Dear Debbie: I have acquired a set of dining chairs that are old but in good condition except for the upholstered seats, which are threadbare. Is it too difficult to recover them myself? - Francoise
Dear Francoise: This is an easy project that will make you look like a real pro. Remove the worn fabric from the seats, and if the padding has deteriorated, replace it with foam or cushion padding found at your sewing store. Choose a fabric that suits your style, and cut it to fit the seat plus 2 inches on each side for overlap. Center the fabric on the seat, smooth out and pin to the seat along the top edge. Turn the seat over and pull the fabric tight across the diagonal first and then side to side. Staple the fabric in place along the sides, then fold and staple the corners.
You may want to create a pattern or apply a motif to plain fabric, as I have done here. The original floral cover did not suit the Oriental-themed dining room I had redesigned. Instead, I chose an elegant raw silk, and stenciled a Chinese symbol onto the fabric using black fabric paint. It's important to apply the paint with a dry brush to avoid leakage. Dip the stencil brush in the fabric paint and rub most of it off on a paper towel. Then use a circular motion to work the paint into the fabric fibers. Once the paint has dried, heat-set it with an iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. When you have attached the new covers, apply a protective fabric spray.
Dear Debbie: Last year we bought a navy leather couch and loveseat. Little did I know that it would be so hard to decorate the walls. I've tried green, but it didn't go; white was too boring even when I accessorized. Next I tried taupe - still boring. I've had yellow and am tired of it. I would like some spark! Any suggestions would be appreciated. - Cheryl
Dear Cheryl: Combining colors is never easy, and it does often take trial and error to get what you want. There are so many different shades of green, and today's new leaf and lime greens have a real zing to them that would really show off the navy couches. Add some brightly patterned throw cushions and a cozy blanket, and you're ready for the cool evenings that are coming. Another option is to check out the new metallic patterned wallpapers. Silver or bronze would look great with navy. This is a more sophisticated approach. There is also paintable embossed wallpaper that would add texture to your walls. A pearlescent glaze over any color will add sparkle and interest.
Dear Debbie: My home fitness center sits above a detached garage, and I need help with colors for the walls, trim and flooring. The room will be used for yoga and aerobic exercise. Thank you. - Betty
Dear Betty: A room with a thoughtful organic feel would be perfect for your space. Look for the new Zen-patterned wallpapers with leaves and bamboo branches on flat or embossed paper. You'll find them in muted colors or textured white. Paint the trim white. For the floor I suggest barn wood sanded smooth and sealed with a flat acrylic varnish. Wood feels wonderful under bare feet. This combination should inspire you to strengthen and stretch in peace and harmony.