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October 2011



holiday decorating tips

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Page 2 • October 20-22, 2011 •

Refine Your Home

Refine Your Home

Table of Contents Refine Your Home Inspiring Ideas for Indoor and Outdoor Living Vol. 2

No. 4

October 2011

DESIGN AND DÉCOR Frugal but Fulfilling Consider these thrifty home design tips to spruce up your space .....................................................................4

GIFT GUIDE Nifty Gifts Check out our early holiday gift guide for fresh ideas for DIYers ..................................................................7

LAWN AND GARDEN Get Ready for Winter

Advertising Sales Director: Jennifer Sorenson

Prepare your yard and garden now for the cold months ahead ...................................................................10

Editor: Angelo Gentile Designer: Jennifer Baker


Contributing Writers: Laura French, Sarah Tieck

Practical, Affordable, Festive

Q U A L I T Y S I N C E 1 9 8 5

Try these 8 holiday decorating tips to take you from Thanksgiving to New Year’s ..................................................12

Refine Your Home is produced quarterly by Southwest Newspapers. We value your feedback and suggestions. Contact: Angelo Gentile, 952-345-6676;

ON THE COVER: Decorate for the holidays by using elements of nature that also reflect the season. Find lots of other tips and advice in this issue on frugal interior design, gift ideas for do-it-yourselfers and holiday decorating ideas.

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• October 20-22, 2011 • Page 3

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Refine Your Home

Refine Your Home

• October 20-22, 2011 • Page 5

Design & Décor

Frugal but Fulfilling

be a groan (shopping is more fun, after all), you know in your heart that the advice is sound. The Zen Habits website has some great tips at • Start at the corner by the door and make a circuit of the room. The first time around, just get rid of the things that clearly don’t belong, like papers and discarded sneakers. The second time, dig deeper: Do you really need all that bric-a-brac?

Eliminate clutter, then clean thoroughly--two easy, affordable ways to spruce up a room.

Try these thrifty home design tips to spruce up your space. By Laura French


innesotans tend to live outdoors as much as possible from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Now, it’s time to come inside, and you may be looking at your home thinking, “Is this the place where I want to hang out for the next six months?” As you de-clutter, put objects that you can’t bear to part with in a box. If, in a year, you haven’t needed or wanted anything in the box, donate it, unopened.

Before you start making plans to knock out walls and gut the kitchen, be aware that there are some low-cost—even no-cost—ways to spruce up your home.

If you love your things too much to part with them, consider using them in rotation. Sort into lighter, more colorful objects for summer and more solid and cozy décor for winter. You’ll feel just as happy when you see that beloved vase or afghan six months from now as you would with a new purchase—but at no cost.

Edit Happily, the item that tops the list of every decorator and home stager is one that doesn’t cost a thing: Eliminate clutter. While your first response might

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• Put objects you can’t bear to part with in a box. Tape it shut and mark it with the date, then put it out of site. If, in a year, you haven’t needed or wanted anything in the box, donate it, unopened.

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Look around De-cluttering will help you see your rooms in a new light. But don’t be in a hurry to re-fill the room with new objects. Take time to study. Bring in friends to get their opinion. One Apartment Therapy website reader suggested taking a photograph to help you see the room more objectively. (Go to and search on “no cost”.) Don’t assume that adding objects is the answer. Maybe you’ll discover that the real problem is dirty windows, or fingerprint build-up around the switch plates, or upholstery that needs a thorough cleaning.

Rearrange and repurpose Nancy Boone Muller, an interior designer specializing in thrifty design, and who has a website,, says that “rediscovered” items can be an eco-friendly and budget friendly way to get a uncommon look. For example, no-sew window treatments can be made by: • Pinning cute baby outfits to a clothesline in a baby’s room; • Using a belt as a “rod” in a teenage girl’s room, with colorful scarves, necklaces or beads draped on it; and • Creating a hockey stick “rod” for a boy’s room and using jerseys as the curtains. Those punch cups that nobody uses anymore make great holders for votive candles, Muller says. Colorful bottles are great for candleholders and vases.



