Home Front: Your Design and Decor Dilemmas, Solved

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Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, August 27, 2009; 11:00 AM

Every week, Washington Post Home Section writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. They will be online Thursday, August 27 at 11:00 a.m. ET to take your questions and suggestions.

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Jura Koncius: Good morning. Back from vacation and looking forward to fall. Any new shops in your hood? Tell us. Let's get going.

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Teens room: My daughter and I are in the midst of redecorating her room. She really wants either bright blue or a bright green sheer curtains. I've looked at all of the usual places and haven't had any luck. Any suggestions? We're also looking for a blue and green polka-dot comforter that will fit a queen-sized bed. We've found one by Hillend but it only comes in an XL twin. Any suggestions there? Thanks for your help!

Terri Sapienza: Have you tried the Company Store, Garnet Hill or overstock.com?

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Takoma Park, Md.: Hello Ladies, I'm planning to paint my kitchen today. I will be renting my condo out and my tenant wants a warm golden orange color. She wasn't very specific. I'm planning to run to Home Depot and buy some Behr paints. What colors would you suggest? P.S. Any tips for getting the paint to go on evenly?

Jura Koncius: Today! Gosh. If you are planning to do it today, I hope your walls are in good shape without a lot of cracks and nail holes. Don't know what color your walls are now, but you will probably need a base coat/primer. As for Behr ideas, what about Delicious Melon, Apricot Light, or Orange Sherbet.

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South Riding, Va.: Hi there, I'm looking for a soothing color to paint the nursery, which gets afternoon sun. There's a medium and dark blue rug on the bamboo floor, and the furniture is a combination of white and natural wood. Would BM Beacon Gray be too dark?

Terri Sapienza: Hard to say, quite honestly, without seeing the room in person. I personally don't like the idea of gray for a nursery, but if you like it the only way to be sure the color works for you is to test it in big patches on the walls at different times during the day.

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Washington, D.C.: Any way I can get the link to an article written, I think last year, that discussed interior color consultants and listed a few local consultants? I've searched the archives but can't find it! Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Hi. That article was written by moi. One of the parts was called "Making a Plan" and offered info from the group Interior Refiners. www.interiorrefiners.com. There were also sections in the article on color consultants and hourly design consultations. We are getting that ready to post.

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Teens Room Sheers: JCPenney or Bed Bath and Beyond?

Jura Koncius: JC Penney has a big more of a selection and perhaps a bit more style in that department.

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Fairfax, Va.: Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the House Calls design today. It's heartening to see that a designer can choose nice looking pieces at a decent price.

washingtonpost.com: Bold Pieces and Clean Lines for a Loft (Post, Aug. 27)

Terri Sapienza: Always nice to get a good review of House Calls. Thanks!

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Lusby, Md.: I need privacy for my screened in porch, what is a good and inexpensive way to create privacy. It screened on three side, what do u think about lattice?

Jura Koncius: Lattice is good. Or what about mounting some floor to ceiling draperies inside that you kept back with tiebacks until you needed them? I stayed at a B and B in Vermont that had this look in some fish mesh mosquito proof fabric that also kept mosquitoes from getting in! You could use something opaque in a neutral color or something mesh to let more air in.

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washingtonpost.com: eDecorating (Post, Sept. 25, 2008)

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Washington, D.C.: Hello ladies! So I've finally decided to update my living room. I will be getting rid of my post college furniture which is mostly from Ikea. But now I have no idea where to shop. My taste is traditional but I love clean lines. Any suggestions on where I should begin my quest for furniture?

Jura Koncius: Do you want new or used? Lots of great vintage places out there like Miss Pixie's on 14th St. or consignment shops in Bethesda. For new pieces, check out Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, West Elm, Random Harvest, Bo Concept.

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washingtonpost.com: eDecorating (Post, Sept. 25, 2008)

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Washington, D.C.: Anyone know of online shops that sell reasonably priced sisal or sea grass rugs?

Terri Sapienza: I would try overstock.com, pier 1, world market, pottery barn.

