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Home Front: Inside Blair House, IKEA Cabinet Installation, Non-Caveish Basement Colors, Good Deals on Mirrors and more

Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, January 15, 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. They were online Thursday, January 15.

A transcript follows.

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

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Terri Sapienza: Hi, everyone. I'm back from the holidays and a nice, long vacation and am ready to talk shop. Jura's here, too. We have lots to talk about today with the inauguration just around the corner. If you haven't already done so, check out today's section for a very interesting and in depth story about the historic Blair House by Jura and her story about the woman who designed the Bush's informal White House china. There's also a story about Michael Smith, the California designer just picked by Michelle Obama to be the White House decorator.

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washingtonpost.com: Where History Meets Hospitality (Post Home Section, Jan. 15)

Terri Sapienza: Here's Blair House...

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washingtonpost.com: West Coast Decorator Gets White House Nod (Post Home Section, Jan. 15)

Terri Sapienza: And here's the story about Michael Smith...

(Thanks, Elizabeth!)

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Alexandria, Va.: I recently got a good estimate from a reputable renovation contractor on a redone bathroom. It is small so there is not much room for changes, however I must pick out a vanity and the other items needed. This has stymied me as I have little interest and no eye for this kind of thing. Where is a good place to one stop shop for all this? Home Depot was a bust.

Terri Sapienza: Have you tried the Home Expo Design Center?

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washingtonpost.com: The Dish on Designer of Bush China (Post Home Section, Jan. 15)

Terri Sapienza: Last but not least...

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Washington, D.C.: Good morning,

What do you think about putting a 46-50 inch flat screen TV in an enclosed cabinet so that it's not visible to everyone who enters the home?

Jura Koncius: It's a wonderful idea. Too many screens are dominating our lives.

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Arlington, Va.: We've got plans in the works to replace our antiquated kitchen (and by antiquated I mean circa 1940s, no dishwasher, few cupboards) and I'm thinking seriously about IKEA cabinets. My question is: Who installs them? Does Ikea do the job? Does it have contractors it uses? And have either of you ever had IKEA or its contractors do the work? Thanks.

Terri Sapienza: I believe you can install the cabinets yourself, or you can pay IKEA to do it for you. I don't have any personal experience with Ikea cabinets, but I've seen kitchens with them and they look pretty fabulous. Anyone have any experience with IKEA cabinets they can share?

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NoVa.: So I think we need to replace our sheet vinyl flooring in our upstairs bathroom. It is discolored, peeling up in some places, due to some water damage. I was wondering if you had any advice on whether to stick with sheet vinyl or get tiles instead. I don't want to spend that much money but I can't stand to look at it the old flooring anymore. Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: If you have the budget for it, I would go with tile.

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Alexandria, Va.: When you click on today's House Calls, last week's article about the living room make-over is displayed rather than today's article about the bathroom make-over. Would you please have this updated? Thanks.

washingtonpost.com: Thanks for the heads-up -- I've alerted the producer of that section and in the meantime here's the correct link: House Calls: The Spa Treatment (Post Home Section, Jan. 15)

Terri Sapienza: Here you go. Thanks, Elizabeth

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Jura Koncius: Hey everyone. I just wanted to report on a phone call I just had from a wonderful lady who is 88 years old and used to be a guest at the White House of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She read my Blair House story from today's Post and it kindled a memory. She says that one day Winston Churchill and an advisor who were both house guests at the White House were sitting in two wing chairs by the fire in the middle of the night having a brandy and talking. Eleanor Roosevelt must have been awakened by them so she knocked on the door and without being asked if she could come in, she opened the door. The two men, dressed in their skivvies, hid behind the chairs the best they could. Winston Churchill remarked, "That's the only woman in the world I'm afraid of." Love it. There are so many people in this town who have wonderful stories to tell about Washington, its houses and its history. Any of you out there have a White House or Blair House story to tell?

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Prince George's, Maryland: Do you or any readers out there have ideas for an Inauguration Party? I'm hosting a get-together and can't think of any decoration theme. I don't want cutesy stuff with the President-elect on it.

Jura Koncius: That is a fun question. I'm sure a lot of us will be hosting impromptu TV watching parties this weekend as we choose to watch the festivities at home instead of braving the cold and the crowds. Have you thought about featuring food from the decades of various presidents? You could also decorate from the presidential era you were born in. Any other ideas out there?

