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    Remodelista + Home Depot Fixed Logo Placement

    Inspired by the moody atmosphere of Noma in Copenhagen, I set out to create a tabletop with a muted Nordic palette for my next dinner party. Noma-style, I draped my dining chairs in sheepskin and covered the table in a canvas drop cloth topped with a wool runner. Working with a muted palette of grays and blues, I realized I needed something metallic (and inexpensive) to add a bit of glimmer to the tablescape. That's what led me to the plumbing aisle at The Home Depot.

    Finished Look

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: The subdued colors of the table are offset by a brassy gleam. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: The table is layered with a natural gray wool runner over a painter's drop cloth (for a more formal party, be sure to iron out the creases—for this dinner, I liked their casual look.)

    The Elements

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: The ingredients for my Nordic table: white plates, Spanish Wine Glasses, flatware, black linen napkins, candles and candelabra parts, eucalyptus stems, and Suede Pot Holders (for the roasting pan to rest on).

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: To create my DIY candelabra, I used three 1/2 Inch Brass Pipe Coupling pieces ($6.98) and two 1/2 Inch Brass Pipe FPT Caps ($5.85 each). Sourced from The Home Depot, they remind me of the recent geometric brass trend dotting the tables of bloggers everywhere, but for a fraction of the price.

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: I shaved down candles in gray and natural beeswax to fit into the holders, then I created a platform for them by stacking two wooden canister lids—no gluing required; the pieces disassemble for easy storage.

    A Nordic Table Setting with Copper Pipes Used as Candle Holders | Remodelista

    Above: I snipped handfuls of eucalyptus to sprinkle around the table, a hint of color and fragrance that completes the setting. 

    -Alexa Hotz

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    At Remodelista, we love to discover budding talent; fostering unknown designers is one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do. And I myself love have made some great finds, including in my own neck of the woods, via For those of you who also like to support independent artists and new ventures, here's a selection of gifts from some of our favorite small studios, many of whom have shops on Etsy.

    N.B.: To make sure we've got everyone on your list covered, we're posting a new gift guide every weekday from now until Christmas. See all of the Gift Guides to date in our archive.

    dipped trays by Vintage Vogue Story, Remodelista

    Above: Designer Charlotte Bravo's Maryland studio, The Vintage Vogue, was born out of "a love for handcrafted objects" and a set of skills picked up while studying interior architecture and design. Her Dipped Wood Trays are satisfying simple designs. They're available in white or gold leaf and come in three sizes: eight inch, $32; 12 inch, $50; and 14 inch, $60.

    Above: Boston workshop Pilgrim Waters, a business run by artist Suzy Pilgrim Waters and her computer animator husband Keith Waters, has long had an avid local following—you can find its designs at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum and ICA gift shops, among other places—and is beginning to reach a wider audience. Made from an ultra-soft wool and silk blend, Suzy's Merino Boulders Throw, 96 inches long and 60 inches wide, is available at Horne, $498, as well as directly from Pilgrim Waters.

    Parallax bottle opener by Light and Ladder, Remodelista

    Above: Light and Ladder is a Brooklyn design collective that exhibited at the recent Remodelista Market in New York. The brass Parallax Bottle Opener, part utilitarian object part sculpture, is just one of the many useful pieces in the Light and Ladder collection. The bottle opener is available in a duotone finish for $65 and in a satin finish for $75.

    wooden stools by Pecan Workshop

    Above: Portland, Oregon's Pecan Workshop was founded by construction worker Joe Busch as a way to make use of all of the "dumped and doomed" wood he was seeing pile up in dumpsters. We particularly like his Handmade Wooden Stools, which are 18 or 25 inches tall, $95 each. They're also available in custom colors and sizes.

    tote by Sophie Truong, Remodelista

    Above: French-born designer Sophie Truong now makes her home in Boston, where she fashions original bags and purses for her line, Stitch and Tickle. Made by hand from supple leathers, Sophie's creations include this classic Simple Leather Tote, $295, which measures 13.5 inches tall and 12.5 inches wide, and comes in six shades (cognac is shown here). Her small clutches and purses start at $60.

    Brass Wall Light on Etsy | Remodelista

    Above: We've been admiring the understated elegance of Bobby Koerper's lighting for a while now. This handmade, modern Brass Wall or Ceiling Light is available through the Kansas City, Missouri-native's Etsy shop, Polite KCMO; $40. Choose from standard or candelabra base. Also available in steel for $40.

    flower sack pillows by 2 Jacs, Remodelista

    Above: Designer/stylist Shelley Jacobsen of Jac and Jill channels her love of Scandinavian style and the natural splendor of her native British Columbia into these Cotton Flour Sack Pillow Covers made from flour sack towels that she hand dyes. Available in 13 colors, they measure 12 inches by 18 inches; $24.40 per cover (insert not included).

    For more Etsy discoveries, see 10 Favorite Nautical Finds and Lighting: Earth Sea Warrior on Etsy.

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    We're admiring the current crop of menorahs that are not only modern in form but add a note of glamor, too. Here, five favorites:

    Steel Menorah from March SF  

    Above: From San Francisco kitchen emporium March, the MARCH Brass Menorah consists of nine individual candle holders and a matching tray (not shown) made from high polished brass, $2,500. The design is also available in Patinated Steel in a black or shiny silver finish with a tray, $2,000.

      Ascalon Menorah Carrara marble

    Above: The Ascalon Menorah with Candles is made from solid Carrara marble and has eight candleholders to correspond with the eight days of Hanukkah and one shamash (the candle used to light the others) on a different level. Left and right diagonals in the design create an 18-degree angle, which designer Brad Ascalon points out references the fact that in Judaism, the number 18 symbolizes chai or life. Available from Design Within Reach, $275, including 45 hand-dipped 6-inch white candles.

    Industrial copper modern menorah  

    Above: The Industrial Style Menorah Copper Candle Holder is made out of copper piping and fittings; $128 without candles, and $144 with candles from Provisions by Food 52.


    Above: Make your own menorah using Fort Standard's simple geometric Marble Candleholders that can be easily stacked to create candles of different heights. They're available in black or white circles, pentagrams, and hexagrams and have a leather bottom that keeps them from scratching tabletops; $42 each. 

    Lindsay Adelman Nick and the Candlestick

    Above: The Nick and the Candlestick by Lindsey Adelman was inspired by antique brass weights and named after a Sylvia Plath poem. Its made up of nine brass holders at varying heights resting on a walnut tray; candles are inserted onto spikes, so they appear to float.  Available from Matter; $1,905.

    For a more traditional looking menorah, check out a perennial favorite: Josh Owen's Menorah for Areaware.

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    In a tiny village in Northern Ghana called Nyariga, a group of women produce intricately woven baskets and bags working with dry stalks of grain tinted with ancient organic dyes from Nigeria. A partnership between a Parisian atelier and the Nyariga women, Muun bags and baskets reflect the merging of African, French, and Japanese influences and are available directly from Muun (select bags are also available online from Merci in Paris).

    Muun Basket Remodelista

    Above: Striped Low Basket; €38 from Muun.

    Muun Basket Remodelista

    Above: Set of Three Low Baskets (also available in yellow and red); €105.

