POSTS BY Jennifer Brake

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Graduation party supplies: photo booth props, paper straws and class of 2014 burlap bannerTop: Photo booth props from CleverMartin | Bottom, left to right: Paper straws from Partysupplier4U, Burlap banner from TheRusticChicBtqe

You guys, today is so bitter-sweet.

It’s my last day interning with HGTV.com (nooooo, boo, hiss!), but on the bright side, I will officially be a college graduate in less than a week (woohoo!). Is this real life? How has it possibly already been four years since I graduated from high school? Regardless, I’m pretty excited about not having any more papers to write and for my family and friends to make the trip to my university and celebrate with me.

If you’re also gearing up for a grad party this month, consider these tips and tricks to make it an event the new alum will cherish forever.

Invitations:

  1. Download free printables from Snapfish.
  2. Create your own announcements and invites fairly cheaply on Zazzle.
  3. Purchase invitations from an Etsy shop.

 

Decor:

    1. Decorate an old mailbox and use it as a centerpiece. Have guests put their cards and money gifts in it to keep them all together.
    2. Arrange old photos of the grad in a fun way.
    3. Use streamers in their Alma Mater’s colors to amp up the ceiling decor.

 

Activities:

      1. Set up a DIY photobooth with props.
      2. Create a special hashtag and spread the word so you can easily find photos and tweets from the party on Instagram and Twitter later.
      3. Make paper grad caps and decorate them.

 

Food:

      1. Cupcakes are easier to serve than cake. Make DIY cupcake toppers using toothpicks and tiny paper diplomas, caps, etc.
      2. Serve finger sandwiches cut into grad caps and/or wraps using tortillas rolled up like diplomas.
      3. Tie ribbons around Swiss Cake Rolls to look like diplomas.
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Kelli Ellis 'Do I Look Skinny in This House' book cover

How do your rooms speak to you? Do you feel calm and positive or anxious and disoriented? These are the questions interior designer Kelli Ellis is asking in her new book, “Do I Look Skinny in This House?: How to feel great in your home using Design Psychology.”

Ellis, whose work has been featured on HGTV’s Takeover My Makeover, explains why you should focus on the 3 F’s (function, flow and feel) to make your home comfortable and practical for your lifestyle. She says a room can be fit for a magazine spread, but the owners will still be unhappy with it if the decor is based around trends and fads instead of what fits their personalities.

“Turning your house into a haven is something that we obviously care about. We have entire TV channels and we have entire stores that are to making homes beautiful,” Ellis said. “All of us want to come home and we want to feel great, comfortable and productive in our homes. We really ask our homes to be everything to us.”

Design Psychology simply focuses on being intentional when creating spaces by using simple and effective design principles.

Ellis gives tips on how to customize your house using color therapy, light therapy and certain scents that mesh with your emotions and passions without breaking the bank. Her advice includes small changes, like leaving at least three feet of walking space around furniture to instantly improve a room’s flow, and larger endeavors, like steps to recovering your home after a natural disaster.

Interior Designer and Author Kelli Ellis

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle.

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5 Fabulous Faceted Fox from HGTV's Design HappensClockwise from top left: Depst | Megan Lee Designs | Gingiber | SketchInc.

It’s Friday and I’m feeling fox-y! But not in the Cleopatra kind of way.

I love the minimalistic look of facets. Their clean lines can instantly modernize a room and make it feel more organized. The geometric trend has been around for years, but designers keep finding fresh new ways to incorporate it into their work. You can get your facet fix with big furniture pieces or in small doses with lamps and appliances. One of the latest facet fads is foxes, and they’re so darn cute, you’ll forget all about that terrible “What Does the Fox Say” song.

What do you think of these faceted foxes? Are they fabulous or faux paus?

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Like many people, it wasn’t until I moved away for college that I realized how much my mom did for me. Suddenly her frustrations about not having enough hours in the day to go to work, keep the house clean and figure out what to cook for dinner every night make a lot more sense. And I don’t even have kids yet!

