{Entertaining} 12 out-of-the-ordinary outdoor entertaining essentials

Memorial Day weekend marked the official beginning of outdoor entertaining season–are you prepared? FOF Jane Redman, founder of TwentyOne7, an online home decor and fabric boutique, and 20+ year-veteran of home design, scouts out 12 totally out-of-the-ordinary outdoor entertaining essentials to take your next gathering from bore-bbq to the best backyard bash on the block.

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What do FOFs save and splurge on?

Some things are worth a splurge, such as cashmere sweaters, sustainable seafood and tweezers, according to our most savvy FOF experts. But other things, such as drugstore nailpolish, fashion watches and eyeshadow, are better when you buy them cheap.

Intrigued? Flip through this slideshow to see the beauty, fashion, food and home items FOFs splurge and save on. Then, tell us below, do you agree? Is there something you’d add to this list?

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{Giveaway} Shabby Chic accent table worth $180

FOF Rachel Ashwell is giving away a Shabby Chic® distressed hand painted accent table from her new QVC ‘Treasures’ line launching October 26th. To enter, tell us in the comments below: What is your decorating style?

Shabby Chic® Queen Rachel Ashwell is at it again! Her new line, “Treasures by Shabby Chic® for QVC” inspired by her favorite flea market finds, launches next week.

Known for her deliberately distressed, mismatched and imperfect furniture, bedding and fabrics, Rachel got her start as a Hollywood movie set designer and stylist more than twenty years ago.

In 1989, Rachel dreamed of opening a small shop where she could sell “pretty things,” without spending much time away from her children. Her first shop in Santa Monica, California, became the cornerstone of her “Shabby Chic” empire. Today her products and textiles can be found in Target, Michaels, and most recently QVC, and the term Shabby Chic®, is used to refer to an entire style of decorating. Rachel has written half a dozen books on decorating in her Shabby Chic® style.

‘Treasure” hunting is in Rachel’s blood. Her mother was a restorer and seller of antique dolls, and her father was a rare book dealer. They introduced Rachel to flea markets and antique stores at a young age. Her all-time favorite finds were the inspiration for her newest collection and book, Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces.

Enter to win a shabby chic accent table from Rachel Ashwell’s new “Treasures” collection for QVC by telling us in the comments below: What is you decorating style?

(See all our past winners. See official rules. See QVC’s official rules. One winner is chosen at random from all those commenters who answer the question. Contest closes October 27, 2011.)

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

{Interiors} 6 sites interior designers love that you never knew about

Our brilliant FOF Interior Design gurus reveal their sources for great finds online.

Gdchome.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru Helen Kenney Poore, retail store owner and home design enthusiast). This home-goods mecca is located on over 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space near Charleston, South Carolina. Known for their incredible fabrics and upholstery services as well as antiques, imports and more, GDC boasts in-house designers and an inspiring blog packed with home-decor before-and-afters.

Jaysonhomeandgarden.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, CathyBall). Chicago’s destination for one-of-a-kind home goods, Jayson Home & Garden, also hosts an annual Fall Flea Market with the company’s largest collection of vintage and antique furniture. This year’s focus is on the flea markets of Paris and Provence, and it’s all available online.

Jossandmain.com (recommended by by FOF interior design guru, Shellrobin).
Joss & Main is a members-only site that offers private, limited-time sale events on carefully curated home brands. Each day, Members receive an email invitation to exclusive sale events at prices up to 70% off retail.

Frenchgardenhouse.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, grnwillow).
If your tastes run towards Shabby Chic, the Paris Apartment and Provence Country, this is your place. An online treasure trove of vintage antiques and imports.

Fab.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, RonniWhitman, ASID).
The latest in a wave of daily-deal sites, Fab.com is actually worth a subscription. With items in all price points, the selection of home goods is carefully chosen with an eye toward, modern, fundtional design. If you lust over the pages of Dwell magazine, don’t miss this site.

