Home & Garden

Couple’s redone forever home in East Austin on Preservation Austin tour

Couple’s redone forever home in East Austin on Preservation Austin tour

The kids were growing up. The need for the three-story house in Great Hills was slipping away when James and Leah Nyfeler bought a 1960 house on East Austin’s French Place. “It didn’t fit our lifestyle,” Leah Nyfeler says of their Great Hills house. They went looking for a house in a neighborhood in Central Austin where they would feel at home, where people were outside in...
A little bit at a time, couple transform their Central Austin home

A little bit at a time, couple transform their Central Austin home

Don’t tell, but Ami McChesney took time off from work a while back to get her Central Austin yard ready for this spring season. “It was bothering me because I had a lot to do,” says McChesney, a freelance medical writer who has flexibility working from home. Among other things, she pruned perennials, getting off the dead growth, she says. She also outlined a bed with rocks. She had...
Make your own loofah sponges or eat the gourd

Make your own loofah sponges or eat the gourd

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but sponges grow on vines. Loofahs (also known as luffas) are a type of vining plant that produces fruit that closely resembles a large zucchini. The loofah fruit can be eaten, but only in its earlier stages of life, when it is young, tender and about 4 inches long. What the loofah lacks in long-lasting edible tenderness, it makes up for in utility. In this article...
Kelly Wynne dreams up bags with bold style, practical touches

Kelly Wynne dreams up bags with bold style, practical touches

Kelly Wynne Ferguson grew up as a lover of handbags. She and her mom, Pam White, amassed a small collection in their Austin home. Ferguson still has her original handbag collection. It’s just tucked away in boxes. Every year, she adds 10 to 12 new handbags to the collection, but now the bags are ones she has designed as the owner of the Kelly Wynne handbag line. When she’s out and about...
Milkweed of any kind will do butterflies a world of good

Milkweed of any kind will do butterflies a world of good

In the gardening world as in the greater world, there are fads and fashions, rumors and facts. Lately enthusiasm for planting butterfly gardens has burgeoned. The news that monarch butterfly numbers had greatly decreased in the past several years spurred conservations to take up the cause of the beleaguered butterfly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that since the year 1990, the numbers of...
Lifetime Learning class draws seniors with varied gardening experience

Lifetime Learning class draws seniors with varied gardening experience

Gardening can be fun at any age. That might be one reason for the popularity of the Gardening in Austin course at the Lifetime Learning Institute of Austin, which offers inexpensive classes ($20) for adults age 50 and older. In general, the institute courses each have eight meetings. The gardening class is taught by Lucinda Rudin, 80, of Pflugerville. “I started gardening when I was a kid,&rdquo...
The 5 best smart appliances for your kitchen

The 5 best smart appliances for your kitchen

If you’re intrigued by smart-home technology but afraid to take the plunge, a smart appliance can be a good first step. Here are five benefits you could reap, whether you’re gearing up for a major remodel or just upgrading an appliance or two. 1. Check for milk from the dairy aisle. The refrigerator is the appliance you interact with the most, so manufacturers have been investing heavily...
Remodeled home (finally) takes advantage of its treasured location

Remodeled home (finally) takes advantage of its treasured location

DES MOINES, Wash. — Poor Puget Sound. There it sat, off the sloping Des Moines shoreline, all shimmery and scenic and beckoning — but for decades, no one really gave a rip. Back in 1952, Jill says, her grandfather paid “$10 plus other considerations” for just over an acre of that sloping waterfront. By 1955, he and Jill’s grandmother had themselves a two-bedroom, one-bath...
Put bee-friendly flowers anywhere with portable pollinator gardens

Put bee-friendly flowers anywhere with portable pollinator gardens

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — To bees, size doesn’t matter. They don’t care how much space a landscape may cover. These pollinators prefer to focus on flowers. And they will find them. On patios or decks, in window boxes or wine barrels, bees will come buzzing if they discover something they like in bloom. “When we talk about pollinators, we (garden experts) make it all really complicated...
Create a colorful dry garden

