ALL POSTS IN Decorating Guides

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Is everyone ready for the big game tonight? It’s the Giants vs. Patriots, and I’m rooting for the football. Ha!  Let’s face it, for many of us the best part about Super Bowl Sunday is the food and drink that comes with such an occasion. Did you see all the nifty bowls Briana delighted the other day? They’re perfect to fill with your favorite munchies for casual, at-home gatherings like tonight. And since Briana found the perfect party bowls, I’ve been on a quest to find the most amazing football-themed, Super Bowl party decor. My findings may have turned me onto the sport even more just so I can incorporate football-shaped food into my shindigs come fall. Adorable.

super bowl 2012 party ideasHostess with the Mostess

super bowl 2012 party ideasHostess with the Mostess

super bowl 2012 party ideas football centerpiecePizzazzerie

super bowl 2012 party ideastheKitchn :: Scrappin’ Memories 4 U

super bowl 2012 party ideasWants & Wishes

super bowl 2012 party ideas football cupcakesMini Baker

super bowl 2012 party ideas cupcakesKara’s Party Ideas

OK, is anyone else feeling hungry? I definitely wouldn’t mind eating chili from a mason jar (being from the South and all). Our friends at FoodNetwork.com have plenty of game-day recipes to keep you satisfied while the Giants and Patriots battle it out.

So tell us, how will you be watching the Super Bowl? Are you hosting a big-game bash?

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Winters in NYC usually make me want to get away, and though my mind wanders to warmer climes, maybe the best plan is to embrace the season for its own particular magic and virtues. A trip to the Hôtel de Glace in Québec — the only hotel in America made entirely of ice and snow — seems like just the thing to change my tune.

ice hotel

Photo: Luc Rousseau

This Narnia-esque creation is 500 tons of ice and 1,500 tons of snow to be precise, yet it still has all the amenities you’d expect from a high-class hotel, and then some: theme suites, hot tubs and saunas, an ice bar, a café that can be turned into a chapel for weddings and even a “Grand Ice Slide” for kids and adults alike.

ice hotel

Photo: Luc Rousseau

Part of what makes the Hôtel de Glace so special and wintery (aside from the gorgeous, glacial decor, of course) is that it only runs until March 25. Now, if I could only get a guarantee that it would feel like spring by then…

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First, pat yourself on the back because you made it to Christmas Eve in one piece. Second, put down your to-do list, kick back and relax. It’s your holiday too, you know. And for anything now and last-minute you can come to us and we’ll make sure you’re covered, from decor and crafts to recipes and gift wrap.

If you’ve been running around this season like a maniac, it’s finally your turn to enjoy the glowing lights and and beautiful decor. Plus, we have some ideas hidden in here if you’re a bit behind. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy some of our favorite around-the-home holiday ideas:

tobi fairely pink christmas tree8 Festive Christmas Tree Themes

handmade christmas gift wrap10 Creative Gift Wrap Ideas

marian parsons handmade Christmas stocking hanger17 Glowing Holiday Mantels

handmade owl christmas wreath10 Christmas Wreaths

marian parsons snowflake chandelierClassic Silver and White Christmas Table Decor

For more Christmas inspiration, check out all of our holiday features:

  • Hosting the Holidays >> Learn how to entertain like a pro with simple yet festive do-ahead projects, recipes and table decorating ideas.
  • Handmade Holidays >> From gift wrap and cards to handmade gifts and ornaments, you can skip the store and make it yourself.
  • Deck the Halls >> Make your home feel festive both inside and out with these creative decorating ideas.
  • 12 Days of Handmade >> See all of Liz‘s handmade project picks from her Christmas countdown.

Happy holidays from everyone here at Design Happens. We hope you have a truly wonderful holiday weekend. Cheers!

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Sure, we’ve all seen it: red and green for the holidays. While this famous combo may not exactly be fresh, new or unexpected, it’s obviously working; every retail store is covered in this complementary duo from floor to ceiling. Well, according to the color wheel, crimson and emerald are M.F.E.O. (made for each other, in Sleepless in Seattle terminology), and that’s enough credibility for me to love ‘em together.

