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Test your shopping skills with June’s High/Low Challenge from the latest round of items on HGTV Magazine‘s High/Low list. This month we’re taking a closer look at two sides tables, each with decorative bases and each with very different price tags. Can you tell which would cost more than the other?

high-low-july-august

Which item is “high” and which is “low”?

Here’s how to enter: Just leave your answer in the comments below. (For example: Left: High, Right: Low, or vice versa.) Yep, it’s that easy! If you guess correctly, you could win a prize package that includes an HGTV Magazine desktop calendar, an HGTV Magazine umbrella and the latest July/August issue. Don’t wait — the sweepstakes closes at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received.  Sweepstakes ends at 2:00 p.m. ET on June 12, 2015. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Scripps Networks, LLC dba Home & Garden Television, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932.

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Last week, we asked if you preferred a sleek, contemporary patio or a Southwestern-style one. All the votes are in, and contemporary won with 66 percent of the votes. Follow our tips below to recreate this coveted look in your home.

Contemporary Patio

Photo by Studio 6 Architects

Clean, Sleek Lines

One of the most distinct characteristics of contemporary style is sleek furniture. Choose materials with clean lines, and keep things mostly neutral for a seamless look.

Neutral, Contemporary Patio

Photo by Room and Board

A Splash of Color and Pattern

To keep the space from feeling too monotonous, add pops of color through small accent pieces like outdoor pillows. Get playful with different patterns and colors, and easily change the look seasonally to keep on trend.

Colorful Outdoor Pillows

Design by Meg Caswell

Eco-Friendly Materials

Contemporary style means using innovative materials that are sustainable and stylish. This patio uses a combination of concrete and bamboo, for a chic look that’s also environmentally friendly.

Concrete and Bamboo Accents

Photo by Jackson Design and Remodeling

Open Floor Plan

An open floor plan home works well for a household that loves an abundance of natural light and for hosting large gatherings. Translate this idea to your outdoor area. If you have a large space, set up minimal furniture to designate living areas without closing off the space.

Poolside Patio

Photo by Pool Environments

How do you bring contemporary design into your home? Tell us in the comments below.

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A couple of weeks ago, the Design Happens team held a craft challenge here at HGTV Headquarters. (I know — it sounds terrible, right?) We handed everyone a basic, unfinished, square-shaped wood tray and let everyone’s clever and totally unique ideas take over. The only parameter? With the exception of a few general in-house supplies, each blogger had a $20 budget for materials. Drills came out, there was a minor paint mishap, and one project got refaced at least three times. That’s what makes crafting fun — trial and error, then scrubbing liquid gilding off your hands.

Design Happens Tray Challenge

Nine of your favorite Design Happens bloggers participated in our first DIY challenge, and we have the project reveals below. But we also want to know, which one is your favorite? Which DIY would you tackle? Take a look at all the tray transformations, then vote in the poll at the bottom of this post.

Pick Your Favorite Tray Transformation

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Dear Tech Companies, 

I don’t want to be a bother but when you’re making wearable tech, I notice that you strive for things like long battery life, great features, and slim profiles. Do you think you could add “cute” to the list as well? Yes, cute. Like so cute I actually want to wear it. Yes, I’m serious.

Love,
Carley

Here’s the thing: Most wearable tech hasn’t been exactly wearable if your’e at all fashionable — with most options solidly in the rubber-black or blah-grey department. The finishes and textures have been decidedly dude. And while some are highly functional, allowing you to track your steps, read texts, and even keep you sun-safe, it’s time that we injected a little fashion sense into the mix.

I’m happy to report that there are a new crop of wearables that agree— I’ve featured a few in this video, and a few more favorites below.

Intel Mica

Intel MICA: Haute Couture wearable collab between Intel and Opening Ceremony. With it’s snakeskin band, precious stones, 18K gold coating and curved sapphire touch display, it’s got beauty and brains. $495.

Ringly

Ringly: A fabulous range of cocktail rings that let you program vibration patterns and light colors that will alert you when important calls and texts come in. Let the rest go, keep your phone in your purse, and enjoy who you’re with. $195 and up.

arki

Arki Walking Coach: This Kickstarter will track your steps and analyze your posture, helping you walk more and healther. Leather package, $129.

