This Is How to Use Pink in Your Home Without Going Too Saccharine

Mary McGee: My client loves clear and pretty colors, and pink is her absolute favorite. In the living room, I made it feel rich and sophisticated by using deep shades of raspberry, then I introduced graphic black-and-white patterns and art, like the Richard Serra charcoal drawing over a sofa. The combination makes the room feel edgy and modern as opposed to sweet or feminine.

And yet the house’s architecture is anything but edgy.

My clients love design, but family comes first — they have four kids, and they wanted a big, happy home that would feel grounded in history. We renovated this house in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in the Georgian style and gave it classical moldings and proportions.

And then you offset that with the interior’s vibrant design.

When you have these really serious rooms, it’s nice to bring in things that are a little more fun, to introduce a chic, hip vibe. For instance, the living room’s Plexiglas table feels young and fresh, and the transparency helps to balance out all the color in the room.

 
 
 

Throughout the house, you use decor as a counterweight to the architecture.

Yes. The dining room felt less stuffy once we brought in those bamboo armchairs, Warhol artworks, and vintage Lucite candlesticks. And even the antiques are a mixture of styles and periods, starting with the English table, which the clients received as a wedding gift. I surrounded it with chairs modeled on an 18th-century French design I really liked, and I had them covered in jazzy coral fabrics. I’ve found that if you use all English furniture, a room can feel too heavy, while entirely French pieces can get a little too precious. I always mix it up.

 
 

What is the best strategy to complement such clear, strong colors?

The client wanted the whole house to feel light, so I used a crisp white to make the colors stand out, but with a touch of cream for warmth. In the breakfast nook, I chose white linen curtains and white-painted chairs and trim to brighten the dark wood table and floors.

You also employed white to create contrast between the rooms.

Yes — in the entry hall, I kept the palette neutral because right off of this space is a raspberry living room and a yellow- and-coral dining room! I also used black accents in the entry, which are echoed in the adjacent rooms — a zebra rug in the hall, for example, and chic striped-silk stools in the living room.

 
 

And then you introduced natural textures, which make all of the fabric pat- terns in the house really pop.

The legendary decorator Billy Baldwin, who inspired me, used to do that all the time in the high-end glamorous spaces he designed. Mixing silks with raffia adds uniqueness and character to a room, and the raffia slipper chairs in the living room are a custom design that I had made at my furniture studio in Los Angeles. They’re one of my favorite things: dainty and so elegant. The raffia also helps to show off the pink-and-black fabric on the seat cushions, which I had designed by artisans in Ghana as part of my new ethical fabric collection, Mary McGee X Africa.

They’re gorgeous! Tell me more about this wonderful project.

It goes back to my college years in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., when I interned at VSA [Very Special Arts], a nonprofit started by Jean Kennedy Smith that employs the arts to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities. I have always wanted to use design to do something positive in the world, and four years ago I began working with artisans in places like Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. I sought out people who are in vulnerable situations — some are impoverished, and one group consists of refugee women who were victims of war crimes. So far, we’ve hired roughly 100 artisans and helped them to become more independent and self-sufficient. Best of all, the fabrics are luxurious and just exquisite. It’s a win-win.

This Is the Bed of Your Dreams

This Is the Bed of Your Dreams

With clever comfort-boosting features, this smart bed is a game changer for nighttime (and anytime, really).

adjustable-mattress

Like most people, I’ve always been pretty content with my bed: medium-firm mattress, crisp white sheets, cushy down comforter, and plenty of room even when the kids pile on to watch Survivor. The thought of an adjustable bed had never occurred to me until recently when, at Real Simple, we heard about a new, modern version from Saatva called The Lineal. It moves your mattress so you can get into the most comfortable positions for reading, texting, TV-watching, breakfast in bed, and more.

It is on the pricier side—$1,300 for a full size, and up—but it’s also pretty genius, and a good investment if, like me, your bed has become the perpetual family hangout spot. I took the chance to try one out, and here’s how it works:

l

Push a button on the remote to move the head of the bed (say, for a better TV view) or the foot (for a loungey recline). Or move them both. The mattress glides into position and the motor makes barely any noise. If you want to level out the bed later for sleeping, just press “Flat” to return it to its original setup. You can even program the remote to remember your favorite settings.

As a bonus, there’s a Brookstone-like feature too: head, foot, and full-body massage options powered by remote control. It’s not the kneading strength of an actual shiatsu session, of course, but it’s a fun little extra that makes you feel pampered (and a big hit with the kids).

