Home improvement tricks

* Space-saving techniques, not visual tricks, make the most of the cottage s small rooms. By designing an efficient wall-to-wall desk and storage unit (left, Jeffrey carved a work area out of one corner of the living room. Storage cubbies fitted with wicker baskets stow everything from file folders to fabric swatches. Fabric-covered corkboards keep memos and design inspiration at eye level.

* Liberal doses of white keep the doses color scheme from becoming overwhelming. Painting formerly dark woodwork white provides crisp contrast provides unifying line from room to room (below). Upholstering larger furniture in white denim also quiets the scheme so that pattern can doses in pillows and accessories. The same while denim, this time with a richly handed top, drapes a doorway.

* With so little space to decorate, Jeffrey could indulge in the details. A folding screen (above) upholstered in a striped fabric creates a dramatic focal point without consuming much floor space. It also can be used for privacy. Some pillow fabrics were dyed with tea to give them a faded appearance. Furnishings–including wicker and painted pieces-are both antique and "aged" with point.

* If you spend much of your time in the kitchen, why not put the stereo there? This Craftsman-style base cabinet (below) also serves as a media center. Jeffrey painted it white and replaced wood panels in doors with glass to make the piece appear less bulky. Checked fabric behind the glass hides stereo equipment and enhances the cottagey look. Another option? Use fabric without the glass. Then you can tuck speakers behind closed doors.

* A full-size dining table would have swamped the small breakfast nook. But this 1940s bamboo table above) is a good fit, and it gives the nook the Feel of a real dining room. "Irs probably actually a buffet table," Jeffrey explains. "But its narrow dimensions work perfectly here." Other space-saving dining solutions might include a drop-leaf or console table, anything with a glass top (it consumes less visual space), even folding cafe or wooden chairs.

* In the bedroom (right),, an upholstered headboard and matching pillows create a focal point but also are practical for reading in bed. The antique cover;et, with its Scottish thistle embroidered design, belonged to Jeffrey’s grandmother. On o bamboo side table are pieces of Mouchlinware, antique wooden boxes commemorating towns or castles. Jeffrey collected the souvenirs while traveling in Scotland. Simple cotton Roman shades (below) are left unlined to filter-but not block-the sunlight.

* To hide the kitchen s 25year-old slider windows, Jeffrey designed simple sheer curtains, banded with a contrasting floral fabric and strung on tension wire inset into the window frame (right. Metal grommets and marine hardware give the treatment a nautical look.

* Pointed effects add "ago" to newly pointed walls. In the study (, Jeffrey mixed oil- and water-based paint then brushed it onto the wall in uninterrupted top-to-bottom strokes to create a streaked look. In the bedroom (page 180), brushing on o "milk wash’ of watered-down white paint over a base color gives the walls a hazy effect. In addition to "aging" the surfaces, the techniques also help to tone down strong color.

* A simple while denim slipcover gets the star treatment with the help of contrast welling and an applique (b By stitching the applique on loosely, it can be removed easily before the slipcover is cleaned. Jeffrey uses remnants of more expensive fabrics judiciously on small throw pillows.

* Skirting the area under the kitchen sink hides ugly plumbing and creates co softness Ir/gh. Jeffrey used the same star appliques as the slipcover, this time in yellow, to embellish the bottom of the skirt. To make the floors checkerboard pattern, use a yardstick or template to mark off the squares. Then mask off each color with painter’s tape. Although a small roller is the quickest way to apply the paint evenly, Jeffrey used a brush and thinned oil paint to get this streaked effect.

Rewriting the rules

Everyone knows that at the beach normal rules don’t apply. Especially when it comes to decorating. For this jewel-box beach cottage in Del Mar, California, interior designer Jeffrey Alan Marks happily brokeor at least bent-many of the rules, opting for high style without sacrificing fun or function. Want to make waves of your own? Read on.

A dreary color scheme clearly dated the 1925 cottage’s last redecorating when Jeffrey Marks took it over from his parents several years ago. "Everything was dark and much of it was faced in redwood with ’70s earth-tone touches," he says. He envisioned a breezy update with a lively attitude, a place where he and associate Robin Eisman could meet with clients or relax with friends. "I wanted it to look like an old ’40s beach towel," he says, "faded yet colorful."

