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Lauren and Andre were tricky. They were a great example of not knowing what they want, but upon seeing something they hate, they had really strong opinions. So there was more guess work than before. (If you missed this one or need a refresher, here’s an easy-peasy way you can watch the whole episode of California Spanish Mod: Secrets From a Stylist.) Here are a few pictures from Domino I showed them. (I find that if i bring GOOD magazines, people choose good things. If i tell them to send me pics, then i get UNinspired pics because most people are not obsessed with design blogs like i am. So finding beautiful, inspiring pictures is hard for them.) Here is what they both liked:

Secrets From a Stylist Episode Seven


She loved the mirror (which i did find, for $1600 at MIX) and they loved the colors. They both loved the coffee tables and the colors…which is why i started getting the ‘modern organic’ thing. It’s rustic, but more refined.

The Looks + Their Reactions

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Neo-southern modern scottish re-belle. Really Emily? That title was long but it totally made us laugh. Nick was terrified that i was going to do all their furniture in plaid. He works in TV so he knows that a lot of these shows try to create conflict and do so by going really over the top for the audience (If you missed it, you can watch or rewatch the full episode of Southern Roman Scottish Charm: Secrets From a Stylist). I totally messed with him about it off camera, with little ‘hope you like neon plaid’ comments here and there.

Secrets From a Stylist Episode Five

And Clark liked her title but i think she was thinking it would be super traditional matchy-matchy, where the drapery matches the sofa which matches the pillows kinda thing. So she was a little scared, too.
See Their Inspiration Rooms

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Designing for a designer is like massaging a masseuse. You know they are here because you can do something for them that they can’t, but at the same time you are acutely aware that they can and will have strong opinions about how you do them. Or maybe it’s all in your head. Joy is a graphic designer and blogger and she’s kinda big time. But she was intensely sweet and incredibly grateful, making the whole process so much easier. So while i thought that i would be more self-conscious, i actually wasn’t. It’s probably because i LOVED that final room and both their styles, so it made me feel confident. (You’ll see later in the season how when i don’t love a particular style, it’s harder but in some ways more interesting. But to start, if you missed this show, you can still watch the whole episode of Single Malt Nouveau: Secrets From a Stylist).

Secrets of a Stylist Episode FourThe before: Cute, but not quite there.

I thought i had Joy pegged. She’s a graphic designer, super feminine, playful and on trend. She likes things that make her happy and, well yes, joyful. Bob is harder (the men are either super hard (picky because they know what they don’t like but can’t put a finger on what they do) or easy (as long as it’s comfy and looks put together, they’re happy). Bob wanted masculine, sleek, large scale and modern. He showed me the chrome and wood chair that he loves, and i took a lot of input from that. OK, so he loves chrome…i can too when it’s right. He loves modern shapes, i can too when it’s right. But besides that, it is so hard to find furniture and accessories that get men really excited.

See My 2 Cheery Afters

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Picture this: You’re sitting at home drinking your morning coffee just like always when something happens that completely alters your reality. Your heart starts racing. Your jaw’s hanging open in an unflattering manner. And your coffee is now splattered across the floor. I imagine that’s what it feels like to find out you’re the grand prize winner of the HGTV Dream Home 2011, a 2011 GMC Acadia Denali and 500,000 smackeroos. (And if it were me, there would be a lot of high-pitched screaming involved when host Monica Pedersen walked in, surrounded by television cameras.)

HGTV Dream Home 2011 Giveaway 2011 GMC Acadia Denali

If you’re like me, you’re dying to watch the drama unfold when this year’s winner gets handed the keys…to the mountain lodge and car! Tune in TONIGHT at 8 p.m. EST for the HGTV Dream Home 2011 Giveaway special, including a dreamy home tour by designer John Gidding. Plus, find out which Vermont-inspired housewarming gifts made it into the home, thanks to your votes. Some lucky voter is going to win a duplicate set, too. Maybe you? Find out who!

And if you’ve fallen in love with this house and its designs, then you can add furnishings from the Stowe, Vt. Dream Home to your home by touring your favorite rooms and shopping to your heart’s content. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell on you.)

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Episode three was a total blast (watch it here). Excitement just oozed out of Micah and Evelyn. I promise never to say ‘oozed out of them’ again. Gross. But it did. They were desperate for help and all they wanted was fun, color and some function. They already had a TV room (that you didn’t see.) They also wanted a place to play with their friends—they love themselves some board games. They also needed a dining room. The loft was pretty daunting actually; it was massive and dark and totally vacuous. Frankly, it was very cold, and these people are not.

