Tour a Sleek Black Kitchen Where Old and New Meet in the Middle


Royal Caribbean Is Building the Largest Cruise Ship in the World

Royal Caribbean Is Building the Largest Cruise Ship in the World


cruise ship

If there ever was a cruise ship announcement that deserved a “mic drop,” we’d turn up the volume on this one: Royal Caribbean just announced that it’s building a ship that’s going to be even bigger and grander than its current record holder, Harmony of the Seas. Clearly, the company prides itself on holding this title and isn’t about to let anyone come in and take it.

During a phone call with journalists, Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley told Skift that the company’s new ship, Symphony of the Seas, will be the “latest, greatest, newest, most beautiful baby that’s coming soon.” It’ll debut in April 2018 and will be able to hold 5,494 people . That’s the population of a small town (no big deal).

Bayley also revealed it’ll be “slightly longer,” “a tad wider,” and have a slew of new luxury features.The few we know about include a multi-deck water slide for the kids and a Bionic Bar, where cocktails are made by robots (how very Passengers of them).

bionic bar

The ship is currently being built in a shipyard in France and will sail to the Caribbean and Europe once it’s finished. If you’ve already been to these destinations, don’t worry: These other impressive cruise ships will take you to places all over the world in style.


See This Living Room Go From Dark and Dated to a Country Cottage Dream

OK, this one deserves a slow clap. How do you take a dark, drab ’60s living room and turn it into an airy living and dining room dream? Ask Jenna Diermann of Jenna Sue Design Co. She’s in the middle of revealing her fabulous flip of a cottage house in Mi Wuk Village, California, room by room (check out the exterior and the kitchen!), and this one started as a doozy.

It was dark and outdated, and the layout just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Diermann.

So while using it as a workspace for renovating the rest of the house, Diermann got to work. The plan was to utilize the room as an open living room and dining room. All it took was painting the paneling white and adding recessed lighting to brighten up the space.

Of course, she kept the pretty brick fireplace, but she addd a reclaimed wood mantel and gave it a coat of paint, too.

Then she installed cabinets to match the ones in the kitchen.

And wide plank Pergo flooring.


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10 Ways to Protect Your Garden from Critters

Live peacefully with hungry animals, big and small.

Those fuzzy little bunnies are adorable hopping around your back yard — until they munch on your newly planted veggies and mow down your marigolds. Like it or not, your wild neighbors aren’t selective about what’s yours and what’s theirs. “Your yard and garden are part of a larger system,” says Matt Tarr, associate extension professor and wildlife specialist at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. “They’re a continuum of the habitat around your home.”

While it’s not possible to make your garden completely critter-proof, here are a few ways to minimize the nibbling and live peacefully with hungry animals, big and small:


1 Identify the culprit.

Choosing the right kind of management methods, such as how tall a fence you might need, means you have to figure out who’s eating what. “Critters most likely to case the quickest damage are deer, rabbits and groundhogs,” says Tarr. Look for telltale signs: Deer may leave tracks in the soil and make clean snips on herbaceous plants or tear woody plants. Rabbits make sharp cuts on herbaceous and woody plants and may leave pellet droppings. Groundhogs leave large mounds of dirt 10 to 12 inches in diameter at entrance to their burrows, typically eating greens, not woody shrubs. Birds peck holes in fruit or steal it before you even know it’s ripe.

2 Fence it.

Fencing is the most effective (and sometimes only!) way to keep unwanted visitors out of your garden. “Put up a fence from day one to prevent them from finding the food source in the first place,” says David Drake, extension wildlife specialist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A fence that’s a few feet tall will work for most rabbits, though persistent bunnies and groundhogs may burrow under. To prevent that, bury it about 10″ deep. Chicken wire, hardware cloth or rabbit fencing are the least expensive alternatives for small mammals. A fence that’s at least 4 feet tall will work for many deer situations. But if your neighborhood is overrun by deer, you may need one that’s 8 feet tall. Plastic bird netting can be placed over small edible bushes like berries the week or so before they ripen, to protect fruit.

