Q: We're finally adding our dream bath to the house -- an extension off the master bedroom that's large enough for a whirlpool bath. I want it to be surrounded by windows and floored in natural quarry tile, but my husband insists both that the neighbors are too close, and that quarry tile is too rustic. What do you think?
A: I think you should tear out the photo we show here and let your husband see for himself how handsomely you can refute both his arguments -- or rather, how handsomely designers Diane Gote, ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and Sandra Elliot, who is an allied member of the ASID, have devised solutions in the master bath they created for a show house in New Jersey.
They raised the tub to fit in a window bay and hung short, sheer curtains that let in the natural light while keeping neighbors' eyes out. Then they used softly glazed quarry tiles for both the floor and the steps that lead up to the tub.
In keeping with the rustic Southwestern theme, the ceiling is textured, there are plenty of plants and the furniture is woven wicker -- the last two can stand up to the moisture inherent in any bath.
While we're in this newsworthy room, there are several other features you might want to consider when you plan your new bath: The shower is separate -- a low wall divides it from the lounging area (don't miss the delightful towel bar -- a handmade wooden ladder).
Oriental rugs, laid on the diagonal, add color and softness and underscore the native ambience.
Other accessories have also been chosen carefully to further the theme: baskets, crockery pots and personality pieces, such as the chairside "table" and vintage bird cage, which could hold a few feathered companions, just for fun.
Q: There's a wide, counter-height divider between the kitchen of my new apartment and the dining area/living room. I grew up in a big house that had a separate formal dining room and just can't get used to looking in at the pots and pans when I have guests for dinner.
What can I do that won't close the kitchen off completely, but will improve the view while we're eating?
A: Ceiling-mounted blinds would do the trick: Just lower them along with the lights when you sit down to dinner. Even more interesting might be a stack of wine racks with the bottles facing into the dining area. As long as you don't drink up your cover, your "cellar" would filter the view to the sink most appetizingly.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the author of five books on interior design and a contributing writer to other publications in the field. Send questions to Inside Advice, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.