    Muun Basket Remodelista

    Above: Low Red Basket (also available in green); €38,

    Muun Purple Basket Remodelista

    Above: Muun Basket Bowl; $50 (on sale from $65) from Beklina.

    Are you as obsessed with baskets as we are? See our picks in our Baskets shopping section.

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    I like to think of my apartment as an atelier—not a studio, an atelier—which is no doubt part of the reason I find the photos of this dinner party so appealing. Held in a lofty, skylit artist's studio in East Nashville, Tennessee, the event was designed and styled by Jenn Elliot Blake of A Blog Named Scout for the latest print issue of Anthology Magazine. Complete with painter's drop cloths, splatter-painted brushes in earthenware jars, wild vines, and, of course, art on the walls, the whole scene is something we'd like to recreate.

    Dinner in an Atelier from Anthology Magazine, Get the Look from Remodelista

    Above: Jenn and painter Emily Leonard, whose studio this is, pulled together the dining table, with help from Emily's husband, Sloane, who actually built the table for the occasion. The rustic benches were rented from a nearby antique shop. The painter's drop cloth was left as is (paint and oil stains included) to anchor the setup. Photographs by Amy Dickerson for Anthology Magazine.

    Dinner in an Atelier from Anthology Magazine, Get the Look from Remodelista

    Above L: The studio is set in a mid-century industrial space; the paintings on display are Emily's own. Above R: New and old brushes in ceramic mugs are mingled with the floral centerpieces. 

    Dinner in an Atelier from Anthology Magazine, Get the Look from Remodelista

    Above: Jenn gathered greenery from Emily's mother's garden: stems of Lenten roses, local vines, and bright green hellebores. Ikea's Norden Extendable Table | Remodelista

    Above: Recreate Sloane's homemade table with Ikea's birch Norden Extendable Table, which seats eight to ten; $429. The accompanying Norden Bench is also made of birch; $69.99 each. Or create your own table from found parts: see DIY: An Old-Meets-New Dining Table (for under $125).

    Painter's Canvas Drop Cloth | Remodelista

    Above: A painter's Canvas Drop Cloth makes a great tablecloth as well as floor cloth; the 9-by-12-foot size is $26 from Gempler's. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.

    Ball Quilted and Regular Canning Jars from Ace Hardware | Remodelista

    Above: The go-to water glasses: Ball's 8oz Quilted Crystal Jelly Mason Jars ($10.99 for 12) and 16 oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars ($12.99 for 12), both from Ace Hardware.

    Clam Lab Ceramics Studio in Brooklyn, New York | Remodelista

    Above: From Clam Lab studios in Brooklyn, New York, the Pasta/Entrée Bowl in white stoneware is finished with a gloss white interior and satin exterior; $50 each.

    Antique Silver Flatware Bundles | Remodelista

    Above: Source silverplated flatware in mismatched sets from flea markets, or consider Bygones Flatware Bundles, which include 10 pieces (choose from fork, knife, or spoon sets); currently on sale for $24 at Bhldn.

    Bright Red Latte Bowls from Anthropologie | Remodelista

    Above: Anthropologie's Latte Bowls introduce a dose of color to the table. They're also available in white and seven other colors; $20 for a set of four.

    Ikea Svalka White Wine Glasses | Remodelista

    Above: For large parties, Ikea's Svalka White Wine Glasses are good to have on hand in multiples; $4.79 for a set of six. For more ideas, see our post, 10 Easy Pieces: Entertaining Essentials.

    Artist's Paintbrushes | Remodelista

    Above: A collection of Artist's Loft Marseille Brushes in various lengths, brush shapes, and fibers are available through Michaels. Photograph via Meredith Arnold.

    Dinner in an Atelier from Anthology Magazine, Get the Look from Remodelista

    Above: Create name tags by sourcing an inexpensive Flat Chip Paint Brush ($9.97 for a pack of 15 from The Home Depot) and splatter painting the handle. Then attach a name card using a Brass Thumb Tack ($4.51 for a pack of 200 from Amazon). Drawing paper works well as placemats. These display the menu, made using an old-fashioned plastic label maker (such as the Dymo Organizer Xpress, $9.79 from Walmart) and affixing the labels to a sturdy piece of cardboard—Jenn then overlaid the cardboard with paper and used colored pencil to create a menu rubbing.

    Red Stripe Linen Dish Towel from Small Batch Production | Remodelista

    Above: From Small Batch Productions on Etsy, the Linen Red Stripe Dish Towel is made from 100 percent linen and sewn in house; $22 each.

    Ready to take the look to the next level? Drape yourself in one of these 7 Studio-Inspired Smocks and your furniture in Canvas Drop Cloths (as instant decor).

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    As the mother of two teenagers, I've spent many years trying to pinpoint the perfect teacher presents. As our own Christine once aptly noted: "You want to show genuine appreciation, but go one step too far and you quickly find yourself in the land of the "apple polishers." My strategy is to select small but well designed—and truly useful—gifts of thanks. Add a homemade card and note from your child (or teen), and you've got an A+ present.

    To make sure we've got everyone on your list covered, we're running a new gift guide every weekday from now until Christmas. See all of the Gift Guides to date in our archive.

    Gift guide holiday gifts for teachers | Remodelista

    Above: For the teacher with an appreciation for the basics (and a twinge of wanderlust): a Set of 3 Notebooks with Twine In Gray Green and Beige, made by Antica Cartotecnica, an 83-year-old stationery shop in Rome's Piazza dei Caprettari; $28 from Unionmade.

    Gifts for the Teacher Penkridge Ceramics Porcelain Apple and Dux Pencil Sharpener | Remodelista

     Above L: A porcelain apple, hand-painted and finished with a carved stem, by Penkridge Ceramics, a small studio near Birmingham, England. To view other pieces by the workshop and to inquire about prices and place orders, contact Sweet Bella USA. Above R: The Top Hat Dux Large Pencil Sharpener, an Art Deco classic made in Bavaria from a solid block of aluminum; $50 from Madewell.

    Gift guide holiday gifts for teachers | Remodelista

    Above: The L'Atelier d'Exercises Ring Calendar is a universal date-marking system: turn the wheel to arrive at the correct day, date, and month. A fascinating teaching aid as well as decoration for classroom walls, it's at Saks Fifth Avenue; $78.

    Gifts for the Teacher Shady Characters and Decimal Equivalents Tote | Remodelista

    Above L: For the grammarian, Shady Characters by Keith Houston, a book (and companion blog) that chronicle the astonishingly lively history of the ampersand, the dash, and other punctuation marks; $16.41 from Amazon. Above R: The Decimal Equivalents Canvas Bag, $24 from the Museum of Useful Objects, is sized for books (shoulder strap included) and decorated with a vintage tool catalogue decimal equivalents chart.


    Teacher Gift Guide Muji Paperclip Tree and Carafe | Remodelista

    The perfect desk accessories from Japanese emporium Muji (which has worldwide outposts and a US online store). Above L: The Wooden Magnetic Paperclip Holder Tree; $9.50. Above R: The Heatresist Cafe Set for hot or cold drinks, $23.95.

      Gift guide holiday gifts for teachers | Remodelista

    Above: For the DIY educator: The Anselm Bookbinding Kit from Peg and Awl contains the fixings, plus illustrated instructions, for making a palm-sized 40-page journal; $28. Go to Peg and Awl to watch an inspiring—and very pretty—step-by-step video set to banjo music.

