Creating an Inviting Family Home after Divorce or Separation

Article written by Erin Lazer at SpaceStyle, featured at http://www.benmor.com/cas.php#25 Benmor Family Law Group

 

When a couple decides to part ways, it is often hardest on the children.  They are forced to adjust to a new routine and a new or secondary home.  To ease them into their new reality, parents need to create a warm, inviting and personalized space for the children so that they feel comfortable. Here are some tips on how to make a new or second dwelling feel like home:

1)  Create a ‘Kids’ Zone’. Ensure there is a designated space for the children. Having their own bedroom will make them feel less like a guest and more like they’re at home.  If finances don’t permit, try to make the shared space special to them or designate a part of that space specifically for the children.  Ensure the space has the functionality the children require such as sleep space, homework space, play space, space for friends, etc.

2)  Involve the children in the process. No matter how old they are, have the children help decorate.  If hiring a professional, have them consult with the children too.  If they are older, set a budget and partner with the children in the design of their space. If they are younger, let them pick out their own pillows, bedding and decorations. If budget is a factor, create some DIY projects they can help with to save money. If they have a hand in creating their space, they will be more excited about it and it will be a more positive experience for them despite their parents’ separation.

3)  Don’t be a hotel. Ensure they have a second set of key things so that they do not have to pack a suitcase every time they come over. They need to feel like it is their home, not a vacation. They may even want their room decorated the same way as their other home – which is fine. A second toothbrush and other toiletries, a good supply of clothing and pajamas, linens, toys, school/art supplies, etc. would be great to have. If they have a specific item they are attached to, try to purchase a second one. This way when they come over, they are coming home, rather than coming to visit.

4)  No surprises. Keep a calendar visible that shows the children’s extra-curricular activities, when they will be with mom and dad, any family events they will participate in, etc. This way, they will feel more in control.

These tips will help ease children into their new environment and routine. If they are in a happy space, it will definitely help boost their mood and help them better cope with some of the feelings they may be having related to the separation. Even if it takes a small investment, it will be well worth it in the end.

By Erin Lazer, Owner of SpaceStyle Home Staging, Organizing and Design, www.SpaceStyle.ca, erin@spacestyle.ca

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Decorating a Toddler Room on a Budget

With Baby #2 on the way, it was finally time to transition our toddler to her “big girl” room. Sad as it was to admit she’s growing up, it seemed like the right time. We did have a bit of a hitch to deal with though. We are planning on moving in about a year, so we didn’t want to invest too much into decorating the room, furniture, etc. My goal was to repurpose as many items we already had in the house, and only purchase what was necessary, all the while making the room fun and exciting for her.

Toddler Room Decor

The most important thing to consider was furniture, of course. She needed a bed, a night table, some shelving, and enough place to store her clothes.  We took the Queen mattress and box spring from our guest bedroom which we rarely used and I purchased an inexpensive metal bed frame for $50. I did have to purchase 2 bedrails for safety at $30 each at Toys R Us, but they fold down and under the mattress so are invisible when not in use.

Shelves before and after

Shelves, Before and After

For shelving, I took a shelving unit my father had made for me as a child, which I had converted into a “bar” 2 houses ago, and re-painted it white. Only cost for this was a quart of paint.  For a night table, I borrowed a white IKEA table from our basement playroom that wasn’t really used. As for clothes storage, the room we moved her into had a small walk-in closet, so by adding cloth shelves($20) and an extra rod that doubled the hanging room ($15), as well as a night table from our guest room with 2 drawers, I was able to store all of her clothes without needing a dresser.

Toddler Bedding

Next comes décor, and this is the fun part.  I started, of course, by choosing bedding that would be the inspiration for the room. I didn’t want anything themed that she would grow out of quickly, so I searched for a great patterned set in a colour that was fresh and fun, and I happened to catch it at 30% off, for a total of $175 including a sheet set, duvet cover and 2 shams at Sears! I bought an all-season duvet and 2 very flat pillows at IKEA for $66, plus a bedskirt to cover the frame, and some pillow protectors ($25). I used extra pillows from my guest room for the shams.   Everything else in the room was chosen and created to work with the fabulous bedding.