Secrets From a Stylist: Episode 3 Loft, BeforeI know. Empty. Dead. Boring.

But It Gets Better

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I just love surprises, don’t you? That’s why I’ll be watching the HGTV Dream Home 2011 Giveaway special tomorrow, March 19, at 8 p.m. EST. Designer Monica Pedersen and the HGTV team will ambush the very lucky winner of this year’s giveaway with not only the keys to the HGTV Dream Home 2011, but also with $500,000 and a 2011 GMC Acadia Denali. You won’t want to miss designer John Gidding’s drool-worthy tour of the entire home, inside and out. Plus the Vermont-inspired housewarming gifts you all voted for will also be revealed. If you voted, you could win them, too! (I love them all, but I have to say, this leather wine carrier would be perfect for summer picnics.)

HGTV Dream Home 2011 Mount Mansfield Stowe Vermont

I know I’m not alone when I say this: I’m completely lusting over Dream Home’s decor, from the outdoor lounge chairs to the master bedroom linens. Even if you didn’t win, you can own a piece of the home and all the stellar furnishings that come with it. Tour your favorite Dream Home 2011 rooms to uncover the featured products you can drop in your electronic shopping cart. I have officially added these three beauties:

HGTV Dream Home Giveaway House Products Shopping

Left to right: Tabletop Candelabra, Parker Chair, Glass Cloche Chandelier, all Ethan Allen

What Dream Home items are you bringing home? Let us know! And tune in tomorrow for the big reveal!

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Am i alone on this or was that the cutest family that you’ve ever met on a design show ever, or in person? (If you missed it, don’t worry. You aren’t too late. You can still watch the full episode of Mad Men Bohemian: Secrets From a Stylist). I got super close to these guys, and they kinda made me want to have kids right now. They were just so fun and funny and stylish and cool, yet super good parents, i was totally enamored. And i love both of their styles, which makes it easier in a lot of ways. I love how opinionated Manesh is, some guys know they don’t have style and some guys know they do and love to talk about it, and Manesh is the latter which is actually so much fun and easier than the former. He’s a music editor (picks music for movies – big-old comedies that we all know) and she is an art teacher and an artist that makes these really amazing paper art pieces that i’m obsessed with.

For these guys there really wasn’t too much ‘behind the scenes you’ll freak out when you hear this’ stories, it was actually super pleasant. The second week already felt much better than the first week. I started understanding the production schedule and everyone on the crew started really getting to know each other.

Heres is my main inspiration pic for them – they both loved how eclectic it is, how casual it is, grown up, yet not too fussy for kids.

  How Did I Make It Work?

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To celebrate tonight’s premiere of the show 15 Fresh Handmade Gift Ideas, we’re giving away a little piece of HGTV. Watch the special this evening at 7/6 for a look at hundreds of our favorite Etsy gifts, as well as excellent how-tos for 15 fabulous crafts you can make and give as presents.

I snagged this on-trend and utterly cute birdhouse terrarium by Etsy seller No Place Like Gnome while visiting the set of the 15 Fresh Handmade Gift Ideas shoot.

Take a few seconds to answer this week’s question before 12/11c Monday, Nov. 29 for your chance to win the kit to recreate this whimsical terrarium.

This week’s question: What is the most cherished handmade gift you’ve given or received?

And don’t forget to watch the show!

Click for official rules.

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In early October, I visited the set of HGTV’s new craft special, 15 Fresh Handmade Gift Ideas. I don’t believe I’m going overboard or being utterly biased when I say that this first-ever HGTV/Etsy/Michele Beschen/Taniya Nayak collaboration is the best handmade TV show of the year. And if you think I’m reaching, tune in and judge for yourself this Friday at 7/6.

Hosts Taniya Nayak and Michele Beschen share more than 100 handmade creative gift ideas in 15 of the most-popular gift categories. We’re talking one-of-a-kind presents by Etsy crafters perfect for men, women, kids, pets, trendsetters, techies and everyone else on your holiday gift list. Plus, there’s easy-to-follow instructions for 15 fresh handmade gifts you can create that are demonstrated in the show and outlined on

Michele Beschen explains the project.


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We’re down to the final four — Courtland, Emily, Casey and Michael — and Vern invites the contestants to brunch at Aarón Sanchez’s Centrico. He wants them to take the morning and relax. Everyone is exhausted and so happy to indulge after all the pressure leading up to this point. I mean, I’d need some rest after being subjected to all those wall murals, am I right?

