• Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

When looking for a way to add personalized art to my teen daughters’ bonus room, (which HGTV’s Lisa LaPorta is designing!!) I didn’t want to do the obvious wall of photos. Family photo walls can look great, but many suffer from too many photos, many of which are faded and discolored, and hang crookedly with bad spacing in cheap mismatched frames. They’re hard to do well, and usually wind up looking dorky.

Lisa agreed. Still we wanted art that was personal but not cheesy; tasteful not tacky; and in my budget, but looking like it wasn’t. After some brainstorming, we decided on images of the girls only stylized like pop art. Fortunately, I knew about CanvasPop will take your photos and add vintage, sepia-toned, cartoon-like, stippled, or posterized effects, enlarge them and mount the images onto stretched canvas.

I emailed three photos. One shot of each girl, and one of the two of them looking goofy. I did some creative cropping, and together we dialed in some fun effects and colors. (The folks are great to work with and won’t let you do anything that looks stupid.) I ordered the three canvases at 24”x48” each (yes, four feet tall) to form a triptych. (That’s a fancy word for three pieces of art that go together.) The art arrived yesterday, and I am over the moon.

Here’s what I sent.  

Here’s what I got.


P.S. CanvasPop’s sister company,, will digitize your DNA, fingerprints or lip prints, and turn them into one-of-a-kind images. (The DNA sample is a cheek swab, and the lip print involves applying lipstick and kissing something.) If you’re ever wanted, this makes it easier for the FBI.


• Monday, October 25th, 2010

Today, on Colorado & Co.’s Channel 9 I shared 20 ways to spice up your home with fall decor — in a six-minute segment. Whew!  The show’s host, Denise Plante, and I have a recurring speed date about once a month, when I come on the show and zoom through my design tips du jour. Anyway, I want to share the ideas here with you, and also why I think layering in some fall decor in your home is an important tradition.

People who don’t change up their décor with the seasons miss out. In places where the climate doesn’t change with the season it’s important to add seasonal décor as a psychological reminder, otherwise you don’t know if it’s November or February. In places where the weather does cooperate, seasonal décor reminds families that it’s the time of year to turn back into the home and nest. Come fall, just as you pull on layers of clothing, it’s also nice to add seasonal layers (not clutter) in your home. So here are 20 almost free ways to express fall. Try a few on at your place. 

  1. Stacks of firewood, outside or in, say we’re ready to put the fire on.
  2. Earth tones.  Accessorize with browns, rusts, golds, plums, and olives,  in pillows, vases, picture frames, guest towels and bed linens.
  3. Vases filled with bare branches. Crooked willow straight up and naked branches say leaves are gone and bare is beautiful.
  4. Indian corn placed on a rustic tray alongside colorful gourds.
  5. Heavier fabrics, like corduroy,wool knit and flannel, invite warmth. Mix patterns; put paisley with plaid.
  6. Chrysanthemums and asters in big planters on the porch, parked by the kitchen door or dried in pots.
  7. Dried wreaths hung as a welcome sign on the front door.
  8. Candles, lots of them, in earthy colors, smelling like cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. Put rows of them in the fireplace.
  9. Cozy slipcovers in flannel or chenille.
  10. Stacks of pillows by the hearth, lining benches, and anywhere they can take up some chill.
  11. Gourds and pumpkins piled on the front stairs. Not two, but twelve.
  12. Nuts in their shells in a bowl in the kitchen with a nutcracker.
  13. Throw blankets and quilts layered over chair backs, sofas, ottomans, and the foot of beds.
  14. Hay bales, one or three parked on the front porch, say harvest time.
  15. Pomegranates heaped in a wooden bowl.
  16. Aged wood anything, because it respectfully reflects the autumn of life.
  17. Twigs wrapped in twine set on a hearth or mantle, where they say nest.
  18. Area rugs at the door to anticipate the mud, and invite people in anyway. Put one rug on top of another.
  19. Burlap in earthy colors, scrunched under a centerpiece, or laid straight down a table as runner. Burlap is the fabric of grain sacks, which symbolize harvest. I just bought a yard of cocoa brown burlap for $4, and a spool (30 feet) of thick brown ribbon. With my trusty glue gun, I cut out and bordered a set of four placemats and a table runner for under $8.
  20. Hot cider, a fire in the fireplace, a flannel shirt, and someone you love.
• Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Hardcovers look better sans jackets, but save the jackets somewhere.