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D.C. -- Nursery Question -- only 10 weeks to go!!: Ladies,

We are having a nursery decor quandary. The future baby's room is currently painted a color of green on all 4 walls that appears to be close to Celery Ice by BM. Room has northern light so the room can tend to be dark during the day. We are drawn to a nursery set that is a pale yellow/wheat color -- should we repaint the walls a warm cream/light yellow, or could we keep two walls the green and paint the other two a soft white? Would that green and pale yellow really clash?

Thanks!!

Terri Sapienza: Hard to say without seeing the bedding, but yellow and green often look nice together, so why not just keep everything as is and forget the accent walls? If you still feel you need to repaint, try just a lighter shade of the green or a cream.

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Columbia, Md.: I love your chats! I am thinking about painting my basement family room. Currently it is generic eggshell, and I have a tan sectional sofa and various darker wood furnishings. I am leaning toward a pumpkin color -- any thoughts on specific shades that might work in a space that doesn't get a lot of light? I don't want the room to look too 'caveish.'

Jura Koncius: Yes, a cave is not a desired look for a room! Soft Pumpkin by Benjamin Moore is a great color. California Poppy by Ralph Lauren is a designer favorite as well.

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IKEA Cabinets: Great experience. They install them, although I had my own guy do the installation. Advice: When you get your cabinets, they come in disassembled, but make sure you get everything the kitchen designer at IKEA recommended. I was missing quite a few little things I had paid for when they got delivered and, as you know, it's a hassle to get to IKEA. Still, I love the cabinets and they have so many cool features. I recommend the tall pantry with roll out drawers if you have room. We moved to a luxury home last year and my new state of the art kitchen doesn't compare to my IKEA one!

Terri Sapienza: thanks!

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Arlington, Va.: Loved the article on Blair House. It's great to see inside buildings that are hidden from public view. I've been on the WH tour several times, but didn't know anything about BH.

Jura Koncius: Thanks. I almost got a tour -- but they were busy getting the place security-ready for the Obamas so I didn't get in to see it this time. I did see it 20 years ago when it was renovated. It is a really amazing place and the treasures in its rooms would keep guests busy wandering all night just checking them out! You can't get a public tour of it. So don't miss this Saturday's C-SPAN show on Blair House, it's a rare opportunity at 7 p.m.

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Crofton, Md.: Backsplash question

Love the chats! I have been using a lot of the advice. I have redecorated/remodeled a lot of my house. The kitchen is the problem. I have oak cabinets and hardwood floors, stainless appliances and black granite countertops. The countertops have a 4" backsplash and have specks of blue and silver in them. I am at a loss for what to do for a backsplash above the 4" one to the cabinets. It looks so bare, yet I don't want anything busy either. Thank you.

Terri Sapienza: Is the existing backsplash the same granite as your countertops? If not, I would take it down and just install a simple subway tile from the countertops to the cabinets.

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Brookland, D.C.: Good Morning, I moved to a great new apartment that is perfect, EXCEPT that I can't get the water in the shower to stay hot. My landlord doesn't seem to have any fixes, but halfway through washing my hair the water goes cold. Is there any solution that I can find as a humble tenant? For what it's worth, the water heater in my apartment was replaced last month.

Thanks so much

Jura Koncius: If the water heater was replaced last month, it is either the wrong size for your building, or the temperature is set too low. Ask your landlord if you can see the unit yourself.

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D.C.: We've been looking for 3 mirrors (fireplace, downstairs bathroom, and our bedroom), and can't seem to find nice, inexpensive ones at all. My mom found a steal of a mirror at a TJ Maxx (out of state) for under $20 but we've had no luck. Are we really doomed to paying several hundred dollars for mirrors?

Jura Koncius: Try and find some old frames at resale or thrift shops and have mirrors put in. Pottery Barn has very nice mirrors and sometimes World Market and Pier 1 Imports too. What other places can you suggest?

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Arlington, Va.: My wife and I are thinking about remodeling our bedroom to replace a large panel mirror glued to the wall above our fireplace with bookshelves sunk into the wall above the fireplace. How would you recommend that I go about finding a contractor who has experience with these sorts of projects?

