The house in Rancho Mirage that was thought to be purchased by President Barack Obama sold for $3.5 million to a couple from Omaha, Neb., with no apparent ties to the commander in chief.

Instead of letting your summer vacation memories fade with your souvenirs into the back of a closet, make your travel mementos a part of your home decor. Here are some do-it-yourself ideas for giving your travel tokens a permanent place in your home.

The McClatchy-Tribune News Service is pleased to announce the latest addition to the At Home package, a weekly design column by Cathy Hobbs.

Dens are often designed to be "man caves," but that doesn't mean they can't be family-friendly, too.

One of the best places in your home to showcase the bounty and beauty of autumn is on your dining table. I think of this wide open plane as a ready-made stage that's just waiting for a show-stopping presentation that celebrates the colors, textures and iconic images of fall.

Architect Alissa Pier loves north Minneapolis and its old, architecturally rich housing stock. She and her husband, Brent, have lived on the city's North Side since 1998, in three neighborhoods, and have no desire to make their home anywhere else.

At first, Baldwin Homes didn't build green. Then it dipped its corporate toe in - one home here, another there.

How would you use your home if you didn't know what the rooms were designed to be? Some would be easy to figure out, but what about all those other boxes?

In my many years of personal gardening and horticultural consulting, I firmly believe there are two factors more responsible for a healthy landscape than anything else. First, putting the right plant in the right place. It sounds simple but you'd be surprised how often this basic principle is violated. Second, do all you can to make sure your soil is healthy by providing the conditions and nutrients your plants and lawn need to thrive.

Q: Hi Ed,

I love my horses and the distinctive odor they bring to my home site. For others though, the smell is not appealing at all. To them it's just animal urine that attracts hoards of stable flies. If you're an urban agriculture fan, chances are something similar may be happening in your backyard, too. The chickens and pygmy goats and rabbits you love also create odors and flies. If your neighbor's outdoor living space is on the other side of a good neighbor fence, they may not be good neighbors for long.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

Q: I'm trying to sell my home and the buyer hired a home inspector who said I needed to replace the air conditioner because the coils were damaged by hail. My air conditioner works just fine, but the buyer insists on getting a new air conditioner. Have you ever heard of anything like this?

Dear Angie: We're buying a home that has a backyard koi pond. Is it possible to make it safe for our 4-year-old, or would we be better off filling it in?

Ashton Kutcher has sold his Hollywood Hills home for $9.925 million after quietly shopping it since spring at $12 million.

Phil Jackson will be residing in midtown Manhattan during his tenure with the New York Knicks. The legendary Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls coach turned NBA executive recently paid $4.85 million for a co-op at the Osborne, a historic brownstone building on West 57th Street.

A reporter once asked me, "If you could convince all garden centers to sell one perennial, what would it be?" The answer at that time was simple for me: the Joe Pye weed. I've since fallen for a few other native weeds too, especially when I see the way they bring in bees and butterflies.

The phone rings. The voice on the other line informs you that your PC is infected with a virus that, fortunately for you, the caller's well-known company can eliminate. Hmm, you think, that's odd, since our family only uses Macs.

Despite years of financial crisis, Europeans still leave town in August.

LOS ANGELES-Michael C. Hall has listed a property in Los Feliz at $4.5 million. Considering that the "Dexter" star and serial home buyer and seller purchased the place a year ago at $3.825 million, he may not make much of a killing after improvements and commissions.

When I was in high school, I learned about the law of diminishing returns. Basically it states that the more you have of something, the less valued it becomes. The example our teacher gave (while keeping the age of his audience in mind) was of an ice-cold Coke. If you're hot and thirsty, that first can is heaven. But if you had an unlimited supply, there would be a point where you didn't want another one at all. It no longer had the value the first did. In fact, it would become undesirable.

A century ago, every woman in rural America had a hope chest and a Mason jar collection. These coveted jars were brought into use over the August and September harvest season when the farm yielded its bounty. Early on she worked over a wood cook stove, but now a gas or electric range with air conditioning makes this job more fun in these dog days of summer.

I have a teeny tiny room in my home that needed a big, bold touch. Instead of covering the walls in wallpaper, which we know is such a pain to remove, I opted for lovely blue and white watercolor print from my home decor fabric collection, California Dreaming. It has a great linen texture and makes the room feel so rich and cozy. This project is the perfect solution for a dorm room or a rental apartment. Covering a wall in fabric is easy to do - and when the time comes, easy to undo!

Q: Ed, my wife and I want to turn an unused bedroom into a full master bathroom. Since we have extra space, we would like a beautiful bathtub installed in the middle of the bathroom area away from the walls. What basic bathing options do we have to explore to plan for our bathtub centerpiece?

Trying to maneuver through the rules of the design world can sometimes feel like walking across a mine field. We want to categorize every product as traditional, contemporary, rustic, lodge, industrial, modern or French country. We are so concerned about those labels that we often second-guess our design decisions.

Q: We are replacing our windows and are considering a triple pane window over a double pane. Is there a major difference?

Dear Helaine and Joe:

My favorite season of the year is just weeks away: Fall! I start pulling out my fall decor when it's still beastly hot in Kansas because I just can't wait to fill my home with all the colors, textures and aromas of autumn. If you want to celebrate this glorious season in your home decor as well, the perfect place to start is your fireplace mantel, one of the most visible spots in your home. Here are three beautiful looks we created to inspire you.

What do you get when you spend $600,000 on a remodeling job? For starters, an addition that doubles the size of the existing home. This whole-house remodel in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis is one of nine spendy projects on Midwest Home magazine's first Luxury Remodeling Tour.

Be kind to your vegetables. Watch for wilt. We're all trying to save water, but keep an eye on tomatoes during hot weather. They can wilt easily when the temperature hits triple digits.

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