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I love The Royal Tenenbaums. I’ve seen the film dozens of times now, and it rewards repeat viewings because I always find some new detail to admire about the set dressing. (The dearly departed Domino magazine even used the movie as inspiration for a room in a 2006 issue.) First I was obsessed with the bold zebra wallpaper in Margot’s bedroom, then it was Ari & Uzi’s pillowcases (Nick & Nora Cloud Nine bedding). But the thing I would most like to recreate in my own place is the eclectic art collection above the Tenenbaum staircase, an important part of which is Royal Tenenbaum’s prized javelina bust. That’s where the Savannah Story Busts from Anthropologie come in.

savannah story bust from anthropologie

These papier mache animal heads — gazelles, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and elephants — are made from layers of repurposed cement bags and pages from vintage French books. Cruelty-free safari chic with literary flair? Genius, just like the Tenenbaum kids.

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I’ve always considered myself a good gift-giver, but I’ve been going to a lot of baby showers lately, and I’m forced to contend with the reality that I have no idea what to get for new parents. I’m all, Do I go practical? These strollers cost as much as my rent! Maybe a toy. That’s not a choking hazard, is it? I could get them a cute onesie…but they don’t know the sex yet. These are all pink or blue. WHY CAN’T I JUST FIND A CUTE UNISEX ONESIE?! until my brain essplodes. That’s what makes this Floating in the Clouds 3D Wall Art by Gosh & Golly so attractive. (Well, that, and the fact that it’s adorable.)

3d wall art

It’s cheery, totally gender-neutral, would look precious over a crib, and since it’s made to order, the hot air balloons can be customized with different colors and patterns. Gosh & Golly also makes whimsical mobiles, just in case you sense that the parents-to-be wouldn’t go for sticking things on the wall. (But here’s hoping they’ll set up a registry and let you know what they want in the first place!)

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Graffiti. I like it. I like it a lot. When the location for the White Box Challenge was locked in for episode two of HGTV Design Star, I was happier than a snippy Pomeranian during a FedEx delivery. Why? 5 Pointz, that’s why. Located in Long Island City, it’s often referred to as a New York “Graffiti Mecca” where spray paint artists from all over the world come to create urban works of art on the premises of a 200,000 sq. ft building.

Contestants Outside Building - Running into White Room

Its conception was always for a good purpose; 5 Pointz was created as a formal place for aerosol artists to showcase their talents instead of vandalizing public spaces. As the official location for season six’s White Box Challenge, it was the perfect juxtaposition to the stark white drywall rectangles the designers would have to bring to life. In the show, this threw the contestants for a loop. Here, they show up at this gritty, colorful setting, only to learn this is, in fact, the dreaded White Box Challenge.

Five Pointz Graffiti Art

Nestled between industrial buildings and elevated train tracks, 5 Pointz could easily have been a producer’s worst nightmare. Why? Deliveries from trucks with loud beeps mixed with constant stops and starts from train cars which shake the buildings is insanely disruptive after the director yells, “quiet on the set!” Miraculously, these city sounds proved to be a non issue. (Guess who once shot an entire makeover in a neighborhood nestled between a field of cows and a busy international airport? Yep, me. But I tend not to go into detail about mistakes I made at age 28, okay?)

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Last weekend I went to a hotel, a candy store, a taxidermist’s shop, a detective agency, a hospital, and a cemetery, to name a few places. Oh, and I saw people dancing, kissing, crying, casting spells, and committing murder. Which is to say that I finally got to experience “Sleep No More,” the eerie interactive theatre piece by the British company, Punchdrunk. The three-hour long, mostly wordless, off-Broadway play is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and infused with the stylish noir of Hitchcock films.

photos of the set and cast of sleep no more

All images by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times, except cemetary statue (Scouting New York) and masked audience members (Alick Crossley/Sleep No More).

The company took over abandoned warehouse spaces for the set, and transformed them into The McKittrick Hotel. When you “check in” to the McKittrick, you are given a mask to wear, and then set loose, free to explore rooms and follow characters at your will. I was dazzled by some of the scenes between the characters, particularly the dance and fight choreography, but the most impressive character to me was the set itself. It’s a spooky Please Touch Museum, every nook and cranny packed with ephemera and Deco decor to examine for clues. There are hospital beds filled with potatoes, bathtubs with bloody water, letters from one character to another, secret passageways, vials of poison, and real candy in the Sweet Shop. The play has been so popular that Punchdrunk has extended its run several times. I hope they do again, so I can go back, eat a gumdrop, and peek in every last drawer.

