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The luxe, calm dining room of designer, boutique owner Catherine Weyeneth Bezencon nourishes both body and soul in her 'deeply beautiful' home in the Rhone Alpes region of France. Photo: Courtesy HarperCollins, "The Inspired Home."

Spotlight Homes

August 2017

Putting Heart and Soul Into Your Home BY ROSE BENNETT GILBERT

Fashion designer Donna Karan calls it "soul." Cultural critic and curator Karen Lehrman Bloch calls it "deep beauty." In her book, "The Inspired Home", the author defines deep beauty as "a home so authentic and elegant it has the capacity to touch us not just emotionally, but spiritually." Leaf through the book, which visits "soulful" homes around the world (including Donna Karan's, who wrote its foreword), and it's easy to see what the author means. Just not so easy to translate it into one's own home. So Lehrman Bloch offers five guidelines to help you create "deep beauty" under your own roof. --Learn to "feel visually." Let yourself be emotionally touched by the sofa you choose, inspired by the art you hang, she advises. --Forget perfection. Nature is not perfect, Lehrman Bloch points out. It's the imperfections - of an object, fabric, or person that often "make them real to our brains." --Edit, edit, edit. "Our brains actually prefer minimalism," the author says. But remember, minimalism doesn't have to feel austere or soul-less.


--Create good flow. By which she means, add that element of surprise that "infuses us with energy and optimism." --Cultivate true elegance. Neither staid nor stuffy nor traditionbound, true elegance feels both fresh and grounded, innovative and grand. "And it can have an immediate effect on our psyches," the author promises. "We can't help ourselves: Elegance breeds elegance."

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Q: I don't even know how to phrase my question about decorating. Our home is comfortable enough, but it's lacking something. Call it personality or maybe attitude. I just don't feel like it's welcoming, not even to us who live here. Maybe I need an analyst, not a decorator?

A: An "attitude adjustment" is what I'd suggest. For you, not the house. When you think of homes in which you truly feel "at-home," what do you think of first? Probably not the color scheme or wallpaper, furniture or accessories. What makes a home memorable is an elusive quality that radiates from the homeowners themselves.


Spotlight Homes

August 2017

Big Ideas for Tiny Baths By Rose Bennett Gilbert

and esthetic reasons, he advises.

Q: How come you never talk about

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.

redecorating a bath? We have one so tiny my husband can touch both sidewalls with his elbows! We're thinking of remodeling, keeping the same floor space (5 x 7 feet) and changing fixtures and maybe the tile, which goes a half-wall up over the tub. We need inspiration and information.


A: A dose of experience wouldn't hurt either. Who would have rehabbed more tiny baths than a designer working in New York City, where every square inch of space is precious? So I've picked the talented brain of designer John Buscarello (, who specializes in making more of less. The bath we show here is as space-deprived as yours, a weenie 5 x 7-ft. But John has waved his magic shoehorn and made it feel both larger and quite elegant in the process. Among of his professional suggestions: --Get rid of your tired old tub. Ditto whatever "dreary" shower curtain goes with it. That space is better spent on an updated standing shower behind a stationary glass panel (a 30-inch opening lets you -not splashes -- out on one side). --Think tile allover. Tiling right up to -- and often, over -- the ceiling, European-style, will put your old-fashioned bath in a sleek, contemporary mood. Here, John has used subway (rectangular) tile but stacked, instead of staggering, it "to create a more modern feel." --Work magic with mirrors. Not only are mirrors de rigueur in any bath, they double the space you see. John also doubled their usefulness, installing a pair of matching mirrored wall cabinets over the pedestal sink.

A once-ordinary small bath makes quite a splash with aqua tile, glass shower wall and a double-helping of mirrored cabinets. Photo Courtesy of John A. Buscarello, Inc. Interior Design.

--Aggrandize the floor. Never mind that it's small. Laying oversized tile -- John used 12 x 24-inch porcelain tile -- will make the space look much larger. --Other tips from the pro: "Don't be afraid of color in the bath," John counsels. The owner of this apartment was looking for tranquility in her new bath, he reports. Hence his choice of cool, calming aqua tile. Another colorful idea: Create a feature wall with tile. Or opt for a paint color that speaks to you. "Just be sure to choose a paint that has a sheen finish" for both practical


