The Washington Post

Home Front: Design ideas from Jura Koncius and guest Deborah Wiener

Jul 01, 2010

Washington Post Local Living section writer Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss.

Today's guest is Deborah Wiener, whose Silver Spring interior design business is called Designing Solutions, specializes in decorating for messy families. Wiener has lots of ideas for furnishing homes to withstand the wear and tear of daily life. She will share tips and tell us about hew new line of furniture, 'Slobproof!,' that is durable and stain resistant.

Hi, Debbie Wiener, who is an expert on decorating for kids and pets and slobs, is here with us. She has even designed a line of furniture for these folks. Her book will be the price for the best question! Let's go!

For Deborah Weiner: Do you have any tips for messy families?

I have so many, from choosing furniture, to carpeting to window I wrote a book about it.  It's called "Slobproof!: Real Life Design Solutions" and you can purchase it on either of my websites: or

I am looking for a place to buy other than run-of-the-mill curtain/drapery panels. Any suggestions?

I just purchased silk drapery panels from Restoration Hardware for one of my clients.  I am so impressed with their quality- they're beautifully lined so they hang nicely.  Best of all, they will send you small fabric samples so you can see before you buy.

For my next home project I want to recover our kitchen chairs. With two boys under six I am thinking of using the sunbrella fabrics or do you have a different recommendation? Thanks

Sunbrella is one option, but I prefer Crypton, which is what I use in my own Slobproof! furniture line.  Crypton comes with a permanent moisture barrier, so it's anti-microbial and odor-free.  It's warranted for a five full years.  Want to see how it performs?  I have video on my website- that shows kids, pets and adults making a mess on the fabric, with mustard, ketchup and chocolate sauce..and then I come in like superwoman and clean it all up with a little dish soap and a sponge.

I live in a narrow rowhouse in Baltimore - it's 14 feet wide. Any ideas as to how to choose furniture to keep it as light and airy as possible (it does have high ceilings). The floorplans are basically such that you can see one end of the house to the other. Also, we have a lot of "stuff" that needs to be contained. Creative ideas for containing said stuff in such a narrow space? Thanks!

I would look for seating on legs, to keep it light and airy feeling and lots of tall wall shelving to help de-clutter and store your belongings.  With such tall ceilings, you can use pendant lighting that hangs from the ceiling instead of table lamps- which will free up table space.  If you use coffee tables, try to use glass tops so that you can see the floor underneath- again- giving the appearance of more space.

I'm pregnant and my husband and I have decided to paint our little boy's room green. I've begun to obsess about the paint color and pregnancy isn't helping me make a decision. Any recommendations on a BM color green would be greatly appreciated. I would prefer a light green that can easily coordinate with other colors, like blue. Thanks so much!

My favorite light greens from BM are:


1.  Pale Sea Mist # 2147-50

2.  Fernwood Green # 2145-40

3. Hancock Green # HC-117


One of these should work just fine.


THANK YOU! Thank you, thank you, for returning to the old format to show House Calls on line. For the last few weeks I felt I wasn't able to see anything.

You are so welcome.

Hi Jura and Deborah! Quick paint color question-- the tiles in our bathroom are tan, darker taupe, and navy. Countertop is white. Currently the walls are a boring pale blue. There's a great piece of artwork in the room that has a lot of sea-green shades in it. Can you think of an appropriate paint color to enliven the place? Is there a rich sea-green that would be sophisticated and not too tropical or theme-y? Thanks!

Have you looked at Benjamin Moore's Dill Pickle or Jalepeno Pepper?  they both look great with dark blues and taupe and would defintely add some sophisticated "pop" to your bathroom.

Does anyone know of any good sales on furniture, fabrics or accessories going on this  holiday weekend?

I want to get a leather sectional because my chlld has allergies. What do you suggest that would be durable and somewhat fashionable? I don't want it to look like a Barcalounger.

I only use one leather source- American Leather- out of Dallas Tx.  They have a great website- and no, they do not pay me for this kind of an endorsement at all!  What I love about their stuff is that they offer a fabulous "protected" leather that's impervious to staining or scratching.  You could run it through your dishwasher and it would come out looking brand new!  How's that for kid-proof leather?  I use them all the time and clients love the product.

