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A mission to stop hot car deaths

Benjamin Seitz died after being left in a hot car on July 7, 2014.
Benjamin Seitz died after being left in a hot car on July 7, 2014.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Benjamin Seitz is one of at least 19 children who’ve died in hot cars in 2014
  • His mother is now trying to raise awareness and prevent more deaths
  • Thursday is National Heatstroke Prevention Day
  • Ben’s mother believes more research is needed to create lifesaving technology

Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two girls. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) — As a mother, I would understand completely if Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, a mother from Ridgefield, Connecticut, never wanted to get out of bed in the morning.

If she didn’t want to stop crying.

If she couldn’t muster up the energy to do anything.

Those would be expected responses to what she is coping with — the “unimaginable” is one word she uses to describe it — but instead she’s on a mission.

“I guess what motivates me is Ben and what he would want me to do,” she said.

Ben was the name of her 15-month-old son.

Benjamin Seitz, with his father Kyle, visits the zoo, one of his favorite places, says his mom.
Benjamin Seitz, with his father Kyle, visits the zoo, one of his favorite places, says his mom.

On July 7, Rogers-Seitz’s husband, Kyle, was supposed to drop Ben off at day care. The drop-off never occurred. Her husband drove to work and at the end of the day went to day care to pick Ben up, she said during an interview. When Ben wasn’t there, he asked the day care providers if his wife had picked him up earlier. When they told him no, he went to the car, found Ben and rushed him to the hospital, she said.

Their little boy had died. Forty-four children died of heat stroke in cars in 2013, and more than 500 have died in hot cars since 2000, according to the child advocacy group KidsAndCars.org.

The investigation into Benjamin Seitz’s death is still ongoing, according to the Ridgefield police and prosecutor, as officials await a final report on the cause of death from the Office of the Medical Examiner.

READ: Should the government step in to prevent hot car deaths?

Rogers-Seitz has said she won’t comment further on what happened that day, citing the ongoing investigation. She hadn’t spoken publicly before this week, but decided to speak out now coinciding with National Heatstroke Prevention Day, which is Thursday, July 31.

“Right now there’s a hole and it’s like a missing space where he used to be,” she said. “And so I kind of feel like since he’s not here, a way that I can have that happiness again is to continue to live through him with what I think he would want me to do for other people and for ourselves, because this is healing for us, too.”

Who can stop hot car deaths?

Are accidental hot car deaths a crime?

Shocking hot car deaths in the U.S.

Just three weeks after her son’s death, Rogers-Seitz, who also has two daughters, ages 5 and 8, has created a blog called “The Gift of Ben,” which she is using to bring attention to the number of children who die of heatstroke in cars and to press for action to save lives.

We need to do more, she says, beyond public awareness campaigns.

“I just feel like public awareness has been around for years, and honestly I never paid any attention to it. I mean, we’re the all-American family, and we never in our lives understood how this happens.”

READ: After leaving a child in a car, ‘that pain … never goes away’

She and her husband never understood how someone could actually forget their child was in the back seat of a car, much less that they themselves could do it, she said. “I’ve gone back in my head over and over a million times of that day, of what if?” she said.

What if she had contacted her husband and asked about drop-off? What if she had done X, Y or Z?

Rogers-Seitz started reading anything she could get her hands on about child heatstroke in cars. She talked to nonprofit advocacy groups such as KidsAndCars.org, read what experts such as David Diamond, a psychology professor at the University of South Florida, have written about a phenomenon known as Forgotten Baby Syndrome, and studied the legislative stops and starts to try and save lives.

Lindsey Rogers-Seitz says her son was the
Lindsey Rogers-Seitz says her son was the “happiest human being” she ever met in her life.

“And then I just started thinking, ‘Wait a minute. You mean this has been around for over 10 years,'” she said, referring to the problem of children dying in hot cars. She then learned about failed attempts to include a provision in previous legislation back in 2007, which would require that cars include some way to remind drivers about passengers in the back when the car is turned off and the driver leaves the vehicle.

She wondered why there isn’t a law like that on the books now.

Rogers-Seitz, who’s a lawyer, talked with her husband about making their family’s new mission the push for action against child vehicular heat stroke.

OPINION: I, too, left my child in a hot car

“He’s an engineer, so we would sit together and he has his notepad, and he’s like drawing out ideas for devices of things that could be developed, and I’m sitting here looking at the legal stuff. And we just kind of came together and said, you know, together as a family we’d like to do this,” she said.

She has since even drafted a bill, which she calls Benjamin’s Bill, and is using it as she reaches out to U.S. senators and representatives about options to consider. (She has so far talked with one U.S. senator and Senate and House staffers.)Her bill includes ideas such as having the Department of Transportation convene roundtable discussions with everyone from the automobile and car seat industries, to child safety advocates and victims, to academic and medical professionals.

CNN's Kelly Wallace says she could understand if Rogers-Seitz never wanted to stop crying after her son's death.
CNN’s Kelly Wallace says she could understand if Rogers-Seitz never wanted to stop crying after her son’s death.

She also wants to see more funding for research and development for technology that would detect a child in the rear seat when the driver leaves the car. She’s backing a petition drive by KidsAndCars.org to urge the White House to authorize the Department of Transportation to provide funding for that research and development. (The group, which has more than 7,500 signatures, needs 100,000 by August 13.)

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reviewed the technology that was available in 2012, which included sensors that would detect the weight of a toddler in a car seat or restraint, when the ignition is off and a driver leaves the vehicle, and activate an alarm or alert. The agency determined sensors and other technology available at the time were not reliable enough.

The technology “just doesn’t seem to be there yet,” David Friedman, the agency’s acting administrator, told me in an interview earlier this month. “‘Yet’ is an important word there,” he added.

READ: Tragedy in the back seat: Hot car deaths

Rogers-Seitz believes the ideal technology would be devices such as sensors that detect the presence of the child in the car seat when the driver leaves the car, which she says should be installed in cars and car seats before you buy them — not as voluntary accessories. She admits she probably wouldn’t have purchased such a device, again because she never expected her family to experience this type of tragedy.

But had there been technology already in her car or on their son’s car seat before both were purchased, Rogers-Seitz said, Benjamin would be with her today.

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“Absolutely — it would have saved his life.”

Rogers-Seitz looks forward to a time, which she hopes will be soon, when the police investigation is wrapped up, and her husband is free of any possible charges and can speak out freely.

“He wants to tell the public how this happens so that people can think about it and be aware of it, and show why we need devices out there to help people. Because if you describe the mental state of how it happens to people very eloquently and clearly, it’s easier, I think, for them to understand.”

