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Castillo Caribe0

No, the picture above is not that of a hotel lobby.  It is the living room of this:


Kindle™ Around the House0

I was given a Kindle 3G wireless reader as a gift and wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Well, I do. It’s slim, lightweight and easy to use. And I think it has great applications for do-it-yourself projects around the house.

At A Glance image


Inside James Bond’s House0

Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan just lowered the price of his Malibu, California home to a smooth $3,500,000 – that’s $400,000 less than the original asking price.


What does it have to offer?  A secret tunnel, or two?  An underground headquarters for submarine cars, jetpacks, and other high-tech James Bond gear such as a pen that shoots explosive darts (one of my favorites)?


Best Home Improvement Blogs0

Zillow Blog: Wondering what it would be like to have T-giving dinner at Lady Gaga’s house?  You can get a look inside her kitchen at Zillow Blog;  see also the kitchens of Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, and other celebs.  Not telling whose kitchen is previewed below. . . .

photo via Zillow Blog


Big Bucks. Big House.1

A billion dollars.  I can’t even conceive of that much money. 

I can, however, say that it’s a 1 followed by nine 0s.  Like this: $1,000,000,000.

And if you spend that much money on a house,  this is what you can get:


I can’t say that I find it aesthetically pleasing on the outside.  It looks like a Jenga  tower that’s about to collapse.


See what I mean?

Built by Indian gazillionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, the house is called Antilia and it’s 27 stories tall.  I’d call that a bit extravagant for a family of four.  Hell, I’d call that a bit extravagant for a family of 40!

Located in Mumbai, India, Antilia sports quite a few amenities, including a movie theater (with 50 seats), a ballroom, a dance studio, a health club, and at least one pool.


Note that there are not one . . . not two . . . but three helipads.  And really?  Six floors of parking?  Why????

I suppose I would be tempted to go bug-nuts crazy with my money if I were the fourth richest man in the world.  And a giant house wouldn’t be out of the question.

But I’d at least try to make it look pleasant on the outside.  And if I had three helicopters, I surely would not place my home in the middle of the city.  It’d be in the country somewhere.  Seriously—if I had a house that big, I’d never need to go out for anything . . . and what fun would that be?

 by John Barker

House Hunting0

I’ve been house hunting lately, which got me curious about the houses of people who have a lot more money than I do.  Bill Gates, for example.  They say it’s a buyer’s market in this economy, so I figured if  Bill was trying to unload one of his properties, maybe I’d make an offer.  Who knows, there could be an indoor racetrack or some sort of giant robot dueling ring in the deal . . .

U.S. News & World Report offers a comprehensive online tour of the house, but only from the outside.  It does, however, include the price tag on this tiny hovel: $53,392,200.

I can’t even count that many digits; I stumble mentally after that first comma.

All told, this Pacific Northwest-styled lodge is over 66,000 square feet in size.  It has seven bedrooms, 24 bathrooms, six kitchens and six fireplaces.

For a look at the inside, we turn to Youtube and a video created by the architects for Bill Gates himself.  And while it is only a virtual tour, it definitely shows what this house has to offer:

Nope.  Not for sale.  Looks like I’ll have to stay in my two bedroom leaky shack for the time being.

by John Barker

Create a Posh Pad on the Cheap1

It’s insanely easy to create a posh-looking pad.  It just takes some time, planning, and an IKEA within driving distance.

Take a walk through any IKEA showroom, and you’ll find it really hard not to fill one of those giant blue bags they have strategically placed around the store. Even Inson Dubois Wood used the inexpensive international retailer to give a cheap-o makeover to a $3.5 million Manhattan penthouse. I guess that’s one way to save for the down payment!

Brides magazine came up with the Newlywed Nest concept for the New York designer. The idea was to show newly married couples how they could decorate on the cheap. Wood also tried to create an uncluttered, environmentally friendly space, organizing everything nicely, using a few recycled plastics and other materials.

Sadly, the demo dream home is no longer accepting visits, but here are a few of my favorite IKEA options that could make your home a little more hip . . .

PS Vava Pendant Light

Wood used this $70 item to show if you can’t cook a decent meal, at least you can have decent lighting.

