Tote Your Songs

Sixty decades ago, the advertising term “hi-fi” was used to market big stereo systems that played 33 1/3 rpm vinyl records and FM radio, instead of the lower-quality 78 rpm records and AM radio. Today few people still listen to records at home, as well as traditional radio is being replaced by digital music files downloaded from Web sources.

Music lovers buy tracks or albums from Apple’s iTunes and its equivalents, such as Google Play and Amazon MP3. Another common choice is streaming music websites, like Pandora and Spotify. These fundamental alternatives for finding music are only a couple of the hundreds. Along with the alternatives for listening are increasing.

Leslie A Wood

Music is usually discovered, purchased and controlled with computers, tablets and, above all, our phones instead of having anything related to retail stores or conventional radio.

At the hi-fi age, speakers needed to be physically connected by cables to a central receiver, which served as an amplifier — a box capable of getting over-the-air radio and enter from a tape or record player — and also a control panel, where the user can switch inputs, change the volume and decide on the music.

Now most of this is achieved within an program. However, if you want booming, high-quality home sound, you still need amplified speakers. However, you don’t need a receiver. And you do not have to transmit music over wires. You need Wi-Fi hi-fi. Good sound, no cables.

One of the most significant things about Wi-Fi hi-fi is its portability. You can just pick it up and take it into a different room, the garden — or a different home.

Sony SA-NS510 Wireless Speakers – $299

The Sony SA-NS510 is notable because of its traffic-cone-like form and the fact that it runs on rechargeable batteries for approximately five hours. It’s a handle for easy portability. It has no front or back and blasts music 360 degrees about it — ideal for an outdoor party or picnic. Like the other systems within this ideabook, it streams music in your phone or tablet — in this case, either an iOS or Android device by means of a dedicated mobile program. It also supports Apple’s AirPlay technology, streaming music from any Apple telephone, tablet or pc directly into the speaker system over the atmosphere.


Bowers & Wilkins A7 Speaker System – $799.99

The Bowers & Wilkins A7 has a 6-inch Kevlar-reinforced subwoofer, a Nautilus tubing aluminum tweeter, a 3-inch midrange speaker and five dedicated audiophile class-D amplifiers. Reviewers praise the A7’s noise, even in low volumes. In addition to streaming via Apple AirPlay, you can also decide to join over routine Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable.


Philips Fidelio Wireless Hi-Fi Speakers

Reviewers have lauded the Philips Fidelio Wireless Hi-Fi as a great-looking and great sounding wireless sound system. Constructed from Apple’s iOS or the Android mobile program Philips AirStudio, the Fidelio approaches the convenience of just playing music via earbuds, but with great speaker sound.

There’s no dedicated remote controller unit. On the other hand, the speakers do have five buttons that operate like car-radio presets. You pick an Internet radio station for every one, and that allows you turn on the speakers and play a station without using the program on a telephone or tablet.


These and many other sound options can bring your house’s sound system from the time of cables into the flexible, interactive and mobile age of Wi-Fi hi-fi.

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High-Tech Tips for Securing Your House While You're Away

Burglars can watch for indications that homeowners are on an extended trip, so one of the best ways to keep your home protected is to prevent strangers from knowing you are off. Most are well known: Place a couple of lights on timers to go on at night and off at night. (Leaving them on all night and day can signal your lack.) Park your vehicle in the driveway, instead of keeping it in the garage or on the road. Place a temporary halt to your newspapers and mail shipping.

New technology will help, too. Here some high-tech tips for taking home security to another level as you’re traveling.

Maintain Your Social Media Posts Private

One way some crooks may learn you’ll be off is on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You may post about your adventures abroad on social networking, but make sure your posts are not public. Public posts are accessible not only for friends of your friends and other strangers, but they really get found on search engines, allowing burglars to search for goal houses.

Avoid posting about your lack on Twitter unless you are among the minority that lock their account. (To turn on this feature, pick the “Shield My Tweets” option in Settings.)

The ill-advised broadcasting of travel is so common on Twitter that a guy made a website called Please Rob Me, which reveals people that are openly broadcasting the fact that they’re not at home via their Twitter and Foursquare check-ins.

Facebook is another significant website where thieves can learn that you are not in your home. To protect yourself and brag on your travels, click the equipment icon in the upper-right corner. Just click “Privacy” in the left navigation bar, then to the right of “Who will see my stuff?” Choose a listing that includes only the narrow group that you want to talk about with. (you might need to first install family or friends lists before doing so.)

About Google+ just address your articles to narrow circles, such as “Family” and “Friends,” and do not post to “Public” or “Extended Circles.”

