Home & Garden

Martha’s projects tackle headboards, backpacks and savory snacks

Dress up any bedroom with this clever use of a folding screen.
Dress up any bedroom with this clever use of a folding screen. Chelsea Cavanaugh

A new season approaches, and it’s time for more fresh ideas to elevate the everyday.


A folding partition is a pretty way to break up a room. Here’s another use: Slip it behind a basic bed frame to create a plush and personalized headboard. Recast one you already own with a favorite print, or get a new one at Calico (choose from hundreds of fabrics; calicocorners.com) and let them handle the upholstery and delivery.

All you have to do is put your custom piece in place and dream on.

Sources: Calico standard padded folding screen with three panels, $440; and Madcap Cottage Monsoon Palace fabric, in Indigo, $99 per yard, calicocorners.com. Martha Stewart Collection cotton percale sheet set, 360 thread count, from $135, macys.com. Hill House Home Vale duvet, from $225; and shams, $130, hillhousehome.com. Rejuvenation Cedar & Moss table lamp, in Brushed Satin Brass, $249, rejuvenation.com. Made Goods Small Claudette Linen side table, in Pine, $2,400, mecox.com. Aviva Stanoff Gravity pillow, in Jade, $245, abchome.com.

Make going back to school fun with these ideas for personalizing your child’s backpack. Clockwise, from left: Stitch your kids’ names; use stickers to dress up a backpack; or use a stencil that is meaningful to your little one. Chelsea Cavanaugh CHELSEA CAVANAUGH


Pack it up, pack it in, let the playground-style parade begin! Students will be proud to sport a customized book bag that they designed themselves, using these easy techniques — and a little help from you. (For the how-tos, go to marthastewart.com and put “backpack” into the search engine. Then, click on the photo of the backpack you want to personalize to get the directions.)

Stick it: Kids pick out adhesive patches; Mom finishes the job with the iron. Plus: When you buy this colorful bag, another one full of supplies is donated to a student in need.

Sources: State Mini Kane backpack, in Green/Navy, $50; and Broccoli, Tomato and Rocket Ship patches, from $5 each, statebags.com.

Stitch it: Write an older student’s name in pencil or fabric marker, then let her embroider it with a simple back stitch and jazz it up with pompoms.

Sources: Baggu canvas backpack, in Shell, $42, amazon.com. Herschel Supply Co. Settlement poly backpack, in Caramel, $59, herschelsupply.com.

Stencil it: Transform a basic sack by painting on your honey bunny’s favorite animal.

Sources: CarryGreen drawstring bag, $8.50 for two, amazon.com. Martha Stewart adhesive laser-cut stencils, in Woodland Animals, $7, michaels.com.

Experiment with delicious ways to dress up cottage cheese with different combinations of condiments and veggies Chelsea Cavanaugh CHELSEA CAVANAUGH


Cottage cheese, a healthy-eating staple favored by moms across America, lost the star power it had in the ’80s, just like leg warmers and Jazzercise. But give it another chance: Not only is cottage cheese a low-calorie source of (tons of!) protein and calcium, it’s also a versatile alternative to Greek yogurt. Work it into one of these fresh, colorful snacks, and enjoy an oldie but goodie.

1. Sweet & savory tartines

Spread cottage cheese onto crackers (try Wasa Thins). For a crunchy topping, try sprouts or radishes and lemon zest; finish with flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper and extra-virgin olive oil. For a fruity snack, try thinly sliced plums or figs and a drizzle of honey.

2. Stuffed papaya

Halve and seed a ripe Hawaiian baby papaya (they’re smaller and creamier than the Mexican kind). Add a scoop of cottage cheese on top, and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

3. Late-summer chop

Combine 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and  1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss with 1 cup each cucumber, fennel and apple, all cut into uniform 1/2-inch pieces. Serve spooned over cottage cheese, sprinkled with freshly ground pepper and fennel fronds.

4. Edamame dip

Boil 2 cups frozen shelled edamame in salted water until tender, 8 minutes. Transfer to an ice-water bath; drain. Puree in a food processor with  1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup cilantro, 1 seeded and chopped serrano pepper, 2 tablespoons each lime juice and extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt until creamy. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and carrots for dipping.

A good pick

Good Culture Organic cottage cheese ($2 for 5.3 ounces, instacart.com/whole-foods) has a thick, creamy texture and simple ingredients list: milk, cream and sea salt.

Create exactly the storage your family needs by customizing a standard set of shelves with these easy solutions. Chelsea Cavanaugh Chelsea Cavanaugh


You could have bespoke cabinets built to stow your stuff. Or you can outfit standard shelves with customizable felt “curtains” that are as cool as they are clever. Just cut the felt to size, Velcro it in place, add leather tabs and you’re done: pops of color and plenty of storage.

1. The Party Pantry

(Upper left corner) Keep glasses or board games handy — and out of sight (and little people’s reach)

2. The Hidden Bar

(Red square, center)

3. The Toy Box

(Lower left corner)

It’s easy to cover up shelves holding things you may not want to display — like these glasses for example. Ngoc Ming Ngo Ngoc Ming Ngo

How-to: felt shelf covers

Measuring tape

Wool felt

Fabric scissors

Balsa-wood strip, 1 inch square

Velcro tape


1  1⁄4-inch nails


Lightweight wood-trim strip (optional)

White paint (optional)

Wood glue (optional)

1. Measure width and height of shelf opening. Measure and cut felt to those dimensions. Measure and cut balsa wood and Velcro to width of shelf opening.

2. Line up wood beneath top of shelf opening; gently nail in from below (just above glasses). Stick one piece of Velcro to top edge of felt. Stick other to balsa wood. Velcro felt into place.

3. Optional: To conceal the seam between bookcases, paint wood-trim strip white, then use glue to adhere (trim to right of shelf).

Sources: IKEA Billy bookcases, from $30 each, ikea.com. Filz Felt wool design felt, 3 millimeters, in 534 Rose, 150 Weiss, and 105 Rost (left), from $115 a yard, filzfelt.com. Velcro Brand industrial-strength low-profile tape, 10 feet by 1 inch, in White, $10.50, amazon.com. Midwest Products genuine balsa wood, 1 inch by 1 inch by 36 inches, $37 for 6 pieces, dickblick.com. Alexandria Moulding solid-pine astragal molding (WM 134), 11/16 inches by 1 3⁄8 inches by 96 inches, $16, homedepot.com. Whitewashed wooden storage bins, $24 each, containerstore.com. Elyse Graham vases, from $625 each, abchome.com.

How-to: leather tabs

Leather ribbon,  1⁄2 inch

Fabric glue or hot glue

Cut a 2-inch strip of leather ribbon. Fold in half lengthwise and glue together. Glue to back of felt, centered to each shelf. Let dry.

Sources: M&J Trimming leather ribbon, 1⁄2 inch, in Light Brown, $10 a yard, mjtrim.com.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate