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The Washington Post Home Staff

Every other week, the Washington Post Home staff talks about various ways to improve your home. Find out easy tips to fix up your home, what the new home trends are, upcoming antique shows and how to re-upholster your furniture.

Ask the Washington Post Home staff — about these and anything and everything related to home and garden.

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The transcript follows.

Editor’s Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Annandale, Va.: What kitchen cabinet/countertop combo ages the best? I mean, what colors will look hip now, and not so bad in 20 years. White? Dark wood? It’s such a big expense, I’m afraid to make the wrong decision.


Washington Post Home Staff: Good morning all. It’s been quite a few weeks. Corriece Perkins Gwynn, the publisher of the cool new magazine, Homes of Color, popped by our office. Jura, just back from High Point, produced her interview with ultrahip Todd Oldham’s work for La-Z-Boy in today’s Home setion and just the other night, Jura and Patsy hit Mount Vernon to see Duron Paint’s unveiling of its spectacular new Mount Vernon colors. (You’ll be reading about them in our pages soon). And now, we’re ready to answer as many of your questions as we can.

So, Annandale…we think that natural cherry is a classic. Light enough to last through the ages while white kitchens (even though many of us have them) look a little ’80s.


Silver Spring, Md.: HELP! My new house will be built in December and table that seats at least 8 to 10 people and I only have $15,000 to furnish the bedroom, living room, morning room (I would like a table that seats 8-10 people), dining room set and a plasma TV. Are my goals realistic? I am desperately seeking an affordable yet quality furniture store and for my dining room, I want an Asian design. Where should I shop for my furniture and where should I look for the Asian dining room set. Where should I look for a great deal on plasma?

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Silver Spring:
We’ve got great news about Arise, the Asian design store in Takoma Park, D.C. They are hoping to reopen very soon when their closing sale is finished with a bigger and better selection of furniture, They have SIX!! shipments due in next week. Call 202-291-0770 for details.


Arlington, Va.: I have a small living with a blue loveseat. I need a small coffee table but cannot find one that isn’t too big. I have been to places like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc. Know of anyplace with a good selection of small coffee tables?

Washington Post Home Staff: dear Arlington. Have you checked out Storehouse? We area also fond of the Kellogg Collection which has a large range of coffee tables from classic wooden tray tables to elegant tole-topped tables that sit on Chippendale style mahogany legs to glass-topped versions, which also have a nice light feel. They’ve got five locations – Washington, Bethesda, Richmond, Baltimore and McLean. The washington location is at 3424 Wisconsin Ave NW and the number is 363-6879. Log onto www.kelloggcollection.com and you’ll see a coffee table in the starting image.Good luck.


Ashburn, Va.: I’m will be installing crown molding in my living room and would like to paint it White Dove by Benjamine Moore. However, all existing moldings and trims in my home are in painted in the builder’s original paintcolor (something similar to white dove but not exactly). Will it look odd if I don’t paint all the existing moldings White Dove or is it acceptable to have different shades of white for different moldings. Appreciate your help!

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Ashburn: We like White Dove a lot. It’s a softer white than Decorators’ White which and not as yellowy as Duron’s Shell White, both designer favorites. In fact, Patsy used White Dove in a semi-gloss throughout her house. To answer your question, if the builder’s color is really close, we don’t think the design police will come to arrest anyone at your place if you do the living room in the color you love. Not to worry.


Silver Spring, Md.: Where can I go to learn how to install a countertop in my kitchen?

Washington Post Home Staff: Home Depot has great courses. Check with the one nearest you for times and dates.


Washington, D.C.: We purchased paint for our study about 10 months ago and are just now getting around to painting! Is the paint still good – will the color still be ok or will it have kind of settled to the bottom? Thanks for your help!

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear D.C. We think the paint should be fine as long as it hasn’t been opened but we’d take it back to the dealer and let them give it a whirl on one of their machines so whatever has settled to the bottom gets evenly distributed. Good luck.


Washington, D.C.: Know anyone (or how I could find someone) who refinishes old doors? I just bought an old rowhouse and love the look and feel of the original doors. However, over the years it served as a rooming house, so all the door knobs were moved and replaced with new ones. I would like to return it evenutally to their original position while trying to cover the spot where they are now….this seems like such a special job I have no idea where to begin looking…. Thanks!