 

 

Another plus: under-bed lighting. Press a button to subtly illuminate the room at night when you need to find your way to the bathroom, or anytime you’re cleaning to get all the dust bunnies.

The Lineal works with most mattresses that are able to flex, but you can also find mattress options compatible with an adjustable base on Saatvamattress.com. The bottom line: It’s high-quality, easy to operate, and takes lounging to a whole new level—a worth-the-splurge purchase for anyone who’s big on spending time in bed.

How to Keep Your Garden Thriving All Summer Long

How to Keep Your Garden Thriving All Summer Long

Beat the heat and keep your garden in tip-top shape this season.

Summer can be an exciting month for gardening when you think about everything that’s in season (dahlias, tomatoes, and so much more), but with rising temperatures, scorching sun, and unwelcome pests taking over, your garden may need a little bit more TLC during this time of year. “Dry soil, wilted plants, overgown weeds, and brown grass are common signs of an unhealthy garden,” Danny Watson, The Home Depot garden center associate, says. “Thankfully there are easy ways to combat these problems.” But where do you even start? Watson shared his best advice for summer gardening with us. If you follow these care tips your garden will look lush and vibrant all summer long, which is ideal if you’re planning on hosting a lot of backyard gatherings this year. Don’t worry, it won’t take up too much of your time (or cost too much money), so you can prep and care for your garden and still be able to hit the beach, head out on your road trip, or just enjoy a lazy summer afternoon at home.

1

Be Smart About Watering.

woman-watering-flowers

Photo by Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

While the temperature may be warmer and drier, you don’t have to spend every moment of your free time watering your plants. Watson says it’s all about being smarter about watering. “The typical rule of thumb is to water flowerbeds twice a week with plenty of water,” he says. “This will be more effective than watering the flowerbeds more frequently, with less water.”

 

2

Don’t Water at Night.

It might seem like a good idea to do this task when you get home from work, but think again. “Try avoid watering plants in the evening—the warmth and moisture encourages fungus growth,” he says. “As we head into the hottest part of the summer, try to do your heaviest watering in the morning. Only water in the evening if the plant really needs it.” He also advises against watering in the middle of the day when it’s the hottest as the soil will soak up the water faster, leaving less for the plants to use.

3

Feed Your Plants.

“Plants need more than just extra water to endure increasing temperatures and strong sun exposure during the summer months,” Watson says. “Place a 3-inch layer of Earthgro® by Scotts® Mulch in beds and around plantings to help the soil retain moisture and keep plants insulated from high temperatures. It is also important to feed plants throughout the summer season. The LiquaFeed® Universal Feeder from Miracle-Gro attaches directly to your hose and automatically delivers the right amount of food so you do not have to worry about burning your plants.”

4

Prune Away.

Keep an eye on your garden and remove any diseased, damaged, or dead debris as they block airflow and growth. “If you notice a plant with dead blooms, cut them back now to ensure it grows healthier next season,” he says. “Light pruning all year encourages steady growth and builds a healthy plant.” You’ll also want to be vigilant about dealing with any weeds, too. Weeds thrive off summer heat and steal nutrients and water from other plants, so catch them before they grow and spread.

5

Combat Pests.

Bugs can be abundant in the summer months, so much so that it can be overwhelming. “It is important to know which types of insects you are dealing with and which products to use,” he says. “I recommend Ortho Bug B Gon Insect Killer Granules to rid your lawn of pesky ants, ticks, and spiders. A single application, with thorough watering, helps keep pests from crashing your summer fun for up to three months. For flying insects, such as yellow jackets, Japanese beetles, and wasps, try placing traps, like the RESCUE Reusable Yellow Jacket Trap around your yard, making sure to avoid doors and high traffic areas.”

6

Add Some Shade.

“If an area of your yard or garden is exposed to strong sunlight for the majority of the day, find a way to create shade,” Watson says. “You can use a stunt plant, such as a tree or cluster of bamboo to provide shade for your flowerbeds.”

This Favorite Bedding Brand Just Launched a Baby Line

This Favorite Bedding Brand Just Launched a Baby Line

You’ve decorated your crib, now it’s time to accessorize theirs.

Three years ago, Parachute was born as a bedding brand, and now its family is growing to include a gender-neutral baby collection that celebrates the brand’s core colorways and themes that make for a perfect night’s sleep.

From darling crib sheets with prints featuring mini moons and stars to quilts in hues including blush, fog, and white, the line is a must for mix and matching so you can customize your baby’s room however you’d like.

