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Home Front: Hostess Gifts, Colorful Holiday Decor, Displaying Holiday Cards, Cleaning a Glass-Top Stove, Advice for New Homeowners and more

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Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, December 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, December 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 for our last chat of the year. We hope you're either finished or almost finished decorating and shopping for the holidays. I still have a lot to do, which so wasn't the plan...ugh. Anyway, just a heads-up: there will be no Home section next week, but we'll be back on January 1 to ring in the New Year. (Our chat will be back on January 8th). Okay, on to your questions...

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washingtonpost.com: 33 Days and Counting: No First Decorator Yet (Post Home Section, Dec. 18)

Jura Koncius: We've been getting reports of all kinds about who might be the new First Decorator. Have you heard any rumors? Share!

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Dublin, Virginia: Does anybody have experience with solar light strings? I recently purchased a set but haven't put them up yet (I know, it's late). I just wondered what I could expect in terms of how they look, how they hold up, etc. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Dear Dublin: That's a great question. We haven't tried them. How about anyone else out there?

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Birmingham, Ala.: Do you have resource information on the Scanlon house paint colors and dining room curtain fabric?

washingtonpost.com: All Is Bold... All Is Bright (Post Home Section, Dec. 18)

Terri Sapienza: I do. The lime green in the kitchen is Kiwi from Benjamin Moore, the orange in the living room is Osage Orange from Duron and the dining room color is custom. I don't have the name of the fabric used for the living room curtains, but I do know it's from Isaac Mizrahi.

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Pigtown: Hi Jura and Terri...

I just wanted to send my best wishes for wonderful holidays and to thank you for doing this on-line chat every Thursday! I always look forward to it.

Jura Koncius: You are so kind. Happy Holidays to you too!!! We enjoy your blog.

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How to recreate "Joy": I liked the "Joy" lettering, with wreath, on Heidi Scanlon's front porch in today's article. Can you suggest ideas how to imitate that idea? Where did she find those large letters and did she paint herself? Thanks.

Terri Sapienza: Heidi found the "J" and "Y" at the Paper Source and the red feather wreath ( the "O") at a shop in Franklin, Tennessee. She says, however, that a quick Google search for feather wreaths should pull up some retailers.

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Silver Spring Md.: Happy Holidays! We would like to get have a front door cover built. Something made of wood that is appropriate to the house (a 1940s colonial). Where would we start -- an architect? Of course money is tight so I'm wondering if they have pre-fab ones that might do the job.

Jura Koncius: Are you talking about a wood storm door? I actually bought a wonderful one at TW Perry in Chevy Chase a number of years ago. It is wood, painted white, with a Chippendale style lower half. It came with screens and glass panels. My house is a 1937 Colonial and we have had many compliments on it.

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Falls Church, Va.: I recently moved into a Colonial built in 1940. The basement is unfinished cinder block that is in good shape with a large casement window on one wall that lets in a lot of light. We considered dry-walling the basement but are now planning to prime and paint the cinder block (it has already been drylocked). Have you heard of this being done? Brick or painted brick walls are desirable, and people use faux techniques all the time to create texture, so we thought why not work with the masonry? We're thinking of using a sponging technique or sandstone paint to play up the texture the cinder block provides. The floor will be tile. If you think this sounds OK, what colors would you recommend?

Jura Koncius: That sounds like a great idea. I Actually have one of those old colonials with a cinder block basement myself. I would definitely suggest white or cream or something pale. Make sure you have sealed it properly - hope you don't have any water leaks.

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Arlington, VA: Help! I am struggling for a color to paint my kitchen (a holiday time-off project). I have white cabinets/trim, stainless appliances and a white/black/gray granite counter. The kitchen opens to the living/dining room which is a warm taupe color. Any suggestions?

Terri Sapienza: Depending on the color of your warm taupe, a light green or gray might work nicely.

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Jura Koncius: Any great last minute hostess gifs to report? I was at Bloomingdale's when it opened at 9 a.m. this morning in Chevy Chase. Most of their gourmet food holiday items are on sale for 30-50 percent off and if you use your Bloomingdale's charge, they are an additional 15 percent off. Dark chocolate covered potato chips anyone? I stocked up for the holiday and new year's parties to come... Share other good sales and tips with us please!!!

