Home Front

HOME FRONT

September 01, 2002|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Extra-credit projects

Another school year is under way, and students of all ages need inviting places to study. Debbie Travis of The Painted House television series offers some suggestions in her new book, Debbie Travis' Painted House Kids Rooms: More Than 80 Innovative Projects From Cradle to College (Clarkson Potter, 2002, $19.95).

A clever paint job transforms a hollow-core door and sawhorses into a desk top with enough room for a computer, printer, books and notebooks. For a truly cool look, Travis offers step-by-step instructions for giving the desk surface the sheen and color of an iceberg. The rough sawhorses look fine when finished with metallic paint.

Meanwhile, an ordinary lampshade gets a dose of funky style with the addition of a white feather boa, while white and cream bathmats are sewn together for a cozy and relatively inexpensive nonslip rug.

Kids Rooms is available from bookstores and online book sellers.

A playful attitude

Every student needs recess and rejuvenation. And what better way to fire the imagination than a fanciful playhouse? San Francisco artist and builder Barbara Butler has combined construction and painting skills with whimsical creativity to build a company specializing in "outdoor rooms" that spark the imagination.

Her playhouses feature secret hiding places, escape doors, rock-climbing towers, turrets and even flying bridges, along with more traditional play devices like swings and slides.

A Butler creation is an investment -- portable models begin at around $3,400 for a small Cozy Cabin playhouse, and many structures are custom-designed for much higher fees. But at least one client found that a pair of "Napa Valley chalets" for his preteen daughters alleviated the need for an addition on his house.

More information and a wide selection of Butler designs are available at www.BarbaraButler.com. Or call 415-864-6840.

Problem solvers

Kids' rooms typically serve as both sleeping space and study area, putting a premium on furnishings that can serve more than one purpose. The Container Store's Mag Table is an artful piece crafted from seven-ply European birch. It works well as a night table or end table, a stool or even a lap desk. The side pocket holds magazines or notebooks.

The Mag Table sells for $149 and is available in birch or walnut veneer. For more information, visit www.containerstore.com.

Umbra's Cross Pod is another example of creative design, consisting of interlocking pieces that can be used separately or together in several different ways. It's a side table, a desk and seat, or just an ottoman -- depending on your whim. Made of high-density foam, the pod comes in charcoal and red washable colors. It sells for $150.

For more information, visit www.umbra.com.

Events

* Ladew Topiary Gardens will hold a Children's Day Sept. 8 from noon to 5 p.m. There will be a variety of live entertainment inside and out for children of all ages, including animated musical performances, magic, face painting. Ladew is at 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton. For more information, call 410-557-9570.

* Baltimore Clayworks will feature noted ceramic sculptor Yih-Wen Kuo and two artists of his choosing, Anita Powell and Joseph Kress, in the exhibit One Invites Two. The exhibition runs from Thursday through Oct. 2, with an opening reception Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

After the reception, Yih-Wen Kuo will give a slide lecture, sharing his work and influences. For more information or to register for the lecture, call 410-578-1919. The exhibition and reception is open to the public. The lecture is free to members, $5 for nonmembers. The gallery is at 5707 Smith Ave. in Mt. Washington.

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.

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