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear D.C. we found one place called American Hardwoods Inc. at 9160 Brookeville Rd. in Silver Spring, Md. 301-588-0363 and the website, www.americanhardwoodsinc.com. We were told that an interior door would cost about $30 a square foot to restore and the price varies on the condition of the door and whether or not it needs regluing. If it is painted, the cost might be more. As for the doorknobs, a good carpenter can put them back in the original position after the surface of the door has been restored. (Another solution would be to faux bois i.e. (fake wood grain) the doors which could cover up a multitude of sins and stains.


Somewhere, USA: I have a few questions about sheets. How low can the thread count be before they start feeling like straw? Also, does it matter if they are 100% cotton or a 50/50 blend?
Thanks for your help.

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Somewhere. We say go for all cotton as opposed to 50/50 or anything with polyester. You can find great 100 percent cotton sateen sheets by Martha Stewart at K-Mart. we would suggest a minimum of a 250 thread count. Also check out Tuesday Mornings sales. Sometimes you can get a fantastic deal with sheets that would ordinarily cost hundreds per set.


Bethesda, Md.: Speaking of coffee tables, I’ve been looking for a clear square lucite table, where the legs curve down from the top in all one piece. Does that make sense? Storehouse has just the one I’m looking for, but it’s made of glass,which won’t work with toddlers in the house….Do you know where I could find this? Thanks!

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Bethesda: We’re throwing your question out to our readers, hoping that someone will have spotted a lucite table out there. As a starting point, we’d call Theodores -333-2300 but you’ve certainly hit on a trend because we spotted them in Designer Showrooms all over mid-town Manhattan last week. It just may not have trickled down to the kinds of places we really shop, yet.


Arlington, Va.: I’m looking for a warm latte/mocha color for our living room. The other colors in the room are wine (drapes, accent in sofa), and dark woods (mahogany). I like Ben.Moore Shaker Beige – but would appreciate other ideas. Thank you.

Washington Post Home Staff: Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige (HC45) is a real beauty. And, as you point out, a warm shade. You can run into problems with beiges that have greenish (i.e. cold) undertones so we like this one a lot. There’s also a pretty beige from Ptratt & Lambert, 2048-FB called Flax Lin and one of the prettiest beiges we know comes from Restoration Hardware (an off the shelf color) that is, actually called Latte). Hope this helps.


Ashburn, VA: Hi- Just bought a new home (new build) and can’t wait to add color to the walls. How long should we wait to paint – due to house settling and drywall cracks?

Washington Post Home Staff: A lot of pros will tell you to wait six months to a year but we have to confess, we did it just as soon as the builders left. So far so good except for the crack around the skylight….but that’s another story!


Washington, DC: I think I’ve seen the lucite tables in the West Elm catelog, which is now online.

Washington Post Home Staff: We took a quick look at the catelogue – you’re right – it is on line -www.westelm.com – and they’ve got a lot of cool stuff but we couldn’t find a lucite coffee table. They had five other very sleek ones though.


Forestville, Md.: I need to decide what to do with my basement floor–vinyl flooring or paint over the existing concrete? Thanks!

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Forestville. We talked to a slew of people about basement floors just after the hurricane and the storm that followed it and a lot of them now wish they just had concrete instead of investing in vinyl flooring or tiles of any kind. There are concrete paints listed on many websites including Benjamin Moore’s. You might also consider a color wash or stain…which we’ve seen in several architect designed houses lately.


Washington, D.C.: Any ideas where I can find a funky storage ottoman for my tiny living room? I found a fab bright lime green one at IKEA but, alas, it’s out of stock for who knows how long. I want something small-ish, comfy for sitting and with a bit of storage underneath. Oh, and not outrageously priced (i.e. less than $250). I’m not finding anything too funky at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn… beige and tan will not work in my living room.


Washington Post Home Staff: Dear washington: We just happened to be on the phone with the president and CEO of Storehouse furniture, Caroline Hipple, and she says they have a fabulous rattan storage stool for $195 that has a black walnut wood frame and a reversible lid of white canvas. Price sure sounds right !


Arlington, Va.: I have water seeping into our basement. The baseboard absorbs the bulk of it, so that it has not ruined our carpet.

What is the best way to fix this problem? Do we seal it from the inside by removing the wood paneling or do we dig from the outside and put cement and tar on the foundation?

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Arlington: I’m afraid you need to take off the baseboard and see how much water is in there. We have something in the paper about solutions today. And each problem is different and you will need a pro. Try Geofreeze at #703-504-6120.


