Modern Italian in the house


September 30, 2001|By Julie Klavens | Julie Klavens,Sun Staff

"I wanted to bring to Washington the concept of moderna, fine contemporary Italian furniture produced by companies with enduring reputations," says Peruvian-born architect and interior designer Deborah Kalkstein. With the opening of Contemporaria, her sleek and elegant home furnishings store, she has succeeded.

Contemporaria offers the best of modern, showcasing wares by virtuoso design firms such as Minotti, Pierantonio Bonacina, Halifax, Paola Lenti, Casa Milano and Album, as well as Woodnotes paper rugs from Finland, lighting by FAD of France and Foscarini of Italy, and bedding by Matteo.

"Livable design is like wearing jeans with an Armani jacket -- it's all about ... adding [beautiful objects] to the real mix of your life," Kalkstein says.

In keeping with her philosophy of working with a client to create a design that can evolve over time, Kalkstein offers complimentary in-store design services.

Contemporaria, at 4926 Del Ray Ave. in Bethesda, 301-913-9602, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; and noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays.

Earth activism hits home

Danny Seo's transformation -- from activist wunderkind (as a teen-ager, he founded the national Earth 2000 youth conservation group) into a 20-something powerhouse who, according to his Web site, "is a frequent guest" on television talk shows -- may give one pause, but his book, Conscious Style Home: Eco-Friendly Living for the 21st Century is worth reading.

Seo suggests products and projects for those who want beautiful surroundings but not at the expense of the environment. He combines theory and practice, and has transformed his parents' suburban Pennsylvania home, once heavy on orange velvet upholstery, into a stylish, peaceful haven.

The before and after pictures are a treat, and the book contains an abundance of facts and suggestions. To list a few: Seo reminds readers that a wealth of recycled materials (even cashmere) are available, and notes instances in which longer-lasting materials might serve better than recycled options; advises on disposal of big items (flooring, mattresses); offers simple and economical tips for increasing the energy efficiency of one's appliances; and suggests alternatives to down that are cruelty-free, allergen-resistant and machine washable.

Conscious Style Home, published by St. Martin's Press, is available for $29.95 at area bookstores. -- J. K.

Table pieces show the season

For some, autumn is synonymous with harvest and the true bounty of the year: apples, winter squash, kale, cauliflower, beets, nuts and parsnips, among others, are or soon will be in abundance.

Whether you're a gardener who wants to show off the fruits of your labor, or a brown-thumber who nonetheless wants an indoor reminder of the harvest, Sur La Table offers serving and decorative pieces to suit the season: glazed stoneware bud vases (eggplant, 6" tall, $39.95; zucchini, 9" tall, $29.95; squash, 7" tall, $29.95); a zucchini blossom serving dish, 11" in diameter and 4" deep, $59.95; and apple orchard plates, 8" in diameter (ideal for the fruit or cheese course), $16.95 for a set of 4.

For more information or to purchase, call 800-243-0852, go to, or visit the store at 5211 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. -- J. K.

Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Mary Corey, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD. 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.


* Speaking of autumnal abundance, 425 artisans are scheduled to exhibit their works at the Sugarloaf Fall Crafts Festival. The festival will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road in Timonium, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 7. Performances by musicians and storytellers are scheduled. Admission is $7 for adults and free for children younger than 12. For information and discount admission coupons, see or call 800-210-9900.

* With bathing suits safely tucked away for another eight months, giving in to temptation sounds like an excellent idea: Lexington Market will hold its 19th annual Chocolate Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11-13. Besides the obvious draw, presenters have scheduled demonstrations, games and music. Lexington Market is at 400 W. Lexington St. in Baltimore; for information, see or call 410-685-6169. -- J. K.

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