More Stylish Wearables

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Okay, so it’s not really summer yet, but with daily temperatures in the 80s, it’s certainly starting to feel like it. Long, balmy days always put me in a beachy frame of mind. Sadly, HGTV Headquarters is a long way from the coast, so I decided to whip up a virtual vacation in a glass: a classic lime margarita with a tropical twist.

Tropical Margaritas

Ready to make your own? Trust me, they’re a snap to make and so, so delicious!

You’ll need just a few things you likely already have in your kitchen, like sugar and water (for the simple syrup), limes, an orange or two, pineapple juice and not one but two types of booze: tequila (of course!) and the tropical twist: coconut rum.

Tropical Margarita Recipe

Yum! Beach or no beach, one of these is sure to get you into a vacation state of mind. Get the recipe >>

Margaritas are my warm-weather cocktail of choice. But we’d love to know — what’s your favorite summery sip? Tell us in the comments below. Plus, check out more summer entertaining ideas.

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Advanced Style

Photo courtesy of Dogwoof USA

Do you think great style has to hit the highway in your twilight years? Au contraire say the ladies of Advanced Style, a documentary inspired by Ari Seth Cohen’s blog of the same name.

Recently released on Netflix, Advanced Style follows a bevy of New York’s uptown and downtown divas on their style adventures. Some dwell in fabulous prewar apartments or in stuffed-to-the-gills studios while some are still hustling and others are comfortably retired. Whether their style is classic or avant-garde, these women refuse to stop having fun with fashion into their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. Utterly inspirational, while both sweet and sad, Advanced Style provides lots of ideas to forge your own fashion identity.

Both Cohen’s blog and director Lina Plioplyte’s film feature a dripping-with-finesse 50+ set, including:

  • 67-year-old Debra Rapoport with Kool Aid-colored hair and punk rock style
  • Lynn Dell, who runs the Off Broadway Boutique for unapologetic divas and loves to dispense style advice while sporting epic hats and groovy sunglasses
Advanced Style - Lynn

Lynn, a fierce-tongued fashionista, sadly passed away June 2, 2015. | Photo courtesy of Dogwoof USA

  • Ilona Royce Smithkin, 95, an accomplished artist who sings cabaret, teaches painting classes and does more in the course of her day than most plugged-in twentysomethings
  • Joyce Carpati, who has an apartment most New Yorkers would kill for and alabaster skin women envy
  • 82-year-old Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, a one-time teenage dancer at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, still living the dream, even with diminishing eyesight
Advanced Style - Lanvin

Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock destroying ideas about age and beauty in a radically wonderful LANVIN ad. | Photo courtesy of LANVIN Paris

  • Tziporah Salomon, who gives voice to some of the regrets and melancholy of growing older but hasn’t abandoned her zest for life

These women dress entirely for themselves and live by their own fashion rules, which include daily derby hats and face-swallowing eyeglasses. Advanced Style is a deep human portrait of the transformative power of style and fashion and is a recommended viewing for fans of fashion, New York and fascinating people.

Advanced Style Coloring Book

Color inside the lines — or don’t! — with the Advanced Style coloring book. | Photo courtesy of Amazon

Love These Ladies Already? Keep Reading.

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The Father’s Day gift guides that roll out each June always seem to be geared toward the plays-golf, drinks-whiskey, grills-meat sort of dads. The problem is, my dad is more of a sits-and-reads or sports kind of dad. He recently retired, so I think this Father’s Day might be a great occasion to help him spruce up a space for him to relax and indulge in a good book or the NBA Finals. Check out some of the inspiration I’ve found …

Chartreuse-Infused Game Room Is Fun, Hip

Design by Anita Lang

Anita Lang turned a small landing into a sweet TV and game zone, proving you don’t need much space for a cool hangout spot. The niche is a perfect size for a flat-screen TV, comfy chairs and a foosball table. The bright punches of chartreuse and the modern look of the foosball table make it an attractive space without detracting from the fun vibe.

