Home Front

Home Front

Home Front

Annie Groer and Jura Koncius

Washington Post Home Staff

Thursday, April 12, 2007; 11:00 AM

Every week, Annie Groer and Jura Koncius help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? They’re happy to whip out their paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself (or call-in-a-pro) advice. They can even help you cope with the eternal pets vs. furniture battle.

Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation between two longtime Washington Post Home writers and their readers about the best way to feather the nest. From bargain shopping to spot removal, antiques to armchairs, they invite all of you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

You may also browse an

archive

of previous Home Front discussions.

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Annie Groer: Good morning all, on this blustery April day. Check out Jura’s fab profile on Darryl Carter.

And take a look at a new feature at the bottom of the page, Feels Like Home.

I wrote about the joys of my little kitchen in the hopes all of you—from kids and teens to great-grandparents—will share with us in 100 words or less the space in your place where you seek refuge, find joy, daydream, read or otherwise feel terrific. If you want to include a picture, that would be great. Alas, we can only take submissions from people in the Washington area because if you’re chosen we’ll need to photograph you.

Email us at Home@washpost.com, and include your name and phone number.

Or drop us a letter at Home Section, Feels Like Home, 1150 15th St. NW, Wash. DC 20071.

And now, on to decor.

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The window debate, continued: I want to contribute to the debate on drafty windows. In my 1939-era AU Park house, I really liked the original windows, and thought long and hard about replacing them-even took a course on preserving old windows. I decided to have someone repair all the original problems that I ignored so long—all those frayed ropes and rickety sections and ancient hardware. (After all this work, the biggest challenge going forward will be to ensure that painters NEVER paint them shut again-the source of so many problems). Then, I focused on upgrading all of the storm windows instead, and chose a really nice black storm window (about $250 each) that integrates both the screen and glass storm piece (they move up and down, so there isn’t the onerous chore of removing storms for the season). Yes, it’s still aluminum, and yes, there are two systems, unlike the highly-touted one-piece vinyl windows that seems to be all that one reads about,However, with the storm window and the original, there is a noticeable difference with much less draftiness in the house. Plus, the black color (as opposed to standard white, or the original grey) looks great against brick. I have been told that these new storm windows should last a very long time, and considering that the first set of storms was on the house for probably 40 years, I think this is a good option to think about. I chose Burch windows made in Baltimore through District Window and Glass Repair(this is a one-man firm run by Dean at 202-589-0125; be patient, he’s busy). If you google Burch, don’t be horrified by the less-than-chic look of their website (an understatement). The only snag I had in the process was that Burch has received lots of online orders recently, and the product took weeks longer to deliver. But I wasn’t in a hurry. Burch manufactures windows that are often required in historic districts which have high standards, and I heard that some products are used at the White House (can’t confirm, obviously) so they do seem to know what they’re doing. It seems to be a very quirky, old-line company that could be a good story for the Home section to explore. Thanks.

Annie Groer: Thanks for the informative tip about Burch and the saga of your windows. Very earth-friendly, rehabbing the old.

As for the rest of you, heed the advice about not painting windows shut. It’s a major pain to reverse.

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Falls Church, Va: Love how you have been including more profiles to the Home and Garden section lately such as today’s Darryl Carter article!

Jura Koncius: Thanks. We plan to do more. Glad you like them.

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Darryl Carter — Wow!: I loved the article and photographs in this morning’s home section about Darryl Carter. Even his dog is aesthetically pleasing! I am on the quest for a nice serene blue and am curious what Jura thought about Woodlawn Blue. Would you use it in a bedroom that doesn’t receive much natural light?

Jura Koncius: Yes. Darryl Carter’s house is really WOW. Everything is so beautiful and stylish. I think that blue would be nice in a bedroom but it is on the cool side if that’s okay with you.

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Baltimore Rowhouse Chick: I am looking to spruce up some furniture by painting it. I love the chinese reds that I see in magazines- any suggestions for paint colors that are close to this? I also love all this silver furniture being shown- any suggestions for paint colors to do this? You two are the best!

Annie Groer: Love the idea of Chinese red. Martha Stewart’s new line for Lowe’s has a terrific color, Peony Red. And Behr, which is Home Depot’s line, has the vibrant Licorice Stick and the slightly more orange Grenadine. As for silver, Ralph Lauren’s Regent Metallic collection has two good choices, both with a hint of texture: Garden Twilight is gunmetal,Silver Plated is brighter.