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Speaking of gray...: I agree with you that gray shouldn't be the color of a nursery. But I do love it and want to paint my living room Manhattan Mist by Behr. The room currently has charcoal drapes, a charcoal sofa and a patterned rug with lots of colors, but with a charcoal background. Do you think this is gray overkill? My previous living room was brown and I am sick of brown and am determined to have cool toned living room as opposed to a warm toned one. Thanks for your help!

Terri Sapienza: Whoa...that's a lot of charcoal. Does your room get lots of natural light? I don't have the Behr fan deck in front of me, but I think putting gray on the walls will be too much - it's teetering on too much already! The good news is that gray is so neutral that it will go well with just about any other color. And there are lots of "cool" colors aside from gray that you can pick from. Maybe you could take a look at the other colors in your rug and pull one from there for the walls? And maybe use that same color and another from the rug for pillows and other accessories? illows,

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Washington, D.C.: I plan to give my bedroom a total makeover. Should I choose my bedding before I decide the color of my walls?

Jura Koncius: Yes. I would say that is a good idea. I called Aimee Wedlake at Valerianne, a high end linen store in Vienna, 111 Church St., Vienna. www.valerianne.com. 703 242-1790. Aimee says , "Yes, textile shades vary so much, it is easier to match paint to bed linens vs. the other way around. One suggestion - if somebody is starting from scratch - find an inspiration whether a pillow, a piece of art, an architectural piece - something you love - and it's amazing what you can build around it. We are all about drawing from all kinds of different things and mixing colors, textures etc. We usually recommend using the bigger pieces - coverlets and duvets - for neutral shades. Layer the colors with your smaller pieces - pillows and shams and throws."

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Teens Room: Target probably has everything there.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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RE: Teen Sheers: You can also get nice teen sheers not expensive at Walmart and Target.

Jura Koncius: Thanks.

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Blue/Green bed set: My daughter chose a beautiful bright spring green color for her walls. The bed set and window valance are from Sears Ty Pennington collection. It is variegated blue and green stripes. Not polka dot, but very fun and nice! Take a look at the Sears web site; there should be a picture.

Terri Sapienza: Great suggestion. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, Jura and Terri! I look forward to these chats all week.

We are thinking of remodeling our kitchen at the end of next year. The layout doesn't quite work for us, so we need a new design (or 2 or 3 to choose from). I seem to recall a while back there was an article about kitchen designers that would just do the designs and provide a little guidance without being a general contractor (we're trying to keep costs down as much as possible). Can you please repost this article?

Terri Sapienza: I think you are referring to the service we wrote about offered by Bethesda kitchen and bath designer, Jennifer Gilmer. Here's the website for more info: www.kitchendesignonline.net.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi ladies, welcome back Jura! I'm considering 2 excursions in the coming weeks, one to Savage Mill and one to Luckett's. What are your thoughts on these 2 destinations? I'm not looking for anything in particular, really just interesting things and perhaps a deal or two!

Jura Koncius: Thanks. Good for you. Those places are always good you never know what you'll discover. We also hear about New Market, Frederick, Sperryville and of course the Georgetown Flea Market. What other spots do you guys like? It will be nice when the weather cools down a bit for these kinds of activities.

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Alexandria, Va.: Please drop the crafting series...it's a waste of space...how many of us glue flowers to anything? Please give us home stories instead.

Jura Koncius: Hmmm. What do the rest of you think! Obviously some people love it and some hate it. But look at the empire Martha has built up with so many fans of crafting in a stylish way.

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Near Chicago: Good morning! Can you, or any of your readers, suggest any fabulous (or at least well-stocked) furniture consignment stores in the Chicago area? We recently moved here and I am having trouble finding them, plus missing my old haunts!

Thanks so much!

Jura Koncius: Anyone?

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For person looking for new post-college furniture: I would recommend Costco (there is usually one store in each region that carries a lot of furniture). I bought a sectional sofa there that is wonderful... and about 1/2 the cost of the same item anywhere else. I would also recommend Craigslist. Especially now. There are a lot of people who bought stuff they can't afford. You can get brand new stuff at a steal.

Terri Sapienza: Yep, all good suggestions. I've never been to Costco (weird, I know), but I'm guessing they might also carry inexpensive sisal or seagrass rugs, too?

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Ladies,

I'm wondering if chatters have any opinions on small refrigerator/freezers. I'm purchasing an apartment in a location that I want, and so I'm sacrificing a normal-sized unit. Right now there is a dorm-sized one, which I will not keep. I cook!

