Curtis Casual – California Living by Way of Texas


Interior designer Ginger Curtis, owner and principal of Urbanology Designs, has always been a California girl at heart. When it came time to furnish the home she shares with her husband Eric Curtis and their five children in Fort Worth, Texas, she knew she wanted to bring in some style elements of her childhood in California, but with a fresh, contemporary update.

Enter a breezy, predominantly neutral color palette with natural wood, oat-colored linens, and vivid hits of green from potted plants. Edgy art—like a Georgian-era portrait with a stripe of yellow paint across the eyes—and a bold choice of two-tone paint for the dining room are reminders that this is the home of a forward-thinking designer. “I wanted a space that was modern and stylish but also extremely family friendly and comfortable,” says Curtis. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”

When Curtis and her husband first purchased the home about five years ago, they embarked on a substantial remodel to update the early-2000s, builder-grade house to fit the needs of their growing family and give it an overall aesthetic face-lift. The remodel included updating the kitchen, replacing all flooring, repainting, and changing lighting and hardware throughout the home. More recently, Curtis turned her attention to the furnishings of the living and dining rooms to realize her vision of California casual with a contemporary twist.


The catalyst for the living space redesign was the launch of a line of sofas designed by Curtis and her team at Urbanology. “This gave me the perfect excuse to revamp and include the Urbanology sofas in my own home,” says Curtis, who anchored the design of the living room around the newly available Santa Clara sofa and Newport loveseat. Curtis designed the sofas to meet not only her clients’ needs but also those of her own family. “We thought about what everyone wants: something comfortable to pile the whole family on for movie night, but still chic enough to stand alone and make a statement. We designed our sofas to be both,” she describes.

The new sofa and loveseat now sit proudly amidst a bright and airy living room where, indeed, the whole family can kick back and watch a movie together. Curtis cleverly concealed the TV behind white, barn-style doors above the fireplace. Chunky knit throws, sheepskins, and leather-accented pillows bump up the texture of the room along with stacked, ash-tree rings used as a coffee table. Tucked in the corner by the window, a rough wooden box corrals the children’s toys, organized in canvas bags. The family uses the decorative white ladder, opposite, to hang extra blankets and host seasonal decor such as string lights for the holidays.

Crate-inspired wall shelving, designed and built by designer Ginger Curtis, houses a treasure trove of her latest home finds. The custom piece doubles as storage for extra flatware, mugs, candles, and decor she uses for entertaining.

Curtis Casual


The new Urbanology Santa Clara sofa and Newport loveseat sit atop a grey diamond west elm rug and invite lounging. A cut through wall leads from the living room to the kitchen and displays a collection of terra-cotta pottery along the sill. Curtis used museum-style down lights to illuminate a modern art portrait—Emma by Josh Young—with a soft wash of light.

On the other side of the living room, Curtis created a textured accent wall using strips of wood to form a pattern and the same blue-black paint (Behr’s Submarine Gray) that appears in the dining room. “It brings some connectedness between the two rooms,” says Curtis, who designed and painted the accent wall herself. The dark hue also serves as a rich backdrop to show off an early-1900s armchair that Curtis already owned and wanted to give a place of prominence.

Curtis calls out putting together the gallery wall—which spreads across the wall above the sofa—as being one of the trickiest parts of the redecoration project. “I love so many styles—from modern and minimal to wild and bold. It really took me forever to finally choose the artwork I wanted,” say Curtis. She landed on a mix of soothing prints of the ocean, puffy clouds against a cobalt sky, and fog-laden hay fields as well as painted portraits festooned with contemporary overlays and minimalist line drawings. To nail a gallery wall, Curtis says getting the scale right and choosing pieces that speak to you and feel connected to each other is key. Here, although her art choices span many different styles, the color palette of blue-grays, off-whites, and natural browns as well as the barely-there frames make the wall feel cohesive and work with the room as a whole.

In the nearby dining room, Curtis moved away from breezy whites and neutrals by submerging the bottom section of the walls in inky blue-gray paint. “I knew I wanted to go two-tone, but I didn’t want it to be exactly halfway up the wall,” she says, opting for painting just over half to give the wall a more unique look. The dark walls envelope a ten-foot trestle dining table that’s large enough to accommodate the whole Curtis family plus guests, spread among wooden benches and Eames DSW dining chairs. Today, the family feels perfectly at home in their new living and dining spaces, largely thanks to an inviting style that suits both adults and youngsters. “The California-casual look is a very relaxed, modern style,” says Curtis. “It feels updated, but not stark or cold. Instead, it’s welcoming and perfect for a family.”

