Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • How to Decorate with Secondhand Finds

    L.A. designer Kelly LaPlante shows how to give salvaged materials stylish new purpose.

    Nothing more green than keeping what you haveNothing more green than keeping what you have
    Decorating with salvage finds
    For Kelly LaPlante, a leading Los Angeles-based interior designer, author, television host, and new mother, green design isn't just about choosing fabrics and furniture made from sustainable materials.

    She prefers to help her clients find new use--and often unexpected new love--for things they already own. "There's nothing more green than keeping what you have," she says.

    Her own Venice loft is proof that hand-me-downs and thrift-store finds can rise to stylish new purpose.

    DESIGN Kelly LaPlante Organic Interior Design, Venice, CA ( or 310/581-6789).

    Revived with a punch of bold red paint Revived with a punch of bold red paint

    The dining table was brown and had belonged to a client. "They were going to throw it away," says LaPlante, who saw potential in its curves.

    After being revived with a punch of bold red low-VOC paint (try shiny-finish Sophia by Bungaloo,, it's the star of her

    Read More »from How to Decorate with Secondhand Finds
  • 8 Scary-good Halloween Treats

    Make the holiday extra tasty with party foods and candy from your kitchen.

    Finger-licking goodFinger-licking good
    Cheddar Witch's Fingers
    These ghastly little nibbles are rich with cheesy flavor, and a real snap to make.

    Yield: Makes about 30 crackers


    5 tablespoons butter
    1/4 pound (about 1 cup packed) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons cornmeal
    1 large egg
    Kosher salt
    30 sliced almonds


    1. In a food processor or bowl, whirl or rub together butter, cheese, flour, and cornmeal until the mixture has the texture of wet sand. Add egg and whirl or stir with a fork until dough holds together.

    2. Scrape dough onto a sheet of cooking paper or parchment, 12 to 14 in. wide and about 14 in. long. Top with another equal-sized sheet of paper and pat dough into a 1/2-in.-thick circle. Wrap in plastic and freeze 15 minutes, or refrigerate up to 3 days.

    3. Roll dough into a rectangle about 8 in. wide and 10 in. long, working

    Read More »from 8 Scary-good Halloween Treats
  • Top 15 Low-water Plants

    These plants grow effortlessly in low-water conditions and bloom in an array of colors.

    Gorgeous golden tips Gorgeous golden tips
    Blanket flower
    Blanket flower (Gaillardia) features gorgeous golden tips and requires moderate water.

    Evergreen from southwestern AustraliaEvergreen from southwestern Australia
    Kangaroo paw

    Velvety kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos 'Orange Cross' and Bush Gems series) add spicy color against golden grasses in a garden in Tiburon, California, designed by Arterra Landscape Architects ( The plants tolerate drought but flower best with some water in summer and excellent drainage in light sandy soil.

    More on grasses

    Beware extreme heat and humidityBeware extreme heat and humidity
    African daisy

    African daisy (Arctotis), with blooms that can range from brilliant orange to cool purply-white, needs moderate water.

    Red stamens that resemble powder puffsRed stamens that resemble powder puffs
    Fairy duster
    The shrub attracts hummingbirds with its brilliant red stamens that resemble powder puffs. Use it as an accent in front of a living ocotillo fence or as a backdrop for small blue agaves. Needs minimal water.

    Bees love itBees love it
    Pride of Madeira
    Actually from Madeira, this plant produces wonderful spikes of

    Read More »from Top 15 Low-water Plants
  • 8 Great Recipes for Game Day

    No matter where team loyalties lie, football fans unite every season for food-filled game days. These recipes will keep everyone coming back for more.

    The sauce goes with everythingThe sauce goes with everything
    Grass-fed Burgers with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

    Top grass-fed burger with a sauce of smoked chiles, brown sugar, ketchup, molasses, orange juice concentrate, and garlic. The sauce is also excellent on grilled chicken and ribs.

    Yield: Serves 4
    Total: 35 Minutes

    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/2 cup ketchup
    2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (about 3 chiles), plus 1 tbsp. sauce
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire
    2 tablespoons molasses
    2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    1 1/4 pounds grass-fed ground beef
    2 teaspoons each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, divided
    1 red onion, sliced 1/4 to 1/2 in. thick crosswise
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
    4 slices Swiss cheese
    4 sesame hamburger buns
    4 slices ripe tomato
    4 leaves butter or romaine lettuce

    1. Make sauce: Purée all Read More »from 8 Great Recipes for Game Day
  • 12 Fun Halloween Decorating Ideas

    Whip up a happy holiday with pumpkin carving ideas, spooky plants, and tricks the neighborhood will love.

    Easy once you know the secretEasy once you know the secret
    Sneaky jack-o'-lantern carving

    Show off a traditional Halloween message in a highly unusual way. Jackie Ortega, owner of San Francisco's Craft Gym, says this project is easy to pull off once you know the secret.

    A unique jack-o'-lanternA unique jack-o'-lantern
    Free pumpkin stencil

    Artist Nikki McClure shares instructions for creating this unique jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.

    Light enough to hang with thin wireLight enough to hang with thin wire
    Floating pumpkins

    Foam pumpkins are thin enough to carve with a craft knife and light enough to hang with thin wire.

    More fun ideas for pumpkins--no carving required!

    A surprising twist on the traditional A surprising twist on the traditional
    Pumpkin house numbers

    Pumpkin house numbers are a surprising twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern.

    All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapesAll you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes
    Black cat o'lanterns

    Create a spooky trio of glossy black cats to watch over trick-or-treaters at your door. All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes--long or pear-shaped for the body, small and round for the face.

