Do we have to spell it out for you? Actually, no. One motif popping up in home furnishings these days is the use of letters as a graphic element, often abstract in form or random in appearance. Crate & Barrel's fall collection includes the Alpha coffee table ($899), whose black steel legs support a single piece of wood carved to resemble old printer's blocks; the raised letters are covered in glass for a flat, easy-to-clean tabletop. Design Within Reach revived a 1955 design by the late Gunnar Aagaard Andersen, who turned partial letters into a modern pillow design. The 17-inch square pillow shown here ($150) is complemented by an 18-by-26-inch version in taupe ($250). You'll see a more orderly take on the trend in the new collection at Target by John Derian, the New York artist who gained fame with his decoupage designs. His low-cost line for Target includes this 12-by-9-inch alphabet tray made of melamine ($12.99).
Get wired in high style
Maybe you've seen them in the windows of Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse Cut in Beverly Hills, or dividing the tables at one of Mandalay Bay's restaurants in Las Vegas. Now the metal drapery made by Cascade Coil is finding its way into homes, used not only as window sheers and privacy screens but also as modern room dividers and even shower curtains. The lightweight "fabrics," as the company calls them, come in dozens of sizes and finishes -- satin gold, bright nickel, copper, even steel-coated in colored nylon. In the home shown here, the drapes separate the entry from the living room without blocking light or air circulation. The price isn't cheap: about $7 to $47 a square foot, depending on the type of coil and volume of your order, and hanging hardware is extra. But for homeowners whose open floor plan has proved to be more than they bargained for, the drapes are a viable alternative to throwing up a solid wall. (800) 999-2645, www.cascadecoil.com (click on "architectural drapery").
Dine alongside the dotted line
Chilewich, the maker of distinctly modern place mats and table runners, has just introduced its first departure from the vinyl weave on which the company made its name. The new Dots design consists of vinyl that's pressed instead of woven, creating a whimsical pattern that lets your tabletop peek through. The firm likens the look to intricately cut linen, but as with Chilewich's other pieces, cleaning Dots is as simple as running it under a faucet. The 72-inch-long table runner ($24) and place mats ($7 each) come in five colors. To see Chilewich's entire fall collection and a directory of stores, including online retailers, go to www.chilewich.com.