Use food dye to check for toilet leaks.

First the bleeding hearts turn spindly and yellow. The squash leaves start to wilt. Then there's a cool night that turns my once-lush basil into spotty-leafed waifs.

As much as I love gardening year-round, fall may offer unique qualities that make this season my favorite time to dig in the dirt.

Dear Angie: The stucco exterior of my 100-year-old house is cracked in several places. How should it be fixed?

At Nell Hill's, I love to help customers create the Pinterest-perfect rooms of their dreams, turning a board full of ideas into livable spaces that reflect their unique style. Usually, the magic begins in our fabric room, where we discover their crush: the colors and patterns that make their hearts thump. Armed with a few key inspiration fabrics, layer upon layer, we bring the room to life. One of my favorite palettes to start with when building a beautiful room is black and cream. There are a million ways you can take this timeless twosome. Here are four of my favorites.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

When it comes to creating the perfect color palette, there is nothing quite as pure, timeless and versatile as decorating using black and white. Black and white simply serves as the perfect blank slate for creating virtually any color scheme you desire. An all-white color palette can be crisp and fresh. The simplicity of, for example, a pure white color scheme in a dining room in which the plates and tabletop items provide the element of color (as opposed to using the traditional pure white plate set) can be warm and inviting. Conversely, a pure black palette can add a sense of luxury and elegance. The combination of the two, a black and white color palette, can be the foundation for a simply stunning interior.

I grew up sleeping in an antique iron bed. My parents still have it and use it in a guest room. Its style is way too "antique-y" for my taste. Perhaps this is why metal beds haven't been on my design radar for years.

Q: Dear Ed,

Plants (and people) aren't the only ones suffering through California's epic drought. The soil has taken a huge hit, too.

Pete and Samara Palko fell in love with their midtown Sacramento neighborhood before they ever lived there.

Jay Z and Beyonce have been making waves - in Los Angeles-area real estate.

If DeMar DeRozan needs a spot to hang his gold medal from the Basketball World Cup, the USA Basketball star has plenty of options from which to choose. The former University of Southern California player and Toronto Raptors wing recently purchased a large estate in Tarzana for slightly more than $3.75 million.

Geometric patterns are classics in modern design speak. But one that especially resonates these days is the triangle. Specifically, triangles laid end to end to create mesmerizing larger-scale geometrics, and often in three or more different colors for dramatic effect.

It's easy to ignore your garage door. But it's a bad idea, because a broken overhead door is more than a hassle. It's a danger.

A few weeks ago, I presented a question from a mother who was looking for an explanation for the smell of tobacco emanating from not just one window air conditioner in her son's bedroom, but from a replacement unit as well.

The Esperanza or yellow bells, have truly been outstanding all summer and they just keep flushing with blooms. In addition to the yellow selections we are also growing at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden, Orange Jubilee that has been doing its part to bring in pollinators. By that I mean butterflies and hummingbirds are always found hitting on the blossoms. Whether you can grow these as perennials, or annuals like a petunia, they are must-have plants for beauty and the backyard wildlife habitat.

September is iffy when it comes to mosquitoes. The month can be good or it can be bad, depending on weather patterns.

Legendary furniture designer Hans. J. Wegner (1914�2007) designed upwards of 500 chairs in his lifetime, more than 100 of which were mass produced. Suffice it to say, the Danish midcentury modern master didn't waste time sitting around! A pioneer of "organic functionality," he thoughtfully combined beautiful, sculptural elements, high-quality materials and utilitarian qualities.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When Atlanta transplants Heather McLarney and Christopher Kosa purchased a property in Charlotte's Dilworth neighborhood in August 2012 from longtime Dilworth residents, they razed the small bungalow on the long, narrow quarter-acre lot, and custom-built a three-story, Craftsman-style house in its place with 4,546 square feet of heated space.

Fall layering doesn't just apply to your wardrobe. When heading out to a football game, hopping on a hay ride or embarking on some other seasonal event, pack a well-made wool blanket to fend off the autumn chill. There are stacks on stacks to choose from - the iconic multi-stripe Hudson's Bay caribou throw (; one of the distinctive blankets in Pendleton's National Park collection (; or a heavyweight Mackinaw blanket from Filson (, to name a few. (When it comes to blankets, there's a lot of ground to cover.)

With a strong hint of fall in the air and first signs of color on the leaves, my mind turns toward the bounty that will soon follow. The autumn leaves that fall from the trees are the makings of rich garden mulch and compost that I will gladly collect. Even my neighbors are well-trained by now. They know they are not to throw their precious leaves away or leave them for the Monday morning trash pickup, or worse, burn them.

Q: What could be causing orange, reddish, brown stuff to come off my granite countertop in the kitchen when it is wiped down? Could this be dangerous? It is about 13 years old, and it gets cleaned and wiped down daily.

Like you all, I love to keep up with the top designers and see what inventive new things they are doing in interior design. So the other day, when I happened upon a room that designer Miles Redd had completely washed in teal, I nearly swooned. It was so beautiful and dramatic, I couldn't get enough of it. That moment, teal became my heartthrob and I got busy designing a gallery at Nell Hill's that showcased my newest color crush.

A few years ago, the Post-Gazette featured a log house for sale in New Sewickley, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Now that another log house on the same street is for sale, we can tell the story behind all five homes in Log Haven Estates.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

Our internal designer begins to turn our heads at this time of year toward orange, yellow and other warming shades that tell us fall is near.

You've decided to take the plunge and purchase that home together - now what? Whether you are a newly married couple or two people who have decided to simply live under the same roof, combining households can be an overwhelming task.

Back-to-school time is your reminder that it's also time to start your cool season food garden. What you plant on these late dates can feed you fresh and easy until the snow flies. If you're lucky enough to live in a milder climate, some vegetables yield through frost until Christmas and beyond.

LOS ANGELES - Liz Dennery Sanders and husband Peter Sanders had been looking for a corner-lot house in the Carthay Circle historic district of Los Angeles for more than a year when they saw a For Sale sign go up on their street.

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