Dana McMahan's Recent Articles
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The Best Budget Fixes for Your Really Bad Countertop
Nothing screams ‘Sad Kitchen’ like shoddy old countertops. Okay, a bad floor or rickety old cabinets are probably right up there, but a decades-old, grungy, cracked, and damaged counter can turn an otherwise perfectly decent kitchen into something to cringe over. When my husband and I prepared to put our previous home on the market, our realtor encouraged us to replace the dated laminate counter.
Jul 27, 2018
The 9 Deadly Sins of Bad Paint Jobs, According to a Pro
With so many things that really ought to be done by a professional when it comes to home improvement, the temptation—the need if you don’t have deep pockets—to DIY the simple stuff is totally understandable. And first on that list has got to be painting. All you do is grab a brush and go to work, NBD. Right? Well, it’s true that most anyone can do it. Doing it well, on the other hand? Maybe not so much.
Jul 7, 2018
This One Little Thing Made the Most Amazing Difference in My Living Room
It was one of those "huh!" moments where I wondered why this had never occurred to me before.
Jun 22, 2018
Hey “Dog Friendly” Hotels, What’s With the Big Dog Ban?
More of us than ever before are hitting the road with our furry families. Stats show 37% of pet owners travel with their pets (up from 19% about 10 years ago). And savvy marketers (naturally) want to get in on this action. Hotels are fond of plastering “dog friendly” on everything, luring pet families with promises of treats and dog bowls and beds to pamper their pooches.
Jun 14, 2018
These 8 Time-Saving Under $25 Buys Make Paint Jobs Easier
Oh, goody, you’re about to start a paint project! There’s nothing more dramatic than an amazing color change in a room, so of course it’s well worth the work and cash money. That doesn’t mean we all enjoy the actual work, however, and while it’s still on the low end of budget spectrum, any redo costs can still mount quickly—especially if you splurge on the good paint. After painting many (many!
Jun 9, 2018
We Asked 5 Designers to Reveal Their Favorite Target Store Brand
Where else does spending at least a hundred bucks when you only went in for dish soap feel so good? Somehow it seems like Target’s goods just keep getting better, from clothes and health & beauty to home décor. It turns out we civilians aren’t the only ones who can’t get enough. People who make their living by making homes beautiful are loving some of Target’s newest brands—one in particular.
Jun 3, 2018
The Best Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, According to a Nutritionist
Your kitchen is kind of like command central for your house. Think about everything that goes on there—not least of which is the preparation of up to three meals a day, practically every day of your life. Unfortunately, sometimes in the hustle of that life, things can get a little… disorganized. And by that I mean your fridge may sport haphazard piles of random leftovers in unlabeled containers wedged between broccoli that’s seen better days.
May 23, 2018
10 Questions You Should Ask Before Tearing Down An Interior Wall
If you’ve ever watched any home makeover show ever, the big wall teardown signifies that Good Change Is Coming. It’s pretty much mandatory these days to knock down at least one interior wall in the quest for a more open floor plan. But, before you grab the sledgehammer (and pose for that obligatory kicking-through-the-wall Instagram photo op), hold up a sec. Here are ten questions you should ask yourself first.
May 18, 2018
Would You (or Do You?) Forbid Your Dog from Walking on the Rug?
Someday I’ll learn to stop asking questions on social media. I forget sometimes that well-meaning folks will offer advice I find… puzzling. This is how I recently found myself explaining that no, thank you, I’m not interested in banning my dogs from the rug. Here’s the story: There was this tattered old Persian rug in that I fell in love with when I saw it in the window of a little antique shop near our old house.
May 17, 2018
Here’s the Truth About Open Shelving (From People Who Have Them)
Ahhh, open shelving. There are some very strong opinions about this kitchen trend. I’m 99% ready to take the leap myself, ditching the looming floor-to-ceiling boxy pantries a previous owner added to our Victorian home. They close in the already small-ish space, make getting around the kitchen island an annoying shuffle anytime my husband and I are both in there (every meal time, ever), and in general take up way more footprint than is necessary.
