If you have a hard time casting off old furniture, don't feel guilty. Take a good look at your extra pieces and find a way to transform them into something you'll find useful.
Glidden Paint suggests that a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a stained or scratched dresser or even help you put your own mark on a table that never quite fit with the rest of your things.
When you've chosen your piece, lightly wash it in a mild solution of soap and water. Apply an undercoat of paint in a neutral color such as white and allow it to dry before applying a second coat. Now you're ready for some bright, bold colors, or for decorative motifs.
Next, think about how you want the room to feel, whether bold and dramatic or calm and serene. Then plan your color scheme and go to it. Remember, you can always repaint.
If your favorite high-tech graduate seems to have it all, Mont Blanc might have the perfect upgrade -- the first designer Palm stylus. Using the precision and flair that made Mont Blanc pens icons of good design, the company has come up with gold-plated or platinum-plated styluses, both retailing for $45.
Several steps up the luxury chain, the company is also offering the diamond-studded Royal Stylus. It's available in stainless steel for $1,465, in solid gold for $2,930 or solid platinum for $3,910.
The styluses are available at the Mont Blanc boutique at 1006 Connecticut Ave. NW in Washington. For information: 202-466-5001 or www.montblanc.com.
Swing and snore
If you're looking for a gift that will help Dad relax on a lazy summer day, L.L. Bean's Hatteras Hammock would be a fine choice. This season, Bean is offering the hammock in the original cotton as well as a new soft-spun polyester version. The polyester not only retains its shape but also resists mold and bacteria. Dad will love it -- and so will the rest of the family.
The hammock is available in three sizes. Medium (the smallest) sells for $99. Large is $119, and extra-large is priced at $129. Order from L.L. Bean or 800-221-4221 or at www.llbean.com.
Know your weeds
This time of year, when gardens have reawakened, you're sure to find some surprises, usually known as weeds. But as wise gardeners know, weeds are merely plants out of place.
Before you purge those strangers, you might want to consult Weeds: Friend or Foe? An Illustrated Guide to Identifying, Taming and Using Weeds, by Sally Roth (Readers Digest Books, 2002, $24.95).
Not every weed is worth a fight, Roth cautions. Some are good ornamentals, others can be harvested for salads, and many "weeds" could find a useful home in your medicine cabinet.
And, yes, some are just a nuisance. Knowing the difference, or having enough information to decide for yourself, can help you make the most of your garden -- and your time.
Available at bookstores or from online booksellers.
* Baltimore Clayworks is presenting its annual exhibit of student works from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through June 9 in the center's gallery, 5707 Smith Ave. in Mount Washington. For information: 410-578-1919.
* Children are invited to join in a celebration of the fruits of spring in the Strawberry Ceremony from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Irvine Nature Center, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson. Naturalist Monica Wiedel will discuss Native American legends associated with the tradition of harvest celebrations. Children may also search for wild strawberries and taste strawberry treats. $8 for ages 5 and up with an adult; $5 for donors. Register by Thursday by calling 410-484-2413.
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Liz Atwood, 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.