But what about when it is no longer November 26th-ish or December 24th-ish? Does this very special pair still scream “Sleigh Bells and Santa Claus” or can it be used year’round with absolutely no tie-in to the most wonderful time of the year? You be the judge: Here are several examples of red and green that defy any seasonalization. Is that even a word? Who cares? It sounds good and seems like a great way to end this paragraph.

Bosch Ford Lego

Bosch and Ford designed the Lego headquarters and pulled off the red and green combo. What seems to work best with their design is the actual shade of green they chose; it’s more grassy than it is mistletoe/Christmas-ish. An excellent non-Christmas-ish green for walls, very similar to this, is Leapfrog by Sherwin-Williams.
Kid Craft Bedroom

This bedroom packed with KidKraft furniture is an excellent example of how lime and green defy being typecast as holiday. Lime and fire engine red is an excellent pairing for a gender-neutral kids’ room.

Ralph Lauren Red Green

Leave it to Ralph Lauren Home to make tartan cool, especially red-and-green tartan. In fact, this brand is a fantastic source for the red/green combo. From bedding and fabric to wallpaper, they’ve got dozens of examples that work year-round.

Okay, anyone else see any successful red/green wonders that defy holiday reference?

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I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way we can make holiday entertaining simple, stylish and stress-free. Why yes, yes we can. The holidays may naturally be a hectic time of year with out-of-town guests coming to visit, presents to buy and beautify and the general end-of-the-year hustle and bustle, but we promise you can add professional holiday hostess to the list, too. Here’s how:

Dress Your Dining Room

dress your dining room for the holidaysDress Your Dining Room for the Holidays

Start with the chairs (simple, yet festive embellishments will do) and then add decorative details to the table, chandelier and buffet table. Handmade place cards, a restaurant-style menu, centerpiece and table runner will top off the look.

Create a Festive Holiday Tablescape

holiday centerpieces and table settings1. Rustic Christmas Settings 2. Tiny Boxwood Centerpiece 3. Silver and White Settings 4. Sparkling Pinecone Settings 5. Mossy Gift Box Centerpiece

You know those drool-worthy tablescapes you find on some amazing website that look too complicated to create so you end up pulling out the holiday paper plates instead? Well, we have killer table settings and centerpieces that you can put together on your own without a long supply list. (But I promise guests will easily think you spent much longer perfecting every detail.)

Concoct Crowd-Pleasing Cocktails

pumpkin pie martiniPumpkin Pie Martini

There are very few things people love more around the holidays than pumpkin pie. Turn that into a cocktail and you have an instant favorite. Discover 15 Holiday Cocktail Recipes >>

Make Your Guests Feel Right at Home

holiday hosting and decoratingGetting Ready for Holiday Guests

Whether hosting Christmas brunch or housing overnight guests, discover creative and clever ways to make everyone feel right at home during the holidays.

Find more entertaining tips, ideas, inspiration and more in our Hosting the Holidays feature.

What’s your secret to stress-free holiday hosting? Tell us in the comments!

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It’s hard for me not to turn my review of The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate & Live Well (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2011) into an out-and-out love letter to its author, Deborah Needleman. Full disclosure: When I claim that I live with “approximately one million old shelter magazines” in my bio on the blog, 3/4 of those are the mag she founded, Domino. If you were also a fan of the dearly departed Domino, you’ll find a lot of its guiding whimsy and wisdom in these pages.

perfectly imperfect home cover

The main premise of Needleman’s new second book is that great homes showcase signs of life, not a meticulous look that a decorator has crafted for its inhabitants. In each of the chapters, she touches on the elements you need to make your place stylish, yet preserve its warmth at the same time.