Terri Sapienza: Try asking friends or neighbors for recommendations and check your neighborhood listserv, too.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Ladies,

I live in a D.C. rowhouse (I think it's a federal style rowhouse) and have a question about how to use the rooms. When you enter my house, the stairway going upstairs is on the left, and the living room is on the right. There's a short hallway that takes you to the formal dining room, which is behind the living room.

I'm thinking about switching the rooms so that the formal dining room becomes the living room and the living room becomes the dining room. I want to do this because my current dining room is larger than the current living room, and I would like to put a big screen TV in the new living room (there isn't space in the current living room for a TV). What do you think?

Terri Sapienza: I think you should use the rooms in your house whatever way works best for you and your family.

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IKEA Cabinets: Hello! I had IKEA cabinets installed and they looked wonderful, no one could believe they were from IKEA. IKEA has a list of recommended installers and I used someone near me on the list, he was efficient (cause he installs them all the time) and not very pricey. Overall I was very happy with the experience.

Jura Koncius: Great report.

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Arlington, Va.: Any suggestions on where to buy American or Canadian made cribs? Don't want one from a company that has had any recalls, and don't want one made in an Asian country, as those seem to be the countries of manufacture for the the millions of cribs recalled in 2008 and 2009.

Jura Koncius: Have you checked Young America by Stanley?

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Logan Circle: I just gutted my own 5x8 master bath, so I really appreciated today's House Call bathroom remodel. The designers proposed changes very similar to the ones I was planning, which I find rather reassuring. I'd also suggest stacking the towel racks vertically (so that two people can share the bathroom) and concealing some shallow shelving in the walls (between studs) if possible. My own wonderful house has very tiny bathrooms, and storage is at a premium. One small criticism: If I understood their design and the orientation of the room correctly, they plan on installing a 6 foot tub in a 5 foot space. That's some incredible design!

washingtonpost.com: House Calls: The Spa Treatment (Post Home Section, Jan. 15)

Jura Koncius: Thanks for posting, Logan Circle.

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Washington, D.C.: My fiance and I will soon be registering for our wedding. We don't know where we'll be living beyond the next year, or what kind of place we might buy in a few years. What is your advice for choosing items now that will be stylish/comfortable now but still transferable to an unknown home in the future?

Terri Sapienza: Are you registering for furniture? Or are you asking about dishes, glasses, etc.?

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Red couches: I have them and love them. Want to change my wall color, which is currently light yellow. Do not want tan/taupe/brown, which is often suggested. The room would be too dark. Any other colors that go with red?

Terri Sapienza: My pick would be a light tan or warm white, but if you don't want either of those, you could also consider a light gray. Just be careful about picking a warm shade as opposed to a cooler one.

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D.C.: Good morning ladies -- We're starting to consider a kitchen remodel and wondering if granite or engineered stone is the only sensible way to go these days (for both wear and tear and resale)? Do you or any of the chatters have experience with soapstone? I understand it's a much less expensive alternative, but requires more upkeep. Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Anyone with first-hand experience with soapstone?

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Silver Spring, Md.: Thanks for answering - what paint colors would you recommend for a basement with a low ceiling and not much natural light (other than white)? I'd like to make the space as inviting as possible and not scream "basement."

Terri Sapienza: I think any color you like would work well as long as it's a light shade.

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Silver Spring: A word of caution to those who want to put a TV in a cabinet. Unless you use a surround sound system you lose much of the sound inside the cabinet -- yes, even with the doors open. I had to buy external speakers for mine.

Terri Sapienza: thanks for the tip.

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Affordable Mirrors: I got some great mirrors at Home Goods in Fairfax. They have a large selection of myriad sizes -- from oversized to small.

Terri Sapienza: Another good tip. Thanks!

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Thanks for the mirror suggestion: I too am looking to put a mirror on one wall above my upright piano. The wall is across from my windows and my living room is small so I'm hoping that will help bring more natural light into the room. I had the same problem as the poster with finding a mirror that was affordable, especially b/c this would be rather large. Thanks for the tip of buying the mirror and getting the frame separate.

Terri Sapienza: Check Craigslist, too. You could find a large mirror at a great bargain.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi ladies! Question about Aura paints... I've read that they are green or greener, are they safe for use by, say, a 4-year-old!? We are going to paint our basement and have someone who really wants to help.

