A Look Back at Our Favorite Trends of 2015

Trends in home decor aren’t quite like fashion: while fashion can be traced to the runway, which changes every year, home design is a little harder to pin down, since most people don’t redecorate every 12 months. Still, it’s fun to take a look back which looks and ideas dominate a particular time. Here are some design trends that helped define the look of 2015. Some were new, and some were diehards that just kept on going…

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The Best DIY Projects for $50 and Under — From the Archives: Greatest Hits

Looking for some DIY decor to spruce up your home? $50 is totally affordable, especially given how stylish these projects look in the end. If you are on a budget and feel the urge to make something with your own hands, try out one of these great projects from 2014. You won’t think twice about the minimal investment. They’re that good.

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Contemporary Lake House in Minnesota Encourages Family Fun

design modern residenceRehkamp Larson Architects collaborated with Brooke Voss Interior Design to complete this contemporary lake house in Excelsior, Minnesota. Developed for a young, active family, the residence features plenty of spaces for interaction and entertainment.

“The home is a combination of practical materials such as exposed concrete and steel, but with a playful expression focused on family lake living,” the architects said. “A bridge leads to the front door and the moat below allows the steep grade to transition around the house.”

architecture modern residence“The house has an open floor plan, with a large wood-burning fireplace anchoring one end and a bright kitchen on the other,” the architects said. “Sliding glass doors open up to a screen porch. Confetti windows on the fireplace wall and a family-size reading nook hint at the dynamic personalities living here.”

The interior is enhanced by a fusion of textures, which make for a colorful and diverse retreat. Large windows open up the home toward the lake. Enjoy the laid-back vibe of this Minnesota lake house. [Photography by Andrea Rugg]

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Texas’ State Of Women’s Rights Could Get Even Worse In 2016

What abortion access could look like for Texas women if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to uphold HB2, a state law passed in 2013.

In August 2014, Rebecca was a student living in Denton, TX, when she discovered she was six weeks’ pregnant and unready to start a family. She decided to have an abortion. “I had to first travel to a clinic about an hour’s drive away for them to confirm with an ultrasound, even though I had already gotten one in Denton,” she said. “I had just sold my car and had to secure a ride to a clinic over an hour away, outside of Fort Worth, for the actual procedure.”

Rebecca, now 27, had to wait until she was 10 weeks’ along for an initial ultrasound at Planned Parenthood in Dallas. Then, she said, “I had to schedule an appointment for several weeks later (they were fully booked), when I was 15 weeks’ pregnant — I just made the cutoff. That took some time because I needed to find a ride, request off from work, et cetera.”

Because of long wait times for appointments, Rebecca nearly wasn’t able to have her operation performed within the legal time frame of 20 weeks or earlier. “The Fort Worth clinic that performed the abortion was one of under 20 that was open at the time. If I had found out when I was further along, who knows if I would have been able to get the procedure performed in time. The whole thing from start-finish was an all-day ordeal. Another day taken off of work, too,” she said. “The procedure itself took all of 10 minutes, tops. But I spent countless hours in transit, working out logistics, and waiting.”

If Texas’ House Bill 2 is upheld when the U.S. Supreme Court hears Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole this coming spring, Rebecca’s story will be just one of many, as millions of women will be forced to travel great distances, wait, and jump through hoops to receive safe abortion services. Those in West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley — especially low-income women — will be forced to carry unsafe and unwanted pregnancies to term, or else endanger their lives by performing self-inducing abortions.

Prior to 2011, when then-Gov. Rick Perry cut funding for family-planning clinics by two-thirds, the reality for a woman in need of an abortion was drastically different from what she faces today.

In 1992, in Lubbock, a city located in the northwestern part of Texas, Elizabeth was three-to-four weeks’ along when she had her procedure. Getting an abortion at that time did not require travel. She said, “It was all relatively easy. I called up, made an appointment, and was sent through almost immediately after I arrived. The doctor and nurses were very kind and made me feel human.”

Even as recently as 2012, access was relatively good in urban areas. Kelly, an Austin native who was attending college in Colorado, said she was five weeks’ along when she found out she was pregnant, and was able to come home a week later to have an abortion. “I had my first appointment at eight weeks’ pregnant,” she said. “I basically went in to a clinic in South Austin, they described my options, and I decided I wanted to have a medical abortion.”

Despite being required to watch a video she described as “anti-abortion propaganda” prior to making her official decision, the care she received was relatively quick and easy. “I had a follow-up appointment one week later where I took the pill to end the pregnancy, then they gave me the pill to expel the pregnancy, as well as some pain relievers, and instructions for how to take care of myself at home. My insurance actually covered about 90% of it, which I remembered really shocked me!” Kelly said.