Apr 25, 2018
5 Minutes on This (Free) Site Will Shrink Your Airbnb Regret
Airbnb is awesome – until it’s not. Ten years in, face it, it’s still a leap of faith as a traveler to go stay in a stranger’s home. You roll the dice and could land in a place that makes all your dreams come true — I’ve found some absolute treasures like that. Or maybe it’s not horrible but it’s a boring corporate rental.
Apr 17, 2018
Powder Coating is The Secret To Those Lilac Cabinets in the GirlBoss Office
If you read Architectural Digest, you might have seen the new GirlBoss office, with its warm, bright interior punctuated by colorful furniture and vintage scores. But what caught my eye was the ombre purple filing cabinets in the conference room. And I wanted to know more. According to GirlBoss owner, Sophia Amoruso, the filing cabinets were brought over from her former office at Nasty Gal, before it declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago.
Apr 6, 2018
Everything You’ve Been Told About Thread Count in Sheets Is Wrong
Have you, too, stood in the linens department, eyes glazed as you try to figure out the best sheets? It doesn’t help that they tend to be folded up and jammed into a plastic container so that you can only feel a tiny corner of them. How are you supposed to know how it will feel on your entire body if only the tip of your finger can brush a sliver of the sheet? Well there’s always thread count, which is what it seems “they” want us to rely on.
Mar 23, 2018
11 Shopping Secrets From Menards’ Famous 11% Rebate Week
For fixer-uppers who crush on Menards – the big box home improvement chain clustered mostly in the Midwest – there’s one time to shop. Okay, it’s several times a year, but that time is the 11% rebate week. I’m late to the Menards game, with a history of bouncing between Lowe’s and Home Depot, until a handyman who worked on our old Victorian gushed to us about their prices last year.
Mar 21, 2018
Declutter With Confidence Using This Professional Stylist’s Closet Cleanout Checklist
What’s the easiest target when decluttering fever hits you? The closet, of course. It’s probably overflowing with clothes you haven’t worn since college or things you’re not sure why you even bought in the first place. And sure, there are plenty of cliches out there about when to get rid of clothes.
Mar 19, 2018
Should You Let Your Pet Sleep With You? We Dug Up the Answer
Pets belong on the bed. At our house anyway, and at many of yours, I bet. In fact, surveys on the topic show that around half of pet owners let them sleep on the bed. As for us, our little guy Truffle starts out wedged between my pillows and my husband’s, but at some point in the night moves to curl up to my back, a solid, warm little brick that’s surprisingly immovable for 16 pounds.
Mar 14, 2018
Smart Organizing Secrets to Steal From People Who Live Without Closets
“I have so much closet space I don’t even know what to do with it,” said nobody ever. I mean, even president Obama has a closet-space shortage, so for those of us wishing for just one more little nook to stuff our things in—we’re not alone.
Mar 12, 2018
The Dress I’ll Never Wear But Will Never Get Rid Of
Time can obscure memories as surely as fog can cloak a mountain, so when you posses an item — a totem, almost — that takes you back to a magical place you can never let it go. This romantic notion is how I come to own a dress that doesn’t really fit me and isn’t especially my style, but will never leave my hands.
Mar 6, 2018
The Best (and Worst) Sofa Fabrics for Pet Owners
Because Scruffy (and your furniture) deserves the best.
Feb 28, 2018
You Might Be a Victim of this Common Phenomenon (& Not Even Know It)
Ever notice how when you buy a car you suddenly see the same model everywhere? Or say, you learn the meaning of a new word and just like that, everyone is saying it? No you’re not imagining it; there’s actually a term for that—Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
Feb 22, 2018
The Surprising Health Benefits of a Clean Closet
Have you ever noticed that stepping into your cluttered, messy closet makes you stressed? Understatement of the day? Well, you’re not alone. It turns out that exposure to a greater density of “stuff” – like a jam-packed closet – can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Assistant professor of psychology Darby Saxbe, Ph.D., worked on an intriguing study at UCLA where married, dual-income couples gave researchers a video tour of their home.
