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Interior design: Cocktail ottomans bring in function, style, color  

Cocktail ottomans, such as the Marilyn ottoman by Jessica Charles, provide room for seating or for serving refreshments to those seated at nearby sofas and chairs. Don’t think of an ottoman as a matching extension for a sofa or chair. It can be so much more than a place to rest one’s feet.

Beyond the godsend storage ottoman that keeps things tidy by tucking away toys, blankets or books, larger “sleeper” ottomans can hide a folding bed and help a home office double as a guest room.

The latest incarnation, the cocktail ottoman, actually looks back at the cinematic past, says Tonja Morrison, a spokeswoman for hand-crafted furniture maker Hancock & Moore. “It’s bringing back that old Hollywood glamour,” she says. “It makes a gathering opportunity for guests; you can sit on it, or you can use it to entertain – set your drinks or hors d’oeuvres on it for a party surface.”

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Painting the house: Guide helps with color schemes for home exteriors

A home's exterior features should be harmonious with its surroundings. Image courtesy of DaVinci Roofscapes Painting the house or updating any other exterior elements such as roofing, siding or trims can require a lot of decision making.

There's the budget to consider, the numerous brands and styles, the neighbors, the effect on property value and more. If changes to the home's exterior colors will be a part of the process, the challenge of getting it right expands exponentially.

For anyone who hopes to give the house a fresh look, color expert Kate Smith has developed a very useful system where FRESH is a guiding acronym for exterior color selection.

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