Home Front: Restoration Hardware Paint Reviews, Sophisticated Pink, Feng Shui, Decorating with Pine Cones and more

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Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, September 18, 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, September 18.

A transcript follows.

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

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Terri Sapienza: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I wish we could do these chats outside, it's so beautiful today!

Before we begin, a couple things to mark on your calendars, both taking place at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly: this weekend is the Big Flea (http://www.damorepromotions.com/index.php?pg=chant) and next weekend is the Remodeling & Home Decor Show.

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Pine cone centerpieces: For me Fall is all about the decorating. I have seen some beautiful pine cones all over the grass and I immediately thought centerpieces. Then I thought it could make a fun toddler craft with some multi-colored string. But how do I get the white, sticky sap off the pine cones first?

Jura Koncius: Hi! We heard about your question from our friends in the FOOD section where I hear you posted it earlier this week. We contacted the best source we know of for craft projects - Martha Stewart Living. Marcie McGoldrick, Holiday and Crafts Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Living was kind enough to give us this reply for the pine cone dilemma. "You can put them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil in the oven on low heat (200 degrees) for about a half hour - do not leave them un-attended."

This should get the dreaded sap off the cones. Good luck!

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Tampa, FL: If you lived here, what would you do? My ranch house was built in the 1970s and everything is original. We can't afford to redo the entire kitchen at once, although everything needs to be replaced. The cabinets aren't worth repainting as they're just particle board. My question is: If you could only update one feature per year or so, what would you do? Floor first, then cabinets, then counters, then appliances? Or is it important to do another thing first? Thanks for your help.

Jura Koncius: Dear Tampa. I'm working on a story right now about a really fabulous redo of a 2500-square-foot ranch 1959 ranch house. It should be published in the HOME section in early October.

Meanwhile, my advice to you would be to hire a kitchen designer, remodeler or architect for a few hours of consultation. Have plans drawn up for your dream kitchen and start working on it little by little as budget allows.

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Arlington, Va: Ladies,

Looking for some new fresh shopping ideas for decor and gift stores (no antiques). Think Decorium in Old Town. Shops of the like, any ideas?

thanks

washingtonpost.com: Our Favorite Shops in Baltimore (Post Home Section, July 10)

Jura Koncius: Any more ideas out there?

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Rockville, MD: This is another Big Flea weekend at the Expo Center in Chantilly. I always find great stuff there!

Jura Koncius: Thanks. I know a lot of interior designers love to go there. In these economic times, it's great to get previously owned stuff.

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Alexandria, VA: Have you heard of a grey powder room? We're having the powder room off the family room redone and paint store #1 recommended BM #1465 Nimbus or #1466 Smoke Embers to match tile. Paint store #2 said "I've never heard of a grey bathroom." Recommended BM 982 Cedar Key -- which is lovely but most of our house is Stonehouse--a very beige house and I thought grey would be sophisticated with chrome fixtures and white sink/commode. (Hallway leading to power room is BM Stonehouse, and family room at end of hallway was Lowe's Laura Ashley Grey Morning, which will be repainted Sterling or one shade different from powder room).

It's a powder room, so I'm open. Also would I be better with a variation of the powder room color in the family room, or just what I think works best in family room?

Help, we need to paint this weekend.

Terri Sapienza: I think a gray powder room sounds lovely, personally. Very crisp and clean, especially if the color is on the light side and is paired with white (sink, tub, toilet, etc).

And remember, a powder room is a great small space to do have fun with, so go with whatever you like, even if it's a little crazy. A powder room is also a good place to try some fun wallpaper.

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Gaithersburg MD: Hope I'm not submitting too early, but I've just been internet shopping for full-sized sheets and I'm getting nowhere. I really want something in a sage or peach solid color, but I don't want to buy a sheet set because I use king pillows on twin beds and queen pillows on full beds and all the sets come with twin cases. (I don't mind buying king cases and shortening them but I don't want to buy useless twin cases.)

I really don't like sateen sheets (e.g. Charisma), and prefer the crispness of cotton. Does anyone have sources to suggest? (Tuesday Morning only stocks queen and king sheets.)

