The best of everything for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentOctober 5, 2012 


Take a black permanent marker and pen black triangles for eyes and a mouth on an orange or clementines for a Halloween-themed treat.


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Best ways to embrace autumn

Cooler temperatures provide the perfect backdrop for fall decor. We’re excerpting tips here for incorporating fall touches into your home from the Freshhome Design and Architecture site.

1 Display artwork that depicts fall themes/colors: Consider nature themes with fall colors in oranges, rusts and golden yellows. If you prefer more abstract art, oil paintings with browns, reds and burnt umber will make a statement without being obvious.

2 Dining room table centerpieces/settings: Consider using red and yellow apples for an informal organic and edible centerpiece. Remember, the centerpiece doesn’t have to be stagnant. Add or subtract from it throughout the season for added visual interest. For more formality, consider place settings and table linen that have hints of fall colors and themes.

3 Use your fireplace to showcase seasonal décor: Dried leaves and pine cones make great décor. Small pumpkins, gourds or dried leaf vines, and colorful candles will brighten your mantle and spirits.

4 Bring the aromas of fall into your home: Pumpkin pies, cinnamon apple cider and the first burning of your fireplace are all welcome and aromatic ways to make your home feel full of autumn inspiration. Consider using candles, incense or boil a pot of spices – cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg to instantly transport your home into fall mode.

5 Fill jars with seasonal colored items: Fill mason or decorative glass jars with candy corn or other colorful novelty items. Try filling various sizes of jars with colorful dried beans, or healthy after-school snacks for the kids. Décor can be functional and beautiful!

6 Bring fall to the exterior of your home with light: Luminaries are not just for the winter holiday season; they are perfect for fall, too, as the sun sets earlier. Battery-powered candles placed inside paper bags with sand in the bottom make perfect luminaries. For the traditional type, place candles inside bags and light individually at dusk.

7 Hang heavier drapery and curtains: Switch out lighter fabrics for heavier ones. Deeper colors and heavier fabrics will feel warmer and hold more air out of the room. Changing to fall shades to match your decor will bring instant color from floor to ceiling.

Get more tips at

Reader’s best

William Conner of Cary has a solution for using up the remnants of small soap bars. “Try sticking the wet used bar to a wet new bar when showering, then let the two bars stick together. With very rare exceptions, the two bars will stick together permanently after one or two additional shower uses, thus allowing the old bar to be used completely as you use the new bar. I’ve been using this technique for years with virtually complete success.”

He notes that the bars do not need to be the same brand, but, he says you will occasionally find that certain brands are not compatible.

Reader’s best winner

Congratulations to Brenda Batchelor of Wake Forest, who will receive a Target gift card for sharing her secret for cooking perfect pasta every time.

If you’d like to be entered into our quarterly drawing for a gift card, send your best tips for the home and garden to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “Reader’s Best” in the subject line.

Designer’s best

The Better Homes and Garden blog at offers this tip for decorating an apartment or rental home where painting the walls isn’t an option. “Paint your furniture. A new paint job on a bed frame or nightstand can be just as impactful as new color on the walls.”

Best for kids

As we head toward All Hallow’s Eve, the Princess and the Frog blog offers up this neat idea for packing your kids’ lunch or decorating around the house:

Take a black permanent marker and pen black triangles for eyes and a mouth on an orange or clementines. You can pack the fruits as a special Halloween-themed treat for kids’ lunches or gather the jack-o-lantern-like orbs in a fruit bowl for afternoon snacks. Take it a step further by making lunch an orange-y affair. Pack orange juice, orange-colored chips (nachos or just orange-colored packaging) and maybe some candy corn. You could also adorn the clear plastic tops of individual mandarin orange containers with jack-o-lantern faces. See an example of the clementine “pumpkins” at

Best of homes

The Wake County Parade of Homes continues this weekend – your chance to check out the latest in home colors, storage, design, landscaping and decor. With more than 200 homes on display across the county, comfortable shoes are a must. Tip: If you’re planning a painting project, take color swatches with you to compare with colors that catch your eye in the homes.

The parade is free and runs from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 7 and Oct. 12-14. See a list of homes at

Best of the tube


Kitchen Works: Jonathan and Maria are nearly finished renovating their 90-year-old home but have no idea how to tackle their tiny, completely dysfunctional kitchen. Designer Genevieve Gorder comes up with a new layout, giving the kitchen great flow. Then she injects some modern style with a color palette that makes the room feel larger. “Dear Genevieve” airs at 9 a.m. Monday.

Clutter clean-up: With two young kids and a gaggle of pets, Cristal and Scott are struggling to keep clutter at bay. The family is desperate for more room, but before they start shopping for a new place, they’ve got to clean up their current home. Drew and Jonathan reveal their plan for a dramatic overhaul, but Cristal’s extravagant taste clashes with the design plan. With time running out, what will they do? “Buying and Selling” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.


A fresh start: Ben and Katie have a charming home surrounded by parks and scenic views. Their home is full of color and designed for comfort except for the kitchen, which is a white box filled with aging appliances surrounded by a layer of dirt and grime. It needs a major overhaul. This episode loosens up the layout, maximizes the storage space and gives Ben and Katie’s kitchen a fresh start. “I Hate My Kitchen” airs at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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