Top drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentMarch 22, 2013 

Best blog for inspiration?

Where’s your destination on the Web for gardening and home decor inspiration? Share your favorite site and if we share it, we’ll enter you in our quarterly drawing for a gift card. Send email to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Include a link and a few words about why you like it. Be sure to include your name and street address. Put “Our readers’ best” in the subject line.

Best spring bouquet

Bring some seasonal flair to your table with a simple floral arrangement found on the A Little Bite of Life blog.

Supplies:

• A small, round vase.

• A larger, square vase – tall enough to fully conceal the height of the round vase, with room to spare.

• Tulips.

• Water.

• Bag of Jelly Beans (enough to fill most of the square vase).

• Pink or other colored fabric ribbon, long enough to wrap around square vase and tie in a bow.

• Double-sided tape.

Step by step:

1 Fill the round vase ¾ full of water.

2 Cut tulips to desired size.

3 Place round, water-filled vase inside larger square vase.

4 Fill interior of square (around the outside of the round vase) vase with jelly beans – enough to obscure the round vase from view.

5 Take the strip of fabric ribbon, wrap it around the exterior of the square vase and secure it using double-sided tape. Adorn by tying or attaching a bow.

You can see the finished display at http://nando.com/9z.

Designer’s best

The design gurus at Better Homes and Gardens offer this tip for brightening up dull spaces. “Good lighting can completely transform a room, and its source doesn’t necessarily need to be a hardwired ceiling fixture. Invest in lamps to place on end tables, nightstands, and side tables. Position floor lamps to illuminate dark corners and hang plug-in wall sconces in hallways or above sofas. Plug-in under cabinet lighting will give your kitchen work areas new life and make cooking tasks easier.”

Reader’s best

Raleigh reader Cyndi Soter O’Neil wrote in with a tip to help break up large, flowy spaces between rooms.

“Our solution was to add a trim detail at the corner between the family room and the kitchen. It looks like a column, but is actually molding wrapped around the intersection of the two walls.”

They hired a local carpentry company to design and build the “column” to tie into the other woodwork in their home and to create a clean break between the two rooms without interfering with the openness of the area. The design company created a similar effect to create a break between the kitchen counter and the dining room.

The fifth photo on the family’s blog, My Convertible Life, depicts the result. Visit http://nando.com/9-.

Best for dish rags

It never fails. You’re cooking a marvelous meal or in the middle of a messy kitchen clean up when you reach for a dish cloth to grab a hot pan or dry wet dishes. But you can’t find one.

The I Heart Organizing blog offers the perfect solution. Put a small, attractive basket on your countertop and neatly place your folded dish rags there. The next time you’re in cleaning or cooking mood, you’ll quickly find one at the ready.

Get these and other practical tips at http://nando.com/a0.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Capitol Hill steal? Twenty-eight-year-old Capitol Hill staffer, Kelly, is looking to buy a home with some character in one of Washington, D.C.’s most trendy and recognizable areas. Her best friend wants her to consider a more transitional, affordable neighborhood, but Kelly’s on the fence. Can she find what she wants, in the area she wants, without overreaching her budget? “House Hunters” airs at 10 p.m. Saturday.

Return on investment: Mary and Bridge dream of retiring to the great outdoors, without having to worry about money. But they need to find a family home with basement apartment potential to finance their retirement dreams. Scott shows them how to make a wise investment, while maintaining the balance between their dream home and a hot rental property.”Income Property” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

On DIY

From basic to beauty: When Julia and George found their rundown 3,000-square-foot Dutch Colonial in a beautiful urban neighborhood filled with charming cottage-style homes, they knew they’d struck gold. They spent the last two years taking down wallpaper and even tearing carpet off the ceiling! Now they’ve got to transform the plain white siding, chain link fence and barren yard. “Sweat Equity” airs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com

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