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Home Front: T-Shirt Quilts, Reglazing Tubs, IKEA Sofas and Hated Design Trends

Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, July 24, 2008 11:00 AM

Home Front is an online conversation between two Washington Post Home Section writers and their readers about the best way to feather the nest. Every week, Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. They were online Thursday, July 24.

A transcript follows.

You may also browse an archive of previous Home Front discussions.

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Jura Koncius: Hey guys. Terri and I are ready to go.

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Washington, D.C.: I hope that you take my question, I am looking for a thrift store or second hand store that has furniture. I have been looking for a night stand for quite a while, and I just decided to see if I can find one and then sand it and paint it to match my room colors. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Have you tried Miss Pixie's? She recently moved to 1626 14th St. NW and is open Thursdays through Sundays. Great used furniture she picks up all over. Fresh merchandise every Thursday. Head over there today! Also down the street from her is Ruff and Ready, 1908 14th St. NW. 202 667-7833. They are only open Saturdays and Sunday, 11 to 6.

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washingtonpost.com: Miss Pixie, in With the 14th Street Crowd (Post Home Section, June 12)

Jura Koncius: Here is my piece on Miss Pixie.

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Great Falls, Montana: Hi Jura and Terri! I'm having a door color problem. We have a Craftsman home made of beige brick with a few black flecks in it. The trim is hunter green with little black accents. Should our doors be hunter green? I'm kind of leaning toward shiny black doors though, as a contrast with the roughness of the brick. Does your back door necessarily have to be the same color as your front door? Help!

Terri Sapienza: It's difficult for me to give you an definitive opinion without seeing at least a photo of your house. But from what you are telling me, a shiny black door sounds nice. Plus, you seem to be leaning towards that color anyway, so if that's what you like, go for it. And there's no need to have matching front and back doors (there's no need to have matching anything if you don't want things to match). My advice: they are your doors, paint them any color that pleases you. My front door is black, but I'm thinking about painting my back door (currently white) a beautiful turquoise/blue. That's news to my husband if he's reading this now : )

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Alexandria, Va.: Good morning -- just a quick THANK YOU! In a previous chat, you recommended towels from Restoration Hardware and even knew when they would go on sale. I waited to pick up a couple sets last weekend. You were right -- they are such high quality, beyond anything I've purchased before. They are a treat! The sale ends next weekend, I think. (I'm not affiliated with the store). Thanks again!

Terri Sapienza: Great to hear, thanks!

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sofa...: our 3 year old La-Z-Boy sectional seems to be deflating... the cushions are "flat!" La-Z-Boy doesn't seem too interested in helping me. I've seen a foam company listed in this chat.. anyone have any experience replacing sofa cushions? Do I purchase cushions cut to order or ... how does this work??) Thanks for answering my likely silly/stupid question.

Jura Koncius: Three years is not a long time - hmm. I'm surprised that the La-Z-Boy people don't want to help. A reupholster could beef up the cushions and wrap them to make them puffier. American Foam Center at 800-241-3626 in Fairfax might be able to advise you as well.

Anyone out there want to comment?

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Washington, D.C.: I have a hideous cellar that gets damp during big rains (yes, I have already installed a sump pump, French drains, and a dehumidifier). I don't want to make it into a finished basement, but do want to make it a little less like a dungeon. I've been advised to cover the insulation and concrete block walls with drywall, but I'm worried that the drywall will just get moldy. Do you know of a wall covering that would be better than drywall to use in this space?

Jura Koncius: How about just painting the walls? Putting in drywall is risky in a damp basement. Go for an industrial look with white, black and gray. You aren't planning to entertain down there are you?

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Chevy Chase, D.C.: Kudos to this week's House Calls! After criticizing last week's, it seems this designer really listened to her clients and her suggestions were easy and affordable. I do have a question for you though - have you noticed a retail trend toward smaller design projects? I recently received the fall Pottery Barn catalog and was struck that their major push was to sell A chair and that their other focus was throw pillows. Gone are the days of monstrous couches, coffee tables and wall systems and instead they are selling a couple of pillows - would you agree? I'm guessing it's a reflection of the financial mood but it really was striking, to me at least.

washingtonpost.com: House Calls: Romantic Retreat (Post Home Section, July 24)

Jura Koncius: Funny you should notice that. My guess is that with the scary economy, pillows are going to be a major seller this fall.

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What kind of makeover was that?: Submitting early because I just saw this week's House Calls. What a disappointment!! I know the owners wanted to keep their furniture but what changed really? How is that romantic? So much more could have been done. Like get rid of the wood paneling. Or mix up the furniture layout. And add some better, more whimsical lighting. And choose a better paint color - the designer kept the red wall when the owners said they weren't sure they liked it. This is a terrible room and I feel bad for the owners that they didn't get anything out of it!

washingtonpost.com: House Calls: Romantic Retreat (Post Home Section, July 24)

Jura Koncius: Here's another opinion.

