Home Front: Fine China in the White House -- and Your House, plus Getting Organized in the New Year and Buying New Bed Pillows

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Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, January 8, 2009; 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. Jura was online Thursday, January 8.

A transcript follows.

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

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Jura Koncius: Good morning! Terri is on a lovely vacation on a warm island! So it's just me. Wondered if you all wanted to chat about the new Bush state china at the White House. I was able to see both their new formal and informal designs yesterday in a preview in the Family Dining Room with First Lady Laura Bush. We're going to post the story if you haven't seen it and it is in the Style section today and on the Website. Let's talk china and other stuff.

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washingtonpost.com: To Serve Twin Needs, White House Unveils a China Accord (The Washington Post, Jan. 8)

Jura Koncius: Here it is, thanks to Elizabeth.

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Princeton, N.J.: Hi ladies -- I don't know if you can stand one more comment about the paint color Palladian Blue, but I too had a problem with it looking WAAY too green after I started painting. I lived with one wall of the color for a week, and then tried Benjamin Moore's White Rain, which is used in today's House Calls, and loved the very subtle difference.

Jura Koncius: How fascinating! Everyone who uses this Palladian Blue color has a different comment about it!

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Anonymous: Hi -- I have two guest bedrooms and would like to paint one lavender and the other sage. I like using Benjamin Moore paint. Do you any favorite shades in these colors that you'd recommend?

Jura Koncius: Terri did a great story on lavender recently - Maybe Elizabeth could post it, it was May 3, 2007. Four great designer suggestions on lavender paint colors. Mario Buatta says Lavender Ice, White Heaven or Misty Lilac. Jamie Drake - who is speaking at the Washington Antiques Show tomorrow by the way - loves White Heaven and Lavender Ice as well. Ann Coyle says Shoreline or Violet Sparkle by Benjamin Moore. And Whitney Stewart says C2's Canal, Hocus Pocus or Mystic. As for sage - what about Benjamin Moore's Misted Green? Do you all out there have other sage suggestions?

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Reston, Va.: Is the portmeirion brand considered collectible?

Jura Koncius: To some extent, although it doesn't fetch huge prices.

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washingtonpost.com: How They Make the Most of Lavender (Post Home Section, May 3, 2007)

Jura Koncius: Lavender ideas...

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Silver Spring: I've long thought that china is a topic that the Home Section should cover. Namely, are folks registering for china patterns anymore? I entertain a lot and have clear glass plates that I use when I need to serve a lot of people. Otherwise, my plates tend to be plain white. I just don't want busy competition with the food.

So other than the super rich who have to entertain titans of industry in their palacial estates, who among us owns a 12-piece set of fine china and proper silver service?

Jura Koncius: Very good thought. As you have probably heard, both Lenox and Waterford/Wedgwood have filed for Chapter 11. Formal entertaining is not on the minds of most people these days. Brides are choosing less fussy designs or as you say, plain white. We should write more about this. I myself have I think ten place settings of Haviland Limoges Vieux Paris, which dates back to the 1920s and has a garland in sage and pink. I still do love it, but don't use it very much I must admit and it sits in its quilted cases.

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Enterprise, Ala.: Loved the article on the new china but wish there had been pictures of an entire placesetting of each. Related question -- does anyone know why bowls are so expensive? A five piece placesetting at $120 has bowls that cost $37 apiece!

Jura Koncius: Yes. I wish we had had more room to show more of the pieces. Possibly www.whitehouse.gov will post more photos of the details.

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White House china: I don't understand, why she is buying china for the White House now?

Jura Koncius: The problem with ordering a state service of china for the White House is that it is an incredibly complicated and long process. This china has been in the works for close to two years -- there are many strike-offs and samples to approve and much of the craftsmanship to make it is very time consuming. Unfortunately, it wasn't finished as soon as Laura Bush would have liked so now she will only use it briefly before passing it along to future first families. The Clintons introduced their gold state china only a few months before leaving office as well.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Terri, thank you for sharing your 10 favorite blogs! I spent 2 hours on my computer last night indulging... I decided I want your job! It looks like the Turquoise one is ending though... although she is keeping up all the previous info. I also love Eddie Ross but you guys have mentioned that one before. Something else I read on one of the Domino blogs was that Gracious Home (out of NYC) now has online shopping. I love this store although it is completely out of my reach... a girl can dream!

washingtonpost.com: 10 Best Picks to Click (Post Home Section, Jan. 8)

Jura Koncius: Thanks for this. I also loved Terri's list of Blogs today. She is the Blog Queen and is really up on what is going on in that sphere. Meanwhile, I also plugged all of them into my favorites this morning. Take a look if you want to look at some pretty rooms.