Also be careful about location-based check-in sites like Foursquare, which may broadcast your location even if the content of your article is unrelated. If a person knows where you reside, a check in a different city is proof enough that you are away for a short time.

Digitize It, View, Then Click to Shred

If you go to a long journey or travel frequently, one option to putting a halt to your mail is to get it digitized and made accessible for you online.

The best service for digitizing mail is called Earth Class Mail. The company gives you a new mailing address, and you also use that address for many of your invoices and other mail.

When staffers get your mail, they post images of the envelopes in the Virtual Mailroom, which you may see in a safe area on the website. You can browse the digital envelopes and just click to shred the original paper versions, scan the inner contents or forward the bodily envelopes to another address. Should you scan them, a couple of days later the inner contents will appear online, and you’re able to read and cope with them. (Read Earth Class Mail’s security and privacy policy here.) Note that each scanned letter prices an additional charge.

Earth Class Mail can even deposit checks into your bank account, under the right circumstances, and for an additional fee of $20 per check or $34.95 a month for unlimited checks.

The ceremony is nice, however there are two drawbacks. To begin with, it’s a devotion: You need to officially change your speech as in the event that you’ve transferred. Once you’ve done that, it’s a nontrivial job to cancel the service and change back.

Second, Earth Class Mail is expensive. Even though the least-expensive service is $20 a month, the company will probably nickel-and-dime you into paying much more. A couple of scans here, a couple of checks there, and pretty soon you are paying far more than the base fee.

One way to save money with Earth Class Mail is to use its $19.95 mail forwarding service. It’s the same money as the bottom price for the Virtual Mailroom, however there are no additional costs involved. You merely give the address where you are going to be and when you are going to be there, and that’s where your mail will show up.

And an alternative to Earth Class Mail is only now emerging. A startup called Outbox promises to make the digitization of your mail much simpler and less costly.

Outbox really sends someone to your house three times per week to pick up your mail, so you don’t need to officially change your speech. The company then scans it and sets it online for you. An easy check box unsubscribes you from whatever you consider junk mail. If there’s mail you actually do want, you can check another box, and it will be redelivered for your residence. And all this for only $5 per month.

At this time the service is available only in San Francisco; it had a limited trial in Austin, Texas. The company plans to announce additional cities in the future.

Turn a Smart Phone Into a Safety Camera

One way to keep your home safe is to install motion-detection security cameras. Unfortunately, these may be costly, particularly in the event that you need them only a couple of times annually.

My favorite trick is to use old smart phones and tablets for a free and effective security system. All you need is a device capable of shooting a photo, connecting to the net and running programs. If you are like some gadget fans, you have got a box full of these somewhere.

Here’s how you do it.
Download an program which will upload images when motion is detected. My favorite iOS program for this purpose is MDC Free (MDC stands for “motion detection camera”). It’s simple to prepare the program to upload some motion-detection photos to Facebook — but shared only on your own. There are numerous programs in Google’s Play Store for Android and Apple’s App Store for iOS which you may pick from. Some send images via email. Other folks place them elsewhere. It’s a good idea to download a few highly rated ones and try them out. Once you’ve got an program you prefer, change your telephone’s Auto-Lock feature (which turns off your telephone after a specific number of minutes) to Never, which means that your phone doesn’t go to sleep. Set up each iPhone, iPad or Android device that you would like to use so it’s plugged in and the camera is directed in the room, door or area that you want captured if somebody comes in. Ensure that you test it a couple of times. And you are done! While you’re off, if anybody comes into your house, you’ll not only be notified, but you are going to have images of their crooks and proof of their crime.

Lockitron – $179

Control Your Door

If you are going to be off for a while, you may want people to test on the house, feed the goldfish, water the plants, that sort of thing. However, you may not wish to be handing keys out to people.

A nice alternative is your Lockitron door lock in Agipy. It functions like any other lock. The distinction is that you can lock and unlock it remotely with an app, even if you’re out of town.

You can also send virtual “keys” over the world wide web, allowing somebody to unlock your doorway using a smart phone. Those keys may have expiration dates, so in the event that you would like a person to confirm the house only on Wednesday, the key won’t operate on Thursday.

Likewise, if a person needs to enter your house for some sudden purpose as you’re off, you may use Lockitron to unlock your door remotely via the smart-phone program. Or you could send a key via SMS or email.

Lockitron even offers a knock sensor. If someone knocks on your door, then you can receive a notification.

DoorBot – $189

If crooks suspect you are not home, they’ll frequently test that theory by simply ringing your doorbell to see if anyone answers. One new product, known as the Edison Junior DoorBot, lets you answer the door even if you’re on the other side of the world.