Cooped Up – Installing Fashionable Chicken Coops


As more people search for a sustainable, self-sufficient way of life, the population of suburban neighborhoods is changing. People aren’t necessarily moving out, but chickens are moving in. In addition to providing fresh eggs, free-range chickens help control insects, add nutrients to the garden, and can even make affectionate pets. But to keep your little red hens safe and comfortable, the perfect coop is key. Most chicken coops are humble abodes hidden in a discrete location in the garden, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With a bit of creativity, you can craft a practical and attractive setup worthy of being a central feature in your garden.

At her country home in Connecticut, the internationally renowned decorator Bunny Williams has an outdoor chicken run with swooping rafters to support the netting that keeps her flock safe from predators. The hen houses that flank this spacious aviary are built in the style of colonial outbuildings with clapboard siding and a pyramid hip roof. Williams-Sonoma featured a charming coop on wheels that allowed the chickens to be moved around your property—creating a modified version of free-range chickens—priced at $1,300. In its 2012 fantasy gifts catalog, Neiman Marcus offered a $100,000 chicken coop inspired by Le Petit Trianon at Versailles.
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Hiking & healing

The layered landscape of the Southwestern United States—with towering red-rock formations, twisted junipers, and winding canyon waterways—is often described as otherworldly. But in Sedona, Arizona, otherworldly takes on a whole new meaning. The town of just 10,000 year-round residents attracts global visitors for traditional vacation activities such as golf, spa services, shopping, hiking, and all things metaphysical. Tapping into the energy of the area’s natural vortexes is said to enhance healing, enlightenment, and spirituality. Whether you are excited by the relaxing properties of the arid desert or the mystical properties of the metaphysical, Sedona awaits.

You’d be remiss if you didn’t spend time outdoors, taking in the beauty of the dramatic, varied, and brilliant shades of the red rocks. They are easy to appreciate, regardless of your mobility. If you’re able to adventure along the trails, there are plenty of hikes available to all levels of experience. Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Fay Canyon offer breathtaking journeys and viewpoints. Stop at the town visitor center for maps, current weather conditions, and any hazards be mindful of. The desert is prone to dangerous flash flooding, so you should be aware of impending rain before embarking on a day hike. Water is always paramount, regardless of the length of your trek. You can never bring too much.

If you’re not secure in your outdoor skills or you have a limited amount of time to see the landscape, consider signing up for an adventure tour. Guides and their jeeps will take you directly to the viewpoints so you can spend more time at the highlights and less time getting there. You don’t need a guide to get to Oak Creek Canyon. The river offers plenty of easy access spots to cool off with a swim or relax with your fishing poll.

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Purrfection – How a Pet Can Boost Your Well-Being


With a great pet comes great responsibility. But as most pet owners would agree, animal friends are well worth the effort. Whether you have a live-in dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or fish—or something more exotic or farm friendly—pets provide candor to everyday life and help you appreciate the simple things.

It’s no secret that pets make terrific companions and have the ability to brighten your day with their sunny dispositions and console you with their unconditional love. So, it should come as no surprise that actual scientific research has shown pets can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. Their attention and dedication with no hidden agenda (save wanting a cookie, perhaps) can put your mind and body at ease, which may be why therapy pets have become more prevalent in hospitals and cancer centers. Animals are introduced to simply sit with the patient for companionship and connection. (Studies show some dogs may have the ability to detect cancer by scent, leading to early detection, too.) Specially trained dogs also visit other public settings, such as libraries, where kids can practice reading to a captive audience. Programs like these demonstrate the strong bond between people and pets.

For youth, caring for different species—from hamsters to horses— can have a lasting effect. In addition to the therapeutic qualities of animals, the responsibility of taking care of them can be great practice for future parents. The experience provides the perfect training for prioritizing others who are dependent on you for their survival.

Happiness and health aren’t all in your head. Pets have been said to be good for your physical heart health, too. According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet, particularly a dog, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Their findings point to evidence that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and are less likely to be obese. Because dogs are more likely to get you outside for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, they can help get your heart pumping and energize you too. Taking a canine out every day may help keep the doctor away. According to Anthrozoös, a multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals, older homebound adults with cats or dogs have better executive function, which includes remembering details, paying attention, and other important daily skills.

Because an organic connection to pets makes them feel like family members, this pure pairing could also improve your social skills. As furry friends show you how to love without limits and empathize with others, you can transfer those behaviors to other relationships. Even those who may struggle with social interactions, like autistic children, may benefit from having a household pet for comfort and companionship.


Photography by Anna Usova/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Those with physical and mental disabilities can also form a special bond with their pets. Long before emotional-support animals accompanied passengers on planes, guide dogs for the visually impaired and those trained to help people with conditions like PTSD were changing the quality of life for many. Prison programs that allow inmates to train dogs who are difficult to adopt out and service dogs are said to be beneficial for all the people and the misplaced pets.