Eclectic Multipurpose Room Boasts Multiple TVs

Design by Christopher Grubb

My own husband is more of a game-and-beer-with-the-guys kind of guy, so this setup is more his style. The round table is perfect for a round of poker or a board game setup, and a wall of TVs makes it easy to keep an eye on an array of sporting events in this room designed by Christopher Grubb. The floating buffet can store drinkware, game materials and even a small drink refrigerator.

Eclectic Multipurpose Room Boasts Multiple TVs

Design by Anita Lang

Maybe your main man is more into music? This room includes three TVs, surround sound and soundproofing panels for the ultimate media experience. A sectional sofa and guitar collection are ready for any impromptu jam sessions with friends.

Urban Outdoor Deck with Fabulous Entertaining Features

Design by Christopher Grubb

And just in case your dad IS the golf type, what about his own personal putting green? This may be an urban apartment, but there is still plenty of room for some putting practice on the terrace. This could be an easy feature to set up either outside or indoors — as long as your dad doesn’t have too crazy a stroke!

What kind of guy is your dad? What features would he love in his own space?

Like these photos? Head to the HGTV Photo Library.

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Beach season in upon us, and while our Color Team loves to stick our toes in the sand, another beach fixture inspired us: the blue, blue water. Camille and Beth saw lots of this cool hue at this spring’s High Point Market, but in particular, there were two standouts: deep cobalt blue and bright turquoise.

Deep Blue + Turquoise Color Inspiration From High Point Market

Deep Blue + Turquoise Color Inspiration From High Point Market

So, back to the beach: These two colors bring to mind the hues of two bodies of water that also surround some of the world’s best vacation spots: The deep blue Mediterranean Sea and the vibrant Caribbean Sea. We love both colors equally, so we decided to let our readers — aka YOU — make the call.

Pick Your Favorite Blue at HGTV.com

So, color fans, which color should we feature this June: Caribbean Blue or Mykonos Blue? Cast your vote now — we’ll tally the results on Friday, June 12 at 5 p.m.

Get inspired by all of our past color picks in the gallery below.

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I’m always the one that shows up to the barbecue with a dessert in hand. Savory sides are fine, but sweets are where it’s at. I love experimenting with new recipes, but sometimes it’s nice to pull out my grandmother’s cookbook and whip up some crowd-pleasing classics. If you’re a fan of the old-school favorites, then you’ll love these new twists, too.

If You Like Peach Cobbler…

Peach Cobbler Ice Cream Cake

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine | Photo by Yunhee Kim

…then try peach cobbler ice cream cake.
Peach cobbler is the perfect way to finish any summer meal. Combine the beauty of cobbler, cake and ice cream, and you’ve just created the ultimate summertime dessert masterpiece that’s utterly irresistible. Get the recipe >>

If You Like Banana Pudding…

Milk Chocolate Banana Pudding

Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay for Cooking Channel

…then try milk chocolate banana pudding.
It’s the same banana pudding that you know and love, except you’re making homemade chocolate pudding and topping with chocolate shavings. There’s nothing wrong with that! Get the recipe >>

If You Like Strawberry Shortcake…

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake

Recipe courtesy of Kelsey Nixon for Cooking Channel

…then try grilled strawberry shortcake with lemon cream.
You need less than 10 ingredients to make this summertime staple. There’s nothing better than smooshing sliced strawberries and homemade lemon cream between pound cake slices. It’s ok to skip the napkin on this one. Get the recipe >>

More Sweet Treats to Try

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Summer started early here at HGTV Headquarters, so we’ve been spending ample time outdoors. With so many options out there, you can really make your outdoor space one of a kind. This week we’d like to know: Do you prefer a sleek, contemporary patio with minimal decor, or do you gravitate towards an outdoor space filled with natural elements and textures?

Vote in our poll below, then tell us which design you chose and why.

HGTV Poll: Which Patio?