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Refine Your Home

Refine Your Home

• October 20-22, 2011 • Page 7

Holiday Gift Guide

Nifty gifts

Think Pink Well, okay, maybe not pink, but a new coat of paint is a wonderful yet inexpensive way to spruce up a room. If you don’t have the time or energy to paint the whole room, consider an accent wall. New accent pillows or fabric throws can also add color and texture inexpensively. An assortment of small, inexpensive photos or prints makes a statement if you paint the frames a single, striking color and arrange them on a single wall.

Start out right

Check out our early holiday gift guide for fresh ideas for DIYers.

Measure value, not cost Happy surroundings are created from items with sentimental value and a great story, or items you created yourself, Muller says, whose home includes lots of objects acquired on her travels. “It’s more enjoyable if I got it at a great price,” she says.

By the staff of Refine Your Home


es, the calendar reads October, but, before you know it, the holidays will be here. With that in mind, and also keeping in mind those do-it-yourself and home-improvement types who are on your gift list, we offer this early holiday gift guide.

Go resale A common misperception, Muller says, is that resale shops offer only Grandma’s mahogany antiques or the chipped and scuffed “shabby chic” look. In this era of downsizing, she says, you can find every look from classic antique to “glam” and contemporary in thrift, resale and consignment shops. For more information, go to

And, speaking of items like hammers and nails, you may have someone who is just starting out as either a homeowner or maybe a new apartment dweller—can you say son or daughter? Start them out right with a homeowner’s “starter” tool set from Stanley. The Stanley 94-248 65-piece General Homeowner’s Tool Set includes all of the basics such as a hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measure, etc. The set is priced at $44.99 at

Protect your thumbs How about a magnetic nail holder? You’ll make that weekend carpenter on your list a lot safer with a ThumbSaver TS001 Magnetic Nail Setter. A magnet holds the nail in place so that your thumb can be safely protected from the hammer. The nail setter is available for $12.99 on

Laura French is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.

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Get grilling Summer might be over but grilling doesn’t have to be. A Weber Q 100 Portable Propane Gas Grill runs on 14.1 or 16.1 ounce LP cylinders with a cast-iron grate and removable catch pan. This model allows the griller in your life to enjoy a juicy steak year round. Find Weber grills at a number of appliance stores throughout the Southwest Metro.


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Page 8 • October 20-22, 2011 •

Refine Your Home

Refine Your Home

Monitor your energy usage Energy-conscious homeowners will appreciate a Black & Decker Power Monitor. The handy gadget tracks real-time energy usage and produces results to let you see where you can trim spending on wasted energy. ($99, Black & Decker)

course, they do end up spending a lot of time out in the garage, right? So why not upgrade the overhead door? Or, maybe the time has come to buy and install a new garage-door opener. Consider the Great Garage Door Co., which has locations throughout the Twin Cities, including Southwest Metro locations in Burnsville and Bloomington. Visit

already thinking about and planning for the next growing season. Accordingly, consider a gift card for these folks from area places such as The Mustard Seed in Chaska and Cal’s Market and Garden Center in Savage. Visit and Calsmarket. com.

Get in gear

Speaking of gardening, how cool would a brand new wheelbarrow look next to the tree on Christmas morning? Wheelbarrows and garden carts in all shapes and sizes are available at area hardware stores and, of course, online, too. For example, Home Depot sells a sweet little unit on its website, the True Temper 5 cu. ft. Metal Wheelbarrow, for $49.97. Visit and search for wheelbarrows.

