Old cases for new componentsWhen is a computer center more...



Old cases for new components

When is a computer center more than a computer center? When it's an antique English bowfront armoire converted by Gaines McHale Antiques & Home to home-office use. The concept is simple: office furniture that doesn't look like office furniture, but fits in seamlessly with a home's decor.

The piece's interior panels are replaced with modern substitutes, to accommodate a computer. The handcrafted conversions can be reversed to restore the furniture to its original state.

Besides converting antiques, Gaines McHale craftsmen have built new home-office pieces from antique wood -- bookcases and cabinets as well as computer centers.

Both the antique home-office pieces and the newly constructed furniture can be seen at Gaines McHale's showroom, 836 Leadenhall St. in South Baltimore. Call (410) 625-1900 for more information.

At the newly opened Amazing Glaze (925 S. Charles St.), you can have the fun of creating your own hand-painted pottery without a huge investment in supplies and equipment. You pick out a piece from more than 100 styles and paint it with the shop's brushes, paints, stencils and sponges. Owner Stephanie Levin (below) takes it from there. Within a week, she glazes and fires your piece in one of her two kilns.

You buy the unfinished ceramic, from $3 for a tile to $50 for a large Etruscan-style vase. Then you pay $6 for the first hour or less of actual painting; the $6-an-hour fee is pro-rated after that. Reservations are taken for six or more ([410] 539-3699). Otherwise, just walk in.

Garden writer and television personality Pat Welsh predicts that what she calls "21st century formal" will be the garden style of the future. "The greatest formality of design with the greatest informality of planting" is how she describes it, according to the National Garden Bureau.

Her predictions include:

Topiary with playful shapes

A continued interest in color, even garish color

"Area rug" designs formed from low, colorful plants

"Island beds" that float in the middle of a lawn

The increased use of containers of all sorts, clipped hedges, benches, ornaments and statues, ponds and fountains, hanging baskets, pergolas and rockeries.

In the past you may have noticed those tall, spiky stems that add height to floral arrangements but are rarely the star of the show. Now, however, florists are finding a hot market for liatris stems by themselves, because customers are becoming intrigued by less usual blooms. You can grow these perennials, which flower in late summer, if you can offer them well-drained soil and sun or light shade. Besides being a good cut flower, liatris dries beautifully, retaining its bright colors.

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