Relaxed Guests: Inexpensive Guest Room Greatness

The No. 1 leisure travel activity for U.S. travelers is visiting family and friends, according to USTravel.org. Having family and friends stay in your home, instead of a hotel, helps guests save money and allows for a chance to spend some casual quality time together. Before guests arrive, keep in mind six tips for creating an enjoyable, stress-free experience for everyone.

A designer retreat in Mallorca

I’ve a soft spot for Danish designer Malene Birger’s fashion label that delivers modern casual luxury with an artistic twist to contemporary classics and a love for traditional craftsmanship. The same values correspond to her interior décor line, recently launched as a free standing brand under the name of Birger1962.

Malene Birger interior decor, Palma de MallorcaMalene Birger interior decor, Palma de Mallorca

The future lamp: Blackbody Bonzai

The OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) luminous panels are reinventing interior and home lighting. Relying on the latest development in nanotechnology, it is among the most efficient light source available today. The ultra thin luminous surface uses ultra-low energy, is long-lasting, heat-free and soft for the eyes. And due to a high rate of recyclability the OLED is among the most environmental friendly light sources.

Urbania lighthouse series

The four Urbania ceramic tea-light houses designed by Copenhagen based design team R7B are inspired by traditional Christmas decorations and their beautiful design with simple lines make them fit perfectly in the modern home. With lit candles inside they have a calming effect, sending out a warm, cozy light.

Urbania Lighthouses by R7B CopenhagenUrbania Lighthouses by R7B Copenhagen

Iannone Design cork mosaic sideboard

I love this cheerful Cork Mosaic cabinet from Iannone Design! Manufactured from sustainable walnut plywood, locally sourced maple and walnut wood and renewable cork it features a cool Retro Mod circle pattern on front, 3 adjustable shelves and touch release doors.

Iannone Design - Cork Mosaic SideboardIannone Design - Cork Mosaic Sideboard

Molla Space animal shot glass

This stylish and original black shot glass collection with animal heads as base is not only a good conversation starter but a stylish addition to any design-loving home. The ceramic square glasses with beautifully sculpted pewter animal heads can be used as candle holders, paper weight or just as decorative objects.

Modern block paved driveways

In some old movies the dramatic moment when the hero drives to or is being brought to a house the mystery is accentuated by the distinctive style of the driveway: broken stone and murky roads indicated a haunted house, rows of trees and an never-ending dusty road anticipated an old aristocrat mansion and a serpentine paved driveway lead to a powerful, indecipherable man. Movies teach us the basic in home driveway design: that it must complement the house and its owner and even enhance the “drama”.

modern block paving drivewaymodern block paving driveway

Water well bears

They’re sweet, fashionable and promise to bring fresh water for Tireli village in Mali, West Africa. Kumanokoido handmade teddy bears are the creation of Brooklyn based designer Junichi Nakane who, in December 2011, while on a cross-cultural expedition in Mali noticed the lack of clean water in the village of Tireli. By selling huggable, neat-looking handmade toy bears, he aims to cover the high cost ($15,000) for building a water well in that location and send a friendship message throughout.

Kumanokoido bears by designer Junichi NakaneKumanokoido bears by designer Junichi Nakane

LifeEdited urban nest

A 39 square meters studio must be designed as a multipurpose urban habitat in an eco-friendly, space-optimization manner. This wonder apartment fits in dinner for twelve, a guests’ room, a home office, a home theater and lots of storage space. This is the LifeEdited project of entrepreneur Graham Hill, Canadian-born architect, founder of TreeHugger.com and promoter of minimalist philosophy and sustainability in urban dwelling.

LifeEdited Apartment 1: the living room and home officeLifeEdited Apartment 1: the living room and home office

Complimentary Opposition: The Eclectic Modern/Vintage Living Room

A growing trend today is "everything vintage." Decorating with vintage and retro items is no longer seen as outdated and elderly. Now it is eclectic and dramatic.

TLC notes, "sleek and chic or cottage charming, retro is fun to live with and fun to put together because it's whatever decade appeals to you."

Special Teapots from Crate&Barrel

To celebrate 50 years of existence, the prestigious housewares chain store Crate&Barrel launched an Anniversary teapot collection, inviting 12 international artists to create/decorate their own versions of a classic: the Bauhaus inspired Arzberg teapot. Starting December 1st 2012 through November 2013, Crate&Barrel will display online only, on the first day of each month, a new porcelain teapot design, in limited edition, at the price of $200 usd each.

Crate and Barrel 50th anniversary December teapot, Janine Rewell designCrate and Barrel 50th anniversary December teapot, Janine Rewell design

Whimsical vases by Frank Willems

You want an idea for bringing in more fun into your home? Think of flower arrangements with these cute and funny ceramic vases. Created by Dutch designer Frank Willems the Áááh vase collection instantly grab your attention as each one of them portrays a whimsical character that enjoys holding flowers.

I Love Bambi ceramic vase by Frank WillemsI Love Bambi ceramic vase by Frank Willems

Interior design as art: Hubert Le Gall

Where would you place in your house a mythical bull cabinet or a whale shaped lounge chair? Or a Yéti lamp for that matter? Crafted from sumptuous materials (rusted or golden bronze being the favorite), with playful, extravagant shapes and nevertheless functional quality, Hubert le Gall's designs deserve a special place in an art collector home. The daring aesthetic of the French artist's works got him the title of Creator of the year at the 2012 Maison&Objet Paris, Interior Scenes category.

Hubert le Gall, 18 flowers table and matching rugHubert le Gall, 18 flowers table and matching rug

Pit House in Japanese style

This is how an eco-friendly, design-forward house should be like: modest even austere from the exterior but “hiding” an inviting, lovely interior with sinuous lines, round spaces and natural light. Completed in october 2011, The Pit House in Tamano, Okayama, Japan is designed by Keisuke Maeda of UID Architects for a young family with a child who wanted a tranquil, earth-connected home.

Pit House by UID Architects, JapanPit House by UID Architects, Japan

Beller Re-Turned woodcraft

I wish there are more designers like Lars Beller Fjetland. The Norwegian environmentally-conscious artist spent three years studying bleak economics before turning to something more creative and positive. A graduate from Bergen National Academy of the Arts in 2012 Lars focuses on sustainable, eco-friendly design projects. He found a way to make good use of discarded wood through his “Re-turned” project – a series of recycled wood crafted birds.

Lars Beller's Re-turned bird seriesLars Beller's Re-turned bird series