Q: Our kitchen is quite small, but I would like to find space for a breakfast counter. I've seen the hinged kind that fold up when they're not in use, but that looks hokey. What else can you suggest?
A: Here's an innovative idea from a homeowner in Wisconsin who faced the same limited-space problem. He has come up with a Space Age idea, using an equally modern material called Avonite to cantilever dining space from a kitchen counter.
As you can see in the photo, even the toaster oven has been built in and topped with counter material for the max in working/serving services. A man-made composite, Avonite looks like marble and acts like wood -- you use regular woodworking tools to craft it -- and it's also strong enough to support itself with only a narrow wood base beneath for stability.
The oval-shaped "table" provides ample elbow room for several diners, whose chairs slide neatly under and out of the way when they're through.
Q: We've found a wonderful stained-glass window at auction and want to incorporate it into our living or dining room somehow. There is an open space by the stairs. What must I do to make it work there?
A: To use your stained glass as a divider between spaces, you'll have to support it with wood side frames that go from floor to ceiling and across the top and bottom edges.
Keep the framework simple -- stained or painted to match the other woodwork in the room -- so you won't detract from the stained-glass design itself.
In fact, the idea is to show off the colors to maximum effect, so you may want to install small spotlights either on the ceiling or floor.
You can experiment with the wattage -- a dimmer switch is the key -- so only the glass itself is in the spotlight and the surrounding area is dark.
Q: I need extra storage and display space in my office. I sell old books and collectibles as well as real estate and need a way to show them off. Can you suggest anything besides ordinary bookshelves or an open cupboard? (I have both.)
A: Try mirroring the entire wall first, then have shelves installed over it, making them and the vertical supports extra thick so they look more architectural and built-in than added on.
For the same reason, paint everything to match the other walls in your office and finish the tops and bottoms of each support with cornice moldings. You may want to carry the moldings on around the other walls, too. And be sure to stagger the shelves for more visual interest.