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For the kitschy kitchen

Speaking of vintage appliances, as we are in our lead story today: Here's the crowning touch for such a kitchen. These countertop canisters, in the shapes of a stove, refrigerator and sink, are right out of the 1950s in style and color. The three-piece ceramic set is $89.95 from The Mind's Eye, a mail-order catalog that includes such retro items as lava lamps, Lone Ranger lunchboxes, a cast-iron coffee grinder and videos featuring Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar and Abbott & Costello. Reach them at (800) 949-3333. Now, if only we knew which of today's items was going to be worth big money 25 years from now.

The hammer throw

Let the Games Begin, Part I: A framing carpenter's arm can move at 35 feet per second, and the hammer will hit the nail on the head with 4,200 foot-pounds of energy, we learn in the July/August issue of This Old House magazine. "It's a satisfying moment, as This Old House contractor Tom Silva knows," the magazine reports. ""Beating the hell out of them gets rid of a lot of frustration,' " Tom says.

Southern Home Collection continues

The New Southern Home Collection remains open in the Turtle Creek subdivision in Orlando. These are five very expensive homes that show off some of the latest ideas in architecture, construction and interior design. They're open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays through Aug. 11. Directions: Take Interstate 4 to Exit 29, turn left onto Sand Lake Road, travel west to Apopka-Vineland Road, turn left, and Turtle Creek is about 2 miles ahead on the right. Admission is $5 daily, $7 weekends to benefit the Diabetes Center at Florida Hospital in Orlando. More information: (407) 876-0995.

Armchair home ideas

Let the Games Begin, Part II: If you'd rather look at a lavish house without leaving the comfort of your own home, turn on cable's Home & Garden Television (HGTV) at 9 p.m. Sunday for a one-hour special, "Southern Living Idea House _ Atlanta." Southern Living magazine sponsors "idea houses" around the country to spotlight construction, interior design and landscape architecture. This one is a rambling two-story home, sided in brick and cedar shakes, with big white pillars on the front veranda. The designers take you through it room by room, pausing periodically to sum up "insider secrets" you can apply to your own home. Watch for strong colors (a red dining room, chocolate-brown study, green kitchen) and a mix of cozy cottage and classically elegant styles.

Interior cosmetics by Avon

Avon has been ringing doorbells for years. Now the cosmetics company is turning its attention to what's inside the door. Avon's new calling: home furnishings. The first offering is a set of "English Country Gardens" bed linens and accessories by Cannon, designed exclusively for Avon. Coming this fall: a 20-piece stoneware dinnerware set designed in Europe.

_ Compiled from staff and wire reports by Homes Editor JUDY STARK

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