3 Choose less tasty plants.

When they’re hungry enough and competition for food is high, animals will eat anything. “Nothing is foolproof,” says Tarr. But there are certain kinds of plants that are less appealing than others, especially plants that are highly aromatic, fuzzy or have prickles. Thus, while hostas, arborvitae and azaleas are often favorites for deer, they’re generally not interested in many types of ornamental grasses, holly and barberry.  Look around your neighborhood to see what’s fared well, talk to nurseries and consult your local coop extension service for lists of less tempting regional plants.


4 Protect new plants.

Those brand-new nursery plants, which have been pampered and fertilized before you bought them, offer delectable, tender new growth. “Whether a plant is tasty or a deterrent to animals has to do with the nutrient and chemicals a plant produces,” says Tarr. “Plants recently purchased from a nursery are nutritionally superior. The animals can sense those micronutrients, and they’re naturally attracted to them.” New plants also cannot withstand as much grazing damage as established plantings. Fence off or use trunk wraps or protectors for new plants and shrubs once you put them in the ground.

5 Garden in pots and raised beds.

Sometimes you can eliminate nibbling opportunities by elevating pots or planting in raised beds. A raised bed two feet or taller will limit rabbit damage, especially if you add a short fence on top. Pots can be mounted on railings, or try planting greens in window boxes out of the reach of hungry bunnies.

Cedar Complete Raised Garden Bed Kit, $979 BUY NOW

6 Don’t be too tidy.

If you live in a less urban area, let the shrubs and grasses around the edges of your yard go a little wild. “If there are a lot of other opportunities for food around you, your garden will be less attractive,” says Tarr. “Animals will be less likely to come out into the middle of the yard to your garden to expose themselves to predators if there are other good food sources along the edges.”

7Contain your compost.

Open compost piles attract all kinds of creatures that then discover the other delicacies in your backyard, says Drake. Use a self-contained compost bin with a lid to keep marauders away. And if you feed your pets outdoors, be sure to bring their bowls inside after meals so you won’t attract skunks, opossums and raccoons.

8 Scare them away.

Metallic streamers, or bird tape or an old-fashioned scarecrow may keep birds away, though you’ll have to move it around daily. “You can’t let it just sit there. Otherwise, once they get used to it, that particular technique loses its effectiveness,” says Drake. Motion-activated sprinklers or lights are another possibility for mammals.

9 Try repellants (with fingers crossed).

Odor repellants are granular and attempt to keep the animal away from an area in the first place with a bad smell. Taste repellents are sprayed on vulnerable plants. They repel by flavor or by causing the animal to feel sick when they ingest the treated plant. “It’s sort of like if you ate at a buffet and became ill,” says Drake. “You wouldn’t want to go back there anytime soon, and neither does the animal.”  It’s important to note that while repellants may upset wildlife tummies, they are not designed to hurt the animals — just to train them to stay away from a specific area. But taste is personal, so some animals will eat treated plants anyway or will get used to the bad taste. Also, these products typically have to be used year-round and must be reapplied after rain.  Of course, you’ll want to keep your pets away from repellants of any sort, too. Homemade repellents using human hair, bars of soap, garlic or a host of other ingredients don’t work much better. “Try them until you get sick of trying them, then put up a fence,” Drake suggests.


10 Do a reality check.

“In any given year, a number of factors including the severity of the winter and the number of animals in the area affect how much damage you may incur,” says Drake. There are good years (when you’ll see little loss) and bad years (when you’ll feel like you opened up a free salad bar for the neighborhood critters). Keep your perspective though, and realize what you’re doing in your yard benefits the local wildlife, too, even if you didn’t get to enjoy that heirloom tomato you planted. As a gardener, there’s always next season!