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Minneapolis, Minn.: Hello Home Gurus! My husband and I are buying our first home this week. Whee! It's a 1930s Cape, with a very small galley kitchen. We can't afford to remodel right away, so I'm wondering if you have any paint color ideas (I know, another paint question). The kitchen has gray-blue laminate counters, white appliances, and we want to paint the cabinets and the walls -- any suggestions? Yellow? White?

Terri Sapienza: Congrats on your first home - how exciting! If the kitchen is small, painting the cabinets white would likely brighten and visually open the space up, as would a light color on the walls. Yellow sounds nice, too, but be careful when choosing a yellow. Decorators always say it's the toughest color to get right because it always looks brighter on the walls. If you find a yellow you like, try a color or two above it on the paint deck for a lighter shade.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, This is a bit off your topic, but I hope someone can help. I have a new glass-top stove (love it!). But where pots have boiled over, I have what seems to be a burned area. The scrubber that came with the stove doesn't work on it. I bought a type of razor that says it is for glass-topped stoves, but it doesn't seem to work either. (I'm afraid to press to hard because I don't want to take off the finish.) How do you clean these thing? Thanks.

Jura Koncius: Our fab food reporter Jane Black once came to us with just the same problem with her glass-top stove. We just consulted with her and she used Bon Ami. Check out www.bonami.com for great info on the product, which is earth friendly and has been made since 1886!!! It is famous for not scratching. Great stocking stuffer!!!

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Happy Holidays!: Jura,

I wanted to follow up with you. My friends think that I am the Grinch b/c I did not decorate this year. I am standing firm as I want to go into 2009 ready for a couple of renovation projects as well as some deep cleaning. I want a fresh start in every sense of the word. Maybe next year will be the tme to start some new holiday traditions.

I'd like to wish you and Terri the warmest of holidays. Thank you for all you do to make a better decorated DC area.

Alicia

Jura Koncius: Dear Alicia! I like your spunk! Having a decoration-free holiday once in a while is a good thing. It can clear your mind. Every time I pull out the boxes of STUFF from the attic I get a little overwhelmed with the items I am putting all over my house. It is tradition, but cleansing is a great new year's starter.

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Matching a paint color: Some of your readers may not know that you can bring any color sample to a paint stores, and they can mix up a perfect paint match. I work for a commercial contractor, and I've scraped chips off of exterior and interior walls and taken them in for matching. I walk out with a gallon of matching paint for touching up drywall or siding repairs.

Terri Sapienza: This is a tip we often give out, but it's always a good one to repeat.

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Olney, Md.: I just got an open back bookcase, strictly for display. Where can I get ideas on how to decorate the bookcase??

Terri Sapienza: Look through magazines and catalogs and tear out pages that have shelving styled in a way that appeals to you. Start there.

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Allentown, Pa.: Hi Jura and Terri, So I just have to tell you about a recent project I completed that I'm so pleased with. I needed curtains for a window in our dining room, but the only fabric I found that I loved was a Nylum print duvet cover from Gaiam. Not heavy enough for a window covering, and plus I wasn't confident I'd be able to do curtains from scratch. So (with help from Grandma) I bought a pair of basic black tabbed curtains, split my duvet cover at the seams, cut and hemmed each piece to be an inch smaller than the curtains all around, and attached the new panels just at the top of the existing curtains. Everything lies so nicely -- I love the double layer look -- and I got custom curtains for a really reasonable price... I couldn't be happier!

Just thought you might appreciate the story... Hope you both have a great holiday!

Jura Koncius: Dear Allentown. Wonderful to hear about your inventive idea. Good for you. They sound cool.www.gaiam.com has great gift and decorating ideas.

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Pigtown (again!): When Restoration Hardware was having their warehouse sales, I bought about a dozen crystal snowflake ornaments for $.49 each! They are great to tie around a bottle of wine or add to a special present. Gorgeous and cheap!

P.S. thanks for reading!

Jura Koncius: That outlet has great bargains. Good for you.

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Hostess gift: Hi ladies, I'm going to my boyfriend's mom's house for Christmas this year and I'm not sure what to bring her. I have a beautiful box of chocolates, but she usually gets me something nice so I'm interested in hearing what else you recommend, maybe something you saw at Bloomingdales? Thanks!!

Jura Koncius: Bloomingdale's had chocolate covered pretzels, those potato chips dipped in chocolate and trail mix in a big clear plastic box, which was more healthful and good looking too!