The first law to go was Rule No. 1: Paint the walls white to make small rooms look bigger Jeffrey picked a warmer palette of saturated colors that energize and envelop rather than expand the pint-size spaces. While sacrificing a greater sense of spaciousness, he gained intimacy and a bit of drama. He even played up the house’s inherent coziness by making each room a different color, thereby breaking Rule No. 2: Stick to a single wall color to create visual flow.

Rule No. 3: Small rooms shouldn’t wear big checks. In the kitchen and dining nook, a 1970s-era remodel had left its curse in the form of really bad linoleum. Rather than replace it, Jeffrey painted right over it with a bold checkerboard design, turning the squares on the bias so the pattern actually makes the room look larger. He found that concrete paint-the kind used on garage floors-adhered best to the old flooring. The oil-based paint was thinned with mineral spirits so it would streak when applied. A coat of clear polyurethane makes the surface durable. On the kitchen walls, bright yellow paint gives the room a sunny disposition, even on cloudy days.

The house has a humble history: Formerly the manager’s quarters for a nearby hotel, the 900-square-foot cottage is smaller "than most of my clients’ entry halls," Jeffrey says. But he’s learned one important rule worth keeping: It’s not how much room you have but what you do with it. "Even though the house is small, all my friends gravitate here," he says. "It’s a very happy house."

Piece by piece decorating

Being bitten by the antiquing bug means bringing things home, one by one, year after year. You need moderation, an eye for mixing, and a knack for display to keep a home’s accumulation from looking like an overstuffed antiques shop. Patty and Bob Laufer have pulled it off. Though they’ve spent years of weekends and vacations rooting out country collectibles, they show off their much-loved quilts and other finds with restraint. "I’m very turned off by too much," says Patty, who avoids abundant displays of any one type. "I want my house to look like a house, not a museum." Enter the Laufers’ clapboardstyle home and learn to weave together a tasteful display-one thing at a time. atty, an educational consultant, and Bob, a lawyer, bought their quirky home nine years ago. Like the Laufers’ style, the home’s structure is a delightful patchwork of individual pieces. It began as two 19th century barns on separate plots of land in Connecticut’s Fairfield County. In the 1930s, the barns were moved together and joined.

Bright sunlight floods through high windows in the barn’s former loft space, now used as the main living and dining room (right). In this great-room, cathedral ceilings and white walls provide an airy backdrop. When combined with subdued furniture, the background nudges colorful collectibles to center stage. To bring the spacious room into human scale, tall display shelves build a bridge between the high ceiling and the furnishings. At the sofa’s shoulder, a triple quilt stand makes the sitting area feel cozier.

The Laufers are down-to-earth collectors, which means they buy only what they love and know they will use. Textiles are a particular passion. And though this is a collectible that is often tucked away, even antique quilts and rugs see the light of day in the Laufer home.

On the dining side of the great-room, a hutch (left) with a true opendoor policy displays folded quilts. Elsewhere, says-Patty, "I have them hung, laid on beds, folded in cabinets, and I change them around a lot." For protection, the quilts are positioned away from direct sunlight. Patty also periodically refolds them so they don’t develop permanent fold marks.

The Laufers’ pieceby-piece home (above has topfloor bedrooms, a living space at ground level, a kitchen in the walkout basement, and o great location on Ihe Stuck River (top) Treasured photographs (left) of the original barns sho how they made their evolutionary journey to their present site.

Graphic quills and homey rugs help ground a tickingstripe sofa, a newly made wicker chair, and a Windsor-style chair. The classic, clean-lined furniture sets a simple stage where the real stars are whimsical folk art, baskets, and books.

Extra quilts are folded and stacked for display in hutches and on open

shelving. Patty pulls out seasonal quilts at Christmas or during summer and throws them over beds, the sofa, and even the dining table when it’s not in use.

Old rugs join the artful quilts to create a soft and colorful decorating basis for each room. To avoid visual clutter caused by too much pattern, large rugs, such as the one that anchors the dining table (right), are chosen for their simplicity and neutral color. Bright color is left to smaller rugs, which can be found scattered patchwork style on the floor or hung on the walls. Patty looks for clean wool rugs with intact or nicely bound edges. She’ll occasionally buy a flawed rug and have it fixed if the price is right. For care, she merely airs and sweeps them.