I’m not sure how she did it, but I’ll be eternally grateful. So even though there aren’t enough gifts and cards in the world to show my appreciation, I figure these are a good start. Check out what made our 2014 Mother’s Day gift guide and tell us what you’re planning to do for Mom this year in the comments below.

P.S. Don’t forget stepmothers, grandmothers and in-laws! They deserve your appreciation, too!

Get gift ideas!

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DC Design House Exterior Patio AreaGarden design by Botanical Decorators

Attention design lovers and do-gooders! You gotta see this house.

The Washington, D.C. Design House is on a mission to showcase designer talent and help bring healthcare to children in need. The Design House got its start in 2008 as a one-time exhibition for designers to raise money for a local charity by showing off their work. The showcase was such a success, it was made into an annual event, and they raised more than $1 million for Children’s National Health System in just six years! Pretty amazing, huh?

Now they’re back for their 7th year with a spectacular house filled with bold blues and cool greys. Every nook and cranny (inside and out!) of the 2014 house has been personally crafted by top area designers, so each space has a unique look but still flows seamlessly into the next.

Exterior and Front Door of the DC Design House 2014Entry Garden by D&A Dunlevy Landscapers, Inc. | Facade by Rill Architects

See inside the Design House!

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Baseball birthday party from Catch My PartyCatch My Party

Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd…

There’s nothing better than a hot dog, a Coca-Cola and a day at the ball park – except maybe a top-to-bottom baseball-themed party. In honor of opening day, I couldn’t resist sharing details from these adorable baseball extravaganzas perfect for birthdays, baby showers and, of course, gamedays!

Pitch a Party!

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Jennifer Brake with Kitchen Cousins

Cue collective swooning at HGTV headquarters.

Employees lined the Food Network Kitchen as Kitchen Cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri stopped by our Tennessee office for a quick tour of the building before they host the “Raise a Roof” benefit concert to raise money for Rebuilding Together Knoxville here tomorrow night.

As a national organization, Rebuilding Together rallies volunteers and provides home repairs and accessibility modifications to low-income homeowners at no charge to them. The concert will help more Knoxvillians have a safe and healthy place to call home. It’s similar to the Cousins’ newest show Cousins Undercover, where they secretly overhaul a neighborhood hero’s home with the help of the community.

Cute and philanthropic? It just really doesn’t get any better than that.

More photos from their visit

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It seems like staircases only get love during the holidays – little pumpkins for Halloween, garland and bows for Christmas, maybe a few Easter baskets in April. But for the rest of the year they’re just an uninspiring way to get from one floor to another. I’m here to argue in favor of year-round stair decor. Here are 10 simple ways to step up your stair game (mhm, you see what I did there?) without major construction.

Cousins Undercover makeover staircase with wallpaper and accent wall
1. Create an accent wall: Paint a bold color and construct a gallery of knick-knacks and photos on the wall behind the stairs, like HGTV’s John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino did to these stairs on Cousins Undercover.

Cousins Undercover apply birch tree wallpaper to stair risers
2. Wallpaper the risers: Apply a fun wallpaper to the risers to add visual interest to otherwise boring stairs. Go for paper with an interesting pattern in a neutral color palette to avoid going overboard.

See 8 more stairway ideas

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Pale Blue in Home DecorJamie Herzlinger | HGTV’s Renovation Raiders | Stools From Fab.com | Betty Lou Phillips

Lupita Nyong’o's style is always amazing, but the Prada gown she wore to the Oscars was a jaw-dropper. The color of the dress has been dubbed ‘Nairobi blue’ since Lupita said it reminds her of her home in Kenya. The 31-year-old looked stunning as she picked up an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Patsey in “12 Years A Slave.” Seeing her epic acceptance speech got me thinking, “How can I use that beautiful shade Nairobi blue?”