When someone rings the bell, then you’ll find an alert to your phone. By employing this smart-phone program, you can view who is there via the DoorBot’s built in camera and speak with them over your telephone and through the DoorBot’s speaker and microphone.

By blending DoorBot using the Lockitron, you can see who is there, speak to the individual and let her or him in the house. Or, if it’s somebody you don’t want in your residence, the individual will presume you are there because you are answering the doorbell over what seems to be an intercom system. Or you may call the authorities.

Best of all, DoorBot can be a helpful addition to a front door even when you’re not traveling.

More: 10 low-tech ways to keep your home safe while you travel

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Bliss Out on Your Toilet: 18 Ways to 'Spa Up' Your Toilet

True confession: Sometimes when I want a break from work, I look up the most luxurious spas out there and emphasise I have a trip planned. Truth means that the trip would max out my credit cards, so instead I attempt to bring a number of that spa style residence. Though a number of the baths on are larger than my bedroom, others seem to be considerably larger than they are. Today we’ll have a look at lessons we could remove from spa-like baths to use to our own, whether that means a complete bathroom remodel, replacing a vanity or just picking up some new towels. Listed below are 18 ways to deliver spa fashion to your home.

NB Design Group, Inc

1. Add wood accents. Wood slats offer this minimalist room a relaxing Asian feel.

Rockefeller Partners Architects

2. Reflect character with materials. Natural textures such as stone and wood breathe life into a bathroom. A pebbled tile flooring feels amazing underfoot.

When a brand new floor isn’t in your budget anytime soon, treat yourself to a pebble bath mat.

Carpets and Beyond Design Studio

3. Float the vanity. These vanities allow the flooring expand all the way to the walls and give the room a more open atmosphere.

ZAK Architecture

4. Open the vanity. As long as you are using it only for storing items that could seem neat, such as towels or products corralled in baskets, an open vanity makes things seem bigger.

Betty Wasserman

5. Use crisp white. Nothing says “relaxing spa” such as light and bright ceilings and walls.

Hint: Rolled-up towels how you see here is quintessential spa.

Switch Collaborative

6. Create continuity. Continuous light tile from floor to ceiling makes the room look bigger.

Giambastiani Design

7. Use glass. Another element that creates continuity is transparency. It makes the bath look a lot larger and retains a shower stall from visually chopping up the bathroom design.

8. Sink the bathtub. Stepping down into a bath recalls stepping right into a whirlpool after a spa massage.

A Collaborative Design Group

9. Insert a fireplace. This version is two sided and could be enjoyed from two rooms.

Logue Studio Design Inc..

10. Choose a fashionable toilet. “Stylish toilet” is no more an oxymoron. Hatbox styles, wall-mounted versions and infamous Japanese versions that do a lot more than flush are just some of the many choices on the market.

Meet the New Super Toilets

11. Open the view. Obviously, this is a very striking example, but even a small window in your shower stall or adjacent to the bathtub will let you relax and look outside while rinsing or soaking.

Abueg Morris Architect

12. Let natural lighting in. If your bathroom’s location means opening the view would turn into an exhibitionist, choose glass that lets in the light but disappoints the peeping Toms.

Amelie de Gaulle Interiors

13. Decide on a vessel sink. This is a good chance to add a pure feel like stone. If you are trying to keep things clean and open, opt for glass.

Sutton Suzuki Architects

14. Get particular about tidiness. Neatness counts. When you walked into a spa full of sloppily folded towels put willy-nilly, it could bug you so much that it might save you from relaxing during your massage. Apply the same rules to your bath: Keep products tucked away in drawers or cabinets, and fold or roll your towels in an orderly fashion. I recommend fluffy white towels, but if this is not sensible for you, buy towels that are all the exact same color. Donate your raggedy old towels into an animal refuge.

Studio One-Off Architecture & Design

15. Give your head a break. This bath headrest is a lot better than rolling up a towel underneath your head.

Gauhar ZH

16. Keep a fluffy white robe near hand. Consider logistics when picking a spot for robe hooks and towel bars. If you want to go for a complete spa outfit, then treat yourself into a spa shoes.

John Senhauser Architects

17. Insert an orchid. It’s possible to pick up these gorgeous exotic blossoms in the supermarket for approximately nine dollars, and they will last for months.

Belzberg Architects

18. Light some candles. However small your bathroom, you could always give your bathtub a more relaxed feel with the glow of candlelight. Playing an Enya record is optional.

