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Decorating Taken to the Basic Level



Sheran James and Joann Eckstut's "Room Redux: The Home Decorating Workbook" ($30, Chronicle Books, 1999) is a little like one of those "For Dummies" books. The authors realize many people are intimidated by renovating and have tried to simplify everything.

For starters, "Room Redux" is spiral-bound and divided into sections using tabs for quick access. Fabrics? Just reach for the orange tab. That's the one under the blue tab, the section on color. Other chapters are lighting, furniture, window treatments, flooring, architectural details and art.

Getting organized is the key here, and the book begins with questionnaires to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each room and what you want to do with it. After problems are identified, James and Eckstut toss out solutions.

They also give various timesaving tips. For instance, if you want to know how a picture will look on the wall, put toothpaste daubs at the frame's four corners. Bits of paste, that should wipe off easily later, will be left after you've pressed the frame against it.

James will discuss "Room Redux" at 6 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 13712 Jamboree Road, Irvine. (714) 508-0332.

Art of Pressing

"The Pressed Plant" ($30, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1999) is an appealing art book that celebrates the history of botanical specimens beginning in the 18th century.

Though filled with facts, Andrea Di Noto and David Winter's book is most attractive for the dozens of fine illustrations based on the original flower and plant pressings. There are also examples of "sun prints," which come when a plant is placed on light-sensitive paper and exposed to the sun.


Weird and Tacky, Wild and Wacky (http://www.offthedeep may be a commercial site but it's a welcome destination for the wiggy among us. If you can't help but grin whenever pink flamingos gather on someone's lawn, then this spot is whispering your name.

This online boutique features the strangest collection of items, many that can fit into homes of only the most undiscriminating tastes. Besides plastic flamingos, fill your greenery with electric lawn buzzards or feather stone lawn penguins.

That's just the start: Check out the weirdo lamps, "chip 'n' dip party heads" for all manner of appetizers, leopard-print slumber masks, odd lighting arrangements and other almost indescribable decorations.

A Little Classier

For the more refined (and richer) looking to upgrade their houses, try ( This site offers classy furnishings with cutting-edge interactivity.

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at

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