Q: Do I have to use curtains on the windows? We have a lovely view of the woods and a mountain beyond, and I'd rather throw an extra log on the fire (it does get breezy in the living room in dead winter) and keep the view open.
Now even my brother-in-law has asked when I'm going to "finish decorating" -- by which he means hang curtains. What do you think?
A: What with all of us getting back to nature in the '90s, undressed windows are very much in vogue -- and a great relief, to my eye at least, from the overwrought Victorianesque layers we began seeing in the '80s.
By all means save your view. Designer Aaron Donner, for one, voted with you when he planned his own pondside home on the East Coast.
As you can see in the photo we show here, Mr. Donner left his panes plain, framing them with simple decorative moldings that play back to the trimmings on the pair of armoires that dominate the end wall of the living room (which he designed for Hickory Furniture).
If you're shivering for the sake of your naked windows, however, you may consider one of several energywise window ideas:
*The most logical: additional storm windows made in Low-E glass. The "E" stands for "emission" -- that is, how much interior heat is lost to the outside.
Low-E glass works in reverse during the hot summer months, keeping your air conditioner from overexerting itself, so what you invest in new windows will actually pay off in the long run.
*Roller shades. Mounted with the roller reversed, they present an unobtrusive side to the room when they're raised; lowered at night when there's nothing to see anyway, shades fit close to the glass and cut energy loss dramatically.
Either solution should let you have your view and heat it, too -- not to mention silencing your brother-in-law.
Q: I have found a wonderful little child's chair made out of twigs. It's about 40 years old, according to the antique store where I bought it, but that's all the owner could tell me. I'd love to know more about this kind of furniture -- maybe even build some full-size chairs. What can you tell me?
A: Have I got an answer for you! You've found a piece of rustic Americana. Stick furniture, as it's sometimes called, is, ahem, rooted in the 19th century, when it was made for both humble cabins and grand mountain retreats in places like the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
You'll find it still going strong today in U.S. national parks -- at Yellowstone Lodge, for example, and the lodge at Mount Hood -- and in ordinary homes, where rustic furniture is enjoying a renaissance.
As for making it yourself, mark your calendar for March 1992. That's when New York craftsman Daniel Mack's book "Making Rustic Furniture" will be published (by Sterling/Lark, New York).
Not only does Mr. Mack -- now the king of the woodsmen in interior design circles -- recount the history of rustic furniture and his own odyssey with it, he shares step-by-step how-tos on making your own. Buy the book; you'll be barking up the right tree.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the author of five books on interior design, associate editor of Country Decorating and a contributing writer to other publications in the field. Send questions to Inside Advice, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore, Md. 21278.