You could buy her an amaryllis plant which has just started to bloom in a terracotta pot - something from American Plant or Johnson's. What about something like a black pashmina, which is always useful. Or a big box of French or Portuguese soaps.

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Silver Spring: I asked the question about the front door cover. I meant some kind of wooden awning so we are protected from the rain when we stand at our door, i.e. a porch with a small roof. I lack the architectural lingo to explain this but most homes have them. A cover over the front porch. Can I buy a pre-fab one to put over the door? thanks and happy holidays!

Jura Koncius: I think that is something you could get a carpenter to build for you. Check your local listserv for names of good people in your area or ask at your local hardware store. Look for examples of ones you like in your neighborhood - take digital photos of them or rip photos out of magazines - then you can explain to someone what you want. Some builders aren't too busy right now and might take on your small job.

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Home Improvement Planning: Just a hint, based on personal experience: if you're planning to do some work over the holiday break, the time to go to Lowe's/Home Depot is early in the morning this coming Monday. You do NOT want to be in there trying to get some paint mixed on the morning of the 26th.

Jura Koncius: What a good thought. Thanks.

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Bethesda, Md.: Loved the Home section cover story today. What a fun house! Do you have any idea where they got the polka dot shades for the breakfast area curtains? They might be custom made and too $$$ for me, but thought I'd check.

Terri Sapienza: Glad you enjoyed today's section. The Scanlon house is even more fun in person, and the whole family is so, so nice. It was a great story to work on.

The shades in the kitchen were custom made with fabric Heidi found at the DC Design Center. It's difficult to tell from the photographs, but they actually aren't polka-dots, they are small embroidered flowers.

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Burlington, Vt.: re: Glass top stove

Use a damp Magic Eraser, no cleaning products necessary. Works like a charm!

Jura Koncius: Good idea.

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London: Hello! I'm moving to D.C. and I am wondering what's considered to be 'affordable' rent in D.C. for an average worker.

washingtonpost.com: Rentals Listings (washingtonpost.com)

Jura Koncius: What size place are you looking for? House or apartment?

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Washington, D.C.: OK, yet another paint color question, but I've loved the advice I've gotten here. We just re-did our kitchen with cream cabinets and black/brown granite countertops. I wanted a pale gray/green and chose Benjamin Moore's Natural Elements. But there's hardly any contrast with the cream cabinets, so I'd like to go a bit darker. Suggestions for a medium gray/green shade in BM?

Terri Sapienza: If you like that color but it's just too light, why not try one of the colors beneath it on the paint deck? Depending on how dark you want to go, you could try: Moon Shadow, Mosiac Tile or At Home With Nature.

Good luck.

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Today's Cover Story: Ugliest house decorating scheme I've seen in my life!

Terri Sapienza: Not everyone is (or needs to be) a fan of the house featured in today's section...

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Color question for Terri: Terri: The "All is Bold" article in today's paper is terrific. Any idea what the name of the living room paint color is?

Terri Sapienza: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! The living room color is: Duron's Osage Orange-6890

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Bethesda, Md.: I loved the article on chandelier cleaning in today's HOME section. Is the solution intended for glass only, or also on the metal? I have a chandelier similar to the one pictured in the article, and it looks a bit dull.

Happy New Year!

washingtonpost.com: A Proper Holiday Cleaning Will Help Your Chandelier Shine (Post Home Section, Dec. 18)

Jura Koncius: We called Tim Wainscott of Chandelier Maintenance Services in Laurel, Md. and York, Pa. www.chandeliermaintenance.com. Tim says that you have an old brass chandelier - if it's dusty and dirty and you want it cleaned - use a warm soapy solution and a rag. If the brass is discolored and is more than just dirty but has age spots and needs to be refurbished - take it to an art and metal worker who will dip the frame in acid solution and do plating or polishing and put a clear lacquer coat on it. Tim can handle all of these chores and do maintenance and cleaning for you on any type of chandelier. 301 379-1715.

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For London: It's hard to find anything -- even a studio -- within practical distance of the city for under $1000 per month.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Arlington, Va.: Be sure to check with your local zoning office as well -- many areas have restrictions on anything that extends the roof.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Hostess Gift: Glass coasters or nice wine stoppers are nice gifts.

I plan to give homemade cocoa mix to a few of my friends.

World Market has 50% off select items today through Sunday.

Jura Koncius: Love hot cocoa mix idea.