Hardcovers look better sans jackets, but save the jackets somewhere.

My recent column on organizing bookshelves for function and beauty sure created a fine little fuss. Wow, people are passionate about their books, which, of course pleases the author in me. (Ahem, that reminds me, my second book, House of Havoc, hits stores Feb. 1. Be there.) However, from a design standpoint, the fact is not all books are beautiful. Chaotic bookshelves create bad visuals.

Okay, so knowing I was treading into dangerous territory, I offered some suggestions for how people might arrange their books more beautifully. The point that ruffled the most pages was my take on whether to leave on or remove a hardcover book’s jacket. I admitted I was torn. But, because books look better without their jackets, I ultimately voted for removing them. Well, Holy Lords of Literature, did I hear from readers, many who, like me, love both books and good design. They had some really terrific comments:

I just read your column in the News and Observer, (Raleigh, NC). I would like to tell you what I did with my book jackets when I was faced (ordered) with getting our books organized. I took a pair of scissors to the covers, cut out and glued what I wanted to keep on the first or last pages and covers of the book. That way, I always have those pieces with the book, but not the torn jackets.

Paul May

Rolesville, NC

As a retired librarian who worked for 38 years in public libraries, I was interested in your column titled “A less formal bookshelf.”  It is interesting how people organize books.  As a senior, I sometimes have trouble remembering authors, but always remember book titles.  So I have organized some books alphabetically by title, even though that is completely opposite of my training. I do love the paper covers, though, and would not part with them for anything.  They add color and excitement to my bookshelves, help me find a specific book because I recognize the covers, and make a book more valuable should I decide to sell it.

Joyce Gunn
Pittsburg, CA

I appreciated your column about neater bookshelves, which I read in The Denver Post.  I have been in a quandary about mine for two years and your tips have encouraged me.  Regarding book covers, which I, too, am reluctant to remove, how about tucking them into the pages of the book?  They will be right there for you and won’t show from the front.  I am planning on trying that – right after Christmas! Thanks for your columns.  I enjoy them very much.

Karen Thomas

Denver, CO

I just read your article in today’s paper about arranging bookshelves and had to chuckle.  Having many bookshelves and many more books, I have faced the dilemmas you discuss—how to sort, how to place to be both decorative and functional.  I “putz” with them regularly, which in itself I find entertaining and satisfying. I, too, separate the hardcover and paperbacks, placing the paperbacks lower where they are less visible.

Let me, if I may, contribute my solution to book jackets. I have removed them all. I fold them along one edge of the binding side and place them inside the back cover of the book.  While they do stick out of the book slightly, they do not show on the shelf, whether the books are placed vertically or horizontally.  When my husband or I remove a book, the jacket remains on the shelf and gives us an easy reference for where it should be replaced. Just thought I’d share—it works for me.

Lee Feldmeier

Livermore, CA

Happened to see your column in today’s
Arizona Daily Star

(Dec. 13, 2009). The advice to ditch the jackets, if you’re so inclined, could be costly if one happened to have some collectible, first editions on their shelves. Nothing is more distressing to a dealer who goes to appraise an estate than finding collectible titles without jackets. In today’s collector market 50% to 80%, or more, of a book’s value lies in whether it has an original jacket and, if so, the jacket’s condition. Here’s a simple example from my shelves: A true, first U.S. printing of “The Little Prince” without the dust jacket will be priced in my next catalog at $300 to $500. BUT if it had its original jacket in excellent condition, it would be priced at $2,000 to$3,000. Examples from high-spots of 20th century literature are even more astounding: “The Great Gatsby” copies of first printings without jacket are available at $3000 to $4000, but there is currently a copy with a nearly perfect, original dust jacket offered for sale at $500,000! So, good decorating advice can sometimes prove to be bad financial advice.
Bob Maddox
Squid Ink Books

Tucson, AZ

Noted and footnoted.

• Friday, November 20th, 2009

Holiday stress happens when you wait until the eleventh hour to decorate, shop, ship and bake. Don't.

Holiday stress happens when you wait until the eleventh hour to decorate, shop, ship and bake. Don't.

