The new Althorp Living History furniture collection is fit for nobility. Literally. Commissioned by Earl Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana, the line features furnishings and decorative accessories that replicate those in Althorp, the Spencer family's regal home in Northamptonshire, England. Althorp is also the final resting place of Princess Diana.

The Althorp Living History collection was developed by furniture maker Theodore Alexander, in collaboration with Earl Spencer, and is on display and for sale at Great Falls Distinctive Interiors, 14740 Flint Lee Road in Chantilly, Va.

The 300-piece collection includes traditional bedroom sets, chairs, tables, chests, lamps, mirrors, door knockers, desks, cabinets and other accent pieces, some incorporating a replica of the Spencer family crest. The line covers styles from all eras of the home. Pieces range from $140 for smaller accessories to $19,000 for larger furniture pieces.

Highlights include the Althorp House Desk (above, $11,100), a mahogany and brass-mounted desk with its upper section in the shape of the Althorp house. Other items include the Washington Chest ($2,910), the Ivory Three-Seater Sofa (price varies depending on fabric choice) and the Handcarved Wood Hall Chairs ($1,335; each chair's back is carved with the Spencer crest).

To schedule an appointment to see the collection, call 703-759-4848. Or visit for more information.

Fixing up, with computer's help

You'd love a new deck or patio. And better-looking landscaping. Maybe an in-ground pool. But how to begin? Consider the new Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Designer computer-software program.

The new software, developed by Chief Architect, provides all the home-design tools for planning outdoor projects such as landscaping, decks and patios, as well as for site-planning and cost-estimating.

The program features realistic 3-D models, landscaping templates, expert design advice, an inspiration gallery of photos, a plant encyclopedia, virtual tours, cost estimates and more. From pools and spas to gazebos and stone fences, users can envision anything and everything they'd like to add to their outdoor space. The software program sells for $59 at CompUSA, and

Staying safe and secure

Concerned about home safety? Home-improvement expert Lou Manfredini offers these tips on tightening your home's security:

Deadbolts are the best defense when it comes to door locks. Single-cylinder deadbolts, ideal for entry doors not near windows, have a key lock on the outside and a thumb-turn knob on the inside. Double-cylinder deadbolts, best for entry doors flanked by windows, have key locks on the outside and inside.

Always shut and lock windows and patio doors, especially those on the first floor. For single- and double-hung windows, check that sash locks are working. And for sliding windows and patio doors, install a security bar.

Keep the exterior of your home well-lighted. Put decorative lighting around the perimeter of the home and install motion-activated lighting on the sides of your home and at the back door.

Trim bushes and tree branches enough so that they don't serve as a hiding place for burglars.


See an exhibit of functional clay works by visiting Taiwanese potter Chun-Lan Li at Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., through Aug. 21. Pictured at right is Li's gas-and-salt-fired stoneware "Teapot." Call 410-578-1919.

Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Lori Sears, 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.

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