For a quiet scheme in the guest bedroom, Patty shows off only blue-and-white quilts, layering different textures on the same bed for interest. During forays to flea markets and antiques shows, the Laufers look for softly timeworn pastel-color quilts from the 1920s and ’30s that still have a lot of body. "A little rip or stain doesn’t bother me," says Patty, who pays an average of $250 for her finds, "as long as the quilt is in good condition and can be mended or folded to protect the flaw." Even when quilts around the house become worn from use, their patterns live on. Patty has the unblemished sections sewn into throw pillows, such as the pillows on the guest bed (left).

In the great-room’s dining area, mix-andmatch chairs surround an old pine drop-leaf table. The two chairs with "pillow-back" top rails (see the head of the table) are Hitchcock chairs. Other chairs are pointed black to mix in.

One challenge she faces is accommodating her changing tastes. When she first started collecting, Patty zeroed in on primary-color quilts. Instead of getting rid of the bolder quilts, she simply rotates them onto display shelves, reserving her now-preferred soft pastels for the living areas.

As the Laufers’ house and tastes evolve, the collecting continues but never overwhelms. "I have lots of focal points," says Patty. With their things always on the move, the Laufers’ patchwork style resists appearing staged and offers a fresh view wherever you look.

Caring for Quilts

Quilts are key to the Laufers’ style. These cleaning tips will extend the life and beauty of your fabric finds.

An intriguing passageway leads from one former barn into what is now the guest bedroom of the other. When the barns were joined, most of Ihe original rustic plank doors were kept. Some were stripped and refinished; others were painted.

Pieces of dishware are within easy reach, especially in the breakfast room (above) and the kitchen. A treasured collection of ironstone-a white semipporcelain-is used daily.

The Laufers’ approachable philosophy means leaving cupboard doors wide open or off (left) to display their things.

Remove dust from quilts by gently shaking them or dusting them with a vacuum set on light suction. For extra protection, put a nylon stocking over the attachment.

Launder only when absolutely necessary. For most cotton quilts made after 1910, clean in a washing machine set on the gentle cycle using a mild detergent and tepid water. Rinse the quilt a few times.

Handwash older cotton and linen quilts. To wash, place the quilt in 3 to 4 inches of tepid water in a clean bathtub. Use a mild cold-water detergent, a mild dishwashing detergent, or a laundry product formulated for quilts. Gently knead the quilt in water for a few minutes, being careful not to pull or wring it Rinse until the water runs clear.

Dry wet quilts by laying them flat on the floor or outside (wrong side up) on clean mattress pads or towels. A wet quilt is very heavy, so don’t hang it or lift it in a way that puts stress on the fabric or stitching.

Professionally clean antique quilts at cleaners that specialize in them. However, a valuable quilt that is in poor condition should not be cleaned at all.

Planning Your Bath

Custom crown moldings were added to the cabinetry to create a formal look. A pair of storage towers (left) flanks the toiler and is bridged by a large cabinet and an open display shelf.

Them’s room for everyone when The grandchildren and their parents visit. Kids get a vanity all to themseves while slill being able to keep an eye on the adults.

Hinged doors would have been clumsy in this cad bath, so pocket doors were used instead.

If you like the idea behind Jack-and-Jill bath layouts but can’t quite figure out how you’ll make one work in your home, take a look at these floor plans. You may be able to modify one of them to fit your needs.


When a bathroom needs to fit in a corner or has to bend around a closet tl, an elbow plan will often work best. The jog in the elbow configuration can also be used to skirt low ceilings when you’re building a Jack-and-Jill bath in a second story and want to avoid the dead space under the eave (right.


Rectangular layouts are ideal for installing Jack-and-Jill baths in a small space. Use these layouts when you want to put a bathroom between two bedrooms located on the some side of a hallway (left, or when you have a pair of bedrooms in a lofted space, such as a half story or finished attic (right).


Square Jack-and-Jill configurations are particularly versatile. They can be built in corners like elbow plans (left), or between two bedrooms (right). Square plans often offer a little more space, so it’s easier to add a separate tub and shower, or a separate compartment for the toilet.

Jack & Jill baths

Some bathrooms are designed to help keep the calm in households where the kids have to share. Builders call them Jack-andJill baths. Located between two bedrooms, these layouts offer access from both sides and also feature separate vanities that can be closed off from toilet and bathing facilities.