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Cozy Retreat at Texas

Surrounded by lush bamboo, this quaint and also gathered distance feels right at home in South Austin’s eclectic Bouldin Creek area. Austin native Andrea Pimental was thrilled to get the perfect home in one of her favourite areas of the town, and in the last year she has transformed it into a colorful and peaceful retreat.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Andrea Pimentel; dog Harley and kitty Mr. Gray
Location: Bouldin Creek area of Austin, Texas
Size: 750 square feet; a single bedroom; one bathroom

Kara Mosher

The property’s entrance becomes apparent on a meander through the yard. “I love that it’s this superb surprise that people see if they come in the backyard for the first time,” Pimentel says. “You do not expect to discover bamboo in an Texas lawn, and because it’s a very drought-tolerant plant, ” I love that it can bounce back in the summer heat with just the tiniest bit of rain.” Throughout the seasons, it only takes just a little water to refresh the lawn with a burst of bright green.

Green mosaic table: Pier One Imports

Kara Mosher

Harley appreciates the smooth indoor-outdoor transition of this dark green- stained concrete floors. “I like the openness of the living room area combined with all the French doors which extend in the backyard,” says Pimentel. Texas weather means the rooms are always flooded with light.

Kara Mosher

Pimentel chose a bold red as an accent wall color in the main living room and framed vinyl records to break up the sound wall.

The classic wooden carving over the couch is one of Pimentel’s beloved pieces. “It was badly weathered and falling apart when I discovered it, but its delicate carvings still retained its own unique, great beauty,” she says.

Throw cushions: Pier One Imports; couch: Gage Furniture; listing frames: Michael’s

Kara Mosher

“Most of this time I purchase items with minimal regard to how they’ll fit with the rest of the decor,” Pimentel says. “Every one is something which I’ve found myself attracted to. They just somehow wind up fitting well together. All my rooms are a mix of antiques and contemporary products.”

Dark wall shelves: Ikea

Kara Mosher

“Once I moved in, the home had two fixed colors: the teal kitchen countertops and dark green-stained concrete flooring. I adored the teal from the kitchen,” she says.

Dining room dining table: Furniture in the Raw

Kara Mosher

Pimentel select a muted green to her bedroom walls. “I’ve always loved green and have utilized it as a paint colour many times through the years, playing about with various shades,” she says. “This has been one of my favorites — not too powerful or too bright, or so the art can really stick out.”

Bookshelf: Oak Express

Kara Mosher

The metal bird sculpture over her bed is one of Pimentel’s favorite art pieces. “I think that it’s a gorgeous makeup and is the central piece to the room,” she says. “I think whatever you put over your mattress is usually something which is extremely special and speaks to you in some way.”

Rug: Pier One Imports

Kara Mosher

“I love that I can relax with a book in the hammock, sit with a bunch of friends at the picnic table, sip coffee in the morning at the Adirondack chair or have a chat over a glass of wine in the bistro table,” she says.

Kara Mosher

Pimentel appreciates that every one the homes in her area were constructed in the 1950s and ’60s, many still inhabited by the original owners. “It’s wonderful to feel like I’m a portion of Old Austin,” she says.

Do you live in a small, creative area? Share it with us!

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Guest Picks: Valentine's Day Entertaining

I’ll admit it. There is something so perfect about a holiday strictly dedicated to love. And may I add that any holiday revolving around a pink and red colour scheme is a winner in my book. Here are my picks for fashionable and entertaining in enjoyable ways this Valentine’s Day. — Rhiannon from Hey Gorgeous Events

Paper Source

Kisses & hugs Garland Kit – $10.50

Hugs and kisses. X’s and O’s. Forever loved by all and fashionable. I believe I would love to have this garland hanging across my fireplace mantel.


Printable Naturally Sweet Fruit Stickers from Twig & Thistle – $6

Do not overlook the kiddos on Valentine’s Day. Send them a little extra love within their lunch boxes using these adorable Twig & Thistle fruit decals. Even I would eat a plain old apple using a decal this adorable on the medial side.

Super Rural

For Just Like Ever Poster, Pink & Red – $65

I have been a lover of the punchy and fun typography print for a few years now. Decorate your living area with it, and you will be set come every February 14th. Here’s a fun tip: change up the frame color to coordinate with the season or occasion.

Sweet Lulu

Pink Chevy Chic Treat Bags – $7

The chevron trend is still going strong, so I think these pink chevron handle bags are so sweet. Shop Sweet Lulu has lots of goodie bags in every colour, print and style available also, so don’t fret if hot pink chevron is not your style.


Fleur-De-Lys Tumbler – $8

If I were able to stock my kitchen cabinets with only tinted glass pieces, I would be one happy girl. These Anthropologie tumblers are so totally and festive.

