Blog Posts by Emily Hsieh, Shine staff

  • A glimpse inside Taylor Swift’s swanky new Nashville penthouse

    Photo by Tom Gatlin/Alecbyrne.comPhoto by Tom Gatlin/Alecbyrne.comLast week, it was revealed that 20 year-old country singer Taylor Swift dropped $1,990,000 on a sprawling 4,062 square foot bachelorette pad in Nashville. Today, In Touch has the photos, which give a peek into Swift's plush penthouse, perched high above the city in the 18-story Adelicia building. "I'm so excited!" gushed Swift of her ultramodern 3 bedroom, 4.5 bath duplex, which not only offers plenty of room to house her four Grammys but includes a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen and sweeping views of downtown Nashville. "I love interior designing!" said the star, who describes her style as "quirky" and "whimsical." And, having raked in an estimated $18 million in earnings last year, Swift has plenty of cash to customize her new digs with over-the-top details like a Milky Way fresco and an adult-size birdcage: ''You step on a stepping stone in the pond in order to get on a spiral staircase, which takes you up to the human-sized bird cage observatory," Swift described. "They're

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  • Do-it-yourself humidifiers that are good for your skin, your wallet, and the earth

    Between the harsh weather outside and the radiator sucking all the moisture out of the air inside my house, left unchecked this time of year my skin starts to look like a crocodile's. Still, I'm not so into buying a humidifier (at the end of the day it just seems like another thing to clutter up my space-challenged New York City apartment, and besides, they can get pricey), so I've suffered through this problem for many winters-until I finally discovered two ingeniously simple, inadvertently eco, no-shopping-required solutions that have been really helpful in staving off dryness.

    1. Drape a wet (not dripping, more like thoroughly damp) towel over a doorknob.

    OR

    2. Fill a bowl with water to place at the base of your heater.

    In both instances, the water evaporates into your space, which actually dampens the air inside your house. Seriously… does it get any easier? No fussy (or expensive) machine to contend with, and no electricity required. And it's amazing how effective these

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  • Transform your bathroom into a soothing, Zen-like retreat (it's easy!)

    With the rest of life increasingly crazy-hectic, there are few things I look forward to as much as my morning shower-that five to ten minutes alone and away from it all can be incredibly restorative. There are plenty of things you can do to make the experience even more indulgent, and none of them require a significant investment of time or money. Here's all you need to do to create a blissfully relaxing, spa-like environment right in your own home:

    Do a clean sweep. Your bathroom shouldn't look like a drugstore. Stash your toiletries and cosmetics out of sight, instead of leaving them out on your countertop-it's hard to feel calm if you're surrounded by clutter. Anything that's left in sight becomes a display item, so make sure it's pretty. Try decanting your shampoo and conditioner into sleek, uniform bottles, which not only makes your shower look more streamlined, but also allows you to buy in bulk. A dainty porcelain saucer from the flea market could double nicely as soap dish. If

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  • You can! Improve your family's dinner time with 3 easy-to-follow steps

    The conventional model of a family dinner (you know, the kind you used to see on sitcoms like "The Brady Bunch" way back when) is lovely in theory-but it's getting more and more challenging to achieve in an era of two working parents, kids with increasingly jam-packed activities and social schedules, and things like Blackberries and Facebook to distract us all. Before you give up completely, check out these tips we picked up for maximizing mealtimes at home.

    Make Your Own Traditions. Start small: Eating dinner together seven nights a week probably isn't realistic, but pencil in at least a few all-together, home-cooked, around-the-table meals (Sunday seems like a no-brainer, when life just feels more calm and you can prepare and eat at a more leisurely pace) and build from there. Serving dinner at the same time for the nights you're staying in helps reinforce the sense of ritual, and planning a regular activity-like having each family member mention one good thing that happened to them

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  • Get them now: Retro, cool, totally of-the-moment brass accents

    Interior designer Nate Berkus (featured in our first-ever Make Home a Haven episode!) just named gold and aged brass accents among his current favorite things-and he's not alone. We've been noticing handsome, vintage-inspired, warm metallic pieces all over the place (as Berkus pointed out, part of their beauty is they're available just about everywhere-and at tons of different price points). Whether your taste runs traditional or modern, bronzed accessories add a sense of old-school refinement to any space. From gilded bathroom fixtures to exotic-looking door handles, check out our ten favorite examples of the trend.