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Nags Head, N.C.: A blue-porch-ceiling question: we have a small screened-in porch, about 10 x 10 feet, in our beach house here. The entire exterior of the house, and the interior of the porch, is stained with a redwood stain on cedar. Nice on the exterior but I'd like to liven up the porch a bit. What do you think about Behr's "Soar" (color 510-A-1) for a porch ceiling? We have a white overhead light there, and that's all the decoration we've got at the moment. It's so small we can't have much more than a dining table and four chairs; any other ideas for what we could do to jazz things up?

Terri Sapienza: I just happen to be working on a story about blue painted porch ceilings, so it's nice to hear from you, Nags Head! I think Soar looks like a lovely color for a porch ceiling, but you might want to test it out first before committing to an entire gallon. It looks really light on the paint deck, and may appear even more so once it's outside and hit by sunlight. You may want to consider trying out the color below it on the fandeck, too, which is just a little darker: Salty Tear.

As far as adding more to the porch, I think the beauty of a porch is its simplicity, but you could put some fun cushions on the chairs, place a seagrass rug beneath the table, add a plant or two in a colorful planter and a hurricane lamp on top of the table.

Hope that helps.

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San Mateo, Calif.: What's a good color to paint a small, windowless dressing room? Mine is currently the builder's bland off-white, including all the walls behind and around the vanity mirror. I like muted tones such as soft peach or Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage, but I wonder if they'd make makeup/complexion colors look "off," the way fluorescent lights can.

Terri Sapienza: Be careful with Silver Sage. It's a great color, but looks MUCH different in a room with no light than it does on the floor at RH next to all of that glossy white molding. Without light, it will likely look more gray than sage.

Have you thought about wallpaper? The new, peel-able styles available at Anthropologie or, now, Sherwin Williams, make it easy to put up and take down now. A fun print or pattern would be a cool way to dress up your dressing room.

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Annandale, Virginia: Velvet drapes.... I noticed that the makeover room today included velvet drapes. I've seen velvet and linen curtains in popular stores like Pottery Barn, but I tend to think velvet seems winter-ish and linen seems summer-y so I've been in a holding pattern on buying anything. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Yes I know what you mean. A few years ago, I did an article that involved having three decorators come to my house and give me advice. I had recently purchased dark green velvet draperies for my den which I though were very elegant. Well, one designer told me they looked like curtains in an Italian theatre! Since then, I've wondered if they were the right choice and in the summers they do seem a bit heavy. But I still haven't had the budget to replace them so there they hang and on a cold winter day they do look very cozy. I had peach linen curtains in there before the velvet, and I must say that they they looked a little inappropriate on a snowy January day! So what is the right answer? Maybe we would all be happier with cotton or silk...

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germ story: I find it hard to believe the stats on the massive amount of fecal matter on cutting boards. Where would the fecal matter come from?? I understand vegetables might have some on them, but don't most people wash their vegetables before cutting them?

washingtonpost.com: A Germ-Zapper's Guide to Clean (Post Home Section, July 24)

Jura Koncius: My guess is it's from bugs who come to eat the leftovers on the cutting boards!!

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furniture for a teen basement: Hello! Thanks for taking my question. We just finished our basement and I'd like to create a "teen hangout" for my teenage boys and friends....can anyone weigh in on IKEA sofas and chairs? Prices are reasonable and their catalog states they have 10 and 25 year warranties (depending on the particular style). Do they hold up? Cushions stay firm? Any input? THANKS!

Jura Koncius: It sounds like a great idea. Does something really have a 25 year warranty? We have bought dressers for our beach house from Ikea that were very inexpensive and they have held up for 20 years.

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Washington, D.C.: I have two boys, age 2 and 5, and they move around everything in my house. I pick up after them nightly and then on the weekend I see the bookcases, tables and credenzas covered with crayons, Legos, paper and things I picked up. Mail is everywhere. The 2 year old decides to take every book off the bookshelf while I'm making breakfast. I'm not quite broke after 6 months of expensive gasoline, but I can't go out and drop $500 on storage furniture. What can we do here to organize a space that the little ones purposely disorganize?

Jura Koncius: When my son was little, I used to have a giant basket - even something like a wicker laundry basket - in each room of the house. This was where to quickly pick up the place, I would dump all toys, crayons, balls etc. And I taught my son to do that as well at the end of a day. At least that gathers all the kid stuff into one place. I know what you mean about now wanting to spend $500 on organizing stuff in these days of $75 tanks of gas. Do other moms have ideas to share? Don't give up!

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Re. drywall: What about mold-resistant or water resistant drywall?

Jura Koncius: Does this really work?