Hemnes Mirror Chest

This simple $299 dresser has an old-school feel, with new-school craftsmanship. Look closely and you’ll see two tiny drawers at the base of the mirror, for those little extras you keep losing.

Odda Storage

The great thing about this $80 storage option is its versatility. Designed to hang on a wall or sit on the floor, it offers pretty, spacious storage, with sliding doors.

Stockholm Easy Chair

It’s hard to believe that this item is “easy to keep clean.” However, at $299, this chair does have a removable cover, which features strict “dry-clean-only” instructions.

Tripp Storage Containers

If you need to start small, this $4 set should be a nice conversation starter. They’re also pretty handy, holding tea, cookies, and other small kitchen items.

by Rachel Cericola

New TV Show Makes Sport of Floral Design0

Who knew that floral design could get so ugly? Apparently, the good people at the Logo network. The cable channel just announced a new show, titled The Arrangement.

The show is brought to you by the same people as RuPaul’s Drag Race, so you should certainly expect a bit of drama. In other words, Hell’s Kitchen does for the world of cooking what this show does for floral design.

Eric Buterbaugh, who has arranged flowers for Oprah, Madonna, Demi and Ashton, Obama, and plenty of other one-named celebrities, will serve as the main host. Screenwriter and author Gigi Levangie Grazer will join him each week, and the third judge’s seat will rotate among a celebrity panel. Those “celebrities” (see how I use the quotes there?) include Nancy O’Dell, Antonio Sabato Jr., Omarosa, RuPaul, Nick Verreos, Traver Rains, Shanna Moakler, Tatiana Byron, and LaLa Vasquez.

Each of the 10 contestants will be judged on artistry, resourcefulness, and execution.” The grand-prize winner will score a Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe and $25,000. For that kind of cash, we can probably expect plenty of colorful arrangements, contestants, and conflicts. Maybe in between all of that, you can also get a few ideas for decorating your next dinner party.

A total of eight one-hour episodes will air. The Arrangement kicks off Monday, October 4 at 10:00 p.m. (EST) on Logo. Check out the preview below.

by Rachel Cericola

Oval Office Makeover0


There was very little fanfare about the recent Oval Office makeover. Judging by the pictures, I can see why. I mean, I’m not expecting red velvet, but what’s with all of the beige?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal outlined all of the new accouterments, which include a new rug, new wallpaper, new chairs, new couches, and a new coffee table. Apparently, taxpayers had no say, because frankly, they didn’t pay for it. The White House Historical Association picked up the tab, thanks to a contribution from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Despite the blah look, there are two very cool call-out items. The first is an oval rug, which has quotes from former presidents Kennedy, Lincoln and both Roosevelts, as well as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Guess you can’t get that at IKEA, huh?

The quotes are:

  • “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “Government of the People, By the People, For the People” – President Abraham Lincoln
  • “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings” – President John F. Kennedy
  • “The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt

The other nifty thing about this room is that everything is American-made. Tracking down those (matching!) items must have been the most difficult portion of the project.

The entire redesign was done while the Obama family vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard. There’s no word on whether Ty Pennington was anywhere near this extreme makeover — kidding!

by Rachel Cericola

Vanilla Ice Raps for DIY Network0

During his 2004 stint on The Surreal Life, ’90s pop star Vanilla Ice was known for punching a hole in more than a few walls. Now, he wants to show you how to fix them.

Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, will front a new show for the DIY Network. It’s called the The Vanilla Ice Project,  a title as fresh as a pair of parachute pants. If they had asked me, I’d have picked up something from his hit list:

Ice Is Workin’ It

It’s A [Work] Party

Son Of A [Staple] Gun

To the Extreme [Makeover]

OK. Maybe not.

While none of those titles would allow me to take this show seriously, Ice is like a heart attack when talking about home renovation. According to the network’s release, he’s self-taught. Guess there was a lot of downtime in between hit records.

So we can all expect Ice to show off his non-rapping skills, as he spends 10 episodes performing a complete overhaul of a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house. Apparently, flipping foreclosures and other older homes has become Ice’s full-time gig — well, until he goes back on TV.

Look for The Vanilla Ice Project to premiere Thursday, October 14 at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on the DIY Network. Word to your mother.

by Rachel Cericola

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