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washingtonpost.com: There are a few more photos of the china, and a transcript of the First Lady's remarks and Q&A here: Press Availability by the First Lady at the Unveiling of the George W. Bush State China (whitehouse.gov)

Jura Koncius: Thanks. Great stuff!

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Alexandria, Va.: Can you shed any light on why it is tradition for the first family to eat off formal china for everyday use? This seems absolutely ridiculous to me -- they're not royals.

Jura Koncius: Another opinion!

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi there! A question -- We worked with an interior designer on decorating part of our house. My husband is less enamored than I with the idea of working with a designer, and in moving forward with a different part of our house, wants to work instead with a designer at a quality furniture store. I wanted to know if you have suggestions for stores we should consider, where this kind of service is available. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: I hear Ethan Allen's design services have been upgraded and are very professional and helpful. Their furniture is certainly of good quality and they've been around a long time. Do others out there have stores with designers to suggest?

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who among us owns a 12-piece set of fine china and proper silver service: I don't own a full 12-piece set, but I have Nantucket Basket (Wedgwood) and I love it. We use it on all special occasions -- birthdays, anniversay, Valentine's day, having guests over. I also use my Waterford crystal every time I have wine, which is a few times a week. I don't even have cheaper wine glasses anymore, since they all broke and I didn't feel like replacing them. The downside -- I did break one of my crystal wine glasses when I dropped it in my ceramic sink. $60 down the drain, so to speak.

Jura Koncius: Yes. I have my crystal which I have said here before Baccarat Dom Perignon -- so thin they break almost when you look at them. Good for you for using your crystal though -- it's brave!!!

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Silver Spring, Md.: This is my 3rd question/comment for today! Anyway, on the topic of china/crystal... I recently asked my mother to start me on a collection of Waterford Lismore Wine Goblets. I didn't register for crystal when I got married but now I'm in my mid-thirties and have started taking over more holiday gatherings and throwing dinner parties where it is fun to get out the good stuff! Also, they look pretty in your cabinet and make you EVEN happier to sit down to a glass of wine at the end of the day... after putting your little monsters to bed :)

Jura Koncius: More of us are drinking our wine after work and kids in crystal. Love that. We should do a story about this! I have one wine glass that I really love. It was given to me by a dear friend and Princess Diana once drank wine out of it at a luncheon given in her honor at a private home -- he had bought it at an estate sale. Who knows if it's true, but I love the story!!!

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China: I have a 12-place setting collection of china that my husband brought back from Japan 25 years ago. It's very simple with a thin silver rim and single rosebud along the side. We only use it 2-3 times each year. I don't have a good silver set because I consider silver too much of a hassle to clean. I do have a very nice and substantial set of stainless that I love.

I have not seen any bridal registries recently with fine china on them. If dishes are included, they are generally the every day sets.

Jura Koncius: Your design sounds lovely.

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I also love Eddie Ross: Oh, that guy gets on my nerves! On Top Design all he talked about was Martha, Martha, Martha (she's my idol, but c'mon) and how he hated one of the other contestants.

Jura Koncius: Hmmm.

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Ohio: It seems to always been the custom of heads of state in most countries to serve guests on good china and with good silver service. This is considered good taste in civilized countries. Most of us have no use for high priced table service, but having some decent dishes on the table as well as flatware does make a meal seem special. We really would be amiss to serve heads of state and foreign dignitaries on paper plates with plastic flatware and styrofoam cups.

Jura Koncius: Yes. You are totally correct.

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Arlington, Va.: We use Corelle at home. Small kids and all, can't beat the durability. Just curious if there are any chatters out there who regularly use their fine china -- not just for entertaining, but to make every day more special. If it were just easier to care for!

