids make this one, turn the hunt for quality twigs into an adventure in your backyard or local park. But once everyone’s back inside, the kids might need help using the glue gun.

Would your nature-loving dad or husband enjoy receiving one of these crafts as a present? Or do you have other suggestions for rugged handmade gifts perfect for Father’s Day? We’d love to hear about what you’re making.

Let us know in the comment area below.

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My favorite quote of the day comes from our HGTV Gardening Editor, Marie. She put it perfectly when she said, “Honestly, what could be better than a plant that comes back year after year, blooming its head off with little input from you other than having planted it?” It’s so true. When you have a variety of perennials blossoming at different times year-round, all the work of maintaining color in your garden is pretty much done for you. And with sweltering heat blanketing much of the country, who wouldn’t want to sit back and enjoy their garden rather than sweating while digging in the dirt?

Peony - Black-eyed Susan - Astilbe

If you’ve been keeping your eye out for low-maintenance or drought-tolerant plants, check out these incredible pictures of our top 10 easiest perennials. Planting perennials can be a great way to keep your garden vibrant from early to late summer. If you’re curious about what perennials are flowering in different regions of the U.S. this summer, check out these drop-dead gorgeous pictures of summer perennials.

Do you have a favorite perennial or way you use perennials in your garden?

Tell us in the comments below.

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When I was a kid, I was so proud when presenting my dad with the greatest Father’s Day gift ever…a new tie…with a pair of dress socks. But as I look around the desks of my coworkers at HGTV, I’ve noticed there are a lot of proud papas displaying hand-painted picture frames and coffee mugs decorated by their kids. Um, where was I when my friends were making these one-of-a-kind treasures? (Sorry Dad, we were jipped! I’m going to totally make it up to you.) Keeping up the fine tradition of Father’s Day crafts, here are four easy DIY presents perfect for burgeoning artists of all ages to make for their deserving dads.

Father's Day DIY Crafts

  1. The Hand-Painted Grill Platter: This ideal gift for grill-lovin’ dads is great for younger kids who enjoy painting. Moms will appreciate the minimal materials list. Why not decorate a set of six for a whole afternoon of fun? One for burgers…one for steaks…fish…kabobs…
  2. The Custom Valet Tray: The Dad with his pockets full of everything-that-jingles will love this present. Change, keys, wallet, phone and whatever else he carries around will fit right into this kid-customized tray (To my Dad…That chair in your closet heaping with your pocket supplies won’t do anymore). And what child doesn’t want to paint all over something new and clean?
  3. The Stitched Card: The day wouldn’t be complete without an “Happy Father’s Day” card. So, why not make one this year? We love this tie-stitched-card from Make and Takes for its simple and adorable appearance. It’s an easy activity for youngsters to teens, though Moms may want to help little ones with punching the holes. I’m definitely going to have to make this for my dad. Although, I wonder if I could poke holes in a flower pattern to match his 1980′s ties?
  4. The Painterly Silhouette: While it might be a little challenging for the tiny guys, this DIY art project from Design Sponge is a great idea for tweens and teens. From cowboy boots to saddlebacks, bow ties to bowler hats, pick one of dad’s favorite possessions to silhouette. Then frame it so he can proudly display it at home or work. Or you can just make one for yourself because, let’s be honest, it’s really cool.

So which craft would your Dad most enjoy receiving? Or which project would your kids most enjoy making for him?

Tell us in the comments below.

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  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"