Headboard

Painted Headboard

Because I didn’t want to invest in a headboard until we move to the new house, I painted a headboard onto the wall, rather than purchasing a headboard. This way I was able to customize it to match the bedding.  To make the wall soft, I simply used the pillow shams that came with the bedding for her to lean up against if she chooses.

Lamp Before & After

For lighting, I purchased an inexpensive $20 lamp with a plain white shade from target, then I prettied it up using some great decorative paper flowers and fabric ribbon from Michaels that I glued onto the shade ($6.00). To prevent the glue from re-melting, I used a CFL bulb which also meant the bulb wouldn’t be as hot, or dangerous for my daughter. I also picked a lamp that turned on by pulling a short chain, rather than the knobs commonly used where you had to reach up into the lamp, or the ones with the switch on the wire. I figured this would be easiest for my toddler to turn on herself.

DSC_0012

For the walls, I did a number of things that would tie in with the bedding. First, I repainted the letters that spell her name from her nursery to match the headboard and bedding. I purchased 2 $9 large white frames from IKEA and framed sheets of wrapping paper ($4 at Homesense) in a hounds tooth pattern that matched the colour of the bedding perfectly. These can now be used to tape up some of her artwork to display in her room. I purchased a few faux flowers in coordinating colours at Michael’s ($12). I also purchased 3 small square canvas prints from Target (3 for $45) to add a bit more colour into the space, but still coordinate perfectly with the bedding.  For drapes, I kept it simple and purchased off-white drapes from IKEA, as well as a black-out curtain liner ($60). I hemmed both myself using special hemming tape that irons on, saving myself from going to a seamstress (and I certainly don’t sew!).   And to fill the shelves, I just transferred all of the things she has collected since she was born and displayed them.

DSC_0007

The result was a beautiful, coordinated, and fun room that she loves, and it only cost about $600 including supplies! She hasn’t stepped foot in the nursery since we unveiled her new bedroom, so hopefully she’ll have forgotten about it when the new baby takes over.

Happy Decorating!

Erin Lazer

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

 

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Creating an Inviting Entryway

The entryway of your home is the first impression for guests, or prospective buyers if your home is for sale. In those few seconds when others enter, consciously or not, they will form this impression. Not only that, but when you yourself walk into your home from a long day, wouldn’t it be great if it was a nice, welcoming space? Here are a few tips on taking that entry from drab to fab with a few simple additions.

Entryway 2-sm

1) Seating: It’s always great to have a bench or stool where you and your guests can have a seat to put on or remove shoes.  It also says, “come in, sit down”, which is warm and inviting. In the example shown located in Vaughan, Ontario, we’ve used an ivory leather bench (easy to clean!) with amazing chrome nail head studding, complete with reclaimed wood base and legs.  You could also invest in a storage bench if you are short on space. The bench could hold winter accessories like hats and gloves, pet supplies like leashes, or handbags year-round.

bench, entry seating

2) Textile: Most entryways will have a hard flooring surface like tile, in addition to the hard walls, doors, and windows. Bringing in a great entry rug will instantly warm the place up with a soft surface. While functionally, the indoor/outdoor rugs you can buy at any big box store will work, you can actually be more dramatic and make the space more impactful with a beautiful area rug. And don’t be scared to go big! Especially if you have a large entryway–you don’t want a 2×3 mat for all your guests to try to balance on before taking off their shoes. Make sure it’s large enough so they can come well into the home to allow everyone in the party inside. In the example shown, we’ve used a gorgeous rug that is relatively thin. Because this home has a mudroom where the occupants generally enter from the garage, the front entry is used mainly for guests, so investing in a nicer rug makes sense as it is not exposed to everyday traffic.