Pottery Barn

Love Letter Table Runner

For the hostess who would like a less flashy approach to observing February 14th, this Love Letter Table Runner is the perfect accessory.

Rifle Paper Co..

Love Card – $4

Rifle Paper Co. gets the most whimsical and delightful paper products I have ever observed. These Love Cards are the perfect way to invite friends over for the holiday. Or use just one to share your love with your significant other.


144 Pink Heart Stickers by Knot & Bow – $12

Holiday cards, love letters, handcrafted menus — where can not you use these super adorable pink heart decals from Knot & Bow? Plus, they also come in red and Kraft brownish.

Cost Plus World Market

Heart Cake Mold & Cookie Cutters

It’s not a whole Valentine’s Day party without heart-shaped treats. This cake mould and cookie cutter set will ensure all your sweet-toothed guests are fulfilled in the most festive of ways.


Cross My Heart Coasters – $14

Coasters are this easy method to put in a bit of holiday spunk to any house or holiday get-together. The classic cross-stitch detailing on those BHLDN coasters is so sweet.

Layla Grayce

Rosanna Decor Bon Bon Pink Round Cake Stand – $75

I am a firm believer that you can not have too many cake stands. I particularly love the soft pink hue of the one. It can be used for a lot of distinct occasions long after Valentine’s Day also.

West Elm

Felt Hearts – $5

How cute would these small felt hearts be at each person’s plate for Valentine’s Day dinner? Or hung from front door knob to put in a subtle but festive touch to your home? They are so sweet and cheap too.


Bronze Age Flatware – $36

While the rose-gold hue of the Anthropologie flatware set initially caught my attention, the special form of each piece actually adds dimension and texture to any location setting.


Pink Himalayan Salt

This is the perfect hostess gift: pink Himalayan salt to the cooking-savvy host or the homeowner who likes pretty things sitting in the pantry.

Urban Outfitters

Smell the Roses Pillowcase Set – $34

Not everybody loves roses for Valentine’s Day, but those quirky Urban Outfitters pillow cases are certain to please many.


Heart Pillow Cushion Red Love by Sewn Natural – $45

Classic doilies and lace cut collectively on one adorable heart-shaped pillow? I’ll take two, please.

Cost Plus World Market

Rosso Ceramic Dinnerware Sets of 4 – $27.96

Maybe you’re not to heart-shape decor or anything overly pink. If so, shifting out your regular dinner plates for something in a punchy red hue may be exactly the correct touch.


Live Love Pillow – $68

This is, hands down, one of my most-coveted goods from my favorite retail shop. This Live Love Pillow is so perfectly classic and pretty, and the traces of turquoise in the floral pattern make it acceptable to have on display yearlong.


Conversation Hearts Valentine Soaps by Thus Stinking Sweet – $15

Do not forget about the toilet when you decorate your house for Valentine’s Day. And do not forget to inform guests (or your children ) that these adorable Conversation Heart Soaps are not edible!


Sweet Heart Large Mug – $4.95

I would not mind drinking my morning cup of joe in a pretty mug such as this. I love the way you can pick from two dimensions to fit your drinking style.

Next: 50 Valentine’s Day Decorating Suggestions

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Landscaping Magic Fixes a Dangerous Sloped Yard

Landscape architect Michael Glassman usually has to walk a home before he starts to analyze a site’s challenges. However, when he visited Larry and Beth Goldberg’s home in Sacramento, California, he was not out of the car before the problems became evident. “I could not find somewhere to park,” he says. “The home is on an incline, and the road goes up a hill, which people race down. You take your life in your hands out of your car if you park on that street.”

Here’s how Glassman opened the landscape and made it function for the family.

Before Photo

The driveway had been heaved up by A large hapberry tree. Weeds had taken over the yard. The home itself was a “bizarre yellow shade, and that I didn’t have any clue where the front door was,” Glassman says. “There clearly was a hokey stucco wall, definite measures, stepping stones over there, weeds everywhere and erosion issues.”

See this sloped yard’s transformation

AFTER: Glassman first addressed the parking situation. He created an ingenious parking bay that allows guests to pull right up into the front part of the home, safely off the road. And because guests didn’t know where to enter the home before, frequently drifting into a driveway-side entrance instead of the front door, Glassman established a clear route to the entryway.

Steps today lead directly from the parking bay to the front door, and there is a terrace with a water feature. To take care of the erosion issues, Glassman installed acid-stained-steel retainer walls that terrace the landscape. He then took the Goldbergs on a trip to the nursery to hand pick plants trees and blossoms for the home.

