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Host Friendly Pollinators with a Bee Hotel

It’s the newest trend in insect travel. Everyday people are becoming bee hoteliers by setting up nesting sites, called bee hotels, to attract a variety of the pollinators. The targeted guests are the various genera and species of small, nonaggressive mason and leafcutter bees.

Known as tunnel-nesting bees, they look for dry tunnels in which to lay eggs, seeking out hollow plant stems, abandoned borer-beetle holes, and similar spots. Both mason and leafcutter bees lay their eggs in existing holes, and do not damage structures to make their nests. Both genera also stay close to home, foraging for pollen and nectar within 300 feet of the nest.

Unlike honeybees that live communally in hives, these mild-mannered bees that rarely sting are solitary, going about their business of preparing for the next generation without social interaction. But they like nesting near other members of their species; thus the bee hotel, which is simply a collection of hollow materials mounted in a frame and covered by a roof to keep out the rain. These dwellings provide a dry environment that mimics the conditions the bees prefer. There is a wide selection of bee hotels available for purchase, but it also is easy and inexpensive to make your own. Continue reading

Urban Loft Design Stirs the Senses with Pops of Color

When decking out her former digs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Naomi Stein was definitely ahead of the curve with her alternative style choice that she calls modern bohemian glamour. “I’ve always loved a collected feel with some things that are new, some things that are old, some traditional, and some modern,” says the creative director for Ardmore, Pennsylvania-based Design Manifest.

Stein learned about the home design industry early on from her father who owned a construction company. But her 1,400-square-foot, open-concept loft wasn’t a custom build; it was a rental, which drove a lot of her design decisions. While working within the guidelines of what could be altered in the bachelorette pad she shared with her beloved pug, the designer also had to find the best way to divide and conquer the wide-open space, which she did by creating different zones and vignettes to give each area a purpose and to make it feel cozy.

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Credit: Home by Design Magazine April/May 2017


From Black to White

Fabrics, Textures, and Patterns Make This Home’s Neutral Palette Anything but Boring


Exterior stonework is presented in every shade of gray; a front door and garden furniture are dressed in bold black; snow-white flowers flank the entry. The facade of this King, Ontario home provides subtle clues to what’s inside. Like the exterior, the interior dramatizes stalwart neutrals of black, white, and gray.

“My clients didn’t want strong colors,” explains William MacDonald, owner of Toronto-based WillMac Design. “They like things warm and classic. There’s a lot of texture and there is color, but it’s not over the top.”

In an open staircase circled by windows, light and shadow become ever-changing design elements.

The foyer instantly reveals the design themes found in the home: repetition of color and shape that has been energized by a mix of textures. Black entry doors open onto gray marble. MacDonald calls the tile design a “marble carpet,” which is an apt description. The black-and-white curves in the tile repeat in iron railings found inside and outside of the home. The curved shape in the tile repeats in the round hallway mirror. The rectangular shapes of the door and sidelights are mimicked in the marble tiles, low benches, and console table.

A formal sitting room off the entry provides a master class in mixing shapes effectively. Squares and rectangles occur in the sharp angles of the fireplace tiles, firebox, tray ceiling, sofa, and artwork. Yet a round chandelier shade, corner floor lamp, and metal support structure of the side table soften those angles. Neutral colors dominate the space, but touches of blue and red accessories draw some of the focus. Bright brass sprinkled through the room offers warmth and contrasts the cooler neutrals.

A graceful chandelier draws the eye into the dining room. “The chandelier has traditional elements but it’s been deconstructed,” says MacDonald. “The shape is elongated so the fixture doesn’t simply sit in the middle of the room.” Dove-gray velvet covers the side chairs. Head chairs use the same gray fabric but an elegant scroll covers the backs; that same fabric frames the window.

Drama continues in, of all places, the powder room. The room was inspired by a black vessel sink that the client purchased. “When I saw that sink, I said, ‘Let’s create a black powder room,’” says MacDonald. Marbleized wallpaper adds boldness, as does the touch of color provided by oxblood shades on the sconces.

“This house is large and the rooms are big. The challenge was to use interior design to make it feel cozy and homey,” says MacDonald. That challenge becomes most obvious in the family room. In the two-story space, MacDonald used color to ground the room with gray cabinetry at the same height as the gray drapes. Yet the height of the space isn’t ignored. The chandelier draws the eye up, as does the stenciled pattern on the fireplace feature wall. That painted pattern matches the shape in the drapery fabric.

Calm gray and deep black turn the white island and stove surround into kitchen centerpieces. Oversize art and chandeliers make even small rooms feel grand, as in this formal living room.

The kitchen mixes gray-and-white cabinets and uses a diamond pattern in the glass. Gray stools with nailhead trim and silver-back rings sit next to the white-marble topped island. The other kitchen countertops are black granite. An informal dining area partners with the kitchen. Nine slim windows circle the round dining table. That view is framed by fabric that strays from the neutral palette by adding in a cool blue. “It’s quite a bohemian fabric for such a traditional house,” says MacDonald.

