Laura Ashley in TowsonThose who miss the Laura Ashley...

ON THE HOME FRONT

May 23, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Laura Ashley in Towson

Those who miss the Laura Ashley store that closed in Harborplace will be glad to know that a new one is opening in Towson Town Center in July. You'll find it on the fourth level next to Cachet near Nordstrom. At the same time the company will be celebrating its 40th anniversary, and the anniversary home furnishings collection for fall-winter should be in the stores by August.

The anniversary collection's fabrics, wall coverings and borders are recreations of early designs or are from previously unpublished designs in Laura Ashley's archives. The colors, which are coordinated with fabrics from the summer collection, are cowslip yellow, emperor blue, russet and smoke blue, all on an ivory background.

Laura Ashley is credited by many for the enduring popularity of the English country look. After 40 years her ideas are right in step with design trends today: her love of natural fabrics and nature themes, the nostalgia of her collections and the importance of simplicity and comfort.

If you like the look and don't want to wait until the new store opens in July, Laura Ashley has just introduced its first international home furnishings catalog. Call (800) 367-2000 for more information. Ah, spring. Right about now you may be thinking how nice it would be to have a new deck built. Or redo your kitchen. Or add a downstairs bathroom. It may not be romantic, but enough people's fancies turn to home improvement in the spring that the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland has designated May Home Remodeling Month.

The council is offering a Home Remodeling Guide free to anyone who calls (410) 265-7400. The slender booklet offers guidelines on selecting a contractor, planning a remodeling project and working in the framework of a contract. It includes a glossary of terms and a checklist of documents you need before you start any project.

Here, for instance, is how you find the net loan value, an estimate of how much work you can do with a home equity loan:

Estimate the value of your home after the work is done.

Subtract 20 percent.

Subtract your first mortgage balance.

The result is your net loan value.

Slip the sofa into something comfortable, like maybe unbleached muslin

If your mother had her sofa slipcovered, it was probably in a tailored style that was very much like upholstery. But the newest slipcovers are loose, natural, neutral and casual. Some New York designers, for instance, are using unbleached muslin as the fabric of choice.

You'll see these slipcovers everywhere in current home design magazines and decorator show houses. They have a wonderfully summery feel. The Sonoma County home highlighted in June's House Beautiful is just one example of the new style: Chairs throughout the house are covered in loose-fitting, rumpled, off-white linen.

Closer to home, the Gothic Revival room in the Symphony Decorator Show House, which closes today, features several examples. "The industry as a whole is showing very loose, almost sloppy slipcovers," says Eugene Montgomery of T. L. Knisely Interiors, the firm that decorated the room. Terry Knisely points out that the oversized look originated in Europe. "Some furniture manufacturers are even offering slipcovers with new sofas," he says. "For a couple of hundred dollars extra you have a whole different look for summer and winter."

Want to start small? The current Crate and Barrel catalog has a director's chair slipcover and cushion in white cotton canvas for $44.95. The fastest growing class of roses today is miniatures -- and for good reason, says local consulting rosarian Albert Ford. Miniature roses are extremely hardy and disease-resistant, can be grown inside or out in pots and are loaded with blooms. The flowers are usually about 1-1 1/4 inches across.

Five new miniatures have won the American Rose Society Award of Excellence for 1993. The new varieties voted most vigorous and beautiful are Billie Teas (scarlet blooms), Boomerang (red and white), Child's Play (white with a delicate pink edge), Kristin (white and carmine) and Palmetto Sunrise (orange with a yellow reverse).

If you want to see some award-winning miniatures, two local shows are coming up. The Chesapeake Rose Society is sponsoring an exhibit of miniatures exclusively on Saturday at North Plaza Mall, open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. The Maryland Rose Society will have a show June 5 at Towson Marketplace noon to 6 p.m., where about half the exhibits will be miniature roses.

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