Albany Times Union

Do-it-yourself decorators were once models of stamina. They’d trek from store to store choosing paint and sit for hours thumbing through thick binders of wallpaper and fabric. They measured walls, assembled furniture-sized pieces of paper to move around the room and hauled samples to and from stores.

Although the best way to get a sense of how a room will look after a re-do is to see the actual color and feel the different textures, the Internet has made it much easier to narrow the field of choices from unfathomable to just a few.

Here’s a list of Web sites we found to be particularly helpful for people trying their hand at decorating. Some offer advice while others offer online services such as room planning. In addition to these, check Web sites for fabric, wallpaper, paint and furniture manufacturers.

• All Your Rooms is an online magazine produced by Georgia-Pacific, makers of such paper goods as Brawny towels, Angel Soft bathroom tissue and Dixie cups. Between the smattering of ads and coupons for G-P products, the site is loaded with decorating tips, divided by room. www.allyourrooms. com

• Do It offers advice on when and how to hire a designer, how-to projects, moderated forums, Q&As, tips and tricks, annual design trends and an online home center store where you’ll find everything from air filters to washing machine parts. Time magazine has named this site as "One of the Top 50 Sites in the World," plus it is repeatedly honored among the Best on the Web independent home improvement/home repair sites. www.doityourself .com.

• Home & Family has decorating ideas, projects, lessons, a glossary, bookstore, and information based on the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Gallery. www.homeand

• is, according to Nielsen NetRatings, a top 10 Web property guide, used by one out of every five people on the Internet. is owned by The New York Times Company and covers more than 500 interior decorating areas. www.

• Rental Decorating Digest: Rental Living with Style is full of interior decorating ideas for your apartment, home, studio or dorm room, including organizing a room, tips, columns, budget decorating, style guides, wall decorating ideas, window treatments and gardening for renters. www.rental

• Decorating Studio answers just about any question you may have on decorating and trends with lots of how to advice and sources. www.

• Plan3D is online home design software where you can plan your landscape, remodel a room or decorate one room at a time and furnish it. You can also plan your whole house from cellar to attic in a three-dimensional schematic with shadows, textures of materials and blueprints complete with dimensions. The cost is $2.95 a month when you purchase a full-year subscription or $14.95 for one month.

• Feng Shui Crazy provides basics about the discipline, tips, advice from feng shui experts and authors. It’s an interesting site to view if you don’t go blind from the annoying flashing giveaway ad in the right hand rail. www.fengshuicrazy .com/interior-design- tips.php.

• Home Dec In-A-Sec provides a way to order window treatments (they’ll make the curtains for you) and sewing patterns from the McCall (Butterick and Vogue) Pattern Company, for people with little or no sewing ability and sewing tips. Swatches, patterns, trims and fabrics can be found at and

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Hint: Take a tape measure to the showroom

Seek a dream sofa? Recognize some tough realities

January and February are good months to shop for a new sofa because many furniture dealers hold sales. But remember, comfy and soft aren’t the only things to consider when searching for your dream sofa. Keep in mind these tips:

•Measure, measure, measure. You don’t want the sofa to overwhelm a room, but you also don’t want it to be dwarfed by other pieces. Make sure it fits the room and it can be moved through the doorway.

•Color will be the first element you respond to, so look for hues that express your personal style. "Blues aren’t popular, and reds have kind of died," says Gary Young, a sales associate with Bassett Furniture Direct in Talleyville. The hot colors in couches continue to be tans, greens and earth tones, he says.

•If you live in a small apartment, consider purchasing a love seat instead of a couch.

•When you find a style that appeals to you, try it out for comfort. Don’t be shy. Sit on it. Lie down on it. Be sure it fits you and the way you live.

•Cotton tends to be a no-no fabric if you’re worried about stains. The natural fiber absorbs rather than repels liquids. Man-made materials, professionals say, are largely the way to go. Micro-suede (a pressed, rather than woven, fabric) tends to be soft and extremely stain-resistant. Polyester and polyester blends also are good choices, although pet hair can stick to some of those fabrics.

•Designers like to say that leather "wears in" rather than wears out.

•If you don’t find the fabric you’re looking for on a frame you like, remember you can frequently special order. You’ll just have to wait longer for it.