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Washington DC: I have a large sisal rug which is not too dirty, but the fabric border is dirty. I assume it would be easier to replace than to clean. Do you have any suggestions who could do this. I bought it through a decorator who is no longer in this area. Thank you.

Jura Koncius: We feel that sisal rugs aren’t really worth investing much money into regarding repair or cleaning. They are usually fairly inexpensive and if you keep them a long time and they get dirty, we don’t know of any company that has good results in cleaning them.

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20036: Hi Ladies! Love the chat and hoping you can help. I work in a stark white office with an accent wall behind my computer which is painted closest to BM Tawney. I’m not a fan of the beige against the white and the medium wood and I don’t think they’ll repaint anytime soon. Any suggestions on how I could make the blank wall a bit more vibrant to stare at? Thanks!

Annie Groer: Why not ask the office manager if you can repaint the wall (I think we both already know the answer). So try to cover it up with a large inexpensive tapestry from a place like World Market or Pier 1, or something you may already have at hom. A festive poster or two will take up a lot of space, and so will a cork board covered with family pix.

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Fairfax, Va: Yikes! Our new blue bedroom looks great, except for the spot we spilled on the carpet. Any ideas?

Jura Koncius: Do you mean you spilled paint on the carpet? Was it latex?

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North Potomac Md: What is the trend for hard wood floors verses marble tiles in the foyer area. The rest of adjoining rooms to the foyer have hard wood floors. If we get installed new hard wood floor in the foyer, it will not match with the existing hard floors in the adjoining rooms, as these floors are 28 years old. I am not able to decide how I should finish the foyer. At present foyer has beat up laminate slate looking tiles. Please help.

Annie Groer: If you like the look of the slate, despite its awful condition, replace it with real slate. If you’re using marble, choose it carefully so it doesn’t clash with your floor color. And a good flooring company can probably give you a pretty good match or a nice contrast to your existing hardwood.

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Rockville, Md: I have a ’60 contemporary with good light in an open-plan, living, dining, family room, kitchen area. The floors are pickled winter white and the walls are cream, with blue, red, and brown furnishings. I’d like an area rug to add some warmth for the toes, soften sounds, and define the living-room area. What would you recommend? I’ve tried oriental rugs. Dark colors look like they are floating away, lighter shades look dingy compared to the walls and floor.

Lana

Jura Koncius: Check out the Contemporary rugs at www.capelrugs.com. I love the Geometrix line.

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Columbia, Md: Hello,

In my foyer, I have a rustic console table, the walls are sage-ish green. The width of the table is 36. I would like to place two square mirrors on the wall. The mirrors are 20. Since the width of the two mirrors is greater than the width of the table, does this break some kind of designer rule (mirror should be less than table)? Would this look okay or can you suggest other options?

Thanks so much

Annie Groer: You could stack the mirrors one atop the other for a vertical look if you are worried that the effect of side-by-side mirrors will be too wide. But I think you’ll be fine hanging them laterally. The only rule is what pleases you and works in the space.

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Arlington, Va: Ladies,

Need your advice — value it so much. We are building a screened porch and plan to use IPE with white railings and posts. Would you suggest painted (white) pressure treated pine or one of the composite rail systems that won’t require so much upkeep. I do not want this to look cheap. Also, screens mounted inside or outside. Thanks a bunch!

Jura Koncius: The composite rail systems have gotten so good — and they are so worry-free — that we would go with that route. Screens mounted outside would be our choice.

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Alexandria, Va: I have about 35 windows in my house — all of them have wood blinds (in white or wood tone) but I have no other treatments on the windows. They look so bare and unfinished. I don’t think I can afford curtains for all of these, so I’m leaning toward valances or cornices — something very tailored and not frilly. I can not afford Calico Corner prices. How could I find a seamstress to sew some simple valances? I don’t know where to start!

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: You don’t need valances all over the house. This treatment is very country looking — we frankly prefer the look of wood blinds plain — it’s clean and simple. If you want to buy valances check out Bed Bath & Beyond or Linens ‘n Things.

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Paint Spill: Yes, we spilled on the carpet. I think it was latex paint (it was Behr flat enamel). Any suggestions on removing this stain?