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Potomac, Md.: I have wood floors that are in excellent condition but have to be waxed and I would love to polyurethane them. I just learned of a chemical process called "RX for Wood Floors" that companies use to refinish floors without sanding first. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Jura Koncius: We don't. Anyone out there?

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Rockville: Morning. I'm really struggling with the window treatments in my four-month-old son's room. I'd like to not hide the beautiful finish work (you know, chair rails but going around the windows); what kind of curtains would achieve this? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Have you considered roman shades? You could have them made out of any fabric you like and have them mounted inside the window frame so you can still enjoy the woodwork around the windows. If you do decide to go this route, be sure to talk to the manufacturer about ways to childproof the treatments so the pull cords are out of reach of your son.

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Velvet Drapes: Jura,

Do you have anything w/the velvet drapes during the summer to lighten their appearance? I would think that the heavier drapes in summer might help to keep your cool air in and warm air from seeping through if they're closed.

Jura Koncius: The thing is, the draperies are located covering a wall of windows that incorporates a sliding door. We had Anderson replace this whole wall a few years ago and it's pretty air tight. Right now, we just keep the draperies on either side most of the time.

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Dupont Circle: I am looking for a reasonable place to frame a few pieces. They are non-standard sizes. A shop or online would work (somewhere in D.C. or accessible by public transportation for an actual store, please). One is already matted, so I just need to buy a frame. The other does not have a mat (but it may only need a frame, anyway). I really need to keep this project to a budget, but do want them to look nice as they are nice pieces. Thank you!

washingtonpost.com: Here is a piece from last year with good tips on saving money on framing: What Will It Cost? The Choice Is Yours. (Post Home Section, March 22, 2007). I personally am a big fan of the do-it-yourself option at Framers Workroom in Tenleytown. - Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: Can't top Elizabeth's answer and link.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi! Thank you for the chats, love them! Can you recommend some good places for standard 4x6 picture frames? I like Anthropologie, put they can be pricey.

washingtonpost.com: Target!!!

Terri Sapienza: Thanks to our producer, Elizabeth, for the suggestion of Target, which is a good one. They carry frames in most standard sizes and many finishes. Ikea also carries lots of inexpensive frames in lots of sizes. I believe the Ribba frame from Ikea is a popular choice.

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House Calls: I like today's redo. It has given me some ideas of how to approach the master bedroom in my own home. The screen gives me an idea for making an enclosure or staging area for laundry.

Jura Koncius: Goodie.

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Enterprise, Ala.: RE: curtains, I think sailcloth - substantial enough in winter but light enough in summer.

Jura Koncius: Ah. Yes! Great idea!

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D.C.: Re: curtains. Does anyone else remember the days before everyone had AC? There was a day each spring (always a Sunday in my memory) when you took down the heavy drapes and put away the heavy bedspreads for the summer, and put cotton slipcovers on the upholstered furniture. Left just sheers or lighter curtains at the windows (the better to let the breeze in) and used a light (I seem to remember seersucker) bedspread. Boy, am I old!!

Jura Koncius: Yeah I know what you mean. The only thing I do now in the summer is take the extra blankets off the foot of our beds. They are both decorative and useful if you want to take a break and read in bed during the day and it's drafty. Our lives seem to be too busy to do seasonal decorating.

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IKEA in the playroom: That stuff should last until the same time your boys are in college, at which point you send it off to the dorm and let it die a natural death. Nobody buys IKEA for its durability.

Jura Koncius: Love that idea.

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Damp Basement: You can put mold-resisting paint like Kilz on first, which will greatly improve the overall situation. Just know that a cinder-block wall will absorb A LOT of primer.

Jura Koncius: I need to do this in my own basement.

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D.C.: Floors: Our floor guy says that once they've been waxed they can't be refinished without sanding. I have told my cleaning service on pain of death NEVER to use wax or oil cleaners on my floors!

Jura Koncius: Hmmm.

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Lynnfield, Mass.: Hi Ladies, Would you take (sigh, roll eyes, groan) yet another paint question? My mother is thinking of putting in a taupe rug in her master bedroom. Small master bath has mosaic sage and white floor and dark sage tile shower. (Tile frames shower entry.) Sage is on the cool side - lots of blue undertones. Can you recommend a nice neutral/taupe paint. Thanks and as my kids say, "you rock."

Jura Koncius: What about Benjamin Moore's Hot Spring Stones or North Hampton Beige?

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Rockville: How much of a difference in room darkness do wood blinds make when compared to the standard flimsy horizontal blinds?

Jura Koncius: It probably depends on how wide the slats are. I wouldn't think a huge amount of difference. Have you considered the honeycomb room darkening shades? They really work.

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Alexandria entry: Hello! I have a small entry way with a wall that is approx. 27". I want to put a narrow table there to have a spot to drop keys and mail, do you know where I should look for small tables? I haven't had much luck. Thanks for your help.