If there’s no room in the house or budget for the children to have private bathrooms, use these examples as a starting point for planning a Jack-and-Jill bath of your own. Our numerous sample floor plans will help you find a layout that fits.

Peacekeeper Disagreements are bound to break out when a teenage brother and preteen sister have to share a single bathroom. To keep arguments to a minimum, Mandy and Jim Truesdale remodeled so their kids could enjoy a Jack-and-Jill layout. Both kids have their own vanity alcoves with doors at each end. Depending on which doors are opened or closed, the alcoves can serve as extensions of their bedrooms or as extensions of the bath.

Unlike most Jack-and-Jill configurations, this one has a third door, which gives guests access from the outdoor deck without forcing them to tromp through one of the kids’ bedrooms. Visitors Welcome Jack-and-Jill baths aren’t just for kids, they’re good for guests, too. That’s why Atlantabased builder, Beverly McAfee, put one in her own home. The bath lies between a guest room and a room set aside for her granddaughter, Madison, who comes for frequent overnight visits.

Entrances from two bedrooms and a sundeck out back can make for a busy bathroom. To keep privacy a priority, the toilet was given its own separate compartment. A pedestal sink next to the tub was provided for the convenience of guests.

This large Jackand-Jill bath has a separate tub and showeran amenity that’s usually reserved for the master suite.

A niche in the file lub surround (above) provides ample room for shampoo bottles, while a sliding wire rock holds other bath necessities. A handheld shower makes bathing more convenient.

Vanity akoves were decorated in the same scheme as the rest of the bathroom; the navy blue tile treatment hat frames the micor (li is also used to bond the file that surrounds the tub (above) and shower (far left).

This conventional layout features three compact sections. To make the space feel larger, Beverly used 9-foot ceilings. These high ceilings made room for transom windows above the sliding doors, so daylight can still reach the bath’s core when the doors are closed.

Elegant wood details and brass accents give the bath a formal feel, but decorative tile treatments on the floor and shower walls help lighten the mood to keep the space feeling kid friendly.

Walls with imagination

Wipe away those nothing-to-do blues. Display boards and drawing areas give kids’ rooms big style while encouraging little ones to be creative. But don’t stop there-even adult spaces will benefit from these great-looking, hardworking hangings.

To miter he corners, fold the felt corner point in toward the board. Staple it in place along the edges of the board, then trim away the point (top). Fold down the "ears" thaat remain and staple them in place to finish the miter (middle). Hot-glue buttons and bows to the corners of each felt board to cover the anchors that attach the board to the wall (bottom).

Heartfelt Play

Cheery felt-covered boards hung at toddler-height (above) sport oversized letters, numbers, and shapes. The fun felt cutouts beg little ones to put together a word or two. There’s nothing magical here. Friction holds the shapes to the board, just like it did in kindergarten class.

Begin with three 24×36-inch pieces of homasote board (available at home improvement stores). Then cut three 30×42-inch pieces of felt, using different colors for variety.

Center the board on the felt. Wrap the felt to the back and staple at the center of each side. Make sure the felt is even and tight. Continue stapling, working to within 6 inches of the corners. Miter the corners as instructed in the caption (left). Fasten the boards to the wall with wall anchors. Cut letters, numbers, and shapes from contrasting felt using stencils or computergenerated figures for patterns.

Draw on Creativity

It’s a childhood dream come truedraw on the walls with mom’s permission. Create this easy-clean border, or make a wall-size canvas for kids who do art in a big way. The key is to use a paint that is guaranteed washable with just a soft cloth and mild household cleaner.

To assemble a ledge (right), use 3/4-inch-wide cove molding, 3-inch-wide fluted molding, and 2-inchwide crown molding. Nail the cove to the wall along the border’s bottom edge. Nail the fluted molding to the cove molding. To install the crown, put wood glue along its upper edge. Hold piece in place and nail through pre-drilled pilot holes in the crown so nails go through the cove molding and into the wall.

Using a hard-lead pencil, level, and yardstick, mark a 12-inch-wide border at a comfortable height for your child. Tape off the border with painter’s tape. Paint the border with two or more coats of the washable paint following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to let the paint cure at least two days before drawing on it or the markings will not erase. Remove the tape.

Cut strips of molding to fit the wall width, then paint the molding. The top of the painted border is edged with 3/4-inch-wide triple-bead molding. Nail in place. The bottom of the border is edged with a ledge made from cove, crown, and fluted moldings. Assemble the ledge as instructed in the caption (below). Fill nail holes, and touch up the paint.