The collection is made up of seven pieces that are non-toxic and Oeko-Tex certified, meaning that the products are chemical-free so both the earth and your baby are safe and sound. As if things couldn’t get better, everything meets REACH requirements, which stands for “registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemicals.” Basically, it’s a protocol by the European Union that ensures that manufacturers are held responsible to identify chemicals in their products.

And if you thought the brand’s mission to save the environment stopped there, there’s more. When the package arrives at your doorstep, it’s placed inside a reusable bag made of the same luxe materials as your linens, so you can use it as an upgraded laundry bag or whatever else your heart desires. All the bedding and bath products are crafted with Egyptian and Turkish cotton fibers in family-owned factories in Europe, so you’re getting the highest quality products backed by generations of trusted methods.

Currently, the Venice Beach based company has two storefronts, a hotel, and is sold online. So no matter where you live, the linens of your dreams are within reach.

10 Ways to Add Colorful Vintage Style to Your Kitchen

 

 
 

1. Buttery Walls

The soft creamy hue (Canyon Cloud by Behr), combined with the natural wood stain (Pecan by Minwax) on the windows, trim, and beams, creates a warm backdrop for the room’s bold accents.

2. Red Barstools

Jolie’s barstool mix—a pair of swiveling tractor seats plus a vintage vinyl-covered number—are characteristic of her signature farmhouse-meets-retro look.

3. Salvaged Island

Retrofitted with electrical outlets and reconfigured drawers, this 9-foot-long piece, originally a counter in a New Jersey general store, multitasks as a prep surface, breakfast bar, and homework station.

4. Turquoise Cabinets

To give them a slightly weathered look, Jolie first coated the cabinets with blue interior oil stain (Aquarius by Sherwin-Williams), then used a rag to apply and partially rub off a layer of Provincial Wood Finish stain by Minwax. “Embrace color,” says Jolie. “Just because kitchens are utilitarian rooms doesn’t mean they should be quiet, sterile, or boring.”

5. Handmade Toolbox

This rustic caddy emblazoned with the name Larry Slifer, now stores plates instead of Larry Slifer’s tools, and it’s one of Jolie’s favorite scores from the Round Top antiques fair. “I love that it has a story. Someday I’m going to meet someone who knew Larry Slifer!” she says.

6. Stainless Countertops

Inspired by the industrial kitchens in her parents’ chain of pizza restaurants, Jolie chose the stain-proof surface for its durability and versatility. “It’s not fancy, and it goes with everything,” she says.

7. Open Storage

On the cabinets flanking the vent hood, Jolie left the doors off for a casual look and convenient access to staple ingredients, spices, and dry goods stored in apothecary jars.

8. “Restaurant” Sign

To preserve its red color, Jolie coated the 20-foot-long vintage sign, salvaged from a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, with clear polyurethane.

9. Pantry Upgrade

 
 

To give the functional space a farmhouse look, Jolie’s husband, Todd, built two panels inspired by barn doors then stained them black (Ebony by Minwax). Over the pantry, a salvaged stained-glass window bring in light from the entryway. Flat Track Hardware Set: from $300; barndoorhardware.com

10. Mason Jar Cluster Chandelier

Over the sink, Jolie strung up a pendant light using quart-size Mason jars, threaded wire, and Edison bulbs. For a similar look, try the Mason Jar Cluster Chandelier, $275; shadesoflight.com.

 

14 Paint Colors That Make Your Small Space Feel Bigger

These expert-approved hues may be the secret to opening up a minuscule or cramped-feeling room.

 

 
 The right paint color can accomplish a lot — it can flatter everyone in the roomhelp bring good energy to a space, and even keep you from getting sick. And luckily for small space dwellers, a well-chosen wall hue can also make a room feel much bigger than it is. (Yes, you can paint small rooms colors other than white.)

To help you narrow down your search for that perfect room-expanding shade, Trulia tapped into their network of design pros for advice.

 

Four shades topped the list as the best all-around colors to make a space feel larger, including three soft neutrals: PPG Paints Swirling Smoke, Benjamin Moore Cloud White, and Farrow & Ball Skylight. Surprisingly, a deeper shade — Benjamin Moore Hale Navy — made the cut as well.

But according to Anne Miller of Miller House Interiors, a saturated hue can be completely appropriate for small spaces. “The key is to remember to balance out that color with softer neutrals so that the room is not overwhelming,” she told Trulia.

Beyond the best all-around colors, Trulia also highlighted five shades that make a space feel bigger when they’re used on both the walls and the trim: Benjamin Moore Coastal Fog, Benjamin Moore Navy Masterpiece, PPG Paints Geyser, PPG Paints Colonial Aqua, and PPG Paints Stonehenge Greige.