Textile, rug, area rug, fabric, warmth

3) Console Table: It’s always great to have a table of some kind right by the entry. Functionally, it’s somewhere you can put a few things down as you take off your coat and shoes. But it’s also a great place to showcase a few decorative pieces, again, to add warmth and personalization to the space. In the example shown, we’ve used a bowl where people can leave their keys or loose change, a family photo of the owners, and a sculptural piece.  It’s would also be amazing to have a large vase of fresh flowers for when you are entertaining–a great way to bring life to the space any time of year. The console table shown here is glass and chrome, however, there are many options out there. You could even get one that does double duty as a storage unit, with some drawers, or a cabinet area to store hats, mits, handbags, and even shoes.

Console table, entry table, sofa table, decorating entry

4) Art: Adding art to any space in your home is the way to perfectly finish it off.  Without art, a space can seem empty, drab, and impersonal. Adding a fabulous mirror or large piece of art right at the entry is a great way to create instant impact. In the example shown, we had a challenge with the light switch and alarm key pad being located right in the center of the feature wall, making it impossible to install a large scale piece of art. Instead, we opted to create a gallery of black and white architectural photos that camouflages these unsightly, but necessary, things. (What was the builder thinking?!) The photos themselves were actually taken by the owners on their various travels around the world, again, making this feature very personal.  You could also do family photos.  We purchased matching frames in a few different sizes. You could also do a grouping of mis-matched frames for a more eclectic feel.

Wall collage-sm

5) Flow: When decorating your entry, take into account the look and feel of the rooms that it flows into. In particular, if the home is open concept, you want to ensure the design works with the rooms visible from the entry. In our example the entry opens right onto the living/dining room, so we used the same pallet of neutral colours, but played more with the pattern in the rug to add some interest.

As you can see, transforming your entry can actually be very simple, and not involve a huge investment. But the impact can be huge given its importance in forming the first impression.  So while you might be decorating other rooms in your home, don’t forget about the very important entry!  It’s a place that can not only be functional, but stylish too!

Happy Styling!

Erin Lazer

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

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SpaceStyle is in the Houzz!

SpaceStyle at Houzz event in Toronto

SpaceStyle attends Houzz event at SOFA in Toronto

If you haven’t already heard about www.houzz.com, then now is a good time to check it out. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s going to be huge and could really revolutionize the interior design industry. On November 29th, I attended a great event hosted by SOFA–the Source of Furniture and Accessories, (@visitSOFA) where Houzz (@Houzz_Inc) presented some great research findings. My biggest takeaway was just how big this online platform can be not only in helping design professionals, including home stagers like myself, showcase their work, but also helping home owners to define and communicate the vision that they have for their spaces.

Are you thinking of tackling a home renovation, decorating or design project?  Are you looking to sell your home, or purchase a new one? Houzz should definitely be your first stop.  You can browse through hundreds of thousands of photos of projects completed around the world.  Be as specific as you’d like in your search. You can select a specific room that you’re thinking of working on, and specific style of design that you like (e.g. traditional, modern, etc.)  If you see something you like, you can simply click “add to idea book” and save it. You can make notes on exactly what you liked in the picture so you can remember what it was later.  Maybe you just really loved the chandelier in the picture of that dining room. No longer do you need to rip articles out of magazines and save them in an inspiration binder (if you’re organized like me). You can create as many idea books as you want, say, one per project.

One of the great features is that you can share your idea books. And you can use them to collaborate. For example, if you’re thinking of hiring a designer or decorator for your space, you can share your idea book with them. If you allow it, they can add photos to your idea book as well if they think they’ve found something you’ll like. It’s an amazing tool to help you better communicate with the design professional you have hired. Rather than saying, “So, I want to redesign the living room, but I can’t explain what I want”, creating an idea book in houzz will save tons of time and in the end, money, because you can pinpoint the type of look you are going for right off the bat.  I know I’ll want my clients to create an idea book so that I can understand better what they’re looking for.

Of course, the design professional who posted the original photos that are viewed and saved will be given credit, so if you find a design that you love so much, you can actually locate that designer if you wish.  You can also use Houzz just like any directory to find the professional that’s right for you. Again, using a search function, you can search for the type of professional you are looking for, like a Home Stager, Designer, Landscape Contractor, etc., and of course you can narrow your search by location, like Toronto, or Vaughan, as well to find local professionals.