So, any chatters have experience with Summit or Avanti refrigerator/freezers? Or have any recommendations for units shorter than 60 inches? I don't want to redo the cabinets.

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Throwing this one out there too..

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Silver Spring, Md.: Is it true that Pier 1 is going out of business?

Jura Koncius: Not that we know of. They have closed some stores...

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Water damage: I would like to pass on some hard-won advice: wherever you are storing stuff (especially boxes) in your closet, basement, attic, or wherever, keep it off the floor! Raise it up with blocks, a pallet, etc. -- get it at least a couple of inches off the floor. I work at a high school, and last weekend we had a "perfect storm". During a heavy rain, a sump pump failed, a yard drain got clogged, and we even had a couple of roof leaks. Many boxes of books, plus cartons of furnace filters and ceiling tiles, were ruined. Any room can potentially flood, from above or below. In my own basement recently, a broken water heater made a mess.

Jura Koncius: You are so right. This is very very important in basements because you just don't know what disaster may befall you regarding water damage. My son stored some of his college stuff - and a big box from a friend - in the basement and I told him to make sure it is either in plastic boxes or put up on cinder blocks. Of course, just this week, we had a dehumidifier go bad on us and water leaked out all over the floor and luckily the stuff was not damaged. This is great advice for everyone.

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

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Madison, Wisc.: We just updated our living room with Room and Board -- the Dean sofa and chair and a beautiful coffee table -- I can't remember the name of the table. Anyhoo, we were nervous as we had only been to the store once in Chicago, but we love the furniture. It's beautifully made, and the delivery people were wonderful. It's definitely a step up from our Ikea furniture. We are so happy we may go back to buy some shelves and a dining room table.

Terri Sapienza: We always hear great things about Room & Board from those who shop there. If you can be a little patient, you won't have to travel to Chicago to shop - they recently bought a 31,000 square foot showroom on 14th Street, NW, which they plan on opening next spring.

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Crafting series: I think in general this feature is a nice idea but this week wasn't so interesting perhaps. Maybe aim more towards a do-it-yourself theme than "crafts" per se; a great paint job/technique on a reclaimed furniture piece, a great window treatment, unique wall hangings, etc. that are craftsy do-it-yourself projects. I'm interested in things I can do for myself around my own home, but don't want to be in Arts and Crafts class at summer camp.

Jura Koncius: We'll pass your ideas along. Thanks. By the way, just this morning Martha had the anchors of the Today Show making mosaic projects on the air...

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Falls Church, Va.: I have three windows in my home, each a standard 36 inches wide. The problem is that they are 74 inches long, which is just a tad longer than a standard 64 or even 72 inch length for blinds or shades...I'd REALLY like to buy something ready-made, to avoid the expense and trouble of getting something made-to-order. Are there any stores or Web sites that specialize in larger sizes of window treatments?

Jura Koncius: Ikea has very long panels you could buy. I assume you would not mind hemming or having the seamstress at your local dry cleaner do the small job for you.

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Alexandria, Va.: For the all-grey living room -- I saw that done in one of the Washington Symphony's showhouses several years ago, and it looked spectacular. Go with it.

Jura Koncius: I wonder whose room it was?

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Estate sales: Do you ever look for furniture at local estate sales? Any advice on finding out about the sales, when to go, where to go, etc.?

Jura Koncius: Yes. I know that Sloans & Kenyon www.sloansandkenyon.com does a number of them. Check Washington Post ads and also craigslist. Local websites and bulletin boards are good. Also, when you go to an estate sale given by one of the local companies, sign up for their email list so you will be informed in advance.

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Bargain hunting: I'm looking for a table/chest of drawers for my rather spacious entryway. A mirror will hang above, maybe a lamp on top, that kind of thing; would prefer drawers for possibly storage (i.e., mail which leaks everywhere). Since it doesn't really have to match any other furniture I figure this is an ideal opportunity to bargain hunt. Any tips? I was wondering if I might have luck heading out to furniture outlets in Leesburg, measurements in hand -- sound like a good plan?