It is still something that is “beyond words,” she said, referring to the moment she saw her husband in the emergency room on that dreadful night.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like that before. Nobody should ever witness that.”

The family is trying to tune out the critics and harsh comments, including calls by some for Kyle Seitz to be charged, and is gaining strength from the support of family, friends and their daughters.

Rogers-Seitz remembers how her youngest girl, whom she calls her “sidekick,” comforted her with wise words in the days after Ben’s death: “You know, we can’t change what happened, but we can just move forward and live,” she said.

As for Ben, she describes him as “the happiest human being” she ever met, a boy who smiled and laughed every day and with his entire face, a boy people used to say was “too pretty” to be a boy.

The day before Ben was buried, Rogers-Seitz knew she was not ready to say goodbye. She wanted to find something permanent that she could carry with her — a way to “have him with me,” she said as she started to tear up.

She headed to the mall and found a locket. She wears the half inscribed “Son” around her neck, and Ben has the other half, inscribed “Mom.”

“I realized that his heart is in my heart … and that I always wanted to keep it with me,” she said holding back tears. “Then I said I want him to have part of me too.”

And now, she plans to keep his memory alive by helping others.

“He taught me, during the 15 months that he was here, the value of life and the potential that there is in life to do things meaningful.”

Society vs. facial tattoos

TV personality and tattoo artist Kat Von D is part of the growing number of celebrities with highly visible tattoos. In her autobiography she calls her body the "canvas" of her experiences.TV personality and tattoo artist Kat Von D is part of the growing number of celebrities with highly visible tattoos. In her autobiography she calls her body the “canvas” of her experiences.
Former boxing champ Mike Tyson is also known for having a tattoo on his face. His ink inspired an important storyline in <a href='http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2011/04/mike-tyson-tattoo-the-hangover-2.html' target='_blank'>"The Hangover II."</a>Former boxing champ Mike Tyson is also known for having a tattoo on his face. His ink inspired an important storyline in “The Hangover II.”
The soccer legend and fashion icon David Beckham has tattoos on both arms, his chest and legs. He has even picked up new art in recent years. The soccer legend and fashion icon David Beckham has tattoos on both arms, his chest and legs. He has even picked up new art in recent years.
Rapper Machine Gun Kelly has inked nearly his entire body, including tattoos that are an ode to the famous book "1984" and his late grandmother. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly has inked nearly his entire body, including tattoos that are an ode to the famous book “1984” and his late grandmother.
Gucci Mane is known for having a tattoo of an ice cream cone and the word "brrr" on his cheek. In 2011, a spokeswoman for the rapper told Rolling Stone that the image is "a reminder to fans of how he chooses to live his life. Cool as ice. As in 'I'm so icy, I'll make ya say Brr.' Gucci Mane is known for having a tattoo of an ice cream cone and the word “brrr” on his cheek. In 2011, a spokeswoman for the rapper told Rolling Stone that the image is “a reminder to fans of how he chooses to live his life. Cool as ice. As in ‘I’m so icy, I’ll make ya say Brr.’
Rapper Birdman has tattoos on his face, arms and legs including religious symbols, names, and even one of his record management company, Rich Gang. Rapper Birdman has tattoos on his face, arms and legs including religious symbols, names, and even one of his record management company, Rich Gang.
Oscar-winner and recording artist Jamie Foxx has tribal tattoos on his body and the back of his head. Oscar-winner and recording artist Jamie Foxx has tribal tattoos on his body and the back of his head.
The only reaction we have to Kelly Osbourne's new tattoo is "ouch." The E! personality revealed her new ink online Saturday, June 28, thanking her tattoo artist for inscribing the word "stories" on the side of her head. "Sorry mum and dad," <a href='https://twitter.com/KellyOsbourne/status/483135551608872960' target='_blank'>she shared on Twitter</a>, "but I love it!" Here are other celebrity tattoos that made us do a double-take:The only reaction we have to Kelly Osbourne’s new tattoo is “ouch.” The E! personality revealed her new ink online Saturday, June 28, thanking her tattoo artist for inscribing the word “stories” on the side of her head. “Sorry mum and dad,” she shared on Twitter, “but I love it!” Here are other celebrity tattoos that made us do a double-take:
Thanks to a game Ryan Cabrera and his friends call "tattoo roulette," the singer is now walking around with a portrait of actor Ryan Gosling's face on his leg. "I consider it the Bentley of tattoos," Cabrera told the<a href='http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/doug-elfman/cabrera-gets-tat-ryan-gosling' target='_blank'> Las Vegas Review-Journal.</a>Thanks to a game Ryan Cabrera and his friends call “tattoo roulette,” the singer is now walking around with a portrait of actor Ryan Gosling’s face on his leg. “I consider it the Bentley of tattoos,” Cabrera told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Rapper Lil Wayne has tons of tattoos. Among them are the words "fear" and "God," which have been etched on his eyelids.Rapper Lil Wayne has tons of tattoos. Among them are the words “fear” and “God,” which have been etched on his eyelids.
Megan Fox has two prominent tattoos. Shakespeare's "We will all laugh at gilded butterflies" is inked on her back, and <a href='http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/megan-fox-removing-marilyn-monroe-tattoo-has-been-traumatic-2012282' target='_blank'>she used to sport a picture of Marilyn Monroe on her forearm. </a>Megan Fox has two prominent tattoos. Shakespeare’s “We will all laugh at gilded butterflies” is inked on her back, and she used to sport a picture of Marilyn Monroe on her forearm.
On Angelina Jolie's arm, she has a tattoo of the geographical coordinates of her children's birthplaces. The ink replaced the actress' old tat of a dragon that she eventually topped with "Billy Bob" for her second husband, Billy Bob Thornton.On Angelina Jolie’s arm, she has a tattoo of the geographical coordinates of her children’s birthplaces. The ink replaced the actress’ old tat of a dragon that she eventually topped with “Billy Bob” for her second husband, Billy Bob Thornton.
Hayden Panettiere loves showing off her "Vivere Senza Rimipianti" tattoo. The phrase, which means "to live without regret" in Italian, is misspelled.Hayden Panettiere loves showing off her “Vivere Senza Rimipianti” tattoo. The phrase, which means “to live without regret” in Italian, is misspelled.
Reality mom Kate Gosselin has Winnie the Pooh tattooed on her leg.Reality mom Kate Gosselin has Winnie the Pooh tattooed on her leg.
"Jackass" star Steve-O is covered in tattoos, such as the giant picture of his face that's inked on his back. The tat reads, "Yeah dude, I rock!"“Jackass” star Steve-O is covered in tattoos, such as the giant picture of his face that’s inked on his back. The tat reads, “Yeah dude, I rock!”
Eminem has a number of tattoos. One of the most noticeable ones is a picture of his daughter Hailie Jade, which sits above the words "Bonnie &amp; Clyde." The rapper has a song called "97 Bonnie &amp; Clyde."Eminem has a number of tattoos. One of the most noticeable ones is a picture of his daughter Hailie Jade, which sits above the words “Bonnie & Clyde.” The rapper has a song called “97 Bonnie & Clyde.”
The real girl with the dragon tattoo, Pink, shows off her ink while performing at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.The real girl with the dragon tattoo, Pink, shows off her ink while performing at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Melanie Griffith showed off her "Antonio" tattoo, honoring husband Antonio Banderas, at the 2011 American Latino Media Arts Awards. But with the actress filing for divorce this year, <a href='http://www.tmz.com/2014/06/23/melanie-griffith-antonio-banderas-tattoo-divorce-photoshop/' target='_blank'>it looks like the tattoo outlasted the marriage.</a>Melanie Griffith showed off her “Antonio” tattoo, honoring husband Antonio Banderas, at the 2011 American Latino Media Arts Awards. But with the actress filing for divorce this year, it looks like the tattoo outlasted the marriage.
Actress Mena Suvari shows off her back tattoos at the Australian premiere of "American Pie: Reunion" in March 2012.Actress Mena Suvari shows off her back tattoos at the Australian premiere of “American Pie: Reunion” in March 2012.
"Jackass" and "Viva La Bam" star Bam Margera has a tattoo of his uncle, Vincent "Don Vito" Margera, on his leg.“Jackass” and “Viva La Bam” star Bam Margera has a tattoo of his uncle, Vincent “Don Vito” Margera, on his leg.
Chris Brown, shown here with Rihanna in December 2012, took heat when he debuted a <a href='http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/11/chris-browns-rep-on-his-tatoo-its-not-rihanna/' target='_blank'>tattoo on his neck</a> that some people thought resembled a battered woman's face. "His tattoo is a sugar skull (associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) and a MAC cosmetics design he saw," his rep said in a statement. "It is not Rihanna or an abused woman as erroneously reported."Chris Brown, shown here with Rihanna in December 2012, took heat when he debuted a tattoo on his neck that some people thought resembled a battered woman’s face. “His tattoo is a sugar skull (associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) and a MAC cosmetics design he saw,” his rep said in a statement. “It is not Rihanna or an abused woman as erroneously reported.”
HIDE CAPTION
Celeb tattoos: You know that’s forever, right?
Mike Tyson
David Beckham
Machine Gun Kelly
Gucci Mane
Birdman
Jamie Foxx
Kelly Osbourne
Ryan Cabrera
Lil Wayne
Megan Fox
Angelina Jolie
Hayden Panettiere
Kate Gosselin
Steve-O
Eminem
Pink
Melanie Griffith
Mena Suvari
Bam Margera
Chris Brown
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tattoos have come a long way; in 40% of households somebody has one, according to a poll
  • Highly visible tattoos on the face, neck, head or hands may not be as accepted by the mainstream
  • Seattle tattoo artist says those with visible tattoos face rejection from employers, landlords
  • Famous people can get away with face and head tattoos, but regular folks have a tougher time