    Ready to wrap? See 5 Quick Fixes Holiday Gift Wrap.

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    Designed by prolific Cape Cod architect Charles Zehnder in 1970, the Kugel Gips house—once slated for demolition—is the first completed project of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, a group dedicated to documenting and preserving Bauhaus-era houses on Cape Cod by architectural luminaries such as Marcel Breuer, Nathaniel Saltonstall, and Eero Saarinan.

    The house, which overlooks Northeast Pond, is available for rent during the summer months (a portion is tax-deductible); in the autumn and spring, artists and scholars can apply for a residency program. Visit Cape Cod Modern House Trust for booking information.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: The Kugel Gips House is a reflection of Zehnder's interest in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his time spent with the architect during his years at the University of Virginia.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: The structure is surrounded by a series of long cantilevered decks and roof overhangs. 

    Kugel Gips Living Room Remodelista

    Above: The living room with brick hearth. 

    Kugel Gips Kitchen Remodelista

    Above: A view of the modest kitchen partitioned by a shingled wall.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: The living room overlooks the serene pond.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: The modest sleeping quarters with concrete brick walls—according to the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, Zehnder was influenced by the geometric concrete bunker formations in Normandy.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: Concrete walls continue into the bathroom.

    Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Modern House Trust | Remodelista

    Above: The deck overlooks Northeast Pond, one of Wellfleet's many freshwater kettle ponds.

    Kugel Gips House Pond Remodelista

    Above: The clear waters of Northeast Pond.

    Penelope Green captured the vibe of my Cape Cod childhood in A Childhood Home, and Poet's Muse.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 9, 2010 as part of our Cape Cod Modern issue.

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    From the design community in London, a genius idea for raising charitable funds:  

    Every year since 2010, a philanthropic group of designers called 10 x 10 lays a grid of 100 squares over a particular section of London and invites 100 star architects and designers to create a collective portrait of their city. The resulting drawings, paintings, and prints—10 x 10 Drawing the City of London—are exhibited and auctioned off in late November. Proceeds go to Article 25, a charity comprised of design and building specialists, who are devoted to creating adequate housing and sustainable shelter around the world; this year Article 25 will use the funds to design and build Street Children’s Centres in Kenya and Ghana. 

    This year, the 10X10 grid was placed over East London, and features work by international architects Zaha Hadid and David Adjaye. All of the art can be viewed online and is currently on display at The Crossing at King's Cross in London (see map below), where it'll be auctioned by Sotheby's this Thursday night, November 28. If you can’t make it to the auction, you can bid online—opening bids for many of the pieces at £100. “As we cherish and appreciate the city where we live, we thank London and provide valuable, life-enhancing design to cities around the world where it is otherwise unaffordable,” says 10X10 founder Tim Makower of Makower Architects. "Wouldn't it be great to see design communities all over the world adopt and replicate 10X10 in their cities?"

    Here are some of the artworks we're following: 

    10X10 London, Jenny Harborne, View from Curtain Road | Remodelista  

    Above: View from Curtain Road by Jenny Harborne, founder of IMAGO Architects and a specialist in architectural glass. The print offers a view of the top of 30 St Mary Axe, aka the Gherkin building. 

    10 X 10 London, Nav Mistry, Pie and Mash | Remodelista

    Above: Pie & Mash by Navnit Mistry. An architect with a passion for painting, Mistry exhibited at this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. "My artwork depicts one of the oldest and famous traditions associated with the East End of London—Pie & Mash!," he says. "F. Cooke, Pie & Mash, has been trading in Hoxton since the 1800's, still providing the much loved and traditional pie and mash, ensuring that it remains part of London's heritage."

    10 X 10 London, Bill Hanway, Christ Church Drawing | Remodelista

    Above: Nepotism alert: Christ Church from Weaver's Loft is by Bill Hanway, my architect husband. Bill travels around the world working on urban projects, but London is home. Inspired by an image on the blog Spitalfields Life, he captured a view of Nicholas Hawksmoor's 18th-century masterpiece Christ Church from the unexpected vantage of a Spitalfields house that once belonged to a Huegenot silk weaver.

    10X10 London, Christian Spencer Davies, TEA Drawing | Remodelista  

    Above: Tea by architectural model maker and managing director of AMODELS, Christian Spencer-Davies. The Shoreditch street scene incorporates three-dimensional figures that Spencer-Davies describes as "local characters carrying bicycle wheels, guitars, rucksacks, and squatting to have a fag."

    10 X 10 London, Rob Ryan drawing | Remodelista  

    Above: Artist and illustrator Rob Ryan's My Home is a limited edition print that features his romantic writing and intricate cut paper designs. Coming to London? A visit to Ryantown, the artist's shop on the Columbia Road, is worth the trip.

    Looking for ideas for how to display your artwork? The curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Janet Bishop, gives us her Expert Advice: 10 Tips on Displaying Art at Home

    The map below shows the location of The Crossing, at 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London, where the auction will be held this Thursday, November 28, at 7:30 pm. Let us know if you win anything.

    View Larger Map

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    I used to live near the Glassybaby studio in Seattle, and, like so many other Seattleites, became entranced by the colored votives that are the glass studio's signature. Now that I live in San Francisco, I was very glad to hear that Glassybaby has come to town.

    Glassybaby was born during founder Lee Rhodes' battle with lung cancer. When she started the business, it was with a mission of giving: since the studio's founding, 10 percent of all sales have been donated to organizations dedicated to healing. Additionally, the sales of designated votive colors are donated to particular partner organizations, including UCSF Medical Center (for uninsured cancer patients), The San Francisco SPCA, and the Shanti Project. To date the company has given $1,567, 981 to charitable causes.

    Glassybaby San Francisco Shop, Remodelista

    Above: Glassybaby opened its doors in SF's Presidio Heights neighborhood in early November. Original photography by Janet Hall shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.

    Founder Lee Rhodes began producing Glassybabies—vibrantly colored, handblown glass votives—in 1998; the vessels are now available in nearly 400 colors and can also be used as drinking glasses (they're dishwasher safe), vases, or simply tabletop jewels. Handblown in Seattle with naturally-derived, lead-free color rods, every Glassybaby is unique. They are priced at $44 each. Weighty and vibrant, they are no ordinary votives.

    Glassybaby San Francisco Shop, Remodelista

    Above: The minimalist space is a showcase for Glassybaby votives (the custom cabinetry is by Lotus). 

    Glassybaby San Francisco Shop, Remodelista

    Above: Perfect for the holiday table, a centerpiece offers textures and colors that rival traditional floral centerpieces. And, better yet, they live on after the festivities. 

    Glassybaby San Francisco Shop, Remodelista

    Above: Even the muted colors of Glassybaby votives are potent.

    Above: The shop is located at 3665 Sacramento Street and is open seven days a week. Those who aren't within reach of a Glassybaby shop in Seattle or  San Francisco can visit Glassybaby's Online Storefront.

    Headed to San Francisco? See more of our noteworthy Bay Area design haunts.