Jura Koncius: Wow. I see what you mean. Sometimes sheet sets just don't work. I wrote an article today on a new linen shop in Vienna called Valerieanne which Elizabeth will post shortly. They have marvelous open stock Egyptian Cotton sheets. Have you tried the Websites of Company Store and Garnet Hill? Also the Martha Stewart sheets for Macy's are nice. Any other ideas?

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Home Improvement Philosophy: How does one weigh whether a home improvement is "worth it" or not? My husband and I are considering an addition to our 1950s rancher that will create a master bedroom/bathroom/large closet, and a screened-in porch. He is focused on the resale value; whether or not we will get our money back if we sell (it's a close call). I figure that we can afford it now and it will improve our home life and happiness immediately so to me it's "worth it". Have you faced a similar debate when it came to a major home improvement?

Jura Koncius: Something may be "worth it" for your lifestyle but not "worth it" for your net worth, or vice-versa, if you know what I mean. There is no right answer to this question. But my own philosophy is life is short, get what YOU want now. How do you all feel?

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For Arlington: Klaradal, on Georgia Ave near Olney, is a great shop with lots of gifts and decor items (some antique) -- most from Sweden.

Jura Koncius: How cool!

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DC: I know this is a really strange question you probably have not gotten before. What do you think of Feng Shui? The more I look into it the more I learn that there are two types, the one that is basic and uses the room mapping and placement of objects, and the much more complicated "real" feng shui which requires much more caculation of degrees, etc. Any readers have thoughts on either of these?

Jura Koncius: We have written about Feng Shui in the past. There are a lot of good books on the subject - and you might want to check one out of your library and there area feng shui participants in our area - you can find one in Pathways magazine which is also available online. I totally believe in the practical aspects of feng shui. Things like your home should not be cluttered and sharp corners of furniture should not be sticking out to annoy you. Your bed should always face the door of your bedroom so nobody can sneak up on you from behind. A mirror in the kitchen reflects good fortune and makes the room look bigger.

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NC: Hello - we have a dilemma w/our bedroom. We painted the walls chocolate, bought a new crisp white duvet, and ditched the wooden night stands. I can't go white and brown everywhere, so what should we do about window treatments and a slipcover for the couch? What do you think about adding antiqued mirrored night stands? I also spotted a capiz shell and silvery-ish chandelier in a catalogue - any way I can make that work with all of this? Many thanks!

Terri Sapienza: How about getting some simple, light-colored linen panels and having a cool trim sewn down the sides? You could pick a trim that has a bit of brown in it or none at all. If you go that route, I would also keep the sofa a light neutral (doesn't have to be white) and add pillows that are covered in the same fabric as the trim, or in the same color family.

Oh, and if you like the mirrored chests, go for it!

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Ohio: If the method you suggested to remove sap from the pinecones leaves any sticky residue, the poster might try Goo Gone, spray on, let stand, and wipe with a cloth. Might be time consuming, but if needed, might do the trick.

Jura Koncius: Ah yes. Goo Gone. An amazing product.

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washingtonpost.com: Finding Sanctuary in Vienna (Post Home Section, Sept. 18)

Jura Koncius: Here is the my piece in today's HOME section about the new linen shop in Vienna, Va. It's in what is called Historic Church St., although there is some dispute about why it's called that!

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Sheets: Can't vouch for quality but QVC's Northern Nights sheets come in sage and coral (item H02761). They have a full set with pillowcases that are the same size as the ones that come with the queen set so maybe that will work.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Washington DC: Can you (or your readers) advise where I might be able to order a custom area rug? I love the line of Tibetan rug available at Restoration Hardware, but they do not come larger than 10x14, and I need a 12x18 rug. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Farsh in Alexandria is a wonderful source for rugs, both custom and not. I just spoke to Susan and she said she would try and help you. Their address is 710 Jefferson St. in Alexandria and phone is 703 548-8884.

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WI: Love the House Calls feature today. Can't afford it but I sure can get some good ideas from what the designer did. Very happy you provide the websites for the furniture, art, etc.

washingtonpost.com: House Calls: Less is More (Post Home Section, Sept. 18)

Jura Koncius: We are all going to be dealing with a lot more of LESS IS MORE.... Thanks for writing in.

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Reading, PA: Last week a poster had commented about difficulties she was having changing-out electrical outlets in her home. She mentioned that the home was built in 1971, and the wiring was breaking.