(CNN)“I am a canvas of my experiences, my story is etched in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, my shoulders, and my stomach.” — Kat Von D, tattoo artist

Tattoos have come a long way.

Guess what people are tattooing now

Tattoos help vets heal

Improvements in tattoo removal

Once lambasted as professional kryptonite and social sabotage, inked skin has now rooted itself in mainstream culture.

In May, NBC News/Wall Street Journal released a poll that found 40% of Americans have someone in their household with a tattoo, up from 21% from 15 years ago. Last year, Forbes magazine said tattoos were becoming “increasingly unproblematic across the board,” even in the workplace.

But the workplace doesn’t seem to be ready for tattoos in certain areas — mainly the face, head and neck.

In 2011, 31% of employers nationwide told job website Career Builder that having a visible tattoo would hinder a candidate’s likelihood of being promoted.

Earlier this year, Army Regulation 670-1 enforced new rules prohibiting soldiers from displaying tattoos on the head, face, neck, wrists, hands and fingers.

“Tattoos are getting more and more accepted,” said Alivia Foley, a 24-year old tattoo artist who has been inking clients full-time for six years in Seattle. “But we’re not there yet.”

“People will start treating you differently once you become a heavily tattooed person,” said Foley, who has head and neck tattoos.

Potential employers, law enforcement and even landlords can look askance at facial tats, in her experience.

“I just don’t think they’re for everybody,” she said.

The accepted few

Of course when Foley says highly visible tattoos are not for everybody, she means everybody who wants a professional job.

For years American society has openly accepted celebrities who choose to sport highly visible tattoos.

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Boxer Mike Tyson, who had his face tattooed with a tribal symbol in 2003, was an early adopter of the look. Rapper Gucci Mane said he inked an ice cream cone on his cheek because he’s “cool as ice” and top-selling rap artist Lil Wayne has teardrops and “Fear God” on his eyelids.

Neck tattoos can be seen on anyone from urban youths to international arbiters of style. Rihanna and David and Victoria Beckham each have them.

Even Oscar winner Jamie Foxx appears to have gotten a tribal symbol permanently drawn on the back of his head.

“Tattooing has gone from being counterculture to being something everyone is doing,” Foley said. “But societal repercussions are still there, especially with highly visible tattoos on the face, neck or hands.”

This is certainly true with nonfamous men and women.

Canadian rapper Drake was irate when a young fan followed the instructions from his song, “Free Spirit,” and got a tattoo of his name on her forehead.

And take Jeremy Meeks, the “Hot Felon” who boasts a Facebook fan page with more than 228,000 likes, but has had his teardrop tattoo PhotoShopped out of some Internet memes.

The teardrop, often associated with gang culture and violence, does not fit the high-fashion aesthetic of his dreamy blue eyes. Perhaps our culture is more willing to overlook a criminal history than a conspicuous blotch of ink.

Anyone considering a facial tattoo should be warned about the repercussions, said Foley, the Seattle tattooist.

“If a tattoo artist is not giving a lecture on a face tattoo, they’re not doing their job.”

Foley will ink clients’ faces only if they are already heavily tattooed — and even then she will meet with them beforehand to ensure they have a clear understanding of the societal risks.

But those who want them can still get face, head and neck tattoos without proper consultation and warning. In fact, some crude designs are done by nonprofessionals at home or in prison settings.