Jura Koncius: The White House may need some Corelle for the Obama girls' sleepovers!!!

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Upperville, Va.: For entertaining up here we choose nice upscale restaurant quality dinnerware and glassware. Relatively inexpensive and durable and you can throw it in the dishwasher. Don't even own silverware. Why? And we don't care.

-- One of 10 richest in Va.

Jura Koncius: Thanks for sharing, Upperville!

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No. Va. re: fine china: We got married nearly 10 years ago and did register for Lenox china -- it's a white-on-white pattern with gold rim. Then we inherited my husband's family's heirloom china, which is nearly 200 years old.

If we use either of them once a year, honestly, it's an unusual year.

But I have little daughters, and I love the -idea- of using fancy china more often, so I'd like to know... for those out there with newer Lenox... do you really wash it in the dishwasher? It says you can... guess the tradeoff between wear and tear, versus never using it, would be worth it, don't you think?

Jura Koncius: I asked the White House if they wash their china in the dishwasher and they said yes! It has a lot of gold in it. I do put my Limoges in the dishwasher.

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Ballston, Va.: Theodore's has excellent designers. They are very helpful and knowledgeable. Helped with everything from sofas and chairs to rugs, fireplace screens and moldings.

Jura Koncius: Great suggestion.

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washingtonpost.com: My parents gave me their wedding silverware a couple of years ago, since they barely used it any more and I like to have dinner parties. I definitely use it more than they did. The pattern is a little old-fashioned for my taste, but I enjoy having and using real silver. I'm not married, but if I ever do get married I don't know whether I would register for a pattern of my own! -- Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: This is an interesting twist. How much china do you need? Storage becomes an issue too. Is it better to have something with a family attachment that you didn't pick out yourself, or something that will be expensive to buy but you totally love?

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Columbia, Md.: Hi, I am trying to find a paint color for a living room/dining room. The furniture in LR is chocolate brown. The dining room is being used as an office with black and espresso finishes.

Jura Koncius: Pale blue or green would be nice. Restoration Hardware's Atmosphere Blue or Sycamore Green would be nice.

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Richmond: My entertaining is family and friends, pretty informal. I'd been collecting vintage Fiestaware since I was a teen, so when I married I registered for new Fiestaware to complement my old pieces. I use the new stuff for everyday, and the older collectible serving pieices for when family comes over. I have some china pieces from my grandmothers, but never cared to carry the burden of storage, cleaning, caring for more. If I ever got more storage space, I'd get Fire King pieces to go with my vintage stuff.

Jura Koncius: Love Fiestaware and all the fun colors. And great to mix old and new.

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Arlington, Va.: Funny the comment on Waterford Lismore wine glasses -- we have service for 8 - white wine, red wine, and goblets -- but NEVER use them. As we've gotten older, our wine taste has gotten, well, more expensive and my spouse now insists on wine glasses with the "proper" shape for the wine -- we use Spiegelau. And they still must be handwashed.

So the beautiful cut crystal glasses sit unused in the china cabinet. Oh well.

Jura Koncius: Funny, I am very bored with my very thin crystal and would love a big heavy cut-glass wine goblet, English style.

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Pigtown: I have William Yeoward stemware and Royal Copenhagen china that I was given over the summer. I use it every day. My feeling is that if you have it, why not use it? What are you saving it for? My feeling is that it elevates even the simplest grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup to something elegant. I understand not using it if you have small children, otherwise, why not!

Jura Koncius: Pigtown, I want to come for lunch for the grilled cheese and tomato soup -- that is my alltime favorite lunch!!! Sounds very elegant on a cold day.

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oh she didn't sign off that way!: "-- One of 10 richest in Va."

washingtonpost.com: You think I added that on my own? -- Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: I'm out of the loop here!

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Waterford Lismore Wine Goblets.: I'm the one who posted about breaking a crystal glass in the ceramic sink. This is my pattern as well. I have the "tall" version and it's gorgeous.

Jura Koncius: Gorgeous.

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We really would be amiss to serve heads of state and foreign dignitaries on paper plates with plastic flatware and styrofoam cups.: But we could tell about the bad economy as we serve them wine in a dixie cup.

