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Ideas for the kitchen _ and the sink too

The August issue of Consumer Reports offers 18 pages of evaluations and information on kitchens, from ranges to countertops, from faucets to appliances. Before you start shopping, read and take note of tips such as this one: Stay within your budget by mixing and matching price points. Combine a top-of-the-line pro-style range with a mid level refrigerator and a basic dishwasher. You can find appliances with similar finishes and styles in all those price ranges. Or, if you seldom cook full meals, it might make more sense to splurge on a full-featured microwave and buy a basic range.

Paint happy homeowners

Why do people repaint the interiors of their homes? Lots of reasons, according to a survey of 1,000 homeowners conducted for Ace Hardware. Two-thirds were tired of their current color scheme; 40 percent wanted to refurbish damaged walls; 27 percent wanted to keep up with the latest decorating trends; and 20 percent were changing a room's use. (Respondents could select more than one reason.) Six in 10 people younger than 55 say they'll paint, but only a third of those older will do it themselves.

Wright back in style

They're back, though they never went out of style: The classic 20th century dinnerware creations of designer Russel Wright have been reintroduced by Oneida. Wright's American Modern design was one of the most successful dinnerware lines ever, selling from the 1930s to the mid 1960s. The dinnerware comes in 17 colors, both the original Midcentury Modern shades and new interpretations, from soft green to apricot to coral to brown. Typical prices: dinner plate, $7.99; mug, $5.99; salad plate, $5.99; serving pieces (platters, bowls, pitchers), $20-$30. Bungalow-dwellers, rejoice! Look for them at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Linens 'n Things, and JCPenney. Designs based on Wright's flatware and glassware will be introduced later this year.

For sale, four sure

How long does it take to sell a home? Typically four weeks, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors. That four-week time frame in 2001 was down from eight weeks recorded for most of the 1990s. Last year 88 percent of homes were put on the market only once before they sold. In other words, owners didn't take them off the market because they languished. Once the "For Sale" sign went out, it was a matter of weeks before there was a sale.

_ Compiled by Homes editor JUDY STARK