Jura Koncius: Sure. Leesburg Premium Outlets has quite a few furniture places with good outlet prices - Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn are a few. Check the ads regularly for sales - a lot of furniture stores are having them right now. Our Salestalk feature in the Home section also lists these.

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Terri Sapienza: Before I forget: I'm thinking about doing a story about accent walls (and, of course, my disdain for them). I'm going to argue both sides, however, so I'd love to hear from anyone who has an opinions about them (loves them, hates them, etc)and, most especially, anyone who has one who wouldn't mind chatting with me for the story and having their room photographed. If any of the above applies to you, please email me at: sapienzat@washpost.com

thanks.

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The craft series: It could be interesting depending on the crafts. I am a beginning knitter who just finished six lessons and my first knitted project. I welcome ideas I can use. Not into gluing flowers or glitter. I think those kinds of crafts are great for kids, not so much for the rest of us.

Jura Koncius: Knitting might be a good thing to include in the craft series I agree. Knitting sort of was hot for the past few years, but I notice the little knitting place in my neighborhood has closed...these things come and go.. remember paint your own pottery a decade ago?

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RE: Crafting series: I'm not into crafting, either (I frequently refer to people who make these things as "Dangerous Crafters"), and intend to skip the series; HOWEVER, in these budget-conscious times, and as the holidays approach, I bet there will be a lot of people who are interested in the series.

Jura Koncius: Good point. I, however, will not be making my own gifts.

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Olney, Md.: For sisal and anything like what Pier 1 sells, check out Garden Ridge

While they don't have retail stores in our area, they have locations in Pittsburgh, the Midwest and South with lots of store locations in Texas. Their closest location, for now, is in Chesapeake, Va.

They have absolutely the best deals, and their stores are huge, with great selection on furniture, domestics, housewares, seasonal stuff, mirrors, lamps, etc.

Terri Sapienza: Great tip. I'll definitely chieck this out. Thanks.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi!

I'm confused about window treatment length. Where should full-length treatments fall? I see on Sell This House that the drapes/curtains fall and overlap on the floor instead of falling just short of the floor. I don't know if this is for expediency or is the proper length. Usually we have had short window treatments end at the bottom of the window frame. What should be done with windows with the heating/AC duct below. During the day, drapes can be open but at night when the heat/AC is needed closed drapes block the duct. Thanks.

Terri Sapienza: I interviewed designer and certified window treatment specialist, Claire Schwab, earlier this year and she addressed all of these questions. I'll have our producer post the story in second.

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Takoma Park: Yes, keep the crafting stories! While I might not do the exact craft, I get tons of ideas from them.

Also, not to be nosey, but getting my post points e-mail this morning....are you looking for a playmate for Gus??

Jura Koncius: Another vote for crafts... Meanwhile, my Pet Post Points series, which I hope all of you are receiving (sign up at www.washingtonpost.com) does sometimes reveal some personal issues. Gus is 15 years old and I think he is getting lonely in his old age. Do you think adopting a Persian named Vladimir would go over well? He actually bit me this morning on the hand - he was mad we were gone. This way, he would have a playmate when we travel.

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Boxes: We recently moved, and instead of paying $3 a box for packing, we bought storage bins at HD for about $3.50. Takes the pressure off unpacking, and good for basement/garage storage too.

Jura Koncius: Very green.

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Silver Spring, Md.: On the crafting series, I think I will hold my complete evaluation until I see more! I don't love today's example but I recently made some fabric covered mats for some pictures that turned out well. Also fabric covered bulletin boards, headboard, etc. If the projects are stylish and sophisticated it will do well. All of that said, there is so much of this in the blog world I wonder if you'd be better off building on what Terri has started with the clicks of the week.

Jura Koncius: Fabric covered bulletin boards are a nice idea. Stylish and sophisticated is the way to go, I agree. Producing original content is important for us, we can't always be linking to others.

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washingtonpost.com: Curtains and Shades (Post, June 18)

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Sheer curtains: Home Rule on 14th St. has some great sheer curtains. I got a really nice red; they may have blue or green too.

Jura Koncius: Oh cool. That's a great little store. www.homerule.com. 1807 14th St. NW

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Small Refrigerator: Here's one available from Lowe's under 60". Frigidaire (Lowes')

Jura Koncius: Thanks!