Jura Koncius: It would certainly be a statement.

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Arlington, Va.: Lavender and Sage BM colors -- we have Amethyst Sky in our guest room and Saybrook Sage in our great room and are very happy with both of them.

May also want to look at Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage.

Jura Koncius: Good choices.

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Enterprise, Ala.: The crystal people now recommend you put good crystal in the dishwasher to prevent sink accidents.

Jura Koncius: Really? We'll have to look into that. What about those rings you get from the dishwasher. My husband has a fit when I put our Crate & Barrel casual wine glasses in there because they never come out totally sparkling.

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Portland, Ore., re: china: I've got a full service for 12. The dishes were from my husband's first (and very short-lived) marriage and are really not my taste (Lenox cream color with gold rim). As a compromise, we got rid of the crystal and chose a new pattern... but now I'm stuck with it and my husband insists on using it for all holiday dinners. Although... maybe he's softening up as this Christmas I was able to use our everyday Williams-Sonoma white dishes.

Jura Koncius: China does bring out emotions.

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Thank you ladies: A couple a weeks ago I wrote in seeking recommendations for furniture stores in Baltimore for a new couch. I found one. I love it. And it's being delivered tomorrow. (Now if they could only be more precise in their delivery window) !Muchas gracias!

Jura Koncius: Yeah!

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White House China, UGH!: What a huge waste of taxpayer money. There must be china from all sorts of administrations that is perfectly good and could be used. I wish stuff like this would just STOP (like giving consumers $40 coupons for TV converter boxes? what a waste) I know it's probably a drop in the bucket, financially, but every drop going to something unimportant is a waste.

Jura Koncius: Another opinion.

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Arlington, Va.: The reason they eat off china at the WH is it gives the staff something to do.

Jura Koncius: And another...

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more on china: I beg to differ that no one is buying china anymore. It's been on every single registry for the all the weddings (and there have been a lot!) I've been to. Now, whether these couples are actually using it, that's another story. But they're definitely asking people to buy it for them! I frankly don't see the point in it, much to my own mother's horror...

Jura Koncius: Lots of different opinions on this one.

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Richmond: I get inexpensive wine glasses for entertaining NOT because I care about breakage, but that guests feel SO bad when the inevitable occurs. I'll never forget one friend feeling so bad and me saying it was OK. Now I just say, Hey it was ten bucks at Linens and Things, no biggie! Everyone can relax and enjoy the evening more. No one feels guilty.

Jura Koncius: I actually have used the same wine glass from Crate & Barrel for like 20 plus years. It costs about $6 and I think it's called Brigitta or something like that. I just buy two or three more every time I go to the Crate. I have about two dozen of them and when they break there is no heartache.

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Silver Spring, Md.: We use our crystal as our everyday wine glasses. They're the Lenox Solitaire Platinum collection and are simple enough to go with everything. They're also sturdier than some of the less expensive wine glasses we've purchased over the years. It seems to me that a lot of people still register for crystal, but not as many for china. We didn't register for china, as we already had a nice enough set that was my grandmother's. We only use our china a few times a year (Thanksgiving, nice dinners), but we do use it. We wouldn't have registered for it, though. The silver, we only use occasionally, as we only have 6 settings, so it has to both be a special-ish occasion and a fairly small gathering.

Jura Koncius: It's nice you enjoy your best stuff every day.

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Logan Circle, D.C.: My husband and I registered for Kate Spade dinnerware for our wedding. It's unfussy enough for everyday use but fancy enough to serve guests on. I think it's silly to have dishes you only use once or twice a year, plus in a tiny D.C. condo who has room to store an extra set of dishes?

Jura Koncius: Love the Kate Spade tableware and china. Very classic and cool.

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China and Silver in the Dishwasher: I'm in my late 20s and registered for a full set of Lenox china, as well as solid silver flatware (to complete an incomplete family set) when I got married. We even had the silver monogrammed with our surname initial, like the incomplete set. We use it at least once a month - for entertaining, for special family dinners, etc.

My point: I throw it all in the dishwasher. So far, it has come out just fine. Don't be afraid. Also, using the silver more frequently causes it to need less polishing!

