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Idea House opens doors

The long-awaited Coastal Living Idea House _ the first in this area _ opens a week from today at MiraBay on U.S. 41 in Apollo Beach. The 4,700-square-foot house has five bedrooms and a second-floor gallery spanning the front. There are cypress and bamboo ceilings, wood-frame double-hung windows, louvered walls and transoms to let the breezes through. The house will be open through March: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, at the door, are $10 each or two for $15. The Florida Aquarium's teacher education program benefits.

Autumn wares on sale

The 17th annual Autumn Gathering is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. More than 100 artists and crafters will show and sell their work: glass, candles, baskets, dolls and bears, wreaths and swags, pillows and linens. Tickets, good for both days, are $3 adults, $1 for kids 12 and younger.

Model homes on view

Seventy model homes at more than 50 communities in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will be showcased today through Oct. 10 during the Fall Tour of Homes, hosted by the Tampa Bay Builders Association and Third Federal Savings and Loan. There are two official tour homes: the $1.9-million Tuscany model by Mark Maconi Homes at Wentworth in Tarpon Springs and the Strauss model by Lennar Homes, priced in the $400,000s, at Arbor Greene in New Tampa. A magazine with maps, descriptions of the homes and directions will appear Sunday in some editions of the Times and will be available at the models. Models are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Information: Call the builders association during weekday business hours at (813) 873-1000.

You can have kids and style

Can we get "sophisticated" and "functional" in the same sentence _ let alone the same room _ and then add the word ""kids"? Mark Phelps, an interior designer in Charlotte, N.C., offers five suggestions in the September/October issue of Decorating magazine: Select functional furniture that holds linens, blankets or games. Limit delicate silks to draperies and other places they won't be handled by kids or at risk of stains. Choose durable yet elegant neutral linens and mohair for upholstered pieces. Show off collectibles but keep them out of kids' reach. Use neutral tones and rich textures for long-term versatility; use color as an accent.

_ Compiled by Homes editor JUDY STARK

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