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Capitol Hill: I'm having a very difficult time finding nice and not cheap looking Christmas tree toppers. Any suggestions on where I can get one?

Jura Koncius: Hmmm. I wish Little Caledonia was still in Georgetown. If you want a lovely drive to the country, go to the Christmas Sleigh at 5A East Washington St., Middleburg, Va. They have beautiful European Christmas decorations. Any other ideas?

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For London soon to be in D.C.: Neighborhood translations (from a DC girl who used to live in London): Adams Morgan = Camden, Dupont = Maidavale/Primrosehill, Georgetown = Kensington, Capitol Hill = Angel to Shorditch, NoVa = far North London areas

(please excuse the spelling)

Jura Koncius: So helpful! Thank you!

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Gift idea: This is something I did for a Yankee swap (or whatever you call it) where you bring in a gift for $15 and people can take your present. In an effort to not buy things, the past few years I've done themes. One year I did a night at the movies and included candy, microwave popcorn and a Blockbuster gift card. you could also put in a dvd if you know what they like. This year I put together a "snowy day" kit which had hot choc mix, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. This way it's consumable and someone didn't have another "thing."

Jura Koncius: Super ideas!

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Washington, DC: For the person looking for a hostess present, I always like to give White House Christmas ornaments. They come in a nice box and are very "DC". This year's ornament is very nice. You can get them at the White House Historical Association at Lafayette Square or around the corner at the Decatur House gift shop.

Jura Koncius: Love that too.

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Looking for Green/Gray: This has a hint of blue, but I really like a color I found called Rainshower (or Rainsplashed). Forgot the manufacturer, but it's a gorgeous shifting color with silvery hints. I have light oatmeal cabinets and it looks beautiful. Pairs nicely with dark brown or eggplant.

Jura Koncius: Indeed.

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House in Georgetown: I LOVE that Georgetown house you featured in the Home Section. What a great blend of traditional pieces with modern colors. I'm dreaming about those colors all day.

Jura Koncius: It was dreamy.

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Annapolis, Md.: Good Morning! I have a paint question. The lower level of my split level is above grade but seems dark because of the lack of lighting. I can't decide what color would be light yet contemporary. We're not afraid of color so I'm open to any color. Merry Christmas!

Jura Koncius: A pale green like Duron's Bok Choy. Or Behr's Orange Peel.

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Washington, NC: Re: hostess gift. Don't know the original provenance of it but I make "Instant Russian Tea" and give it as gifts. Usually package it in a lovely jar and I always attach the recipe. Learned that early after the slew of post holiday calls asking for it.

Jura Koncius: If you Google this you can get a recipe for it. Thanks for the suggestion!

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Hostess Gift: Take copious photos while you're there. If you're feeling very creative, make a collage. Alternatively make a photo book - Penn Camera has a nice template to use. It's a thoughtful gift that most people appreciate.

Jura Koncius: Thoughtful and personal.

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Alexandria, Va.: Like Minneapolis, we just bought our first home this week! Yay! I have so many questions, but I think the one that keeps surfacing is where can I find a list of how to clean various surfaces? We have granite counter tops, hardwood floors, some fancy Silhoutte window treatments, and UV tinted windows. I think those are the majority of things I've never had to clean before. I've started researching this but is there one location I can find it all?

Also, any tips for 1st time homeowners? Aside from paying your mortgage on time and don't worry about unpacking/updating all the rooms at once?

Terri Sapienza: Hi, Alexandria. Congrats on your new home! One of my favorite housekeeping resources: Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Check it out. It may be the only resource you ever need.

As for advice to new homeowners, it may be difficult, but I recommend living in your home for at leat a year (or as long as you can) without doing or changing anything. That way, you'll get to know your home, how you use it and what you need before spending any money.

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Alexandria: Are swags and valances outdated, or are they considered timeless? We put some up nearly 20 years ago (gulp!) and while I still love them, my husband thinks they look too formal for the way we live. We have a small (11 x 18) living room and I like it that the window treatments are not hanging down to the floor, which to me keeps a more open feeling. Any other thoughts for a timeless, but off-the-floor, look?

Jura Koncius: Technically, the swags and valances are supposed to be timeless. If yours have been up 20 years, it is time for something fresh. Something light and breezy hanging to the floor would not be heavy and would still look open. Look at design magazines to get ideas and think about getting panels from places like www.silktrading.com or check out JCPenney, Restoration Hardware or Ikea.