“Honestly, the tattoo community used to be very tight-knit,” she said. “But now you can buy kits off of Ebay and call yourself a tattoo artist without any apprenticeship or traditional training.”

‘I feel more like myself

No amount of warning deterred Vin Los.

Canadian model Vin Los
Canadian model Vin Los

Los, a 24-year-old aspiring fashion model, spent years getting rejected from agencies because of his diminutive height. Finally, he says, after a New York modeling agency told him he’d never get hired, he decided to make some changes to his appearance.

Drastic changes.

Los has more than 30 phrases tattooed on his body, including 12 across his face. They include words like fame, play, iconic face, sex, lick, Tokyo, and “the most famous.”

He estimated that his tattoo plans were initially rejected by eight artists.

“I know I’m intense and I live my life to the fullest,” he said. “But now I don’t have to tell people ‘this is who I am or these are my dreams.'”

“Now they can read it and they can see it.”

Sounds like Kat Von D.

Los thrives on the media attention he receives but still has not completed his dream of signing to a modeling agency. He works as a bagger in a Montreal, Canada, grocery store.

“I don’t get why people judge me,” he said. “People look at me, but no one will say anything. A lot of people think I’m crazy.”

People’s reactions, and Los’ subsequent shock, come as no surprise to Michael Mantell, a San Diego psychologist.

“Tattoo lovers are bold, often rebellious and extremely identified with their body ink,” he said. “They have a strong sense of identity and they have no intention of hiding. They are not scared of public opinion and would love to let others know what they believe in.”

However, Mantell, who wrote an article titled “The Psychology of Tattoos” for San Diego Magazine, said this boldness does not necessary translate into comfort with one’s self, especially when it comes to highly visible tattoos.

“Tattoos on the upper body in a spot that’s not typically covered says someone doesn’t care what other people think — but don’t mistake that for a healthy sense of individuality,” he said.

“It’s more likely a sign of rebelliousness.”

Mantell and Foley urged individuals to think before they ink highly visible tattoos on the face, head, neck and hands, again citing mainstream exclusion.

But Los said he’s never felt more like himself.

“For 10 months, I was wearing makeup to hide the tattoos and little by little I began to show more,” he said. “I am an artist and have always had the need to express myself, now I’m just doing that on my skin.”

Los said he is very happy with his decision and loves the way he looks.

He never felt a part of society, and now he has the face to match.

Do facial tattoos change your opinion of a person? Share your take in the comments section below.

Orders pour in for this unique syrup

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Travis and Joyce Miller started producing hickory syrup as an experiment
  • Hickory syrup is similar to maple syrup, but it’s smokier and less sweet in taste
  • In three years, Falling Bark Farm went from selling 48 bottles of syrup a year to 30,000

Berryville, Virginia (CNN) — Travis and Joyce Miller might have the most fragrant garage in the Shenandoah Valley.

The heady scent of hickory wood wafts from their rural home on Virginia’s busy Route 7, catching the attention of hungry commuters who might expect to find a grandma tending the hearth or, even better, a pitmaster roasting a hog on the side of the road.

What’s cooking, though, is something a little bit sweeter (sorry, grandma): It’s Falling Bark Farm hickory syrup.

Never heard of hickory syrup? Neither had the Millers until a few years ago when a chance Internet search turned up mentions of it.

In 2011, they showed up to the farmers market in nearby Purcellville, Virginia, with 48 bottles of their new science project — “which we felt was a little bit risky,” Travis says.

We’re not making meth; it’s maple syrup

Don’t mess with Vermont maple syrup

The risk paid off.The couple aim to sell 30,000 units this year.

The Millers credit tapping into the market at the right time with all the right buzzwords: foraged, locally sourced and, most of all, unique.

They’re the first to admit they didn’t have a divine syrup destiny; they’re just retirees looking to get by via trial and error — a challenge that Americans of all ages face regularly.

“Everybody out there is looking for something new,” Travis says. “The difficulty is not necessarily producing the product, it’s about marketing the product.”

The Millers are among a dozen or so hickory syrup producers nationwide; in comparison, the maple syrup industry produced 3.17 million gallons in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Millers have built their business byintriguing the average consumer, who often associates the flavor of syrup strictly with maple or “pancake syrup” poured from a character-shaped bottle.

“We say, ‘You know what, if you just taste it. Just taste the hickory, we just want you to have the hickory experience. You don’t have to buy it,’ ” Joyce says. They find that the flavor is all it takes to win over new customers — not to mention the loyal following of Washington-areachefs who appreciate the syrup’s smoky, earthy undertones.

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“We don’t say it’s better or worse than maple; it’s just a different culinary experience,” she says. The sugar content is similar to that of maple syrup, but the intensity of the sweetness is not there, Travis adds, which is why they suggest use in meat glazes or even cocktails.

As the name suggests, hickory syrup is made from the bark of hickory trees — shagbark hickory, to be exact.

Instead of boiling down tapped tree sap like maple or birch syrup makers would, the Millers craft their product by extracting flavors from the actual bark that’s been foraged from the forest floor. They scrub the bark clean, roast it over an open flame and then boil it with turbinado sugar to form a syrup.

Throughout the Millers’ 33-year marriage, the couple have always looked to their hands — and the land around them — as a means of making a living. They grow and eat their own produce, hunt and cook their own game, and have even built most of their houses from the ground up.

Joyce says the initial plan was that if they could work a weekend producing syrup and make the same amount of money Travis was earning at his odd retirement jobs, they’d take that idea to the next level and pursue it full time.

Three years later, the notion seems to have stuck.

“I think the family that works together, stays together,” Travis says.

At first, they experimented with compound butters and smoked salts. The smoking led them to looking into different woods to smoke — from there they branched into hickory.

“And then syrup just started happening,” Joyce says. “And it’s continued to happen. We’re going to follow it wherever it takes us.”

They individually bottle each unit in their home using a Hamilton Beach coffee urn, and drive orders to the post office in their truck with a license plate that reads, “SRP HPNS” (syrup happens).

People in their small rural community know them as the hickory syrup folks, and have started to chip in by letting the couple stop by and pick up any naturally shedding bark off their property. Oftentimes, they come home to find bundles of hickory bark on their front porch like a basket of fresh baked goods from a new neighbor.

“We just try to do the right thing,” Joyce says. “I guess maybe all that’s karma. It’s come back around and starting to pay off.”

An 8-ounce bottle retails for around $9.99, and the syrup is available nationwide in retailers such as Whole Foods as well as in Falling Bark Farm’s online store.

“We don’t want to get too big, too fast, kind of like the cupcake industry,” Joyce jokes. “We’re just taking it a step at a time.”

Besides, it’s just the two of them producing all the sticky stuff.

