Answers to Accents & Accessories Questions

shelving with plants and other decor pieces
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Q. I have three 3"x 3" candles for my fireplace mantle that I would like to have grouped together but at different levels. Any idea where I can get separate candle holders that all are the same design, but at different tiered heights?

A. For a more interesting grouping, you might try to find three different ones that are similar in finish (all three brass, or wood or glass, etc.) but different in style or shape. That way, they won't be so "matching." You can find them in gift and home accessory shops.

Q. We have a retractable screen door that when in use, it is difficult to see the screen. I would like to put a stencil of a sun on it to make it more visible. What materials will I need to do this and can stenciling be done on a screen?

A. Sure you can stencil on a screen. You may want to use an interior/exterior spray paint to do the trick. Look for one that sticks to anything and is weatherproof. If you need a little more control than spray paint, because perhaps your stencil is complicated with many overlays, use an exterior oil-based paint and a sponge. Go lightly - you do not want to clog the screen and stop your airflow.

Q. I need some help with stamping. I am decorating a nursery with a Mickey Mouse theme and I will be using stamping with stencils. I thought stamping would be simple, but every time and every way I try it, it turns out looking bad. It has bubbles in it, the paint does not cover the whole area, there are gaps, it is not smooth, it looks smeared, and it runs along the edges no matter how much paint I use.

A. Stamp images onto paper to create a template for the desired pattern. This avoids mistakes and keeps the sentiment even. One bit of advice would be to dip the stamp in the paint, and blot it off on a towel or board before hitting the wall with it.

Q. I am looking for opinions on "rope" hammocks and mesh hammocks. I am buying one for my husband for father's day and they are priced very similarly. I am leaning toward the mesh because if I bought the rope I would end up buying a hammock pad because the ropes dig into you and of course leave marks. I love the rope hammocks but I think the mesh would be even nicer. My main concern is durability.


A. The durability of a mesh hammock would depend on the type of material it is made of and how it is cared for. If the mesh is a cotton thread, unless it was protected from the elements when not in use, its lifespan might be limited. Poly or nylon meshing would probably be more durable.

Q. I have spent hours putting together a large 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle that I would like to frame. What is my first step?

A. 1. Find a board onto which to glue the puzzle, such as Masonite or hardboard.
2. Finish the puzzle with the special glue that holds it together.
3. Install the finished product in the frame of your choice.

Q. I have the 'tubes' from the doorbell at my childhood home. They have a gorgeous sound to them, and I would like very much to make a wind chime out of them. Does anyone have a clue as to how I can do this myself? They are brass ranging in length from 35 inches to 47 inches and about 55 years old. I realize they may not weather outside too well, and I am prepared to find a place indoors.

wind chimes

A. The key to the sound of chimes has to do with the design of the tubes themselves. Take a look at a set of chimes and cobble together the same sort of pieces and build one. Alternatively, get one, replace the tubes with yours, and see how it works. You might want to rebuild the clapper so that it strikes near the middle of the tubes.

Q. How can I make paper flowers?

A. 1. Trace three tissue paper squares about 4 1/2 inches on a side. You may use the same or different colors.
2. Cut out the three squares.
3. Place the squares on top of each other.
4. Fold one side one inch back and continue in an accordion fashion until you have one strip of tissue about one inch across.
5. Cut a piece of string 12 inches.
6. Tie the string around the folded tissue paper.
7. Unfold the tissue paper. Fluff it out to form a flower.
8. Attach a pipe cleaner to the tissue paper flower.

Q. I have a stained glass window that used to have two looped hangers soldered on, but they have since broken off. How else can I hang this in a window? I don't own a soldering gun; otherwise, I would just reattach them. Is there any hardware available at local stores that I could attach to the window instead?

two stained glass windows

A. A couple of options come to mind. One is to take the window to a shop that does stained glass and have them put a couple of hanging loops on it for you. They would probably charge about the same as the cost of a soldering gun, and you will get a much stronger job. The other would be to put a wood frame, preferably oak, around the window and attach eyes to that.

Q. I have two new oil portraits of my children, 28"x34". I have hung them side-by-side on a center wall at eye level and they seem a little low since I have 12-foot ceilings in the room. Would it be a decorating faux pas to raise them up, or do I need to stay with the old "eye level rule"?

A. I hate that rule! Just whose eye level is that, anyway? If you're 5'4" and you're hanging them at your eye level, then you have a little room for adjusting them up a smidge - especially with high ceilings. Pretend you're a man about 6'1" and hang them at his eye level. That should do it.

Another thought would be to anchor the pictures with a console table beneath them on that wall. Then you'd have to hang them a bit higher, and they won't look funny because there'd be a reason for doing so.

The ribbon/swag above them idea is good, too, although you don't want to detract from the artwork too much. However, you could install a picture light above each one, and that would add some height to them also, without being distracting - actually, it would add to their beauty by illuminating them properly.

Q. I'm in a tiny apartment that has cinderblock walls, which my renter will not allow me to paint, so I would like to put up some kind of artwork to at least cover them up a bit. There is one wall in particular that I'm not sure what to do with. The size of the room dictates that it holds the TV. The wall is just less then nine feet long and has a doorway at each end. In order for traffic to flow, the TV is in the center of this wall. It is about 52 inches height and 32 inches wide on its stand. I don't know what kind of art or decorations I can put on that wall and especially how it would best be arranged. I've always heard to hang things at eye level but for me that is only about eight inches above the TV, and since the wall is eight feet high, I think that would look unbalanced. Please help!

A. Are you allowed to nail, drill, and screw into the wall? If so, install multiple floating shelves and display everything from books and photos to sculptures and knick-knacks, as well as trailing plants on them. That way, by utilizing 3-D shelves for displaying 3-D items, you will hardly notice the cinder block wall at all. Or if you're just wanting to hang flat artwork, instead of doing one big thing above the TV and wrestling with how high to place it, go for lots of smaller pictures. Hang them sort of randomly as a collection.

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