Jura Koncius: Yes. The Aura paints are Benjamin Moore's most eco-friendly colors. Check out the benjaminmoore.com website to get all the details -- great durability and easy to work with, thick and great covering.

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Olney, Md.: Bellacor.com has a great selection of quality, stylish mirrors at reasonable prices, plus free shipping.

Get on their mailing list to receive notices of special sales and offers.

Terri Sapienza: I love the companies that offer free shipping. But make sure you really like a mirror before purchasing it from a mail order catalog or Web site. Returning such a heavy accessory like that can cost a ton.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Love, love, love my IKEA Kitchen -- we did the installation ourselves, it's very easy -- IKEA does provide instructions, and, I think, a demonstration video. It does take time and patience, but well worth the $$ saved. I'll second what a previous poster said though about double checking your order - a must-do.

For the poster with the nursery question -- dark during the daytime is OK for a baby's room, esp. for naps. If I'm lucky enough to get a nap, I prefer a dark space :-)

Terri Sapienza: thanks.

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Table knife repairs needed: I need a repair place for table knives. A couple of the knives have the handle separated from the blade -- the glue (?) has failed.

We have Oneida stainless flatware -- in a Betty Crocker pattern discontinued 20 years ago. I have everything -- service for 17, plenty of serving pieces. We use it every day and it goes in the dishwasher.

Where do I go to get these repaired? I have all the bits.

Jura Koncius: Stainless is not easy to repair. You might try www.awesomemetals.com, which is Awesome Metal Restorations in Kensington, 301 897-3266. Have you tried www.replacements.com to see if they have your pattern in stock and you could replace the knives instead of going through the lengthy and complex and expensive process of having them repaired?

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Alexandria, Va.: We need to buy new flatware and are looking for suggestions. Any good places to check out besides the usual Crate and Barrel?

washingtonpost.com: I love my everyday IKEA flatware! -- Elizabeth

Jura Koncius: Bloomingdale's and Macy's. Any other ideas?

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Ikea kitchen: To the happy IKEA customer, that sounds great. But who coordinated the whole kitchen -- lighting, appliances, floors, etc? I'd love to use Ikea but would be hopeless in all other areas.

Thanks in advance!

Terri Sapienza: a question for IKEA kitchen people...

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Lodi, Calif.: I've a south-facing bedroom with good light. Painted it BM Manchester Tan with bright white woodwork. Not so great with large black-framed Chinese screen and mahogany bed. Could you suggest a BM neutral for walls (not white/cream)? Thanks, and I enjoy reading you guys!

Terri Sapienza: How about BM's Winter Wheat? If that's too cream for you, take a look at Muslin, also from BM.

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re: Inauguration Party: It might be fun to find different political cartoons and quotes from past presidencies, and print them out. Or just limit to cartoons and quotes by or about Obama. For quotes, cut and paste into Word and do them all in different fonts and typefaces to make it more interesting. I bet you could find plenty on the Web. You could frame them each in a separate small frame and put them out. If you don't want to spend a lot on frames, you can get small mats at Michael's in your theme colors (red white and blue?). Hand out as party favors when it's over.

Jura Koncius: Nice ideas.

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Linen Closet Triumph: I was inspired by last week's article/chat about linen closets. Went to The Container Store and got an Elfa over-the door-organizer with 6 baskets in various sizes. It installed very easily without drilling any holes. It's sturdy/steady when opening and closing the door. Best of all, I was able to move two shelves worth of "clutter" on to it (now everything's visible too) and free up space for linens. Thanks for the inspiration!!

washingtonpost.com: With Linen Closets, Organizing Is Easy (Post Home Section, Jan. 8)

Terri Sapienza: Thanks for sharing - now, I'm inspired!

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Mirrors: Go on Craigslist. People sell some really cool ones. They range in size and price.

Jura Koncius: Yes. I think Terri has found some great vintage mirrors on Craigslist.

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I'd like to make the space as inviting as possible and not scream "basement.": What about a nice buttery and cheerful yellow? Something very light.

Terri Sapienza: good idea. Just be careful with yellows. They will look much brighter on the walls than they do in the paint decks. If you find a yellow you like, try the shade at the top of the paint deck.