The practical tips on things like bed height and proper placement of a rug in a room are helpful, but the book really shines when Needleman encourages personality. “Jollifiers” (i.e., “sentimental things that spread a little joy every time you cast your eye upon them”) and “Cozifications” can easily be neglected or ignored if one is too busy worrying about more superficial aspects of decor. The book is a great reminder to have fun with your spaces and focus on getting the best possible set-up for the life you actually live, peculiarities and all. The cute watercolor illustrations by Virginia Johnson have a charmingly dashed-off feel that further highlight and embody the casual-chic spirit of the book.

I’m thinking The Perfectly Imperfect Home would be a wonderful “jollifier” to add to any design junkie’s coffee table this holiday season.

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When I was living in New York while working on Design Star, I remember season six winner Meg Caswell discussing her idea of a series all about design crimes. Up until that point, I’d never used that term. Well, I kinda love it. In fact, I would probably steal it and pass it off as my own term if Meg hadn’t created it in front of millions of people on national TV. (Her new show is called HGTV’s Great Rooms; I like that, too.) The term is rather silly if you think about it; how criminal can decorating get? Well, perhaps if you rob a bank and then use the loot to buy custom window treatments. But for the most part, the term “crime” seems rather severe when applied to an industry heavily focused on fabrics and chandeliers.

After stepping off a plane to Atlanta from Fort Lauderdale where I’d spent a week troubleshooting some kidspace and kitchen renovations, I started to make a list of decorating dos and don’ts. While I’m not the end all/be all expert when it comes to decorating, I have for the most part pretty much seen it all, the good and the bad. Sometimes, there are happy accidents, such as running out of vases, then using a soup can to hold flowers, which surprisingly turns out to be kind of adorable. On the other hand, there are wimpy, completely uncreative acts like throwing sticks into a vase, shoving them into a corner and calling that “decorating”.

From smooshing sofas into walls to turning master bedrooms into showrooms for matching sets, here are a few design don’ts to keep in mind before tackling your next project. And if the term “design crimes” will persuade you not to do them, let’s go ahead and steal Meg’s catch phrase for the sake of saving a room from possible incarceration. PS – Can you imagine getting twenty-five years to life for blocking a window with a bookshelf or using floral chintz in a bachelor’s master bedroom? Hmmm, maybe there should be decorating jail after all.

Stick In A VaseDON’T #1: Shove sticks into a vase and use them as centerpieces. This was invented somewhere, probably in hell, and it doesn’t make any sense or even remotely add anything to a room. Well, except for some sticks. And a vase.

PlantDO: Use potted fiddle leaf fig trees indoors. As seen in this photo from The Marion House Book, they’re architectural, hardy, fill negative space beautifully and are an excellent choice for bachelor pads since they borderline on masculine.

Floating RugDON’T #2: Throw an area rug into a living room just for the sake of throwing an area rug into a living room. In order for an area rug to do its job—to ground and/or delineate space—it needs to not look like it accidentally fell from a magic area rug stork.

RugDO: Choose an area rug large enough to encompass all seating in a living room. Ideally, select one that is large enough to tuck either halfway or all the way under the sofa and any other chairs or settees in the space. In this Charleston home featured in Veranda, designer Deborah Lipner used this technique to help create the feeling of a room within a room, similar to the way putting disparate objects on a tray makes them look like a uniform grouping.
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You know that one funny story you tell that friends and family members get a kick out of, so much so that they consistently ask you to recite it or perform it because it brings them joy? I do. Mine is this stupid story about how when I was 17-years-old and working at a toy store for extra Christmas money, a shady couple came into the store, then had a friend distract me while they ran out with about $275 in rubber dinosaurs and marbles. We never caught them, but hey… the joke’s on them. They stole rubber Stegosauruses and cheap marbles.

About three years ago, I swapped this yuletide tale for a design trick I did in my own home and in a restaurant I designed in Midtown, Atlanta. What was the trick? Rubber Pterodactyl and green marble wallpaper. Just kidding. I’m talking about ginormous wall murals, particularly those sporting photographs printed on vinyl. After about three back-to-back projects with clients requesting these, I made it a point to completely stay away from using them for the sake of not becoming a one-trick-pony. Well, since interior design is a business and businesses are all about making money, I recently got over this and started embracing the many fantastic super gigantic wall murals there are to choose from online. Cha-ching! From very big decals to custom photographs more than 11 feet tall, take a look at what I’ve found on the internets. And just for old time’s sake, I even included a dinosaur. But I left out the marbles.