Alexandria, VA: I seem to remember reading in the Post a few months ago about a Moroccan import warehouse in the ‘burbs somewhere that opened up to the public on the weekends only. They had some furniture and lots of nifty lamps and other cool Moroccan stuff. I can’t find a mention of it anywhere …. am I just imagining this?

Thanks much.

Washington Post Home Staff: Hi Alexandria. The place we think you’re talking about is a warehouse called Nomad & Medina. It appeared in a Home article that ran 7/24/03. It is located at 8856 Monard Drive in Silver Spring. The telephone number is 301-495-2700. We hear it’s the closest thing to a souk this side of Fez.


Washington, DC: Painting question. I am planning to paint the bedroom in my rental apartment, which is all currently offwhite — walls, ceiling, and metal (yes metal!;) trim on metal doors and windows. I think it’s best to paint the trim the same periwinkle blue as I’ll put on walls and doors (why call attention to plain trim, right?) but what about the whitish cable wire that is currently stapled all around the doorways? Should I just paint it periwinkle, too? The cable wire has to stay now, but will probably be removed whenever we move out and the building repaints everything offwhite for the next tenants.

Washington Post Home Staff: personally, we’d paint the wire the same color as the wall…white. What do you guys out there think?


Silver Spring, Md.: I’ve painted my family room hubbard squash (sherwin williams). Any suggestion on colors for the connecting kitchen and living room? The living room has only north facing windows, so I don’t want something too dark. The kitchen gets south and west light. Thanks for your help.

Washington Post Home Staff: What about a great blue? WE like Benjamin Moore’s Tear Drop Blue 2053-60.


Alexandria, Va.: Good morning! I am moving from a one bedroom apartment to a bigger place in December. I need to find movers that are reasonably priced and good. Do you know of any? I’ve only lived in the area for one year so I’m not familiar with many moving companies around. Thank you.

Washington Post Home Staff: A lot of Posties recommend Gulliver, the Gentle Giant moving company.


Reston, Va.: This is the 4th time I’ve submitted this, so I hope (please, please) you can get to it this time:

I have a large window which looks out onto my front steps, such that everyone who comes to my door can see directly into my living room. I like having the light from the window, but need privacy. Is there some kind of film I can apply to the window that will make it opaque from the outside, but still allow light in? Where can I get such a thing?


Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Reston: We couldn’t get a brand name for youbut we found an eample of one on www.doityourself.com/energy/windowtreatments and we also suggest checking the d.i.y. cable program Web site, www.diy.net.


Baltimore, MD: As long as you have the CEO of Storehouse on the phone…
how can I get a good deal on the Storehouse Matrix sectional sofa?
I love it, but cannot afford it.

Washington Post Home Staff: Sorry..can’t help you there, Baltimore!


Aldie, VA: I have real trouble translating what’s on the color swatches to a color I like once it’s on the wall. I’m looking for an warm orangy color to paint my family room (similar to a color I’ve seen on the walls in Starbucks), but can’t seem to find something not too orange or not too red. Any suggestions?

Washington Post Home Staff: we saw a bright, bright orange on the walls of designer Barry Dixon’s pantry just last week. We like Benjamin Moore’s Electric Orange 2015-10but Behr Paint (at Home Depot) has a neat bright orange called Summer Citrus s-G-270 and also Mango Madness which is S-G-280. You ARE brave!!


Arlington, Va.: When decorating a room for the first time (i.e. moving into a new home), where is the best place to start? Furniture? Paint? Carpet? (this is an example where everything will be new – no favorite/heirloom furniture to incorporate). Thank you for your guidance. Along the same lines, are there any basic interior design books that are good for novices?

Washington Post Home Staff: Dear Arlington: Funny you should ask because Jeffrey Bilhuber, New York’s hottest decorator right now has a new book out and addresses this very subject. Start with the shell – i.e. make any architectural changes you need and paint the walls. Then start with furniture placement.

We are also afraid the time has come to sign off. We’ve run out of our hour but will see you in two weeks. Same time. Same station. Thanks for all your great questions. Wish we could have gotten to them all.
p.s. Jeffrey’s book is called Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Design Basics and it is published by Rizzoli. Bye bye. The Home Team


Silver Spring, Md.: Thanks for the paint recommendation. Any color ideas other than blue?

Re: Movers, I had a good experience with Beltway Movers.

Washington Post Home Staff: we’re passing this one along too. we;ll look into an alternative for blue next time.


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