Chase the cows out of the den, bring in checks


Are novelty designs such as cows and garden vegetables looking a little tired to you? According to home furnishings trend analyst Michelle Lamb, the market is "embracing less distinct imagery."

Novelty has slipped from a 15 percent share of the market to 10 percent over the past year. (The exception is in the kitchen, where it is still important.)

In its place, checks, stripes and plaids are gaining strength -- "designs," Ms. Lamb says, "that are less specific and more evocative of Country."

Style in the stars

Pluto's move into Sagittarius means everything ethereal becomes mainstream. In other words, the pared-down '90s are reflected in the stars, and the current Gothic revival isn't just a trend, it's foreordained.

No, it's not a horoscope. It's a decoroscope, a new feature introduced in the current issue of Elle Decor. Writer Shelley von Strunckel, based in London, is the first astrologer to become a regular contributor to a home design magazine. She also writes a weekly column for the Sunday London Times.

Autumn spectacle

Melissa Harris describes her chrysanthemums as "beginner's luck." The 1,900 plants were the first crop for the new Fresh Start Farms. They must have done something right, because the spectacular plants are, without exaggeration, three feet across, in brilliant purples, whites, bronze and yellow. Prices are spectacular, too -- $3.99 for each 8-inch pot.

Fresh Start Farms is at Mount Carmel and Gorsuch Mill roads, west of Hereford in Baltimore County. For the rest of the season, the greenhouse will also have perennials, dried flowers and materials for making your own scarecrow. The phone number is (410) 239-1989.

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