I have noticed that roll-up woven wood blinds are now popular. Some pull up like a Roman shade. Others roll up the front. What is the difference on a practical basis? Which do you like?

I prefer roman shades- or folding- woven wood blinds.  The material is thick and I think rolling it up results in it looking uneven and a bit messy.  Folding it up gives a neater look when the material is so thick and irregular. I love these shades- so go for it.

Hi Jura, love the chats! Submitting early...I am trying to find good quality cushions for an old-fashioned metal glider sofa and chair -- ones that will hold their shape, and wear well. I'm currently out of the area, so would need to be able to order on-line. Any ideas? Thanks much!

Just about any fabric/upholstery store, like Calico Corners or Joanne's should be able to help make a custom seat cushion for you.  However, if it is meant to be left outside on the glider, let the upholsterer know so they can use the appropriate stuffing.

Any suggestions for keeping towels & bath products neat looking in a new bathroom. I have tried baskets and large hooks to hang wet towels but it always seems like there is never enough space to neatly store them.

Interestingly enough, I was just at a beautiful mountain home in the Poconos that we will feature on July 15. Designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey has decorated the bathrooms with her guests in mind using large apothecary jars to store soaps, Q-tips and cotton balls. You can find that at Room Service Home  ( She got small end tables with shelves and stacked towels in them. She has also used big baskets to put in rolled up towels. Another tip is to hang small shelves in the corner of the bathroom and put wicker trays in them to hold shampoos and hair care items.  Having a lot of sturdy hooks for wet towels is always a good idea.

I really like the great articles you've been publishing on organizing our homes, clutter and hoarding. Keep it up!

Thanks so much. We have been getting good feedback on this so we plan to do more of them. Lots of people are dealing with busy lives and too much clutter and looking for solutions.

How did you get into the slob business?

Oh how I love these kind of questions!  I married into it, pure and simple.  And I originally fought my husband all the time on his messes to the point where it was ruining our marriage.  I mean, name me a husband who will cook dinner for his wife if all she can see is the mess, rather than the romantic meal.  So I had to change- and I wanted to do it without the use of prescription drugs.  Out went everything he could destroy and in came the durable, cleanable furnishings.  He's still a slob- will always be..but now every mess cleans up in a snap or is camouflaged by well chosen materials and colors.  23 years of married  bliss, two kids and one vomiting dog later- it worked!

I am about to have about a month off and plan to spend a good chunk of that time cleaning and reorganizing our 2 bedroom condo. I can sometimes get carried away with such projects or feel that they are completely overwhelming. I go in fits and spurts and am coming off of a couple months of neglect. How to pace myself on this project to keep myself sane? We have a cleaning lady, so the place is not a total wreck. We just have too much stuff! Also, it would be good if I could do this in a productive way that will not drive my husband totally nuts. He'll have to help in organizing some of his boxes, but of course, he'll still be working.

You are not alone! You are making a great beginning by realizing you have a problem and want to solve it and taking the time to do it. I would set up a schedule to start in a specific room and in a specific part of it - like closet, dresser, under bed, etc. - and divide up the job in junks. Get yourself a lot of shopping bags and label them - Donate, Toss, Giveaway, Sell at Consignment - and start filling them up. Keep only those things that mean something to you and your family and are important to you. Try and give things away to people who can use them - it  makes you feel better. Put aside things that are your husband's and work with him to declutter and sift thru them. Reward yourself with things like nice meals or a trip to a museum ( or a spa!) for treats for your hard work.  It will be totally worth it.  Look at organizing books out there too - they are inspiring.

Ikea is advertising a big sale through Monday.


For our 1st Valentine's Day my husband wrote for me 3 haikus. They are lovely. I'd like to find someone who does some type of decorative writing to combine these 3 into a piece of art that I can display. I checked etsy but didn't find anything appropriate. Would like something more than just writing them/printing them on a piece of paper and framing it (I can do that!). Any suggestions?

What about calligraphy? Also have you been to Paper Source in Georgetown? They have amazing solutions for things like this.