Annie Groer: Oops. According to Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies, a handy little pamphlet published by the Carpet and Rug Institute, you should rinse the spill quickly with cool water, then mix 1/4 teaspoon of clear non-bleach, non-lanolin diswashing liquid with a cup of cool water. Blot and dry quickly. Visit www.carpet-rug.org for more info.

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Arlington, Va: Going along with the chinese red question, I would like to paint some wooden chairs (currently painted black)one of these suggested reds. The black paint is chipping off in some places. Any suggestions for how to treat the chairs (sanding, etc) before painting them? How many coats for these often used kitchen table chairs? Thank you!

Annie Groer: Yes, sand, and probably twice, once with coarse sandpaper and again with fine sandpaper. Since they are kitchen chairs, I’d use a high-gloss paint for ease of cleaning.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello! Long time reader, first time submitter! I just purchased my first condo, and I’d like to paint the bedroom a shade of light blue. After your article this morning, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the BM Woodlawn Blue. However, my bedroom has a north-facing window and does not get any direct sunlight. What do you think? I’ve got a white rug and darker wood furniture to work with.

Jura Koncius: YOu might want to try the Palladian Blue by BM instead.

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Washington, DC: I’ve heard a rumor that paintings and photographs by three very famous artists from NY and Europe will be in the coming Artomatic, but their work will be there anon.

Is this true? Sounds like fun and also a little like what the Post did with Joshua Bell playing anon. in a Metro station.

Jura Koncius: Hmmm. Have you posted on the right chat? We do not know about this.

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Washington, D.C.: Help! I want to paint my bedroom a warmer color than the beige it is now, but I’m afraid to go too dark. I like colors in the taupe/brown/jute family. It’s a north-facing room.

Thank you for your weekly chats.

Annie Groer: Try Benjamin Moore’s Classic colors Rustic Taupe. It is dark but yummy. If you want something lighter, try Cabot Trail. And make the trim a strong, crisp white.

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Capitol Hill, Washington DC: Hi Ladies:

Like a lot of people these days, my husband and I remove our shoes in our narrow foyer (too narrow for a bench) so that we don’t dirty up the house too much. But that means we end up with piles of shoes in the entryway. I’ve done a lot of online searching and ordered a shoe cabinet from home decorators, but was really dismayed by the quality of it, so I sent it back. Do you have any ideas for attractive shoe storage solutions?

Jura Koncius: Actually, Annie is working on a shoe storage story as we speak. What about a large wicker basket? Or a South American market basket? If there is a closet nearby, you could install shoe racks in the bottom of it.

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Richmond, Va: I’m always amazed by your knowledge of paint colors! The selection available seems quite overwhelming to me. Any suggestions for a warm, light sort of cocoa brown for a small, bright living room? Oriental rugs on the floor, lots of plants too, sofa TBD. Thanks!

Annie Groer: Oh, pshaw. thanks for the kind words. We know that paint colors are the most confounding and intimidating for people. For that nice cocoa, try C2’s Intrigue.

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Woodstock, Md: Good morning- I have a tiny bedroom, used as a library. The room has two windows on adjoining walls. The windows are different sizes — installed at about the same height, but one is shorter and wider. What kind of window treatments can I use to disguise this, other than drapes that cover the windows? I don’t want to block all the natural light.

Thanks.

Jura Koncius: Part of the charm of a house is some of its quirky details, like windows that are different sizes. Instead of trying to cover them up, why not just make the room seem bigger by putting in simpele wood blinds or seagrass or bamboo shades.

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re: Office Wall Space: I have just found the most fun tool that 20036 could use to brighten her office wall. You up-load a photo and the software converts it into a huge PDF file of as many sheets of paper as you want. Print it out and tape it to the wall. Voila! You have a huge print. The name of the program is the Rasterbator which is pretty funny unless you know about rasterizing in photoshop. The website is http:/ / homokaasu.org/ rasterbator/ .

Love the chats! Pigtown

Jura Koncius: What a fab idea! Thanks for sharing this. This is a real problem for most of us who aren’t artists or designers.

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Clearwater, Fla: We bought our home that was built in the late 1970’s about 3 years ago and the bathrooms had been upgraded. However, the walls are tiled to the ceiling with 8 x 12 beige tiles, beige floor tiles, honey-colored cabinet with black fixtures. I would like to have more color in the bathroom. Do you have any suggestions?