Jura Koncius: Good to know.

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D.C.: How long should bed pillows last? I ask b/c I feel like mine don't last very long and rather than continuing to buy inferior pillows I would rather splurge on nice comfy ones. After about two months my cheapo Target pillows become flat as pancake and hard as cement. Ugh. If that is not the norm, can you recommend any good pillows? Thanks for the wonderful weekly advice!

washingtonpost.com: A Buyer's Guide to Pillows and Mattresses (Post Home Section, Jan. 8)

Jura Koncius: I have been pleased with Bloomingdale's own brand of pillows I have purchased over the years. Also, at the Ralph Lauren outlets, they sell very nice pillows for $15 to $30 which I have been satisfied with. Any other ideas?

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Richmond: White House china should be AMERICAN.

Jura Koncius: And it is American. All of the china was made in the United States. The casual china was just handpainted in Hungary.

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Big Oaf Here: I do the dishwashing in our house, except for the fine crystal. My wife wisely allows me to leave those for her delicate fingers.

Jura Koncius: It's wonderful that you do everything BUT the crystal!!!

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Northern Virginia: Thank you for this discussion. It's given me a new goal for the new year -- to use our fancy dishes more often. They take up so much space in our small kitchen, it's a shame never to use them. Maybe formalizing dinners will also help my children learn some dinner manners.

And the dishes are going into the dishwasher from now on.

Jura Koncius: Love it when we move people to change!

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Silver Spring: I have a 12 place setting of Noritake china that I inherited from my grandparents. It looks beautiful in the lighted china cabinet. I have only used it once -- a shame as it is beautiful. I have given up on stemmed wineglasses. Stemless is the way to go -- much less breakage and spillage as they don't tip over (for us klutzes).

Jura Koncius: Break out that Noritake!!!

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China input: I don't remember growing up around much fancy dinnerware, but maybe I never paid much attention. When we were registering, my husband wanted to register for Lenox china, as that's what he grew up around. We registered and wouldn't you know, it was mostly his mom and grandmother who bought us the pieces. We've been married 2.5 years and have used a few of the pieces, oh maybe 2 or 3 times. We've had pizza on it on Valentine's Day, just to be fancy. It's pretty but seems like a hassle to me, the cleaning, the storing, the feeling that it's so fragile.

Jura Koncius: Try and get over the feeling it's so fragile. Try to enjoy it more often.

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Washington, D.C.: I didn't want china, but my mother-in-law pressured me to register for a set when I married my husband four years ago. We received it, and then inherited another set of china from my aunt. So, now I have two complete sets of china (gravy boats and all!), and I don't even cook! Both are simple, classic patterns, but we have never used either set. I'd love to get rid of at least one of them, but unfortunately no one seems to want to buy china anymore. I think getting china is one of those oddities that all newlyweds must endure; you sleep on a bed from college but you have amazing dinnerware!

Jura Koncius: It is true that all that fine table stuff is worth more than your living room furniture!!! A good place to sell dinnerware is a consignment shop. Christ Child Opportunity Shop in Georgetown often does well with china. Check out shops in your area.

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re: White House China, UGH: I agree with this comment. People are getting laid off and having a hard time making ends meet. And then we see a smiling First Lady showing off a totally unneeded brand new china pattern for the White House. I see stuff like that and my first thought is, "they just don't GET IT, and probably never will."

washingtonpost.com: As I understand, though, the new china is paid for not with taxpayer money, but with funds raised through the White House Historical Association, right, Jura? - Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: That is absolutely true. All the china was paid for by private funds provided through the White House Historical Association. No government money was used.

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Organizing: My #1 goal for this year is "get organized." Maybe this year I will succeed. I liked the article on linen closets and wonder if you could make it an ongoing series? Pick a trouble spot every week, or every month, and give us some tips. By the end of the year maybe all your readers will be more organized.

Jura Koncius: That is a great idea. One year, all of us in the section picked trouble spots in our homes -- clutter trouble that is -- and we wrote about how we dealt with them. Let's go over some of the trouble spots here. The under sink area. The laundry area. Your bathroom drawers. Junk drawer in the kitchen. Recipe organization. Loose photo organization. Work bench. Desk drawers. What are your faves?