Please, if you're reading this week, put the screwdriver down, back away from the outlet, and call a licensed, insured electrician. During a copper shortage in the early 70's, many new homes were wired with aluminum wiring. It fell out of favor very quickly due to brittleness, oxidation, and other factors. unknowning people who play with aluminum wiring burn houses down! While you're waiting for the electrician to call back, make sure the batteries in your smoke detectors are fresh.

--A knowledgeable homeowner

Jura Koncius: Great advice. Thank you.

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Re Home Improvement Philosophy:1. How long might you be in the house? One year might not be enough time, but two years would give you a chance to enjoy the improvement first. 2. What are the comparisons in your neighborhood - do the other houses have master suites so you need to do this to sell anyway? 3. If the other houses in the neighborhood don't have master suites, would this just be a step up and improve your chances of a sale or would it be too far a step up and you'd lose money? In other words, would you be okay with the improvement for sake of a faster sale and maybe less profit?

Jura Koncius: Thank you for sharing your philosophy.

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RE: 1970's Kitchen: You can do a modest kitch @ Lowe's without spending a lot of money. Lowe's has stock cabinets that look great, has nice hardware, and nowadays you can get nice-looking laminate that looks like stone! You can do a nice kitchen for $5K. I know because we are doing our 1968 kitchen for a little less than that because we are doing the work!

Jura Koncius: Wow.

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Washington: My walls are off-white, furniture is light wood and whitewashed, bed is iron, bedding is white, pink and green floral. I'd like to paint, but I don't want pink or green. Is there another possibility?

Alternatively, do you think it's ok to do an accent wall with wallpaper? I fear doing the entire room would be overwhelming. I remember one of you said you didn't like accent walls so I realize your answer might be biased!

Terri Sapienza: I think I may have been the one to voice my opinion against accent walls. I don't like them, but that's me. Other people swear by them as a great way to inject some color and pattern into a room. If you're thinking about an accent wall, I think wallpaper would be a fun way to do it. And, if you opt for the new papers that are "peel-able" then it would be easy to remove if you change your mind or once you tire of it. Anthropologie has some great wallpaper options that are easy to put up and take down. I believe Sherwin Williams also has lots of options, too.

As for your wall color, could you replace your bedding so it's all white? If so, you could have your pick of paint colors. Alternatively, there are lots of great pink paint colors that are sophisticated rather than little girlish, so that might be a nice option, too.

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Chevy Chase DC: I am hoping to paint in the next six months or so (so obviously this is not urgent) and really like one color from the Restoration Hardware line. But I am wondering how it will hold up? It's in my relatively low-trafficked living room, if that makes a difference. Any insight as to whether it's a good paint, or should I try to match it at my local BM store? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: We have had good reports on it. Does anyone out there want to comment?

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Alexandria Va: It's me with the soon to be grey powder room. The powder room is off a short (very short) hallway that will be BM Stonehouse leading to the family room. Should we coordinate the family room color with the powder room or can we go with another (more blue) shade of grey?

Terri Sapienza: I don't think you need to coordinate the colors. Have fun with the powder room! Do it in any color or pattern you like.

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Falls Chuch, VA: Hi - I have a paint question for you. I currently own a 1 bedroom condo in a great high rise building. There's a good chance I will need to either rent or sell early next year because of a job change to a new state. My bedroom is currently a lovely rose color but needs to go more neutral, especially if I'm looking to sell. There's one large window in the bedroom and I get a lot of light. Do you have some suggestions for a nice neutral paint color? Thank you!

Jura Koncius: I'm not sure what your furnishings are in the Rose bedroom. But if you want something that's currently stylish, lavender bedrooms are really hot. Something like Lavender Pearl or Heaven Sent by Pittsburgh Paints are neat colors. Or you could go for a more neutral choice like a pale blue such as Pale Innocence by Pittsburgh.

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Suburban Maryland: Where is Ms. Sapienza's article mentioned in last week's chat that addresses getting a master design plan and doing the work on a piecemeal basis?

Terri Sapienza: It was supposed to run today, but my editor held it back a week so we could make the story bigger. Look for it next Thursday, it will be the lead story. I promise!

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Alexandria, VA: Queen sized pillows fit beautifully in standard pillow cases. King, however, need king size cases.

Jura Koncius: Well said.