“We’re just two simple senior citizens making syrup,” Joyce says.

For the Millers, at the moment, money really does grow on trees.

George W. Bush’s green retreat

At their magnificent 1,600-acre Crawford retreat, once known as the Western White House, Laura and George W. Bush live the green life in a house that is tailored for easygoing indoor-outdoor enjoyment. <a href=At their magnificent 1,600-acre Crawford retreat, once known as the Western White House, Laura and George W. Bush live the green life in a house that is tailored for easygoing indoor-outdoor enjoyment. See more at ArchDigest.com
Breezeway: Mr. Bush sometimes paints at an easel in the enclosed breezeway, where the windows are replaced with screens in warm weather; the ottoman and the cushions on the sea-grass chairs are covered in Sunbrella fabrics. <a href=Breezeway: Mr. Bush sometimes paints at an easel in the enclosed breezeway, where the windows are replaced with screens in warm weather; the ottoman and the cushions on the sea-grass chairs are covered in Sunbrella fabrics. See more at ArchDigest.com
Living Room: Mounted on the living areaLiving Room: Mounted on the living area’s limestone chimney breast is an Adrian Martinez painting, which over looks sofas clad in a Glant fabric, a club chair upholstered in a Groves Bros. print, and a cocktail table designed by Mrs. Bush; the windows are curtained in a Calvin Fabrics linen, and the ammonite fossils displayed atop the pedestal table were found on the property. See more at ArchDigest.com
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • During George W. Bush’s presidency, world leaders visited his Texas ranch
  • The Bush family regularly makes the trip from big-city Dallas to small-town Crawford
  • Mr. Bush frequently fishes and paints to unwind on the ranch
  • The design’s green features include a geothermal energy system for heating and cooling

(CNN) — Central Texas, especially that sweet spot halfway between Dallas and Austin where small swaths of the legendary old prairies remain, is an earthly paradise. Blowsy live oaks spread their heavy limbs beneath cloud-spattered skies, while creeks and rivers—most prominently the meandering Brazos—ripple alongside gently rolling pastures gilded with waving grasses. These natural glories are precisely what led Laura and George W. Bush to choose the area for their Prairie Chapel Ranch, the retreat they completed in 2001, just after he became the 43rd president of the United States. Occupying some 1,600 acres near the flyspeck town of Crawford, about 25 miles west of Waco, the property is anchored by a strong but relatively modest home that quietly honors its location.

During the eight years Mr. Bush was in office, the ranch served as the Western White House and welcomed numerous heads of state—from Russian president Vladimir Putin to Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz—some of whom were coaxed to join the leader of the free world as he raced along the property’s 40-mile network of bike trails. And, of course, there are the well-known stories of the president spending his vacations clearing brush, often in searing heat, sometimes encouraging aides to join him.

Calderon appraises Bush portrait

The Phoenix Towers, designed by UK-based Chetwoods Architects, will be taller than Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the worldThe Phoenix Towers, designed by UK-based Chetwoods Architects, will be taller than Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest completed building.
Three of the spheres in between the towers will serve as celestial-themed restaurants. There are also plans for a giant, wind-powered kaleidoscope.Three of the spheres in between the towers will serve as celestial-themed restaurants. There are also plans for a giant, wind-powered kaleidoscope.
Last year, another architectural attempt to beat the worldLast year, another architectural attempt to beat the world’s tallest building record was postponed in the Chinese city of Changsa, due to the lack of government approval. The Phoenix Towers are still waiting for the final nod from Wuhan’s mayor.
If completed, the largest Phoenix tower will reach one kilometer into the sky. It will be 172 meters taller than Burj Khalifa (pictured) in Dubai, which currently holds the record as the tallest structure ever built.If completed, the largest Phoenix tower will reach one kilometer into the sky. It will be 172 meters taller than Burj Khalifa (pictured) in Dubai, which currently holds the record as the tallest structure ever built.
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower is also planned to reach one kilometer into the sky, but is not due for completion until 2019.
Chinese towers reach for new heights
Celestial spheres
Getting off the drawing board
Burj Khalifa (Dubai)
Kingdom Tower (Saudi Arabia)
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WorldWorld’s next tallest tower is super green and really pink

2009: Bush skydives for 85th birthday

Architectural Digest: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen’s Custom Chateau

These days the Bushes live in Dallas, also home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which opened last year on the campus of Southern Methodist University. But they regularly make the trip south to Crawford, where the former president is just as likely to be found handling a fishing rod or paintbrush as he is a chain saw. The ranch remains an essential getaway for the couple, a place to unwind and spend time with their daughters, Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, as well as Jenna’s family, and to entertain close friends like Deedie and Rusty Rose, prominent cultural leaders in Dallas.

In fact, it was Deedie Rose who helped the Bushes find their architect, David Heymann, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture. “Deedie and Rusty love the way David sites buildings,” says Mrs. Bush, relaxing on a shady terrace that overlooks a shimmering lake where her husband often casts lines for bass. (The largest caught to date, the former president reports, was a ten-pounder.) “So when we bought this property, Deedie told me, ‘I have your architect,’ and, of course,” she jokes, with a slightly arched eyebrow, “I always do what Deedie says.” (Rose was a member of the committee that selected Robert A.M. Stern to design the Bush center.)

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Architectural Digest: Ralph Lauren Shows Off His Incredible Car Collection

The former first lady notes that when she was growing up in Midland, Texas, her father built spec houses—”one story and low to the ground, a style you saw a lot in the ’50s and ’60s.” She and Mr. Bush had a similar type of residence in mind for Crawford, mainly, she explains, “because we wanted the house to fit into the landscape.” And she means fit literally. Heymann’s design carefully nestled a single-level, three-bedroom limestone structure and an adjacent two-suite guesthouse into an almost imperceptible rise amid an existing grove of live oaks and cedar elms.

Wrapped by deep roof overhangs—some up to ten feet wide—that serve to deflect the region’s broiling sunlight and torrential downpours, the dwelling features tall windows that add a romantic transparency to its unpretentious countenance. “We wanted to see and enjoy the beauty as much as possible,” says Mr. Bush. To answer the couple’s desire for indoor-outdoor living, many of the windows are also doors that open to covered terraces and walks, buffalo-grass lawns, and the tree-shaded swimming pool. When the doors are flung wide, the home becomes a veritable pavilion, capturing passing breezes and filled with birdsong. The configuration also reduces the need for internal corridors—often the Bushes navigate the place by strolling out one door and in through another. “It’s slightly motel-ish, but we love that,” Mrs. Bush says lightheartedly.