The collection of gray and blue shades can help trick the eye into thinking a room is more expansive than it is. “By painting the walls and trim the same paint color, your ceilings appear to be taller, since there are no breaks in the trim,” explained Charlotte Lucas of Charlotte Lucas Interior Design.

Check out the infographic below to see all 14 must-know shades, and head to Trulia for more on why they were chosen.

We’re Crushing on the Primitive Country Decor in This City Apartment

We’re Crushing on the Primitive Country Decor in This City Apartment

What to do when you dream of living in a big country farmhouse, but the reality is that you live in a 1,100-square-foot city apartment? Simply fill your urban space with primitive country trappings and antique flea market finds, like Nick Fanelle and Spiro Georgi.

 
 
 

According to Apartment Therapy, the initial inspiration for the decor in the couple’s one-bedroom Chicago apartment was the warmth and coziness of the Vermont farmhouse featured in the 1987 Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom.

 

The couple merged Spiro’s love of traditional country florals and Nick’s affinity for industrial details to create a style of their own. Plaid was the perfect middle ground for the two, and it can be seen it all over the apartment as a continuous design element.

 

But our absolute favorite part of this space is all of the vintage country artifacts, collected over many weekends spent antiquing. From the vintage seltzer bottles in the front entryway and the wall of pitchforks in the living room, to the cuckoo clocks and the antique washboards that line the bathroom walls, there’s a lot to love.

 

But somehow the couple managed to creatively display their collections in a way that doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming in the least. The result? The perfect country retreat, right in the middle of the big city.

 

The art of good living

 

 

 

The art of good living (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
The art of good living (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)

The secret to good living lies in making our personal space beautiful and organized. So, here are some simple ways to have a slice of good living

 
 

Declutter: The key to good living lies in decluttering. Give away whatever you don’t need. Old unused items (if they are not used for last six months) in your house need to go. Give them away in charity. Decluttering also means organising your cabinets, wardrobes, workdesk and bookshelves. Allocate space for all the items you require and once that happens you exactly know all your stuff.

 
 

Personalise a corner: Tell us who doesn’t want to have a nice, warm and cosy corner? And most of us have drab corners in our house. So, make a little reading nook or put a little breakfast table by the window where you can read your newspaper and enjoy your cuppa. If you have kids, then you can create a bright, lively kids’ corner for reading story books or indulging in some hobbies. Make it more alive by framing bright paper or create your own art work. Get your kids involved in some DIY projects. If you have a bay window sitting area, make it more lively by adding colourful cushions.

 

Space optimization: Add more space to your interiors whether it’s your living room. bathroom or kitchen. Install glass shelves on the bare well to stack books, coffee mugs or bath accessories (in the washroom). Are we using your balcony or you are just using it for dumping some thing? Turn it into a little green corner and enjoy your share of sunshine in the morning. Even though you don’t have a great view, give it a little makeover and see the difference.

Innovative ways to re-use old kitchen ware

 

 

Innovative ways to re-use old kitchen ware
Innovative ways to re-use old kitchen ware

When it comes to food, more often than not, presentation scores over all other factors. While investing in the latest crockery is always good, one can also try to re-use some old kitchen ware in novel ways.

 
 

Jam jars — which have become popular with chocolatiers, barmen and chefs — are one such option. Instead of discarding old jars, store them and serve your guests a surprise treat, be it at a kitty party, drinking session or even after a lavish dinner spread. Take a cue from some of the prevalent presentation styles in top restaurants in the world, and woo your guests with these tricks…

 
 

For coolers and cocktails

 

With the summer sun showing no respite, coolers and cocktails are a good solution to beat the heat. When serving up a drink, use a jam jar instead of boring glasses. Remember, though, that you also need to spruce up the presentation. When serving something as simple as lemonade or orange juice, place a slice of lemon or orange on the rim. You could also season the rim with either rock salt, chilli powder or chaat masala to give your drink an edge.

 
 

For desserts
When you’re serving baked or set desserts like pannacota or mousse, you could use a small jar instead of a bowl. To add a little texture to the dessert, add some cookie crumbles, nuts or chocolate chips at the bottom. With bakers and chocolatiers also taking to the cake in a jar concept, you could try your own little variant when you’ve guests over. Put some crushed brownies, chocolate bits, raspberry and chocolate syrup, cookie crumble and even some ice cream and in a jar. When you’re ready to serve the dessert, place it the microwave for a minute. You could serve your guests an interesting gooey, chocolatey mix that will leave them asking for more.