A common solution for furniture spillsWhat a shock. The...

ON THE HOME FRONT

June 13, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

A common solution for furniture spills

What a shock. The June issue of Consumer Reports rates furniture-care products, and its recommendations are sure to make the manufacturers of products like Pledge, Liquid Gold and Endust very unhappy. The most effective, lowest-priced cleaners, according to the magazine? Water (a damp rag or sponge) is rated tops. It cleans most spills and fingerprints from wood furniture with modern finishes. For tougher cleaning, a combination of all-purpose cleaner (such as Pine Power) and water works very well.

If you just don't believe plain water will do it, you can save money by using Consumer Reports' "home brews." They tested just as effective as the store-bought furniture cleaners, at a fraction of the cost.

* One-quarter cup all-purpose cleaner in a gallon of water.

* One-half teaspoon light olive oil and one-quarter cup white vinegar.

* One-quarter cup walnut oil, four drops of lemon extract. (Like the supermarket products containing only oil, this doesn't work quite as well as water -- but it's just as good as the store-bought brands!)

Specialty shop is For the Birds

You might not realize it, but hummingbird season is in full swing. You'll need a hummingbird feeder -- and the nectar to fill it, of course. You'll find both at For the Birds in Ellicott City.

Perhaps you've never fed birds in your backyard, and you want to start small. For the Birds, a shop dedicated to the wild bird lover, has a window feeder for $2.99. Or there's the top of the line: an all-cedar feeder for $89, with four different feeding stations. And many, many choices in between.

"Once you start feeding them, you'll be hooked," promises Edwin White, who along with Douglas Palmer owns the shop. Bulk "gourmet" seeds are sold in whiskey barrels; you'll also find birdhouses, birdbaths, tapes, binoculars, garden sculpture that you can put seed in, videos and themed gift items such as stationery.

For the Birds, located in Ellicott City's historic district, opened recently at 8241 Main St., (410) 418-8969. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

With Father's Day coming up next Sunday, consider a gift from the Fountain Pen Hospital of Baltimore. Owner Michael Quitt doesn't just heal sick pens, he also sells restored antiques. This is where you can get your dad a pre-ballpoint, pre-cartridge fountain pen.

"All are restored and all work," says Mr. Quitt. "As opposed to going into an antique store and finding something that's beautiful but might not work."

His pens were made before the '50s, some as long ago as the early 1900s. They cost from $20 up to $100. All fill with levers, not cartridges.

Mr. Quitt is also part-owner of a company that produces patient-education videos for doctors. "But I just love pens," he says. He started to collect them, then to repair them for other collectors and stores. Finally he decided to go into business for himself buying, selling and restoring fountain pens.

The Fountain Pen Hospital is located in Keepers at 222 W. Read St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call (410) 664-3042 or 783-0330 for more information.

Opposites attract. That may not be news, but it's one of the hottest trends in home decorating, says Marian McEvoy, editor in chief of Elle Decor. Wit and not grandeur is in these days. You could, for instance, redo cushions for wicker in silk, or cover a gilded Louis XVI fauteuil in straw cloth. You'll create something that looks fresh and new; the result is a witty room.

That's all very well for New York, but is anyone doing such things in Baltimore?

Yes, says Charlene O'Malley of Gaines McHale Antiques. People want elegance, she says, but they want it toned down, lovely and touchable. Case in point: two French bergere chairs, circa 1870, that Gaines McHale upholstered in a contemporary plaid raw silk.

Yes, says Ted Pearson of Rita St. Clair Associates. At Findings Collections by Rita St. Clair you can find a sofa with a black art deco frame upholstered in an old, highly patterned kilim rug. As a focal point, "It's a good way to blend old and new furniture elsewhere in the room," says Mr. Pearson.

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