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One of the more difficult parts of renovating is living among unfinished spaces the majority of the time. And for a gal that works from home, a less-than-finished office can sometimes lead to a less-than-inspired workday. So, last week, Ken and I decided to fast track our office plans and finally make the space a priority. We’ll have much more to share in the coming weeks, but for now, we can’t wait to show you the insanely modern DIY shelf we recently finished building:

Building A DIY Modern Shelf - Erin Loechner

Grab a friend, and get to work!

As an art collector, I have more art than I know what to do with. Rather than investing thousands of dollars in permanent framing, I wanted a statement shelf where I could switch out a few of my favorite pieces periodically. I envisioned something modern, slim and seamless. And like he often does, Ken knew exactly how to create my dream piece.

Building A DIY Modern Shelf - Erin Loechner

Busting out the level...

One of the key components of our DIY shelf is the lack of bracket support. We wanted the shelf to appear as a floating mantle, so brackets were definitely not an option. Yet we wanted the piece to be sturdy in case we chose to display art / design books in the future.

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Did you know today is International Museum Day and Art Museum Day? I hope some of you played hooky, I mean requested a legit day off from work to take advantage of the free and reduced admission offerings at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Who knows, maybe a museum near you is staying open late. If you live in Cincinnati, the Taft Museum of Art is open until 8pm on Thursday. (Here’s a list of all Art Museum Day participating museums.)

HGTV Design Happens - International Museum Day - Art as Decor

If you’re like me, an afternoon spent admiring a Raphael or Litchtenstein leaves me inspired to incorporate more art in my decor. So, in honor of International Museum Day, here are some expert tips for framing, displaying and rearranging art.

There are plenty of great resources for buying affordable, quality art online. Or get in touch with your inner Ansel Adams. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn’s DIY photo art project can be adapted for any subject matter and any room in your home. Or skip the art and try this clever approach to displaying empty frames.

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Hanging a gallery-style art wall is sometimes tricky and incredibly time-consuming. Unless you’re a tiny bit tech-savvy and a whole lot of creative! Here’s the skinny.


Images from

Our guest bedroom is seriously lacking in art and visual interest, so I knew a gallery wall was in order. I also knew that with guests arriving in just six days, I had to find fast digital and online solutions instead of shopping around town. Ready for the secret?

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Recently, I became aware of something magical and amazing I’d previously labeled as tacky or silly—online art. I guess it’s due to the fact that the term makes me think that the art was actually created online; however, it simply means you can purchase it online. Well, who the hell cares where you bought it, if it’s gorg, right? Since I’ve officially purchased and installed pieces from the Web for my clients and for TV makeovers, it seems appropriate to share with you fine people two successful sources. Take a gander at the pretties I’ve either used or had my eye on, then fill us in on any art sites you’ve happily discovered or spent some serious time—or cold hard cash—on. Oh, did I mention that online art is often uber-affordable? Well, it is. And while I am a huge fan of art, I’m an even larger fan of money—specifically not spending it.

First up, (aka “Artaissance”).

Online Art

Mother Child, Butch, Birds by Jonathan Adler

Artaholics Read On

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While most people watching the 83rd Academy Awards tonight will be focused on Natalie Portman, her baby bump and whether she takes home the Oscar for Black Swan, I’ll be watching out for the nominees for Best Art Direction and Best Documentary. In particular, the feature-length documentary Waste Land. Co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have created a moving look at the power of art to transform people’s lives and the environment.

Waste Land - artist Vik Muniz at Jardim Gramacho

Artist Vik Muniz in front of Jarim Gramacho

Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an band of “catadores”—  pickers of recyclable materials.

Waste Land - Marat Sebastiao - Pictures of Garbage

The documentary Waste Land

Muniz’s objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives.”


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I love decorating with independent art. Sites like Etsy are my go-to place for unique prints. Since today is Valentine’s Day I thought I would share my favorite prints that will bring a little love home all year long.

Domino Magazine

Who can forget the now famous Domino cover featuring this modern For Like Ever poster above a traditional white fireplace?