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Lots of china, D.C.: When I got married, we registered for fine china because my husband insisted (!). He was disappointed, though -- we got a simple white-on-white pattern, and he considers china fine only if it has pastel flowers on it. Then my mother insisted we get 17 sets (apparently for the 16-person dinner parties I could never fit in my DC rowhouse). I do love it, though, and use it whenever we have people over, even if it's just close friends we see often.

Jura Koncius: I see a pattern here. Mothers and mothers-in-law are forcing poor brides to get all of this stuff they don't want and doesn't fit into their lifestyle!!!

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China: I have lots of china. Too much, probably. We registered for 12 sets of fine china when we got married in 2007. Probably a luxury. But I love it and I feel that eventually we'll have a dining room that can accommodate all those place settings. In the meantime we've used them to serve our friends buffet-style. I've also inherited some Haviland (in my parents' basement for now). And I have a 12-piece crystal dessert set that I've inherited as well. All in a small condo. I love these pieces but recognize they are luxuries and not at all needed. Price was not too different from the presidential stuff.

Jura Koncius: You do have a ton of it! Using it buffet style is a great idea.

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Dinner at the White House: Don't you just imagine there are some nights when they'd rather flake out and eat on a TV tray?

Jura Koncius: The Reagans were famous for eating dinner on trays. And you'll love this, when my husband and I became empty nesters last year, he bought two very nice sturdy trays with handles that we could use for dinner in front of Entourage or Antiques Road Show!!!

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White House China...: It is NOT taxpayer money. It was paid for with private money. And as you mentioned earlier, it's been in the works for quite a while. What option did they have but to accept delivery? Cancel the order and lose the money? Take the money back and make the manufacturer lose money?

Calm down people!

Jura Koncius: Calm has been called for.

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My feeling is that it elevates even the simplest grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup: Yes! My husband and I had tomato soup and grilled cheese for our anniversary dinner one year - we were both tired and sick and didn't want to cook a big meal -- but we served it on the good china. It was fun!

Jura Koncius: I must share my favorite tomato soup memory. We took a wonderful trip one year to Pine Butte Guest Ranch in Choteau, Montana. When we arrived after a long trip, the very first meal served to us was a totally sublime lunch in the beautiful lodge -- a cream of tomato soup and the crispest grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever had. YUM!!!!

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Any other ideas? : I've been happy with my $10 Laura Ashley pillows I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Jura Koncius: Great.

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Not Pigtown, but Baltimore area: Just to let you know, the Restoration Hardware warehouse sales in Edgewood, Md. were supposed to end in November. I don't know if the economy postponed the move or what, but they are still going strong. Including this weekend!

Jura Koncius: Yes. We were amazed. Please report in if anybody goes.

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Southern Va.: I grew up in a family "that lived off rice and ancestors" which meant not lots of $$, but great china, silver. EVERYBODY (mother, g'mothers, aunts, etc.) used sterling every day, and except for the knives it all went in the dishwasher. Attitude was, "who are you saving it for?? Your family isn't good enough??" And sterling is very durable, more than most think.

China -- (nod to Jura) Limoges, was used not just for holidays, but Sundays, b'days, anything remotely "special". My very practical mother thought "holding back" akin to putting plastic slipcovers on furniture.

This might date me (am 50), but truly believe in using or losing.

Jura Koncius: Use it or lose it. An apt motto for china as well as other things.

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Enterprise, Ala.: Maybe the economic downturn will get people entertaining at home and some of that china will see the light of day!

Jura Koncius: Maybe!

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Today's House Calls was well done, but I want to share my sister's treatment for a non-functioning fireplace. She lined the floor and inside walls with coral granite featuring dramatic burgundy streaks. She installed the equivalent of undercabinet lighting (on a reostat) up by the flue. She used a fireplace candelabra with burgundy pillar candles. Painting brick can achieve improvement, but this was stunning.

washingtonpost.com: House Calls: Redecorating a Living Room (Post Home Section, Jan. 8)

Jura Koncius: What a talented sister.