Kids’ original artworks made with water-based markers can be cleaned with baby wipes.

Put a Cork on It

Ringing a room with corkboards is a perfect way to show off a student’s favorite things. Making this colorful border (above) is easy when you use pre-routed picture-frame molding, 12-inch-square corkboards, and a little paint (all available at home improvement stores). Buy the thickest corkboards you can; our cork measures 3/8 inch thick, so pushpins hold securely in place.

Cut strips of 1 2-inch-wide picture-frame molding to fit the wall width. Paint the molding and corkboards with two or more coats of latex paint. Paint both sides of the cork to prevent warping.

Using a hard-lead pencil, yardstick, and level, mark the bottom of the border at a comfortable height for your child (ours starts at 30 inches high). Nail the bottom molding to the wall along this line so the routed edge faces up to hold the corkboards. Set the cork in place on the molding. Nail the top molding in place with the routed edge facing down. If necessary, use additional nails or double-face tape to hold the cork in place while installing the top molding. Fill the nail holes with wood filler, and touch up the paint.

All-Points Bulletin

Let a series of framed bulletin boards play host to a teen’s treasures. Cork sheeting from a home improvement center or office supply store lets these boards reach giant proportions without subjecting the walls underneath to holes and mars.

Picture-frame molding that is pre-routed to hold glass can also hold corkboards. You simply set the cork in the lip of the molding pieces instead of adhering it to the walls, so your surfaces are saved from major damage.

Cork sheeting comes on a roll in a 24-inch standard width. Cut sheeting to desired length, then cut foam-core board to match. (Our sheeting measures 24×40 inches.) Use the thickest cork you can buy so that pushpins go all the way in; our cork is Sz inch thick. Bond cork sheeting to foam-core boards (available at crafts and art stores) using nonflammable contact cement (available at home improvement stores). Paint the front side of the cork sheeting with two coats of latex paint.

To make the frames, cut prerouted, 2-inch-wide picture-frame molding to fit around the cork, mitering the corners. Secure the mitered corners with wood glue, then clamp with corner clamps. Nail with brads from the outside (two per corner). Paint the frames. Assemble the bulletin board as instructed in the caption (below). Oh

The precut lip of pie frame molding holds cork sheeting and foam-core board in p-ace lt. Lay the bonded cork and f,-come board inside the from.. Cut cardboard The precut lip of picture frame molding holds cork sheeting and foam-core board in place (left). Lay the bonded cork and foam-core board inside the frame. Cut cardboard slightly larger than the foam-core size. Lay it over the foam-core and staple to the back of the frame.

Mount two sawtooth picture hangers on the frame. Use a level to hang frames evenly.

As an alternative, use ready-made frames. Just cut cork and foam-core to fit. Make sure the cork and foam-core layers are thick enough to lay flush with the back of the frame.

The new American style

Like the best new cooking, the freshest decorating this season blends a variety of tastes and cultural influences-some exotic, some comfortably familiar. We’ve picked four distinctive looks and broken them down into simple design "recipes." Find one that suits your palate, or sample from a variety of styles-and stylish details-to create your own decorating menu.

Comfort Food

Casual decorating should be soothing to the body and soul. But too often it’s like a bland meat-and-potatoes meal, satisfying our hunger for comfort and function but leaving us craving style. The best new casual looks combine down-home ease with big-city sophistication. Here are the key ingredients:

Wicker adds ease to any room. But for a less porchy appearance, look for pieces that mimic upholsery shapes. The "club chairS (right) echoes sleek designs from the 1920s and 1930s.

Softly tailored upholstery. Some of the sloppy slipcovers of years past were as flattering as baggy sweat suits. Current upholstery styles borrow elements from our weekend wardrobe-brushed denims, bomber-jacket leathers, fuzzy chenillesbut give furniture a tucked-in, casual-Friday polish.

Mixed media. Now that consumers are more comfortable blending furniture styles and finishes within a room, manufacturers are mixing it up on a single piece. The armoire and end table (right) pair cherry and pine woods; the round table and coffee table blend wood and leather with metal. Clutter control. Put overstuffed rooms on a diet with clever storage pieces, such as the luggage-style coffee table and six-drawer end table (right).