Load up a wheelbarrow

For the mechanic on your list, make a visit to the website called Auto Anything. The variety of products sold is staggering. You’ll find major automotive parts such as brakes and exhaust systems, accessories like custom floor mats and gauges, truck accessories such as cargo liners and grille guards, tools and tool-storage units… well, the list never ends. Visit

Plan your spring and summer, now Upgrade the garage door Keep in mind, for our little gift guide here, we’re talking about ideas for the do-it-yourself and home-improvement types. And, of

• October 20-22, 2011 • Page 9

Not all home-improvement types are carpenters or mechanics. Many love to get their hands dirty in the garden. And you just know these folks are

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Gift cards from the Mustard Seed and Cal’s will make that gardener on your list smile and dream of spring planting.

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Refine Your Home • October 20-22, 2011 • Page 11

Lawn & Garden

Get ready for winter

the soil from receiving water and nutrients. Stop at your local rental store for a thatcher, which will slice through the dead materials, lifting them up and out of the way.

Prepare your yard and garden now for the coming cold.


now, ice, freezing temperatures and other elements of winter are not far off. You’ve enjoyed your backyard all summer long, but now it’s time to get everything prepped to handle the upcoming cold weather. Preparing your lawn, shrubbery and gardens for the winter months can help ensure you’ll be able to enjoy your landscaping as soon as the temperatures warm next spring. By using the right equipment (which you can sometimes rent) to successfully handle those jobs, you’ll save time and free up space for all of your home beautification projects.

Tree trimming and planting The fall months offer the perfect opportunity to plant and trim trees. If you’re planting, make sure to give the new trees plenty of water in the weeks leading up to the first hard frost. Also, make sure your established trees receive a good supply of water, especially if the end-of-summer weather has been hot and dry. Tree trimming allows you to remove dead branches and limbs,

Prep your gardens

as well as growth that may be blocking your patio, sidewalk and driveway, or hanging over the roof of your house. If the tree is quite large in size, consider renting a tree trimmer to reach the high branches. When you’re done, rent a wood chipper to make mulch for next year’s garden with the branches and limbs you’ve trimmed. A brush cutter can help clear away ground clutter.

Remove all the dead plants, and turn over the soil using a roto-tiller, which you can also rent, adding a layer of natural fertilizer like leaf clippings, grass clippings or compost. Don’t make the layer too thick. These materials will help provide some additional nutrients to the soil as they break down over the winter months.

Give your lawn some life with lawn aeration and dethatching

Fall is a great time to plant bulbs for early spring flower decorations. Cultivate the soil by churning it up and adding a bit of compost or other fertilizer. Plant the bulb, water it and mark it so you don’t accidentally dig it up early in the spring while preparing your garden for another season of growing.

If your lawn is showing signs of runoff and thinning, it can mean the dirt is very compacted, and needs aeration to allow water and nutrients in. Aerator rental is an option to perforate your lawn with small holes, giving the grass a chance to refresh and thicken prior to the winter freeze. This will help give your lawn a beautiful green look next season. Dethatching is another lawn care option to help your lawn grow thick and lush come spring. Roots, dead stems and clippings often get trapped between the soil and the green vegetation, blocking

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Refine Your Home • October 20-22, 2011 • Page 13

Home Improvement Directory


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Practical, Affordable, Festive! Try these 8 holiday decorating tips to take you from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. By Sarah Tieck Are you having visions of sugarplums, scarecrows, pumpkins and 2012 party hats all jumbled together? Now is the season for planning how you will transform your home for the coming holiday season. If you are planning a quiet family season or if you have a calendar full of parties, it takes surprisingly little time to take your space from plain to pretty. “It’s just paying attention to the details,” says Kim Stoegbauer, party stylist and blogger at and an entertaining-expert blogger for HGTV. Whatever the holiday, take your wish list and your ideas and write them down — Stoegbauer says. It doesn’t need to be complicated or complete to serve as a map of sorts and the beginning of your to-do list. And, if you are looking for inspiration, here are some strategies from the pros to take you from Thanksgiving all the way to the New Year:

Inside out Spend some time dressing the front step, says Carolyn Torntore, owner and designer of The Time 4 Design in Prior Lake.