Create a colorful dry garden

Big flower action may not appeal to nitzy perfect designers with their squares and straight lines and monocultures and perfectly raked gravel. These designs offer little in terms of color, life and animation. While modern architecture is coveted for magazine spreads, their landscapes are still devoid of the things that touch women on a primal level. Southwestern painter Georgia O’Keeffe knew...
Use these colors for an invigorating spring home

Use these colors for an invigorating spring home

Looking for interesting colors to use this spring? Here are some of our top spring color tips. USE RED Red is one of the most versatile colors. In nature, found anywhere from flowers to birds, red is an ideal color to signal the return of spring. CONSIDER USING A COMBINATION OF CITRUS COLORS When looking for interesting spring colors to pair, you won’t go wrong with yellow and green. DON&rsquo...
The best and worst paint colors for every room

The best and worst paint colors for every room

Colors have a proven psychological effect on our moods. And the colors we choose for our homes have a proven influence on our overall quality of life. Using color psychology, we can create a home that relaxes, energizes and focuses us where and when we need it most. It just takes knowing which colors to use in which room — and which colors to avoid. BEDROOMS For the bedroom, it’s best...
10 tips to transform your small-space garden

10 tips to transform your small-space garden

As the face of the Austin skyline continues to evolve, the number of apartments and condos is at an all-time high. Add to that the burgeoning construction of townhouses, retirement communities and tiny houses, and you’ve got a sizeable market for a different style of gardening. Small-space living doesn’t mean forgoing a garden. Even if your balcony or outdoor area looks more like a Mini...
Austin’s Brett Tutor joins relaunch of TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’

Austin’s Brett Tutor joins relaunch of TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’

Change is in the air for Austinite Brett Tutor. Tutor, 32, is one of two new carpenters on the relaunch of the TLC show “Trading Spaces.” On April 7, when the first episode airs, he may become a household name. “The show hasn’t aired yet, so no one knows who I am,” he says. “Trading Spaces” aired from 2000 to 2008 and made people like host Paige Davis, carpenter...
What not to donate to Goodwill

What not to donate to Goodwill

Tuesday night an employee was injured when he reached his hand into a box at the Goodwill on Brodie Lane and found an artillery simulator. It made a loud boom heard throughout my neighborhood and sent the police, FBI and ATF to the area to investigate if it was another bomb. It made me think, what shouldn’t you donate to Goodwill or other charitable donation places?...
Clarksville cottage meets modern farmhouse in remodeling tour home

Clarksville cottage meets modern farmhouse in remodeling tour home

Jeff and Katie Bullard’s Clarksville home started as an approximately 20-foot-by-20-foot cottage built in 1912 in the historic neighborhood where former slaves settled after the Civil War. Not much is known about this house except it was mainly rented out by working-class folk who were teamsters, drivers, waiters, laborers and laundresses. Sometimes it was not occupied. The occasional creative...

Oven cleaning tricks that work

Part of spring-cleaning is that you’re cleaning all the nooks and crannies you don’t get a chance to reach all year round — and your oven should not be forgotten. I’ve been searching high and low for some oven cleaning hacks lately. It all started because I live in an old apartment and realized I have no idea the last time it was cleaned. (Yes, that’s a bit scary). Not...
The essentials for modern farmhouse design

The essentials for modern farmhouse design

Modern Farmhouse design is one of this year’s hottest trends — and for good reason. The style combines the warmth of a traditional farm home with a streamlined, minimal aesthetic. And the result is not only stunning; it’s timeless. There are lots of ways to achieve the look, but incorporating a few essentials will help you capture the core of the design and create the space you&rsquo...
Standing disks in your garden creates a universal sculpture

Standing disks in your garden creates a universal sculpture

The tradition of carved jade disks called a bi began in China before the invention of writing. Dating back to Neolithic times, it’s believed they represent the heavens. Later as the culture changed, so did the meaning and the value of the more contemporary jade bi. There are similar shapes in the local design vernacular of other cultures too. Old world and New, East and West, these flat circular...
Bathrooms get cottage charm makeover