Amazon Has a Sister Site That’s Dedicated Entirely to Home Décor

Amazon Has a Sister Site That’s Dedicated Entirely to Home Décor


By now, you know all about our obsession with Amazon. It just makes shopping and organizing so easy — especially with the help of Amazon Prime. But even though the sheer number of items to choose from is part of the website’s appeal, it can also be quite overwhelming. That’s why we’re so excited about Canopy, a website that sifts through and curates the best decor Amazon has to offer.

How does it work? Well, basically each product that lives on Canopy links back to Amazon for purchase. And in a similar way to Pinterest, users can create a profile and collections based on projects of styles. So if you’re on the hunt for a new headboard, but want to be aware of all of your options, you can create a collection with potential purchases before pulling the trigger.

And, sure, you might think this site serves the same purpose as the “search” function on Amazon, but we assure you, it doesn’t. After hunting through Canopy, we can honestly say we’re seeing items for the very first time that we’re thrilled to learn we can buy online and have shipped to our homes in two days flat (for free!). The items below are the some of the products that surprised us the most.

For starters, this copper statement clock ($40, would look just as beautiful solo as it would in a gallery wall.

This light gray dining room arm chair ($162, will elevate your eating space, giving it a mid-century modern design that guests will refuse to believe you found on Amazon.

This clean and simple table ($70, made out of beach wood is classic, but not boring. Just look at the leg of the design for proof.

And even though these chairs ($650, are stackable and can be used inside or outside, they’re also extremely stylish thanks to their plant-like design.


This home is anything but ordinary! Take a tour of California’s ‘Wave House’

As wildly different as houses can be, they tend to follow a basic script — which architect Mario Romano hopes to rewrite with The Wave House in Venice, CA.

Jason Speth

The 5,700-square-foot, 5-bedroom home is modern to its core, with an undulating wave motif that runs not only through the decor, but through the entire shape of the building.

Jason Speth

With a design that is reminiscent more of a contemporary art museum than your typical private home, The Wave House is an ode to both art and nature. It’s listed for $6.498 million with F. Ron Smith, Mark Kitching and David Berg of Partners Trust.

Jason Speth

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“By making it more organic in form,” explained Romano, “it becomes more of a human landscape. That’s what humans do: we build buildings and houses and streets — that’s our jungle, so it should resemble nature.”

Jason Speth
Jason Speth

Romano accomplishes this goal in part by bringing the outside in — as with the walls, which are etched with wave designs. “The material is an acrylic base, and no viruses, no mold, and no bacteria can grow on it,” noted Romano.

Jason Speth

Using high-tech computer numeric controlled (CNC) technology, Romano was able to carve the lines with no repetition and no seams.

Jason Speth

Though he’s inspired by the forms of nature, Romano relies on cutting-edge technology — like the CNC machine, which he describes as a “low-level robot” — to translate his visions from dream to reality. “Then you design the programs using parametric design — it’s an emergent trend using technology and robotics and the built environment,” he explained.

Jason Speth

As Romano pointed out, “the word flat is not often used as a compliment.” Think about flat hair, or a flat personality. Romano extends this to the average flat, boxy home, which is why he places such an emphasis on curved lines and texture.

Jason Speth

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One of his favorite aspects of the house is the way it changes constantly depending on the light. “As the light changes throughout the day, anything that has texture to it will change depending on the orientation of the sun, depending on the time of day and year,” he said. “That’s when you get surprises and discoveries that you only get by spending time in the house.”

Jason Speth

As a family man himself, Romano designed The Wave House with families — and specifically those who like to entertain — in mind. The expansive yard and swimming pool are obviously big perks, and he purposely put the five bedrooms on the second floor so the first floor could be a separate space for living and entertaining.

Jason Speth

Of course, even those without a big family will feel at home here.

Jason Speth

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Romano said he could also envision an art collector, artist, executive or tech person being drawn to the impressive building. Pretty much anyone “who loves beauty, and someone who likes to entertain — since that’s a key element.”


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.