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Billy Reid sets up shop in Georgetown

Home improvement - Fri, 05/17/2013 - 16:06

Don’t fall in love with the crackled leather armchair while you’re trying on that linen jacket at the new Billy Reid shop that opened last week in Georgetown.

The chair is not for sale.

Neither are the perfectly faded Oriental rugs, carved gold frames, crystal decanters or crystal chandeliers. (Selling the store’s furnishings would cause chaos on the floor, Reid says, as some pieces are hard to replace.) His arrangements of vintage furnishings and architectural artifacts are the perfect setting for his comfortably stylish men’s and women’s clothing at all of his 10 stores. If you go into a dressing room in the upper-level made-to-measure department here, you’ll feel like you’re in an elegantly appointed dressing room in an old New Orleans townhouse.

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Making space for two

Home improvement - Wed, 05/15/2013 - 17:02

Katherine and Michael Godesky of Arlington want to turn their crammed office from a catchall for clutter into a comfortable working space for two. The couple wants simple, modern and gender-neutral decor and plenty of storage.

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The indispensable trowel

Home improvement - Wed, 05/15/2013 - 16:13

All garden tools are extensions of our bodies, fulfilling our need to be stronger, faster and unharmed in our battles with soil and stones. With small hand tools this is true in an intimate way. Holding a claw weeder, our fingers gain the power of an eagle’s talons. Just picking up a trowel sends a charge of confidence down the muscles of the forearm. Such tools are very personal. We select them according to the way our hand wants to feel and what it needs to do.

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How to repair broken concrete statues

Home improvement - Wed, 05/15/2013 - 16:07

QI have a statue of a blue heron, but the neck is broken. The statue is about four feet tall, and I think it is made of concrete or a composite of concrete and another material. I would like to have it repaired, but I have contacted a few lawn and garden centers that carry statues and also a memorial headstone company to no avail. Do you know who can do this? I would be willing to travel to other parts of Virginia, Maryland or West Virginia.

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Throw pillows even a man could love

Home improvement - Wed, 05/15/2013 - 16:02

Al Roker hates decorative pillows. I have lots of on-air footage to prove it. Several years ago, in a live segment on NBC’s “Today” show, I was giving the weatherman-cum-correspondent some decorating tips, including how to accessorize a bed with pillows. As I was explaining that the layering of decorative pillows on your bed helps to create a focal point in the room, Roker seized the opportunity to vent about his maddening relationship with his cushion-covered bed. He described a nightly war he waged with the many pillows that his wife, Deborah, insisted remain in place until bedtime. His argument: Why would you want a bed laden with pillows, only to have to remove them nightly?

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Kips Bay Show House opens in New York

Home improvement - Mon, 05/13/2013 - 14:21

NEW YORK - The annual Kips Bay Show House, known as the Academy Awards of the interior design biz, opened last week in a posh Upper East Side townhouse. Eighteen designers were chosen to redo spaces at the 1899 house at 161 East 64th St. that will be open to the public daily through June 4.

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Spring home and garden tours, in time for Mother’s Day

Home improvement - Fri, 05/10/2013 - 16:30

We’ve updated our spring home and garden tour listings, just in time for Mother’s Day weekend.


Going Out Guide: Cramming for Mother’s Day ideas? Here’s what we would do.

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Missoni patriarch leaves behind legacy of fashion, design

Home improvement - Thu, 05/09/2013 - 19:58

Missoni, the family company of Ottavio “Tai” Missoni who died Thursday at age 92 at his family home in Sumirago, Italy, was known for bold patterns in its line of clothing as well as home furnishings.

In recent years, its stylish mix of iconic zig zag prints and bright colors as part of Missoni Home caught on for sofas, fabrics and lighting. They even created a collection of Missoni housewares for Target in 2011, which was so hot, it crashed the Target website.

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The party’s out here

Home improvement - Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:30

My idea of the perfect outdoor party is dining with good friends at a candlelit table under a twinkling, bug-free sky as the grill sizzles. Because I live in a small house, I really enjoy casual entertaining in the back yard and do it as much as possible, especially in May and June before hot, sticky weather settles in.

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Stinging nettles: A weed worth welcoming

Home improvement - Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:03

“Stop the car!” my friend shouted as we cruised along a country road. The year was 1970. “Isn’t that wild marijuana?” he asked. I gamely pulled over and grabbed him a bunch of the weed in question.