Jura Koncius: Well, at least you don’t have pink tiles or brown and yellow tiles like some older houses do. Beige you can work with. Pick an accent color you like, and just about anything would go. Paint the ceiling in a pastel, get a neat shower curtain, window treatments, rug and towels that coordinate.

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Washington, DC: I was wondering whether you or anyone else out there has had experience with DirectBuy, where you buy a membership and then get wholesale prices on furniture, home improvement matrials (kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, etc.).

I’m not as interested in whether the savings outweigh the membership costs (since I’m sure there are stories that go both ways), but am more interested in people’s experiences in working with them. For example, how good is the selection? How good is the service? Any problems with delivery, etc.?

Jura Koncius: We do not have experience with this so we are asking all of you for tips. Anyone tried it?

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Fairfax, Va: PLEASE HELP! We love our beautiful bedroom set. It is Cresent Murray Hill (a dark wood with a merlot finish). We want to paint our bedroom, but a dark cranberry color is just too dark (we want some contrast). The bedding we have chosen is a beige with a slight hint of gold (Macy’s Hotel Collection Colorblock). What color paint should we use?

Annie Groer: Why not do a cranberry accent wall behind the headboard, like Sherwin William Heartthrob, and a soft peach such as Inner Chile or Comical Coral on the other walls. That way you’ve got serene and bold.

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Alexandria, Va.: I put my shoes on a cheap Babord shoe rack from Ikea — I have 2 stacked by the door. On top is my landing strip, where I put my purse, incoming and outgoing mail, etc. They’re not the world’s most glamorous pieces of shelving, but the fact that the top is covered by other stuff makes them more inconspicuous. I wouldn’t want to mash my precious shoes in a basket. it’s best if they can air out!

Annie Groer: Good thought.

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Gaithersburg, Md: What are some ideas for updating kitchen cabinents—they are nice solid wood, and the layout is fine, but that 80’s yellow oak looks so dated. Is there a paint color for the walls that will make them look less yellow (the old wallpaper looks pretty dated too).

Thanks

Jura Koncius: Yes. Get rid of that wallpaper and paint the walls a fresh color. What about a pale green or khaki.

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Washington, D.C.: I’m looking to change up my entry hall. There are no windows in the area, so no natural light at all, light only from the compact flourescent floodlights above. I have a reddish toned hardwood floor. I want to put a mirror on the wall and just a few phots. Thoughts on a wall color for this dark, small space? And what finish do you recommend? A satin for this type of space?

Annie Groer: I’d go for two mirrors — the tall skinny closet door variety hung horizontally across from each other, and photos hung above and below. Keep the fram colors the same for uniformity. As for color, go for a sunny yellow to combat the blusish tint of the fluorescents. Try Pittsburgh Paint’s Butterfly Bush or the lighter Golden Fleece.

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Washington, DC: I have a shoe tray right by the front door. You can buy them all over—Target sells inexpensive plastic ones. I bought mine from ballard designs and it has a nice copper look (it was around $40). The shoes are still visible by the door, but having them in the tray makes it look neater.

Annie Groer: We love copper and we love neat. Good work.

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Madison Wis: We recently purchased a craftsman style home and I’m decorating the eat-in kitchen/family room. The kitchen cabinets are cherry. Our sectional sofa is red. There is a farm style dining table with black chairs. I like mediterranean colors but am struggling to choose wall color and curtains. What would you think of a sunflower yellow for the walls? With splashes of bright blue in accessories? And what is a good source for casual, but lined, curtains with privacy in mind? There is a large picture window and sliding glass doors facing a busy road so sheers or thin fabrics won’t do the trick.

Jura Koncius: Sunflower yellow sounds like a great choice. And blue is good for accessorizing. As for curtains, check out places like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and www.silktradingcompany.com or www.countrycurtains.com

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Fake butcher’s block: Our kitchen cabinets are the 1970’s fake butcher’s block look. They really need to go, but we don’t/can’t afford to spend a lot of money. Are there any affordable alternatives out there? The kitchen is small- what color would you suggest that would give it an updated look and not show a lot of stains?

Thanks.

Jura Koncius: White would probably be your best choice for a small kitchen. Check out the kitchens at Ikea — they have great displays and wonderful ideas.

