Keeping George Washington's more than 200-year-old Mount Vernon estate, right, looking good is tough work. "We have struggled for a number of years with . . . paints that don't hold up well against the weather on the outside and the traffic inside," says Steven Mallory, Mount Vernon's manager of restoration. So the estate is now partners with Vermont's Fine Paints of Europe to start the Mount Vernon Estate of Colours. The collection includes 120 shades, 30 of which were used at Mount Vernon and 90 others inspired by Washington's era. A $50 fan deck is available through finepaintsofeurope.com. It comes with a $50 coupon that can be redeemed for the paint.
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With fine china, what are you waiting for?
The Wedgwood name evokes a certain image: fancy parties where guests nibble on dainty tea sandwiches served on fragile china. But a recently released book, At Home With Wedgwood: The Art of the Table (Clarkson Potter, $35), offers readers a peek into the lives of people who use this china in a more casual setting. The 192-page book, published to coincide with Wedgwood's 250th anniversary, tries to make tables set with Wedgwood china seem accessible and unpretentious - and the book can be inspirational. As you browse through color photos of table settings, you can find some tips in the text. For example:
- "The pairing of the old and the new (china) is always thrilling, like long lost relatives who come to meet in another century," says Barbara Barry, who has designed pieces for Wedgwood. "If you choose simple forms and subtle patterns, you will find you can create a wardrobe of objects that go together seamlessly."
- "I don't buy for the closet. I use everything, however precious," New York interior designer James Huniford says.
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Corral your gadgets
The Power Shelf is a simple solution to the clutter created by electronics that need routine charging. The gadget is an outlet cover with an integrated shelf that can hold a phone, digital camera or other item. The charger's cord can be wrapped around the shelf base, and the charger can be stored there when not in use. The device is made of powder-coated steel and comes in a variety of styles. Prices range from about $16 for a small shelf to $60 for one designed to hold a laptop computer. Find more information, including a list of online retailers, at buypowershelf.com.