Terri Sapienza: If you can't find a small enough table, another option would be to attach a shelf or ledge to the wall. Something similar. Then, hang a mirror above it to make the space appear larger. You can find those types of shelves at Pottery Barn or Target, etc. But I more interesting idea would be to visit a places that stocks salvaged architectural pieces and see what you can find. Try the Brass Knob Backdoors Warehouse in DC or Second Chance, Inc in Baltimore.

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Fairfax: The tubs in our home were given a cheap reglazing before we bought the house, and they have worn really badly, with large areas now peeling off in one. We do not want to invest in a complete bathroom makeover at this time. Has anyone tried re-reglazing? Contractors say it will work fine, but I'm skeptical.

Terri Sapienza: I have no first hand experience with reglazing. Can anyone else chime in?

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With that Dark Green trim: I'd like to see a door many tones lighter, a dusty sage ivy... or a dark clay/terra cotta. Black doors look awfully heavy on anything other than a white house.

Terri Sapienza: a vote against a black door...

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Springfield: We just painted our bedroom Ben Moore Crystal Springs with bright white trim. Headboard and dresser are mahogany. What color bedding would look nice with this color scheme? We thought maybe a lighter blue or black and white.

Thanks.

Jura Koncius: What about a black and white toile? Anything black and white would look crisp and tailored. You could throw in a pale blue extra pillow or something.

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South Riding, Va.: Hi Ladies, I'm hoping you can help here. We are converting the guest room into a room for our son; I want something that will be fun, but that is easy to change, if needed, as he gets older. We've picked out bamboo flooring, and have some furniture that falls into the generic, any-age person range. We'll be painting the walls a soft blue, possibly with a bit of darker blue along the bottom. My original thought was to do sea and sky animals for decorating, but I can't draw or do picture painting, and do not want to add wallpaper (we have enough from the previous owners that we still need to remove). Thoughts on what to do?

Terri Sapienza: Why not find a few children's picture books that you and your son like, buy an extra copy, tear out some pages and frame them. Change the pictures as your son grows and gets attached to different books.

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Arlington, Va.: Oh Home Gurus, Need some home decor shopping ideas. I'm all Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Pier One, Expo Designed-out. Any new fresh ideas for transitional home decor? Thanks a Bunch!

Jura Koncius: How about adding some vintage stuff from second hand furniture stores? Consignment shops and thrift stores have neat accessories you won't find in big box shops.

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Entry table: I found a narrow one, not sure how long, but only 12" wide, for my entryway. It has one drawer and is perfect for dropping keys, sunglasses, etc., and keeping a vase of flowers to brighten up the entryway. But I got it and Sloans and Kenyon consignment store for $50 (and it's solid wood) -- I would check some of the secondhand stores for a narrow table.

Jura Koncius: great idea.

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That wet basement: You don't want to install studs and drywall if the water is migrating through the block walls. You'd have mold behind the drywall.

Jura Koncius: Yes. I'm still in favor of paint - with lots of Kilz.

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Re: IKEA sofa: I've had my IKEA Ektorp sleeper sofa for the past 6 or 7 years. I still love it, and once I found scratching posts that the cats preferred over the slip cover, I was set. It seems to be holding up well with my toddler, although the cover needs to go back into the wash due to spillage.

Terri Sapienza: more comments about the Ektorp...

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IKEA couches: We bought an Ektorp couch and loveseat for our LR a year ago. Very happy with them - and the washable cover is great. If you're buying specifically for a kids/teens hang- our room, you might not want to go with the white we went with (tho we DO have two teenagers, who have been good about keeping their feet off the furniture in the LR, and the three cats haven't done any damage either). But I have to say that I'm impressed that we've only washed the covers TWICE in a year, and each time the entire couch/ loveseat looks brand new. We plan to replace the ancient loveseat in the TV room w/one of the Ektorp loveseats sometime soon -- only we won't go with the white this time (doesn't suit the room, plus much more food/drink goes on in there). My main criticism of the Ektorp line is the available fabric for the slipcovers. Purty boring.

Jura Koncius: Thanks for the fill on Ektorp.

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Germ-Zapper story: I laughed when I read all those germ-killing recommendations. I'd have to get rid of my dog, quit my job and devote myself to full-time housecleaning to do all that.

Jura Koncius: Laughing is good.

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Fairlington, Va.: Hello! I was wondering if the professional organizer (or anybody else!), from the Post's ongoing series about mucking out reporter Liz Seymour's attic, could recommend a reputable company/person who makes quilts/wall hangings out of t-shirts. I have a whole bag of sentimental faves ready to go... but I do NOT sew! thank you.

washingtonpost.com: Good news - next Thursday Home's Liz Seymour and her organizing consultant Caitlin Shear will be chatting about the attic project and offering all kinds of organizing advice.

Terri Sapienza: We'll pass this question along to Liz, thanks.

