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What’s new

Even if you can’t have a skylight, you can still see the sky.

Sky Factory, an Iowa company, makes virtual skylights called SkyCeilings that mimic the look of the real thing.

A SkyCeiling is an illuminated panel with an image of the sky, which uses such elements as full-spectrum light, proper perspective and accurate color and cloud patterns to fool the eye and trigger the same relaxation response as a view of the real sky.

SkyCeilings are designed for the grid ceilings often used in commercial and institutional settings, but they can be custom-made for homes.


A rectangular 6-by-8-foot SkyCeiling for a grid ceiling costs about $5,000; a customized project will cost more.

SkyCeilings can be ordered directly from the company.

More information is at or 866-759-3228.

Shake it and watch the flowers grow

Seeds don’t just come in little packets.

Smith & Hawken is introducing a line of seed shakers this spring.

With each shaker, you can spread up to 100 square feet of special seed mixes. One shaker holds seeds for fragrant flowers; another has seeds for flowers that attract butterflies.

Other collections include mixes of red flower seeds, shade flowers, blue flowers and seeds to create an aromatic lawn (it’s a mix of thyme, chamomile, yarrow, clover and alyssum).


Each mix costs $15.

Find them at

Calculate your paint needs

It’s kind of a drag to paint a room and only use one of the 3 gallons of paint you bought for the job.

Stave off waste by using a home improvement calculator to help estimate how much paint you will need to buy before you head to the store.

Go to and type "home improvement calculators" into the search box.

You’ll get a list of project planners for not just painting but also wallpapering, tiling, fencing and drywalling.

You may still want to buy a little bit extra, just in case.


But you’ll be less likely to haul away a big load of extra materials if you take time to plan it out first.

— McClatchy Newspapers

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