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You’ve all been following along with the HGTV Handmade Tiki Party, haven’t you? We are halfway through the second week and I can’t begin to choose a favorite DIY. Drinks, food, fashion, lighting, even a game–this party has it all! Today we are tackling one of my favorite parts of throwing a party: the table setting. My friend Meg and I will walk you through how to make a lush, layered, and oh-so-tropical centerpiece using thrifted glassware and an unexpected addition from your closet.

YouTube Preview Image

I love a long, low centerpiece that looks beautiful without blocking the view of your friends across from you. I’ll be reusing Meg’s leather leaves over and over, and using a scarf as a bottom layer basically quadruples my table linen options! What do you think of this luxurious layered look?

Tips to create a layered tropical tablescape perfect for summer entertaining.

Be sure to watch the rest of the HGTV Handmade Tiki Party videos, including the final party reveal on Friday!

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Los Angeles-based interior designer Caitlin McCarthy originally moved to the Golden State at age 15 to pursue acting. At the same time, she designed a line for a high-end children’s clothing brand. Her real passion, though? Designing chic yet thoughtful spaces. Caitlin now runs her own firm, Caitlin McCarthy Design. And we’ve loved this gal from the beginning. As 2014′s Fresh Faces of Design winner, Caitlin’s sophisticated loft design stole the show.

Caitlin McCarthy Design

Caitlin stopped by HGTV Headquarters last month to meet with our editorial team and talk Fresh Faces. (Yup, she’s stunning in person, too.) We, of course, gave her our questionnaire. Check out her answers, especially the drawing!

Caitlin McCarthy Interview

Are you the next Fresh Face of Design? Caitlin tells you how to submit your entry for this year’s competition.

Who should we interview next? Tell us your favorite design and DIY stars in the comments below.

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Remote Control

Every time you want to change the channel, do you first shuffle through five remotes only to discover that the one you need is lost somewhere between magazines and sofa cushions? If you wish you could combine all those gizmos into one space-saving (and sanity-preserving) device, then poof! Your wish is granted! A universal remote can harness all your controllers’ power within a single doodad. But are universal remotes worth the price? Here’s a closer look at three (almost!) magical models.

My Top 3 Picks

universal remote

Logitech Harmony 650Button, button, who’s got the button? This device sure does, with a bevy of buttons that can control up to eight devices and a miniature color screen that displays icons for your top channel choices as well as available commands. Conveniently, the device offers preset buttons labeled “Watch TV,” “Listen to Music” and “Watch a Movie” so you won’t have to toggle between devices to achieve what you want. Cons: It’s pretty big and bulky and, according to reviewers, you’ll have to aim it at your devices for seven to ten seconds to get the commands to work (it needs to send signals to multiple devices, after all). Also, it tends to reset if it’s dropped or bumped, so wield this wand with care.

universal remote

Logitech Harmony Home ControlIf you’re wondering why you need a remote control when you’ve got a smartphone, take a look at this kit. Home Control comes with a traditional remote, but it also works through an app. Since it does price out at more than $140, you’d expect it to do more than just control your TV and VCR. And indeed, it does. This is actually a smart home controller — complete with hub — that you can program to run your coffee maker, lights, locks, shades and nearly any other smart device you own. Program pre-set “Activities” to launch multi-command maneuvers, such as dimming the lights, lowering the shades and switching on a movie, at a single touch. Cons: The price is relatively high, and according to some, the setup is not intuitive.

universal remote

Gear4 UnityRemoteAt about one-third the price of Home Control, this glossy black drum can also replace your remotes with your smartphone. But it’s made to exclusively replace remotes, not to run your smart devices (hence the lower price). You can program “Actions” (like Logitech’s “Activities”) to control more than one device at a time, and you can swipe and tap to control the volume or to change the channel. Cons: It works only with iOS, and its batteries aren’t rechargeable.

Here’s My Verdict

A universal remote is a good choice for pairing down your remote collection and for cleaning up your coffee table, but know that you might need some patience to set it up and even more while it processes commands. Still, a little patience isn’t a lot to ask in exchange for a wish granted — feeling like the sorcerer’s apprentice as you take universal command of all your devices, one zap at a time.

Are you ready to simply your basketful of remotes into one sleek gadget? Or, are you already on the smart home train? Let us know in the comments below!