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    Have you dined at French Blue, lodged at Meadowwood, or taken a tipple at Harlan Estate? If so, you're probably a Howard Backen fan without knowing it. Delve into the architect's oeuvre in the recently released tome From the Land, featuring a lovely intro by Diane Keaton (she describes Backen as "Western, big boned, charming") with text by Daniel Gregory. From the Land features 38 properties, ranging from farmhouses and wineries to restaurants and barns. And see more of the firm's work on the Backen, Gillam & Kroeger listing in the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: From the Land is $53 from Amazon. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: MacMurray Ranch near the Russian River west of Healdsburg.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: The Pritchard Hill residence.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: The Oakville Wintery just west of the Silverado Trail.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: A Woodside residence on the San Francisco Peninsula.

    From the Land: The Architecture of Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger (Rizzoli) | Remodelista

    Above: The Witt Barn near St. Helena; see more at House Call: Napa Valley Barn.

    Want to take a virtual tour of wine country's best tasting rooms? See our Tasting Room Roundup.

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    Had we been passengers on the Mayflower, you can bet we would not  have been the Pilgrims assigned to make the Thanksgiving succotash. We would have been foraging in the woods for seasonal floral arrangements to adorn the dining table. This year, inspired by our partner The Home Depot, we've scoured our gardens and the store's aisles for inexpensive (and surprising!) items to create an easy and elegant tabletop. Here's how to recreate the look:

    Photographs by John Merkl.

    Above: Some years getting ready for Thanksgiving—ironing the tablecloth, polishing the silver, and arranging a complicated floral centerpiece—feels more like preparing for a NASA moon landing than a holiday. This year, we want things to be different: more relaxed. So we've put together an easy table you can start to set five minutes before the guests arrive. (Don't worry; they'll still think you've been working on it since Sunday.) 

    Above: We started with inspiration from the garden. Our friend Kate gave us a bag of persimmons from her tree the other day; the bright orange color is enough to set a tone for the tabletop. (If you can't get persimmons, you can substitute purply pomegranates or lemony lemons or even tangerines or apples—choose a beautiful fruit from the produce aisle at the grocery store.) 

    To provide a backdrop to the fruit, we're relying on greenery. We trimmed 2-foot-long boughs from a bay tree in the yard. As a substitute, you can use privet (extra points for the dark purple berries), euonymous, camellia, olive, or evergreen boughs from your yard.

    As an accent, we're adding scabiosa pods and DIY gilded walnuts. Here's how to make the walnuts:

    Above: We bought 15 whole walnuts at the grocery store and then painted them. A 10-ounce can of water-based Martha Stewart Vintage Gold Satin Metallic Paint (dries to the touch in 30 minutes) is $5.48 and a three-brush Martha Stewart Artist Brush Set is $5.97 from The Home Depot.

    Above: We're foregoing the high-maintenance tablecloth this year. Instead, we're using a brown paper runner along the length of the table. If somebody spills a glass of red wine on it, no problem. A 180-foot roll of 18-inch-wide Brown All Purpose Masking Paper is $3.97 at The Home Depot; for narrower dining tables, consider a 12-inch-wide roll of 1-Ft. Brown All Purpose Masking Paper for $2.97. 

    Above: We placed our greenery, fruit, and walnuts directly on the brown paper runner: no need for a vase or vessel. The free-form design is nice and low, so you can see the person across the table.

    Above: Our best find (if we may say so ourselves): plumbing supplies repurposed as candlesticks. We bought five lead-free brass adapters normally used to connect pipes and gave them a more elegant purpose for the evening. A 3/4-Inch SharkBite Brass PushFit Adapter is $6.98 from The Home Depot.

    We love tapers at the table—they add vertical interest to a table with a low centerpiece—but if they're too tall, they look like a seance. To avoid that,  we are pressing into service used candles. We found these five dripless candles in a drawer in the dining room sideboard; used at a previous party, they're the perfect height.

    Above: A seating arrangement is a must; otherwise the guests automatically gravitate to someone they already know all too well, and where's the fun of that? To hold simple place cards, we are using 3/4-inch Mini Spring Clamps; 48 cents apiece at The Home Depot.

    Above: Yes, we said 48 cents apiece. At that price, we could afford enough mini clamps to try different arrangements.

    Above: We think a 3-inch-wide wood-handled Martha Stewart Linen Dragger Brush is just the thing to brush crumbs from the table; $6.98 at The Home Depot.

    Above: Complete the look with white dishes, your best silver (we are leaving ours tarnished this year—the dark color goes well with the rough brown paper runner), and many bottles of wine. 

    What's your go-to Thanksgiving tabletop tip? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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    Our Novice Gardener, Meredith, is lucky enough to have a little view from her San Francisco apartment—on a clear day, she can see downtown, San Francisco Bay, and Marin County, or at least a sliver of all three. But from the day she's moved in, all she really sees through the windows are three phantom window boxes.

    Why not make them a reality? It's a ground floor apartment, she's handy with a hammer, and after a year of experimenting with container plants, it's time.

    First, a quick note: If you're not in the mood to do it yourself, The Home Depot carries several styles of all-wood window boxes like this 40-Inch Planter from Pennington. But there's nothing quite like the look of furniture that perfectly fits the dimensions of a space, is there?

    Photography by Liesa Johannssen

    Finished Product

    Above: Black is hard to beat for a window box. Because all three of the windows are different lengths, Meredith made custom boxes for a perfect fit. 


    • Rough Cut Redwood Lumber. Purchase lumber in a width equal to the width and depth you want for your planter box.  
    • Galvanized #8 Common Nails; Meredith used 2-inch nails, but these 3-1/2-inch nails would work just as well (or better; longer means sturdier, but be sure to pre-drill holes); $4.24 for a 1-lb. box from The Home Depot. 
    • Appropriate mounting materials; this depends entirely on the conditions of your home. At Meredith's, galvanized wood screws and heavy-duty Corner Braces did the job. 
    • Optional: If you want to make cuts yourself and anticipate more wood projects in the future, invest in a small woodworking power tool, such as the Ryobi 14-Amp 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw; $119 at The Home Depot. (Alternately, you'll need to hire a woodworker or contractor to make cuts for you.)


    Above: Meredith used Rough Cut Redwood Lumber for two reasons: First, redwood is resistant to water damage (along with several other varieties of wood). Second, rough-cut boards are cheap and almost impossible to make into something perfect; rough-cut lumber is the ideal antidote to any perfectionist tendencies you may have.

    If you've never purchased lumber, here's the 101: The easiest way to start is to choose a depth and width for your boxes that is the same size as commonly stocked lumber. For example, Meredith wanted boxes to be 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep, so she bought 1-by-8 boards: 1 inch thick, 8 inches wide. (Keep in mind that these dimensions are inexact, called "nominal.") As for length, find a location of The Home Depot that will cut wood (most do, but not all). Know what length will fit in your car, then ask to have your boards cut accordingly. (For example, have a 12-foot board cut in half to fit your car, and make the rest of your cuts at home.)

    Above: After your lumber is cut to size, set up your box and make sure all the pieces are square. (If they aren't, cut or sand accordingly until they are.) Measure and mark where nails should go.

    Above: Meredith used 2-inch galvanized nails (they won't rust) and pre-drilled holes about every 6 inches or so. (The more nails, the sturdier the box. For extra strength, consider using an exterior adhesive.) She upgraded the drill kit to the Ryobi 18V One+ Lithium-Ion Drill; $79 at The Home Depot.  