Pale blue Dining Room from Design On A DimeHGTV’s Design on a Dime

Blue and Red Living Room from Bright Bazaar

Bright Bazaar Blog

Blue and Red Living Room from HGTV's Renovation Raiders

HGTV’s Renovation Raiders

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Property Brothers spring green table place settingsSt. Patty’s Place Settings from HGTV’s Property Brothers

Spring officially begins this month (March 20!), and we at HGTV are beyond ready. It’s time to break out of your post-winter slump and start fresh with some Spring cleaning and new decor. Not feeling like you want to take on any major projects yet? Start small with your dining room or patio table. These place settings from HGTV’s Property Brothers are so fun and vibrant, you might just catch Spring Fever. So set your table for Spring and be sure to catch the new season of Property Brothers premiering March 12 at 9pm/8c.

More Spring-inspired table settings

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Book shelf in home library from Cousins Undercover

Yes, today is Valentine’s Day and all of us here at HGTV.com love love, but we also love a good read and a glass of wine! (Or is that just me?)

In addition to V-Day, February 14th is also Library Lovers’ Day. The holiday is more broadly recognized in Australia, but I’m pushing for a celebration here in the States, too. So whether you’ve got a big date tonight or you’re planning a night in, take a moment to fall in love with these beautiful home libraries from some of our favorite HGTV shows.

Home by Novogratz Home LibraryBright book room from HGTV’s Home by Novogratz

See more HGTV home libraries

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HGTV Dream Home 2014 Backyard

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the summer in a gorgeous Lake Tahoe retreat? Enter the HGTV Dream Home 2014 Sweepstakes, and it could happen!

This mountain-style getaway is up for grabs along with a 2015 GMC Yukon Denali AND $250,000 in cash, but you’ll have to take a break from planning your perfect Valentine’s Day dinner and enter before 5pm/4c February 14th. Boost your odds by entering twice each day online — once on HGTV.com and once on FrontDoor.com — and you could be enjoying the fresh mountain air in no time.

See inside the Lake Tahoe Retreat

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Nerd Valentines Printable

NoBiggie.net

I wouldn’t really call myself a nerd, but I have spent many a Friday night with my nose in a book and I may or may not have dressed up as a Hogwarts student for the Harry Potter midnight movie premieres… But who hasn’t done that, right? So whether you’re an old-school Trekkie or a new Big Bang Theory fan, you’re sure to love these free Valentine’s Day printables that are simply “adorkable!”

Star Wars and Star Trek Valentine Printables
Star Wars and Star Trek Printables From The Dating Divas

More Nerdy Valentines

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A month ago, I spent New Year’s Eve in downtown Nashville, trying to keep my nose defrosted long enough to watch the giant guitar drop at midnight. This weekend, I’m prepping for a more comfortable New Year’s celebration – the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is all about taking time away from school and work to focus on family and cleansing your home before another year.

There’s also some really delicious food involved. Dumplings, spring rolls and long noodles are all good luck symbols for wealth and long life. Nian gao, a sticky rice cake, is the traditional dessert served on the Chinese New Year, but I couldn’t pass up sharing these adorable cookies from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle made with sugar cookie dough, a few Christmas cookie cutters and icing. They might not be traditional, but they’re a perfectly festive way to bring in the Chinese year of 4712.

Are you making anything special for the Chinese New Year?

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Invisio Transparent TV | Vision Toaster | Transparent Fireplace 

Let’s be honest, our chances of having hoverboards and flying cars by 2015 (like we were promised by the Doc and Marty McFly…) aren’t great at this point. But while we haven’t quite advanced to a “Jetsons” lifestyle yet, there has been some headway in home technology. Several designers are making a push for transparent appliances that make small spaces look larger and add a cool, futuristic look to a room, much like the “ghost” furniture Briana Mowry blogged about around this time last year.

It makes us wonder if the transparent iPad will ever make its debut. A design for a virtually invisible tablet was revealed by digital artist Ricardo Afonso nearly a year ago, but Apple hasn’t officially said yea or nay. As long as none of the gadgets look like the gaudy see-through phone I had on my nightstand for most of the 90s, I’m a fan.

What do you think? Would you pay up for transparent tech?

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