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When it comes to making cosmetic improvements to potentially your largest financial asset, you want to make the right decisions. Narrow your focus to three rooms: the kitchen, master bedroom and master bathroom. Surveyed home buyers say that these are the three most important rooms when selecting a home.
photography by Ted Dayton
Getting the most for your money is no longer just a bonus; it's a necessity. Local pros share insider tips on how to save cash without losing style.
Color is, literally, energy - and the only one that humans can visually perceive. Perhaps the most prevalent display of color in a home's interior is represented in the paint we choose, but it's also easy to punch up a room's energy through the use of throw pillows, wall art and simple accessories, like candles.
When the scent of blueberry-jasmine candles wafts above the 78 color-coordinated satin pillows colonizing your couches and the TV remote has its own knitted cozy you know your man-card is in danger of repossession.
With summer bearing down on the Santa Clarita Valley, we're all asking the same question: How am I going to keep my home cool without going broke?

Energy prices are soaring, so you can expect higher bills. Higher, that is, unless you find a way a more efficient way of getting it done. Thankfully, you have options.
Paint & Finish
Problem #1: You're Worried that "Wow" and Kids can't Coexist
Solution:
by Michael Overton of Executive Painting and Texture Inc. 816-7455
Think color, but be careful; too dark a color in a small space will make you feel like you are in a cave. However, if you have vaulted ceilings with light pouring in, dark color can make a classy statement. If sticky fingers are a problem, consider a low-sheen paint. Also, a multi-color faux finish can hide the occasional smudging until you get around to cleaning.
One of the biggest bangs for your home decor dollar lies in replacing fabric. Tired of the dusty plaid couch you bought a decade ago? Replace the fabric around it, and you've got a new couch for a fraction of the cost.
Yes, we know that you planned on making your son a rabbit costume this year. And yes, we're aware that you've always wanted to glaze your own ham. Next year, Dear. With Easter less than 10 days away, you need to send your streamlined inner-Energizer Bunny off to greener pastures. This spring, go easy on yourself. With this simple menu and uber-easy recipes, no one will know the difference.
From co-ed to themes, traditional baby showers aren't what they used to be. Read on to get some fresh ideas from the experts... including a feature where Santa Clarita's favorite gift retailers share their top baby shower picks!
The good news: Men don't need beautiful centerpieces to think a party is successful. The bad news: You don't know a first-down from a Lombardi trophy. Don't worry. Hosting a Superbowl party is more about the shopping list than the decor. Here's what you need:
Hundreds of couples became engaged over the holidays and now it's time to share the good news with the rest of the world. What could be more romantic than a Valentine-themed engagement party?
To keep it romantic this year, consider forgoing the big hoopla. Cook together; the chance to reconnect should be on every couple's New Year's resolutions list.

Plan an elegant, but not labor intensive, menu. Look for steps that could be prepared a day ahead of time, or earlier on New Year's Eve day. Stage an elegant table display. Use lots of candles and sexy colors; black and Kelly green are hot color combinations right now, as is crimson and orange. Play some music - sexy jazz or upbeat reggae are great choices.
When it comes to the holidays, decorating the house is more than Christmas trees, wreaths and Chanukah bushes. Flowers add beauty, fragrance and a touch of elegance.
Here is what some of the experts say.
Claire's Flowers: "You have to think 'What's the occasion?' Tell me about the style and decor of your home," Claire Cullen Middleton said. People who use flowers have a love of their home, Claire said. All white Calla Lilies in a vase filled with crystals is a beautiful choice.
Whether you host an open house, or just earn title of "best guest," one thing holds true: The holidays are nearly here! Get a head start with these great ideas compiled from Santa Clarita's finest caterers and party planners.
1. Consider Artificial
You can purchase a live tree every year at your local discount store, but I find that the pre-cut option is usually dead and droopy by Christmas Eve, when most of us host get-togethers with friends and family. Specialty decor stores sell many varieties of pre-lit, pre-hung (meaning the branches are attached) trees in sizes from two feet to 12 feet.
There are some who start gearing up for the holiday season in July. Of course, that number is pretty low. So if you are like most people, the holidays have snuck up on you and you are getting concerned, running out of ideas, and just a little stressed.

This is the time of year to be jolly and giving. With just a little bit of help, you can start crossing off some of those items on your long list of things to do and get back into the spirit of the holiday.
Creating a festive mood and preparing a Thanksgiving feast doesn't have to be a stressful experience if you plan ahead and prepare in steps. This is one party where you can't leave everything until the last minute. In fact, with careful planning, you'll be ready to enjoy the holiday yourself when the first guests arrive on your doorstep, instead of stressing out in the kitchen.
Garages are the new wave in home improvement, and with attractive cabinet systems and flooring options, homeowners can bring both style and utility to this often neglected part of the house. Innovative organization systems can be installed in the garage to create a workstation, clear a space to park your cars, and increase overall storage capacity by utilizing both wall and ceiling space — two areas that are often overlooked when redesigning the garage for maximum efficiency.
Santa Clarita's homeware shops are BRIMMING with style. Your favorite new accessories are only a short jaunt away. Orchid Gift Emporium, La Via Bella, Macc* Designs/The Warehouse and Madalian are all profiled.
How long has it been since you lingered over a drink and rich conversation with a close friend? Now multiply that experience by the number of gal pals you've been meaning to catch up with "forever." Enough of the guilt. It's time to take action. Spa parties are all the rage and can be as simplistic or complicated as you desire. The same goes for the cost involved. Some women hire masseuses, manicurists and cosmetologists.
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