SpaceStyle currently has a Houzz  profile which can be viewed at http://www.houzz.com/pro/spacestyleco.  Up until now, we haven’t been too active on Houzz, but given all I’ve learned today at the Houzz event, I can’t wait to dive in deeper and have some fun!

If you’d like to share your idea book with SpaceStyle, feel free! We’d love to see what you love!

Happy surfing!

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

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Ten Ways to Welcome Fall Into Your Space

Although it’s always sad to reach the end of the summer, and say goodbye to our flip flops, Fall is probably the most beautiful season we have here in Canada and I look forward to it every year. So if you’d like to embrace the beauty of Fall and incorporate it into your décor, here are some ideas:

  1. Lighting: create warmer lighting by dimming the lights slightly. Not only does this create a warm, cozy atmosphere, but it saves on energy costs as well.
  2. Fire: If you have a fireplace, use it! So many of us do have them (myself included) and we hardly ever do! If it’s a gas fireplace, you have no excuse. If it’s wood burning, yes it’s a bit more work, but definitely worth it. Another way to warm the room up is with candle light. Be safe of course, especially around the kids.
  3. Scent: If you love the smell of apple, pumpkin, vanilla, or spices like cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, ginger, vanilla, etc, get some scented candles or air fresheners. Baking something with these ingredients, like apple or pumpkin pie, is always a yummy way to create these scents naturally. Involve the kids in the baking too, and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy.
  4. Fresh produce: Display seasonal fresh produce in your home in a decorative bowl or platter. Go apple picking as a family and display the “fruits” of your labour proudly. Or go to your local market and pick up a variety of squash (they often have a pre-packaged beg that include some “mini” pumpkins, along with other interesting looking squash).
  5. Floral: I definitely don’t have a green thumb, but you can plant (or buy like me) seasonal plants like Chrysanthemums, better known to most of us as “mums”. How fitting!  They come in a variety of warm, fall colours, and you can buy potted mums pretty much anywhere when they are in season. Display them on your front porch to welcome guests, or on your back patio to enjoy. You can also buy your favourite flowers in the warm fall colours of reds, oranges and yellows. If you’re really creative, buy white flowers, put a bit of food colouring in the water and watch the flowers change colours. The kids would have fun with this too. Another option is to have the kids collect some colourful leaves outside, and simply fill up a vase or bowl with leaves. They may not last long, but it will look great until they dry up.Decorating for Fall with Flowers
  6. Wreaths:  Display a seasonal wreath on your front door to welcome guests, and the Fall season. They can be as simple as some twigs with cranberries woven in, or intricate with various plants and flowers in the gorgeous fall colours.
  7. Textiles: Don’t be afraid to change up a few things in your interior décor for the season. Buy a few throw pillows for your living or family room in the warm, fall colours. Buy a cozy throw blanket in a fall colour as well. These will, of course, work best if your décor incorporates these colours, or if you have a relatively neutral palette with you main furniture pieces, floors, paint, etc. A pop of red or orange would look amazing.
  8. Paint? If you love to paint, and you love colour, why not do a feature wall in one of the fall colours, like a deep red or orange? It will add drama and warmth to your space. The warm colours will reflect off of other surfaces—even your skin! And again, if you love to paint and you get tired of the colour in the Spring, just pick up that paint brush again, prime, paint, and repeat!
  9. Family Photos: The best time of year to take photos outdoors is the Fall. Do a family photo shoot outside when the leaves have changed colours, then display the photos gallery-style in your home. The photos will add that fall warmth to your home, but can stay up for years to enjoy. And if you don’t want to be the star of the show, let the fall colours be the star, and just take some beautiful landscape photos (in high resolution), then have them printed out large scale, or on canvas.Family Photos Fall Theme
  10. The Obvious: Ok, so the obvious way to bring fall décor into the home, of course, is Halloween décor! That’s a whole separate article, but it’s fun for the kids, and the whole neighbourhood. So carve that pumpkin, and hang some of the artwork your kids bring home from school. They’ll love it and so will you!Fall Decor-Halloween pumpkins

Happy Styling!