    Above: After she nailed the box together, she drilled drainage holes using the 1-inch bit from the Bosch Daredevil Spade Bit Set; the 6-piece set is $9.97 at The Home Depot. 

    Above: Meredith sanded the boxes using a Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Tool Kit, a tool with a surprising number of uses; $79 at The Home Depot. With rough lumber, the wood never would be perfectly smooth, and it's really not the point. (She didn't even use a sandpaper finer than 60 grit.) For this project, you sand to prepare the surface for paint; free yourself from trying to make the wood look perfect. Just get rid of the biggest splinters and roughest patches. 

    Above: Wood will take on water and eventually rot; slow the process by treating the wood with a paint or stain. Meredith wanted a glossy black finish, so she used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Semi-Gloss Enamel Exterior paint featuring a mildew-resistant finish; one gallon is $39.98 at The Home Depot. She used a Purdy XL 3-Inch Angled Sash Brush; $13.48 at The Home Depot. 

    Above: Careful installation is critical. Window boxes are heavy when filled with soil and plants, and if people can walk below the boxes, it's imperative that they be completely secure. Meredith's apartment has a stucco exterior wall and a heavy window frame. The first step to mounting the boxes: she drilled into the frame with a Carbide-Tipped Drill Bit (for drilling through stucco) to see what she had to work with. Behind the stucco was heavy wood framing, from which it was safe to hang the boxes. 

    Above: Be sure to set the boxes away from the exterior wall a few inches to minimize the potential for water damage.

    Above: In choosing plants for the box, she started with pairs of dwarf boxwood from The Home Depot; $5.98 for a 1-gallon plant. She planted them in a 50/50 mix of regular potting soil and EcoScraps Garden Soil Mix; $6 for a 1.5-cubic foot bag at The Home Depot. 

    Above: She added more plants including New Zealand flax; two varieties of ivy; liriope; Jerusalem sage, and silver morning glory. Finally, the windows look appropriately dressed. The boxes sit directly off the living room, and Meredith is enjoying the view.  

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    Sitting in the office reminiscing about our childhoods (a topic second in popularity at Gardenista only to wondering what to have for lunch and is it too early), we were shocked to learn recently that editor in chief Michelle Slatalla hasn't lived in a house decorated with outdoor holiday lights since the 1970s, when her brother Jack used to shinny up the plum tree with a rake—or some years, a hoe—to drape strings across the highest branches.

    This year, inspired by our partner The Home Depot, we decided to show her what she's been missing:

    Photographs by John Merkl. 

    Above: Michelle didn't know where to start when it came to figuring out how to deck her one-story stucco Spanish bungalow with outdoor holiday lights. She wondered: How many? What color? How big should the bulbs be? And how do you stick them on, anyway?

    To answer her questions, we did a little sleuthing about how to design an outdoor light installation ... and then we went shopping at The Home Depot for supplies. Here's what you need to recreate the look:


    Above: For indoor use, a 15-Foot White Banana Extension Cord (Shown) is $12.98. For outdoor light installations, you can use a 50-foot Landscape Extension Cord ($15.97).

    Question No. 1: How many?

    Imagine you have baked a gingerbread house. Next step, icing. The same architectural details that you would define with white frosting—windows, doorways, chimney, roof line—are the ones we wanted to outline with lights on Michelle's house.

    Our first step was to take measurements: the length of the roofline facing the street; the height and width of four casement windows on the facade; the vertical sides of the building facing the street, and dimensions of the porch windows and entryway. Then we bought enough strings of light to cover those distances.

    Above: A C7 25-Light Clear String Light Set is $6.98 apiece.

    Questions No. 2 and 3: What color and what size bulbs?

    We decided to keep the palette simple and to use clear lights—by this point, we were thinking "starry gingerbread house"—and needed two sizes: strings of large-bulb C7 lights to define the roofline and vertical walls of the facade, and miniature lights for the smaller scale features (windows and doorways).

    In addition to the facade, we wanted to light another area on the property and chose a tree at the edge of Michelle's driveway to wrap. Here is a simple tip: when designing an outdoor holiday light display, light up a second focal point, at a distance from the house, to create depth in the landscape. We used clear miniature lights on the tree, as well.

    In all, we needed 800 clear miniature lights 100 linear feet of C7 lights. 

    Above: An Arrow Fastener Heavy-Duty Staple Gun is $17.76 and works with six sizes of staples, including (Shown) Arrow Fastener 3/8-Inch Crown Galvanized Steel Staples; $3.22 for a box of 1,250.

    Question No. 4: How do you attach the lights? There are several techniques you can use to attach outdoor holiday lights. To outline wood-framed windows, you can discreetly staple a string of lights to a corner of the trim; you don't need many staples because gravity makes a string want to hang straight without extra help.

    To attach lights to stucco or tile, you can use a dab of glue from a hot glue gun. (After the holidays, you can remove the lights using a dab of glue solvent.)

    Bonus points: You can buy strings of outdoor lights with cords of various colors—green or white cords are the most common. We used both on Michelle's house, white cords against the stucco walls and green on her green windows, black handrail, and tree trunk. 

    We connected the strings to each other, plugging the end of one string into the beginning of the next. We used an outdoor-rated extension cord to connect the lights to an electrical outlet on a side wall of the house.

    We wrapped the tree trunk tightly, to a height of 12 feet.

    Dusk fell, the lights came on, the house glowed, and a neighbor walking a dog saw Michelle standing in the street admiring the display. "You should leave them up year round," the neighbor said.

    "Oh my God, yes," Michelle said, turning to us to plead: "I want to live in a gingerbread house forever." Have we created a monster?

    Looking for more holiday decorating ideas? We recently shopped at The Home Depot to create a surprisingly Easy and Elegant Thanksgiving Tabletop.

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    We know that it's what inside that really counts, but we can't help ourselves: we like the outside of the gifts we give to look as pretty as the inside. This year, we partnered with The Home Depot to see what kind of unexpected wrapping supplies we could find among the store's aisles.

    Are you going to use the long weekend to get ahead on your holiday shopping and decorating? The Home Depot will be offering specials on Black Friday, including 6-inch poinsettias on sale for 99 cents each. Here are six ideas for wrapping your Black Friday finds.

    Photographs by Erin Boyle. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.

    Above: We used 1 Ft. Brown All Purpose Masking Paper ($3.97) as the base for most of our smaller packages, and thicker Brown Builder's Paper ($10.97) for gifts with a little more heft. 

    Above: Who knew that brass nuts could be so festive? Strung onto White Household Twine ($2.57) and paired with tiny brass bells from the 20-Count Assorted Mini Ornaments Pack ($7.68), the Assorted Brass Machine Screw Nuts (from $1.19 to $2.38 per package depending on the size of nut) add an unexpected dash of glitz and glamor.  

    Above: If you've got some extra time and want to get a little bit fancy, we say why not gild the lily? We used the Martha Stewart Artist Brush Set ($5.97) to paint eucalyptus with Martha Stewart Textured Metallic Paint in Vintage Gold ($4.97). After the paint dried, we strung a mini bronze ornament and affixed the festooned branch to our package with Scotch Masking Tape ($2.73).