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boys room, animals: The person who didn't want to free-hand paint animals might think about the new wall stickies -- she can try blik or stickup.com.

Terri Sapienza: Great suggestion. Thanks!

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Arlington, Va.: Hi, I bought a Sealy mattress for my son in March. He is a normal sized 15 year old. The mattress has a distinct impression from where he sleeps. You can sort of roll into it. I bought the mattress at Costco and it has a 10 year warranty. I'm thinking about returning it, because that just seems too soon to have such a big "hole." Any thoughts on mattresses out there, and where to get something that holds up. Thanks.

Jura Koncius: Is it one of those "no-flip" designs? If you can flip it over, you should try that and see what happens. Otherwise if it's only been three months, I think you should investigate returning it although I know that's not an easy proposition sometimes at Costco. Has anyone out there tried to return a mattress lately?

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Chicago, Ill.: A firewood question. I need to move all my firewood (quite a bit) off my condo's back porch and into my kitchen for 3-4 days because they are power washing and sealing all the porches/decks/stairways. I have heard that firewood attracts and stores bugs. I hate bugs! But I have nowhere else to put the firewood. Will I now have a bug problem in my kitchen?

Jura Koncius: Wow. This is quite a question. Is there any way you could temporarily put your firewood in large plastic storage containers as you do this? Or shrink wrap it?

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More color please: My husband wants more color in our home! We currently have a red sofa, tan and red chair and have stayed very neutral throughout our kitchen/living room area. What other accent colors are appropriate with red and tan without looking too Americana? Should we use pillows/accent rugs/etc? Please HELP!

Jura Koncius: I don't know what color your walls are, but I will assume they are tan. If you red, tan and black are a nice color combination, although your husband may want something a little more dramatic than black. Red and pale blue are an interesting combo.

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Velvet curtains: I have sage green cotton velvet curtains in my bedroom, which has two very large windows. It is a little heavy for summer, but the only other set of curtains I have are white sheers, which are pretty - except that I need privacy. When the bedroom is flooded with sunlight, anyone looking in would be able to see whatever I'm doing. So if you do change out winter curtains for summer curtains, make sure you still maintain some privacy.

Jura Koncius: Good thought. I think a lot of us went for the sage velvet curtains...

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Manassas, Va.: Good morning ladies. I'm in the process of refinishing a basement and because we couldn't get drywall down the curve in the stairs we opted for beadboard paneling. I was looking to decorate with browns, aqua blue, lime green and a tad of orange. First question: do you think I'm incorporating too many colors? Secondly, do you have any suggestions for a color on the wall paneling? The room is about 12 X 20 and has no windows, i.e. dark. BTW, this room will be used mostly by my sixteen year old son. THANKS!

Jura Koncius: Lots of basement designing going on these days. I would keep the wood paneling light - white, off white or tan. Brown, aqua, lime and orange is a quite a lot. I'd drop off the orange! Aqua and lime are a great combo.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: We own a property that we rent. The kitchen has white counters and cabinets with yellow doors. I want to strip off the 22 year old strawberry themed wallpaper and paint. Any color suggestions? We have a contractor's account with SW.

Terri Sapienza: Hmmm....hard to say without knowing what the existing yellow looks like or what your taste is. Depending on the look you are going for and what other colors you have in the kitchen and adjacent rooms, some colors to consider are: taupe, cream, green and orange. Good luck!

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Costco returns: I just have to stand up for my beloved Costco. I've never had a problem with returns (altho' haven't tried to return a mattress). I returned a set of phones that stopped working a week after I bought them -- I had no receipt and had thrown out the packaging, but they took it without blinking an eye. I've also returned stuff that was months old and way out of season without any problems either.

Jura Koncius: Yeah!

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firewood: Make sure to tap-tap-tap it hard on the ground before taking the wood indoors. Firewood is a favorite hiding place of black widow spiders. All but one of the times I've seen them was when I knocked them off cut wood before taking it in the house.

Jura Koncius: Ugh.

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Philly: We just had our guest bath tub reglazed last week. I got three quotes over the phone from companies in my immediate neighborhood. Went with the middle one - $375. The guy who did the actual work was a subcontractor and upped the price to $500 - including scraping the old glazing off the tub (incidentally it still took the estimated 5 hours I was told over the phone when I booked it). The tub is now uniformly bright white - however upon a close inspection, the bottom of the tub and the sides do still show signs of wear a tear - a sort of mottled/scraped appearance. The company said this is just because our tub (cast iron) is 55 years old and this is the best that can be done. If you want a perfectly smooth, perfect tub, you have to buy a new one.

Terri Sapienza: Some good advice regarding reglazing. thanks!