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Do you all out there have other sage suggestions? : Wait for it ... Palladian blue, lol! I love PB, but do think it's more of a green, a grey sage with just a cooling hint of blue.

Jura Koncius: That's why I didn't bring up the PB idea!

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Selling China: I received service for 10 when I got married eight years ago and just unpacked it! Does anyone know how to go about selling a set of china? eBay, or maybe a specialized website or auction? My stuff is pretty mainstream, but still very nice and unused. I just don't have the space for it and would like to make some cash...

For what it's worth, my everyday dishes are plain white, from Crate and Barrel, so I can easily dress them up or down with chargers, bowls, etc. Also, I think food looks best on white (as does Ina Garten!).

Jura Koncius: If your china is branded, it will be easier to sell. Definitely eBay or Craiglist or other online venues. Or as I said earlier, consignment shops.

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White House China, part 2: Well, knowing we are not paying for it is nice... but I still feel like its a waste of money, regardless of who pays. There must be TONS of perfectly good china from previous administrations that could be used. Why does more need to be created? Okay, those are jobs -- still, it just seems wasteful.

P.S. my mother-in-law gave me her china, as I also did not register for the stuff when I married. It's not my style, but I like it because my mother-in-law gave it to us! We don't use it all the time, but we do use it.

Jura Koncius: The problem with White House china is once its made, no more can ever be made again. Only two state services have enough pieces to serve a state dinner -- the Reagan red and the Clinton gold. As they are used, more of it will break and there will be a need for more. So White House families usually order china, it seems, about every 10 years or so. The china also reflects the history of the decade, as I said in the article.

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Havre de Grace, Md.: I'm 34. I didn't register for china for my wedding (4 years ago) because it just seems too formal and stuffy. Then, just before Christmas, I had a burning desire for fancy plates. I found a set for about 8 (some pieces missing) at my local thrift store for $25. It's a classic white plate with silver band. I plan to keep collecting pieces like this, even if they aren't the exact pattern, to have a fun, fancy, eclectic china set.

I looked it up on Replacements. It was made in the mid-60s by Noritake.

Jura Koncius: That's a fun idea and good for you. We do change our mind sometimes as we get older and wiser!

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Leesburg, Va.: Like several other posters, I also have inherited china and Waterford crystal, as well as an odd number of place settings of a china pattern of my own choosing. It fills a huge china cabinet in my dining room and is beautiful as part of the decorating, but it never gets any use! Great idea to break it out now and then -- and something I will try to do more of!

Jura Koncius: And Replacements is a great place to add to your set. www.replacements.com has thousands of patterns that date back decades.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: I didn't register for china when I got married in 1970 because we were moving abroad. I did buy several place settings of Wedgwood while living in Britain and used them every day. When we moved back to the States I ordered several more place settings and continued to use them everyday, three meals a day for years with toddlers, dishwashers etc. There was so much breakage that after 25 years, I stored the remaing intact pieces and brought inexpensive, all white, replaceable dishes. Now, as a grandmother hosting many family gatherings, I am slowly replenishing my discontinued Wedgwood pattern at Replacements.

Jura Koncius: Funny I just posted about Replacements. It's changed the way we look at china - in most cases, it can be replaced.

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Chantilly, Va.: I got married a few years ago and did not register for china as my mother in law has two sets and let me pick one and is holding on to it for us (we don't have room to store it safely it in our tiny condo) and my mother has two or three sets that I will inherit one or more of someday in the future. We actually did not register for any dishes as we already had plenty, only a few new kitchen things to replace hand-me-downs we had been using since college... this seems to be the case with most newlyweds now as people do live on their own or live together for a good while before they get married.

Jura Koncius: Nice you have all this family stuff.

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Pillows: I ordered new bed pillows for my husband and me last year from Lands End and I love them. Mine is feathers; his is polyfiber that feels like feathers. They were about $25 each and worth every penny!

Jura Koncius: Thanks -- did not know about them.

