Interior designers say the look of a room can be changed with just a few additions: a splash of color here or a decorative item there.
If you're short on cash or just want something unique, try a pillow. Baltimore author Donna Babylon has devoted her latest home decorating book to the subject. "Pillow Pizzaz" is filled with more than 24 sew-it-yourself pillow designs, including such ideas as tucks and pleats, patchwork and geometric color blocking. Finishing touches such as ruffles, piping and quilt-styles are included, as well as illustrations and easy-to-read instructions.
With the bridal season in full force, her book and a gift certificate nTC from a seamstress gift-giver could make a creative shower or wedding gift.
"The bride can choose a pillow or valance to match her own decor," says Ms. Babylon. "She can pick out her own colors and design, and she will have a handmade gift."
The book is $8.50 and will be available soon at area fabric stores.
@ The thousands of fountain jets, geysers and hydraulic wonders built by Pierre S. du Pont for his Longwood Gardens estate in Kennett Square, Pa., have sometimes earned the garden the name "the electric Versailles."
Some people have quipped that the stupendous waterworks are what God would have built -- had He du Pont's money.
Longwood Gardens, now part of the brilliant industrialist's legacy to the public, officially unveiled its five-year, $4.3 million restoration of the Italian water garden earlier this month.
In rebuilding the water display, the aim was not to rival or outdo a previous effort but simply to restore it, matching its state when du Pont died in 1954. "If someone took a black-and-white photograph of the garden and held it up to one taken in 1954, I think you'd be hard-pressed to notice any differences," said Longwood's director, Fred L. Roberts.
Du Pont began the Italian garden in 1925, determined to replicate some of the fountains he had seen on his European travels.
He chose the tranquil Villa Gamberaia, on a hilltop overlooking Florence, as the inspiration.
Longwood Gardens is on U.S. Route 1, Kennett Square, Pa.; (215) 388-6741. Gardens are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; conservatory from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gardens will be open to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with a half-hour fountain display at 9:15 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to 14, no charge for children under 6.
Perhaps you've already experimented with frames and framed a child's painting or a beautiful invitation, but you can go even further.
Exposures catalog suggests treating a frame like a scrapbook. They're offering something called the shadow box frame, or French vitrine, which is a deep, velvet-backed box that can display three-dimensional objects.
You can put in the box anything you might want to save, from a baseball hat to a garter caught at a wedding to shells and driftwood. Or you might frame the map of a city visited on vacation along with photographs, matchbooks, restaurant napkins or other items that say you were there.
Other innovative ideas include framing a picture from the company picnic with the ribbons you won at the games, or putting the puzzle that took all summer to do under glass.
For a free catalog, call (800) 222-4947.
J.L.K. When a person thinks of a home landscape, often the first images that come to mind are the plants it contains. But a truly inspirational yard is a lot more than just plants, and sometimes the memory you come away with is the artistic placement of a piece of statuary, or perhaps the view from a stately gazebo. Here are some finishing touches that help spruce up a yard:
* Gazebos: Historians trace the evolution of gazebos to "banqueting rooms" set atop the roofs of English manors, where aristocrats would troop up after dinner to relax and admire the view.
* Entryways: When it comes to "furnishing" a garden, one of the first things to consider is the entryway. A gate, by its design, sets the tone for what you can expect inside.
* Benches: Garden benches are more than simply places to relax. While adding to the tenor of the landscape, they're an invitation from the garden designer that says, "Here, sit and enjoy the view."
A bench can be as simple as a board placed on two tree stumps or one carved with a chain saw from the large trunk of a fallen tree or one of those elegant teak or redwood benches pictured in fashionable garden catalogs.
If your budget isn't prepared for the cost of such a bench, a single chair can make an eloquent statement in the right setting.
* Lawn swings: This form of garden relaxation includes a tiny bit of exercise.
To some, a bench swing in a garden harkens back to the halcyon days before air conditioning and television drew us indoors for the evening. And with a little stretch of the imagination, you can almost see someone enjoying a cool glass of iced tea on a steamy summer afternoon and listening to a radio broadcast of a baseball game.