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bathroom fixtures: Also try Union Hardware (Bethesda and elsewhere) and Ferguson's (Rockville and elsewhere). They have a lot on display, but of course not everything.

HomeClick.com has pretty much everything, but their pictures aren't great. You can at least see the full range of products though, and then go to company websites for more info.

Terri Sapienza: great tips. Thanks.

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Foggy Bottom Mirrors: I've gotten rather large mirrors at IKEA for cheap and they are great at bringing more light into my living room. On a related note, any suggestions for places to get a mirror cut to fit a custom frame?

Jura Koncius: The reminds me that like 15 years ago, I bought a fabulous huge pine mirror at IKEA that still hangs in my guest bedroom. As for mirror installation, Columbia Mirror & Glass at 2212 Wisconsin Ave. NW 202 333-3037 has been doing mine for years.

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IKEA Kitchen: Hello Again! I didn't redo lighting in my kitchen other than adding under counter lighting, and my contractor (from IKEA's list) handled that along with putting in my microwave above the stove and putting in my new dishwasher. I didn't relocate any appliances so my kitchen was designed around the existing setup. I did my floor myself after the cabinets were installed.

Terri Sapienza: thanks.

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Capitol Hill: Help! My bathtub has started peeling. It looks like large patches of paint are peeling off. Have you or any chatters seen anything like this before? Appears different from what reglazing might address. The bathroom was remodeled 10-15 years ago and I just bought the house 6 months ago so who knows what the previous owner might have done to make it "look nice." Thanks for any info you can share!

Jura Koncius: How old is this tub?

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Frederick, Md.: Ideas for Inaugural Party

It might be a little bit of a stretch, but you could do foods representing the new President and Vice President -- Hawaii for Obama (roast pig, pineapple, etc.) and Delaware for Biden (umm.... crab? what's Delaware famous for?) Or funny presidential-themed names for all the dishes on the buffet ("Make-you-fatter-than-Taft-Cheesecake" etc.)

Jura Koncius: Love that. Delaware foods could also include fried chicken, Nic-o-bolis (from Rehoboth); Grotto Pizza and Boardwalk Fries.

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Washington, D.C.: Have you heard anything -- good or bad -- about the "Mr Sandless" floor refinishing franchises? It sounds almost too good to be true.

Terri Sapienza: I haven't. can anyone else chime in?

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Flatware Suggestion: For the person wanting another place to buy flatware, I bought 2 sets of 8 place settings of Oneida at Kohl's for an extremely reasonable price.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Rockville, Md.: Need to use an existing traverse rod (long story)to hang modern pole-pocket curtains (i.e., not the old pinch-pleat type with hooks designed for the very small holes of a traverse rod). Any suggestions on what to use/where to find some kind of rings or clips that could work?

Terri Sapienza: Maybe West Elm or CB2?

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Germantown, Md.: Hello -- my husband and I are settling into our new house and would like to repaint the dining room. It's currently a pretty light yellow, but just not our style. My china has accents of deep red and cobalt blue, so I'd like to go with a neutral primary color and use red and blue as accents, without any hint of a patriotic theme -- just clean elegance. The only idea I've had so far is to paint the walls a soft white, and the trim (chair rail, crown moulding) a warm dark brown that complements the hardwood floors -- bringing out the red and blue in decor only. What do you think? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: What about painting the whole room red? Lots of people love red dining rooms.

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IKEA Happy customer: If you want to minimize headaches, then hire a general contractor/handyman who can do the lighting, plumbing, maybe even the floor or at least get someone to do what he can't do. That's why we had someone else do the installation. Not sure if IKEA's contractor does everything.

Jura Koncius: Good questions to ask.

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Vienna, Va.: Hi,

I have a lovely area rug. But it creeps and travels over the wall-to-wall. I realize this is normal, but I'm trying to minimize it so I'm not always straightening it. Or worse, risking visiting older parents tripping. It's already anchored down on one end by the couch. I'd anchor the other end, except the middle travels too, and it's harder to straighten at that point. Any advice?

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: You don't'mention your PAD. You MUST have a pad under this rug and it could solve your problem. I really like the very thick pads they sell at places like Greenfront in Manassas. You don't want people falling down -- please take care of this immediately! Or just remove the rug and live with the wall to wall!