•Bounce up and down on a sofa’s cushions. Do they feel springy enough for you? Or do you prefer a firm seat? Make sure it feels right to you.

•Wiggle the arms. Do they hold firm, indicating good workmanship?

•Lift the frame. Does it feel heavy and sturdy?

•Examine the fabric. Are the seams straight? Does the fabric line up properly? Does it feel pleasing to the touch?

•Check the price. Quality sofas are available in all price ranges. Decide how much you want to spend. With so many good choices available today, there’s sure to be a style you love that will fit your budget.

•As many amateur movers have discovered, a sleeper sofa can be surprisingly heavy. Keep that in mind if you frequently change addresses.

•Finally, follow your heart. If you love it, then it’s right for you.


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November 4, 2005

Color Your Home With The Feeling Of Fall

As the air becomes crisp and summer fun gives way to indoor activities, it’s time to make your home look as warm and inviting as possible. Fall is just around the corner, and the hottest new home decorating trends are reflecting the colorful changing landscape.

According to Peggy Van Allen, color specialist for Pratt & Lambert Paints, the new trends are easy to incorporate into existing design schemes.

“The fall season and its vibrant color palette contain some extraordinarily rich, yet versatile hues. The depth of color provides extensive options for adding room accents, changing themes and styles, and even completely redecorating,” says Van Allen.

The following are some tips from Van Allen to help you get started:

Embrace Color
Embrace Color

Painting is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to give a room a facelift. Currently, autumn-inspired hues are the must-haves on the market. According to Van Allen, red is an ideal choice when it comes to fall colors. Whether it’s cherry, persimmon, or cranberry, there is an abundance of red accessories — such as rugs and pillows — to coordinate, making red a bold, yet safe selection. “Along with darker shades of burgundy and cinnamon, reds make a room feel both comforting and energizing, adding a feeling of warmth as the weather gets colder,” she adds.

Traditional neutral colors never go out of style, but there are a number of new additions to the category this season. Sand, wheat, mustard, stone, and clay, are just a few of the new colors that blend harmoniously with most existing decor schemes. They also make a room appear larger and more open.

Using a few different but coordinating colors can be a great way to add dimension to your room and highlight decorative trims, furnishings, doorways, and shelves. In a large room, different colors can divide space into visually separate areas. This is helpful in a room that serves multiple functions.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment with these fall-inspired colors,” says Van Allen. In fact, one way to explore color is with Pratt & Lambert’s new Never Compromise Color Sample Selector System, which allows you to buy two-ounce, pre-tinted paint samples to test on your walls before making a color commitment. Try out several fall hues to see which works best in your home before painting the entire room.


Painting isn’t the only way to give a stylish nod to autumn. Look for blankets, pillows, and rugs in darker colors and textured fabrics to complement your furniture. Choose fabric patterns with metallic or beaded detail, embroidery, or Mideastern influences. Besides providing an instant updated look, these easy additions will make your home seem warmer and more comfortable. Fill shelves, tables and bare corners with various-sized candles in delicious seasonal scents like cinnamon, vanilla, apple, and pumpkin pie. Or, use copper accents wherever possible for a rustic fall look.

Get Creative

Festive fall decorating doesn’t mean you have to be the neighbor with the Styrofoam ghost on your front lawn. Seasonal staples like pumpkins, gourds, and autumn leaves look great in and around the home, but try using them in new and appealing ways. For a modern centerpiece, simply line up mini pumpkins, gourds, or fruit on a long white platter, low basket, or tray. Then add berry clusters, leaves, or flowers for a colorful garnish.

Fill miniature glass vases with seeds, dried berries, or potpourri for stylish countertop or windowsill accents. Create elegantly simple fall wreaths by repeating one item like acorns, berries, or miniature pumpkins in a circle and add a satin bow.

Everyone loves the idea of jack-o-lanterns, but not everyone loves carving them. If pumpkin carving isn’t your thing, try this chic alternative: drill lines of different-sized holes down the sides of your pumpkin. After adding a candle, these “designer” pumpkin accents will provide elegant light for a room.

Any of these fall decorating tips are sure to add a feeling of stylish festivity to your home’s interior. “The most important decorating tip is to make your home as comfortable and pleasant as possible for you and those you love,” says Van Allen. “Get creative and find out what works best for you.”

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