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Designing Dilemmas October 2007

Two Story Window

Dear Debbie: Our front 2-story foyer has a high Palladium window that faces the afternoon and evening sun. We want an elegant swooping curtain with a rope that hangs down that enables opening or closing, but we don't know if this is appropriate or if there is such a thing. Scott

Dear Scott: Yes, you can have any window treatment you want, for decorative purposes, on your foyer's Palladium window. A full drapery that swoops to one side and puddles on the floor, tied back with a long decorative cord, would be a formal, elegant and decorative solution that would soften the foyer, add color and add softness to the window.

But this is not a practical solution for light control.

Adjusting this window treatment every evening would take lots of primping and that hardly makes this a "working" solution for the window. The curtain would also puddle on the floor, making it more likely to be stepped on and/or damaged. Use this as a "fixed" or stationary window covering that is purely decorative and not intended to provide light control or privacy in the foyer.

To cover the window, consider something that will come down and give light control only when needed and then hide away and expose the window when not in use. I would recommend a hard-wired shade that works with a wall switch, giving you easy control and access. You can even install a wall timer that will automatically lower and raise the shade at pre-set times of the day. The shade can be very simple- from a single, flat piece of material to a honeycomb style shade that provides light control, insulation and protection from the fading effects of UV rays. These shades are available in varying degrees of opaqueness and can be made to fit any size or shape of window, so fitting your Palladium window is no problem. Check locally for custom window covering retailers and manufacturers to have this done in your home.

Cat-Proof Cases

Dear Debbie: I was wondering if you can recommend a bookcase that would be scratch resistant. I have six cats and they have ruined my cherry wood bookcase and mahogany dresser. Caroline

Dear Caroline: Laminated bookcases would be a good choice for you. Imagine a Formica countertop, once the standard in kitchens and bathrooms. These hardwearing surfaces are far more resistant to scratching, staining and moisture than wood and wood veneer surfaces used in most readily available furniture. Best of all, laminated materials come in all colors, wood grains and even in finishes resembling rice paper and other organic textures. I use them for making kid furniture and they really do hold up to heavy wear and tear.

Where to purchase ready-made laminated bookcases is a harder question to answer. You may have to go custom. Call a couple of closet companies, cabinet and furniture builders. California Closets, a national closet company, for example, offers laminated surfaces in several colors as well as dark and light wood grains. The wood finishes look almost real, but run your fingernail on them and you'll see for yourself how durable these finishes really are.

Compare materials, quality and pricing among several local sources. All will have a variety of colors and wood grains and some will offer textured surfaces as well. You can specify height, depth and details, such as crown mouldings, shelf thickness and whether you want to add closed cabinet bases under adjustable open shelving, to maximize your bookcase storage. Which ever source you go with, it's the laminated surface that will give your bookcases lasting style that will hold up to cats and kids.

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