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Glen Burnie, MD: My husband and I just bought our 1930’s home last month. We love all the original features and quirks except one; the window in the shower. The bathroom is at the front of the house and the window is in the middle of the shower. My brilliant idea to make a curtain out of fabric and vinyl liners proved to be not so brilliant it offered no privacy and is quite ugly! I’d like to avoid window clings. So, any ideas for what can I put at the window that won’t mildew, will provide privacy, and will look nice? Bonus points if I can still let in light during the day!

Jura Koncius: Wow. This is a really great question. How could someone put a window in the MIDDLE of a shower in front of the house! Couldn’t you find some shower curtain material or something by Sunbrella and whip up a little curtain? There must be someone out there who has this same problem. Write in!

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Washington, DC:

Good Morning,

I’m just venturing into painting with colors. I’ve painted the kitchen in SW/Wheat Grass, which I saw and now love. Any similar color suggestions for the dining and living rooms that are not too bold and maybe resale friendly?

Thanks

Annie Groer: Mmm, Wheat Grass is a yummy sage. You don’t say if the house is open plan or there are doorways, but for the dining room I’d go for Ionic Ivory, which is two shades lighter (and resale friendly)and for the living room, the very faint but classy Snowdrop (misty blue)or Lily, a buttercream much loved by posters on this chat.

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Clinton, MD: I am redoing my master bedroom & trying to decide between a platform or sleigh bed. I am going for a contemporary vibe. The walls are BM excalibur gray. Do you have any feelings on a platform bed? For example, are they comfortable? Can a box spring be used so I don’t feel like I am sleeping on the floor?

Jura Koncius: Go with the sleigh bed. Platforms aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Sleighs have a classic look and you can get them in a variety of finishes so they don’t have to look vintage.

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Jura Koncius: Annie has RUDELY grabbed the map question. My advice would be — go with black frames. That would unify the space. By the way SUPER idea!

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Color Clash: Good morning, and thanks for these great chats. We have an upstairs hallway wall, exposed to the foyer, that we’d like to fill with various antique and thematic maps of places where we’ve lived, with matching frames for unity. The wall itself is currently a khaki color. My husband votes for a creamy white with the maps; I’d like to pick up on some of those great map-like blues and greens. Any thoughts?

Annie Groer: I’m with you on the pale greens or blues. Try Behr’s Ice Folly, Aqua Breeze or Relaxing Green.

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NY NY: Loved the article on Darryl Carter — great inspiration. Any ideas on online places I can get a Sisal rug w/the same color border? All the catalogues I see usually use a contrasting color. Also, what size would you recommend under a Queen size bed if I put the rug perpendicular to the foot of the bed?

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: check out www.sisalrugs.com

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Baltimore, Md: I found a lovely vase that is inspiring the green, deep red and gold (and a bit of blue) palatte for my living room. But I am stuck on choosing the right yellow for my walls. In the past I have erred with yellows that are too safe and too light. My adjacent dining room has joyous apple green walls with white molding. Am I right to go with a definitive yellow? And if so, can I do the entry hall in the same or a lighter shade of the same yellow? Home Front makes Thursdays so much fun. thanks.

Annie Groer: You can do the entry and living room in the same yellow, and go for the glow. If you really want bold, try Lowe’s American Tradtion collection’s Elizabethan Yellow or Sunspark or the slightly tamer but still pretty dramatic Golden Mist.

Home Front

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Shoe Storage: Regarding the question on shoe storage, this is an issue during the long soccer season around my house with two young players dropping their shoes and pads at the door three times a week. My most recent solution just this week was to pull out a very large and unused picnic basket (something I picked up for a couple of dollars at a tag sale some years ago) that has a lid that flips up. I put it right by the front door — problem solved at least for now. Looks much better than the array of shoes that would otherwise be there. Hope that helps and I LOVE your chats.

Jura Koncius: Sounds like you came up with a great solution that works for you.

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Alexandria Va: Hi Ladies,

I’ve seen numerous write ups about Darryl Carter in the Post and in other publications. Nothing personal against him, but frankly, I don’t get it. Every room I’ve ever seen looks like its from a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalog. Much like Warren Browns dry cupcakes, the background story (good-looking DC Lawyer abandons career to pursue his passion!) is interesting, and the PR is over the top, but the product itself is nothing special.

Jura Koncius: Well, we like to start conversations with our readers about design. We plan to show a lot of different looks in our newly relaunched Home section, so stay tuned.