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on china...: I inherited mine. My grandmother slowly gave my 2 aunts and my mother (her daughter-in-law) their collections over the years. It's a very simple Lenox (Eternal). My aunt's daughter would have nothing of the stuff, so she gave it all to me. But I traded it with my mom for the stuff she inherited from her great aunt. It think it's Mikasa, and it's so flowery and girlie and beautiful. So, she has a massive Eternal collection, and I have the stuff I've been coveting since I was a child. My husband couldn't care less, and everyone is surprised that I have china. We haven't fully unpacked yet, but I can't wait to get it out, just to look at it. I don't even need to use it.

Jura Koncius: Fun.

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Arlington, Va.: Please do the organization series! I need help!

My big trouble spots are:

1. right inside the front entry where mail, coats, hats, keys, backpacks, shoes, library books, etc. all land. We have a coat rack and a small table but it just isn't working.

2. Our "tool" area where we keep screwdrivers and things (obviously) but also batteries, light bulbs, gardening supplies, packing tape, envelopes, and other household necessities - pretty much whatever you might buy in a hardware store! What a mess it is.

Under my kitchen sink is actually pretty neat, I cleaned it up last fall.

Jura Koncius: I think I will clean under my sink tonight.

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China, crystal...: Whatever you have you should use it. Like a poster said, what special occasion are you waiting for? When I get champagne at a bar or restaurant people always wonder what the occasion is. I feel like saying: Life! You can't enjoy it when you're dead so live it up. So drink milk out of crystal and eat pizza off your china. Makes life and living more fun!

Jura Koncius: Yes!

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Arlington, Va.: We have His and Her china at my house. My grandmother gave me her china as my high school graduation gift. It's not very fancy, but the memory is precious. My husband found a set at a yard sale before we were married and we expanded it. His is more everyday and we'll use it if we have a full dishwasher or have friends over. My Grandmother's china usually means a special holiday event.

Jura Koncius: Nice to have a choice.

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Boise, Idaho: Organization is my goal this year. And, I've made a good start. I've cleaned out the cupboards and drawers in the bathrooms and some of the drawers in the kitchen. I've made a good dent in the junk drawer, but it was just overwhelming, even while drinking wine out of a perfectly good wineglass. Those nasty winter snows made me stay home and do something. I'm really tired of not being able to find stuff and being afraid of something falling on my head when I open a door.

Jura Koncius: Do something little every day. You will feel better!

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Waterford Tips: Waterford has a replacement program where you can get replacements for broken glasses at half the current retail price. We've done it just recently -- doesn't matter why it broke. Check out their website.

Also, we married in 2006 and have a simple set of Lenox china (not a full set yet). We use it a few times a year, birthdays, holidays, special guest dinners. We use our Waterford (Lismore Nouveau) probably at least a couple times a month.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Organizing: How about the entry hall? We've always got a bunch of catalogs, mail, keys, and other stuff that has no home. It piles up on the dining table instead, because that's the closest table when we walk in.

Jura Koncius: Yes!

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B'more: I bought my china on eBay. It was $80 including shipping for a 12 piece set and all serving pieces. It is from 1929, and American made. Since it was so cheap, I have no problems if some of it breaks. I figure if too much breaks, I'll just buy some more on eBay in a different pattern.

Jura Koncius: Nice we have so many options these days.

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Speaking of pillows...: I'm happy with my pillows, but seem to have a problem with pillow cases. I like fresh white cases, but as often as I wash them, they still seem to yellow very quickly. Do natural hair oils do this? Does anybody have a remedy, beyond succumbing to colors?

Jura Koncius: Have you tried a different laundry detergent and can you use hot water?

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More on using the sterling: Forgot to mention -- if you do put in dishwasher, don't put next to other metals as it may discolor (just leave a few baskets in between).

Jura Koncius: Yes.

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12 Place Settings of China: I own 12 place settings of my formal china (Royal Crown Derby), that I registered for when I got married (16 years ago). But I got the full set from my grandmother as my wedding present. If not, I can't imagine spending money now to add to it. I do love it, but admittedly, we really only use it on Christmas and our anniversary!

Jura Koncius: That is a beautiful pattern.

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Jura Koncius: We've come to the end of our chat and it was fun to hear about all of your china! We recently inherited some more antique plates and I want to keep them in the kitchen so we can use them on more occasions. It is wonderful to keep up old traditions.

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