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Bethesda, MD: Hi there - I use lemon oil on my cherry dining room table and I'm wondering if it has caused some build-up. Is there a product you'd recommend to remove any build-up that's there? I'm worried about damaging the finish. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Check with the people at www.thefurnitureconnoisseur.com. We mentioned that recently as a great Website for furniture care products. Some experts feel that lemon oil is not necessary - just wiping with a soft cloth is enough.

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DC: I have a very small room with not a lot of natural light. I want to make it welcoming and warm, but not dark. Can you recommend a very pale coffee color (preferably BM) and the white or off-white trim you would use with it? The room has a lot of built-ins so the trim color is important. Thanks a lot, I always have trouble imagining how colors will look.

Terri Sapienza: If you're looking for a coffee color, you might want to check out Restoration Hardware's Latte. It's not completely pale, but it's lighter than their darker coffee shade, cappuccino. If it ends up being too dark, you could always take a paint chip to a BM retailer and have them color match it at 75% or 50%, which will make it even lighter.

As for the trim, BM's White Dove is always a nice choice. It's a creamy white, with just a hint of gray, which warms it up a bit. Other whites to consider for the trim: BM's Linen White, Ivory White and Marble White.

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RH paint: I have Restoration Hardware paint all over my apartment, and it's wonderful. Highly recommended! I'm sure Benjamin Moore could do a nice match, but I'd stick with the RH stuff - I needed to do a touch up, so I bought a sample size years after painting initially and it was a perfect match.

Terri Sapienza: I have RH paint in my house, too and I love it.

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Alexandria, VA: Just wanted to say that I loved the series on organizing an attic. It inspired me to get up there and start cleaning, but have a question. How should I store children's clothing (like that cute outfit my daughter wore home from the hospital) that I just cannot bear to donate? Special items are stored in plastic bins, but I wonder if that is a good solution. Any thoughts? Thanks for your input!

washingtonpost.com: Organizing the Attic: Part One (washingtonpost.com)

Jura Koncius: We will pass on your praise to Liz, who did do a wonderful job on that attic series. Meanwhile, we consulted our favorite resource for this kind of thing - the book "Saving Stuff" by Don Williams and Louisa Jaggar about your kids' clothing question. First, please wash the clothing so get out any stains that you might not even see. You can use plastic bins to store it, but make sure it is virgin polyethylene (not recycled) with minimal plasticizers or polypropylene. Archival boxes are also good.

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RE: Washington: How about a nice Pale Yellow for the wall color. If done with a cream colored yellow it would be very cute...

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Capitol Hill: I am looking to paint a bedroom in a neutral color. The trick is, the current furniture is white, but the furniture we are hoping to buy next year or as soon as we can afford it, will be dark. We were thinking in the taupe family. What color will look good now and then?

Terri Sapienza: I feel like I suggest this color all the time, but it's a great go-to color if you're looking for a versatile beige: Benjamin Moore's Manchester Tan.

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Arlington, VA: Re: Restoration Hardware paint.

It holds up incredibly well. We have silver sage in our living room and it looks fantastic after several years. Highly recommend.

Jura Koncius: Great.

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McLean, VA: We purchased a home that has multiple faux columns in the entrance hall, as well as in an open area between the kitchen and family room.

I would like to have them removed. But my husband wants to keep them and just re-do the marble effect.

These two options appear to be the only ones. However, thought I would send this in to see if there is any other alternative.

Jura Koncius: Hmmm. This sounds like a real difference of opinion. If you really don't like them, you might not want to remarbleize them to make them stand out.

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Centreville, Va: Hi,

I am on the hunt for faux bamboo Chippendale chairs and barstools. Do you have any idea where I could find these?

Thank You.

Terri Sapienza: If you want something new, check Williams Sonoma Home or Ballard Designs, both carry some. But, if you're looking for vintage pieces, I would search Craigslist, eBay, flea markets and consignment shops. They are out there to be had, you just have to be vigilant in your search. I should know, I scored a pair of vintage bamboo chairs for $25 apiece : )

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Temple Hills, MD: Hello, I need help with a small bathroom, my colors are orange, pink and yellow, not sure what else to do in there; right now all I have is a shower curtain (with colors mentioned above) and a yellow rug. Need Help!