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Alexandria — re shoe storage: We bought a console table from Pottery Barn that we keep in the foyer. It has three spaces in the bottom that are meant for baskets but we put our shoes there instead. It works just fine.

Jura Koncius: Good tip.

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Arlington, VA: I have a view about wood floors. At a gathering recently, I heard these statements from my fellow women: My dog has scratched up my wood floors—they’re just so terrible. That’s why my husband won’t let us get a dog, because of the scratches they make. I always have people take off their shoes when they come over so they don’t ruin my floor. Last I knew, floors were made to be walked on and were not artwork. I look at the marks on my wood floors—the dings, scratches, stains that I don’t know the cause of, and think to myself that my floors equal life, and I’m so grateful to have had so much life in my home. The marks mean that people come to visit and share themselves with me, spend time together, make memories. I recently got a beautiful maple dining table that I didn’t want to ever mar, but one day while I sat at it, the ceiling light came crashing down across from me, glass and metal everywhere. There are now some irreparable dents in the tabletop. At first I was upset, but then realized what a good story I had about how the dents got there. Life had been at my table, and it shows.

Jura Koncius: Love that line. Life has been at my table and it shows. Bravo!

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Washington, DC: Hi ladies! I need help figuring out what sort of window treatments to use on the French doors in my living room. They occupy more than half of the wall, so I think curtains are not an option as they would totally dominate the room. I’m thinking about doing some sort of natural reed or bamboo roman shade, but I’m worried that might be too dark and introduce yet another mismatched shade of brown/wood to the room. The other option I’m pondering is a neutral silk roman shade that would simply blend into the doors. Any suggestions? Floors are cherry, walls are yellow and the furniture has a mid-century modern feel to it. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: The neutral silk Roman shade sounds better.

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Baltimore, Md.: Annie, your kitchen reflects lots of joy. And you look happy in it!

My question: What yellow to use in my living room. it opens into my apple green dining room (Laura Ashley Apple 4). I am going to use subtler green as well as some red and blue in the yellow LR. Just had the floors redone, so it is a clean slate.

I am thinking a stronger yellow is the way to go, but have had bad luck choosing yellows in the past.

Annie Groer: Thanks, my kitchen is an amazingly happy place (as is the rest of my apartment). I went with a screaming mango that looks orange on the paint chip but rich yellow on the walls — a Benjamin Moore preview color called Lemon Shine, which segues into a bright red dining room. If you want a strong yellow, see the above answer or try Ben Moore’s Sun Kissed Yellow. I’ve lived with it for three years and still love it.

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Washington DC: For the window in the shower: PLANTS.

You could set a rust-proof planter on the sill with some ferny things, in addition to some trailing plants above the window. I’ve seen plastic fishbowls with suction cups that you could retask as planters; the pot itself would cover some of the window and the plant would take care of the rest. Be sure to get plants that love lots of steamy moisture. Ferns and tropicals.

Annie Groer: Good idea. But make sure they are potted with a layer of gravel so you don’t splash dirt on yourself or into the tub.

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Gaithersburg, MD: My 2 cents for Screened Porch and Direct Buy: I agree with your advice about screens on the outside. A friend has screens on the inside and all the leaves collect between the balusters and the screen. a real mess!

I looked online about Direct Buy and it sounds like a real scam with no real savings. Lots of folks put great furniture on Craigslist, and it’s free! The recent Post article on it had great information.

Jura Koncius: Thanks for your posting.

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Arlington, Va: I had the bathroom window problem as well, though not at the front of the house, and I did use a window liner for the bottom half of the window. It looks like plain frosted glass and looks very nice and lets a lot of light in. It’s a film and you wet the window down and apply it. The top half is covered by a miniblind, so when it’s halfway down you’d never notice anything. I could have done the whole window but I wanted the option of actually being able to see out the window if I wanted to. You do need to put the liner on carefully as air bubbles and dust show up easily. Installation is key to making it look like real frosted glass.

Jura Koncius: Arlington weighs in.

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Sun Screens: My husband wants to install a retractable sun screen (large awning) on our back deck. I’m not thrilled with the idea, but can see his points re shade to sit in on the deck and keeping all that sunlight from beating through the west-facing french doors and windows (especially with summer arriving). Any suggestions for other options or good brands?

