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Wallpaper's on a comeback, and it's cozy in the bathroom

Q. I am decorating my bathroom and find that too much tile feels cold. Would you recommend wallpaper in a bathroom, or would it peel off with the humidity?

Wallpaper is back, and is being used in every room, including the bathroom. The quality of the paper and the glue is far superior to the last huge wave of papers. As long as you have ventilation of some sort, you should not have any peeling problems. Wallpaper is a warmer alternative to tile, which you can save for the bath and shower area.

Organic shapes and materials create a peaceful ambience in this bathroom. The images and gentle tones of gold and beige in the floral paper set the mood, enhanced by simple wood accessories. White is a clean fresh accent that complements the neutral tones.

Mixing woods

Q. I've just installed light oak flooring on the upstairs hallway, bedrooms and stairs. The main floor open-concept living-dining room is large, and I thought it would be quite dramatic to install darker wood, such as cherry. Are there rules about mixing wood tones?

When you mix colors on one level, this can chop up open-plan spaces. But in your case, having the darker main floor meet at the stairs will be fine.

Another option is to choose a focal area such as your dining-room table and inlay some light oak as a detail. It would tie in the two woods and heighten the sense of drama you're after.

Painting floor

Q. We're going to paint the plywood kitchen floor, which we figure will last us for a few years until we can afford to install real wood or stone. How do you paint a floor to look like slate?

Look for paint designed for floors, as it is more durable. You also can use regular latex or acrylic paint, but to seal and protect a painted floor, finish with four coats of varnish, waiting four hours between coats.

To create the look of slate, choose two or three shades of dark gray and blue. (Study a real piece of slate, and you will notice the color and shade variations.) Prime the plywood and paint a light-gray base coat. This will be the color of the grout lines.

Using thin strips of painter's tape, tape off realistic-size slabs of slate. Work in sections of about 3 square feet; roll on the paint colors randomly, overlapping so the colors blend together a bit. Press a plastic sheet over the wet paint and pull it off to reveal the lines and markings you would see in slate.

When all the tiles are done, remove the tape, revealing the gray grout lines, and varnish with gloss varnish.

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