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Where to find unusual decorations

(ran HL)

When you start to redecorate your home, the number of decorating choices seems endless, yet many of the items you encounter seem repetitious and standard. You want something unusual, different and stylish for your home, but where do you find such pieces?

These suggestions should assist you in discovering new and unusual things for your home:

+ Shelter and home decorating magazines. These publications offer new-product columns and in-depth stories on design trends, color choices and style watches that can provide inspirational as well as informational decorating help for your home.

Each object depicted usually is listed in a resource section at the back with a telephone number and mailing address for product information. Many publications also offer reader service card information. By circling a number on these postage-paid mailers, the magazine will have the manufacturers send information to you.

+ Interior design books. Many books written on the subject of interior design and decoration offer manufacturer information, including addresses and telephone numbers in an appendix or resource section located usually at the back of the book.

My own interior decorating books including Kitchens by Clarkson-Potter, 1993, and Bathrooms by Clarkson-Potter, 1996, offer extensive product and manufacturer information as well as design trends.

+ Mail-order catalogs. Mail order catalogs offer many furniture and accessory pieces that usually are not readily available at home decorating stores or furniture outlets. These catalogs can be general decorating volumes filled with a variety of home fashions, or they can be highly specialized publications concentrating on one particular furniture type or style. Additionally, these catalogs offer a toll-free number to answer questions about their merchandise and to provide additional materials that can be shipped directly to you for a nominal fee.

+ The Internet. The information super highway provides a wealth of information on home decorating merchandise. By accessing a particular manufacture's home page or web site, you can shop from the comfort of your home and review entire product lines. If you do not know the name of a manufacturer's web site, or if you don't know which manufacturer you are interested in, you can surf the net and access files or sites dedicated to a specific furniture type, accessory or subject.

+ A professional interior designer or architect. Interior designers and architects have access to fabrics, furniture, accessories, antiques, lighting and a myriad of other objects that the consumer cannot find in a retail outlet or be able to order through a catalog or other type of buying service.

In addition to offering unusual and "to the trade only" goods, an interior designer and architect can offer professional training and experience with buying the right pieces for the right interior situation. Fees and fee structure vary from firm to firm so address this issue before using a professional's expertise and services.

Chris Casson Madden is host of the Home & Garden Television cable show Interiors by Design and author of 12 books.

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