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“Rather than decorating for the holidays, I like to say that I decorate for the season,” says Amalia Goldwasser, owner of Amalia G Interiors in Chanhassen. It is for this reason that there are connections between outside decor and the elements inside. For instance, boxwoods could replace flowers in the outdoor planters. And for Thanksgiving they may be paired with pumpkins or some other fall touches. Then, during Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, berries and vines create a subtle shift. And, no matter what the season, it is simple to use a few similar items in inside decor — berries and vines or pumpkins on the mantle. It is something that guests can’t quite put their finger on, but find inviting and comfortable. “They see that

very subtle continuity,” Goldwasser says. And, it isn’t a lot of work to change things. “You’re not having to empty it out every single time,” Torntore says. “You’re just editing.”

Bigger, better, simpler Torntore’s philosophy is to design for realistic living, so she encourages people to spend their money on core home elements or larger, versatile pieces. Then these can be moved around or changed with some small touches, such as blingy pillows or new lamps, to change your home for the season. Instead of spending the money on a lighted reindeer for the lawn, spend it on a new chandelier for the home or a new piece of art. “As people come over for each season, there’s something new and dramatic,” she says.

To place your Home Improvement ad in the Classified section of this paper, please call


Heart of your table Food is often the centerpiece of a holiday party or celebration, especially Thanksgiving, so the table is an easy starting point. Forget cornucopias, says Annette Hentz of Carver Country Flowers and Gifts in Carver. The plethora of decorating sites are showing everything from found natural objects to printables and other party props as original options. But, Hentz suggests some flowers with a nostalgic, personal touch. “If you have a treasured dish or bowl, such as a family heirloom that most dinner guests would identify with, your florist would be happy to design a centerpiece in a vessel that you bring to them,” she says.

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Mood music Layering in all five senses makes for a magical holiday — especially as wintry white silence commands the natural. Candles are an easy way to hit the right notes with both light and scent. But, sound is easily overlooked. Adding a layer of sound to your party can create the mood and feel, Stoegbauer says. Who needs a deejay, when you can spend a few minutes and make your own party music playlist. And — as an easy bonus — you could make copies of your party playlist, attach a cute thank-you tag and give everyone a copy as your favor.

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Do me a favor Remember when you were a kid and someone had a party? There was ALWAYS a little goodie bag to take home. Let your inner kid have some fun and send your friends and your family off with some party swag. Possible ideas include the slightly practical idea of prepping pretty take-out boxes with labels and bows for Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, getting a vase of flowers and setting them near the door or you could send people home with a treat. “Cookies as a favor is one of my favorite things,” Stoegbauer, the HGTV blogger, says. “Everyone loves cookies.”

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Page 14 • October 20-22, 2011 •

Refine Your Home

Refine Your Home • October 20-22, 2011 • Page 15


Fall Ladies N ight Out

Color me homey Not sure how to choose your color scheme? Darlene Zimmerman, author and quilter from Belle Plaine, suggests using fabric as your starting point. Choose a quilt — perhaps you have a family heirloom that you love or perhaps there’s something new you saw in a store — then use it to choose and connect table decor, ornaments, and flowers.

Fun with function Layer the season into your everyday by choosing special seasonal scents, such as Mrs. Meyer’s orange clove dish soap, for day-today chores. Also, fresh flowers add a special touch throughout the house, especially when you place blooms in unexpected spaces: by the bathroom sink, in a bud vase in your guest room, and even single stems as a favor in a vase by the door, Hentz says.


Food is love When guests arrive, take their coat and offer them a drink — Torntore suggests creating a buffet with a tray of signature drinks, ready and waiting (perhaps even in the entryway). And, when the meal is wrapping up, Stoegbauer says up the ante and instead of just serving pumpkin pie, make a dessert bar — pumpkin cake pops, pumpkin whoopie pies and pumpkin mousse.

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Sarah Tieck is a Burnsville-based freelance writer.

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