August 2017

Spotlight Homes

August 2017

Spotlight Homes

10 Tips for Urban Gardening Family Features

City dwellers often think gardening is only for those who live in suburbs or rural communities, but planting an urban garden can be easy. Whether you are planting a garden for yourself or your family, you can do your part to create a more sustainable and green future. These simple steps recommended by Arjan Stephens, executive vice president at Nature’s Path Organic Foods, can help you on your way to greening your thumb and the planet: 1. No Space, No Problem: Not everyone has a backyard, roof or balcony. To overcome this issue, start a container garden. While decorative pots can be lovely, they don’t improve the quality of your plants and can be expensive. Instead, you can use a large bucket from a garden store, which is a low-cost and effective option. Or upcycle containers not in use, such as crates, old toys or paint cans. 2. Plant Selection: There are vegetable, flower and herb varieties that are easy to grow in urban spaces. When planning your garden, think about what to plant – shallow-rooted veggies, such as herbs, lettuce and radishes typically do better in confined spaces. 3. It Takes a Village: In addition to establishing your own garden, another way to plant is by getting involved with community gardens. Each year, Nature’s Path Food’s Gardens for Good program supports community gardens that make fresh, organic food more accessible in local neighborhoods. Three $15,000 grants are available to gardens that demonstrate high community support and a viable plan for the urban agriculture project.

6. Grow Up: Small spaces make it ideal to grow vertically, which means planting tall plants like squash, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes.

4. Plant Right: Potting your plants takes a few simple steps. Put some gravel in the bottom of your container to help with drainage and fill with soil, tamping it a bit. Leave 1 inch at the top for watering. Tamp the soil after the plants are in place and water gently.

7. Drain Gain: Whatever container you choose for your garden, remember drainage holes are essential. Without proper drainage, soil can become waterlogged and plants may die. The holes need to be large enough to allow excess water to drain out.

5. Portable Planters: An advantage of container gardens is that they allow you to easily move them in and out of the sun. If your plants seem to dry out in one window area, you can try different areas to adjust to what works best.

8. Water Wise: Hand water every morning. Once the plants are large and summer is hot, they will probably need watering in the evening, too. A little afternoon shade can keep them from drying out too quickly. 9. Soil Smart: A common mistake urban gardeners make

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


is not making sure their soil is good quality. While those made with pesticides promise great results, they are loaded with chemicals. Go for organic soil and grow well from the beginning. 10. Have Fun: Gardening not only results in food or flowers, it is a great way to relieve stress, have fun and get in touch with nature. Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t experience the joy of eating what you grow. Grab your container, select your seeds and see how beautiful, nutritious and delicious your results could be. Find more details about Gardens for Good and urban gardening at

August 2017

Spotlight Homes

Spotlight Homes

August 2017

8 questions to ask yourself when deciding to rent or buy a house BY FERNANDO ALONSO

1. What Is my top financial priority? Buying a home will slow down your ability to make progress on other financial goals. You’ll need to focus on lowering expenses or increasing your income so you can afford a down payment and monthly mortgage payments

2. Do I have savings for a down payment & closing costs? Renting requires some savings – you’ll need enough cash to cover the first month’s rent and the deposit. To buy a home, however, the minimum you’ll need to have saved is usually 6% or more of the home’s value. Even FHA loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5%, and closing costs add another 2-3% to the costs

3. How do home & rent prices compare? Housing markets also affect whether it’s a better idea to rent versus buy. If you’re facing sky-high rent prices that climb each year, a mortgage starts making a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you want to live in an expensive area, you could be priced out of buying a home

4. How long do I plan to live here? The longer you live in a home, the more likely it is that the financial investment of buying a property will pay off

Fernando Alonso Loan officer | Security National Mortgage

5. Will I qualify for a good deal on a mortgage? You’ll need a decent income and good credit to qualify for the lowest rates and best terms on mortgage loans. It’s sometimes possible to get a mortgage if you have bad credit, but you’ll pay a lot more over time

6. What other costs will I be responsible for as a homeowner? When comparing costs of renting versus buying, make sure you’re including home-owning costs beyond mortgage principal and interest.

7. Am I comfortable with the risks of owning a home? It’s a popular argument that owning is smarter than renting because you’re investing in a home. But as with any investment, owning a home has its own inherent risks

8. How would renting vs. owning affect my lifestyle? Guiding forces in your decision to rent or own are your lifestyle and values. For many, the freedom of choice, privacy, and control that come with owning a home are big selling points. Other people might prefer the convenience, flexibility, and short-term commitment that comes with renting. PICTURE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY


August 2017

Spotlight Homes

Spotlight Homes - August 2017  
Spotlight Homes - August 2017