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It's a boy!: We've picked a crib bedding set that includes a toile fabric called Central Park by P. Kaufman. The blue background on the fabric is a very pale blue. I want to do the walls blue as well, but I'd like to go just a bit darker. Is there a way to pick a color that we can be sure will compliment the blue in the fabric, rather than look like we tried to match and got it wrong? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Congrats on your baby boy! As for picking the paint, you could bring a piece of the bedding to a paint store and look at a paint deck to match the pale blue. Once you do that, look on that same strip of colors for a darker version.

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Arlington Va.: Hi guys, Any suggestions for wall color for a boy's bedroom with forest green carpeting? Ideally something that's really washable and/or won't show smudges. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Go with a semi-gloss. What about doing a green and blue thing. A plaid comforter would be nice. For a blue, what about Carefree or Bravo Blue by Duron?

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Playmate for Gus: I'm sure you'll get bombarded with suggestions. I would first check with your vet, just to see what she/he thinks about adopting a new playmate. Sometimes if a cat has been on their own for 15 years, a new cat could be too upsetting. But if you think it would work with his purrsonality, I'd make sure I adopted a more mature cat (3-5 years old). A younger cat might just want to pick on and constantly ambush poor Gus. Good Luck!

Jura Koncius: Gus needs an attitude adjustment..

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Washington, D.C.: I loved the EDesign article from a while back and I'm looking for a designer that will essentially give me a "plan" to work from....but I want someone local to look at the space rather than do it long distance from pictures. Most of the designers I've looked at provide full service in that they expect not only to provide a plan but also to follow through with furnishing the space. As I have a VERY limited budget, my interior design is a long-term project. So, do you know any designers in the area who will develop a plan without expecting to actually work on the follow-through?

Terri Sapienza: Many designers these days are offering their services in hourly, non-committal increments to help out homeowners who aren't looking for a long-term relationship. One such designer in the D.C. area is Annie Elliott of Bossy Color. CSee her website for more info: www.bossycolor.com/bossy-color-basic.htm

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NE, D.C.: Hi Ladies, Any idea where Taylor's Casey Patten got the metal initials hanging in his kitchen? I love them (as well as the sandwiches at Taylor!) Thanks.

Terri Sapienza: I just emailed the guys and asked them and will post their response as soon as I hear. If we run out of time today, ask me again next week or email me at sapienzat@washpost.com as a reminder to post the answer.

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Washington, D.C.: I need help with dark and dreary Duncan Phyfe dining room furniture, including a large table, buffet, china cabinet and chairs, with upholstered seats and lyre backs. You get the picture.

The dining room walls have been freshly painted (Martin Senour Lariat Tan -- and we're not planning to repaint since we just did all of the interiors) but the whole effect is just heavy and depressing. We probably could afford to replace some, but not all of the furnishings. The rest of our house is contemporary and clean-lined.

Is it worth trying to paint or restain some of the pieces? e.g., paint the table? If so, any recommendations for colors and/or a place in the area that would do it or any DIY tips?

Jura Koncius: You don't mention why you are keeping the dining suite. Is it a family piece? I would assume so! Have you thought about reupholstering the seats in something with a bit of a punch to it? Painting the walls an arresting color such as pumpkin or magenta? What about doing a painted floor? If you paint the pieces they will lose their value.

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Just say NO to crafting: I, for one, am far more interested in reading about interior design, decorating, and the products and services that go into those creative pursuits. This preference goes double since the Home section seems to be losing more and more real estate.

Jura Koncius: Duly noted.

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Accent walls... my e-mail to you bounced back: I just sent you an e-mail about accent walls (arguing that "yes, they do have their place"). I sent it to sapienzat@washpost.com but it bounced back. Is that the right address?

Terri Sapienza: Yes, that is the correct address. Mind trying again? If you have difficulty, try also sending it to our general mailbox at home@washpost.com. Thanks! Looking forward to hearing your side : )

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Takoma Park, Md. again: The colors you suggested are nice but was thinking of something with a more golden undertone....

Jura Koncius: Sorry!

There is always next week.

Thanks all of you for checking in with us. Keep letting us know what you think of the crafts columns. See you next week.

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

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