Crate & Barrel rolls out local storeIn 1962, the first...

ON THE HOME FRONT

February 07, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Crate & Barrel rolls out local store

In 1962, the first Crate & Barrel opened in an old elevator factory. The owners were operating on a shoestring, so they put crating lumber on the walls to hide the oil stains. And they used the barrels from their overseas shipments for display cases.

The name hardly suggests the handsome table-top, gourmet and seasonal items the company specializes in, from dishes and flatware to small lamps. But Baltimore can see for itself when the 43rd Crate & Barrel store opens in Towson Town Center at the end of March. The cheap lumber and recycled crates will be suggested but not duplicated in the highly designed interior of the new store. "It will be a very light, clean, very warm, comfortable place to shop," says Bette Kahn, head of public relations.

Those who know Crate & Barrel through its catalog will be glad for a local source for its products, which are well-designed, a good value and often exclusive. You can find a gift in almost any price range, from $5 on up. And an added bonus: Many people, says Ms. Kahn, like the looks of Crate & Barrel's distinctive gift box too much to wrap it.

Get ready for color in the '90s, which according to the experts will be lighter, cleaner and under white's influence. Margaret Walch, associate director of the Color Association of the United States, puts it in practical terms: "Think of a lighter version of your favorite color. It will look contemporary, even in a traditional setting." If you like blue, for instance, choose pale aqua.

Linda Thompson of Pallas Textiles is one of the people who produces the annual color forecast for the association. She says that lighter neutrals will be prevalent in fabrics, paints and wallcoverings for the 1993-'94 season. "Darker tones will be like accessories."

Think the word hasn't reached local designers yet? Think againAsked what colors will be important for spring, Arleen Dvorine of Dvorine Associates responds immediately: Neutrals will continue to be strong for a timeless look, she says. She'll be using lots of white on white, especially in damask patterning. Last April a photograph styled by local floral designer Eleanor Whitin appeared on the cover of Southern Accents. It featured an antique wrought-iron bench owned by a friend of hers, which looked so wonderful she decided to find a blacksmith who could replicate it. Now she and her partner, Jeannie Oster, are selling the reproduction at Whitin & Oster, their shop in the Kenilworth Bazaar.

The handmade benches -- along with chairs and glass-topped tables using the same decorative elements -- are part of a limited edition; each is signed, dated and numbered. They've been rustproofed and can be painted any color the customer wants. The bench sells for $1,200; the chairs, $975; and the tables, $375 and $650.

Whitin & Oster opened in Kenilworth last November. The main business of this unusual shop is floral design (fresh, dried and silk); but it also sells dried moss animals, brightly painted bird houses, picture frames, striking placemats and napkins. The partners are planning to hold workshops conducted by local craftspeople and "Meet the Artist" evenings, featuring painters who exhibit in the shop.

Call (410) 823-0749 for more information.

No, it's not science fiction for gardeners. "Landscape Plants for the Twenty-First Century" is a resource book for anyone interested in environmentally friendly plants. These are plants that require fewer pesticides because they're more insect- and disease-resistant. They can handle urban pollution and widely varying water conditions.

The U.S. National Arboretum is a leading developer of improved plants through its program of hybridization. Sixty-five of these elite shrubs and trees are described in the booklet, which is available for $7.50 plus $1.50 shipping and handling through the Friends of the National Arboretum.

"The increased hardiness [of these plants] means this is low-maintenance gardening," says Erik Neumann, author of the booklet and head of education and public services for the arboretum.

For your copy of "Landscape Plants for the Twenty-First Century," which includes 30 color photographs, send a check or money order to Friends of the National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002. For more information, call (202) 544-8733.

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