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DESIGN NOTES

Favorite item of the week

A piece or two of wicker in a room can do wonders in beating the winter blahs. It can be a wicker chair, ottoman, armoire, trunk or anything else that blends well with your needs and your decor.

"We're seeing a strong interest in natural wicker colors. There isn't much that it doesn't go with. People put natural wicker in almost every room in the house," said Linda Boldt, from Arthur's Home Furnishings, Orchard Park.

Wicker or rattan dining chairs and tables work especially well in the kitchen, she said. The natural tones blend with cabinets but look lighter and airier than wood. And a glass-top table is a breeze to care for.

"You can clean anything off of it - from nail polish to Kool-Aid," she said.

Wicker also has improved greatly in the comfort department.

"It looks like wicker but has the comfort of your favorite lounge chair," Boldt added.

Design tip

Here's a bright idea for kids' and teens' rooms: Choose different-color sheets for tops and bottoms. Mix a pink flat sheet with an orange fitted one. Or a green with a blue.

And don't forget contrasting pillowcases for extra splash.

Speaking of color . . .

Here's an interesting theory: New cars - especially the new Beetle - are often a bellwether of color trends.

The retro-styled car, in particular, is a good measure of what's popular because buyers cut across all demographic groups in terms of age, marital status and sex, reports the Kansas City Star.

The hot color among these trendy motorists was silver when the car was introduced in 1998. Last year metallic green was all the rage, and this year, so far, bright yellow is very popular, a source told the newspaper.

Coming up: The next new Beetle is bright orange. Definitely not for the timid.

Cute as a pug

Something else to watch for: Pugs as a popular design motif. Step aside, Labs and Dalmatians. Pugs are becoming a chic choice for pillows, fabrics and decorative items for the home.

The Ballard Designs catalog offers several pillow designs starring pugs (you can check them out at www.ballarddesigns.com.

And the wrinkly faced, compact canine is showing up on chintz and other decorator fabrics, too.

From the home front

"Details are the soul of decoration."

House Beautiful magazine

By News Style Reporter Susan Martin, compiled from wire services and other sources.

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