It’s Black and White and Fall All Over in a Holiday-Happy Home

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.29.34 AMGet inspired for budget-friendly fall decorating by a resourceful stylist’s thrifty but sophisticated adornments

Sarah Macklem’s children have different ideas about Halloween decorating than their mother has.

“The kids love severed body parts and all that stuff,” says Macklem with a good-natured shudder. A home stylist based in suburban Detroit, she forgoes disembodied limbs for a seasonal decorating style that looks elegantly understated, but is sourced largely from thrift stores and discount retailers.

To keep things sophisticated, Macklem builds upon her home’s black and white palette, overlaying touches of autumnal color in things like dishes and towels, while rendering familiar objects in unfamiliar ways. (White ceramic pumpkins, anyone?) Her seasonal handiwork goes up around Labor Day and culminates in a neighborhood Halloween party at her house.

“Decorating is my life,” says Macklem, “and I take advantage of every opportunity I have to do it.”

How Brick Fits Into Today’s Gardens

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.26.59 AMNatural brick is often considered a traditional building material. Here’s how people are using it in contemporary gardens too

Leaning against a brick garden wall warmed by the autumn sun, I pondered whether this ancient building material has a place in contemporary garden design. Is it a relic of traditional gardens? Brick has been a favorite material for gardens for centuries, from Roman courtyards and Tudor knot garden paths to the walls surrounding Victorian vegetable gardens. Winston Churchill, the British wartime prime minister, found brick laying to be a form of relaxation and built an extensive wall at his Chartwell garden.

Brick, which has been with us in one form or another since humans first started building, is most often formed from kneaded clay, molded into its familiar shape and then fired at a high temperature. Today, with garden designers embracing other construction materials, is there a place for brick in the garden? I think there is, and I’m sure that when you’ve had a look at some examples of great contemporary garden design using brick, you’ll agree.

7 Quick and Easy Indoor Halloween Decorating Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.41.42 PMMake a pumpkin family portrait — no carving! — and other simple but eye-catching fall tabletop and mantel arrangements

Even with just a few days till October 31, it’s not too late to decorate. Pumpkins from the grocery store, leaves from the backyard and a few things around the house can transform a table or mantel into Halloween central.

Welcome the Winter With Mood-Enhancing Lights

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 7.33.55 AMRelish the prospect of darker evenings with statement lighting to illuminate and inspire

It’s true the nights are getting darker earlier, but before you book your ticket to somewhere sunnier, explore other ways to brighten up your days. The right illumination can transform a room and also act as a stylish focal point. So invest in an attention-grabbing light or two and start looking forward to sundown.

How to Create a Symphony in Your Garden

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.28.06 PMTake your surroundings to another level by introducing the element of sound with ground covers, water features and wind catchers

Our gardens can be our best teachers. We learn about ourselves and our world from them. Our only prerequisite for this course is our ability to open our senses to the wealth of sights, aromas, textures and sounds that gently engulf us.

Even as I write this ideabook, sitting in my garden, I’m conscious of the sounds that surround me. With the squirrel rustling leaves on the forest floor, the cardinal singing high overhead, the owl vocalizing deep in the woodland background and the waterfall adding its syncopated cadence to the mix, my garden is alive with sound.

Let’s look at how to add another dimension to your garden by introducing the element of sound. You will enjoy your own private symphony when you stop long enough to listen.

Great Garage Storage

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.39.27 PMIf you can’t park your car in your garage you’ll love this idea.

If you’re looking for a place to store holiday decorations, you’ll love this idea.

Wham! Pow! Bam! The Animated Home

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 7.30.29 AMAdd some toons to give your home a one-two punch of fun

As people gear up for New York Comic Con on October 9, fans are digging out their costumes for the four-day conference dedicated to all things comics, graphic novels, movies, television and more. More than 100,000 people will immerse themselves in a fantasy world for four days, but for some homeowners, the fantasy is a daily reality. In the rooms below, designers and homeowners have provided some comic relief for their interiors.

Good Fences, Good Neighbors — and Good Views

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 7.27.19 AMSee-through vertical fencing connects a yard with its surroundings while keeping children and pets safely inside

Good fences make good neighbors, Robert Frost instructed. Good fences can make even better neighbors when they keep the vistas and sight lines open, even as they establish a boundary. The fences below masterfully set property or area limits while maintaining permeability. In place of an imposing, solid mass of wood or stone, these modern constructs allow outsiders visual entry into the space and enable those inside to view the surrounding landscape, maintaining a relationship between outside and in.

While many of the fences here are custom jobs, they demonstrate that materials in a range of prices can be effectively used. The key is the spacing of the verticals. They can be left wide open for border plants to wander through, or placed more tightly to keep children and pets in and deer out. They can be anchored belowground or set into low walls. When done properly, they become a sculptural element all their own, blending style and function.

Window Wizardry: 7 Clever Approaches to Privacy

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.56.41 PMDo you want more privacy without losing your view or feeling boxed in? Take a look at these creative building solutions

Creating privacy while letting in light and views can be an issue for many suburban homes. We often see frosted windows or deliberate screens as the only method of dealing with the issue. Luckily, we now have design alternatives that not only offer privacy, but also look good while doing it.