What types of paint (flat, satin, semi-gloss, etc.) do you recommend for various areas of the house (living room, dining room, bedrooms, baths) to withstand wear, fingerprints, etc. And, do you have any suggestions for a "warm" gray to paint a bathroom with white tile?

I used to use wall paints with a slight sheen- like eggshell- but I have changed with the new technology in paint.  I really prefer flat wall paint because it hides surface imperfections and I prefer satin or eggshell trim- it's just more subtle.  Today's paint is all scrubbable and many lines make paints just for wet areas like bathrooms (I use Benjamin Moore's Spa Paint in bathrooms)- so the finish is less important now than the formulation.


A warm gray- try BM #2120-60, White Water.  Great name for a bathroom color too!

I love today's topic since we struggle constantly to manage our paper clutter for just my husband and me. I'm redoing our guest room/office and need help with the paint color. It is currently gray and I'd like something with more lavender - between gray and lavender. My husband thinks that will end up as too purple and too girly. His first choice is a pale blue which looks too much like toothpaste to me. The room faces west and gets good light. Can you suggest a compromise that is not too much purple. (submittin early since I'll be in meetings during your chat, but I'll catch up later)

I realize that purple is a scary color for many! Check out Slipstream by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.  or Hush by C2 or Touch of Gray by Benjamin Moore.

Good morning from Boston, I live in a beautiful, classic center entry colonial home built in 1915 and have unfortunnately just found out it would take a great deal of resources to make the fireplace operable. We don't want to invest thousands of dollars at this time, but are left with a rather large, brick opening with which to look at. This particular fireplace is in the dining room. Any suggestions, other than a candle holder, to make the space attractive?

Hey Boston- I was born and raised in Belmont and we had a "decorative" fireplace in the living room that had a beautiful leafy fern in it during warm months and a stack of white birch logs in colder months.  Always looked good to me.  Another option is to use a decorative fireplace panel- usually painted with a scroll or flower motif, to cover the opening.

Good Morning, I would like to repaint my kitchen from its current awful gold color. I have oak cabinets and a dark green counter with white appliances. I cannot change the cabinets or the counters right now but would love to freshen it up a bit. Any suggestions on paint colors? The dining room right next to it is a light green and the rest of my house is pretty earthy beige type colors.

I think I would go for a neutral yellow/cream color. What about Hawthorne Yellow by Benjamin Moore?

Hi all, We have a very small (but full) bath on the main floor of our 1938 Arlington home. The sink is wall-mounted - no vanity - and the washers, etc. are shot and plumbers can no longer fix. We would like to replace it but need a sink or sink/vanity that is only 13 inches in depth (coming out from the wall) in order to clear the door - do you know a good resource or two for something like that? Even Ikea's sink/vanity combos are too deep! Thanks for the chats and for taking my question!

The last time I faced such a challenge I used Hutchison Glass in Bethesda (ask for the owner- Dan) and they made me a vanity top and sink- in tempered glass- to fit the client's space. It was gorgeous and incredibly thick, strong and durable and fit the space perfectly.

I need ideas for window treatments. Living/dining rm has a sliding glass door and a 5'x5' window next to it. Kitchen window is near those two and is 5' w x 3' h. Bedroom window is 7' w x 3' h. We are sick of the vertical line with valance look. We think we want something simple and neutral to compliment our color scheme which is BM stratton blue in living/dining rm and hawthorne yellow with yorktowne green cabinets in kitchen. Our bedroom is pale blue. Beige carpet and natural cherry furniture throughout.

The simplest thing I can think of is a roller shade...not your grandmother's roller shade- but the new models with continuous loop cords on the side for raising and lowering them and the color-matched head rails that keep the shade concealed when up and not in use.  They would fit every window- look clean and simple- and all coordinate.  It's my favorite choice when all I want is light control in a simple, unobtrusive and easy to use package.

Hi Jura and Deborah, Step one -- we have won a color compromise re our family's shared beach cottage. Our main family room is open to the kitchen and our family matriarch did finally paint the pine paneling. However, she chose the color -- a very bold one that's an overwhelming aqua (not the Caribbean blue she told us it was. The guys are pretty hysterical and want to at least paint the cabinets in the kitchen a different color. Am familiar with some great BM and SW whites but they are lobbying for a gray. Any thoughts?