Caribbean Salsa

If you’ve tangoed down the produce aisle lately, you’ve probably noticed the tropical influence. Mango, papaya, kiwi, plantain-the colors are straight off a Carmen Miranda costume. The same vivid palette is influencing home furnishings, with hues ranging from citrusy Euro-brights to pumpedup pastels. You decide how spicy to make it But here are some tips to keep in mind:

Start small. Unless you want to live in a state of constant visual stimulation, slip in small amounts of color by focusing on accents, such as pillows, artwork, and rugs. Keep the color quieter on larger spaces, such as the walls and big upholstery.

Take your room’s temperature. A cool combination of blues, greens, and violets (left) can give a space a calm, restful feeling; oranges, yellow$, and reds raise the energy level considerably.

White’s always right. Large doses of white (like the sofa, left) give the eye a place to rest and provide contrast, making bright colors appear crisper.

Catch of the Day

Fax machines, car pools, call waiting. It’s no wonder we’re having a collective escape fantasy. Even if you can’t run off to your own deserted island, you can bring that no-worry attitude home with you. The essential ingredients include furnishings and fabrics with a breezy, sunblushed quality-the kind of stuff you’d expect to see at a beachy inn. Here’s how to pull it together:

Travel light. Don’t burden your rooms with excess baggage. Bring only the essentials on this decorating getaway: a cozy bed, an armoire or chest to stow clothing and clutter, a convenient bedside table to hold personal treasures, and a pile of books. Wear it down. Look for furniture-old or newwith an aged appearance. Whitewashed wood, even obvious brush strokes on painted pieces, make a room look assembled over time.

Loosen up. Banish stiff "wallflower" arrangements by easing furniture away from the walls or placing it on the diagonal, such as-the-armoire (right). What have you got to lose? You can always move it back later.

Far East Fusion

Check out the latest restaurant listings. Chances are you’ll find a few that mix Asian-style cooking with something else, say, Cuban or Tex-Mex. The same thing is happening in home decor, largely in response to our desire for simplicity and serenity in our homes. In the dining room (right), blue-and-white porcelain, a stenciled fretwork border, and a sisal rug give French-influenced furniture an Eastern accent

Here are some ideas for updating tradition with a touch of the Far East:

Not ready for a full-sie color commitment For a quick, inexpensive fix, pile citrus fruits in a glass bowl or pick a bunch of colorful gerbera daisies .

Sheer curtains are another way to create a light-and-breezy look. To give panels substance and to tie them in with your decor, buy an extra twin sheet and use it to band the bottoms of curtains.

Simplify. Highlight one or two collections instead of many; display only what is meaningful and beautiful. Keep patterns to a minimum as well.

Go natural. Think of the surfaces and textures found in a Japanese garden-bamboo, stone, wood, straw-and try to weave these into your decor.

Be serene. A cluster of flickering candles or a fresh orchid floating in a bowl of water can bring a sense of harmony and calm to a room.

Side Dishes

You don’t have to redo a whole room to bring some fresh ideas into your decorating. Here are a few of the details that give the four looks on the previous pages their special appeal. Try adapting any of these ideas to create your own personal style.

Clean lines and minimal ornamentation give the French-style dining chair (below leff a Zen-like grace. Order is evident even in the simple tea setting (below right).

An old postcard wedged between layers of glass is both modem and nostalgic. Buy readymade frames with glass backing. Or, adapt existing frames by replacing the solid backing with a second piece of glass.

Shutters are essential to beach-house style. To get the look without redoing your windows, hinge together odd-sized shutters to make a folding screen. These came prepainted. To instantly "weather" them, sand off the paint in spots.

Painting a piece of flea-market or unfinished furniture is a relatively inexpensive way to give a room a bold shot of color. Pull the color scheme from your room’s fabrics. And don’t be shy. You can always repaint it later.

A sisal rug’s absorbent surface is perfect for stenciling. Use readymade stencils or make your own by tracing and enlarging designs in art and decorating books. This pattem was inspired by Chinese fretwork.

Reversible decorating

It doesn’t take a year’s budget to refresh your home with the changing seasons. Reversible designs in coordinated fabrics provide at least two distinct looks-at one basic price.

With one side covered in a warm hue (peach) and the other dressed in a cool color (green), decorative elements such as draperies, throw pillows, and chair cushions can be turned on their flip side for a new look that matches, or is opposite, the climate outdoors.