This article was also published at http://pinkandbluebaby.com/2012/10/ten-ways-to-welcome-fall-into-your-space/.

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

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Baby Boudoir

Hi Everyone! This article I wrote is currently featured in the inaugural issue of “Pink and Blue Baby Mag” new digital magazine! Check it out at this link http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/0e2aab6d#/0e2aab6d/42 or read it right here!

Baby Boudoir

So you’re expecting, or maybe your little one has just entered this wonderful world, and you, of course, want to create the perfect space to welcome them into. Perhaps your nesting instincts are on high alert, but you feel overwhelmed. Well, have no fear!  These tips on nursery essentials and how to create a beautiful space, regardless of budget, will help you create your dream baby boudoir.

Nursery Essentials

The perfect nursery starts with some basic essentials. After all, a pretty room is only good if the room functions well. Here are the things you’ll need to create the foundation of your nursery:

Furniture:

  • Crib:  Consider investing in a crib that can convert into a full bed when the child is older. This could save you money down the road.  If you are buying coordinating pieces, like a dresser, bookshelf, night table, etc., this will keep the set unified and increase longevity.
  • Change Table: Make sure your change table has ample storage. Consider purchasing a dresser and using it as a change table.  You can drill/cut out holes in the back of the dresser that are large enough to secure the straps from your change pad. Use the drawers for all of your diaper changing supplies, as well as clothing, keeping everything handy.
  • Chair: The main use of the chair in the first year will be for nursing or feeding the baby. Later on it will be for story time, and may even become part of your family room some day.  So if you’re making the investment, buy something with the long term in mind.  Make sure it’s comfortable and has a high back for those late night feedings. The ideal chair (and the one that I have myself) is a rocking, swivelling, reclining chair with a WASHABLE fabric.  I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it does exist.  Mine is a Best Chair http://www.besthf.com/best/Storytime/Recliners/items/TRYP from the Baby Furniture Warehouse www.lilangelsstore.com.  You can pick your fabric and have a bit of fun, or keep it neutral so that it can be used in other rooms down the road.
  • Night Table: You’ll need a small table by the chair where you can have a small lamp, Kleenex box, and somewhere to put bottles or supplies for feedings. If possible, again, get one with drawers for extra storage. When the baby is old enough, you can put toys in these low drawers that they can reach.
  • Bookshelf:  Although books may not be necessary right of the bat, a book shelf is great for extra storage. If you’re lucky, you’ll get lots of gifts, including books, picture frames, and other nice things to display. A bookshelf is also a handy shoe rack, and what could be cuter to display than baby shoes?!

Baby Furniture Essentials

                       

Other Essentials:

  • Soft Change pad with straps the secures to the change table/dresser
  • Change pad cover (you’ll need at least 2-3 of these as back-ups for those “messy incidents”)
  • Diaper Pail: No matter how beautifully decorated a nursery is, smelly diapers will overpower it, so make sure to have a good diaper pail or solution for eliminating odours. I myself am a fan of the Diaper Genie http://www.playtexmommyville.ca/DiaperGenie/Diaper-Genie-Elite-Disposal-System.aspx. The refills are expensive,  but it is VERY effective and easy to use.
  • Humidifier:  This is a must-have, especially if your baby is congested or sick.  If you’re buying a “cute” humidifier, make sure the quality is there, or you’ll be like me who bought the expensive, adorable cow and had to replace him after 6 months with a better, cheaper one.
  • Lighting: I highly recommend a table lamp to have next to your feeding chair. Try to find a touch lamp.  You can also have a bit of fun in terms of décor with lamps. You don’t have to buy the matching lamp that comes with your bedding.
  • Mobile:   Some mobiles are more stimulating vs. calming, so be mindful of this. Many bedding sets come with coordinating mobiles which is a nice option to maintain a consistent look.
  • White Noise Machine:  The white noise machine is comforting for your newborn, and also helps to drown out any sudden noises and keep them sleeping/napping longer.  If you don’t have one right of the bat, you can use a radio on a static station until you can get one. The Graco Sweet Slumber Sound machine has a built-in night light and a plug in for an mp3 player http://www.gracobaby.com/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=1751642.
  • Laundry hamper: Not much to say other than this is a must have. Buy a nice lined basket with an open top—you’ll only have one free hand most of the time!
  • Closet organizers: Don’t invest in expensive built-ins for a baby. Use the fabric organizers that attach to the hanging bars. They are the perfect size for baby clothes and provide lots of shelves for storing different sizes. You WILL get gifts in every size imaginable when the baby is born.
  • Monitor:  Although I originally went with an audio-only monitor, when I borrowed a video monitor, I became hooked and would highly recommend one.
  • Black-out Drapes: A dark room is best for a new baby. Blinds aren’t always adequate, so consider adding either a special black-out drape, or just buy a dark-coloured drape.  This can also soften the look of a room and can be incorporated into the décor. You can buy ready-made panels, choose a fabulous fabric and have custom drapes made to match your décor.