Marni’s Holiday Checklist


If you’re like me, and don’t want another season of overspending, overachieving, overeating, and generally overdoing, and if you want a great holiday season, minus the stress, guilt, migraines and exhaustion, I have some advice. I looked back at past years for what I’ve done wrong and right. I made a list and checked it twice, and have this holiday plan for a beautiful, enjoyable, and almost-stress-free season. The secret is to start early, pace yourself, and take shortcuts. The holiday countdown begins Thanksgiving weekend. You have four weeks until Christmas.


On your mark, get set ….!



Decorate: Put up your tree and other holiday decorations, including lights if that’s part of your program.

Simplicity Tip: Don’t spread your decorations all over the house. Instead, go all out in a few spots, like the entryway, mantels and hearths, the banister, the powder room, and the dining room table. This makes decorating and undecorating easier.


Send Cards: Get the family photo (if you’re doing one, and get your holiday cards – imprinted. Gather your address list, forget the letter, really, and send out your greetings.

Simplicity Tip: I’ve used for my holiday cards. The company offers a nice variety of card styles, is fast, reasonable, and lets you create your photo card online.

Simplicity Tip: Long ago I gave up hand addressing envelopes. It’s really okay to print your envelopes using your computer printer, or to use pre-printed labels. Just use a festive script font and ink in a holiday color. 


Shop, Wrap & Ship: Create your gift list. Remember everyone you forgot last year. Consider teachers, special neighbors, dog groomers, hairdressers, housekeepers, the bus driver and the newspaper carrier. Once your list is complete, create a per-gift budget, then shop all at once online as much as possible. Try to limit outings to retail stores to one or two power trips. Because wrapping always takes longer than you think, accept stores offers to wrap for you. Ship everything that needs to be sent this week to avoid expedited shipping fees, because they hurt.

Simplicity Tip: Order as many gifts as possible online, you’ll save time, gas, and avoid impulse buys at the mall. If you need to send your present, have the company do it for you. Many will wrap and include a gift card for a small additional fee.

Simplicity tip: Speed wrap by using gift bags. They’re faster than wrapping boxes, and are reusable. Get a bunch of solid color bags in assorted sizes. (Stick with two colors that match your tree decorations, so packages coordinate.) Embellish bags with festive wire-ribbon bows.



Party and Bake: Now that most of the work is behind you, enjoy the pre-holiday week. When people ask, “Are you ready for the holidays?” You can honestly say, “Yes.” Attend parties, food shop, bake, see the Nutcracker, attend church, enjoy the lights.


Cruise: Decompress and enjoy the downtime the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Simplicity tip: I like to use this week to clean closets and make a charity donation. It’s feels good to give to others, and you start the New Year clean and de-cluttered.


Undecorate: Take down decorations, and put the holidays away. And take your house back.

Simplicity Tip: Buy red and green plastic bins (available at Wal-Mart) and store all holiday decorations in them. Finding them in the garage or rafters will be much easier.

Simplicity Tip: Though it’s hard to even think about going through this again, make the next year go smoothly by packing things away using the LIFO method of inventory. The only thing I remembered from my accounting class, it stands for Last In First Out. In other words, put the items you put up first away last, so they are the first boxes you open when you start decorating next year.





• Wednesday, November 04th, 2009

When I was in kindergarten, I used to get in trouble for talking in class. I attended a private Christian school, and the teacher would put masking tape over my mouth. They could get away with that in those days.

One day, my fed up teacher sent me to the principal’s office. My mom was also called to the office to discuss “my problem.”

“Why do you talk so much in class?” the principal asked me.

My mother has never let me live down my earnest reply: “I just have so many important things to say.” Though my mother thought that was a major crack up, I meant it. I still feel that way.

Whether or not anyone else thinks what I have to say is important isn’t the point. I feel compelled to say it. Which is why this week was so frustrating. I sent my next book, House of Havoc: How to Make – and Keep – a Beautiful Home Despite Cheap Spouses, Messy Kids and Other Difficult Roommates off to press. And I had to shut up. I read the final proofs, squirted in the last bits of copy and sent it to the editors, who put it to bed, as they say. Then I wrote this week’s column, which SHOULD BE IN THE BOOK. I had one more thing to say!