Architectural Digest: Bette Midler’s Jaw-Dropping NYC Penthouse

The former first lady worked closely on the project with Heymann, who found her to be a highly perceptive accomplice. “She has a lot of experience from seeing the carefully organized houses that her dad built, and she has a very, very good eye,” he says. Early in the construction process Mrs. Bush pointed out that the masons’ work on the Texas Lueders limestone that clads the exterior (and some interior) walls of the residence was absolutely perfect—and thoroughly wrong. The Bushes wanted to have a subtly rustic, handcrafted look, and Heymann had deliberately chosen to use the so-called rough-back pieces that were traditionally thrown away in the trimming process rather than smoothly finished blocks. “We had to take away their levels,” the architect recalls, adding that the stone was relaid the old-fashioned, slightly irregular way, with taut string and appraising eyes.

Architectural Digest: Radical Houses Around the World

An advocate of sustainable design, Heymann incorporated into the compound a number of green features, including a geothermal energy system for heating and cooling. Rainwater runs off the house’s standing-seam metal roof and into a gravel-filled moat, where it filters into a 42,000-gallon cistern concealed beneath the rear terrace and is recycled to irrigate the lawns.

See more photos on ArchDigest.com

Reprinted with permission of Conde Nast.

How often do you wash sheets?

HereHere’s a quick guide to how often you should wash pretty much everything in your home. Let’s start with sheets: Wash them once a week.
Cars: Every one to three weeksCars: Every one to three weeks
Dogs: As neededDogs: As needed
Jeans: Every four to five wearsJeans: Every four to five wears
Bras: Every 3 to 4 wearsBras: Every 3 to 4 wears
Your Face: Every night (and possibly in the morning, too)Your Face: Every night (and possibly in the morning, too)
Your Hair: Every other dayYour Hair: Every other day
Window Screens: Once a year. Windows: Twice a year.Window Screens: Once a year. Windows: Twice a year.
Mattress: Every six monthsMattress: Every six months
Oven: Every six monthsOven: Every six months
Pots and Pans: Three times a year (deep cleaning)Pots and Pans: Three times a year (deep cleaning)
Carpet: Once a yearCarpet: Once a year
Purse: Every weekPurse: Every week
Dishwasher: Every monthDishwasher: Every month
Washer and Dryer: After washing certain whites in hot water with bleachWasher and Dryer: After washing certain whites in hot water with bleach
Bed Pillows: Every three to six monthsBed Pillows: Every three to six months
Computers: As neededComputers: As needed
Sink and Drain: Every daySink and Drain: Every day
Grout: Once a yearGrout: Once a year
Wood furniture: Once a yearWood furniture: Once a year
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The guidelines tell you when to wash—well—everything!
  • Washing jeans every four to five wears is plenty, according to AllYou.com
  • Make sure to wash whites with hot water and bleach to clean the washing machine too
  • Wash a vehicle every one to three weeks to keep its finish in good condition

(AllYou.com) — A while back, AllYou.com asked readers how often you wash your sheets. Turns out, the majority of you strip the bed every 10 to 14 days, while a good many of you go three and even four weeks in between washings! Eek! That got us thinking that perhaps some guidelines about when to wash what might be useful.

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Sheets: Once a week

Sheets should be washed often to remove a buildup of debris, dust, sweat and other icky things. Use hot water (130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit) and a hot dryer cycle to kill all germs.

Cars: Every one to three weeks

If you live near a large body of water, somewhere with extreme weather conditions, drive a lot or park outside, a once a week washing is a good idea in order to protect the finish. Otherwise, every two to three weeks is sufficient

Dogs: As needed

Let your nose be your guide! If your pooch is getting smelly, or if he feels oily to the touch, then it’s time to wash. Certain breeds, like cocker spaniels, are prone to oily skin, so definitely suds them up once a month. Dogs with thick hair like chows only need to be bathed three to four times a year.

When to Replace Household Items

Jeans: Every four to five wears

It’s ok to wear your heavy denim jeans several times before washing, as long as they’re not stained. Over-washing can cause them to wear out prematurely.

How to:

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1. Turn jeans inside out and wash in cold water.

2. Drip dry.

Levi’s CEO: Don’t machine wash your denim

Bras: Every 3 to 4 wears

A general rule is that you should never wear the same bra two days in a row, because elastic needs time to reshape. Have a rotation of a few bras, and give each one at least 24 hours to recover before wearing it again. With proper rotation, bras can last several wears between washes.

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Your Face: Every night (and possibly in the morning, too)

Cleansing every night is essential for both men and women in order to prevent clogged pores and breakouts. If you have oily skin, wash again in the morning

Your Hair: Every other day

Washing your hair every day strips your strands of natural oils, so it’s best to shampoo on alternating days at most. If you’re prone to oily roots, spray or sprinkle dry shampoo as a refresher to soak up grease.

How Often Should You Wash Your Jeans?

Grout: Once a year

Tackle scrubbing the grout in your shower (or any tiled surface) annually. You can easily brighten the grout with a simple, homemade cleaner.

How to:

1. Spray a 50-50 solution of water and chlorine bleach onto the grout (never use bleach on colored grout).

2. Let it sit for 20 minutes.

3. Then, using a grout brush dampened in clean water scrub to remove dirt and debris.

4. Blot with a dry cloth.

Want to clean the surface of tiles, too? Dilute this solution by half and use it to get white tiles sparkling clean.

How to Clean 12 Common Messes

Window Screens: Once a year

When warm weather arrives, it’s time to de-grime and let the fresh air in.

How to:

1. Take screens out to the yard and spray them with a garden hose. (Remember to mark them so you will recall which windows they fit.)

2. Gently scrub the screens using a nylon-covered sponge and a cleaning solution of one part ammonia and three parts water.

3. Rinse with the hose and leave screens outside to dry in the sun.

No yard? Lay a drop cloth or blanket in your bathtub and place the screens on top. Clean the screens and hold them under the showerhead to rinse. If your tub is too small for the screens to lie flat, rest the bottom edges on the floor, placing them on an old towel. Spot-clean each screen using a nylon sponge and a squirt of window cleaner, then do the reverse side. Let screens air-dry.

Psst! Before you put the screens back, clean the tracks in the window frame. Wrap strips of soft cloth around the tip of a screwdriver, dip it into soapy water and swab each corner and crevice

How to Do Laundry, Fast!

Mattress: Every six months

Believe it or not, the big, bulky bedroom essential is one of the easiest-to-clean items in your home—and it should be done twice a year!

How to:

1. Vacuum the top of the mattress using an upholstery attachment.

2. Then, remove stains by wiping down the surface with a cloth lightly dampened with cold water and a small amount of upholstery shampoo. Be careful not to soak the mattress (moisture can create mold and damage the padding).

