Outdoor furniture acquires indoor polishAs outdoor looks,...


Outdoor furniture acquires indoor polish

As outdoor looks, like wicker and rattan, are becoming more popular for indoor furniture, so strictly outdoor pieces are becoming more elaborate in style and materials. You have almost as many choices buying a pool-side chaise longue these days as you do buying a sofa. "We're in the fashion business," says Richard Frinier of Brown Jordan, a top-of-the-line casual furniture company. "And lifestyle [casual and therefore presumably less expensive] furniture allows for more change -- more change for the mood of the moment."

The mood of the moment seems to be somewhat traditional and romantic, according to Carl Hein of Casual Furniture Gallery. "The designs we're seeing today," he says, "in general reflect a softening. It's no longer the high-tech sharp-edges look."

According to Wina Burns at Stebbins Anderson, that means growing interest in wrought iron, "which fits right in with a traditional brick patio in Roland Park." But it also means that the detailing reminiscent of traditional wrought iron is being worked out in newer materials like cast aluminum. Tropitone's Veneman collection is a case in point. It combines curves and scrollwork with clean-lined frames and contemporary finishes.

It will come as no surprise that a flower and garden show at St. John's College in Annapolis will feature arrangements based on characters in famous novels (like Daisy in "The Great Gatsby"). After all, the college is famous for its "great books" curriculum.

But the annual show will have two dozen other exhibitions, including indoor and patio gardens, landscaping displays, topiaries, free-form ponds, baskets and handcrafted floral jewelry. Floral designers and horticulturists will hold demonstrations and answer gardening questions on everything from the delicate art of Japanese flower arranging to how to grow edible flowers. And, of course, there will be plenty for sale: seeds from period plants at the William Paca Gardens display, English greeting cards with floral themes, all sorts of gardening books, nosegays, wreaths and swags.

The show will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the college campus. Admission is $5, and tickets are available at the door. The show is sponsored by the Caritas Society, a college charitable organization. For more information, call (410) 626-2539.

Let's say you have a mahogany table gathering dust in your basement. You inherited it from your great aunt, and you want to sell it. What do you do next?

You could call Betsy Matthai Gorman, Christie's Baltimore representative. Christie's, the world's oldest fine arts auctioneers, offers appraisals of valuables of all kinds, including paintings, furniture, jewelry, silver and porcelain. Ms. Gorman will come to your house, take photographs and measurements and get as much history about the piece as she can. She'll then send the information to Christie's appraiser in New York. There's no charge for the appraisal; but if you decide to sell the piece through Christie's, the auctioneer's commission will be 15 percent of the selling price if it's under $7,500; 10 percent if over.

"Often people are disappointed, of course," says Ms. GormanBut three Tiffany windows estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 sold for $400,000 at auction.

What's hot now? Old toys -- Ms. Gorman tells of a country parson who brought in a toy bank that sold for $11,000. And just this year, she says, sports memorabilia has taken off. Call (410) 832-7555.

Serious garden lovers will love the 1993 edition of "The Garden Tourist," a guide to gardens, tours, shows and special events throughout North America and around the world. If you're planning a visit to an old friend in North Carolina, you can schedule it around the Festival of Flowers. In Chicago on a business trip? Check out the Botanic Gardens' exhibit on tropical rain forests.

This charming book is arranged by state and city within stateThen there's a list of international events, followed by a section on major regional flower shows, and one on week-long garden events. (Most of these shows are sponsored by nonprofit organizations.)

"The Garden Tourist" is available from Timber Press Inc., 999S.W. Wilshire, Suite 124, Portland, Ore. 97225. The price is $9.95, plus $3.75 shipping and handling. Call (800) 327-5680 for more information.

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