The column, which will appear in papers in a couple weeks, is on what to do with all those ribbons, medals and trophies kids accumulate faster than Facebook friends. Now, my kids aren’t exactly superstar athletes, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the wall full of ribbons they’ve collected from horse shows and gymnastics meets. At the average gymnastics meet, a kid brings home five ribbons: one for each of four events, and one overall — even if the kid fell off the equipment twelve times. That’s because we’re building self esteem!  My oldest daughter recently got a ribbon for 1oth place in a horse show. Tenth! Out of 15 riders. But, hey, we’re building self esteem! We don’t tape mouths. We give trophies: “Most Talkative!”

The problem with these awards, apart from building a false sense of accomplishment, is that, be honest, they’re ugly and create clutter. But we parents have to not only save them but also display them or be reported to Child Protective Services. We’re building self esteem!

Anyway, my point, and yes there is one, is that I wrote my column this week on attractive ways to capture and feature these victories, hollow or otherwise. And as I wrote, I kept thinking: This belongs in my book, but it isn’t there. Though I’d already written the last word, I still had one more important thing to say. And I always will. It’s the story of my life.

Category: Home Design  | 2 Comments
• Wednesday, July 08th, 2009

Here's the cover of my new book, due out in February.

Here's the cover of my new book, due out in February.

Writing a book is like dancing with an octopus underwater. I know because I’ve just finished my second. “HOUSE of HAVOC: How to Make – and Keep – a Beautiful Home Despite Cheap Spouses, Messy Kids and Other Difficult Roommates” (DaCapo Press) is off to my editor, and due to appear at a bookstore near you in February. All I can say is: Whew!  Here’s a excerpt from the intro. Let me know if it speaks to you:

One evening, while reading a slick magazine about the good life, I felt irritation rise like hot lava. As I turned pages featuring articles on making your own scented candles, drying herbs for your fall tea, alphabetizing your favorite recipes and crafting a journal out of sea grass, I thought, not for the first time, about how wide the gap is between the picture-perfect home portrayed in the media and my home.

I thought about my tornado of a day. I’d dealt with a broken washing machine, maneuvered around school projects that had claimed the kitchen table, extracted a ketchup stain from the carpet, and stopped a pillow fight the dogs were having on the living room sofa, in between working, doing laundry, paying bills, and feeding this tribe I call a family.

No wonder I felt annoyed. Here I can barely get the kids out the door on time with clean clothes and I suddenly felt like a slacker because I didn’t put origami napkins in their lunch sacks.

However, I also recognized that my cynicism was cover for something else, for what I really wanted from my home and felt missing. Despite my mocking, I did want a more gracious lifestyle, more order in my home and a more beautifully decorated haven for my family – but how? How when I live with a thrifty spouse, careless kids and run-amuck pets in a time-crunched world where meeting the basic demands of work, home and family matters commandeer all my attention?

How when I live at home with Them!?

That’s the question I began exploring. As I delved into that murky underworld that separates home life from home design, I sought small, affordable, realistic ways to make big improvements at home. I read a lot of organizing and design books, then interviewed lifestyle and interior design experts peppering them with my selfishly motivated, burning questions.

The result is this girlfriend’s guide to mastering the art of living more beautifully with others. It’s a handbook for those who want to take their house back, and create calm out of chaos, heaven from havoc, and beauty on a budget, while feeling better about the fact that their home isn’t perfect.

You won’t find any gee-whizzy, this-woman-needs-to-get-a-life kind of advice. (Like you, I have plenty of life.) I’ve included what worked for me, and have left out any advice that made me want to scream. I won’t tell you how to make an origami napkin, but I will share how to buy perfect towels the first time. I won’t frustrate you with over-the-top, pricey decorating ideas, but will teach you how to make dreamy drapes with a glue gun for cheap. So you can fix up your home yourself with the confidence of a pro.

You also won’t find any advice that doesn’t pass the Them! test. If the advice won’t fly in a havoc-filled home, it’s not here. That’s because at my house, good relationships trump good design. Whether I’m grappling with gender wars, kids’ rooms, school projects, daily clutter, money crunches, unpredictable pets, or decorating on a shoestring budget – and I do all that – my goal is to live better and more beautifully with Them!





