Lifestyle deluxeThe harbingers are everywhere - creme...

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August 30, 1998|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

Lifestyle deluxe

The harbingers are everywhere - creme brulee on dessert trays, high-thread-count sheets in department stores, espresso machines in home kitchens. Living in the lap of luxury is back in style. Rich colors, rich textures and rich finishes abound in the pages of the so-called "shelter" magazines. The September issue of House & Garden is devoted to "a time for luxury."

"People are spending a lot of money on their homes, and they're spending a lot more time in them," says Brooke Stoddard, senior editor of House & Garden. "Once you start spending more time there, you pay more attention to details."

Luxury is more than a matter of money, she says. "People have loosened up a bit. Luxury doesn't have to be status-oriented; it can be very personal."

Among H&G's suggested late-'90s luxuries and how to get them:

* A super-comfortable chair to curl up in - an overstuffed, tufted red velvet chair by Jacques Grange for John Widdicomb ($3,850; call 800-847-9433).

* The smell of freshly dried clothes - a "drying lawn," a protected grassy place where you can put up an old-fashioned clothesline and air-dry laundry.

* Big, generous napkins, in 24- or 36-inch squares. Check out imports at upscale linen shops, or make your own from luxury drapery scraps from an outlet store.

Lavish use of color lends luxury to the rooms in the September House Beautiful, from the 1940s Paris flat of designer Roberto Bergero, where aubergine and lilac contrast with greens from acid to apple, to the Louisville, Ky., Victorian home where designer Todd Klein used clear but muted shades of sage and cream shot with accents of bright yellow and navy.

Looking for an unusual wedding, birthday, graduation or hostess gift? Potter Nancy Bodmer creates hand-thrown personalized plates with folk-art-style decorations, names and commemorative dates. The plates, which cost $35 for a small size (7 inches) and $55 for a large (10 inches), are available at Bodmer's Stoves and Pottery, 3532 Buckeystown Road, Buckeystown, Md. 21717. For more information, call 301-662-0777.

The Annapolis-based design firm of Niermann Weeks, which opened a showroom in the Fine Arts Building in New York in May, is opening another showroom at the Washington Design Center in early September. The firm, which specializes in antiques-inspired metal and wood furniture and decorative objects, has also recently expanded its offerings with a line of upholstered sofas, chairs and ottomans designed by Joe Niermann, and a line of luxury fabrics called Bespoke. Niermann Weeks products are sold only to the trade, so get in touch with the company through interior designers.

With rainfall below normal in a lot of places, it's time to take a look at your trees and see if they are showing signs of stress. The International Society of Arboriculture says drooping leaves, shedding of leaves while they're still green, and leaf fading or changes to fall coloration are indications that a tree is in trouble. The society recommends watering twice a week by soaker hose or drip irrigation around the outside edge of the root crown, just inside the foliage. Don't water the leaves, and don't water only at the base of the trunk. The best time to water is from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

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