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Tree Topper: Try HomeGoods, Ross, TJ Maxx, etc. You may also want to try an antique or vintage shop.

Terri Sapienza: Another fun place to check out is Red Barn Mercantile in Old Town Alexandria. www.redbarnmercantile.com

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Rochester, NY: Just a comment on the tree topper. I made a huge bow with wired ribbon, then just under it I have silk poinsettias clustered. I often put branches painted gold in the tree also.

Jura Koncius: Nice idea.

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Hostess gift again: It's me again - thank you all for such wonderful suggestions! Funny enough - she just sent me the WH ornament and last year I gave her a pashmina so those two are out. But there were lots of other great ideas and I especially loved the idea of homemade cocoa mix. Thank you!

Jura Koncius: That is funny!

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For London: continuing neighbourhood translations: U Street = Spitalfields/Brick Lane etc.

Jura Koncius: Neat!

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re: glass top stove: I had one of those in my last house. Get a straight edge razor and just slide it along the top of the glass. Because the glass is smooth, it will pull off anything on top of it. Works wonders! (Same goes for getting stray paint off of windows).

Jura Koncius: Who knew so many out there had those glass stove tops!

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Ithaca, N.Y.: I've been looking for a nice twin duvet cover that is stylish and that will still appeal to an older son who doesn't visit often. Everything I like seems to only come in queen/king and the room is very small. any suggestions (especially online)? thanks!

Terri Sapienza: What about finding some fabric you like and having one made? If you don't sew, you could ask your local dry cleaners if they would do the job.

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Silver Spring: Not really about decorating but something fun to pass along. A friend of mine with a big garden grew loofas (who knew they are a gourd?). We cleaned and bleached them and then made some soap (super easy - I am surprised) to give as gifts. It was a fun project and made with love.

Jura Koncius: Wow.

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Nashville, Tenn.: Have wonderful gold organdy napkins that are decorative, but not useful. It is poor taste to combine them with normal white napkins that are really used?

many thanks for your wisdom!

Jura Koncius: Organdy napkins are truly decorative and not great for mopping up gravy! Linen or cotton truly are the best. You could use your gold ones as liners with the cotton or linen napkins, yes. And you could use them to line bread or cracker baskets.

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Boston, Mass.: Thanks, Terri and Jura for a year of great color advice! Happy holidays.

Jura Koncius: And happy holidays to you too! Thank you!

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Rockville: Hi there. Since all the houses in my neighborhood are the exact same, I like looking to see what others have done with the same base. I really like the houses with very dark blue or even black shutters and would like to do the same to my house. What could I expect with either painting the existing shutters or replacing them? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: I'm not sure I understand your question. When you ask about what you can expect, do you mean in terms of price? If so, I think painting is definitely the way to go.

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Twin Duvet Cover: Ikea! They have a variety of styles and are machine washable. There will be something for everyone there (at a reasonable price)

Terri Sapienza: good suggestion. thanks.

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Rockville: You helped me a couple of weeks ago in deciding where to hang my stockings (I went with a curtain rod and I love it!) and now I need help deciding how to display Christmas cards and letters. Any suggestions? Thanks much!

Jura Koncius: I have a green and red basket that I take out every year to put my Christmas cards in. One funny thing is that my cat Gus seems to be attracted to the chemical used in printing photographs and goes through the basket and licks or bites all the photos. Has this happened to anyone else? I have to keep the basket up high so he won't get it. But back to your question. You could make a collage of them on a bulletin board. And I've seen little spiral wire trees that are card holders at www.nextag.com. Any other ideas?

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Oviedo, Fla. : Attention, frugal decorators - did you know that most hardware stores and paint/wallpaper places have new, rejected buckets of paint for pennies on the dollar? People who ordered and didn't pick up or decided against the color, or something. I am not talking old, gritty paint from a warehouse. It is fresh and fine. Find a color you like if you are painting; or use a color similar to yours for a cheap base coat. Esp. a money saver for dark paint colors, which demand a dark base. They usually have the color smeared in a dot on the lid. You can easily bypass neon green but might find a nice kids' room paint, a decent neutral or something fun for the garage or laundry room. A fresh coat of paint for $20-$30 bucks perks up a room you can't afford to fully redecorate. Look on the clearance table for paint brushes; get dollar store picnic tablecloths for cheap dropcloths. From a paint-crazed single mom! p.s. be sure to ask about returned or refused custom blinds and window treatments. These can often be cheaply cut down or made to fit your windows for a fraction of cost.