Spread a Little Love

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Today marks the first day in which my excitement for our new home is out of control. We still haven’t made quite as much progress as I’d like (more on that later), but I’ve been investing a substantial amount of time formatting inspiration boards and choosing furnishings. And because I have a hard time keeping things to myself (especially when I’m bubbling over with inspiration), I thought I’d bring you along for the ride.

A New House Rule + Inspiration Boards Galore

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design-happens-green-home-mcgee110x400It’s an exciting day in the world of Freebie Fridays. We’re giving you the chance to win an original work of art from artist Carrie McGee, whose piece 5 Strands is featured in the 2010 HGTV Green Home in Plymouth, Mass. Carrie has created the new piece, Oscillations, just for Design Happens readers. Oscillations was made by using rust, metal leaf and oil paint on acrylic blocks to create a truly unique work of art. For a chance to win this beautiful piece, answer this week’s question before 12/11c, Monday, June 28.  To find out more about Carrie’s piece, check out Gail, the HGTV Green Home Super Fan’s video. Be sure to provide a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Mark your calenders for June 28 at 8 e/p for an in-depth tour of the home with Sabrina Soto. At the end of the show, watch as Jamie Durie hands over the keys and $100,000 to one lucky winner. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

This week we want to know, what are you doing to make your home more eco-friendly? Cutting down on energy usage by properly insulating your walls? Minimizing the need for irrigation by planting hardy, native plants? You have until 12/11c Monday to answer. Click for official rules. The 2010 HGTV Green Home is only the second home in Massachusetts to achieve Gold certification by the National Association of Home Builders — see why here.

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The one thing I hate to see go after the holidays is the Christmas ads and commercials.  From the comical to the melancholy, it’s fun to see everyday products holidayized (my new word). I especially love looking at ads from 1950s and 60s – check out some of these posted on

Back in the 50s it was common to give bed pillows, bathroom scales and cartons of cigarettes as gifts. 

Christmas pillow

(Framed vintage ads are a great way to bring a touch of mid-century mod to your home.  Look for old magazines, cut out the pix and frame them.)

Planning a New Year’s party? Need menu ideas?  Check out these ads/recipes from 1967.  (If Spam and Bugles aren’t your thing, Sandra Lee has plenty of entertaining tips.)Spam


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One of the best things about working for HGTV is knowing that we inspire people everyday.  It gets even better when we see what happens when people get inspired to create their own masterpieces.  Check out this great weekend project from a mom of 4 kids who goes by Jennwa, that was inspired after watching an episode of Color Splash with David Bromstad.


We love it when we see stuff like this! Check out this exclusive video from HGTV’s $250k Challenge where David shows you how to make your own original painting.

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I came across a website with some of the coolest furniture art ever. This stuff takes years to make and is wonderful cross between forestry and high design. It’s called Pooktre. The artists form living trees into furniture as the trees grow. When the tree is the perfect shape, it is harvested, dried and finished.

Not all the trees harvested, some remain as living art on the artist’s property. They have a large garden of tree people all with seemingly different personalities, but no mean ones like in the Wizard of Oz .  

Check out the Pooktre website to see all the tree people.

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I’m a petlover from way back. I had my first tabby cat and her whole litter of kittens (yeah, my folks were slow on the spaying — NOT good) when I was four years old. These days, I pal around with my adorable pound puppy, Nico.

Of course, every day I have to come to work, and Nico stays at home to lounge on the couch (or in my bed) or hit the town with her dogwalker. I’d love if she could come to work with me, but building codes, you know. Lately, I’ve been thinking about adding a little bit of her mug to my office — beyond the photo that sits on my desk. That’s where pet art comes in.

Tons of digital artists, photographers and painters have started offering their pet portrait services and turned pet art into quite a trend. I’ve done some scouring online to see what variations I could fine — and yes, some options can get pricey.

Here are some goodies I’ve found: takes a simple photo of your prized pooch or pussycat and transform it into Andy Warhol-reminiscent pieces. They also have oil paint-inspired versions, or they’ll drop your furry friend in master classics (they’re more funny than chic). adds loads of digital enhancements to your home photos — they can make them dotty and comics-like (a la Lichtenstein) or just up the blur for effect (like on the cutie above) and add to canvas.


Jencartetc is an Etsy artist that does freehand drawings from your photos. Better still, 20 percent of her proceeds go to the Humane Society of Utah.

