The secrets to combining different wood finishes in your home

When they’re planning their interior decor homeowners often try to match up furniture, flooring and other features by using the same wood finishes, but this doesn’t always work the best. Having a room that all looks the same can feel a bit boring and it’s not always practical if you’re buying items over time. Here we look at how you can successfully combine different types of wood.


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Matching undertones

It’s not essential that the finish of your furniture and solid wood flooring are identical, but it helps the decor to work if you have matching undertones, such as all cool or all dark woods. This enables the features of the room to blend together and create a seamless finish.

Similar grains

One of the ways to use different woods successfully is to have one type of grain that runs across everything. Typically a fine grain will give a more formal appearance and larger grains have a casual finish. There are plenty of online sites where you can gain inspiration on how to match up your wood features, with 52% of

Fence Tips for Dog Owners

Your dog loves being able to run around in your backyard as it is an opportunity for exercise and space. However, it is important to keep your dog contained within your yard – for his safety and for the sake of your neighbours. You don’t want your dog to be running out in the street or wandering into your neighbours property. In fact, some places have laws about keeping your dog contained so that he is not running all over town.

The obvious solution is a fence. There are many great options for fencing in your yard so that your dog can run around without you having to worry about him getting into trouble. So, when it comes to fence tips for dog owners here are some important things that you should know before buying materials from a timber merchant in North Wales.

Digging Under

Sometimes the dog will try to dig under the fence, especially if it is one of the breeds that naturally digs a lot. In order to prevent this, you can bury the bottom of the fence several inches in the ground. Or, you can fill a narrow trench around the fence with concrete. This will ensure that

11 hacks to make your home smell fresh and clean

scThere’s nothing quite like coming home and taking a deep breath of rancid air. Regardless of where that scent is coming from, these 11 hacks will help you tackle that stink and prevent any home stench from making its way into your nostrils again.

1. Dryer sheets

Nope, your dryer sheets aren’t just for laundry anymore. Stuff a few dryer sheets in linen drawers and closets, in air vents or to clean your baseboards for a fresh, clean scent.

2. Baking soda

There are many times that your home can have a rancid smell due to other factors in the home, such as a stale disposal, toilet smells or pet odors. Eliminate these problems by making your own all-natural cleaner that will leave your home both clean and crisp.

More: 20 unexpected ways to use vinegar around the house

3. Vanilla extract

Not only is vanilla extract a sweet baking ingredient, it makes for an excellent aroma in your home. Dab a bit of vanilla on a light bulb to give off a sweet odor or cook two teaspoons in the oven for 20 minutes for

Expert tips to help you decorate that tricky open floor plan

fOpen-layout floor plans are especially trendy right now, and there’s a reason for that.

In fact, designer Mikel Welch, host of Mikel’s Design Corner on Steve Harvey, says there are several reasons open floor plans are still holding strong.

He says they offer a flexibility of space you just don’t get with traditional floor plans. They also give homeowners the bonus of extra light and a space built for entertaining.


But still, those wide open spaces come with their own unique challenges, especially when it’s time to decorate.

“As a designer, I find that homeowners become stifled in their ability to decorate with an open floor plan. Many families face the dilemma of how to properly utilize an open space and often wonder where to begin,” he said.

Welch pointed out that some of the greatest challenges include creating division between areas of the home, making a cohesive design throughout the space, choosing colors and furniture that fits and keeping the home organized and tidy while everything is exposed.

Fortunately years of experience have given him a wealth of knowledge

My Neighbor Totoro home decor will appeal to your inner child

jmThere are many ways you can give your home a sense of personality, but if you want to add some fun into your home decor, then some Totoro home decor is exactly what you need.

Totoro is the adorable character from the 1988 Japanese fantasy film My Neighbor Totoro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story is about two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the country with their professor father, and it focuses on their magical interactions with the friendly wood sprites (Totoro and his companions). There’s a lot to love about this film, and the popular anime has broken into the mainstream, which is probably why everyone wants to get their hands on some Totoro merchandise.

And really, there’s so much to choose from. Just check out this picture from community page Everything Hayao Miyazaki, which proves you can buy everything from a Totoro teacup and saucer to cute salt shakers.

When it comes to Totoro products, the merchandisers have really thought of it all, and we’ve found some of the cutest

Giant cuddling sofa will hold you and provide a sense of security

lWhatever your personal taste in sofas, there’s one indisputable fact: comfort is key. And what could be more comfortable than a sofa that actually wraps its arms around you and draws you into massive bear hug?


