These days, even upholstered furniture can be purchased in...


May 08, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff Writer

These days, even upholstered furniture can be purchased in 0) pieces

Whoever invented ready-to-assemble (otherwise known as RTA) furniture surely didn't imagine that one day consumers would be putting together their own upholstered sofas. RTA has traditionally been the fast food of the furniture industry -- quickly available, mobile and value-priced. Companies such as Ikea have made their reputations on furnishings you take home in a box and put together yourself.

Now some of the industry's biggest names have entered the field. Drexel Heritage and Lexington, for instance, introduced upholstered RTA furniture at this spring's International Home Furnishings Market.

Lexington's Ensemble sofas, chairs and love seats have the comfort and style of traditional upholstered pieces; but each piece comes in three boxes and can be put together in three minutes -- without tools!

Almost everything has become collectible these days, but not all collections are created equal. Here are the 10 hottest collectibles, according to Molly Culbertson, editor-in-chief of Country Home magazine.

* Old textiles. Hand-sewn quilts, hooked rugs, Pendleton blankets, vintage cotton fabrics.

* Christmas memorabilia. Antique ornaments of glass and tin, folk art Santas and nutcrackers, tree lights.

* Miniature architectural structures. Old bird houses, cages, model toy buildings, blocks.

* Folk art furniture. Also twig furniture, furniture with cowboy motifs and tramp art.

* Folk art animal figures or paintings.

* Native American artifacts. Pottery, baskets and textiles -- not necessarily antiques.

* Old sporting equipment. Fishing gear, decoys and sports clothing.

* Old toys. Trains, stuffed animals and toy furniture.

* Garden ornaments. Stone capitals, weather vanes, lawn figures and old watering cans.

* Fraternal society artifacts. Items from groups such as the Masons and the Improved Order of Redmen.

Gardening is supposed to be a relaxing outdoor hobby, but seasonal allergies can make it pure misery. If you work at limiting exposure to problem pollens, however, you can make yard work and gardening much more bearable.

Pollen counts are highest before 10 a.m., so avoid early-morning gardening. They tend to rise again as the sun sets. Pollen counts are highest on warm, sunny days and lowest on cool, cloudy days or after rainfall. You may have to wear a mask to filter airborne allergens.

Choose bee-pollinated rather than wind-pollinated trees, plants and shrubs for your yard. The good news is that the more colorful plants and flowers, such as pansies, tulips and azaleas, are usually bee-pollinated.

Don't let grass grow higher than two inches, and keep Bermuda grass at bay. It's highly allergenic. Check your yard frequently to make sure highly allergenic weeds (such as ragweed and nettle) aren't proliferating.

You can get a free color brochure called "Health in Bloom: The Allergy Sufferer's Garden Guide" by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to P.O. Box 731, Radio City Station, New York, NY 10101-0731.

Last year Robert Gruber opened a store on Howard Street with an unusual concept: to help women's cooperatives around the world by selling their unusual and beautiful handcrafts, including blankets, bedspreads, rugs, paintings and small pieces of furniture. Each year, Mr. Gruber travels to rural villages and towns looking for well-managed cooperatives with quality products. He also works directly with the groups to help them create more salable designs.

Now his shop, A People United, has moved to 516 N. Charles St. Buying your gifts, accessories and clothing here directly helps the women of countries such as Nepal, India, Guatemala and Thailand, and also helps their communities indirectly. (Frequently the women in these cooperatives are the most destitute and disabled in their communities.)

A People United is open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Call (410) 727-4470 for more information.

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