    Above: Sometimes we like to give a little sneak preview of what's inside a package. For a hardware-themed gift, we used Firm Grip Grain Pigskin Gloves ($8.87) as a teaser for what's inside. Because the package was oversized, we used an appropriately hefty "ribbon": 1/4-inch Natural Sisal Rope ($5.58). A branch of silver brunia finished the look.

    Above: For a modern look, we paired bright green Scotch Masking Tape for Hard-to-Stick Surfaces ($4.97) with White Birch Real Wood Veneer ($6.35) and Natural Sisal Twine ($2.57).

    Paper Key Tags ($5.95) made the perfect gift tags and we decided to give a sneak peek of the Husky 28-piece Combo Wrench Set ($19.88) we were wrapping by pulling out the tiniest wrenches to tie to the outside of the package (see the finished look below). 

    Above: We're gardeners, so we've always got some green twine lying around (Jute Natural Garden Twine; $2.98). Turns out that paired with a few red Ilex berries, it's just right for holiday gift wrapping, too. We added a Honey-Can-Do Traditional Clothespin ($19.24 for 96) as a special spot to tuck a card or label. 

    Above: What did we do with those difficult-to-wrap items? We eschewed the ubiquitous gift bag for a vessel useful beyond the holidays. We removed The Home Depot's 42-piece HDX Screwdriver Set from its blister pack for easier wrapping. By tucking them into a Leaktite Metal Pail ($10.44) and topping them with a bundle of burlap (an 80-by-80-inch square of Easy Gardener Burlap is $6.57) and a layer of Paperwhite Bulbs (24 bulbs for $24), we managed to disguise the screwdrivers and offer a little something extra at the same time. 

    Above: A gold bow made from Martha Stewart Regal Holiday Ribbon ($6.58) and a sprig of green eucalyptus lend an additional touch of holiday spirit.

    Above: Et voila: all of our winter gift packages wrapped and ready for...unwrapping. Forgive us if we take a few minutes to admire our handiwork first.

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    With Thanksgiving upon us, we're already thinking about the cleanup, and the fact that everyone's food storage containers will be seeing high traffic over the next few months. So we decided to host a virtual Tupperware party, minus the pushy hostess (fortunately) and hors d'oeuvres (unfortunately). Here goes: a roundup of our favorite storage containers, all of which are hardwearing, safe, and environmentally responsible.

    Porcelain Storage Containers from Williams-Sonoma | Remodelista

    Above: Neoflam's Porcelain Storage Containers are white glazed porcelain, selected because it's nonreactive and nontoxic, and topped with BPA-free silicone lids; $39.95 for a set of four from Williams-Sonoma. A set of three Round Porcelain Storage Containers are $18.95, also from Williams-Sonoma.

    Minima Bowl from Holmegaard at Horne | Remodelista

    Above: Holmegaard's Large Turquoise Bowl is made in Denmark from hand-blown glass capped with an airtight lid; $45 from Horne.

    Acacia Wood and Enamel Storage Containers from Kaufmann Mercantile | Remodelista

    Above: Acacia Wood & Enamel Storage Containers are porcelain enamelware with a wooden lid that's fitted with a rubber seal; $29.95 for the small size and $39.95 for the large from Kaufmann Mercantile.

    Crate & Barrel 3-Piece Tall Glass Storage Containers | Remodelista

    Above: Crate & Barrel's Tall Glass Storage Containers are glass (which works well for food storage because it's hygienic and stain resistant) and have snap-on plastic lids; $12.95 for a 3-piece set. The Rectangular Storage Container Set from Crate & Barrel is $14.95.

    Reiss Enamel Food Storage Canisters | Remodelista

    Above: Imported by Ancient Industries, the Reiss Set of 2 Enamel Canisters are made in Austria from enamel-coated steel with airtight lids made of ash wood; $65 from Provisions.

    Bormioli Rocco Round Set of 2 Containers from Williams-Sonoma | Remodelista

    Above: Bormioli Rocco Round Glass Food Storage Containers are tempered glass with polypropylene lids that close with rubber seals. The round containers are $29.95 for a set of two; the Rectangular Set of 2 Food Storage Containers are also $29.95, both from Williams-Sonoma.

    Kaico Enamel Canisters Three Sizes | Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Makoto Koizumi in Japan, Kaico Enamel Canisters are scratch-resistant enameled steel and range in price from $45 to $55 at Muhs Home. For more on the line, see our  Kaico Cookware by Koizumi Studio.

    Kinetic Go Green Food Storage Containers from Sur la Table | Remodelista

    Above: Kinetic Go Green GlassLock Rectangular Food Storage Containers lock with a silicone seal and are nontoxic and nonreactive; $34.95 for a set of three at Sur La Table.

    Boite en Porcelaine Food Storage Containers | Remodelista

    Above: From France, the Boîte en Porcelaine, a porcelain box with silicone lid, is available in the small size for €10 and the large for €14 from Bazar and Co.

    Tuck Bowl with Wood Lid from CB2 | Remodelista

    Above: The Tuck Bowl with Wood Lid is made of porcelain and rubberwood; $7.95 each at CB2.

    Ikea Food Container Jars Ljust Series in Red | Remodelista

    Above: Ikea's affordable Ljust Jar Series is made of BPA-free hard plastic with clear, flexible lids. Prices range from $1.99 to $6.99 depending on size.

    Taking food to go? See our posts 5 Favorite Tiffin Tins and Banish the Plastic Wrap: Bees to the Rescue.

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    Some of the best companies are born out of garages and makeshift studios. Add to the list Non-Perishable Goods, a company founded by designer Shay Carrillo in her Portland, Oregon, backyard.

    Shay began with a desire to make useful products while reducing disposable consumption, and she found her creative medium in remnants and material scraps. The list of natural fibers that she uses in her products includes: repurposed denim, leather, cotton, and paper, as well as vintage wool, recycled cotton/hemp, and new linen and wool felt. Her dedication to reuse has resulted in an array of pillows, napkins, and party textiles that give castoffs a vibrant second life.

    Non-Perishable Long Pillows | Remodelista

    Above: Limited Edition Kantha Pillows are made from kanthas (Indian bedcovers stitched from vintage saris) transformed into body pillows, no two exactly alike. The pillows are meant for double, queen, and king beds, or for sofas; they measure 54 inches long and are filled with a feather down combinatioin; $260 each.

    Non Perishable Goods Fiesta Garland | Remodelista

    Above: The 10-foot-long Fiesta Garland is decorated with wool felt flags with sewn edges that are made using remnants from the company's wool felt balls (see below).

    Non-Perishable Goods Felt Coasters in Cool and Warm Colors | Remodelista

    Above L: Made from Non-Perishable Goods' foelt pillow offcuts, the Felt Coaster Set in Cool Colors has a different shade of felt on the front and back; $36 for four. Above R: The Felt Coaster Set in Warm Colors is also two-toned and $36 for four.

    Non-Perishable Goods Dinner Towels | Remodelista

    Above: Non-Perishable Goods' outsized napkins measure 12 inches by 23 inches and are called Dinner Towels. They're made of linen in multiple colors with contrast stitching; the gray tweed shade (shown here in the middle) is a 100-percent recycled cotton/hemp blend. A set of six is $80. The 11-by-11 inch Everyday Napkins are $50 for six. Both designs are sewn in partnership with Portland, Oregon, sewing company Spooltown.