Bathrooms get cottage charm makeover

Sometimes, I look at photos of homes with large, lovely, almost palatial bathroom spaces, and sigh wistfully. As a lover of historic homes, big bathrooms are not a reality for me, unless I knock out a lot of walls. But I have found that just because your home has little bathrooms doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. All you need to do is add some touches here and there to give them charm...
Using warm colors can help transform a space

Using warm colors can help transform a space

Warm colors help to add a sense of coziness to your space. From warm oranges, to reds and yellows, warmer tones can help to transform a space that may be cold and cavernous to one that is warm and inviting. Here are some of our top tips if looking for ways to infuse warm colors into your space. DO 1. Do use black. Black is not only a warm color, but one that is neutral as well and can instantly add...
Couple spends 17 years updating their 1939 home

Couple spends 17 years updating their 1939 home

It didn’t take long for the welcome wagon of well-meaning questions to wheel its way to Greg Crick and Kip White’s new home. “When we moved in, so many neighbors came to us and said, ‘You’re not tearing it down, are you?’ ” says Greg. “So many houses in the neighborhood are being changed.” What the neighbors didn’t know, before they knew...
Family builds fun Austin backyard a bit at a time

Family builds fun Austin backyard a bit at a time

From the front, the Lifford family’s South Austin yard looks fairly typical, with plenty of grass and a tree with a swing hanging from it. But stepping into the backyard, visitors see a transformation, with raised beds, a fire pit area, crushed granite pathways and whimsical embellishments. “It’s a magical place for the kids to explore,” says Rob Lifford, 44, crediting his...
Katie Kime goes from college show to designing Fashion X Austin runway

Katie Kime goes from college show to designing Fashion X Austin runway

When Katie Kime moved to a new town at age 9, neighbors met her before they met her mother. She had already gone door to door selling something she made. During her senior year at Duke University, she hosted her first design show in the home of the daughter of the legendary basketball coach. In her 20s, she left her native North Carolina to move to Atlanta to study its design scene, then she picked...
Give beans traditional Mexican flavor by growing epazote

Give beans traditional Mexican flavor by growing epazote

In Mexico and Central America, a pot of traditionally cooked beans has a particular aroma and flavor, often missing from Tex-Mex renditions of this dish. This distinct aroma and flavor comes from epazote, a culinary and medicinal herb originating in the region with a story as interesting as its scent. A member of the Chenopodiaceae or goosefoot family (along with spinach, chard, beets, amaranth, quinoa...
Plant ginger for zest to your life, health

Plant ginger for zest to your life, health

This year’s medicinal herb of the year is ginger, and it is a great plant to include in your spring garden. Because they are tropical or semitropical plants, gingers must be grown in warm climates or in containers that can be protected during the winter. The ginger family is filled with beautiful and fragrant flowers that grace Southern gardens during the hottest and most miserable season of...
Is that plant dead or dormant? Check before you pull it as winter ends

Is that plant dead or dormant? Check before you pull it as winter ends

This has been one of those winters. A real one. With freezes and snow and sleet and even hail. My Facebook post from a year ago was a photo of my computer sitting outside on a table in the 80-degree sun, with background plants alive and thriving. Seeing that made me want to cry. An uncharacteristically cold winter and slow warmup means some plants will peek out from their blankets of mulch and leaves...
Hyde Park house disguises modern home in classic outer shell

Hyde Park house disguises modern home in classic outer shell

Cody and Katie Pierce loved the 1927 bungalow in Hyde Park they bought when their oldest daughter was a baby. Then Lily, 4, grew and was joined by younger sister Bowie, 2. Soon, the bungalow just felt too small. One of the bedrooms could really only fit a crib. They didn’t want to leave Hyde Park and this house. They loved the look of the historic houses of Hyde Park, but they also wanted more...
How to save the seeds, enjoy the fruits of your labor for free