Feb 19, 2018
Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Move All Weekend
It’s a brutal winter. The world outside can be a horrible place. Can you blame anyone for wanting to cancel their plans, stay in, sleep late and watch TV all weekend? It’s self care, after all, and we can all get behind that. I mean, it feels good to get cozy and binge on, well, pretty much any shows out right now. And who among us doesn’t need some more shut-eye?
Feb 18, 2018
My Best Valentine’s Day Ever Should Have Been the Worst
“There’s a pot pie in the oven made by a guy named Cookie Puss, who works at the hardware store. It’s 7 degrees outside. We have plastic hanging over the kitchen doorway to block the dust from the sander. There’s beer, and Kid Rock on the radio. We make Pigpen look clean. It’s our Detroit Valentine’s day.
Feb 14, 2018
Here’s How to Know If That Trend You Love Is Worth Your $$$
So there’s a design trend you adore. But you know perfectly well that it’s eventually going to fall out of favor (because of course, most things do). Unless your home is your forever home, you have to keep both Future Buyer and Future You in mind. Will your tile choice for your bathroom reno turn off a potential buyer when you want to sell in five years? Will you be turned off by the tile in five years (or worse, two years?).
Feb 9, 2018
The International Obsession With Cozy — More Than Just a Fleeting Trend?
What does cozy mean to you? I’m writing this story wrapped in a wool tartan blanket, my big dog at my feet, wearing a fuzzy sweater (hand knitted by a Norwegian, I kid you not). It would be better if the fireplace in the room where I’m writing worked, but late afternoon sunlight is pouring in the window and that’s almost as good.
Feb 6, 2018
The Evolution of the TV in the Home (& Why We’re Obsessed With Hiding It)
The biggest fight I ever had with my husband in a public setting was over a TV. We’d decided to put a television in our living room after a few years of hiding the object in our bedroom and were at Target to pick one out. Facing off in the electronics department, we had an epic showdown over whether we’d buy a big, black box, smart TV or the super cute retro-style little Crosley number that would fit in scale and style with the room it was bound for.
Jan 29, 2018
“Expert” Advice Designers Always Break (& Why You Should, Too)
If you're ready to play by your own rules, take inspiration from those who march to the beat of their own decorating drum.
Jan 18, 2018
I Traded a Compact Bungalow For a Sprawling Victorian (& Here’s What I Miss About Small Living)
More space doesn't necessarily equal easier living.
Jan 16, 2018
10 Insanely Good-Looking Products For the Design-Loving Pet Owner
We love, love, love our pets, am I right? Life wouldn’t be the same without those sweet furry faces. But real talk: the accoutrements of life with cats and dogs does not a #designgoals home make. The lovely, would-be formal dining room in my Victorian home stars a wonderful, original fireplace—annnnnnd one 54-inch heavy-duty dog crate that my half mountain dog Cassius Thunderpaws adores for nap time.
Dec 21, 2017
17 Small Space Hosting Hacks (From Tiny Home Dwellers Who Know Best)
“We have plenty of room. Plenty of towels. Plenty of everything.” The Griswold family home in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (otherwise known as the best Christmas movie ever) did have plenty of room—though that didn’t stop mayhem from ensuing, because it wouldn’t be a Chevy Chase movie without it.
Dec 16, 2017
This Pinterest Must-Have Can Help You Get Fit at Home
If you’re curious about the slick-looking wheel popping up on the Pinterest boards of your yoga friends (saves for this fitness prop were up 72 percent according to this year’s Pinterest 100), welcome: you’ve discovered the world of the yoga wheel.
Dec 12, 2017