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Circium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, the floral star of the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show

I spent a glorious five days immersed in London’s garden culture and came away with some definite garden trends during my visit to the Chelsea Flower Show and beyond. Garden expert Lucy Summers took me on a whirlwind tour of Chelsea — in the rain, no less — and pointed out some of the flowers, plants and trends that made special cameos this year at Chelsea:

NATURALISTIC GARDENS

One of the gold-winning gardens at Chelsea was Dan Pearson’s gorgeous, rambling Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden that looked, with its woodsy plantings of ferns, rhododendron and grasses, like a slice of wilderness plopped down onto the Chelsea showgrounds. Crowds loved it, and the garden took home one gold medal and Best Show Garden awards.

FAVORITE CHELSEA PLANTS

Summers pointed out the profusion in many of the Chelsea show gardens of Queen Anne’s lace, ferns, alliums (always on trend at Chelsea), angelica, Circium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ and classic British lupines. Like Versace or Tom Ford dresses at the Academy Awards, these show garden favorites popped up again and again. Be ahead of the curve and plant them in your space!

SEE MORE FLORAL TRENDS FROM LONDON

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Okay, dream with me now: You’re lying on a beach, sipping a fruity cocktail from a coconut with the surf skimming your toes. It’s officially that time of year when if you’re not at the beach, you’re thinking about the beach (and seeing all your friends’ in-the-surf photos.)

So, it’s the perfect time of year to bring the beach to your backyard with a DIY tiki party. I mean, just look at this scene:

HGTV Handmade Tiki Party

Not sure where to start? The ladies at the HGTV Handmade YouTube channel have you covered! All week long, Marianne, Meg, Julia and Karen will show you DIYs to help you host your own tiki-themed party, from the food to the table to the decor. Here’s a sneak peek of the projects:

YouTube Preview Image

Like what you see? You can catch up on their party prep videos from last week, then tune in all week for more amazing projects, like these genius umbrella-covered lanterns.

HGTV Handmade TIki Party Toast - HGTV Design Blog

Here’s to party season! And if Monday is making you want one of those beachy drinks, check out Marianne’s video to learn how to make a party-perfect Bird of Paradise cocktail and a strawberry-guava mocktail.

YouTube Preview Image


SEE ALL THE TIKI PARTY GOODNESS AT HGTV HANDMADE >>

 

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Summer is looming and that means a few things are certain. School kids everywhere are rejoicing their new found freedom and BBQ grills around the country are firing up again, just in time for Fourth of July cookouts. June also ushers in a chance for homeowners to tackle landscaping and backyard projects that have been on the back burner all winter long. You’re going to want to pin these to your “Backyard Paradise” Pinterest board.

Outdoor Projects

1. How to Grow an Herb Circle
2. How to Build an Outdoor Stacked Stone Fireplace
3. How to Stain Concrete
4. Outdoor Lounging Spaces

Kid Spaces

Now that the kids have more down time than they know what to do with, it makes sense that craft room ideas, playhouses and other kid-friendly spaces are trending on Pinterest this time of year.

1. Low-Cost Ways to Dress Up a Playhouse
2. Decorating Your Home With Baskets
3. Contemporary Kids Rooms
4. 12 Amazing Craft Room Organization Ideas

What’s inspiring you on Pinterest as we head into the summer months? Are you planning any projects or parties? Follow HGTV on Pinterest for more DIY ideas. 

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Our team of editors have traveled the country to find the best designers, architects, landscape designers and stylists to create the HGTV Photo Library to give you lots of ideas for your own home. As part of our new Master Class Series, we want you to get to know some of the designers behind these jaw-dropping designs. First up: Stephanie Bradshaw. It’s hard for me to sum up Stephanie’s title into one or two words. She does it all — she’s an interior designer, event stylist, wedding planner, creative director and one of the founders of the Baltimore Fashion Alliance. Let’s just say, she’s a busy woman! We just had to know how she does it. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Stephanie:

Stephanie Bradshaw Interview

Design Happens: How did you get started as a wedding planner and event stylist?