Find compatible colors and coordinated or same-print patterns for decorating elements that can be easily reversed. It’s your choice: Display a cooler or warmer palette on chair cushions, throw pillows, curtains, and table dressings. Limit the trims and cordings, which are visible on both sides, to a neutral tone.

Select warm and cool colors of the same intensity (brightness or dullness, depending upon the amount of gray in the hue), like the peach and green used here. An intense orange on the flip side of the subtle sage would not have worked, nor would a brilliant kelly green with pale peach.

Build a foundation for seasonal change by starting with a neutral wall color. Play off a common color, which is found in both seasonal fabrics, or choose a neutral color (such as this tawny background, white, or gray) that will work with both a cool and warm color scheme for the walls, floors, and other areas that are not so easily changed.

As a bridge between two seasons’ color schemes, introduce one fabric, such as the plaid on the front of the chair cushion, that coordinates with both palettes.

Sew-simple pillows

Sew a pretty pocket pillow in no time using three cloth napkins and prebasted ruffling ribbon.

For this project, you’ll need three coordinating naplans, a pillow form with sides 4 inches shorter than the napkins, fabric ribbon with gathering cords (enough to edge one napkin on all sides), and a button or other trim.

Cut one napkin in half diagonally to form the flap. Lay that triangular flap over another napkin, adjusting its position until the widths align. Trim the leftover strip so the flap’s top edge is even with the napkin’s. Sew the flap to the napkin, right sides together. This is the pillow back.

Narrowly hem one end of the ribbon, sewing over the gathering threads to anchor them. Pin the ribbon to the underside of the flap’s upper edge, gathering to fit by pulling the threads’ free ends. Turn under and narrowly hem the other end. Sew ribbon in place. Make a buttonhole in the point of the flap.

Lay the remaining napkin over the pillow back, wrong sides together. Topstitch around the side and bottom edges 2 inches in from the hems. Slip the pillow form into the pocket of the cover. Fold the flap over the opening and mark the placement of the button. Sew the button in place. For fun and to mimic the design in the ribbon, we used a small bunch of plastic fruit rather than a button

Planning your family’s home

The one-cook kitchen. A small, hard-to-clean bathroom. A garage too crowded for cars. Think hard enough, and you’ll probably find a quirk or two-or several-in your home’s floor plan. Bring these troubles to the drawing board when you design your next house. By tweaking a stock floor plan, you can eliminate problem spots before they’re built.

Look at how a new home can best serve your family. If you’re in for a lifestyle change-say, having children-visualize how a reorganized home can simplify your life. To help you get started, check out the following family scenarios.

Mom and dad with small children Many young families struggle to make the most out of tight floor plans. They want to create a safe environment for little ones, while accommodating their own busy lives. Here’s a room-by-room rundown.


Plenty of work space, including two sinks and nice spans of countertop, will help the cook (or two) make sure little mouths are fed.

An open kitchen/family room arrangement and windows facing the backyard will let you keep an eye on children during meal preparation and cleanup.

Make sure an island or peninsula separates the family room from the work core to help keep curious hands away from hot pots and pans and other kitchen dangers.

You’ll likely eat most of your meals in a breakfast or family room next to the kitchen. Make space there for a table and chairs; it is unsafe for children to perch on stools pulled up to an island.

Family room

Trading in a living room for a larger family room probably makes sense. Chances are, you’ll spend most of your time together in the more casual space.


The closer your room is to the children’s, the better. You’ll want to be nearby to help them through the morning routine; they’ll want you nearby in case of bad dreams. Plan logical spots for beds and other furniture.

Remember valuable closet space.


The family bath should have a lowside tub for bathing young children. Although it’s wise to plan a 36inch-high vanity for adults, 30 inches is more appropriate for children.

Mom and dad with teenagers

When the kids reach their teens, everything changes-meal times, privacy needs, and recreation space. These tips may help smooth the ride through the tough transition years.


Kids’ appetites aren’t curbed once they hit the teen years; if anything, you’ll need more kitchen work space, a large pantry, and an additional freezer.

Plenty of space eases the work of multiple cooks, especially if your children are taking over some cooking responsibilities.

Because it can be difficult to get together for mealtimes, an eating island or peninsula is the most convenient setup.