    Bola Pilar Children's Toys from Non-Perishable Goods | Remodelista

    Above: Bola Pilar children's toys are soft indoor balls of hand-sewn, multi-colored wool felt with combed wool fill; $24 each.

    Non-Perishable Goods Window Draft Pillows | Remodelista

    Above: Window Draft Pillows are made from scrap textiles (a Swedish overshot woven pattern is shown here) with 100 percent wool fill; each is 30 inches long and made to fit across a windowsill; $30 each.

    For more tabletop fabrics, see Left Coast Luxury, Table Linen Edition. And for some napkin folding ideas, have a look at my recent post 5 Quick Fixes: Elevating the Napkin, Thanksgiving Edition.

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    When we asked landscape designers and gardeners to fill us in on favorite houseplants, along with plants they consider easiest to grow indoors, we were happy to discover they're one and the same. Nobody needs a needy plant.

    We appreciated seeing our favorite standbys on the experts' lists and loved hearing about new plants to try next. (For me, that will be the gorgeous purple shamrock, below.) From members of our Architect/Designer Directory, here are the experts' favorite, easiest-to-grow houseplants: 

    Above: Allison Koll at Gunn Landscape Architecture recommends oxalis triangularis, or purple shamrock. She loves its triangular leaves and deep purple shade, and the fact that it stays alive while her other plants have not. She suggests keeping oxalis in indirect sunlight—its leaves open and close to the sun—and watering every few days or if the soil is dry. It becomes dormant during winter, she says, "So just when it seems like you've killed it, it comes back to life." Photograph via Easy to Grow Bulbs.

    A packet of 25 bulbs of Oxalis Triangularis is $9.95 from Easy to Grow Bulbs.  

    Above: Neither Leslie Bennett nor Stefani Bittner of landscape design firm Star Apple Edible Gardens is an admirer of houseplants in general, but both have grown fond of the Fiddle Leaf Fig for its big beautiful leaves and statuesque presence. They've also found that it's hard to kill: "If things go wrong," says Bennett, "I just cut mine way back and it comes back beautifully."  Photograph via The Marion House Book.

    Want your own? See The Fig and I: Tips for Buying and Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig.

    Above: Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design is fond of sansevieria, or mother-in-law's tongue, especially the cylindrical variety. Says Mullins, "They are retro and easy and can handle dark corners with very little water." Photograph via The Simple Green Frugal Co-op.

    For more information and sources, see A Houseplant You Can't Kill: Mother-in-Law's Tongue.

    Above: Gunn Landscape Architecture senior designer Aaron McIntire recommends kalanchoe, or magic bells plant, for its striking shapes, color, and texture. He notes that it blooms from late fall into winter, and as a member of the succulent family, it's resilient and easy to care for. Says McIntire, "I like this plant because after it blooms, you only have to cut it back and the process of growth starts again." Photograph via Das Pflanzen Forum.

    A Magic Bells Kalanchoe Plant in a 6-inch pot is $11.99 from Amazon.

    Above: Gunn Landscapes designer Cat Rha recommends Platycerium bifurcatum, or staghorn fern, "as a great sculptural centerpiece for mounting onto a wall. I love the idea of using plants as a piece of living art." She notes that they can be finicky to care for, since they prefer tropical environments—high humidity and indirect sunlight. She suggests soaking them in water once a week and misting in between waterings. Photograph via Terrain.

    Have you ever considered hanging a staghorn fern in your shower? See Steal This Look: Hooked on Houseplants.

    Above: Pedersen Associates in San Francisco recommends Aspidistra elatior, or the cast iron plant, for enduring hardiness—it's said to be able to thrive in the dark and only needs occasional watering. Photograph via Jacksonville

    A Starry Night Castiron Plant is $7.99 from Hirt's.

    Above: Gunn Landscapes horticulturist Lauren Pucciarelli recommends the ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, for its beautiful foliage that is highly resistant to pests and can tolerate low light. However, she warns that "all parts of the plant are toxic so be careful around children and pets." Photograph by Helen McCauslin.

    A Rare ZZ Plant in a 6-inch pot is $14.99 from Hirt's.

    Above: Along with the ZZ plant, Joel Lichtenwalter of Grow Outdoor Design recommends aglaonema 'Silver Queen,' or Chinese evergreen. He says that despite minimal watering, "These are the two plants that have survived at least a decade in medium/low light exposure in my condo in West Hollywood." Just as easy, he says, is "a centerpiece of three different tillandsias, or air plants, arranged on a metal base on the dining room table." Photograph via Eco|Stems.

    A Silver Queen Chinese Evergreen Plant in a 4-inch pot is $7.99 from Amazon.

    Above: Pedersen Associates also recommends echeveria—a flowering succulent native to Central America—planted in groups on a sunny windowsill. Photograph via Floradania.

    We recently discovered just how hardy echeveria is; see Must-Have Bouquet: Needs No Water, Lasts a Month.

    Above: Star Apple gardeners Bittner and Bennett also like ficus elastica 'Burgundy,' or the red rubber plant. They would love to grow one indoors but admit they've only grown them in the garden. (If you've grown this at home, we'd love to hear.) A Burgundy Rubber Plant in a 6-inch pot is $12.99 from Hirt's. Photograph via Butterfly Blooms Garden Centre.

    For more plant intelligence, see The New "It" HouseplantMini Houseplants for Apartments, and Houseplants for a Hater

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    I would like to consider myself a minimalist. I have a philosophical desire to live simply and I think I could name every piece of clothing that I own. But in reality, I have a lot of stuff. The reasons are as numbered as my belongings: I love to host parties and weekend guests; I have pets who require accessories (such as food); and I have several past times—from woodworking to painting—each of which comes with its own kit of parts.

    I'm lucky enough to have a storage space in the hallway of my San Francisco apartment, shared with my next-door neighbor and accessible from each of our apartments. The space is oddly (and narrowly) shaped, and my neighbor and I have each claimed our estimated halves.

    I've made use of my side, but woefully underutilized its potential. The wood shelves I added were too shallow to hold much of anything, and so I was always moving boxes and bottles from here to there, trying to get at the thing I wanted. I found myself constantly wondering while reaching for an esoteric tool, "Why is my lightbox/leather punch/hacksaw all the way back there? I use it all the time." I feel that way about most of my belongings. Finally, I injected a system of organization and created a setup that keeps just about everything within reach. 

    Photography by Liesa Johannssen

    Finished Product 

    Ultimate Organization Project in Meredith Swinehart's Utility Closet, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: I installed two Edsal Steel Commercial Shelving Units; $69.97 each at The Home Depot. At dimensions of 36" wide, 72" tall, and 18" deep, they take advantage of the closet's available depth while leaving enough room for me to manuever in front of them. I now have enough storage space that I can shift things around easily; removing one thing doesn't mean that the rest of the system comes tumbling down. 

    Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker’s camera.

    Bathroom and Cleaning Supplies in Closet Organization, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: I set soaps and cleaning supplies (things that are oily or sudsy and might leak) on metal trays, and keep them on the eye-level shelf, within easy sight and reach.

