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must read: kelly hoppen interiors


I have to admit that I own a lot of interior design books. A lot. It’s a little bit frightening, really. So it’s really something when a book crosses my path that exceeds expectations. When I picked up Kelly Hoppen Interiors, I was expecting another coffee table book, packed with gorgeous photos of unattainable spaces, very little text, and plenty of eye candy. I was right about the eye candy, but the rest was epically off the mark.

Kelly Hoppen is a designer known for her love of neutrals and clean lines (her spare style recently landed her on Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Designers list), an aesthetic that could easily become predictable (or even boring) in the wrong hands. But Hoppen manages to keep her interiors looking fresh, unique, and even warm, without a trace of color or clutter (two easy tricks for upping the cozy quotient in a space).

Instead of letting the photos do all the work, Hoppen has made this book a true “how to,” packing it with tips, techniques and tools to help you emulate a bit of her signature style. Broken up by rooms (even halls, staircases and corridors each get their own chapter), each section contains photos of various projects, complete with copious notes about the hows and whys of each room, and checklists packed with tips to help with everything from laying out a space to the best lighting schemes for each room. The result is a book that manages to make you feel that the inspiring looks are actually attainable, which is a true feat in the world of interior design tomes. –Becki S.

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five things we learned last week

fivethings april2 kletia

1) Everyone loves a good spork joke. Sapling Press stole our hearts this week with these snarky prints. Tula says: “Major, major cuteness. Love.”

2) Baking a winning scone is easier than you think. Becki shared her go-to recipe and reader Beth Ellen shared hers in comments!

3) We have royal décor fever. This wallpaper takes the cake. Cat Sitter in the City says: “I love the wallpaper in the second photo. If I had a room in my house just for my cat, who is a little princess, I’d definitely use that wallpaper.”

4) Along with the producers of Mad Men, we share a sentimental connection to this cookie jar. Seems like we all have fond memories of it! Aly in Boston says: “I grew up with this same cookie jar but in mustard yellow. Through my teen years I told my folks that when I moved out, the cookie jar would be coming with me. One sad day, a shelf that it was on collapsed and it shattered. I was so disappointed. Some years later after I had moved, I walked into a vintage shop hoping to find it but knowing it was unlikely… I stepped inside the door, turned my head and just like in the movies, my eyes landed directly on it! I did a double take and my focused zoomed in like a close up shot. It was so dramatic and hilarious. Not only was it the same kind of cookie jar, it was the mustard yellow!! It now happily sits in a very secure space in my kitchen. I can’t believe it’s going for $150!!!”

5) Calypso St. Barth for Target launches May 1. We’re counting the minutes. Jennifer says: “That’s the third time I’ve seen the elephant teapot featured in a magazine or a blog in the last week. I must have it!”

photo by Kletia Garies

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in five: easy hollandaise sauce


Since the season of brunch is officially upon us (Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…), I thought I’d share another foolproof brunch star. Hollandaise is the holy grail of brunch, really… does it get any better than a perfect eggs benedict? But its reach extends far beyond the benedict. Try it over roasted vegetables (asparagus and broccoli, particularly), or as a topping for a savory crepe (you can buy them pre-made at most grocery stores). And leftover sauce can even be used in casserole-land. Talk about taking your chicken and rice to the next level! Not only that, but since you’re likely to have some leftover Easter ham, this is a great breakfast-for-dinner option to help you use up those leftovers. If you’re feeling especially lazy, you can forgo the poached eggs and slice a leftover hard-boiled Easter egg over the top… true, you won’t have that runny yolk goodness, but with all that delicious hollandaise pouring over the top, I suspect you’ll hardly miss it.

While traditional hollandaise recipes are daunting… okay, scary… I promise you, this one is an absolute no-fail. Four ingredients, five minutes, and you’ll be wowing a crowd. Trust me. — Becki S.
Click to see how it’s done! (more…)

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easter decorating beyond the basket


I’m having a bit of an existential crisis. I’m not sure if I’m getting old, or if my taste is waning, but I’ve had the urge this year to… wait for it… decorate for Easter. I know, I know, this conjures all sorts of awful images of tacky plastic Easter grass, “country chic” wreaths or even an Easter Bunny flag flying over my front door (talk about letting your freak flag fly). But I’m convinced there’s a way to spruce up my house for this pastel holiday without going into Hallmark overload.
West Elm, for example, has loads of sweet-but-chic Easter options (many more in-store than online, sadly). I happen to especially love this David Stark topiary, which I think could certainly be stylish bedecked with a host of, say, glittered eggs. Or what about just displaying a few candy-bright dyed eggs in this ceramic egg crate? I also love the more subtle style of these cream and blue speckled eggs from Pottery Barn — I’m imagining these in a clear glass bowl (which you probably already have) on a side table somewhere. Or, for a little vintage charm, these classic Steiff Easter rabbits manage to be sweetly old-fashioned without being cloying (as long as you pick the ones that aren’t wearing clothes), and they remind me of Easter brunch with my grandmother. The Steiff bunnies are notoriously pricey, but you can sometimes find a steal on eBay if you’re patient…especially the week after Easter.

And of course, there’s always the option of decorating with candy…a big glass vase filled with Cadbury Mini Eggs and Whoppers’ Robin Eggs wouldn’t survive long in my house, but it would be absolutely lovely while it lasted.

So, what do you think of Easter decorating? Strictly for the senior set, or am I ahead of the trend? — Becki S.

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a few things we learned last week


1) $298 is too much for a stepladder. Even if it looks splendid hanging on the wall, Megan B. is going to have to pass on her chic, functional but pricey find. Kimberj says: “As much as I love the designer step ladder (yes I would absolutely hang it on the wall), there’s no way in the world I can justify $298 for a step ladder. I would be afraid I would chip the paint when using it so what possible good is it then?? I’ll stick with my $39.99 step stool from Lowe’s. I’ll use the leftover $260 to buy fabric for my art quilts.”

2) Kitchen gadgets, chocolate and wiper blades are just a few of the items we splurge onbut we tend to leave sunglasses to the discount department. We all seem to have specific money rules. What are yours?

3) Crowd sourcing is key when stocking up on reusable dishware for outdoor parties. Friends, restaurant supply stores and establishments that are going out of business are proven resources for scoring dishes for free.

4) More light and a change of soil might be the saving grace for our terrarium tragedy. Becki S. shared the sad news of her suffering succulents and a change to cactus soil and more appropriate plant pairing could be just what the doctor ordered. RLL Gardens says: “Sorry about your terrarium. Sprout is right on the money with this.The succulent is very unhappy with the moss and is dying because it is too moist. It also looks like it is not getting enough light. The moss likes low light and moisture and the succulent likes bright light and dryness.I would start over with this one and throw out the old soil. Use a cactus soil or mix 1 part sand with 2 parts regular soil. Good luck, and don’t give up.”

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