Michael Glassman & Associates

The tree on the right is a crape myrtle, the only one on the house. On the left of this is a purple smoke tree. Reddish barberry plants operate their way.

The grayish tree on the far left is a fruitless olive, among three. The spiky dark bronze plant below it is a flax. The green pots hold kangaroo paw, sedum, succulents and Red-Hot Poker.

Michael Glassman & Associates

The tree nearest the parking bay is your myrtle, revealed here. The one to the right is another fruitless olive. A little ollie and an ice-blue shore juniper adorn the steel corner in the foreground. Ornamental grasses fill from the remainder. The plants repeat in odd numbers throughout the raised beds.

See this sloped yard’s transformation

More: Find plants for your dream landscape | Find a landscape builder near you

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I’ve written before about laundry room envy, however laundry rooms that pull double duty as office spaces, potting areas, wrapping stations and more take it to a whole new level.

It makes total sense to squeeze some additional use in the laundry space, as it is most likely designed for durability and already outfitted with plumbing. And if you’re fortunate enough to have an island for folding, they can moonlight as flat surfaces for wrap presents, arranging flowers or doing almost any other job you can imagine.

Have a look at these laundry rooms have enlarged their role with grace.

Rock Paper Hammer

Mudroom. What is more efficient than having a washer and dryer at precisely the exact same room where dirty socks, wet gloves and soiled jackets land? This attractively incorporated space does a decent job of keeping the laundry stack to a dull roar. Bonus points to get that gorgeous sky-blue ceiling, a trick borrowed from the traditional front-porch technique.

Linen cupboard. Tucked into a shore home, this laundry room also houses towels and other gear for days at the sand and surf.

Case Design/Remodeling, Inc..

Office. Do your laundry while you pay bills or response messages, and you’re going to check two tasks off your list at the same time. The cushioned benches are an extra-nice touch — you could stretch out and read or rest while the washer spins.

Crisp Architects

Potting room. Make the most of the pipes lines set up and put in another sink for watering plants, washing empty containers and draining garden tools.

Crestline Homes

Wrapping channel. It can be challenging to find a flat expanse of space large enough to allow for wrapping gifts easily. Laundry rooms lend themselves to roomy countertops for both wrap and folding.


Breakfast nook. What a wonderful beginning to the day: a cup of coffee and a muffin or scone in this light-filled space, with the comforting scent of clean laundry in the air.

Whitten Architects

Pantry. The interior design in this combination laundry room and pantry makes for an especially smart utilization of space.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Pet area. This laundry space incorporates a custom dog shower, convenient if you have the square footage. However, you don’t need to be that elaborate. Just add a comfy dog bed, litter box or other designated place for your furry family members.

Dave Adams Photography

All-purpose room. This lovely, comfy laundry space adapts nevertheless it is needed — as a butler’s pantry, potting channel and much more. It is so attractive that I would probably just hang out in there with a novel while the laundry was going.

Who has the hardest-working laundry room in land? Publish your photo here!

Photos: Locate your favorite laundry room design

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Minimalism Suits an Arizona Ranch House

A dab of black in a sea of pink and white, this Phoenix ranch house stands out from the audience with a decidedly contemporary take on desert style. Cynthia Steinman came across the outdated and termite-infested ranch house and immediately envisioned a contemporary desert home she could market. With the help of architect Eric Spry, it evolved into a robust and clean layout. “We just wanted to clear the dance floor,” says Spry of the house’s new look.

Steinman adored the house so much, she moved right in. “I am not supposed to get emotionally connected,” she says. “But when it had been done, we put it on the market, and a week after I just couldn’t sell it”

in a Glance
Who lives here: Cynthia Steinman
Location: Phoenix
Size: 1,500 square feet; 3 bedrooms

Photography: Christopher Barr Photography

Spry Architecture

When Steinman and Spry initially saw the house, they knew right away that the website dictated a fresh, contemporary style. The black exterior was motivated by a house Steinman found in a magazine. Rusted steel, including a water-cut address plate, provides the only colour out front.

Before Photo

Spry Architecture

The renovation began as an exterior makeover, however, the degree of the necessary repairs was so good that it soon turned into a full remodel. Although this house is in a prime area of Phoenix, no other renovators had been prepared to get it. “It just needed some love,” says Steinman.

Spry Architecture

Spry kept the new house as easy and streamlined as possible. Anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary — including shingles, bulky columns and trimming — was removed. “I stuck with that which wouldn’t dismiss in a hurricane,” says Spry.

The entryway is composed of a single column, a steel beam and a plate at the top to get a portico. Fundamental pavers carve a path to the front door.