    Bucket of Toiletries for Guests, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: The guest toiletries that I kept buried away are now collected in an at-the-ready bin. The Home Depot carries a similar Metal Pail; $10.44 for a pack of three.

    Beeswax Taper Candles and Black Taper Candles Hanging from Dowel, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: I trimmed a Hardwood Dowel using a Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Tool Kit, suspended it through the shelving, and secured it with a Hex Nut on each end. It's a practical storage space for tapered candles with connected wicks—and also a pretty one.

    Twine and String Hung on a Dowel in Utility Closet, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: On the opposite side of the shelf, I hung a dowel with several kinds of twine and string. Scissors live on a magnet nearby.

    Above: Tucked away but within easy reach are Everbilt Wood Clothespins ($2.35 for a pack of 50 at The Home Depot); 8-Inch Homeowner Pine Shims ($1.57 per bundle at The Home Depot); and a Martha Stewart Artist Brush Set ($5.97 at The Home Depot). 

    Paint Brushes and Sponges in Ceramic Bowl, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: There is nothing minimal about the number of paint brushes and sponges I own.

    Terra Cotta Pots and Other Gardening Accessories, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: I'm thrilled not to have to go searching for small miscellaneous supplies like Terra Cotta Pots, gardening tools, extra votive candles, and detail brushes.

    Writing Tag for Closet Organization, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: There's no hope for me if I don't label things. So everything that's kept in boxes and baskets gets tagged. 

    Wine Glasses for Guests in a Basket, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: Storing extras in attractive bins adds visual order to the system. (I also find that if everything is kept in its store-bought packaging, it's hard for me to quickly spot what I'm looking for.) A stack of towels on the top shelf is easy for guests to find. 

    Canvas Drop Cloths on Shelf in Utility Closet, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: All of us at Remodelista keep a pile of canvas Drop Cloths handy for painting projects as well as slipcovers, bedspreads, and tablecloths. See 5 Quick Fixes: Drop Clothes as Instant Decor and DIY: Hibiscus-Dyed Drop Cloth.

    Brush, Dustpan, T-Sqare, and Yard Stick, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: Hung on the wall, a dustpan and brush, yard stick, and T-square look like objets d'art. (I find the T-square solution especially satisfying; it's one of my most annoying belongings to store.)

    Tools in a Husky Tool Chest, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: By far the best addition to my storage space? The Husky 27-inch 5 Drawer Cabinet; $129. Before, I didn't have a space large enough for all of my tools and hardware, so I relied on a vague mental map that was constantly failing me. (If you have room and a sturdy work surface would be useful for you, the Husky 46-inch 9 Drawer Mobile Workbench with Solid Wood Top is a heftier option; $279.)

    Organized Nails, Screws, and Hardware, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: I hear Handel's Hallelujah chorus when I open the top drawer of my new cabinet. Nails, screws, pins, and bolts of all shapes and sizes are each contained in their own little vessels, all visible at a glance. The biggest and most often-used nails are in open bowls for easy grabbing. 

    Ryobi and Black and Decker Drills in Utility Chest, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: My drills rest peacefully in the bottom drawer of my tool chest. My new Ryobi 18-Volt One+ Lithium Ion Drill Kit keeps company with my older but much-loved Black & Decker cordless drill

    Above: I painted the chipped and dirty 1970s blue floor white to brighten up the space. Behr Premium Plus Ultra Pure White Satin Interior Paint is $33.98 for a gallon at The Home Depot. 


    "Before" Closet Organization Photo, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: A look at my storage setup before I reorganizedd it. My dinky shelves didn't take advantage of the available depth.

    Old Scratched Wood Floor, "Before," Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: A tough scrubbing wouldn't clean the dirty, aging blue floor. 

    "Before" Hardware Organization Photo, Home for the Holidays with The Home Depot, Remodelista

    Above: For the last 10 years, this is how I kept nails, hooks, shims, ties, and all other hardware: in shoeboxes. I was constantly overturning every box in search of that one thing I knew I had, somewhere. Now, everything has its place. 

    -Meredith Swinehart

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    Confession: I am a reluctant composter. I know, I know. My impulse is to scrape the dinner plates into the sink, whirl the disposal, and be done with it. I do have a stainless compost bucket under the sink, but it's an awkward—and less-than-fragrant—arrangement. In my next life, I plan to incorporate an in-counter compost solution. And you? Do you keep a lidded pail on the counter? Tell us your techniques in the comments section.

    kitchen countertop with built in compost via gardenista

    Above: An integrated countertop compost portal. Photograph via Cultivate.

    countertop with hole for compost via Gardenista

    Above: Two pullout drawers—the top one has a cutting board and the one below holds both a garbage and a compost bin. Photograph via The Farm Chicks.

    Stainless Steel Compost In-Counter Bucket | Remodelista

    Above: A stainless steel bucket you can lift out and carry to the compost bin in the backyard. Photograph via Blanco.

    in counter waste bucket for kitchen compost via Gardenista

    Above: An in-counter removable bowl to collect scraps. Photograph via Studio Gorm.

    countertop compost system via Gardenista

    Above: A DIY Compost Farm by Charlotte Dieckmann.

    For more compost solutions, see Compost Like a Pro: Maven Bins Made in Vermont.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 29, 2013 as part of our Belgium and Beyond issue.

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    Let's be honest. What might the hair stylist, house cleaner, and babysitter want for Christmas? Cash. Everyone loves a holiday bonus, especially during the season of spending. A fistful of dollars does say thank you, but it doesn't say it very sweetly. For those folks who go the extra mile for you all year long, here are some thoughtful addendums for showing your gratitude.

    To make sure we've got everyone on your list covered, we're posting a new gift guide every weekday from now until Christmas. See all of the Gift Guides to date in our archive.

    Beeswax Taper Candles from Brook Farm General Store, Remodelista

    Above: Beeswax Candle Tapers are the sort of thing that people love to have, but are often too thrifty to buy for themselves. These are made in the U.S.; $10 for a pair at Brook Farm General Store.

    Muji slippers | Remodelista

    Every time I see these slippers at Muji, I wonder who wouldn't want a pair. Above L: Cotton Cushion Slipper Brown Check; $14.95. Above R: Xingjian Cotton Jersey Cushioned Slippers, $16.25. 

    Mini Mercury Christmas Ornaments Remodelista

    Above: Who doesn't like a bit of sparkle? A set of 12 Mini Mercury Glass Ornaments is $15.50 from Organize and comes packaged in a white organza bag with a silver drawstring.

    Vintage Linen Tea Towel Napkins, Remodelista

    Above: These Vintage Napkins are made of cotton and hemp linen from Romania, and would work at just about any table; $18 each from Spartan.

    Heath Bud Vase Observatory Studio Remodelista

    Above: A Bud Vase from Heath Ceramics provides lasting beauty at an affordable price (and comes in six colors); $23. Photo via Observatory Studio.

    Cotton Honeycomb Throw from Coyuchi, Remodelista

    Above: An organic cotton throw sends a grateful message. Coyuchi's Honeycomb Throw is machine washable and comes in a a range of muted hues; $122 from Coyuchi. 

    A candleholder to go with the beeswax tapers? See High/Low: Modern Metallic Candleholder.

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