Jura Koncius: Thank you Florida! Great idea.

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Homemade cocoa: And consider making some homemade marshmallows to go along with the cocoa! I used an Epicurious.com recipe that was actually a breeze to make (the highest rated one, I think it's called "homemade marshmallows"). Then I stuffed a handful in cellophane bags. People are really impressed by homemade marshmallows.

Jura Koncius: I would be totally impressed by homemade marshmallows. If I took the time and trouble to make them, I would include a little card that said HANDMADE BY JURA. This would really surprise my mother and sister who would be speechless if I made marshmallows by hand and gave them as gifts!!!

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For London: continuing neighbourhood translations: And of course: Newark, NJ = Manchester, UK

Jura Koncius: But of course...

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Arlington, Va.: Hello,

We have a one bedroom, one bath condo in Arlington. We are looking to renovate our bathroom and are considering swapping out our bathtub for a glass enclosed shower because that is our preference. But will that make it hard for us to sell our condo when we decide to move in the next 5-7 years?

Please advise and thank you!

Terri Sapienza: In doing so, you will drive away any potential buyer that wants at least one bathtub in the house, so you have to decide what's more important to you: having a bathroom exactly the way you want it, or having more potential buys in the future? If you don't plan to stay in this house forever, why not wait to install the glass enclosed shower in the home that you do?

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Displaying Christmas Cards: Finally, a use for all those dumb refrigerator magnets!

Jura Koncius: True.

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glass-top stove: I used a product specifically for these stoves, I think called "ceramabryte". Home Depot has it and so does (I think) Safeway. You put it on like liquid car wax, and then buff off. Stove top looks like new. For really tough cooked on stuff, use a flat razor to scrape first.

Be careful with any abrasive -- I think Bon Ami might be too rough.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Leather Furniture and Animals: We're thinking about replacing our microsuede furniture with fake leather or real leather furniture because of our cats and dogs. Is this a good idea? Our thinking is we can brush the pet hair off the furniture and it won't pick up smells like cloth furniture. We were wondering about scratches? Thanks for any advice.

Jura Koncius: Lots of pet owners have told us that leather does make a nice choice - but you have to keep your pets' nails trimmed.

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Display Christmas Cards: We have a large framed mirror in the front hall so we poke the cards all around inside the frame. And drape some tinsel over the top of the frame.

Jura Koncius: Nice.

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Logan Circle, D.C.: I really need your help. In a moment of boldness and in an effort to warm up a cold room, I painted my bedroom walls a dark caramel color (which actually leans more towards the mustardy). The room has been bare for the past month because I have no clue what colors would complement it (for the bedspread, rug, etc.). The room is very dark and am regretting my choice but can't afford to repaint. Please help me save the situation! Thank you!

Terri Sapienza: Rather than spending money on things to go with this paint color that you dislike, why not use the money to repaint a color that makes you happy and wait a bit on the furnishings and accessories, which you will end up not liking later because they go with a wall color that you never liked?

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How I display Christmas cards: I saw this in a magazine, and loved it. If you have mini-Venetian blinds, put the cards on them, with the front of the card showing and the back of the card over the blind. If you get a lot of cards, as I do, it is a decoration in itself.

washingtonpost.com: My mom used to do this in our old house, now my parents are in a new apartment and she is hanging cards from the slats in the vented door in front of the washer & dryer. -- Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: YEAH!

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cats and cards: Hey, I have a cat named Gus, too. That one doesn't lick envelopes, but the other cat does. You are not alone!

Jura Koncius: Whew!

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washingtonpost.com: holiday card display -- I have a wire wreath-shaped thing I got at Target a few years back that I put on the back of my front door. It has all these curlicues you can stick cards into. -- Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: cool

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Terri Sapienza: Okay, we're out of time today. Thanks for joining us today and all year. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. We'll chat with you again on January 8th.

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solar lights: My experience with virtually every solar light is that they don't collect enough sunlight to power the lights for an adequate time, or brightly. You get a dim glow for 3-4 hours, and then nothing. In the winter the problem is worse because the sun is less direct and sets earlier, meaning your lights may not go much past 7 pm.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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