Family room

Keep the living room or plan a den so you have your own place to read and catch the news.

A recreation room gives the kids a place for rowdier fun.

Even if your children don’t cook, plan on a family room adjacent to the kitchen as a spot for them to hang out and update you on the day.


The master bedroom doesn’t need to be as close to the others as when your children were young-stereoblasted rock music reverberating against your wall proves it. Site your bedroom at a different end, or floor, of the house, and treat it as a private retreat. You might even try to include a sitting area.

See that your children’s rooms provide suitable conditions for doing homework by setting aside space for a desk or planning built-ins. Also remember your kids will need room to store their worldly possessions, both in the form of display shelves and adequate closets. Many secondary bedrooms provide little closet space, so you may need to maximize what space there is with a closet organizer system.


Plan two sinks in the family bath if you have more than two children.

A tub/shower combination or shower works best as kids get older.

A couple

Before kids, after kids, or no kids at all, couples have special needs too.


A small kitchen may serve you fine, considering you’re preparing smaller meals and not bumping into kids. But if you sometimes cook for guests or participate in a gourmet club, a large kitchen may better suit your entertaining needs. In that case, two sinks, large runs of countertop, and space for food storage is essential.

You may find a formal dining room more useful than other families, but for daily meals, still plan for an eat-in kitchen or breakfast room.

Family room

If you’ve owned homes before, you probably already know whether you are family-room-type folks. Entertainment centers and overstuffed chairs are at home here. But others may choose to invest their square-footage budget elsewhere.

Locate the family room near the kitchen for convenience.


Only one bedroom in the house is truly important-yours. Especially if you’re an empty nester, you may want to locate it on the home’s main floor. Be sure closet space is plentiful and that there’s space for your bedroom set.

Secondary bedrooms will likely become guest rooms. Double suites (master and guest) often work better than the standard arrangement of master and secondary bedrooms. The extra suite, equipped with a bath, will provide guests a comfortable space of their own. Because they only visit once in a while, try to plan zoned heating and cooling-so you can shut the unit off or turn the guest area’s thermostat down to save on energy.


Equip the master bath with two sinks to best serve your needs during the morning routine.

If you enjoy a deep soak in the evening, count on a large tub. Or, if vou don’t like that form of bathing, you may simply want a shower-perhaps with two showerheads.

All families

Some planning issues apply to all family situations.

Working, sleeping, and living zones should be separate. Locate the often-noisy family room away from the bedrooms.

Square footage should be useful. Plan rooms spacious enough to handle furniture groupings, but not so large that you lose out on intimacy. Lofty foyers and expansive living rooms are classic space wasters.

Furniture arrangements must fit well into the plan. For example, make sure the master bedroom has wall space well-suited to a king- or queen-size bed and nightstands. See whether the family room includes a spot for the TV away from the glaring sun. And throughout the home, keep traffic paths from crossing through conversation areas.

Because so many of us need a place to organize paperwork and tap into the computer, a home office is a floor plan priority. Your work style dictates whether to incorporate the office into the center of the home or separate it from the activity. A kitchen desk area-equipped with a computer and storage files-may work out if you want to keep an eye on your kids. A more secluded office will serve you better if your job requires fewer disturbances. Also decide whether vour family will share one computer; if so, you may need to schedule time slots to give evervone a chance to use it. Otherwise, plan a separate computer spot for your children or mate.

It’s best to locate a laundry room close to where dirty clothes are generated. If you or vour children often come home dirty from work, school, or sports activities, put this room near the garage or back door. If this isn’t an issue, design a laundry space close to the bedrooms.

A garage with three bays works best for most families. Park the cars in two of the spaces; plan for storage or a workshop in the third. The garage should be near the kitchen to ease carrying groceries from the car. Also, work with the design so the garage is positioned at the side or the rear of the house. A flat garage door shouldn’t be the front facade’s dominant feature. Some fine points in a floor plan are easy to overlook. Study your plan for details, such as steps up and down between rooms, window and wall location, ceiling heights, and placement of electrical outlets.

A kitchen that steps down into a family room may seem harmless enough, but it means children and guests will take many spills through the years. Avoid such hazards.

If you’re unaccustomed to visualizing a blueprint in three dimensions, hire an architect or designer to walk you through the plan or plans you like best.

Most professionals who design modest-size homes for a living can provide "walk-through" consultatons for $100 or less.