Wow. You need to have more family meetings with paint chips and family votes!  I would definitely do white for the cabinets. For a beach house, it would look clean and fresh - you don't' want a gray day look!

Where are some good places to buy a rug for inside the front door? I would like one that is washable but doesn't look like woven-plastic.

Any polypropelene rug would do and I would try Ballard Designs on line.  I think they have a great selection. If you need something custom sized, look at Stanton Carpet online for colors and styles.

Do you have suggestions for how to dispose of furniture? We have a sleeper and sofa and love seat that we are going to replace but we need to get rid of the old ones first. They are functional but worn (the sofa has a small rip in the upholstery). Should we try freecycle? Other suggestions?

Yes. Freecycle or craiglist. I've heard almost any piece of furniture is removed within a day or two. There are lots of consumers out there looking for stuff for free.

For the person looking for grey/blue/purple paint, I just painted my condo and ended up with BM Winter Solstice, which is a light grey with hints of blue, and BM Englewood Cliffs, which is a darker grey with purple hints. I love them both, and both of them are mainly grey, so nobody has seen them and said they look purple!

Oh terrific. Thanks a lot. They sound perfect.

I have allergies to dust mites. I rent so I can't pull up the bedroom carpet. Could I put a washable indoor-outdoor carpet over it to keep the dust down or would that be pointless?

That won't cure your dust mite allergies but here are two helpful possibilities.

1.  Buy a true hepa filter vacuum cleaner.  The more often you vacuum, the better you'll breathe.

2.  Buy a true hepa filter room air cleaner.


My youngest son suffers from indoor allergies as you do, and these two tools have really helped him.

Cleaning up my mom's home after her passing, we found some fascinating stuff dating from WWII, including personal letters between her and my dad, who was overseas fighting, and a wonderful Time magazine from 1943 with some articles about how the Allies were going to win the war. How can I best preserve and/or display these? I won't display the letters but would like to keep them; the magazine I would like to show, somehow. Any ideas for keeping? Eventually, does this sound like the sort of thing a veteran's organization or museum would want?

This is the kind of thing that most families pass down with a lot of reverence. You definitely want to keep all of this in an archival box. One way to display the magazine is to have a framer build a special museum-quality shadow box for it. Or you could buy one of those coffee or end tables that have glass sides and top and you can open the top and display things inside. If you do want to donate the items, contact your local VA.

Deborah, what do you suggest for messy kids?

Grin and bear it until they leave for college..then you'll miss them so much you'll want them back, mess and all.


What do I suggest?  Love them, enjoy them.  Who cares if they're messy as long as you're all happy. If you truly want helpful tips and sources for home decorating with slobs in mind, buy my book- "Slobproof! Real Life Design Solutions".  You can find it on, in book stores or on my websites: or

This may be off-topic, I'm having to submit my question in advance. My children have done a number on many of our cereal bowls and few plates. I am fine to have mismatched but complimentary dishes and would like to buy some new bowls. I've seen lots of beautiful options but almost all of them are enormous. A normal serving of food would look ridiculous. I also would like some extra inexpensive flatware for when we have people over but these are super-sized too, I suppose to go with all the very large dishes. Using flatware of this size makes me I feel like I'm 4 again and my actual 4 year old wouldn't be able to use it at all. Any suggestions? I've tried Target, World Market, TJ Maxx and Home Goods. It seems I am trying to buy amidst an unfortunate trend. Thank you!

That is so interesting you mention that. I personally like the old fashioned round cereal or porridge bowls that you find in English or French homes. I have a set that are from Williams-Sonoma. You can also buy these at Anthropologie and sometimes at Ikea. Also look at Any other website you guys know of?

I have two green tomatoes on my plant, and 3 blossoms that haven't changed in 2 weeks. I water when the soil is dry and fertilize once a week. Also, my pepper plant STILL isn't ready to be harvested. Any tips? I'm hungry!

Patience and keep watering. You might try chanting too.