Since HB2 passed in 2013, more than one-third of Texas’ abortion clinics have closed, leaving just 17 total operating clinics in the entire state. (Prior to HB2, there were 41 abortion clinics in Texas.)

HB2 is one of dozens of statutes — called TRAP laws — that squeeze clinics through onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions. First, all Texas abortion doctors are required to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Second, all clinics must now meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and abortions 20 weeks’ along or further are illegal. Additionally, medication abortion — an early, nonsurgical procedure done with pills — requires up to four visits with the same doctor, and it is illegal to take those medications without a prescription from an authorized doctor.

Though the situation is bleak for women’s reproductive rights, there is still hope when Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole heads to the Supreme Court in March. If the court rules to uphold the strict requirements of the bill, all but 10 clinics will shut their doors for good, leaving a population of 1 million Texas women of reproductive age more than 200 miles from the nearest abortion clinic, and nine of those 10 would be located in major cities. That means no clinics at all south or west of San Antonio.

Jan Soifer, now a candidate for judge of the 345th District Court in Travis County, is a member of the legal team that fought to get Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole to the Supreme Court. She told Refinery29, “You can’t walk into a place that’s not an ambulatory surgical center to get abortion pills. When I heard this, I thought this must be a mistake, that can’t be right. There’s no procedure necessary. It’s just handing someone some pills. Why do you need to be in an operating center? If this law goes into effect, turning a clinic into a full-blown ambulatory surgical center I think on average costs $2 million additionally.”

“I remember how important Roe v. Wade was, and stories of women dying in back alleys before abortion was legal and safe, and I am concerned we will go back to those days before Roe v. Wade,” Soifer said. “Women self-inducing abortions. Women are going to die as a result, and it’s hard to believe that in 2015, we could go back, but that could happen.”

It’s not just Texas grappling with restricted abortion access — as reported in The Texas Tribune, “A decision in the Texas case would also determine the constitutionality of restrictions in place in other areas of the country.” Recently, in Tennessee, a woman was charged with attempted murder after trying to abort a 24-week-old fetus with a coat hanger. The New York Times reported, “Tennessee law permits abortions up to the point of fetal viability, and later if the woman’s life or health is at risk. But, as in many states, legislators have imposed regulations that have forced some clinics to shut down.”

Bill Kelly, the regional field manager for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2011 to 2014, has been close to the political fight from Day One, in charge of organizing political activities for the organization, and he believes people both in Texas and in the rest of the country can do something about women’s reproductive rights by simply voting.

He said, “Texas has the lowest voter-participation rate in the nation. If more people in the state cared, we would have better results. I would encourage people to take it as a personal responsibility not only for themselves but also for their family and friends. If you’re not voting, you’re not a part of that conversation.”

JD Gins, the executive director of the Travis County Democratic Party in Austin, helped organize the rallies, the protests, and the march to the Texas State Capitol when Wendy Davis filibustered for more than 12 hours against an anti-abortion bill. He witnessed people he’d never seen before come out in droves, and believes if that level of support could be harnessed again, there’s a chance for women’s reproductive rights in Texas. “That, in my opinion, was the first wave of people waking up and seeing that their voice matters,” Gins said. “Although the outcome wasn’t ideal, I think a lot of seeds were planted. There’s a lot of people who were engaged in the political process for the first time — a whole generation of folks in Texas.”

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Small Hotel in Spain Combines Rustic and Contemporary Details

architecture charming hotelThis small hotel, designed by Lucas and Hernández-Gil Architects, was developed in two old houses.  Located in a charming medieval village in Segovia, Spain, Hotel Ayllón features a combination of rustic and contemporary elements. The project developers sought to preserve the original details of these dwellings.

“The main idea was to create a simple and sober effect,” the designers said. “The site itself provides calmness, with shades of color that give freshness just like the poppies in the Castilian wheat fields. The route to the hotel is a great experience for guests because it unveils the complexity of the surrounding medieval architecture.”

charming hotel (2)The hotel has 18 rooms and three common dining areas. A courtyard unites the two remodeled houses. Wood was used extensively throughout the interiors, creating a warm and comfortable feel.

Contemporary furniture and splashes of color add personality. The attic rooms are particularly welcoming, with their cottage-like ambiance and windows overlooking the medieval village. [Photos by Jara Varela]

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The City Where 100% Of Women Say They’ve Been Harassed On Public Transportation

Catcalling. Whistling. Being followed. Inappropriate touching. And sometimes, sexual violence and rape. These are all types of street harassment that women in Paris universally reported experiencing on public transport.

High school student Zoe Coutard said she was 14 when the harassment began.