Mega Print

If you are vain and have fallen in love with a particular photograph that captured you from that perfect angle, giving you a super defined chin you like to think that you always have, perhaps you can immortalize yourself on your wall with Megaprint. The company can print your personal photo as a larger than life vinyl mural. If you do this, keep in mind that black and white photos seem to have greater longevity, since they won’t tie you into any specific color scheme until you move.

Mega Print

In addition to photographs, Megaprint can also print large-scale graphics, an excellent way to add some colorful, branded life to your company’s office space.
Butterfly Elements

Casart may be the most brilliant thing since sliced bread…seriously. I hate that saying because when people utter those words, they pretend it’s funny. Kinda like when someone pronounces Target [TAR jay] like they are the first to ever say it like that. Anyway, Casart creates murals, wallpaper and graphics that are, get this, RE-STICKABLE! Ah! This is life-changing for a designer who deals with tons of condos on a regular basis. I love these super-sized butterflies. Just one of these doozies paired with sleek, modern furniture is enough to quickly and affordably fill up a small bedroom.

Blik Scan Forest
Blik Scan Branches

Blik is the very first decal company I ever used back on a TV makeover series I used to design for. They have an enormous range of modern creations for kids and adults. The products come in clear packaging and include burnishers, which are all that’s needed to apply them. Two of their most timeless creations are To Scan A Forest and Branches.

Sissy Little Spinosaurus

Well whaddyaknow? A dinosaur! At least this time, it won’t include the aforementioned kleptomaniac toy store cheaters. Sissylittle carries a few giant-scale dinosaurs that are kiddie enough for the kids but modern enough for their parents to enjoy. Or cool enough for self-proclaimed mature geeks and nerds to decorate with in their apartments. (You know, those Big Bang Theory, long live Pluto types.)

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If you’re a Harry Potter fan, are related to an HP fan or are friends with one, you’ve no doubt heard about J.K. Rowling’s exciting announcement this morning. The author has partnered with SONY to create Pottermore, an interactive, partially user-generated, free-to-use Harry Potter community and “online reading experience” launching this October. While you won’t learn much about the site’s content in J.K. Rowling’s announcement video (although the animated book pages are charming and should not be missed), outside sources promise that through Pottermore “the storylines will be brought to life with sumptuous newly-commissioned illustrations and interactive ‘moments’ through which you can navigate.” So now, we wait for the Beta to launch July 31st, shortly after the final film installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. In the meantime, check out some magical designs inspired by the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Wedding

Olde-tyme curiosity shoppe charm, tea-stained book pages and well-worn metallics come together in this Harry Potter wedding inspiration board from Oh, Hello Friend.

Harry Potter Rooms

This hazy, antiquated dining room from {this is glamorous} has a neglected charm reminiscent of  the secret headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.

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A recent article revealed that one in 10 families never sit down and enjoy an evening meal together. If folks aren’t making it to the kitchen table, then the dining room must be one of the most unused room in the house. It’s time to disband this mindset and start getting the family back together again (sans TV trays and personal computers). Why not commit to eating in the dining room one night a week. Not just holidays and special occasions. And if your dining room is feeling a little tired after years of “just-passing-throughs”, you can easily transform it into a fresh, inviting space. Check out these top tips from HGTV’s Dining Room Design Guide. And don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to eat every meal in your new favorite room.

1. Spice It Up With a Fresh, New Color Palette

Dining-Room-Color-Palette-HGTV-DesignHappens

Christopher J. Grubb

A color transformation can work wonders, so say goodbye to dull and welcome a cozy and inviting new hue to your dining room. Whether you coat the walls with paint or express the color palette through new accessories, give your dining room the color boost it desperately needs.
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