Donate it to a place like A Wider Circle. They will pick it up and give it to folks transitioning from shelter to permanent housing. You can take a tax break. Check out their website.

Thank you.

You could find a friend with graphic design software (in fact, you could probably do this in Word) to lay out the haikus in a font you like. Then print onto a nice sheet of paper, any style or color will do, and frame it. Done!


OMG I just saw this:  iPhone ap


Close the bedroom door. If you don't have to see it, who cares?

Not sure I agree, but it is a temporary solution.

Great topic! I know you'll get my other question about the best upholstery choices for pets, so I'll ask different one. My beloved elderly springer is having difficulty navigating stairs and getting up on her favorite (only) chair. She slips, stumbles, and sometimes falls. She won't use the expensive ramp (ugly, too) from a pet supply catalog. What are good ways to make stairs and sofas accessible but still attractive? I'm thinking of a Dash & Albert stair runner, but more ideas would be welcome.

Runners are definitely a big help as even younger dogs (and some people I know) have a hard time slipping and sliding on stairs. If she can't get to her favorite chair or sofa, bring her chair to her!  It's probably time for a  soft oversized floor pillow that she can easily access without falling of.  My Daisy prefers fleece- perhaps your dog will take to it as well.

Any suggestions for keeping towels & bath products neat looking in a new bathroom. I have tried baskets and large hooks to hang wet towels but it always seems like there is never enough space to neatly store them.

If you have the room, try a leaning ladder- usually made of bamboo.  You can attach it at the top to the wall so it stays in place and then drape or fold wet towels on each of the horizontal rods.  You can find it, I think, at Viva Terra online.

I did get an email that Leesburg Premium Outlets is having a weekend holiday sale starting today.

I've hung some vintage prints in my bathroom, but I'm a bit concerned about the humidity that comes with showers and moist air and how this will affect the prints. They're framed and under glass. The room has a window and is well ventilated, and I use the shower once a day (and I try to keep it short). Think I'm okay?

Not really. Over time the moisture will seep into the prints.

We need to repaint a bathroom, current paint is blistering and peeling off in spots. We'll scrape and sand down the spots before painting. How good is that Behr paint that's supposed to be both primer and paint together?

This paint has gotten good reviews, but I recall that in the past our chatters have said it isn't exactly what they expected in terms of coverage. Since this is a bathroom, I might use a special primer meant to keep mildew away and moisture at bay.

You may want to protect your plant with some chicken wire. You think you're impatient now? Wait until a bird or fruit rat (welcome to Florida!) eats your newly-ripe tomatoes.

Fruit rat? Ick.

You might want to think about a heated bed, too...nothing soothes old joints like a warm place to lie down.

You are a true dog lover. Old dogs deserve this.

Thanks for the articles on organizing and decluttering. I have two more bags of clothing for Goodwill in my trunk (that makes 15 bags donated this year).

Keep em coming! Good for you. I was at my sister's house last weekend and I made her open a few cabinets and drawers and we found a bunch of stuff that just had to go! You don't even realize how much you just shove away because you don't have time to decide what else to do with it!

Hi there! We are making over our den so that it is a functional - yet sophisticated - playroom. There is one wall that is currently wide open - we have about 11 feet of space to work with. We'd like to have some kind of white wall unit with a lot of storage in this spot. Ikea and other stores with a more modern look will not work for this spot. We want the storage unit on this wall to have a more traditional feel - preferably a white wood, maybe even a bit distressed. We were considering some options at Ballard, but in order to build up the unit high enough for it to look right, it would get pricey. Any other ideas on where to get a decent size, traditional looking, white wall unit with nice storage space? We'd like to keep it in the $1000-2000 range... Thanks!!

Well, consider that once these white shelving units are filled with books, toys and stuffed animals, you won't see much of perhaps style won't be so big a factor.  I did an entire wall in leaning shelving units (you see them everywhere)from JC Penney.  They come in white, black and even some wood finishes (it might be interesting to mix it up a bit) and for very little money, I filled a wall as long as yours with great storage.  You don't really notice the leaning shelves- but you do notice the colorful, fabric lined baskets I used for storing DVDs, CDs, video games and all the remote controls.  On the taller, shallow shelves, I stacked books, photos and childhood momentos, like their first handprints in clay.  Very inexpensive, great storage.  Take a look.