Annie Groer: A retractable awning is a good idea because it will provide welcome shade in summer but let warming light into the house in winter. You can get all sorts of cool solid colors, stripes etc. As for a reliable brand, we haven’t really explored the subject (but will in the future). You may want to get one that operates with a remote for quick opening and closing. And remember (I am a total nag on this point) never leave your awning extended when you’re not home and bad weather threatens. It could become airborne in a really strong storm.

So, anyone out there want to weigh in.

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window in shower: The poster may not want to do this, since they like the original things about their 1930s house, but when we got replacement windows, we chose pebbled glass for the two bathrooms. It’s great—no shades or curtains required, so the space looks bigger, and the light comes in.

Jura Koncius: More people with windows in their showers.

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Cresskill, NJ: Hi- love your chats! We are remodeling our kitchen on a limited budget. Wondering if anybody out there has an opinion on IKEA cabinets — they seem reasonably easy to install, but I’m wondering how they hold up over time.

Annie Groer: I have Ikea stainless cabinets (installed by my contractor who didn’t seem to have much trouble) and my Food Section colleague Walter Nicholls has them too. He, unlike me, is a DIY guy and put them together himself without much complaining.

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The Rasterbator: THANK you. That will be super helpful!!

Jura Koncius: sure

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Bathroom Window: Lowe’s and probably Home Depot and others have window clings that mimic stained glass. That will probably be the solution at my place.

Jura Koncius: thanks

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Anonymous: I’m finally painting my living room and dining room which are open to each other, after years of off-white walls. I’ve chosen a Benjamin Moore neutral gold (twilight gold) for the 12 foot walls in the living room and want to accent it with very white moldings. I have swatches painted all over the walls and I’m nervous that the value might be too dark (it is no. 5 on their value swatch for this color). I have a soft navy leather chair and I’ll recover another couple of chairs in navy and white stripes. And maybe a white day bed with throw pillows. The adjoining dining room has a chair rail. So I’ll put a navy below and a pastel version of the gold above with the bright white on the chair rail and moldings and windows. What do you think? What is a good white that will pop against the navy and gold? And what about the ceiling white: should it have a touch of blue? What’s good on a ceiling?

Nervous nellie (Marianne)

Annie Groer: Relax, Nellie. It all sounds good so far. And since Twilight Gold is actually more like a caffe au lait, I’d go with Linen White, which has the tiniest bit of pink in it. Decorators love, love, love it. There, feel better?

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butcher’s block: Agh- I meant the countertops are the butcher’s block. The cabinets were also gross, but we painted those.

Annie Groer: If you’re on a budget, consider replacing the b/block with laminate like Formica or Wilsonart. It comes in an amazing array of solids, faux stone patterns, even metallic looks.

It can do wonders.

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Philadelphia, PA: I recommend replacing the shower window with glass block. The results can be amazing and reasonable in price.

Annie Groer: Good thinking. You can also get textured glass in a hardware or glass store. My ancient, three-panel bathroom casement window has a kind of ridged, frosted glass. The top and bottom panes are set vertically, the center pane horizontal. Looks very architectural and was fairly inexpensive.

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bathroom window: What about putting stained glass in? HomeDecorators.com sells glass panels that can be hung, and that is also an option. Several are VERY opaque (but pretty even if it doesn’t work in the shower).

Jura Koncius: Wow. We should do a story about this — some great ideas have come in. Thanks.

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Shower window: My in-laws have an enormous shower in their home in Florida, with a big window. It’s made out of glass bricks — lots of light, no issues with privacy. Almost like have a greenhouse effect.

Jura Koncius: Glass bricks are cool. We put them in the windows in our basement for privacy and security but they still bring in light.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, DC: The firm I work for in a restored Victorian townhouse is being renovated, and I need to choose a paint color for my space. My office gets a lot of light, is fairly large and will have restored hardwood floors with a honey tone. Any paint color suggestions? I am also able to get a new desk. Any suggested complementary finishes?

Annie Groer: If you want a Victorian look, go for a rich red, such as C2’s Canadian Flag or Stampede. You can go modern with something very dark, or period with tiger oak or golden oak. Lucky you, not to be sentenced to a Dilbert-like cubicle. Your stylish Homettes are forced to toil amid nasty steel gray and dark blue metal cabinets and beige laminate desks. There isn’t even a wall to paper or faux finish. Poor pitiful us.

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Annie Groer: Gotta run. Thanks for a great chat today. Back at you next week.

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