Although service dogs are trained to help reduce stress and anxiety, most pets do that naturally. Early exposure to pets may prevent the development of certain allergies. Assuming you don’t have any pet allergies at the time, consider curling up with your docile pet for a better night’s sleep. Research has shown that sharing a bed with them can be a boon for restful sleep—just be mindful of potential germs or diseases the species may carry.

Anyone who has ever watched a YouTube video gone viral knows how easy it is for animals to make everyone laugh with their natural ability to entertain. Whether it’s their dogged determination to claim some “people” food or their inquisitive nature with another species, there’s always a little mischief or fun to be found whenever they’re around.

One of the hardest parts of pet ownership comes with the knowledge that most domestic pets have a shorter life span than their human companions. However long they linger, their teachings are not lost. From being a constant companion to helping you see the world through rose-colored glasses, there are endless perks to having a pet. Furry (or scaly or feathery) friends are like round-the-clock life coaches that can show you the way to a happier, healthier existence.

Put a lid on it

Although we don’t can and jar as much as we once did as a culture, there is still something sweet, nostalgic, and downright practical about a glass mason jar. And in a time when we are all trying to get back to basics and reduce our reliance on to-go packaging, glass jars might be the simplest solution. Whether you’re catering to a crowd or a couple of kids, prepping meals in jars is a handy and healthy way to serve fresh and delicious food. Each recipe in this issue—from sweet overnight oats, chia seed pudding, and yogurt parfait to savory gazpacho and a summer salad—can be prepped and stored in the refrigerator until it’s needed. I’ve gathered a collection of my favorite jar recipes that will make it easier for you and the whole family to eat fresh and healthy without too much fuss.

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Beam me up. A Lofty, Well-Traveled Living Room


People have been drawn to the redwoods and canyons of Mill Valley, California for decades according to Emily Z. Maynard, owner and principal designer of GEORGE Interior Design + Build. “Besides the very quaint shops, restaurants, food markets, [and] coffee roasteries accessible in downtown, this area boasts incredible . . . hiking and biking trails right outside your front door,” she says. Although the town looks a bit different today than it did when this circa-1947, 2,600-square-foot Mill Valley home was built, Maynard believes the current owners were drawn to the tranquil fortitude of the house with its grand, natural beam, high-ceilinged living room and warm family room that opens to the kitchen. “They are working artists, productive citizens of Mill Valley, and globe-trotters who live in the town with their two lively children,” she adds. Continue reading

Defined Space

A North Carolina Living Room Completed with a Plan


When Lacey and Patrick Kavanaugh were approached about having their home featured on the annual Plaza Midwood Home and Garden Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, the couple reluctantly accepted. Though the exterior of their craftsman-style home was recently updated by the designers at local Lucy and Company, the interior design had been a work in progress ever since the young couple moved into the home in 2015.

“I was literally changing something in the house every two months,” says Lacey. “I knew what I wanted in my head, but I just could never execute it myself.” Lacey had a vision for the interiors—modern but comfortable with a colorful palette—but without help, the accessories and the furniture never quite fit together as seamlessly as the design she had in mind. It wasn’t until Lacey was on a run one day that she spotted a sign in a fellow neighbor’s yard for House of Nomad design. “I started looking at their Instagram feed and I really liked their style,” she says. “Their aesthetic aligned exactly with what I wanted: modern and bohemian, had a bit of a flair, and it wasn’t sterile.”

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Photo Murals

Bringing Your Favorite Places Home


Wherever you live, you can use a photo mural to make your home feel like a year-round vacation spot. The simple wallpaper addition can be a breathtaking focal point that evokes the happiest memories. Unlike a framed photo, a photo mural is large enough to seemingly transport you through space and time to your happy place.

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Camp Cooking

Food to Make under the Stars and over the Fire



There’s nothing better than the earthy, toasted scent of coffee brewing over a campfire. Although you can prepare single servings, I prefer a full pot and these recipes are designed for that. (The recipe servings will change dependent on the size of your campfire coffee pot.) Honestly—any and all coffee is welcome after a night of sleeping on the forest floor.

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Language Barrier- How to Communicate in a Foreign Country

When Maria Anoshenkova was on holiday in Croatia years ago, she and her traveling companion unknowingly parked their car illegally in front of the flat they were staying in. “The neighbor was telling us the situation, but he was speaking Dutch,” she says, “so we didn’t understand a thing.” Anoshenkova was able to pull up her Google Translate app to figure out just what the man was trying to tell them. “He was going to call the police!” Thankfully, the app saved her from what could’ve been a sticky situation in a foreign country.

Luckily for international travelers today, there are dozens of apps that help you not only prepare for a trip to a country where you don’t speak the language, but help you once you’re there. Here’s a rundown on what to download now before you head out of town.

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