Upstairs, the master bedroom animates a monochromatic scheme. The room contains nothing but shades of gray, yet each shade varies levels of shine and pattern; the lilac undertone of the simple bedding contrasts with the shimmering tufted headboard; the silvery lamp base is topped with a smooth, dark shade; and the lattice pattern on the nightstand echoes the rhythm of the carpet pattern.

Because designing an entire home takes time, it can be difficult not to stray from the initial plan. “Design is a very fluid process. Nothing’s ever set in stone until the last lamp is put on a table,” says MacDonald. Despite that fluidity, the overall vision was realized. “From our original concept, this house became exactly what we all wanted it to be.”


Monochrome, Not Monotonous

Consider these tips from William MacDonald to help make a monochrome color scheme more exciting.
Use touches of color. “I advise clients to create an accessories closet to make it easy to swap things in and out,” says MacDonald. Collect accessories in the same color family and then switch them out a few times throughout the year.

Think about texture. In every room of MacDonald’s design, the color scheme is unified but the mix of materials within that scheme—soft leathers, plush wool, shiny metal, sparkling glass—adds vibrancy.

Mix shapes. “If you have a beige room with a square sofa, square table, square rug, and a square lampshade, it’s boring,” he says. “Go out of your way to mix shapes. If it’s all the same, it’s boring and unsettling. You don’t want to be in a room like that.”

As featured in Home By Design Magazine

The Psychology of Color – How to Use Color to Influence Your Mood and Productivity

The five senses are an incredible thing. Smell and taste are two of the most powerful tools at evoking emotion. But sight must not be forgotten. After all, what you see can have an incredible impact on how you feel. Even more so, color can inevitably influence how you feel on an everyday basis without you ever really noticing. Which is exactly why incorporating the most appropriate hues into your own home can have a profound effect on how you feel (or would like to feel) while completing a specific task.

“Color can have a tremendously powerful influence on people’s lives,” explains Sally Augustin, PhD, an environmental/design psychologist and the principal at Design With Science. “I see a lot of people who are scared of it, who create one white space after another.” But, she says, you shouldn’t be afraid of the rainbow. In fact, you should embrace it. “Color is a fantastic tool to utilize in interior design. You can create a mood in a room instantly with the use of color, especially when utilizing it on your walls and in your accessories.” Here, Augustin details the best hues to add to the most common rooms in your home and the feelings they evoke.


It’s no secret that certain colors influence you to eat a little more—and a little less. In fact, a 2012 study out of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found study participants, who had a low contrast in color between their food and plates—for example, mashed potatoes on a white plate— served themselves 30 percent more food than those whose plates and food were high contrast in color. That same study found that the color of one’s placemat and tablecloth had the same effect. The same can be said for wall color, says Augustin. “Warm colors, generally, do seem to make us feel a little hungrier. They get our appetites flowing,” she says. “You can use this information in one of two ways: if you have children who never eat and weight isn’t an issue for you or your partner, you might want to make spaces like your kitchen or breakfast nook a warm color like an orange or brown. On the other hand, if someone tends to overeat, you would want to avoid those warm colors and opt for cooler hues such as blues and grays.”


The bedroom is meant for sleep and relaxation and, as such, says Augustin, you want to avoid colors that will excite you such as a color in the red family. “Because of our cultural associations, we view blue as a calming and relaxing color,” she says; however, if a pale blue is not what you’re looking for, Augustin recommends a “color that’s not very saturated but relatively bright. A sage green with lots of white or a dusty blue with lots of white mixed into it are perfect for the bedroom.”


If you have a home office, you know that it’s oftentimes a place to brainstorm ideas. Research shows that green can actually get your creative juices flowing. Like the bedroom, Augustin recommends “a sage green that isn’t very saturated in color to achieve that ideal balance that enhances creativity without over-stimulating you.”


Need a burst of energy to crank out that workout? Go red! “Seeing the color red gives you a burst of strength,” explains Augustin. “If you have a place in your home where you work out, paint the wall you’re looking at red to have that burst of strength while you exercise.”


Pantone is the authority on color. In fact, the color-system company’s forecasted color of the year is so closely watched that industries beyond interior design—think fashion—look to it as one of the biggest trend-setting announcements of the year. Here’s a look at the last five years of colors that Pantone has deemed the “it” hue of the year.

2017: Greenery
Get ready to see plenty of this fern-colored hue as the current color of the year dominates trends.

2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity
Pantone says they chose this pink-and-blue duo to evoke feelings of warmth and tranquility.

2015: Marsala
The company notes that this warm wine color is ideal in a kitchen or dining room.

2014: Radiant Orchid
This shade of purple has fuchsia and pink undertones. The company suggests pairing it with deeper hunter greens, turquoise, teal, or even light yellows.

2013: Emerald
This jewel-tone green hue is ideal in accessories such as dinnerware, or in an entryway or foyer, dining room, home office or library, or a powder room.