Category: Home Design  | One Comment
• Wednesday, June 03rd, 2009

The best way to get a man to lend a hand around the house is to buy him a toy. So I went in search of new Father’s Day gadgets that I thought might inspire men to either hit the honey-do list, or master their grill skills. I got one of each of the following items, and had Dan, my man, test drive them. I’ll demo them on Channel 7 Local news tomorrow, June 4, and will feature them in a column next weekend. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for some novel ideas this Father’s Day, check out our favorites:

  • Hug Light – Remember grandpa’s headlamp? This is the next generation of that beacon, only it’s flexible, smaller and much cooler looking. Two beams of LED light emit from the ends of a bendable cord. Hang it around your neck or from a rafter. It’s hands free. Dan says it’s just what he needs when messing with the wires in the speaker cabinet. $14.95
  • iHome Portable Alarm (iH16) –Help him whistle while he works. This new generation iHome is small but mighty. It looks slick, operates on batteries or with a cord, and has an impressive volume projection that doesn’t distort. The point here is your man can hear his favorite tunes while working in the yard or cleaning the garage – no more excuses. $59.99
  • Grill Right Wireless Talking BBQ/Oven Thermometer – This was Dan’s favorite gadget by far. Anyone whose husband has overcooked the steak will love it. You stick a sensor in your meat, fish or chicken. Then attach a small walkie-talkie-like gizmo to your belt and walk away. The gizmo verbally alerts the chef when the meat has hit the desired temperature. $59.99
  • Ravi Wine Cooler – You like it cold. He likes it hot. This solves that. Stick this pre-chilled chamber in the top of your wine bottle, pour the wine and it comes out chilled. Takes a little planning and maintenance, but once you get the hang of it it’s a neat idea. (Hint: Practice first before serving guests, and not while wearing white pants and serving red wine. Yikes!) $39.95 Beverages & More stores, and wine specialty shops.
  • BBQ Salver Tray – I’m all for anything that encourages a man to cook. This all-in-in-one tray comes with a removable cutting board, three sauce compartments, and a place to park the tongs. It’s well made, well balanced and well designed. Just be sure you have room to store it. $59.99
  • Condiment Gun – Makes men feel like boys, only useful. Load the chamber and it squirts out mustard or ketchup. Pretty funny. $24
  • Grill Charms – Like wine charms, these help guests and grill chefs keep track of which piece of meat is whose. Stick these dime-sized solid stainless steel charms in food before grilling to distinguish it from other grill items that have different sauces or are cooked to another degree of doneness. $19.95
  • Ice-Qube Emergency Kit – Men who pride themselves on being prepared will want this in their car trunks. The sturdy little box has a reflective Mylar blanket, a rain poncho, mini flashlight, and a few more goodies you might need if you get stuck. $23.99 for the starter kit. Higher priced ones may take you farther.
  • Honey-Do Pilsner Glass – I admit, I liked this more than Dan did. It’s a beer glass hand-painted with not-so-subtle hints like “change the light bulb,” “mow the lawn,” so when your man is kicking back with a beer watching the game, it does the nagging for you. $25/glass
Category: Home Design  | One Comment
• Sunday, May 10th, 2009

I never set out to make enemies. As a journalist, I avoid topics that generate hate mail. I leave the reporting of gang wars to tougher members of the media, and stick to home design. But after my column on framing artwork appeared last week, along with my opinion that custom framing costs too darn much, geesh, I fear leaving my house. Framing professionals would like to see me tarred and feathered — but only after I issue a retraction. Which I’m not going to do. They have even gone to the grumble blog, and asked fellow framers to gang up and barrage me with complaints. They’ve posted comments all over my online columns because I dared to attack their livelihoods and question their profit margins in these tough times.

So, for the record: As a journalist, my business is not to keep anyone else in business. As a columnist, I’m supposed to give my opinion. Opinions by nature have more than one side. My side is that custom framing is too expensive. I’m the first to admit I’m the Queen of Cheap. Now I appreciate that framing art well is a skill. I know that a lovely frame and mat can enhance artwork. I get that few framers are “rich” as they’ve repeatedly reminded me. But Holy Almighty, I shouldn’t have to pay for a frame with my vital organs. Furthermore, my hunch was correct. While whining to a former framer about the backlash I’d gotten from the frame industry, he shared this industry secret: The mark-up on frame materials is typically 3 1/2 times the cost of materials. “It’s the biggest racket out there,” he told me. I felt vindicated.

My advice remains: If you want a lovely frame job, and the art you want to frame is valuable meaningful, and you can afford it, by all means, support your local custom framer. If you’d rather put your money toward art, not frames, learn how to frame work yourself, buy art already framed by the artist or gallery, or buy ugly art that has a great frame from flea markets or consignment stores and re-use the frame.

