Parlez-vous poster?One of the largest collections of...

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January 11, 1998|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Parlez-vous poster?

One of the largest collections of antique French posters in the world is on display at Gaines McHale Antiques & Home in Federal Hill (836 Leadenhall St., 410-625-1900). The 500 or so posters include works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret, Villemot and Picasso. They come in all styles, sizes and price ranges, from art deco posters for around $200 to what may be the most famous poster in the world, Toulouse-Lautrec's "Moulin Rouge," for $225,000. Call the showroom for information about free seminars on the history of antique French posters, their investment value and the artists.

Budding folk artists will want to try their hand at these clever screen-painting kits produced by Busy Bodies, Kits for Kids. Each contains materials for two painted screens: paints and paint brush, two 8-by-10-inch matted window screens, patterns, instructions, tips and the story of screen painting.

Busy Bodies is a local company that creates activity kits rooted in Maryland's history and folk arts. The screen-painting kits sell for $10 and are available at Greetings & Readings, Hometown Girl, the American Visionary Arts Museum, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and the Maryland Historical Society. As winter settles in for good, here are some ideas for creating warm and cozy rooms, intimate without being claustrophobic.

* Use rich spice colors and soft textures, says Judith Rose of Textillery Weavers, makers of woven accessories. "A velvety throw transforms a chair into a reading nook."

* Create soft, diffused lighting with fabric shades in earth tones. The trend is moving away from plain white shades, according to Mitch Marcus of the Harris Marcus Group, makers of lamps and lighting fixtures.

* Make the fireplace the focus of your living room, suggests the Home Furnishings Council. Position chairs and an ottoman nearby.

* Oversized pillows in deep colors and rich materials are a relatively inexpensive way to make a room cozier.

* Slipcovers can change with the seasons. Use washed velvet or chenille in the winter; change to cotton duck in the summer.

A People United, at 516 N. Charles St. and Towson Commons, has started carrying home furnishings and decorative accessories to complement its lines of ethnic clothing, jewelry and gifts. (This is the Baltimore-based company that aims to create economic opportunities for women in developing countries.)

The shops now carry pottery in vibrant colors, tapestries, pillow covers and outdoor furniture from India; African artifacts like masks and statues; and hand-woven rugs from Nepal. Or you can design your own rug, which will then be made in India. (But you'll have to be patient; it takes about six months.)

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