How to save the seeds, enjoy the fruits of your labor for free

When it comes to saving seeds, Jane LaComette, 62, admits it: “I’m a hoarder.” At her Leander-area home, she said, she has “closets full of seeds,” labeled in baggies and small envelopes and stored in about five 18-gallon plastic tubs and countless shoe boxes. She estimates she has saved 400 to 500 different kinds of seeds. However, they are “only viable three to...
Altatudes in East Austin will dress you to impress

Altatudes in East Austin will dress you to impress

“This is what I would wear,” Alta Alexander says as she gives a tour of her upscale women’s clothing boutique, Altatudes. The store on East 12th Street opened in September. It had been a lifelong dream for the girl who grew up in Smithville, went to Travis High School in Austin and graduated from Huston-Tillotson University. The store was a Valentine’s Day gift from her husband...
4 design secrets to make your home look like a million bucks

4 design secrets to make your home look like a million bucks

DALLAS — Think your children, animals, budget or lifestyle is keeping you from living with luxury? Think again. Filling your home and rooms with rich and indulgent touches doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can even be family-friendly, Dallas stylemakers say. The trick? Finding small ways to introduce wow-worthy details and choosing forgiving materials and fabrics. Accessible, posh living...
Encore series of azaleas reach 31 varieties

Encore series of azaleas reach 31 varieties

Though we are still in the grips of a cold winter, I assure you spring is headed our way like a runaway locomotive. Those plans that we thought we would make for improving the landscape somehow got put on the back burner. The Encore series, the best azaleas to ever hit the market now has 31 varieties. With two new riveting red selections Autumn Bonfire and Autumn Fire, you’ll have even more...
Porcelain figures look old, valuable, but looks are deceiving

Porcelain figures look old, valuable, but looks are deceiving

Hello, I bought these figures at a masked ball about 20 years ago. They are well made with the colors and gold trim undamaged. I would appreciate anything you could tell me about their origin and value. I liked them when I bought them and now have a sentimental attachment. Thank you, J. M. R. Dear J. M. R.: Back shortly after the earth’s crust cooled, one of us bought a set of cups and saucers...
Tips for a stress-free (as possible) move

Tips for a stress-free (as possible) move

Moving is typically one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. But it doesn’t have to be. From choosing the right mover to DIY tips, here are some do’s and don’ts to help ensure your next move runs as smoothly as possible. DO: 1. Check references. Quality movers will not have issues. 2. Ask for proof of insurance. In the case of condominium buildings especially, a...
Kids room transformation

Kids room transformation

It’s amazing how quickly kids grow. I’m gaining a new appreciation for this as my grandbaby Maeve seems to change before my eyes, leaving her toddlerhood behind and becoming an indomitable little girl with the world by the tail. As a lover of interior design, it’s particularly fun for me to watch as children mature and discover their own design tastes. Over the nearly three decades...
5 fan palm behavior problems

5 fan palm behavior problems

The first Spanish explorers never saw our native California palms, but desert tribes knew them well. These huge fat-trunk, slow-growing natives are survivors of much earlier forests that died out eons ago due to climate change. All that remain are isolated groves at desert springs where there is still enough water to maintain the survivors. From these isolated stands come our entire fan palm population...
Try planting watermelon radishes for a spicy crunch

Try planting watermelon radishes for a spicy crunch

Want to grow a cool weather vegetable that will bring color, crunch and variety to your plate? Try growing watermelon radish – an enticing root vegetable that serves as a welcome change from the usual varieties of cool season crops such as beets and greens. Watermelon radishes are an heirloom variety of Daikon radish originating in China and are a part of the Brassica (mustard) family. Their...
Spice up your garden with Mediterranean-flavored herbs

Spice up your garden with Mediterranean-flavored herbs

While our climate is not exactly the same as the Mediterranean area, there are some similarities: hot, dry summers and sometimes cold, wet winters. As a result, many of the herbs that grow wild there grow very happily in our gardens here. Some of our favorite foods come from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and it turns out that the unique flavor of many of those foods comes from the...
Social media contacts help slash costs of yard makeover

