Q: We're redoing our kitchen, and I'm thinking about taking down the wall to the breakfast room and making one big space. The problem is, I'd lose a wall of cabinets that way.
A: With good planning, you can give up and gain at the same time. My case rests with the photo we show here, where the missing wall has been replaced with a handy pass-over counter on top of two-faced cabinets.
Opening both ways, into the kitchen and into the dining area, the cabinets provide welcome storage in the "dressy" side for china, glassware, linens and such.
Because they are real wood and handsome enough to show off, the cabinets can even be wall-hung in the dining room like a ready-made china cupboard. The wide, tile-topped counter surface also doubles as a serving buffet.
Best of all, from the cook's point of view, he or she is never excluded from the action in the dining area.
One final point to be picked up from the photo: Note how the other furnishings have also been used to integrate the two spaces. The same large-unit ceramic tiles run underfoot, and the wall coverings (from Wall-Tex's "108 Nottingham Place" collection) are color-coordinated.
The all-over floral in the dining room repeats its colors in the kitchen's stripe.
Q: We live on a lake (and love it, of course) and we built our house so the living and family rooms overlook the water. Obviously I don't want to block the view, but the glare off the
water can be uncomfortable at certain times of the year. Can you suggest a way to filter the view without losing it?
A: Shade manufacturers are working minor miracles with new fabrics and technologies that render the shades sheer enough to see through.
If you've already checked them out, consider a different idea stolen straight from Carolyn Miller and Susan Garfinkel of Miller-Garfinkel Interiors, Long Island, N.Y.
This team of pros made stationary shades of sheerest white fabric edged with braid and hung them under simple swags for a show house bedroom. The shades "frost" the windows and diffuse the glare, but still let the view come through.
Q: Our old bathroom has tile up to the slanted wall/ceiling over the tub. I'd like to redecorate but can't afford to change the tiles. I'm not sure what kind of paint to use over tile.
A: Neither was I, so I asked an expert, Walter Gozdan, technical director of the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute in Spring House, Pa. Now I have it on good authority that you should use an oil-base paint (not latex) on ceramic tile.
It's also a good idea to use special base coats that, in effect, "roughs up" the tile's sleek surface so the decorative paint can bond.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.