Refurnishing the White House
When invading British troops set fire to the White House in 1814, many furnishings were lost, including a spectacular 42-piece "Grecian" suite for the Blue Room, dating from 1809. The painted furniture was designed by architect and designer Benjamin Latrobe, who decorated the room for the Madi-sons; it was built by Hugh and John Findlay, noted Baltimore furniture makers of the day.
Some of those pieces will live again, thanks to the craftsmanship of David Wiesand, of McLain Wiesand Custom Furniture, and an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art called "Politics, Power & Style: Art for the Presidents."
Although the furniture was lost, some of the plans survived, and ended up at the Maryland Historical Society. Using the original watercolor drawings (thoughtfully marked with dimensions), Wiesand re-created a huge over-mantel mirror, a window seat, a sofa and a set of chairs just for the exhibit.
The show, which opens today, celebrates the style of 15 presidents, including Washington, Madison, Kennedy and Clinton. There are 100 objects, from furniture to fashion, that illustrate the personalities of the men and their times. The show runs through Jan. 7 at the museum, 10 Art Museum Drive. For hours and information, call 410-396-6314.
McLain Wiesand Custom Furniture, 1013 Cathedral St., designs, restores and custom builds furniture, as well as decorative objects. For more information on McLain Wiesand, call 410-539-4440.
It's all too easy to feel like an idiot these days -- if programming the VCR defeats you, if you can't retrieve your voice mail from a remote site, if you can't tell a domain name from a URL. But now you don't have to seem stupid when you're buying paint or wallpaper and the salesperson asks, "How much do you need?"
Calculated Industries of Carson City, Nev., has introduced the ProjectCalc for designers and do-it-yourselfers. Not only does it convert feet and inches into yards or meters, it also converts wall measurements into gallons of paint or rolls of wallpaper. It also figures out how many board feet, bundles of shingles, number of tiles, bricks or concrete blocks a project will take. ProjectCalc costs less than $25 at home improvement centers. (Visit the Web site at www.calculated.com.) --K.M.
There's nothing like a touch of fall to make anything cozy seem divine. For instance, the wonderfully cheerful and warm-looking calico cherry quilt from L.L. Bean Home's Casual Furniture catalog. (Depending on the size, the price ranges from $165 to $225.)
The catalog also features desks and chairs, baskets and lamps, rugs and such useful items as a metal wood-storage rack. To order, ask for a catalog, or for more information, call 800-221-4221. --K.M.
* Pleasant Plains Farm, an 1830 plantation on Ridout Creek near Annapolis, home to just two families since it was built, has been returned to former glory as a Decorators' Show House by the Auxiliary of the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Proceeds benefit the new hospital being built nearby. Nearly two dozen designers are participating in the project, which will be open through Oct. 22. The house is at 1837 Pleasant Plains Ave. There will also be a tea room and boutique. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For tickets or information, call 410-267-1249.
* Great public and private gardens of England and Ireland will be the topic of a free slide lecture by Don Hyatt, a Fairfax computer science teacher whose passion is rhododendrons and who visited the British Isles in May, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. today at the U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. N.W. For information, call 202-245-2726..
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Karol V. 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.