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just a suggestion: You guys are my #1 source for "pet meets furniture" related issues. A lot of manufacturers have been offering "high end" cat and dog "furniture." Everything from art deco cat trees, to litter boxes that double as an end table, to entire bedroom sets for you pooch (including a foot locker and vanity table!) Many pet products are marketed as accent pieces for your home! I'd love to see you do a column and review some of the pet furniture offerings (The hardwood cat tree looks nice in the living room, but will it keep the cat off the couch? And who wants a LITTER BOX for an end table?!) I think it would be a fun piece to read, and I KNOW there are many pet owners in this chat who enjoy it and perhaps get some use out of the reviews. Just a thought.

Jura Koncius: I'm chuckling at your comment about "who wants a litter box for an end table." The thought is rather ridiculous. But I think that was invented for small apartments, where anywhere you put the litter box is intrusive. I agree that some of the marketing claims for pet products are absurd these days. Gus does not have the luxury of one of those many-tiered cat trees.

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Rockville, Md.: Just because I'm curious -- I was wondering if there is an emerging decorating "trend" that makes you gasp and recoil in horror. I've noticed one that I think is coming: black walls. I've seem them on a couple of HGTV decorating shows recently. Can you imagine this in the hands of the wrong person, in the wrong room, with the wrong lighting? I'm thinking of all the truly horrific sponge-painting jobs I've seen over the years, when that trend was hot.

Terri Sapienza: One trend that I'm not particularly fond of is the "accent wall." I don't get it and don't like the idea at all.

This is a good question to throw out there: What decorating trends do you hate??

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Burke, Va.: Love this chat and look forward to it each week! I have a small bathroom off the master bedroom that has a shower stall (curtain not door), a vanity and toilet. The room needs a total redo. While I know I can do the tiling, walls, lighting and even faucet plumbing myself, I'll need contractor help with the shower and toilet. Can't spend much, so do you or any chatters have experience with Ikea bathroom fixtures like vanities and showers, etc? I like the clean Euro lines. Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Anyone have any personal experience to share?

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Re: son's room: In addition to hanging pages from books (an idea I love, btw), the poster could also do vinyl wall art. They aren't that expensive (I just bought a set of 36 animals for less than $40) and come off when the child has outgrown them. There are a lot of companies now that do them. (Mine came from etsy.com.)

And for the person looking for someone to make a quilt from his/her t-shirts, you could look at any quilting store that offers a class on it and then talk to the instructor and see how much he/she would charge.

Jura Koncius: I must weigh in here about quilts made from tee-shirts. I have a very definite opinion about this - and I know that's why you guys come to our chat, because we have opinions. My son rows crew and lots of moms have been telling me that they've taken their four years of high school rowing tee shirts (we stupid moms buy them at $20 a pop at each regatta) which have been washed and sweated in dozens of times - and pay someone to sew them into a quilt or spend hours and hours sewing them into a memory quilt. I personally think it is kind of a shame to spend so much time, money and sewing skills on a bunch of faded tee-shirts. My mom spent many hours sewing quilts when I was growing up. They were made of cotton squares. My sister just paid a fortune to get them quilted by a longarmer who did a beautiful job. Their are heirlooms now. I just can't see tee-shirt scraps being worth this kind of attention. Okay, tell me I'm a snob!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Regarding the damp basement - I was told with my home that instead of focusing on the basement itself that I should change the slope of the ground running up against the basement so the water would be directed away from my home. Just a thought.

Jura Koncius: Very true. But even that doesn't totally do the trick when we get very very drenching rains.

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Washington, D.C.: Within the past year, you ran a story on three local designers. Can you please post a link to it? I remember loving that article and would enjoy seeing more pieces like that.

washingtonpost.com: Was it this?: Faces Of the Future: Four Young Designers On Their Way Up (Post Home Section, July 12, 2007)

Terri Sapienza: We ran a story about 4 local designers last summer as well as a story about 3 local home furnishings shops. Elizabeth has kindly posted the designer story below. Is this the one you 're looking for?

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Silver Spring, Md.: If you're looking for something fun to add to a wall in a kids room, check out www.wallies.com. They have really fun cutouts and murals that are easy to hang and look great. Lots of selection, too.

Terri Sapienza: ideas for a kids room...

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Cleaning curtains: We have nice, custom made curtains bought to fit a house we no longer live in. These have been stored for 6 years and need cleaning before we can use them (and they have European hooks--which I haven't found here). Should we clean them or throw them out? I looked cleaning prices and was stunned. They are colors and fabrics we like, and the sizes are still useable.

Jura Koncius: It is true that cleaning curtains is a really pricey proposition. If you really love these curtains and you can use them without altering them, it might be worth it. But you also have to consider that the stains have been really set in them for the six year's they've been put away and they may never get clean enough for you to be satisfied hanging them back up.

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T-shirt quilt: Contact your local area quilt guild - here is a list for Virginia: http://www.quiltguilds.com/virginia.htm Or stop at a local quilt store (fabric stores are also a possibility) and ask if they know anybody who will do the work on commission. Just a warning - it likely won't be cheap to have it done.