Protect your mattress from dust mites and stains by buying a quality mattress pad. And guess what: There’s no need to flip your mattress! Instead, rotate it head to toe every six months for even wear.

31 Surprising Baking Soda Uses

Windows: Twice a year

Inside and out, windows are a must-tackle item to keep your home looking squeaky clean! By washing them regularly and using a squeegee, you’ll get the best results!

How to:

1. Clean first with a sponge and a solution of 5 drops liquid dish detergent in 2 gallons water, plus a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol for extra shine.

2. After that, using a lint-free cloth or a coffee filter, clean a 1-inch strip at the top of the window.

3. Moisten the squeegee blade, position it in the strip and pull down in a smooth stroke.

4. Repeat, slightly overlapping each stroke, until the window is clean.

Get rid of pesky streaks! Wipe vertically on one side of the window and horizontally on the other so you can determine which side a streak is on.

Oven: Every six months

Not all ovens are self-cleaning. If yours isn’t, set it up to clean while you sleep.

How to:

1. Remove oven racks and submerge them in hot water and liquid or granular dishwasher soap.

2. Soak overnight to cut down on scrubbing. Spray the interior and door with an oven cleaner. (Spread newspapers under the door to protect the floor from drips.)

3. Let set overnight and then wipe clean the next day with warm water and rags.

4. Run removable knobs through the dishwasher. Scrub stay-on knobs with warm water and dishwashing liquid.

Plan ahead when cleaning. If you plan to cook a big meal, schedule the oven cleaning a few days before or after. The process can create a chemical odor that clashes with cooking smells.

Pots and Pans: Three times a year

The bottoms of pots and pans take a lot of abuse, but it’s easy to get them gleaming again.

How to:

1. Take the pots outdoors or into a well-ventilated space.

2. Spray the bottoms with oven cleaner, then place in a plastic bag—a grocery bag or trash bag works—for a few hours to keep the solution from evaporating.

3. Finally, rinse thoroughly (if you’re working outside, use a hose), then wash with soap and water. To avoid damaging the cookware, check the cleaning instructions in the manufacturer’s guide before you start.

Calling all DIY fanatics! For pots and pans with stains on the inside, try a nonabrasive scouring cleanser. If that doesn’t do the job, soak the cookware in a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. For ultra-stubborn stains and grease, soak in a 50-50 solution of water and household ammonia for several hours

How to Clean with Lemons

Carpet: Once a year

We’ve all had this experience: You move a piece of furniture, only to find a pristine patch of carpet that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the dingy floor covering. That’s when it’s time for a deep cleaning.

How to:

1. Avoid spray-on rug shampoos, which can leave a residue on carpets that attracts dirt and soil, undoing the cleaning process. Instead, opt for a hot-water extraction method (often called steam cleaning), which suctions up dirt with a hot water-based solution.

2. Whether you hire a pro, rent a machine or buy your own unit, this is the most effective way to clean and freshen your carpets. Vacuum to remove surface dirt.

3. Then switch to the carpet steamer. Instead of adding carpet-cleaning detergent to the water in the machine, fill a spray bottle with the solution and spritz directly onto the rug.

4. Lastly, run the cleaner over the carpet using clear water only in the extractor. This limits the dirt-attracting residue often left behind when detergent runs through the machine.

Act fast when there’s a rug spill: Absorb liquid with dry paper towels. Drench a clean rag in cold water and place it over the spill. Dry with more paper towels.

Wood Furniture: Once a year

Burnish tables, bureaus and the like using just a few time-tested tips!

How to:

1. Wipe down the furniture surface with a damp cloth and then with a dry cotton one.

2. Select paste wax that has a high carnauba content; the natural botanical substance acts as a protectant and won’t degrade the finish. Apply in a circular pattern. Leave on for a few minutes.

3. Then, remove with a dry cotton cloth, using long strokes in the direction of the wood grain. When the cotton cloth slides rather than drags, your job is done.

Did you know? Spray and liquid polishers, silicone-based waxes and oil soaps contain solvents that can damage furniture by lifting or discoloring the finish.

Purse: Every week

Field tests have shown that purses sometimes carry traces of E. coli, most often on the bottom, which rests on germy surfaces. By keeping your favorite catch-and-carry clean, you’ll avoid unwanted germs gathering inside (and be able to find things easier!).

How to:

1. Clean vinyl bags with a disinfecting wipe. Use an alcohol-free baby wipe (ensure it won’t stain by testing an inconspicuous spot) on your favorite leather handbag.

2. Machine-or hand-wash your cotten bags in hot water and air-dry.

Dishwasher: Every month

Fungi and black yeast can grow in your dishwasher. So while it may seem strange to clean the machine that cleans your dishes, we recommend you tackle this task often.

How to:

1. Disinfect it by pouring vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup, then place the cup upright on (empty) dishwasher’s top rack.

2. Finish by running a full cycle, using the hot-water setting.

Washer and dryer: After washing certain whites

Did you know that 60 percent of clothes washers are contaminated with bacteria? As if that weren’t enough, underwear can harbor E. coli, and kitchen towels are prime breeding grounds for salmonella and other germs. So be sure to clean your washer and dryer when you wash certain whites! Zap germs by laundering those items separately in hot water (between 140°F and 150°F) and bleach—it’s the only way to sanitize both your clothing and the machine.

Bed Pillows: Every three to six months

One study found that 16 species of fungi can live in an average pillow, and the stuffing actually attracts allergy-causing dust mites. So to ensure you’re only laying your head down in a clean space, wash your pillows a few times throughout the year.

How to:

1. Use the gentle cycle on your machine, hot water and liquid detergent (powder can leave a residue). Wash two regular-size pillows together to balance the load (king-size ones should go one at a time).

2. Run the rinse cycle twice.

3. Then, to dry them, place pillows in the dryer with two clean tennis balls, and set on low. Polyester-or cotton-filled pillows take one to two hours to dry; down requires two hours or more (check for moistness or clumps by pinching several spots on the pillow.)

Computers: As needed

Computer keyboards harbor five times the bacteria found on the typical toilet seat, according to one study. And 10% of people never clean their keybord—it’s time for a change!

How to:

1. To disinfect your desktop, disconnect your keyboard and mouse, then pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a clean rag and wipe down both.

2. For deep crevices, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Image Source/Getty Images

Sink and Drain: Every day

Because the kitchen sink has the second-highest concentration of microorganisms in the home, it should be cleaned daily.