First course is a tropical fruit salad, second is huevos rancheros, third is an elegant corn tamale and fourth is rice pudding empanadas with a mango chutney. They gulp it all down while patting each other on the back. Suddenly Vern walks in with the chef. Like I’ve said before, you never want to see Vern walk in. It’s almost always bad news.

Turns out chef Aarón Sanchez has one of the biggest hits on the Food Network, Chefs vs. City. The contestants are to choose one of the dishes they’ve just devoured as inspiration for this week’s challenge: to create a dining room space. Casey chooses the tamale, Courtland goes with the empanadas, Emily chooses huevos rancheros, which means Michael is left with the fruit salad. The twist is that they have to start with a very lived-in space and must repurpose furniture and materials to create their designs. As if deriving design inspiration from the taste of a meal isn’t hard enough.

Read the rest over at the Design Star Blog

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We begin with the men returning to the apartment without Trent, and there seems to be a sigh of relief from everyone. Alex admits he’s disappointed with his performance so far, and he plans to step it up this week. I think that’s one refrain you always hear in these kinds of competitions: “This week I’ll show them!” Along with, “I’m not here to make friends.” I’m just waiting for that one.


This week’s challenge starts outside a flower shop when Candice announces each designer gets to choose the flower that inspires them the most. None of the contestants know which flower any of the others are choosing, and finally Vern walks out with a bouquet made up of each team’s combined choices. They must design a studio apartment based on the overall team bouquet and also incorporate their own individual floral inspiration.


The men’s bouquet is, as Courtland describes, “easy on the eye.” Clean, minimal, soft and fresh, made up of ranunculus, tulip, calla lily and snapdragon. Whereas the women’s bouquet is much more overtly romantic and whimsical: orchid, daffodil, carnation, hyacinth and wax flower. Immediately Dan starts to try to fight for himself and warns the women that in the last challenge they tackled too many construction-heavy projects, meaning ALL HIM. Can they please shop a bit more this time? Does he really have to say that to a car full of women? IN NEW YORK CITY?!

Read the rest of Dooce’s review»

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Is it episode three already? It is, and as Nina points out very wisely as the men celebrate their win, “The fall from the top is a long way down.” She was on top the first week, in the bottom two last week. Already Design Star is saying to the contestants, WE EAT EGOS LIKE YOURS FOR BREAKFAST.

Immediately the contestants walk out onto the rooftop of Trump International Hotel and Tower where a jazz band is getting down. Oh, jazz. You cute little acquired musical taste. Like hot, diluted beer on an uncovered patio in the desert. My husband loves you. I love him despite this.

Vern tells the ladies to choose one guy to join their team since the numbers are lopsided four to six (women being the first two eliminated). After a tiny bit of whispering they choose Dan, they say because of his skills and his nice energy, an infusion the women could really use. Really, it’s not because he’s so cute and has that adorable Southern accent? Those things come in handy when you’re sewing curtains.

This week’s challenge is to design a 200-square-foot outdoor terrace inspired by music, what Vern describes as one of the most difficult Design Star challenges ever…

Click over to HGTV Design Star blog for the rest

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Welcome to the new season of HGTV Design Star where the competition has moved back to New York City, what Vern Yip refers to as the “epicenter of design.” I don’t know what he’s talking about, because last I checked Jasper, Alabama was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. But I guess New York will do.

HGTV Design Star judges Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip

HGTV Design Star judges Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip

Twelve new designers, all with varied backgrounds, some formally schooled, others who found inspiration building pig troughs (those things are darling), under pressure to impress the judges — Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, and Candice Olson — to become host of their own TV show. And already I get the sense that Vern means business. Like, yes, the two women beside him are taller by three feet, but who’s doing the voice-over?! THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

HGTV Design Star contestant, Nina Ferrer

HGTV Design Star contestant, Nina Ferrer

First competition: Each designer is paired with another designer, someone they have never met, and they have to design a white-box bedroom for that person, based on their personality. Budget: $500. The catch is that it all has to be spent at an Asian market. OH MY LOLA. Is it just me, or do I sense a glut of Kimonos, geisha umbrellas and paper lanterns? Seriously, if someone glues kimchi to a wall I may have to leave the room.

Click Over to HGTV Design Star for the rest

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The new season of HGTV Design Star premieres on Sunday, June 13 at 10/9c. Mark Burnett Productions of Survivor and The Apprentice fame is producing Design Star this  year, which can only mean the challenges will be bigger, the designers better and the judges tougher. Stop by the Design Star blog to get the scoop on the upcoming season.


Plus, we’ve been catching up with the designers from last season: Antonio, Dan, Jason, Lonni and many more. See where the designers are now »

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