Tonichome.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, Corky).
The brainchild of Linda Hayes of Rocky River, Ohio, Tonic Home combines traditional pieces with bold, modern accents, colors and statement pieces. Plus, their blog offers plenty of unique design inspiration.

{Interiors} Your home is out-of-date if…

By the time Cathy Hobbs was called in to help stage one Columbia, M.D., home, it had already been on the market for a year. The FOF owner had been looking at her surroundings for so long, she didn’t realize her home had many out-of-date elements. Cathy, a New York-based certified home stager and HGTV “Design Star” finalist, helped bring the FOF’s home into the 21st century. Five weeks later, it sold. “I tell my clients, you need to neutralize, declutter and depersonalize your home before you can sell it.”

Even if you aren’t selling your home anytime soon, keeping it fresh can help you feel renewed and help simplify your lifestyle. “The current economic climate has led us to simplified, uncluttered and organic themes in home design, in direct contrast to the busy and bold decor of days-gone-by,”  says FOF interior design guru and New York-based designer Julia Vosler.

Use this checklist to help determine if your home is out-of-date, then read ideas for quick fixes from real FOF designers.

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{Interiors} One FOF’s living room makeover on a $350 budget

FOF Lauri Ward built her business, Use What You Have Interiors, on the theory that anyone, on any budget, can have a beautiful home using the furnishings they already own. A few months ago we put her theory to the test!

The challenge: Help FOF Marcia Robinson by making over her entire living room in three hours… with a $350 budget. Did she do it?

“Tired and uninspiring,” is how FOF Marcia Robinson described her living room when she entered our room makeover contest in January. Marcia has lived in her one-bedroom, Manhattan apartment for 25-years. Ten years ago she attempted to furnish it in one-fell-swoop with pieces she loved. “Everything went wrong,” says Marcia. “The glass came cracked on the coffee table, the wall unit was too small. It was a big hassle.” Frustrated, Marcia took to decorating the apartment piecemeal over the years. However, her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and a forced-retirement from her job at a management consulting firm, has put a hold on any recent updates to Marcia’s living room.

And as for the actual “living” that goes on in this room…there’s not much. “I spend most of my time in my bedroom where my computer is,” says Marcia. Lauri says the room’s “visual chaos,” is why Marcia might not find it relaxing. “When I look around, there’s no blank space to rest my eye,” says Lauri. “The good news,” she tells Marcia, “is that by correcting a few common design mistakes that most people make, you can update your living room without buying all new furniture. Your home should look as up-to-date as you do.”

Read on and discover the mistakes and quick fixes Lauri found for Marcia’s living room.

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“You can never have two many pairs,” says Lauri, who swapped Marcia’s mismatched lamps for a pair of lamps from IKEA ($69.99 each). She also added two IKEA throw pillows ($14.99 each) to the couch. “The more pairs you put in a room, the better it looks. You need the balance.”

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“The couches were set up in an L configuration with two chairs in the corner. This is probably the worst setup there is for comfortable conversation,” says Lauri. “Plus, the chairs were too far from the coffee table.”


“We took away one couch, and set up the furniture in a U-shape. Now, everyone can sit and face each other. You can put out hors d’oeurves on the coffee table and everyone can comfortably reach.”

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“You collect so much stuff over a lifetime,” says Lauri. “It’s nice to have all these things, but you need to edit what you own and accessorize effectively.”

“Reevaluate what you have,” says Lauri. “Keep the pieces you love. Donate everything else to charity and get a write off.”  She grouped similar accessories together to create collections and got rid of pieces that were misfits. Marcia’s plants are important to her, but the mismatched pots weren’t working. Lauri moved the plants into window boxes to conceal the pots and repositioned them under the coffee table creating an terrarium-like effect.

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“People think they should hang art at eye level,” says Lauri. “There’s no such thing as eye level since we are all different heights.”


“Follow the three inch rule,” says Lauri. “Hold art up where you think it should go, then lower it three inches.” By swapping the chaotic gallery wall for one striking picture, Lauri says the viewer’s eyes can focus.