It’s the perfect addition to the home of any lone dwellers — or anyone who favours a cuddle from an inanimate object over that of a real person.

The “Free Hug Sofa” is the invention of Seoul designer Eun Kyoung Lee and won the Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in last year’s A’ Design Award & Competition.

Lee told DesignPRWire that the inspiration for her Free Hug Sofa came from watching her sister breastfeeding her baby with a breastfeeding cushion. She said the “warmth and stable image [sic]” in her mind made her smile, and that her main focus in designing the piece was bringing “happiness and comfort to the lonely, lonely people”.

Not only does the sofa have a super comfy base, it also has enormous arms that can be wrapped around you as you curl up to relax, read a book or have

Canadian decorating and home design blogs we love

oHome is where the heart is, and this group of talented Canadian home and living bloggers take that expression quite literally. These top bloggers have opened their homes and their hearts to us to share their knowledge and inspiration for all things home decor. If you’re looking to mix up your decorating style or even steal a few new ideas to spruce up your living space, here are the blogs you want to follow:

1. A Pretty Life in the Suburbs

Do you love to cook, bake, create and decorate? So does Jo-Anna, the power behind this do-it-all blog. She has categories for almost any around-the-home project you can think of — from cooking and sewing to mason jar projects and cleaning ideas. When we saw this post about how to make a soap dispenser from a mason jar, we knew she was crafty. Once you start clicking around her blog, you may not be able to stop.

2. aka design

Shannon and Dean are a Canadian couple who love to share their ideas for decorating, DIY and organizing. Shannon has always loved designing and decorating, and

5 Australian home decor blogs you should be following

dfFor those who don’t have a designer’s bone in their body, this blog list is for you. Clean, crisp and cutting-edge modern decor isn’t all that difficult to achieve when you know the right home and living bloggers to follow. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so check out these creative bloggers for some copycat ideas.

1. Decorum — Your Decorating Forum

Sydney-based Jennifer French is an interior decorator and colour consultant who uses her blog as an outlet for everything dear to her — renovations, art, interior decorating, design, inspiration — it’s all there. She works with many different clients who have various style preferences, making it more difficult to make decisions about her own home. The one thing she absolutely has to have in her own home is colour. Here she shares some great ideas about decorating with beaded chandeliers.

2. The Design Files

Melbourne set dresser and stylist Lucy Feagins started this blog in early 2008, and it quickly evolved to the daily design ideas site it is today. The Design Files has

What you don’t know about home makeover shows might surprise you

vcI don’t know about you, but I love home makeover shows. I mean, how awesome would that be? Some pro designer with a sparkly personality comes in and fixes everything you’ve ever thought was wrong with your kitchen/backyard/home. Quite a score, right? Or is it?

Nothing is sure but death and taxes

After that makeover crew is gone, you’ll still have to foot the bill for property tax. Don’t think they won’t know. The people on those shows have to file permits, which is the most common way the tax assessor’s office knows renovations have been done. And some of those renovations, like the kitchen, say, can really cost you come tax time because of how much they can increase your home’s value.

For an example, I looked up my home on my city’s local property tax assessment calculator. Given its current value, according to the simple calculator, I’m going to pay about $2,800 this year. But let’s say I do a renovation that adds a mere $7,000. That will raise my taxes to over $3,100. Make sure you consider the potential

Why rainy days are perfect for making your house feel like a home

sTo say I’m looking forward to sunny and warm weather would be an understatement — but showers come with the spring territory. Don’t let any rainy weather outside stop you from being productive inside. Not that we need an excuse to spruce up our homes (beautiful interiors are our forte at Dot & Bo, after all), but having less than perfect weather rids us of the guilt we feel staying indoors when the sun is shining.

For the next showery day, opt out of binge-watching Netflix and consider tackling one of these fun and fabulous rainy-day decor projects instead!

1. House plant upgrade

This project was recommended to me by Clara Jung of BannerDay SF. We both have a weakness for houseplants, and our homes are filled with touches of greenery — many still in their original, generic plastic containers.

More: 5 fresh home-decor styles to keep you on trend this year

Rainy days are the perfect opportunity to present your houseplants in a more attractive way. With a quick trip to the hardware store (or your favorite local plant shop), you can find pretty pots

7 colorful vegetables to plant for a rainbow hued garden

12aVegetables and fruit get their coloring from naturally occurring pigmentation. Some examples are beta-carotene in carrots, lutein in red peppers and lycopene in tomatoes. The colors of plants do more than just make them look beautiful; there are health benefits to the pigments that range from antioxidants, protection from heart disease and certain types of cancer. That’s good news for gardeners. There are so many colorful plants out there, many heirloom varieties, that you can plant a colorful rainbow of veggies.