Jura Koncius: We have the Vienna Quilt Shop 703 241-4091.

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Handy but Time-Crunched in Fairfax: Hello ladies! I am looking for some advice on hiring a handyman - someone who can do some basic carpentry/trim work, painting, and drywall repairs. Aside from checking references, what should I be looking for? A lot of these so-called "handyman" services seem to be offshoots of large contractors and they don't even want to come out and -look- at what I need done - they just ask a few questions and then quote a price - which usually seems exorbitant, considering that I could do this work pretty easily myself if I had time. Few, if any, of my friends are homeowners so the word-of-mouth approach hasn't worked too well either. If you two or any of your readers have suggestions or recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Jura Koncius: Sometimes the best handymen come from the ads in the back of small local newspapers like the Northwest Current. We once had a fabulous handyman who had been a ship builder - and he could fix everything at an amazingly reasonable hourly rate. The established handyman companies have the advantage of having lots of experience and can refer you to other workmen if you need them. Anyone else want to comment?

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Litterbox End Table: I have the litterbox right next to the sofa in the living room and it works just fine. These people with big houses should be a little more sympathetic!!!

Jura Koncius: True!

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Richmond, Va.: I bought a tea cart at a thrift store and the tray parts are just white melamine. I am thinking of tiling them and have no idea where to find instructions. Any suggestions?

Terri Sapienza: Have you thought about talking to someone at Home Depot or your local hardware store? Sometimes they run classes on DIY home projects. Check Lowe's, too.

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re: t-shirt quilts: I am making one right now out of race t-shirts. However, I never wore these shirts so they're not sweaty and faded. The quilt is a fun reminder of all the races I've run. Definitely not an heirloom, but it was never intended to be.

Jura Koncius: Okay. I can understand that.

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A question and a comment: I was the poster last week asking about how to make my room more Zen like. I forgot to ask about colors and the person who painted her room blue with white trim gave me the idea that maybe a black and white bedding might be the trick. Or should I think of something else? I have a black and white cat so a totally white duvet wouldn't do as you'd see the cat hairs.

For the person who posted about cat furniture, this is what I do with my litter box: keep it in the shower. I take it out when I shower but this way any litter that gets out of the box is in the tub and it's out of the way of guests and not something you have to see every day.

Jura Koncius: Yes. I think black and white bedding is a great choice. And thanks for that litter box tip.

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Re: t-shirt Quilts: When I graduated high school, I had tons of t-shirts left over from various clubs and organizations to which I had belonged. I didn't want to get rid of those shirts and the memories that they represented, so we decided to do a quilt.

We worked together, as neither of us were sewers, and it took us quite a bit of time one summer. But the end result is a great (and very warm!) quilt with lots of memories for me. Perhaps not an heirloom for future generations, but it did free up closet space from all the t-shirts!

There are also various companies online that do the quilting for you, if you're not inclined to try to figure it out for yourself. One that I can think of is campusquilt.com

Jura Koncius: Sounds like you had a lot of pleasure making it. Thanks for the website too www.campusquilt.com. Sounds like maybe a good story idea. Thanks.

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Columbia: Hello, Could you please recommend a BM color for my home office? I am looking for a nice warm orangeish color. I tried a BM Soft Pumpkin sample and am leaning towards it but would like to know if you have other options. What are your thoughts about Soft Pumpkin? Thank you.

Terri Sapienza: Soft Pumpkin is a very warm and soothing color, but I worry about it appearing too dark on the walls. Do you have lots of light/windows? Though, it could also be cozy in a small space. Hard to say without seeing the room and your furnishings. Just make sure to test a big sample for a few days and, at the end of the day, go with whatever you like.

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Rockville, Maryland: Re: t-shirts, I agree with you completely about the t-shirt quilt thing. However, there is one really cool thing you can do with t-shirts, if you have some that are collectible. Frame them. This is suitable in a kid's room or a rec room. Some t-shirts never get worn, and are purchased as a memory of an event -- like running a marathon. A friend of mine has a great collection of concert t-shirts framed on the wall in their music room. How to do it on the cheap: http://www.instructables.com/id/Framing-a-t-shirt-on-the-cheap/

Jura Koncius: Love it!

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Very large rug needed : I need to purchase a 12x18 rug, for less than $3000 if possible. I do not want anything Oriental, floral or with too much pattern. I do have a source for a very large shag, but am looking for other options. My dream sources, like Odegard, are too expensive. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Green Front specializes in what they call "embassy size" rugs. www.greenfront.com. They have a store in Manassas in addition to their mother store in Farmville.