Of course, there’s always the budget option: get crafty and make a custom collage. Or if you’re lucky like me, you might work with or know a computer design-inclined friend who can drop some fancy styling on a personal photo. There’s something nice about a framed, original piece on a canvas, though.

If you’d rather not order online, visit your local framing shop — they sometimes have flyers or suggestions for local portrait artists.

So have you transformed your prized pet into a work of art? Tell me about it. I’m looking for ideas.

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Thanks to guest blogger Michele Bolen, HGTV Director of Original Programming

A few years ago I attended a company-wide holiday party with over 500 employees in attendance. It was a dressy affair that many of us referred to as “the prom.” At some point I made a trip to the ladies room, only to be confronted with not one, but TWO coworkers wearing the exact same suit as mine! I had to laugh, because no matter how good I thought I looked when I left the house, I was now faced with the realization that I was unoriginal. The horror!


So why decorate your home with the same prints or posters that thousands of other people have as well? Especially since you can buy original works of art for the same price or — in many cases — much cheaper. One of my favorite resources is the ever-popular eBay. This online auction site is a treasure trove of the sublime to the ridiculous, depending on your taste.

For my own collection, I usually use search terms like “Eames-era painting” or “mid-century painting,” which have turned up some gems from the 1940s-60s.


This large portrait of comedy legend Henny Youngman made its way from his estate to mine, for the bargain bid of $19.99. I just loved the colors and the artist’s impressionistic style, and it’s certainly proved to be a great conversation starter.

I also found these paintings done by a wallpaper designer from the 1950s, which have the original penciled notes and studio stamp at the bottom.


These only cost $15-$30 apiece, so I bought six of them. I had three with similar color schemes framed, and now they make a great graphic statement in my office.

Buy what you love, and if you’re lucky you may even stumble upon a wise investment once in a while.


I splurged on this $200 painting of a little boy holding a sunflower, and later found the artist’s work going for $2,000 to $3,000 at several fine art galleries. Who knew?

Try using search terms such as:

  • vintage watercolor

  • architectural drawing
  • fashion illustration
  • figure study
  • vintage landscape, still life, or portrait
  • outsider art (Be careful — you might find a collage made of toenail clippings.)

For the serious bargain hunter, has less traffic than eBay and even lower prices. It’s also an auction site so you’ll need to sign up first, but it’s free and only takes a few minutes. Check out the art section, then click on “paintings.” Most of these bids start around $10, but remember you will have to pay for shipping. Share your best sources for good, cheap art and your finds below. Happy hunting!

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You’ve probably spent the past weekends prepping your garden for its long winter nap. As you harvest those fall vegetables, don’t forget to snip any remaining fresh herbs to gather for the upcoming feasts (yes, Thanksgiving is only a month away!).

If you can’t use up all that thyme, rosemary and basil while it’s fresh, consider drying the bounty. Load up a homemade solar herb dryer (made from an old picture frame, wire mesh and suction cups) with your favorites and hang them in a sunny window — talk about a fresh kitchen design idea!


Once they’ve dried, just store the herbs in old spice bottles or Mason jars. Or if you’re extra crafty, why not create your own fragrant kitchen wreath? Then you can enjoy their beauty and have herbs on hand for that evening’s dinner. has some helpful steps for making a decorative herb wreath, and Better Homes & Gardens has a living-herb version.

Herb wreaths are a lovely melding of two of my passions: natural décor and food! But sadly this year, growing herbs didn’t make my to-do list. For folks like me, there’s always pre-made. sells one made with organic rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and dried chili peppers for a pop of color — the green-and-red palette has a bit of a Christmas feel, too:

organic%20bouquet%20wreath.jpg also has an organic version, made with a more varied collection of marjoram, dill, thyme, sage, lavender, anise, cinnamon sticks, yarrow and, again, chili peppers for a little zing:


And’s take comes with fresh bay, sage, purple oregano, Santa Cruz oregano, lavender and chile de arbol, all pesticide-free and suitable for cooking:


I can just smell them now. Scrumptious!

Have you ever made your own herb wreath? Which herbs would you put in yours? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Master, pioneer, legend. Only a few achieve these distinctions. In the design world, two such legends are from the same family — brothers Charles and Henry Greene. The Greenes are recognized as leaders in the American Arts & Crafts Movement when architecture and design began to focus on craftsmanship that featured strong lines, exposed joinery, and ornate, handcrafted decorative elements. The look was simple yet extraordinary — meant to stand the test of time.