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Paint question (not about color): I'm getting ready to paint my daughter's bedroom, but I'm not sure where to stop between wall and ceiling. Two of the walls curve to become the ceiling, so it's sort of coved. The previous owners just "drew in" a line and kept the ceiling white, but I'm considering painting the wallls and ceiling all one color (it is a light color and there's plenty of trim elsewhere in the room that will be a contrasting white). Does this sound doable?

Terri Sapienza: I think that's a much better idea than drawing your own line. If the room is small and the paint color light, I think it would be very nice.

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Bethesda, Md.: Flatware -- I purchased some VERY high quality, good name-brand, heavy flatware at HomeGoods not long ago, and got it for a steal. I swear by that place. It can be hit-and-miss sometimes, but I've had very good luck.

Terri Sapienza: Another shout-out for Home Goods.

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Fairfax, Va.: My wife and I have just moved into a home and I'm starting to think about decorating. I'd like to hire an interior designer to help select colors and generate some ideas, but my wife is afraid she'll feel pressured to buy furniture, knick-knacks, window treatments, etc... from the designer. Are there interior designers that will "lend a hand" in decorating rather than taking over the entire process, and how would we go about finding one? Thank you!

washingtonpost.com: Making a Plan (Post Home Section, Feb. 21, 2008)

Jura Koncius: I wrote a story about this topic and Elizabeth has nicely attached it to this question. There are lots of people standing by who can help you with as much or as little as you need.

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Just be careful with yellows: Yes. My mom brought yellow swatches home for her living room. I was so certain about which one would be the winner. Until she decided to paint a bit of each on the wall. Wow, shocking. The one I picked out was really dark and looked terrible. Another one I thought was going to be awful and way too light looked terrific! On the wall it was not so light.

Terri Sapienza: Many designers say that yellow is the most difficult color to pick out. Bottom Line: when using yellow, the lighter the shade the better.

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Blair House: Blair House is amazing! It's also much bigger than I realized. With so many guest rooms, why couldn't John Howard and the Obama family both stay there at the same time?

Jura Koncius: It has something to to do with protocol and something to do with security. Plus, who would get the top bedroom suite?

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Kensington, Md.: Can anyone recommend a bathroom designer? Thank you!

Terri Sapienza: Anyone have a recommendation for Kensington?

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Shower hot water problem: If the landlord still won't cooperate, try installing a low flow showerhead. You'll use less water and I bet you'll be able to take a long shower without running out of hot H2O. Low flow shower heads solved our hot water shortage immediately.

Terri Sapienza: thanks!

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Frayed rug in Silver Spring: Hello! Happy New Year and hope I'm not too late. We got suckered in by a Craig's List rug. Very pretty but the ends are fraying. Any suggestions on how/where to get the edges bound, either professionally or DIY? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Try Hanna Ayoub, 2614 Pittman Drive, Silver Spring, Md. 202 363-9200.

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Re: peeling tub: This happened at my brother's house after they used a reglazing kit themselves. That may have been what happened here. As for the fix, I have no idea as my brother hasn't done anything yet, since they're now leaning toward a total remodel.

Jura Koncius: Yuck. The hard thing is that you have no idea what these people did to the tub before you came.

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buying new flatware: Costco usually has nice heavy stainless flatware.

Jura Koncius: Love Costco. This is not in the design category, but the next time you are there, try their chicken soup that they sell in large containers. Yum. Also the Martha Stewart ham is delicious. Actually, I wish they carried more decorating items. They have appliances and sometimes rugs and linens, but not a lot of accessories. I once snagged some beautiful pale pink Ralph Lauren sheets there.

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Pigtown: I got some great looking "pearl"-handled spoons at Target recently. They have some good-looking flatware, including a bamboo-handled set that's like Tiffany's discontinued bamboo pattern.

Jura Koncius: Great idea, Pigtown.