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  • How to clean your cleaning tools (and...no, we’re not usually this compulsive)

    Though we'd hardly call ourselves neat freaks, there comes a point when there are so many dust bunnies clinging to your broom you're probably doing a disservice to your floor by sweeping with it. Here are a few simple shortcuts to keep brooms-and other cleaning tools-doing what they do best.

    1. Every few weeks (or months, if you share our slacker tendencies) take brooms outside to hose them off and dry. If you're feeling especially industrious, sprinkle a few drops of mild soap on the bristles as you're washing to get them dirt-free. Grimy dustpans can get the same treatment in the sink or tub.

    2. Instead of waiting for a sponge to get filthy, throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so to keep it sterile and smelling fresh. Just lay it on the top rack of the machine and run your usual cycle along with a load of dishes. Or opt for this microwave technique: Soak your kitchen sponge (the ones with the scrubby pads are fine, though don't try this with metal) in clean water and place it

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  • 10 unexpected, sweet-but-not-saccharine Valentine’s Day gifts under $20 (home accessory edition)

    While red roses and chocolate bonbons are perfectly serviceable (if not cliché), this Valentine's Day we decided to up the ante by combing the home design market for the most surprising heart-themed items we could find. We set the bar high, focusing on cute-without-cloying gifts that serve some practical purpose, last long after the holiday, and don't cost more than $20. Here, our top ten picks for unpredictable, inexpensive ways to say I Love You.



    1. Heart Shaped Soaps


    2. Heart Bamboo Spoon


    3. Personalized I Heart Mug


    4. Heart Measuring Cups


    5. Heart Bowls


    6. Le Creuset Heart Ramekin


    7. Mesh Tea Infuser


    8. Heart Kitchen Towel


    9. Heart Luggage Tag


    10. Heart Cookie Pan

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  • Selling your home? Get more money with these easy (and inexpensive!) design tricks

    It's probably stating the obvious to say that it's a tricky, challenging real estate market out there, and, if you're currently selling your house, you can use any kind of competitive edge. Professional home stagers can help you get it. Part interior decorator, part closet organizer, and part magician, they offer advice on upping the value of your home by sprucing up your interiors-all without any major renovations or shelling out of major cash. Basically, a home stager's job is to maximize your space, making rooms appear larger and feel more inviting (and desirable) with just a few clever design tweaks.

    Intrigued by the idea of this home-makeover magic, we tracked down Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed To Appeal, a New York-based home staging company, to share her tried-and-true tips for capitalizing on the worth of your house. "With things the way they are, the name of the game is to get your house sold, and sold quickly," Dazzo says, before outlining her essential tricks to do

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  • 3 tips to give your bed a luxurious, cozy makeover—without spending major cash

    Around this time of year-the coldest, darkest, just plain grimmest part of winter-there are few things that sound more appealing than curling up in a warm, cozy, beautifully made bed. It's a simple luxury that can greatly improve one's well-being and doesn't need to cost a ton of money. We rounded up three super-easy, (almost) no-spending-required ideas to give any bed a sumptuous, relaxing overhaul.

    1. Bust out the iron. You may not realize this (I hadn't), but a big reason why the display beds you see in stores look so gorgeous is that the sheets have been pressed. But don't worry, you don't need to spend hours over an ironing board. To get the look at home, take the following shortcut: Iron out your pillowcases and the upper third of your top sheet-really the only parts of the sheets that anyone (including you) will see when the bed's made. It's a five-minute time investment (max ten if you count heating up your iron and taking out the board) and it's amazing what a difference it

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