Article written by Blake Miller. Original source can be found here:

Photography provided by ©

CORAL CODE – Bold Hues Abound in This Project Built for Two

When designers Jacy Painter Kelly and Kerri Robusto were first approached by their home builder client to design the interiors of a model home that was about to be completed, the design duo jumped at the opportunity. For the last few years, the friends turned design partners (they founded 431 Designs) have completed the interiors for several model homes in North and South Carolina, so the task was nothing new to them. They were familiar with creating eye-catching designs that combine comfort and style while sticking to a budget.

But unlike the duo’s previous model-home projects, which required designing for a potential family, this time the client requested the interiors appeal to an empty nester demographic. “That was who their market research said would be the potential buyer, so that’s what we had to run with,” explains Kelly. Though it was a different type of homeowner they would be designing for, they knew they could easily create a seamless design that appealed to not only empty nesters, but growing families, as well.

The first order of business: choosing a color palette. “We really wanted to focus on [the] Sherwin-Williams color of the year at the time: Coral Reef,” says Robusto. “It’s such a fun color to use and incorporate into a home.” Without hesitation, the designers added bold doses of the color throughout the entire home starting with the downstairs living spaces. “We fell in love with the drapery fabric in the family room and went from there,” says Kelly of the chinoiserie-inspired pattern. “The draperies have a lot going on in them so we wanted to balance them with fairly solid and neutral furnishings.” Organic materials coupled with semi-modern metallic accents throughout the home help balance the boldness of the coral such as in the family room where a wooden console and gold geometric fireplace screen anchor the space…


Content Source & Photograph courtesy of: Home By Design Magazine April/May 2017

Paradise found – The Gardens of Northern India


For garden travelers, it’s a mistake that India is not on the radar screen. At the same time that Henry VIII was sitting on the throne of England, Babur, the first great Mughal emperor, was conquering India and creating magnificent gardens there. Several of his heirs continued the great garden tradition he pioneered and local maharajas imitated the style. The result is a rich selection of gardens to visit in Northern India.

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The whole bowl – bowl recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner


Roasted spicy chicken and vegetable bowl with Avocado lime dressing

This is a lovely twist on the traditional chicken and vegetable bowl as this recipe uses harissa powder or paste to add a little flair and flavor to the chicken. Harissa is an aromatic and spicy chili paste or powder that is traditionally used in African or Middle Eastern cooking but has become quite popular in the West in the last few years. Harissa is now easily found in most markets and makes a nice change in flavor to curry or sriracha. In addition to the ingredients I’ve included in this recipe, I often include wilted greens, spinach, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and mandarin oranges.

Asian noodle salad bowl with Spicy peanut sauce

Noodle salad bowls are the perfect lunch or dinner bowl; they combine the comforting texture of soba noodles with an array of fresh ingredients. Top the ingredients with this plate-licking spicy peanut sauce and you’ll find yourself adding this beautiful bowl to your regular menu rotation. I make this Asian noodle salad bowl with all or just a few of the ingredients, depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes I simply throw a handful of baby greens in the bowl and top with sliced mushrooms, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. It is also delicious with grilled or pan seared Gulf shrimp, tofu, or tempeh. Whatever I put with it, this beautiful Asian noodle bowl is always a favorite at my kitchen table.

Mediterranean quinoa bowl with Honey lime vinaigrette

Quinoa’s nutty flavor lends itself delightfully to an array of ingredients, and it pairs especially well with Mediterranean flavors. Here I’ve used fresh herbs such as mint, Italian parsley, and basil along with other unmistakable ingredients including Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes for a culinary adventure for the palate.

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Choosing the Best Trees for Your Property


Generally long-lived, trees give a sense of time, history, and continuity to a garden and community. They also lend a sense of place—geographic identity. Palm trees denote tropical climes, magnolias and bald cypress recall the South, and fir trees thrive in the cool forests of the North. So if you have the space, consider enhancing your long-term landscaping with a tree or two. Take your time and heed the following advice when making your selections.

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Earth, Air, Water, Fire – the Elements Merged in this Dallas Garden


The hilly property was only a wooded lot when Leidner was first brought into the project. The house planned for the lot was a Mediterranean design, and the homeowners asked for gardens to match that style.

Leidner explains how he created the garden to complement the home. “It’s done through connection of spaces and style. The garden is rustic and relaxed. It fits into the natural area but still has a lot of organization and structure.”

In addition to the style, the homeowners made other requests. “She really loves flowers and things that bloom. He likes fireplaces and fire elements,” says Leidner. Both wanted lots of greenery and a series of paths and unique gardens to dot the hillside.

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Had a Breakfast Smoothie Bowl Lately?

If there’s one food trend every cook can get behind, it’s bowl food. The comforting presentation is also delicious and easy to assemble. Combine fresh ingredients with a few pantry staples and you’ll get a beautiful bowl of food with loads of flavor. These recipes can be prepared for one or more servings (just multiply accordingly), and many of them can be adjusted to suit you and your family’s tastes and favorite ingredients.

So I’ve listed options for every meal that can be made to feed two or ten…

Full article & recipes:

Credit: Recipes and Photographs by Karista Bennett, Home by Design magazine – Feb/Mar 2017