Spry Architecture

The chambers were split from the original design. Spry had four walls knocked down and turned into the main space into this open great room. They redid the ceiling construction, but the majority of the exterior walls are exactly the same — no square footage was inserted, which helped keep the budget in check.

The fireplace wall was already there. A second drywall layer behind it and light in between produce a subtle shine. Originally Spry simply refinished the drywall, but after the project was done Steinman wanted some texture in the space. Natural stone helps brighten up the contemporary lines of this fantastic room.

Fireplace surround: Idaho quartzite; floors: ceramic tile; light fixture: Cost Plus World Market

Spry Architecture

Every material and merchandise from the house is made from the U.S.. A muted, neutral colour palette reigns in each room. “I’d rather the people who come in be the pops of colour,” Steinman says. “Along with the outdoors: the pool, pool etc.”

Sinks: Decolav

Spry Architecture

Spry gutted the kitchen and put in new windows with a view to the backyard and pool.

The island has a unique seating arrangement that promotes gatherings. Rather than the typical-bar style island where those seated have to appear sideways, this island has seating on all three sides to produce direct conversation simpler.

Countertops: Corian; light fixture: Exeter 16 Jar, Pottery Barn

Before Photo

Spry Architecture

The pool had been left without water and attention for some time, causing quite a lot of harm. Originally, Steinman didn’t like the form of the pool because it didn’t go with the house’s clean lines. However a complete redesign or fill-in would have put them far over budget, so they refinished it instead.

Spry Architecture

A brand new Pebbletec surface and concrete decking tie the pool to its slick surroundings. As from the front yard, the backyard landscaping is also minimalist. “We wanted each bush and tree to be its surprise,” says Spry.

Spry Architecture

Spry designed a sculpture of metal panels and exterior light to hide an unattractive part of a neighboring block wall. The panels also hide an electric transformer and pool equipment.

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Contemporary Meets Exotic in a Dallas Ranch House

Stanford and Corrine Hudson know full well that their residence is landlocked in the fantastic state of Texas, but they like to envision it as an oceanside paradise. Corrine, originally from the island nation of Madagascar, says, “Sometimes I sit by the pool shut my eyes and envision the noises of the swaying cottonwood trees are sea waves.”

The couple calls their design “contemporary old-world exotic” and filled their 1950s ranch house with an eclectic mix of tropical and traditional pieces. Stanford says that in the end of a very long workday, “we want to unwind and feel as though we’re on vacation.”

in a Glance
Who lives here: Stanford and Corrine Hudson and their 5-year-old son Charlie
Size: 2,500 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Location: Dallas

Sarah Greenman

On a covered patio in the backyard, billowy linen curtain panels help prevent the brutal Texas sun. Corrine says, “This could as well be our family room, because we spend so much time out here.”

Patio furniture: Into the Garden

Sarah Greenman

Crisp white deck chairs with striped lumbar pillows, bright-colored umbrellas and sexy pink flowering shrubs surround the pool. Quality furniture is essential for your Hudsons. Stanford says, “Everything is very sturdy and will last. No plastic here.”

Sarah Greenman

The land is surrounded by tall cottonwoods, crape myrtles and thick vegetation. Potted ornamental potato vine, bougainvillea, birds of heaven and citrus present to the tropical ambiance.

Sarah Greenman

The house was updated in 1989, when the previous owners included this barn, which spans the period of the house and has a view of the pool and backyard. The dining area includes seating for eight in a sturdy conventional wood dining table. “This thing requires a beating,” Stanford says. “We eat here, do assignments here, play board games — you name it.”

The place rugs in the sunroom could be obtained outside and hosed off. “Everything needs to be durable and easy to clean when there’s a 5-year-old running round,” Corrine says.

Dining place: Voyager (now closed)

Sarah Greenman

Adjacent to the dining area is a complete bar covered in cobalt blue tile. The bar incorporates overhead storage for glassware and spirits.

Bar stools: Pier 1 Imports

Sarah Greenman

A cozy rattan seating set includes views of the pool and a lot of surface space to hold drinks. A palm plant, a potted bamboo, a giraffe print throw plus crisp white cushions create a tropical farm vibe.

Rattan furniture: Voyager (now closed); drum end table: Pier 1 Imports

Sarah Greenman

Sarah Greenman

The previous owners removed a wall between the sitting area and the dining area to make one large room. Buttery walls, white trim, French doors and dark wood furniture would be the ideal setting for your family’s library and sitting area.

“We’ve had those mad leather sofas forever,” says Stanford. “We’re excited because a brand new set of couches are on order from Restoration Hardware.”