Stephanie Bradshaw: Many years ago, I worked in business development for a large party rental company here on the East Coast. I designed parties, large and small, for years and started entering tabletop competitions to get our business name out in the community. I won a few of them and folks started to take notice in my design eye and attention to detail.

DH: How do you make sure to create a one-of-a-kind event for each client?

SB: I consider so many different perspectives when planning an event, whether it’s the bride and groom, their families, guests, etc. I also then ask myself what type of experience we want to create for the guests, and how will all the details help get us to that place. I also always consider all five senses when designing any party and how we can engage them all in the experience.

DH: What is the most challenging and most rewarding when planning an event?

SB: I think for weddings, the most challenging component are family dynamics and trying to meet the expectations of the Pinterest-inspired bride. Having real-time conversations about budget and expectations are the key to a successful and rewarding experience for all parties.

DH: What was the most memorable or successful event you’ve planned, and what made it that way?

SB: This is such a difficult question. I think with every event there are successes as well as things that could have been tweaked just a bit to be better. There is almost always a moment at each event where I am able — for just a minute — to stand back and take a breath, looking at the space and the guests ‘living’ in it and to be proud that my team and I were able to create such a beautiful environment for such special and memorable life moments.

Wedding Tablescape Design by Stephanie Bradshaw

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Bradshaw

DH: You have a broad range of services, from event planning to interior design. Which is your favorite?

SB: I get asked this question all the time, and what I think I really like is business. I like helping my team learn and grow and become better problem solvers. I like that my days are completely different from one to the next, and yet it is still under this gorgeous design umbrella of events, interiors and creative/graphic services.

DH: You are all about the details. What details or items are must-haves for weddings, photo shoots, interiors, etc. 

SB: For both events and interiors, I think starting with a color palette and a general theme is a great place to start. We create vibe boards for all of our design projects here and they really help us get the process started. All of the wedding details, from the floor plan to the invite to the table linen and the creative styling, is done with those things in mind. The same holds true with interiors. Floor plans, fabric selections and styling details are all a result of our initial vibe and the experience we want to create in those spaces. We talk a good deal about how we want a guest and/or homeowner to feel, and we try to move forward with that in mind as well.

Design by Stephanie Bradshaw

DH: How did auditioning on HGTV’s Design Star help you grow as a designer. What did you learn from it?

SB: It was an interesting process for sure. I made it to the semi-finals and that in and of itself is something to be proud of. I think I learned to keep going and follow what my gut was telling me, which was to keep designing and doing what I love even after I wasn’t selected for the show.

DH: You helped start the Baltimore Fashion Alliance. How do you think fashion and design influence each other?

SB: I think fashion has a huge impact on the design world in general. If you watch the runways, you will see trends that then filter down into the events we plan and the interiors we design and live in every day.

Living Room Design by Stephanie Bradshaw

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Bradshaw

DH: Back to events! Do you have any advice for our readers who are planning a wedding? 

SB: My tips for planning a wedding would be to hire some help! So many brides go into the experience thinking they can happily manage their jobs, family and planning a wedding all at one time. We spend all day, every day, planning these events full time, so it is definitely good to have help both physically and emotionally. Interview a few folks, and select the team that you feel best suits your needs and the vibe you want to create. Remember this person or their team will be representing you throughout the process, so select someone you think will do that in the best light possible. The same holds true for selecting an interior designer. Find someone that has a good handle on your vibe, but also someone that will challenge you to take a few risks!

Wedding Centerpiece Design by Stephanie Bradshaw

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Bradshaw

See more of Stephanie’s designs on her HGTV portfolio >>

What event planning and design details do you struggle with? Tell us in the comments below. 

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It’s pretty much impossible to be unhappy when you hit the landing page of DIY MacGyver Victoria Hudgins’ blog, A Subtle Revelry. Seriously: Try not smiling when you see technicolor balloons, vibrant cake toppers and stunningly gorgeous flowers. So when she released her recent design-savvy DIY book, Materially Crafted, I knew it would be full of the same bright ideas. (Check out Kayla’s Materially Crafted review and get a preview of some of our favorite projects.)