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Yes, you're a quilt snob: The problem with "heirloom" quilts is that they tend to be carefully folded and stored in a closet somewhere, not used and loved. The t-shirt quilt isn't all that hard to do (and as a quilter, it can be -really- gratifying to have something come together fast), it looks fun and funky when it's done, and the recipient will love it and use it. Just my opinion.

Jura Koncius: I appreciate your opinion! The quilt that my sister just had finished is now hanging on a lovely old quilt rack in my mother's living room. She is showing it to all her visitors and taking great pleasure in it. Actually, the quilt was made mostly in the 1970s and one of her friend's came over recently and found some of her own daughter's dress fabrics in it. In those days, moms made dresses for their little girls.

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bad trends: I'm with you - I hate accent walls. I also hate the new wallpaper trend. Sorry to be such a hater - but I also hate those ledges or shelves that you nail into the wall. (West Elm is a big offender in this area.) I hate those bowl sinks that sit above the counter. I hate tiny bathroom sinks. When I was condo shopping a few years ago, the biggest turnoff was the tiny bathroom sink (usually a pedestal). I know developers do this to cut corners and save space, but it always made me run away, fast.

Terri Sapienza: While I hear you on the accent wall and small sinks (I find vessel versions especially annoying), I have to disagree with you on the wallpaper, which I love, love, love. And the ledges and shelves are very handy in small spaces.

What other trends do you guys find annoying? this could be a fun story idea!

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Handyman: Better Business Bureau!! That's the first place we go when we need a contractor. As for a reference, call Home Wizard (I think). Owned by Paul -- look him up at the BBB. He was the ONLY person who called me back when I was trying to get quotes.

Jura Koncius: Wizards are always good.

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Handyman: When I needed to have a lot of small repairs done to my house before selling it, my real estate agent recommended a handyman. He fixed drywall, siding and gutters. Ask a real estate agent!

Terri Sapienza: great advice. thanks!

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curtains, cleaning: Before I threw them out, I'd try hand-cleaning them with a steamer or even water in the tub. Lots of fabrics are labeled as dry-clean but do fine with water. I had a vintage satin dress that had a beer spilled on it -- dry cleaning did nothing, and finally in desperation I just put the whole darn thing in water. The beer stain washed right out and the dress looked perfect. It's risky, but better than the trash.

Jura Koncius: Those pesky beer stains! Thanks - great thoughts.

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Bathtub reglazing: I had it done to a tub in the 3rd floor bathroom of my 100-yr. old house. It was not a room where I wanted to rip out the tub. It looks okay, but not great. Also, I had a dripping faucet I did not know about, and that actually wore down the glaze around the stopper.

Terri Sapienza: more thoughts on reglazing. thanks!

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Glover Park, D.C.: For the IKEA couches and chairs - if you don't like the slipcovers IKEA has, go to www.bemz.com - they make slipcovers to fit on IKEA furniture. I've gotten two sets so far for my Ektorp chairs. LOVE THEM!!!

Jura Koncius: Ektorp lives!

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I'm a hater too...: I HATE granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Of course, I have a condo built in the 2000s so that's what I have. I'd love to change it, but that would be way too wasteful so I live with it.

Jura Koncius: Love all these strong opinions...

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If it's not too late: I am a single young professional guy with no decorative sense at all. My apartment is furnished, but I really have no idea how I should be decorating it. Where can I go to get a guy's guide to this kind of thing?

Terri Sapienza: We're just about to wrap things up here, but I'd love the poster of this question to e-mail and tell me a little more about what you're looking for. sapienzat@washpost.com.

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Tiling tea cart: I did my backsplash in the kitchen and had never tiled before. Went to a small tile shop in Fairfax (sorry, can't remember the name but near Home Expo) and the owner rented the cutter and took great pains to explain the process to me. The backsplash came out great and they earned a loyal customer. Tiling is easier than you may think.

Jura Koncius: Tiling tips...

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Hater: I hate the stainless steel appliances too - but love the granite counters with my black appliances and cherry cabinets.

Jura Koncius: Keep 'em coming.

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hate: The painted tree branches in box frames? Ugh!

Jura Koncius: ugh

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trends: I'm ok with stainless appliances, but I also HATE granite counter tops. blah blah and blah! There are so many prettier materials and all the granites look the same.

Jura Koncius: lots of granite haters - I love mine

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those 'heirloom' quilts: weren't heirlooms when they were made. They were a very thrifty way for poor folks to get covers from old scraps and torn clothing. There were a way to reuse. The icing on the cake was the sentimental memory of the clothes the swatches were taken from, and the community sharing of the women making them together.

Jura Koncius: Yes!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Thanks for totally grossing me out over breakfast while reading the article on germs! Two questions: what would kill germs on a keyboard, and do those eco-friendly cleaners kill germs in the kitchen and bathroom? For example, what about those vinegar and water mixes? That's what I use on the hardwood floors.

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Thanks for all the lively messages today! We're done and see you next week.

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