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The Word / The Web

Information really is at your fingertips, whether thumbing through pages or tapping at the computer keyboard. This column will help direct you, both at the bookstore and on the Internet, to sources that will make life easier in and around the home.

April 18, 1998|MARK CHALON SMITH

The Word

Slated: Joseph Jenkins' "The Slate Roof Bible" ($35, Jenkins Publishing, 1997).

Rock on: Some people obsess on cars, others on shoes. Joseph Jenkins' mania is slate, especially when it ends up topping your house. This 287-page book, jammed with upkeep tips and historical facts, intrigues because of the author's far-reaching fascination.

"The Slate Roof Bible" concedes that there are relatively few California buildings with quarried slate; most are back East, where slate shingles have been commonly used since before the American Revolution. Jenkins excels at reminding us of an earlier time and how, through the upkeep of old slate roofs, we can preserve the past.

Even though slate may seem impractical, the book impresses with its many black-and-white photos of historic buildings, both here and in Europe, that incorporate this "ancient and noble rock" in their design.

Gone native: Fulcrum Publishing has just released "Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-Wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes" ($15, 1998), its 72-page companion to the earlier "Xeriscape Plant Guide" ($35, 1997).

The latest book is aimed at areas like Southern California that, El Nin~o aside, have dry climates. Trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and grasses (along with illustrations, water charts and color-coding for easy identification) are listed, making it easy to find the most water-stingy plants.

The Web

Homing in: If you want to revamp your home without spending cash on an interior decorator, the Village ( may help.

This site is simple to navigate, which is saying something considering how complete it is. The opening page features a cute graphic with destinations like "Dr. Decor," "Wally's Wallpaper School" and "Showcase of Homes." Click directly to them or scroll further for more information before choosing a section.

All help the ambitious determine what they want individual rooms and the entire home to look like. There's advice on traditional, modern and trendy styles (including dozens of photos of example homes) and information on colors, wallpaper, budgeting concerns and what steps need to be taken during decorating.

Deco divas: In the "Kathryn's Interiors" section, professional designers answer questions and offer ideas. Donna Lang, for instance, suggests deciding if target rooms should be "relaxing or vitalizing" before choosing an overall concept. She adds that magazines such as Home Beautiful and Traditional Home are good sources for ideas.

Commerce: As with most sophisticated Web sites these days, Village has a money page designed to satisfy retail sponsors. In the Store Locator section, you can find their local outlets selling everything from wallpaper to fabrics.

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