Victoria Hudgins of a Subtle Revelry

We caught up with Victoria to ask about her favorite (and least favorite!) colors, design trends and more. Check out her answers below — in neon colors, of course.

 

Design Happens Interview with Victorian Hudgins

Who should we interview next? Tell us your favorite design and DIY stars in the comments below.

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grilled recipes
Summer is (un)officially here! You can take your rules about when summer “starts” and when I’m allowed to wear white pants somewhere else. I’ll be busy firing up the grill and savoring these delicious recipes on the patio with friends.

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges With Zesty Dipping Sauce

sweet potato fries

Image courtesy of Floating Kitchen

Nix the Plain Jane fries that everyone else serves, and forget trying to use your oven on an 80-degree day. These grilled sweet potatoes are the answer to your picnic wishes, and they’re nutritional powerhouses, too. Plus, the homemade dipping sauce sounds better than any store-bought variety you could find. Get the full recipe at Floating Kitchen >>

Steak Fajitas

steak fajitas

Image courtesy of Apples & Sparkle

Everything about this meal is grilled! The steak and colored peppers—even the tortillas all get that smoky char on them for the perfect blackened flavor. I love the use of red and orange peppers for their boost of vitamins C and A. You can also try this with chicken for a leaner protein option that cuts down the fat. Get the full recipe at Apples & Sparkle >>

Asian-Marinated Grilled Shrimp Skewers

asian shrimp

Image courtesy of This Silly Girl’s Life

These skewers pass right over the typical garlic and lemon shrimp, and jump into a sweet and tangy Asian-inspired sauce that only gets better when grilled.  You can prep the low-cal skewers (don’t forget to soak in water if using wood) ahead of time, and pop them on the grill when guests arrive—they only take a few minutes! Get the full recipe at This Silly Girl’s Life >>

Grilled Stone Fruit  + Almond Mascarpone Dip

grilled stone fruit

Image courtesy of Dessert for Two

Yes, you can grill fruit. Yes, you’ve been missing out if you haven’t already tried it. Peaches, plums, apricots and pluots (a plum-apricot hybrid) were quickly put on a hot grill and served with a dollop of what sounds like fluffy heaven. Caramelized almonds are mixed with mascarpone, almond extract and honey to create a sweet dip for this healthy dessert. Get the full recipe at Dessert for Two >>

Try one (or all!) of these recipes at your next barbecue, and let us know your favorite.

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As you read this, I’m enjoying my first week-long vacation from work since this time last year. I love my job, but this holiday is way overdue. While I’m gone I’ll be spending some time at a bed and breakfast in North Carolina with my husband and some friends. I always get a lot of design inspiration from the B&Bs, rental homes and hotels I stay in while traveling, because I find that I’m exposed to styles outside my normal comfort zone, which is a great way to get new ideas.

Today’s eye candy is a home designed by Angelica Henry for a jet-setting family who wanted the resort-style amenities that they enjoy during their travels in their own ranch home. Check it out:

Grand Sitting Room Boasts Rustic Wooden Ceiling

Design by Angelica Henry Designs

The communal living spaces evoke the feel of a Western-style guest lodge with tall ceilings clad in hardwood, rustic architectural beams, soaring fireplaces and comfortable, conversational seating.

Master Bedroom Boasts Hotel Luxury

Design by Angelica Henry Designs

The luxury continues in the bedrooms with rich, light-blocking draperies, a statement chandelier and a show-stopping fireplace. Also, cool detail alert: The bed is on a bottom-lit platform that makes the platform look as if it’s floating above the floor.

Master Suite Boasts Resort-Style Shower

Design by Angelica Henry Designs

No luxury getaway is complete without a spa-like bathroom. How about a huge, walk-in shower with a fish tank? That’s not something you see very often!

Rustic Boys' Room With Twin Bunk Beds

Design by Angelica Henry Designs

The best vacation homes can pack in a lot of guests without sacrificing comfort, and this bunk room is a perfect example of how to do that well. Each bed has its own private space with storage below. Above the beds is a private fort — what kid wouldn’t love hanging out there?

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