With summer in full bloom outdoors, the indoors can start to look a little drab. Try a summer makeover with these cheap and simple ideas from Smith+Noble, a catalog and online retailer of window treatments:
* Walls: Add some spirit to a room with wallpaper borders or some depth by hanging mirrors.
* Cabinets: Change the hardware to sleek modern metal or vintage porcelain.
* Linens: You can alter the entire look of your bedroom just by changing the comforter, shams and dust ruffle.
* Furniture: Try rearranging what you've got or covering it up with a funky slipcover for a new look without the big price tag.
* Windows: Try fun shades decorated in fresh prints, changing your curtain rods to a gothic wrought iron or adding valances to your existing display.
More decorating ideas are available at the Web site www.smithandnoble.com or from Smith+Noble's catalog. Call 800-765-7776 for a copy.
Old Glory learns some new tricks
Hanging Old Glory on the front porch usually suffices as a patriotic display for the Fourth. But for something a little more long term with today's flair, check out the love-of-country inspired furnishings from Home Decorators Collection.
The hand-woven Stars and Stripes dhurrie rug blends rich hues of red, white and blue, and it's reversible, for longer wear and less maintenance. It comes in various sizes, from the 2-by-8 runner to the 8-by-11 rug ($89 to $399).
The canoe-shaped Americana Display Cases (below) showcase prized possessions with native flair. They come in four sizes, ranging from 30 to 60 inches high ($69 to $199).
For a Home Decorators catalog, call 800-245-2217 or go to www.homedecorators.com. -- T.B.
We know separating the men from the boys and the women from the girls has nothing to do with maturity or education. It's all about who can wield the baster the best at the barbecue.
Real Simple, a magazine dedicated to making life, well, real simple, offers a few practical tips for new grillers:
* Clean your grill every time with a wire brush before cooking to prevent sticking.
* Spraying the grill with nonstick vegetable oil before heating will also help.
* And, as a general rule, expect heating the grill to take 10 to 15 minutes if it's gas and about 30 minutes if you're using charcoal (80 percent of the coals should be ash gray).
* "The Favour of Their Trade" display and tour at the William Paca House in Annapolis explores the city's history during the 1770s through food, artisans and gardeners. On display is the Chippendale-style chair built for William Paca in 1775, which guides use as a launching point to discuss the character of long-ago cabinetmakers and compare their styles to English imports. The exhibit is open through August, and tours run Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are $2 to $7. 186 Prince George St.; 410-263-5553, ext. 17.
* Washington's Decatur House Museum displays its patriotism -- literally -- today from noon to 4 p.m. The "Images of Our Nation" exhibit highlights the many images used to symbolize our country throughout its relatively short history. The house itself stands as one. It's one of the capital's oldest and was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, one of the first trained architects to work and teach in the United States. Admission is free. 1600 H St. N.W.; 202-842-0920.
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Karol Menzie, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.