This past weekend, A New and Native Beauty — The Art And Craft of Greene & Greene opened at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. It’s the most comprehensive exhibit of the brothers’ work which spans their lives and careers over a 90-year period. Many items have never been seen by the public. It includes drawings, photographs, correspondence and nearly 150 decorative objects, including the Bolton Chair, the Culbertson Lantern and the Reeve Window, pictured below.


The Greene & Greene exhibit can be viewed at The Huntington now until Jan. 26, 2009. After checking out the exhibit, be sure to save time to see some of the other wonderfully inspiring things The Huntington has to offer. Founded in 1919 by railroad and real estate developer Henry Edwards Huntington, the educational and research institution is situated on 120 acres featuring more than 14,000 species of plants, three art galleries and a library housing rare books and manuscripts.

Fall in the Japanese Garden at The Huntington/Photo courtesy of The Huntington

This year marks the 100-year anniversary for one of the brothers’ most recognizable projects — the Gamble house in Pasadena, Calif. The Greenes designed the bungalow-style home and its interiors for the David and Mary Gamble family of Proctor and Gamble. The home is considered a quintessential example of American Arts & Crafts architecture and design. It is a National Historic Landmark, owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California. The home is open the public. The Huntington and The Gamble House are less than 10 miles apart, so make a day of it and be sure to check out both.

If you don’t have plans to be on the West Coast, A New and Native Beauty – The Art And Craft of Greene & Greene moves to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in March 2009 and to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in July 2009. To learn more about the work of Charles and Henry Greene and one of their legendary masterpieces, visit

I find the Greenes’ work incredibly inspiring. It reminds me that home — inside and out, down to the joists — can be artistic. Art with purpose.

Who inspires you? Any design legends you admire?

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Where does inspiration lie? I guess if you’re here, then you’re pretty much clued in that it can be anywhere.

I’ve been inspired to design rooms in my home around a business suit, the color palette on a bottle of conditioner, and, a couple of years ago, a retail store’s windows.

I currently live in what, decades ago, used to be a slaughterhouse. (Creepy, right? I can happily report that it’s not haunted — that I know of.) As a result, I’m lucky to have some pretty lofty ceilings. But with 15-foot ceilings comes a challenge: finding something to be a focal point in a room. Your average wall art runs the risk of getting lost in a sea of Sheetrock.

Perplexed with the task of finding something with positive impact that wouldn’t negatively impact my wallet, I took to the streets of Manhattan, a city whose stores, restaurants and hotels always seem to provide some amazing ideas.

Then I passed Anthropologie, a retail store that often has some pretty creative windows. It was there that I saw past the items on display and noticed the wall behind them. It was a beautiful combination of blues and creams, with just a hint of amber washed in here and there.

I knew then, that this was the look that I wanted in my living room. But how?

Canvasses that big can be expensive if they’re already stretched (hundreds of dollars, not to mention I’d never get it in my front door!), so I enlisted the help of my housemate Dennis, who used to work at a frame store, and was up for the task of making the biggest canvas support of his life. Then it was off to the hardware store to buy the wood, and the art supply store to buy a big piece of canvas.

The whole thing was put together right in my apartment, which yes, has high ceilings, but not a ton of square footage. The construction of the project crept into the living room, the kitchen and every surface that could collect sawdust.

I knew I’d never match the look of the store window perfectly (and no, I didn’t plan on putting the store name on the painting….I wasn’t going to be THAT literal!) but I knew the feeling I wanted to create.

Rather than pay the costly prices found on paint tubes from the art store, I went for latex wall paint at a nearby Home Depot and Lowes. With the help of Dennis, and even my mother, who was visiting for the weekend, we dabbed and blended away at the monstrous canvas. Everyone made a contribution to the final look. There was a pretty strong incentive to finish the piece…I couldn’t get it out of the apartment that easily!

I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Not only did I achieve the look I was hoping for, but it is also a reflection of the people close to me who rose to the challenge of doing something big and creative together. Still, when I look at the after photo I’ve posted here, I can’t help but want to edit out the little cube and plant, which are no longer there. Today, a long sofa sits in front of the piece.

If you have been inspired by a store window or hotel lobby — you name it — or if you’ve had a great time getting friends and family in on a design project, post a comment and share it!

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