Not only was it not marijuana, but it was stinging nettle, a plant whose touch leaves skin with an itch and a burning pain. I memorized the shape of its sharply toothed leaves, just as I’d memorized that of three-leaved poison ivy, years before. Fortunately, the sting of the nettle, caused by sharp microscopic spines, is short-lived. Nevertheless, I’ve given it a wide berth — until now.

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At last, time for tomatoes

Home improvement - Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:01

I was passing a garden center the other day and saw a banner that read, “Tomatomania, the world’s largest seedling sale.” Well, who could resist that?

When I ventured inside, I found anything but the promised abundance. Instead, I thought I had been transported back 20 years to a dreary time when garden centers offered a few pedestrian varieties in little six-packs. Back then, the only way to get some really interesting tomato varieties was to find specialty seed companies and start your own.

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How to clean outdoor furniture

Home improvement - Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:01

You’ve tucked geraniums and pansies into the flowerpots, checked the barbecue to make sure it’s ready to use and clipped a few new recipes to try out as the outdoor dining season begins. But there’s one more task before you’re ready for guests: Your outdoor furniture needs a little TLC after a winter out in the elements.

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A sophisticated retreat

Home improvement - Wed, 05/08/2013 - 16:59

Carol and Joel Itskowitz of Potomac are stuck on the layout of their small master bedroom, which they want to feel more spacious, airy and welcoming. The couple also needs more storage space.

By relocating the bed and adding a colorful bench for storage, designer Caroline McCandlish creates a welcoming, functional space.

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Before moving in with someone,organize your stuff and your thoughts

Home improvement - Wed, 05/01/2013 - 16:30

Whom do you call for advice when you’ve decided to move in with someone: a best friend, a parent, a priest, a psychologist? There are so many things to think about, and sometimes the organizational challenge of combining possessions gets overlooked, making an already stressful situation even worse. Here are a few pieces of advice to make the process easier.

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Making perfect compost

Home improvement - Wed, 05/01/2013 - 15:53

The formula is foolproof. Collect organic waste in a pile, let it decompose over time with the help of friendly bacteria, and the result is compost. The best fertilizer and soil conditioner money needn’t buy. Compost makes itself, for free.

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The potted herb garden is easy

Home improvement - Wed, 05/01/2013 - 15:51

Beautiful, delicious, aromatic and self-sufficient, herbs represent a form of perfection in the garden.

Culinary herbs are singularly suited to growing in pots and other containers — they love a dry, airy perch. People love them, too: You can position a potted herb garden almost anywhere with a bit of sunlight, on a breezeway, a balcony, a front stoop or a back patio. The only criterion, other than sunlight, is that it be handy, so you can snip what you need for the kitchen. Herbs love to be trimmed; they respond by growing bushier.

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May home improvement checklist

Home improvement - Wed, 05/01/2013 - 15:13

Install an outdoor clothesline

Celebrate spring with the fresh scent and texture of air-dried sheets and towels. True, May is usually the wettest month in Washington. But between showers, the weather can be glorious. Free yourself from using the dryer, which is typically second only to a refrigerator as a home’s most energy-guzzling appliance. If you have only a deck for outdoor space or if you live where condo or subdivision rules prohibit outdoor clotheslines, invest in a fold-away stand or a retractable clothesline and use it toward dusk. If you have more space, consider an umbrella-style clothesline; it fits in a space about 6 feet by 6 feet and folds up and lifts out for storage. Or, if you have more room, you can install an actual retro-style clothesline with wooden or metal T posts at each end. A company in Maine ( sells all the fixings, or shop at a local hardware or home store.

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A nice conversation starter

Home improvement - Wed, 05/01/2013 - 15:03

Lynn Wagner of Upper Marlboro says her home’s open floor plan leaves the living room feeling neither intimate nor inviting. Wagner is looking for a cozy space to read and enjoy the fireplace.

Designers Shanon Munn and Amanda Welch arranged the furniture to define the seating area and take advantage of the room’s assets: five large windows and the fireplace.

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Creating a cohesive basement

Home improvement - Wed, 04/24/2013 - 16:50

Carlotta Coates wants a unified space in her Silver Spring basement, but columns in the middle of the room are making it difficult. The Coateses are looking for a family room with a space for entertainment and exercise equipment.

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The magic of pole beans

Home improvement - Wed, 04/24/2013 - 16:22

The magic beans that produced Jack’s beanstalk were magic indeed. Any plant that grew up above the clouds would be extraordinary, but especially a vine that normally could get only a foot or two off the ground without some means of support. Vines, by their nature, lift themselves up into the sunlight by twining around or clinging to more stout-stemmed specimens, such as trees. Non-vining climbers, such as roses, hook onto trunks and branches by means of their thorns.

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