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“Before, the rug was distracting and competing with the fabric on the sofa,” says Lauri. “This rug introduces a color that’s in the sofa’s fabric. When you have a patterned sofa you want to look for solids for everything else.”

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Mission accomplished! The result? A living room that Marcia can live in! “Now, you can sit in here and read,” says Lauri. “You’ll finally be comfortable.” What does Marcia think? “It’s quite a change!… I like it.”

IKEA shopping list: Two “Dagny” cushions ($14.99 each), Vejen rug ($89.99), Hosto flower box ($14.99), Felicia throw ($9.99), Vilshult picture ($59.99), Two Jonsbo Barby table lamps ($59.99 each)

Grand Total: $324.92

{Poll} Which FOF celeb home would you most want to move into?

These five FOF celeb homes were recently listed….. If money were no object (it’s fun to play pretend!) which one would you move into? Answer our poll below.

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Remember the breathtaking Malibu beach house in Sex and the City, where Samantha Jones lived with her beau, Smith Jerrod? That was no movie set. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom beachfront shangri-la is real… and for rent! You’ll need to shell out $55,000 each month, but, hey… you can’t put a price on fame…er… pretending to be famous. Then again, you’ll hardly need to pretend — it comes with all the original furniture from the movie. Strut like Samantha, passed your enormous glass wall with breathtaking ocean views to the bar (cosmo…anyone!?).  Unfortunately, Dante, the showering next-door neighbor, is not included!
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Joan Rivers’ Upper East Side apartment is certainly a Piece of Work. The 5,190 square foot apartment, on the market since 2009, was featured in a 2010 documentary about Joan, by that name. The pad was restored to its original architectural detail by museum-trained artisans, “unlike Joan’s face,” according to a New York Magazine article which goes on to call the décor “surprisingly old-lady Versailles.” Still, the penthouse boasts a suite of superb reception rooms, a dramatic two-story gallery, a light-flooded living room, a spacious paneled library and a formal dining room. To top it all off is a terrace with majestic views of the city and Central Park…umm, “can we talk?

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Was T.V. queen Sharon Osbourne off-her-rocker when she bought this Hidden Hills home in 2003? She and Ozzy have barely stayed there, renting it out to tenants for $25,000 to $40,000 a month for the past eight years. This year, just weeks after the British pair were slapped with a $1.7 million dollar tax lien, the 4,500 sq. ft., 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom home was listed for $10 million. No rock paraphernalia here, but you will find a huge gourmet kitchen, a garden terrace, a hot tub and a large master suite with walk-in closets and a marble bath.

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In 2009, 92-year-old Hungarian-born actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was reported to have lost $7 million in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. On top of that, the ailing actress’s “medical bills are mounting,” according to The Guardian. Did she list her Bel Air mansion to increase cash flow? Whatever the reason, the estate, once owned by Elvis Presley, was built in the “Hollywood Regency style” and has four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a pool and about 6,000 square feet of living space. But, is the property, currently listed at $15 million, cursed? The home was burglarized in February, and in late 2010 Prince Frederic von Anhalt (Zsa Zsa’s husband) thought he saw a massive snake on the mansion’s grounds. But, who cares about a little bad karma when you could be lounging by the pool where Zsa Zsa swam naked every morning, or entertaining guests where the Reagans, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra partied.

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When a 1938 hurricane wiped the Hepburn family’s summer home off the map, Katharine used toy blocks to show builders exactly how she wanted the house rebuilt. Now, Katharine’s dream home is on the market for $28 million. The sprawling waterfront Connecticut estate, where the actress died in 2003, has been extensively renovated by the current owners but maintains much of the historical integrity. If you’re not spooked by the prospect of Katharine’s ghost, then you may want to consider making this 8,000 square foot, six-bedroom, seven-and-a-half bath oasis your home. Stalled by the steep price tag? A sweeping view of the Long Island Sound and the original fireplace where Katharine was often photographed may seal the deal.