Décor Ideas:

The first question we all have when decorating a nursery is, “what is the sex of the baby”? If you’re like me and wanted to be surprised, you’ll want to choose some gender neutral colours or patterns, and don’t worry because there are tons of options out there. If you know the sex of the baby, you may be able to have a little more fun with the décor. You can also wait until the baby is born to decorate.

  • Bedding:  This is a good starting point to inspire your décor. You may want a themed room (e.g. jungle animals) or something      more sophisticated, using colour, pattern and texture.  If you’re buying a set, at first, you’ll only be using the sheet in the crib, but down the road you can introduce the bumpers and blanket. You can use the bedskirt right away.  Drape the comforter or blanket over your nursing chair, or use it as a wall-hanging to show it off sooner rather than later.
  • Paint: This is a very low-cost way to create a soothing space for your baby with the use of colour. And if you’re willing to pick up a paint brush yourself, the cost can be as low as $60-$80. You can add character with paint buy creating a striped or plaid pattern using painter’s tape, or install chair rail around the room and do one colour above and a different colour below for a two-tone effect.
  • Wallpaper:  What can I say about wallpaper other than it’s my new favourite décor element. There are so many options for any space. There are options specifically designed for nurseries, but you can also pick a more sophisticated pattern for a really glamorous look.   Be bold and do a great accent wall, then compliment it by pulling out one of the colours for painting the other walls, perhaps something more muted/neutral.
  •  Display your baby’s name: There are a number of companies that make custom letters that you can hang on the wall in your baby’s room. This also makes a an easy DIY project. Just buy the letters from your local craft store and some paint (or use leftover paint from one of your accent colours in the baby’s room) and create your own.  For simplicity, keep them a solid colour, or if you’re daring try some pattern. Then just hang them up with picture hooks, or double sided (strong) tape. Try to choose colours that already exist in the room. You don’t want to bring in too many new colours.
  • Wall decals: These are inexpensive and easy to apply or remove, making it a great way to personalize your space.  Here’s a website with lots of options and inspiration: http://tradingphrases.com/nursery.html.  It is fairly easy to find wall decals are your local wal-mart, Superstore, Homesense, etc.
  • Pictures: Create a photo gallery. You can start off by framing some maternity photos, and once your baby is here, you’ll have no shortage of sweet photos to display. Buy some white frames. You can choose all the same frames in the same size or different styles and sizes to create a more eclectic collage.  IKEA is always a great source for inexpensive frames http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/categories/departments/decoration/10757/.
  • Baskets: Baskets not only add storage to a room, but they can also add decorative flair.  Baskets come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Some have really pretty fabric liners that can inspire your room décor. These are great to be used right on your change table to keep supplies handy, or in bookshelves to store shoes, small stuffed animals, toys, etc.
Baby Room Decor-Photo Gallery, Maternity Photos

Baby Room Decor

So now that you’re armed with a list of essentials and ideas, I happily send you out on your decorating adventure. Preparing and decorating your nursery can be very fulfilling, but also overwhelming. Remember it doesn’t all have to be done before baby arrives. Who are we kidding, they’re not going to notice anyways! We know that decorating is for us moms, so have fun with it! Happy decorating!

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca.

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