This grand bay window, trimmed in honey-colored wood, is the centerpiece of the sitting area.

Sarah Greenman

The dining area has been transformed into a house office. A bench upholstered in a cheetah print with nailhead trim pairs together with palm-leaf houseplants.

The home office is decked out using masculine details, like a high-back leather cushioned seat and a heavily carved wooden desk and bookcases.

Sarah Greenman

Five-year-old Charlie is a budding pianist and loves making making music with this family heirloom. “I grew up with this particular piano, and I love getting it in the house,” Corinne says.

A trio of framed sheet music pages, family photos, back problems of National Geographic and an African sculpture round out this cozy vignette.

Sarah Greenman

Sarah Greenman

The foyer is a bright space using an Asian-inspired hardwood dresser topped with tropical accents. A coral and peach print hangs above a potted orchid plus a Japanese-style tray holding books.

Dresser: Voyager (now closed); print: Cost Plus World Market

Sarah Greenman

A little living room in the center of the house boasts a romantic hearth and seating area.

Sofa, matching chair: Rooms 2 Go; coffee table, side tables: Voyager (now closed)

Sarah Greenman

The kitchen opens to the family room and receives a great deal of natural lighting from a cutout above the stove to the sunroom. The couple is now working on the kitchen and also in the practice of painting and installing new cabinet faces.

Sarah Greenman

Charlie insisted the household take a photo in his favorite spot near the pool.

telephone: Share your vibrant family house with us!

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Boost Your Energy With Natural Light

Abundant all-natural lighting in a home not only saves electric energy, but it gives you more private energy also. In a standard construction, lighting comprises 25 to 40% of your energy consumption (and energy bill), states that an architecture professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That is one good reason to incorporate clerestories, tubular daylighting devices and much more windows.

Another reason to get additional lighting is due to the positive effect that natural lighting has on well-being. I can speak from some personal experience: After moving from an apartment with a sofa which was dark all the time into an apartment with three windows which get morning sunlight, I can tell you I am more rested, more ready to get up in the morning and also much more cheerful throughout the day.

Medical professionals are just at the start of this study, however so far, it looks like natural light can benefit homeowners in many rooms by reducing seasonal dips in disposition, promoting healing, increasing productivity and much more.

LDa Architecture & Interiors

For those who have seasonal affective disorder, getting a lot of light early in the morning can help reset their internal clock. 1 way to do this in your home is to make sure the bedroom will get lots of dawn light with windows and skylights. But I imagine that once you get out of bed, down a trip light-filled staircase such as these would help jumpstart your day.

John Maniscalco Architecture

Natural light penetrates just so much through every window, so consider installing multiple points of light. You can also organize your furniture so the most-used pieces sit where there’s the most light.

David Vandervort Architects

Obtaining light in is important for your health, studies state, but is looking out your chimney. Looking out in gardens brings faster healing in patients, claims a paper by HMC Architects. And should well-lit perspectives help those that are sick, how much more will they assist those that are well?

Jay Hargrave Architecture

Some studies show that a lack of natural light in dining places might raise the odds of obesity. In 1 study, mice that ate beneath daylight gained 50 percent less weight than those which didn’t. Makes you wish a glass-walled dining area like this one, does not it?

John Maniscalco Architecture

As long as there’s no warmth, light in a home office can increase productivity, minimize mistakes, lessen eye strain, and increase your mood. That’s a lot of profit for some easy window installations — or to get some proper furniture placement, as in this office, where the desk is positioned to maximize daylight exposure.

One study showed that standardized test scores in students improved 26 percent when they obtained natural rather than artificial light at school.

Sutton Suzuki Architects

If you are thinking about optimizing natural lighting, also consider minimizing fluorescent lighting — particularly in kitchens.

If you are a stay-at-home mother or dad and devote a lot of time in the darkened area of the home, you ought to be certain your body can remain in tune with its own biological clock. Being out of sync can mean fatigue, depression or what The Washington Post calls for a months-long case of jet lag.

Leslie Goodwin Photography

And most of us know that natural lighting in the toilet means more precise makeup application, shaving and self-esteem. If you seem yellowy and exhausted under fluorescent lighting, you are likely to think negatively of yourself. Who knew light can affect so much of your life?

McClellan Architects

Can you get vitamin D from sunlight through your living area windows? The chance is enough to convince people that the windows in this living area are worth it.

Inform us: When did you realize the significance of natural lighting?

Tubular Daylighting Devices Bring Natural Light

Replace vs. Restore: The Fantastic Window Debate

Clerestory Windows Are Tops at Ushering in Organic Light

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