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Built-In Furniture Allows More Breathing Room



Jim Tolpin, author of the best-selling "The New Family Home," is out with his latest, "Built-In Furniture" ($25, Taunton Books, 2001). Tolpin sticks with his proven formula of walking you through various projects with specific plans and more than a little rumination on why they'll enhance your living space.

Tolpin starts with Frank Lloyd Wright's premise that furniture shouldn't be seen as separate from the house but rather an integral part of it. He goes a step further and asks what could be more simpatico than built-in pieces, often using existing architectural elements?

Some of his ideas: create a library in the stairwell, a wet-bar in the family room, an office in a walk-in closet and a bank of cabinets in the bathroom. Architects and designers add their thoughts to Tolpin's along the way.

If you want more suggestions for where the tub meets the sink, try Andrew Wormer's "The Bathroom Idea Book" ($25, Taunton Books, 2001). This one is good for major renovations and just tinkering, with information on basic floor design, fixtures, floor and counter-top materials (including tiling), lighting, ventilation and various accessories from mirrors to chandeliers.

Kitchens: The Big View

In keeping with the "idea" theme, Taunton also just published Joanne Kellar Bouknight's "The Kitchen Idea Book" ($25). Pretty much the same format, with notions on everything from materials (stone, metal or wood) to color schemes to styles for appliances and even drawer and cabinet latches. The bias here is toward big to bigger (and more costly) kitchens, so those with limited space may feel left out.

THE WEB / Internet Help for Furniture Woes

A pair of readers who just happen to be do-it-yourselfers recommended the Furniture Wizard ( as a destination for furniture repair and restoration, including antiques.

There's a popular chat room where problems are aired and solutions sought. Recent queries ranged from fixing a stain on an oak table by a steam iron to getting a musty smell out of an old trunk. More complicated jobs, like how to add caning to a chair and make a lampshade from scratch, are also addressed.

The site's experts take you through repair and refinishing steps in a clear, casual way. Occasionally, a new project or repair strategy is highlighted. Current topic: the finer points of regluing chair parts.

Second-Chance Timber

In the market for unusual or antique woods? Try Colorado-based Singing Saw Woodworks (, which specializes in salvaged woods. They've gathered timber from old barns, homes and landfills, and even dredged it from riverbeds.

The site includes pictures of these woods, which the folks at Singing Saw say can make great accents in any home. This stuff isn't as cheap as what can be found at a local lumberyard and shipping is extra.

* 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 mark.smith@

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