1. Radishes

These cute little root vegetables are easy to grow and add a little peppery kick to a salad. They are quick growing too: less than a month from seed to table. Mostly known for their red color, radishes are also available in pastel colors, striped and even black! The watermelon radishes pictured here are just gorgeous.

Watermelon radish is also known as Roseheart or Red Meat radish. This is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish that has 4-inch round roots with white and green skin and a rose-red center. Unlike most radishes that have a peppery bite, these radishes are sweet,

How to make smart choices when renovating your kitchen

10aHey everyone! Ashley here again from Sugar & Cloth, and this time I’m talking all about how you can get your dream kitchen started by asking yourself some key design questions.

First, what is the look you are going for? When we were renovating our kitchen, I knew I wanted it to be bright and modern, while sticking to a budget. Luckily there are a lot of smart options out there that allow you to get your dream look without breaking the bank.

If you like chic, glossy white counters, like we do, a great way to get the look is to use Formica® laminate in White with a Gloss finish. One of the best things about laminate is that spills and messes are super easy to clean up… which means your beautiful white kitchen stays bright. And trust me, you’ll thank me for that later!

Another question to ask yourself is: Where do you want to spend and where do you want to splurge while still sticking to the budget plan? For this, consider how you want to spend the most time

Stunning laminate countertops that will make you rethink natural stone

13aSo, you’ve decided to remodel. It’s an exciting decision! Now comes the fun/stressful part — deciding on finishes without blowing your budget.

Both are easier said than done. I know — I’ve been through it more than once. With some planning, you can evaluate where to spend and where to save smartly, and there are some key products you can use to help you save big bucks, while giving the stunning result you’re looking for— including your countertops.

It’s no secret that I love the look of natural stone, but I also love finding ways to save money and meet realistic budget goals on a project. Stone alternatives have come a long way in recent years. Some of the alternatives are beautiful, durable and practical at a fraction of the cost. I was so impressed with Formica® Brand’s options, including 180fx® by Formica Group and Formica® Laminate.

If you want the look of stone like I do but are worried about the upkeep, 180fx® by Formica Group has some great options. Not only is laminate easy to clean and care for, but it

10 tiny tomatoes that beat the regular ol’ red ones any day

9iCherry or grape tomatoes are popular in home gardens because they’re easy to grow and are prolific producers. The cute little fruits are fun to pick and make a sweet, healthy snack. There’s a whole world of heirloom varieties of cherry tomatoes that go well beyond the color red. If you are looking to add some fun tomato varieties to your garden this year, these are some of the tastiest and prettiest currently available.

Blue Berries

These babies start off as a deep purple/blue but turn reddish when they ripen. The purple/blue color will remain on some of the fruit when it is exposed to intense sunlight. The plant produces delectable one- to two-ounce cherry tomatoes. They are very fruity and sugary sweet.


This is one of my favorite tomatoes. Not only is it a bright, sunny orange, it has a delicious, tangy-sweet flavor. Sungolds are tasty right off the vine and get sweeter when cooked. They grow in long clusters of 10-15 fruits per stem. Your kids will eat them like candy!

Black CherryImage: Laurie Hulsey/Flickr

This is a lovely tomato perfectly

‘Up’ House Replica Can Be Yours

7aHouseLogic has covered stories of real-life “Up” houses in which feisty home owners, like Carl Fredricksen in the movie, refused to give up their homes when developers came knocking. Hopefully, no one will want to tear down this carbon copy of Fredricksen’s cartoon home at 13222 S. Herriman Rose Blvd. in Herriman, Utah.

After he drew up the plans, Blair Bangerter — co-owner of Bangerter Homes, son of a former Utah governor, and hard-core “Up” fan — got Disney’s permission to build the house, which mimics Fredricksen’s home down to the gabled roof, the hand-stenciled name on the mailbox, and even the furniture and knickknacks inside. It’s listed at $400,000, well above the area’s average home price of $300,000. But Bangerter reports, “People say, ‘I can picture myself living here.’”

So just how close to the cartoon house is Bangerter’s replica?

“One day a mother was trying to take a picture of her little boy and he was petrified the house was going to take off,” Bangerter says. “When it’s that real to a child, we think we replicated it pretty well.”