See if you can find an antique fire screen (or replica) to go in front of the fireplace. Most have some sort of decorative element to them.

good idea

IKEA has some really great space-saving storage systems that are really "shallow," so would save valuable space. I just noticed their very thin "shoe cabinets," which I'm sure could be used for other items. They are only 6-7" deep.

Great. Thanks.

Fatboy makes dogbeds that look like large floor pillow - guests have mistaken them for same (confusing the dog). Make the floor comfy and the dog doesn't have to get on furniture.

I have been in some homes lately that have such classy looking dog beds - since they are sitting in your living room, why not find a great fabric remnant to use on them that goes with the rest of your decor.

I spilled soup on a friends lovely chair. Can you recommend someone who can come to her home and clean it? The upholstery is very expensive and I feel just awful. I will pay anything to have it returned to its original beauty. Thank you.

Oh dear! I do know that one of the most distinguished cleaning services in the area that is used by many decorators is Christophers Any other ideas out there?

I'm trying to decide what size and shape of rug to get for my living room. The room is oddly shaped, including an 5-sided bay window. The length and width of of the bay is 8 feet. What size and shpe of rug should I go with? Square? Round? 5 feet? The curtains for the window take up about 6 inches of space. I have no idea how much "non-rug" space I should have? Is there a standard walkway for rugs? 2 feet clear? 3 feet clear? Yikes, I just don't know what I'm doing and you're my only source for help. I've puzzled over this for 18 months. Help!

I can't visualize your space from what you wrote, but I can offer you some fresh thought on choosing a rug.  Don't be confined by standard sizes!  Not every room takes a 9 x 12 or 8 x 11.  I often cut down larger sized rugs to fit an irregular shape and I often use broadloom (wall to wall carpet) to make a non-conforming size, like a 10.5 x 11 or, most recently, a 5.5 x 11.  The point of my answer?  Maybe you're stuck by the sizes most rugs come in.  You might need a size that's outside the norm to fit the room best.  Sketch it out and go to a carpet store to meet with a pro who can recommend the right size for you.  Try Carpets N Interiors in Bethesda.  They have a huge selection.

When my puppy started growing, and growing, and teething, he ended up a perfect height to rub his aching jaws against the front of our upholstered living room chair. Now this patch of the upholstery on the front of the cushion is really dirty, although the rest of the chair is ok. How can I clean this? Fabric I think is a sort of cotton/poly blend, probably, but it's 20 years old so I don't remember for sure. It's not anything overly delicate, anyway. Any hints, or do I need to call in an expert?

I've used Christopher's for upholstery cleaning before and was amazed at their results.  Additionally, take your seat cushion to a good upholsterer and see if they can move the worn area to the back of the seat cushion so you'll have fresh fabric in the front.

I have a picture window that is approx. 5 feet tall by 8 feet wide. There's a lot going on visually in the room, so curtains or drapes just add to the visual clutter. Plus, I want to preserve the great view outside. Panel track shades are one option, but they are kind of expensive. I like the woven wood shades. Do they work on a window that wide? It seems like they would weigh a ton and be very hard to open and close.

I emailed earleir that I love roller shades and many materials do come wide enough for your window.  Check my earlier answer.  I LOVE them on big windows.

Look in thrift stores and on Craigslist. People are often getting rid of sets from the '40s and '50s that are much smaller in scale than today's dishes. I also find it helps with portion control because I tend to fill up any given plate with food. Smaller plate, smaller portions.

That is also a great idea. Thanks for thinking of it.

I had some nice black & white framed photos totally ruined in a bathroom, destroyed by mildew.

Yes. I'm afraid bathrooms aren't the best place for framed art.

We are finishing off our basement, finally, and can't decide between rubber flooring (contractor recommends a Johnsonite product) versus vinyl. Will pet urine or other accidents soak into rubber, and will it stand up to the pet's claws? It costs about $2,000 more than vinyl - enough to make me want to be really, really sure it's the best solution for the space.