Terri Sapienza: Are those colors only on the shower curtain or are they elsewhere (walls, fixtures, etc.)? I need a little more info...

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spring/summer vs. fall/winter decorating: We really went all out decorating our new house this spring with silk drapes and sheers, silk and cotton pillow covers for the couch and a wool rug. Now that fall is approaching, everything feels a little too, well, spring-like.

We're looking at velvet drapes, velvet/wool pillows, and keeping the wool rug (maybe switch that for a sisal/grass/cotton next spring). Is there anything else we should add to that list? Should we switch our artwork also (currently botanicals)?

Jura Koncius: Yikes. You don't have to totally change the look from season to season - the botanical artwork is totally okay for all seasons. Silk should also be a seasonless fabric for your draperies, as it's very expensive to change out to velvet for half the year. Pillows, throws and stacks of books are a good way to change a room. You could add a plant in the winter, like maybe an orchid.

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Rockville: Hi there. I have a small master bedroom. With the bed, tall dresser, and long dresser, there's not much remaining space. We have two laundry baskets in the room where we deposit our dirty clothes. But I think the dirty laundry is making the bedroom smell! Given the tight space, is there any creative solutions to get rid of the smell, or the laundry? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Maybe you could get a laundry basket that has a lid? Check the Container Store or Target for some options. Do you have room at the bottom of a bedroom closet to put the basket? Do you have a master bathroom? Could you keep a laundry hamper in there? If all else fails, you might have to just do laundry more often!

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Re pink paint: Thanks so much for your response. Can you give some examples of sophisticated pinks? I painted my bedroom pink in my last apartment and it was a disaster. A 4 year old girl's dream!

Jura Koncius: One of California designer Barbara Barry's favorite pinks is Benjamin Moore's BASHFUL. It's very pale and shimmery and would be wonderful in a bedroom. Definitely not childish!

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Arlington, VA: Hi! My roommates and I are in search of some sort of TV stand for our living room. We have a regular (non-flat screen) TV and it seems like a lot of the affordable options at Ikea and the like are not wide enough front to back for our TV. We also don't want something that's low to the ground and we're finding a lot that are only about 20 inches high, which would probably be the same heigh as our coffee table. A lot of things on Craigslist are kinda beat up looking or not our color scheme (light wood or white). Any suggestions on where to find something affordable that's big enough to hold the TV and hide some of the jungle of wires we're looking at now? Thanks!!

washingtonpost.com: Must-See TV (Post Home Section, Jan. 31)

Terri Sapienza: Sometimes it helps to look beyond pieces that are specifically made for use as a "TV stand." if you have the space, you could consider a small chest of drawers, which will also provide you with some storage for DVDs, remotes, etc. Keep checking Craigslist, but widen your search to include other pieces of furniture (other than a TV stand) that could work, too.

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Excited and Overwhelmed: Hi Jura and Terri,

I just bought my first townhouse. I'm very excited and looking forward to starting from scratch with furniture and making it my own. I have traveled a lot, and own a lot of interesting art, photos, masks, etc., so I have the walls covered. I want to buy some furniture that will not overwhelm my small space (922 sq ft, 2 bed, 1 bath) but I'm not even sure where to begin. Thoughts?

And would you please post the link to the article(s) on feng shui?

Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: Here's a recent one where a feng shui consultant helped with an entryway makeover: House Calls: A Welcome Entry (Post Home Section, March 20)

Jura Koncius: We are really liking those wonderful shelving units that are based on cubes, such as West Elm's Rectangle cut-out bookcase or Ikea's Expedit. You can compartmentalize your treasures and they will look organized and well displayed.

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Temple Hills, Md: Need Help - Bathroom: Orange, pink and yellow are the colors in the shower curtain, pink tiles - that is it, it is so plain...

Jura Koncius: Sounds like a LOT going on in there! Pink tiles are wild. We would say, get orange towels and have your monogram done in pink on them. Get a small rug in orange. And how about a yellow toothbrush?

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washingtonpost.com: Triage for Dated Tile (Post Home Section, Jan. 25, 2007)

Terri Sapienza: For the pink tiled bathroom poster, here's a story about dealing with odd (and outdated) tile colors, with lots of tips from designers.

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Terri Sapienza: We're out of time today. Thanks for joining us. Have a good weekend. Maybe I'll see you at the Big Flea...

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