Sources: The Real Estalker, New York Magazine, AOL, Associated Press, The Guardian, TMZ, The Huffington Post, Shoreline Times

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

{Art} Gorgeous art that you can afford!

A perfect storm of factors has resulted in amazing steals on top-notch art. First, there was the recession (“I had to come way down in price when the recession hit,” says FOF artist Patty A. Baker) and now, the mass-migration of artists from brick-and-mortar galleries to the web (“The galleries take up to 50%,” says FOF artist CheyAnne Sexton. “Never go to a gallery to buy your art. Buy it directly from artists online,” says Patty A. Baker.)

Case in point: these 7 fab prints and paintings, all by FOFs(!), for under $100….

1. Lanscape24 by RozArt. Signed 16″x20″ print using on high-quality Fujifilm crystal archive paper.

2. Plumin’ Around in Silver by JNociforaStudio. Signed 6″X6″ oil painting on linen canvas panel.

3. Harvest Art Fruit Print by WatercolorByMuren 12″x12″ print on 100% cotton, fine art paper.

4. Just Blue, Antwerp Blu by CheyAnneSexton. 11″X14″ original watercolor on Arches 140 coldpress paper with Winsor & Newton paints.

5. VillefrancheSurMer by marionbermondy. 6″X4″ print on acid-free Strathmore© digital texture paper.

6. Still Life with Palisade Peaches by pattyabaker. 8″X10″ giclee print on premium, archival quality photo paper with satin finish.

7. Piggy by workingwoman. 8.5″X11″ print on premium archival fine art paper.

One of these artists made $87,000 selling her art online! Find out which one and discover the secrets to her success.

{Giveaway} “Reinvent Your Room” Makeover + $250 Ikea gift card

Whether you are starting a new business, sending your kids off to college or hosting an aging parent, there’s no better time than now to reinvent a room to suit your new FOF life. FOF Founder Geri Brin recently converted her bedroom into a walk-in closet/office. Now it’s your turn….

We’ve partnered with IKEA: The Life Improvement Store and Use What You Have Interiors® to bring you the ultimate FOF room-reinvention giveaway. FOF Lauri Ward, founder of “Use What You Have Interiors” or one of the members of her network of decorators (the Interior Redecorators Network®) will provide a room re-design consultation to the winner.

IKEA Design Spokesperson Janice Simonsen is giving a $250 gift certificate to IKEA to help you fill in any “holes,” further reinvent your space and better your FOF life.

To enter to win the Reinvent Your Room makeover with a Use What You Have® decorator plus a $250 gift card to IKEA: The Life Improvement Store, comment below and answer: What room would you reinvent and how would it improve your life?

(See all our past winners, here.)

Contest closes Thursday, January 27, 2011.

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

[click here to find out more about Lauri Ward of Use What You Have Interiors® and Janice Simonsen of IKEA: The Life Improvement Store]

More about the designer:

In 1981, FOF Lauri Ward decided she wasn’t happy working in “conventional interior designer mode.”

“I didn’t feel comfortable telling my clients they had to buy expensive things to make their homes look beautiful,” says Lauri. She started her company, Use What You Have Interiors® and developed her own system of decorating, to help clients use what they already have in their home to create a fresher, updated and more elegant look for a starting flat fee of just $350 per room.

Over the past three decades, she’s trained hundreds of decorators and has formed a worldwide network called the Interior Redecorators Network®.

“Anybody should be able to have a beautiful home, not just wealthy people,” says Lauri.

The concept is simple but the instant gratification that a one-day room makeover delivers is what Lauri says has garnered major media attention (including Oprah, The Today Show, The New York Times and House Beautiful Magazine) and kept her company thriving for three decades.

“The comment we hear from everyone is ‘Gee, I never would have thought of that. I’ve tried this 10 different ways and none of it worked,” says Lauri. “We show them the 11th way.”

More about IKEA’s FOF design spokesperson, Janice Simonsen:

FOF Janice Simonsen, design spokesperson for IKEA “reinvented” herself many times throughout her career. She started out as a graphic designer, owned a successful interior design business and then transitioned into a position as design spokesperson for IKEA U.S. where she lends her interior design expertise to any topic ranging from small space living to designing a dream kitchen.