Ask your contractor for a sample and do a home test.  You really can't trust what anyone says until you test it for yourself.  Put it under the dishwasher or someplace where it can be subjected to daily moisture and messes.  Take a steel dog comb and give it your best shot to check for scratching. I also like DuraCeramic from Congoleum for pet-friendly, kid-friendly spaces and you should check that out too, in your home..and then you'll make the best choice.

We just adopted a pup, and are looking to add a doggie door to the sliding glass door that leads to our backyard. I've looked into several options online, but haven't seen anything that works particularly well. Would you be able to recommend someone who can create a custom glass door?

I can recommend Hutchison Glass in Bethesda for custom glass work, but I do not know about custom doggie doors.  Ask Dan, the owner.

I have a fairly large (about 4X6 feet) hand woven folk art rug. It is wool and fairly heavy. I would like to hang it as a wall decoration. What is the best method of hanging it ? (Obviously not by nailing it to the wall along the top edge ... :-) ).

Some people have special  frames  made for this - a quilt shop could help you. You also might think of displaying it on an old fashioned blanket stand or laid on top of a bench or table.

Yikes. Ok, they're coming down today after the chat. I've had these since I was a child and would hate to ruin them. Luckily they've only been in there a week.

No worries.  They are fine. Find something waterproof for in there.

Can you suggest a good place in Mont. Co. to get such roller shades? Any good websites to look at ideas?

Anyone who sells Hunter Douglas would be a good start.  I believe they make the best product in the business and again, I am not a paid spokesperson!  Their shades come with a lifetime warranty, their products are just classier looking than any other and many window covering businesses offer deep discounts on their products to stay competitive. 

Hi. I need to replace the carpet in my basement rec room. The current carpet is off-white (came with the house) and has been flooded during a hurricane, constantly has mud from the back yard dragged onto it near the sliding glass door, and has apple juice and art project stains from our 2-year old. What do you suggest I put in this room? I love the softness of carpet, but am willing to consider other materials. I don't want to discourage everyone's fun but messy projects, but I also want it to look good. Thanks.

I can think of two options- a tile or resilient floor with an area rug on top that can be cleaned or replaced as needed...or...commercial grade carpet in color(s) that will camouflage the mud, spills and everyday life.

I have a square faux leather ottoman I want to cover with fabric. I have a very tiny budget and absolutely no sewing skills - can I do this myself? I am afraid a professional company would be too expensive. The ottoman was purchased very cheaply, so there isn't much of an intrinsic "keep" value to it - we just don't want to spend money on a new one.

By the time you are done buying a heavy-duty staple gun and fabric, you'd be better off going to Craig's List or Ebay and buying a new ottoman.

I am currently renting a studio apt where one whole wall is windows. The windows have blinds, but I would like to add some kind of treatment. Here's the problem - these windows are my only source of natural light, so I don't want anything too heavy, but at the same time, I need it to be dark enough for bedtime (or at least one corner). Second issue, I've broken up my studio into "sections" (for example, sleeping area, living area, etc) and I'm worried that doing one kind of treatment across the windows will actually make the apt look smaller. Any thoughts?

I think you could do draperies and to keep the window and the space looking as big as possible, hang them high- close to the ceiling and stack them on the walls flanking the window- so that when your draperies are open, they in no way cover any of the natural light coming in through the window.

Thanks Debbie for your great insights into the challenges of slobs and lots more. The prize winner today is the person who asked the question about leather sectionals for a child with allergies. The winner should send their  mailing address to us at and we will mail you a copy of Debbie's book "Slobproof!: Real Life Design Solutions" . Have a great holiday weekend and tell us what you found at the sales next Thursday. Thanks for being with us today.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius uses her years of experience as a home expert and her network of well-placed sources to help you choose everything from paint type and colors to how to de-shed sofas from pet hair to where to find the best designer fabrics at a discount.

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Deborah Wiener
Deborah Wiener, whose Silver Spring interior design business is called Designing Solutions, specializes in decorating for messy families. Her book, 'Slob Proof: Real Life Design Solutions,' details her approach to dealing with dog hair, food spills and juice-box accidents.
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