Social media contacts help slash costs of yard makeover

Anyone who wants to accomplish a water-wise yard renovation on a small budget should take a lesson from Happy Aston. When her family purchased a home in the College Area in 2015, Aston knew she’d need to make the front yard makeover a priority. The yard was filled with dying grass, weeds, yellow nutsedge and an ornamental pear tree. Friends and the family’s real estate agent told her there...
Decorating-on-a-dime tips to re-energize your living space

Decorating-on-a-dime tips to re-energize your living space

When Hidden Lakes resident Amy Haney walked into her newly redecorated family room, she was awed by what a big difference a few design changes could make. “It made me love our house again,” says Haney, who called on local decorator Kristi Margiotta to transform the main room in the family’s 8-year-old home. Margiotta breathed new life into the Old World-style room by adding a fresh...
Great furniture is all in the details

Great furniture is all in the details

Here’s to our upholstered furniture, the comfy pieces that make our down time so gratifying. After a long day, we can’t wait to flop down on that comfy sofa in our living room, the enveloping reading chair by the fire or dining chairs that make you reluctant to get up from the table. As if supreme comfort wasn’t enough to demand from our furniture, we also expect every piece to be...
How to use pillows to boost your home’s look

How to use pillows to boost your home’s look

For many interior designers, toss pillows are not only a secret design weapon, but also the icing on the cake. Instead of being an afterthought, toss pillows can and should complete a color story, serve as an opportunity to bring in graphics and texture as well as serve as a prominent design accessory. WHAT’S HOT? WHAT’S NOT? Confused how to display pillows? Well, you are not alone. Displaying...
Sansevieria is a perfect house plant

Sansevieria is a perfect house plant

Are you a houseplant killer? Do yours either turn brown and crispy or black and soggy? If so, consider growing the never-die house plant that has graced American homes since the 1800s. Sansevieria, known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, began here as a problem-solver for nature-loving Victorians. They lived in dark houses with voluminous drapes on the windows, so they couldn’t...
Refreshingly cohesive remodel unites the entire first floor of a home

Refreshingly cohesive remodel unites the entire first floor of a home

KIRKLAND, Wash. — They didn’t want a bigger house. Or a different house. Or a new neighborhood, or new neighbors. But the time had come for a change — and suddenly, quite a few things needed changing. Trace and Reid’s Kirkland home was built in the late 1990s. It had been remodeled once and, somewhere along the line, cultivated a random collection of aesthetics. Outside, for...
Follow these 2018 garden trends

Follow these 2018 garden trends

Winter weather allows us to take a much-needed break from the garden. Sure, you can organize or cull out-of-date garden fertilizers, weed or pest products. You can wash and sterilize your empty pots. Or, you can blow leaves every day (though it eliminates pollinator habitat). Not me. I’ve been cozy inside, drinking tea and dog-earing multiple plant catalogs — sketching out new plant placement...
Weeping yaupon, like a living piece of art

Weeping yaupon, like a living piece of art

The weeping yaupon holly is beyond stunning right now. No, the weeping plant wasn’t nuked or genetically modified to obtain that graceful appearance. It was found naturally and native and then simply propagated vegetatively by cutting. Yaupons are native geographically in almost a third of North America. Botanically speaking they are Known as Ilex vomitoria with the weeping type known as Ilex...

Set of chairs is attractive and functional, but not antique

Dear Helaine and Joe: I am looking for information about a set of chairs I purchased a few years ago. They were found in a barn, covered with layers of dust, and the owners sold them to me. The seats appear to have been recovered at some point. One is a captain’s chair, and there are five others without arms. There is a paper label on one that reads, “Square Brand, Burlington, Iowa.&rdquo...
How fungi grow in forest, lawns

How fungi grow in forest, lawns

I discovered fungi in the coastal forests of Northern California. There I came to recognize the mushrooms, lichens and liverworts, all small primitive plants you might not notice. What makes fungi different is they cannot photosynthesize like green plants because they lack chlorophyll. That’s why edible mushrooms are cultivated in darkness. Due to the primitive nature of fungi, it’s doubtful...
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