Category: Home Design  | One Comment
• Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Man, four minutes can fly, especially when they’re over in three and a half. That’s what happened last week when I was on ABC TV News showing viewers how to make seasonal centerpieces. Thanks to the expert gliding-along skills of anchor Bertha Lynn, I breezed through my demo, and got through all four seasons plus a bonus holiday centerpiece. Whew!


The topic was one I covered in a recent column: How to create home décor using stuff you have lying around the house – like husbands. I say that because when I told Dan that I was trying to make something out of nothing, he told me I was the world champion. So he had that coming. Anyway, for those who missed it, or for whom the demo just went too fast, (and no, they don’t provide a link) here’s the recap, or at least what I tried to say:


To make a seasonal centerpiece, you need three things:

1. Fabric — Use a scrap, about a square yard, of material you have left from some interior project — drapes, bedding, pillows – or that old bridesmaid dress (yikes!). Think seasonal. I like humble fabrics, burlap or loose-weave linen, in summer, cotton toile in spring, corduroy in fall, and velvet in winter. The scrap does not need finished edges, because you tuck them in. Scrunch up the fabric so it looks billowy, like it’s tossed on, but, of course, it isn’t. Don’t smooth it out like a tablecloth.

2. Container – Find a large wooden, glass, metallic or ceramic bowl or platter. I prefer simple, so no hand-cut crystal or painted china. Set it on the scrunched fabric.

3. Seasonal accent – Organic choices from the outdoors are my first choice. Fruit is perfect. Pears, apples or citrus look great set artfully in your container. Here’s the difference between something that looks like groceries and something that looks like a still life: Take the stupid little stickers off. Arrange only one kind of fruit in odd numbers. Stack them a little. Vegetables, such as heads of ruffled cabbage or eggplant, can also look marvelous. Flowers, of course, pinecones, squash will also do, so long as the accent fits the season. Here’are some seasonal suggestions:

§     Summer: Burlap, a distressed dark wood platter and lemons.

§     Spring: Lavender silk, a glass trifle bowl filled with water, and floating Gerbera daisies.

§     Fall: A paisley printed cotton in harvest colors, a cream ceramic platter, gourds.

§     Winter: Burgundy velvet, a large silver bowl, glass holiday ornaments in a single color.

So, in case I didn’t say it all on air, that’s what I meant to say last week. I’ll be back on ABC May 5 talking about frugal masterpieces, so tune in. I’ll talk fast.




Category: Home Design  | One Comment
• Thursday, April 02nd, 2009

Those who’ve followed my column know, I haven’t been too kind to shelter magazines. Though I’m addicted to them, I really think they’re house porn. These high-style, high-concept magazines make you lust after what you see, even though the look is completely unattainable. (Look closer — there are no cords! No thermostats! No waste baskets! They’ve all been airbrushed out.) Just looking at these stylized spaces makes me feel so inadequate. I read them by the stack. Then I whine about them in print. How do you get to live like this?!

This month was payback time. The shelter magazine world got even with me. My home and I became the subject of a feature in the April issue of Colorado Homes & Lifestyles. I panicked, of course. The irony that I was now in their crosshairs was not lost on me. Adding to the poetic justice of their sweet revenge was the fact that I didn’t know the photographer was coming until the night before the photo shoot. (Oops — we had some email problems last week.) I grabbed the smelling salts, and took a good look at my house. It looked like it usually looks — freshly vandalized. No time to redecorate. I had 17 hours to spiff the place, figure out what to wear (then they told me to change), and get my bangs trimmed. 

Fortunately, they went easy on me. Whew! Here’s what I learned … Be yourself. Sure, tidy up, but pretense is a big waste of every one’s time. Know the degrees of clean, so you only do what you have to. (For camera-ready clean, your place only needs to look tidy on the surface, so you can stuff empty wine bottles in the washing machine. For company’s-coming clean, do camera-ready clean plus clear guest rooms, set out fresh toiletries, and have nothing embarrassing under the bathroom sink. Mother-in-law clean means triple the standards for company clean, then lock up guns and liquor. ) And the best discovery: With the right angle, the right light, a good stylist and a skilled photographer, any home can look good. Am I grateful. Maybe they’re not so bad, those shelter magazines.