There have been few

5 Outrageous Stories of Real-Life ‘Up’ Houses

8aYour home is your biggest investment. It’s where your family gathers and it’s the one place you can call your own. So in good times and bad — in times of high property values and low, in the fall when the furnace needs a tuneup, and in the spring when it’s time to clean out the gutters — you give your home all the care and support it needs. But there are times when it’s better to let it go, like when someone offers you 10 times its market value.


This real life Up house (pictured here with balloons as a promotional stunt for the release of the film) belonged to Edith Macefield. Both are now local legends in her community, memorialized by many with a tattoo of the house created in their honor. In 2007, she refused to give in to developers who offered nearly $1 million for her small house worth just $8,000 at the time, on land valued at $120,000.

Only after she died was it sold, but to a quite appropriate new owner: a local company known for motivational

Here’s Another Ugly House We Love

6aWant to live in a steel box? Your first reaction is probably “No way!” But people like Florida’s Tom Fox are doing exactly that, and we think his home is a candidate for ugly houses we love.

Fox’s Gainesville home isn’t a steel box, it’s 12 of them, stacked three-deep on top of each other.

Shipping containers are 20 to 40 feet long and are made from corrugated steel. You can buy a used one for $2,500-$5,000, and you’ll find them in coastal port towns all over the world. They make inexpensive, easy-to-use building blocks that can be set up in all kinds of ways to create living spaces.

This one is a 2,200-sq.-ft. house with three bedrooms and two and a half baths. There’s a rooftop deck for sunning, solar panels to defray energy costs, and a full garage.

It’s in keeping with the idea of sustainability — using salvaged shipping containers reduces the demand for new building materials, and keeps old stuff out of landfills.

Not everybody is thrilled with the house, however.

Neighbors are split on whether the steel manse is a community asset or

Is Your Home Like You

5a“My house is me and I am it … It looks like all my dreams.”

That’s the key message in Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s children’s book, The Big Orange Splot, a book that delights my 6-year-old daughter. And me.

In fact, as I was reading the book with her yet again the other night, I realized how much it reinforces the core values we hold as home owners. Among them: Home ownership gives us the opportunity to make individual choices; diversity is central to a strong community; and you make your neighborhood special by being who are you are.

The story follows Mr. Plumbean, a home owner who personalizes his home’s exterior to the ire of his neighbors.

The neighbors eventually come around to Mr. Plumbean’s way of thinking, and the once-plain street becomes a truly “neat street.” Check out Mr. Plumbean’s story read by kids with adorable New Zealand accents:

Although the book was first published in the early 1990s, its message is especially timely as thousands of REALTORS® take the case for home ownership to Washington today in support of millions of current and future home

A Home You Can Take With You on the Subway

4aYou could have your very own house to stay in for the cost of a little more than $1 a night! What? You think there’s a catch? OK, there is: The house is only a cozy 1 square meter large.

The aptly named “One-Sqm-House,” designed by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, features a lockable door, a window, and comes with … a chair. Planning on crashing there for the night? The structure can be turned on its side, offering access to the built-in mattress.

The ultra-portable structure — said to be the smallest “home” in the world — has wheels and weighs less than 90 pounds. According to airbnb, it can fit through most doors, in elevators and even in Berlin’s subway cars. Not having any plumbing might be a problem, so the nightly fee includes access to the kitchen and bathrooms at Berlin’s Eastseven Hostel.

Le-Mentzel was inspired by his dream of creating a home that he could take with him. As he told BMW Guggenheim: “So I said, OK, I want to have my own square meter … that no one other than

What Lies Beneath This Living Room? A Medieval Well

3aFor 25 years, Colin Steer was bewildered by a sunken portion of the floor under the couch in his Plymouth, England, home. At one point, he dug about a foot under the floor, but his wife, Vanessa, stopped him from going farther.

“My wife just wanted me to cover it back up because we had three children running around at the time,” Steer said. “I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom.”

After he retired at the end of last year, he went back to digging — and what he found under his home, some might say, is a golden discovery.

Steer, with the help of a friend, uncovered a 30-inch-wide, 33-foot-deep medieval well under the floor that site plans indicate could date back to the 16th century, British tabloid The Telegraph reported.

Hidden deep inside was a sword, which Steer grabbed while he was excavating the well, using a rope to lift out debris.

“It was hidden at a 45-degree angle and sort of just fell out,” Steer told The Telegraph. “It looks like