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Richmond, Va.: My circa 1959 house has a bathtub that was refinished before we bought the home. The fixtures (pedestal sink and toilet) were also replaced. I suspect that the tile surrounding the tub and installed as a wainscot matched the tub exactly, but now the tub is a slightly more vibrant white. I think right now, the color of the tub and tile are just a little off -- like the tub refinishers tried to match it but didn't quite. I need to repaint the room, and am wondering if I ought to paint the room to match the tile exactly (I've decided the closest color is Benjamin Moore Timid White) so that the tub, toilet and sink which are all white stand out, or if I ought to paint the walls a color that doesn't match the tile. The floor is a white mosaic tile. There is a medicine cabinet that is a creamy white color (I think it was purchased from Target as some sort of "shabby chic" element). I will replace that at some point, but not right away. Thank you for your advice.

Terri Sapienza: I think I would paint with a color other than white. The more different shades of white you have in there, the more the mis-matching will stand out. If you use a different color on the walls, it will distract the eye from the different whites. A two-toned stripe on the wall would distract the eye even more. And then there's always wallpaper...

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Or funny presidential-themed names for all the dishes on the buffet ("Make-you-fatter-than-Taft-Cheesecake" etc.): How about Sloppy Joes for Biden? You could have the sloppy joe fillings in a crockpot, and small buns next to it.

Jura Koncius: Hmmm.

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Tip on American Made Cribs: Pacific Rim cribs, made in Eugene, Ore. Handcrafted, solid maple, and non-toxic to boot. Thats what we have decided on!

Jura Koncius: Great tip.

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Attractive all-weather mat for foyer?: Have not been able to find one we like. Suggestions on where to look?

Jura Koncius: I bought a half-round woven one at Smith & Hawken a few years ago - it's black rubber. Many of my friends have copied the idea. Great and durable.

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Mirrors: I had very good luck finding a mirror at Bed Bath and Beyond. It's hit or miss with them, though, since they don't usually have too many options. Worth a check, though.

Terri Sapienza: thanks.

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Area rug pad: I have the same problem as the chatter with the traveling area rug. I had a pad underneath, but the color of it (a light red) eventually came off on the wall-to-wall. I had never had that happen before, but it scared me pad-less.

Jura Koncius: A warning to check the color of your rug pads.

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Carpet Pad:: Hi,

Carpet questioner again. I tried the carpet pad -- made things worse! I got the kind you get from World Market. Is there a thicker kind? Where does one go for that?

Terri Sapienza: Can you just remove the area rug and use it someplace else? Sounds like it might be a better -- and safer -- idea.

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Re: red couches: I recently visited a home that had a red sofa with walls to match the same red. It was gorgeous!!!

Terri Sapienza: Wow... that's a lot of red. But if it worked, it worked.

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D.C.: My next project is to tile the backsplash in my kitchen. Any suggestions of places to buy tiles?

Jura Koncius: We get a lot of queries about this. Renaissance Tile & Bath, 816 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 549-7806 is a place that has a good reputation. Do you tile lovers have other ideas?

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Rug question: I spotted a rug that I really want for my daughter's room, but it's too small (long and narrow). I'd like to place two of the rugs next to each other to double the size. Do you think a really good rug pad would keep the two in place? It's a geometric pattern that will line up perfectly, so I'm not worried about the look, just the way they will stay put. (FWIW, they are inexpensive, so I can experiment without much fallout if it fails!)

Terri Sapienza: How about asking a rug place if they could sew or bind the two pieces together somehow?

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Cave, Basement: I just want to comment on all the posts about dark basements not being a "cave." My basement gets very little natural light (practically none). It is a big space, and it's pretty much just used for watching TV or playing games. I painted it a coppery brown (then the white ceiling was too much of a contrast so I used the light butterscotch color at the top of the paint card). People love it -- it is warm and feels comfortable. I have a mahogany Pergo floor, navy couch, and the walls are lined with light wood bookcases. I added a gel fireplace too. The result might be different in a small space, but since I have been in too many light yellow and blue basements that just felt cold, and wanted to add my 2 cents.

Terri Sapienza: thanks.

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Delaware food: I'm from Biden's hometown, Claymont. They eat a lot of sloppy joes there. And cheesesteak subs. Crab is big in the summer. Pizza with thin crust. Anything that is popular in Philly. And everyone seems to eat Tastykake cupcakes. Wow. I can't believe I weigh under 500 lbs!

Terri Sapienza: Yum! Jura and I are signing off now because that posting just made us hungry for lunch. Anyone know where I can get some tastykakes around the Post building?

Thanks for joining us. Chat with you next week.

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