Home & Garden

Make new table room's focal point

Q. Since we have had a life-altering experience (Hurricane Katrina), things have changed quite a bit. My husband has selected for the dining room table a 72-inch glass top on a base of three Verdi-bronze fish – go figure. And I, for some reason, went along with the decision just so I would not have any more confusion in my life. Well, now I just don't know what to put with this piece, i.e., chairs, buffet, other furniture in the room. If you have any suggestions, please let me know before my husband goes any further.

We have received many e-mails from people devastated by Katrina. It takes tremendous courage to rebuild, and your thoughtfulness for your husband's choice is wonderful. I detect a sense of humor, too, which is the best antidote on the planet.

Taking a new direction might be just what's needed. And you can enjoy searching out solutions that work for both of you. The new table that your husband bought is like a war statue, a monument to what you have been through. It will be the focal point of your dining room, and should take pride of place.

Keep the rest of the room simple. Choose functional furniture with clean lines, a simple, textured carpet (sisal would be a good choice), light walls and pale wood or glass shelves. You don't want anything else that will fight for importance, or the room will feel overpowered.

A mix-and-match style can be stunning, but you need a common element, which can be color, material (in this case, glass or metal) or pattern, something that holds the room together and connects the room to the rest of your home.

Civil War theme

Q. My son has requested that his room be done in a Civil War theme. The walls are finished; we painted them blue and gray, and two walls have giant murals. I need help with the window coverings. I liked your idea of using canvas to make tent flaps for a kid's play fort, and thought that might work for curtains, too. But I'm not sure how to do this. Or have you any other ideas?

The canvas will work well at the windows. You can buy canvas at some fabric outlets or art-supply stores; it comes in different weights, and lighter is easier to sew for a curtain.

Measure your window and make two panels cut to fit. Turn in the unfinished edges and sew or glue in place. To hang the panels, you can place a row of grommets along the top to slip over hooks screwed into the window frame, or turn down a 3-inch pocket hem at the top so you can slip the panels over a rod.

Place a grommet halfway down the inside seam of each panel, and put hooks in the wall on either side of the curtains positioned so that you can hook the curtain panels open as you would a tent flap.

Stencil words on each curtain flap related to your theme.