Q. I've always wanted an all-white living room but just had to wait until the grandchildren had grown old enough! My question is about buying white carpeting. Would doing so be a mistake?
A. Not if you shop wisely and choose the right fiber and, ideally, the right protective finish. A good place to research is on the website of the Carpet and Rug Institute, an industry organization that is all about educating the consumer.
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Meanwhile, a practical suggestion: Consider nixing wall-to-wall carpeting in favor of a white area rug, which would be easier to handle when or if your all-white scheme begins to look a bit dim. Not only that, carpeting wall-to-wall is old thinking, according to today's top tastemakers.
Professional designers have come to prefer area rugs that show off the flooring beneath. In the photo we show here, that's hardwood stained dark to add dramatic contrast to the mostly white color scheme. Even the artwork on the white-painted paneled walls is hushed. But look twice and you'll see other color notes, like the silvered chair and gold tones in the tables, and the dark throw over the tufted white stool (furniture from Ethan Allen's "Melrose" collection).
Always fresh and soothing, white can be very right -- and sophisticated -- in any room in the house. For more inspiration, have a look at a lovely book called "Brilliant: White in Design" by Linda O'Keeffe, a former editor at the late, lamented Metropolitan Home magazine. She explores the many reasons white has always been a favorite color for living rooms.
Q. What can I do with an ugly wall?
A. Think brick … thin brick, the real thing but only an inch thick so it can be applied to walls, floors and fireboxes with no major reconstruction required.
From a Connecticut company aptly entitled Stone Farm, Reclaimed Thin Brick comes pre-used and pre-mellowed from old factories, mills and schools around New England, and goes up with troweled-on mortar, just like the real, thick version. Have a look at reclaimedthinbrickveneer.com.
Q. Want a peek at tomorrow's homefront?
A. We got an eyeful of the future from industrial designer Vittorio Cascianelli of the Electrolux Industrial Design Center, who studies how the world lives and works at home and helps create products to make life easier and better.
Here's a sample of what his ethnographic research turned up at the latest Consumer Electronics Show and Housewares trade show:
• Invisible products, that is, technology that is hidden, say, a marble countertop with integrated cooking technology -- you don't see the range until you turn it on -- and stainless-steel refrigerators that tell their interior temperature so discretely the readout looks like part of the door design.
• 3-D printers that use sugar-based materials instead of plastic. Kids can print their own cookies.
• Robotics on the homefront. Would you kill for a robot that washes windows automatically -- on both sides?
Still, as Victor himself observed, "How much technology is too much? There are way too many inputs in our lives today!" (Maybe, but you have to love that window washer!)
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