IKEA – The Life Improvement Store – understands your life at home and designs products to meet your needs, and make your life better. It’s important to have your home work for your lifestyle – and sometimes that calls for “reinvention” as we go through different stages our lives. Whether you are transforming a bedroom into an office, or making room for a new addition at home, IKEA offers well-designed products that suit every style (and budget!) to help you improve your space, and your everyday life at home.

{Gift Guide} GIVE great design gifts, RECEIVE a gorgeous candle

Bring the perfect  next holiday affair. Three FOF genius design bloggers tell us their fave pieces to GIVE this holiday season.

Plus! Enter our contest, and you may RECEIVE a delightful, all-natural candle from Well Dressed Home.

To enter to win a gorgeous candle in the scent of your choice, comment below and answer: Tinsel on the tree–is it tacky or terrific? (One FOF will win).

Soy-wax  14-oz candle by Michel Design Works, $28.95
“Who doesn’t love getting a candle for the holidays?” says FOF founder Geri Brin. “These are are all-natural and just beautiful. I buy a few and tuck them away, in case I get any last-minute invites to holiday parties. This way, I never arrive empty handed.”

Custom Art by Linda McCoy, $200
“You can send FOF Linda McCoy a picture of anything and she’ll create a custom painting… it’s truly a one-of-a-kind gift” says Geri Brin. “She painted a portrait of me and one of my dog, Rigby, that I cherish.”

Leather Envelope by Graphic Image, $67
“This is a great catch-all for your pictures, receipts and important cards,” says FOF founder Geri Brin. “I love giving and receiving functional gifts.”

{Geri Brin is the founder of FabOverFifty.com}

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Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: A General History of Elegant Delights by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, $20.85
“A great read about beauty of all kinds—from the everyday to the obscure!” says FOF Barbara Mangini of design blog My Dog Eared Pages.

A Passion for Interiors by Carolyne Roehm, $41.58
“Any book by Carolyne Roehm is bursting with yummy photography and stylish décor.  A Passion for Interiors is a private tour of Roehm’s Manhattan duplex, her Colonial-era house in Connecticut, and a friend’s Aspen residence.”

Bremer Collection Raw Linen Table Runner, $24
“I love the idea of one-of-a-kind farmhouse finds. Just add a wooden bowl full of paper whites and a big ribbon!”

Baggu bag, $8
“Baggu makes the best reusable bags from rip-stop nylon. Most people use 300 to 700 plastic bags a year. Instead you can just use one Baggu. They come in bold colors and patterns and are perfect stocking-stuffers for everyone on your list!”

{Barbara Mangini is the FOF blogger behind My Dog Eared Pages, a collection of her marvelous musings and highly-vetted design, fashion and art finds.}

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“Because I am a note writer, I always have a supply of beautiful papers on hand,” says Renae Moore of the blog Renae Moore Designs. “Hannah Nation is the creator of Gadabout. She has so many beauties it’s hard to choose and she will custom monogram any you pick.”

{Renae is the interior decorator and blogger behind the oh-so lovely Renae Moore Designs blog. }

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Frances Palmer Pottery, $25-245
“Her pottery is feminine, pure and will be loved by many for generations,” says FOF Lisa Porter of the design blog, The Lisa Porter Collection.

Southern Magnolia Tree, $44
“Seeds of life is a delightful farm that specializes in gift trees. They can be planted in honor of a special friend or family member. Trees symbolize strength and endurance and are the kind of gift that have potential to last centuries.”

{Lisa Porter is the FOF behind the delightful design blog, The Lisa Porter Collection. Lisa’s gorgeous blog features eye-popping design, inspiring interiors and carefully-vetted businesses.}

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To enter to win a gorgeous candle in the scent of your choice, comment below and answer: Tinsel on the tree–tacky or terrific? (One FOF will win).

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.