    Choose a globe that fits over the porch lightChoose a globe that fits over the porch light
    Halloween globes

    Invert a glass globe that normally

    Read More »from 12 Fun Halloween Decorating Ideas
  • 8 Fall Pumpkin Recipes

    It's autumn's most beloved--but expected--icon. Let's see what the pumpkin can really do.

    New life for pub grubNew life for pub grub
    Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie

    Brilliant orange roasted pumpkin replaces the traditional mashed-potato topping here, giving new life to classic pub grub.

    Yield: Serves 6
    Total: 2 Hours

    2 1/2 pounds cubed peeled baking pumpkin or butternut or kabocha squash
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
    2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1 medium onion, cut into wedges
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. chunks
    8 ounces medium mushrooms, stems removed
    1/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup red wine
    1 cup beef or chicken broth
    1/3 to 2/3 cup cream
    2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    1. Preheat oven to 400° with a rack in top third of oven. Put pumpkin on a greased rimmed baking sheet. Roast pumpkin, covered, until tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Read More »from 8 Fall Pumpkin Recipes
  • 15 Inventive Room Design Ideas

    In a small walkable community on the Washington coast, we designed two houses (and one big yard) for a new kind of beach living. Read on for some great design tips we learned along the way.

    Spaced to mimic the pinesSpaced to mimic the pines
    Design for the view

    The 12-foot-high Andersen windows in the living room, above, are spaced to mimic the shore pines outside and make the room feel like a treehouse. For an uninterrupted view, choose low spindle chairs from CR Laine rather than high-back ones.

    Reachable from every seatReachable from every seat
    Include creature comforts

    A big square ottoman is reachable from every seat in the living room.

    Weathered woods give the kitchen dimensionWeathered woods give the kitchen dimension
    Layer textures

    Weathered woods give the kitchen dimension. The gray-wash floor matches the cool walls, the reclaimed-wood on the island adds warmth, and the whitewashed beams bring a sense of airiness.

    Enliven a smaller room with floral printEnliven a smaller room with floral print
    Be bold in small rooms

    A wallpaper pattern that might overwhelm a large space can enliven a smaller room--like the den, with its floral print from Makelike.

    Relieves a lot of measuring anxietyRelieves a lot of measuring anxiety
    Hang art close

    In the stairwell, Seattle designer Brian Paquette hung

    Read More »from 15 Inventive Room Design Ideas
  • 15 Spooky Plants for Halloween

    Who needs Halloween decorations when nature provides such bizarre and beautiful creations? Display these flowers and plants to add a little haunt to your house this season...if you dare.

    Can grow outside or as a houseplantCan grow outside or as a houseplant
    Feed me, Seymour

    Place a pot of Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) on the table and your guests won't be the only ones enjoying dinner. When the plant's trigger hairs inside are touched, its elegant eyelashes turn into teeth that snap shut--even emitting a slight electrical current as they close.

    To grow: Venus flytraps can grow outside in frost-free climates, or as houseplants in bright light.

    More Halloween decorating ideas

    A moody bouquetA moody bouquet
    Dark and stormy

    A handful of tall 'Hot Chocolate' callas makes for a moody bouquet. Tuck in nearly black aeonium rosettes and Colocasia 'Puckered Up', a new elephant ear, to add more dark texture.

    To grow: After frost has passed, grow callas from rhizomes. Aeoniums need protection from frost. Elephant ears can grow outdoors in mild climates, and as houseplants in all

    Read More »from 15 Spooky Plants for Halloween
  • Top 15 Secret Wine Country Escapes

    Experience wine country without the crowds in these under-the-radar spots for sipping.

    Stellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyonsStellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyons
    Moab, UT

    If you haven't been here since your dude days, you're in for a pleasant, even refined, surprise. Lately Moab has sprouted more mellow pursuits that you don't have to catch air or defy gravity to enjoy. Don't mistake mellow for monotonous, though. We're talking stellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyons, locally sourced eats, and scenic bike trails that won't chew up and spit out beginners. It's the same great outdoor playground, with a new sophisticated side.

    More on visiting Moab

    Perfectly suited for nature loversPerfectly suited for nature lovers
    Boonville / Philo, CA

    This wine region located 90 miles north of Sonoma is perfectly suited for nature lovers, as it's a stone throw from the Mendocino redwoods. It's known for its small-production Pinot Noirs, but its Alsatian varietals--Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling--are worth exploring, too. Sip at Handley, Londer, and Navarro wineries and then soak up the scenery. Come summer, don't miss

    Read More »from Top 15 Secret Wine Country Escapes
  • 8 Fall Container Gardens

    Bright grasses and colorful leaves bring seasonal splash to your porch or patio.

    Wine punchWine punch
    Instant autumn garden

    Start with the plants, then pick your containers that will extend the color theme.

    Cluster containers of different shapes and sizes in threes or plant a single pot with three kinds of plants, for the best-looking displays.

    More on picking plants for your fall garden

    This theme: Wine punch

    Pops of icy blue in cooling contrast with warm combos of bright pinks and deep purples.

    Deep bronzeDeep bronze
    Falling for cocoa

    The theme: Deep bronze, burgundy, and plum shades along with leaves that turn reddish throughout the season creating an autumn experience right on your porch.

    Orange-striped blades of grassOrange-striped blades of grass
    Harvest gold

    The theme: Orange-striped blades of grass, apricot-tinged leaves with purple undersides, and matching gold containers.

    Soft textures and bright chartreuse Soft textures and bright chartreuse
    Shades of green

    Soft textures and bright chartreuse tones light up bronze-colored 17-inch-wide containers.

    Maximizing fall colors

    A rustic vignetteA rustic vignette
    Lime and chocolate

    Billowy burgundy Agonis, trailing

    Read More »from 8 Fall Container Gardens


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