How to:

1. Every evening, wipe down the entire sink, drain and strainer basket with a disinfecting wipe.

2. Run the strainer basket through the dishwasher weekly.

Copyright © 2014 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

Inside Tommy Hilfiger’s home

Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee, relax in the living room of their Miami-area home, which was decorated by Martyn Lawrence Bullard. A collaborative painting by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat sets the chromatic tone for the room, where Vladimir Kagan sofas from Ralph Pucci International join a vintage cocktail table from JF Chen, Willy Rizzo side tables, and a Kyle Bunting rug designed by Bullard. See more images at <a href=Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee, relax in the living room of their Miami-area home, which was decorated by Martyn Lawrence Bullard. A collaborative painting by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat sets the chromatic tone for the room, where Vladimir Kagan sofas from Ralph Pucci International join a vintage cocktail table from JF Chen, Willy Rizzo side tables, and a Kyle Bunting rug designed by Bullard. See more images at ArchitecturalDigest.com
A Warhol "Flowers" work hangs in a guest room thatA Warhol “Flowers” work hangs in a guest room that’s decked out in a dotted wall treatment devised by Martyn Lawrence Bullard and painted in a Benjamin Moore yellow; the vintage chandelier is by Vistosi, the bedding is by Leontine Linens, and the felt rug is by Anthony Monaco. See more images at ArchitecturalDigest.com
A work by Jean Dubuffet is displayed in TommyA work by Jean Dubuffet is displayed in Tommy’s office, whose walls are covered in faux-suede fabrics by Robert Allen and Kravet; the curtain is of the same Kravet fabric. Facing the Martyn Lawrence Bullard–designed desk are vintage Harvey Probber barrel chairs clad in a Holly Hunt leather; the carpet is by the Rug Company. See more images at ArchitecturalDigest.com
The rear façade of the house. See more images at <a href=The rear façade of the house. See more images at ArchitecturalDigest.com
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • ‘If it’s not shagadelic or groovy, it’s not coming into the house’
  • Tommy and Dee Hilfiger aim for a ‘wow’ factor in their Florida residence
  • Pop and post-Pop Art treasures adorn the couple’s 14,000 square-foot home
  • Designer Martyn Lawrence planned ‘part art gallery and part 1960s–’70s disco madness’

(Architectural Digest) — The great American graphic designer Milton Glaser once declared, “There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and wow! Wow is the one to aim for.” Tommy and Dee Hilfiger apparently endorse that notion. The fashion mogul and his wife have planted their flag on a glorious stretch of beachfront just north of Miami with a home defined by spectacular moments, whimsical flourishes, and astonishing coups de théâtre. In this case wow! might be an understatement.

“We’re here for the weather, the Latin flavor, the art, and the palm trees. Most of all we’re here for the fun,” says Tommy. The residence also provides a base near his latest business venture. Hilfiger, who sold his fashion label several years ago but remains its principal designer, recently purchased the Raleigh hotel in Miami Beach, and he plans to refurbish the Art Deco gem starting in 2015.

But first he and Dee had their own renovation project to tackle. The house they settled on was a 2007 modern structure, offering some 14,000 square feet. Size was crucial, as the couple coveted space for works from their extensive art collection that had long been held in storage.

Architectural Digest: Isaac Mizrahi’s Jaw-Dropping Greenwich Village home

At their magnificent 1,600-acre Crawford retreat, once known as the Western White House, Laura and George W. Bush live the green life in a house that is tailored for easygoing indoor-outdoor enjoyment. See more at ArchDigest.comAt their magnificent 1,600-acre Crawford retreat, once known as the Western White House, Laura and George W. Bush live the green life in a house that is tailored for easygoing indoor-outdoor enjoyment. See more at ArchDigest.com
Breezeway: Mr. Bush sometimes paints at an easel in the enclosed breezeway, where the windows are replaced with screens in warm weather; the ottoman and the cushions on the sea-grass chairs are covered in Sunbrella fabrics. See more at ArchDigest.comBreezeway: Mr. Bush sometimes paints at an easel in the enclosed breezeway, where the windows are replaced with screens in warm weather; the ottoman and the cushions on the sea-grass chairs are covered in Sunbrella fabrics. See more at ArchDigest.com
Living Room: Mounted on the living areaLiving Room: Mounted on the living area’s limestone chimney breast is an Adrian Martinez painting, which over looks sofas clad in a Glant fabric, a club chair upholstered in a Groves Bros. print, and a cocktail table designed by Mrs. Bush; the windows are curtained in a Calvin Fabrics linen, and the ammonite fossils displayed atop the pedestal table were found on the property. See more at ArchDigest.com
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Hilfiger on presidential fashion

“Our Connecticut home feels very country, with lots of taxidermy, and our place in Mustique has a more British Colonial vibe. We wanted to be able to showcase the colorful large-scale artworks that didn’t make sense elsewhere, conceptually or size-wise,” Dee explains, referring to their trove of Pop and post-Pop treasures by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and others.

To realize the energetic, art-friendly abode they imagined, the couple turned to Los Angeles interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Having admired his facility with bold gestures and integrating major art into domestic settings—specifically, his work at the L.A. residence of Elton John and David Furnish—the Hilfigers enlisted Bullard to help conjure a home attuned to the rhythms and colors of Miami.

Architectural Digest: A Modernist Dream House in Southern California

“Tommy and Dee obviously have an incredible sense of fashion, so my job was to translate their vision into interior spaces that feel vibrant and compelling,” says Bullard. “Together, we conceived the house as part art gallery and part 1960s–’70s disco madness.”

The designer started by replacing ubiquitous dark-wood paneling and expanses of travertine with clean white walls and new flooring of white-glass tiles to cultivate a pristine aura. For graphic contrast he reclad the central staircase in black marble—a strategy reiterated in the black and white stripes on the kitchen floor. Once the backdrop was set, it was off to the races.

Architectural Digest: Bette Midler’s Incredible Penthouse

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“I told Martyn, ‘If it’s not shagadelic or groovy, it’s not coming into the house,'” Dee recounts, describing her criteria for furniture and finishes. True to form, Bullard obliged with a kaleidoscopic array of colors, materials, and furnishings, all deployed in vignettes that scream glamour and sex appeal.

The heart of the home is the voluminous living room, presided over by a monumental collaborative painting by Warhol and Basquiat. Ignoring stale precepts that dictate the isolation of art from decor, Bullard extrapolated the painting’s vivid hues in an orgiastic hair-on-hide carpet featuring lavish swirls. He also commissioned reeditions of classic sofas by Vladimir Kagan and side tables by Willy Rizzo to inhabit the space.

See more photos of the Hilfiger’s home on ArchDigest.com

Reprinted with permission of Conde Nast.