“Often, men think that going up to a woman and saying, ‘You’re beautiful,’ is always a compliment. But the truth women are told from a young age is that we’re in danger of being harmed in some way. So if someone comes up to me in the street and says, ‘You’re sexy,’ it’s not a compliment, it’s scary. On top of that, I never know how someone is going to react if I say no,” Coutard told Refinery29.

Earlier this year, the French government’s High Council for Equality Between Men and Women released a report revealing that a staggering 100% of women surveyed in the Paris region said they had experienced harassment on public transit. And while sexual harassment in France — and other parts of the world — is a serious issue, many activists believe governments don’t treat it with the urgency and gravity it deserves.

But things in Paris are moving in a positive direction. In October, the Parisian transport provider RATP unveiled a 12-point awareness campaign to combat street harassment. RATP teamed up with the association STOP Harcèlement de Rue (Stop Street Harassment) and other advocacy organizations to create the campaign, which provides travelers with emergency numbers to report sexual harassment and reminds would-be harassers of the harsh punishments: up to 75,000 Euros and five years in jail.

And since March 2014, STOP Harcèlement de Rue has hosted a number of actions to fight against street harassment, including awareness campaigns, rallies, school interventions, and more. The group aims to educate women about the types of harassment that are out there and encourages bystanders to intervene to support victims.

Refinery29 recently accompanied the group on one of its school interventions and spoke to young Parisians about their own experiences with street harassment and what they think needs to be done in order to put an end to it, once and for all.

Photo caption: Zoe Coutard, 17, first started experiencing harassment three years ago. “We need to educate people better about harassment,” she told Refinery29.

Imen Choubidou, 25,

Student and volunteer with STOP Harcèlement de Rue Paris

“When you talk about women’s issues, a lot of people get defensive — women included, because there’s such a stigma around everything that has to do with women’s rights. I feel like you always get the same arguments. Whenever you say something about your experience as a woman, the first response you’ll get is, ‘Not all men…’ A lot of people don’t want to hear what we have to say.

“Even when I talk about street harassment today in the class, I see so many female students who blame other women for what happens to them. Once they understand that it’s a real problem and we’re not making this up, it’s easier to open up. We need to make people understand that harassment really is an issue, that it’s not something we’re inventing.”

Milena Anthony, 17

High school student

“Nobody stops to help when it comes to harassment. You’re like part of the landscape and that’s it. You could ask for help, and nobody would come and rescue you. A guy once came up to me in the metro and when I refused to talk to him, he responded by punching me twice in the stomach. No one helped.

“We could be raped, or something worse, and it’s like the mentality here is you don’t help someone who needs help. People need to understand that from the moment you say ‘No,’ it’s sexual harassment or assault — without exception.”

Julien Premier, 21, Francois Desimon, 21, Marie Menard, 21, and Camille Constans, 20

Students at Sciences Po Paris

(from left to right)

Premier: “It’s really important for us guys to step up if we see something happening. At least the campaign is showing that something is done, but obviously that’s not enough. We need more people to speak up.”

Menard: “Before the government began talking about harassment as a real issue, we didn’t really talk about it here. No one really thought it was a real issue. I’m happy to see that that’s finally changing.”

Constans: “We all know someone who has been afraid to be alone at night. Many think that maybe they can allow themselves to harass women, but I don’t know exactly why. I think initiatives like the metro campaign are a start, but not enough to stop harassment altogether.”

Alice Diaz, 17

High school student

“Sometimes, at night, I’m afraid to go home from parties alone. I know I usually don’t have anything to worry about, but I can’t help it, because we live in a society where I don’t have any other choice.”

Justine Embarak, 21

College student

“Women are afraid to speak up. They’re often afraid that men will become violent if they say something. I’m personally not afraid, so if there is an issue, I’ll say something. But sometimes, my friends even say to me: ‘Don’t cause any trouble, because these men can be more violent if you provoke them and the situation can get bad.’ It’s not fair for us to have to live in this way.”

Camille Soulier, 26,

Volunteer with STOP Harcèlement de Rue Paris

“The hardest thing to get across is what a plight [street harassment] actually is for women. One of the most popular comments you get from men is that women who dress up a certain way are ‘looking for it.’ They say that as a joke, but you can feel that they really do believe that some women dress up provocatively simply looking for that kind of attention.

“I think the problem with harassment in France is that we don’t necessarily address it as a societal problem. For example, harassment and general sexism is a major problem in French parliament, but these politicians aren’t penalized for their actions. So as long as people aren’t punished for being sexist in their workplace, it becomes that much more difficult to then go into these schools and tell these young guys from difficult backgrounds that what they’re doing is wrong.”

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