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Cork provides comfortable and durable kitchen flooring

October 23, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We have always spent a lot of time in the kitchen of any home we've owned. Now we're about to renovate our next house, and I'm puzzled over the floor.

Someone has suggested cork. I haven't heard of cork in years! Is it a good idea?

A: A splendid idea, especially since you spend so much time in your kitchen. Cork is a natural product that's been endowed with preternatural charms through modern technology: it's quiet, durable and, above all, comfortable underfoot.

Cork can also be quite decorative -- witness the checkerboard cork floor in the pictured kitchen. Borrowed from a new book called "Staged to Sell (Or Keep)" from Filipacchi Publishing, this is a kitchen in which you can live and work. As author Jean Nayar points out, the cork flooring stands up to heavy traffic, while the Oriental runner looks stylish without showing the spills and splashes. Add a low bench and hang a collection of blue-and-white dishes to create a classy kitchen.

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If you want more details on the newfangled virtues of old-fashioned, environmentally-friendly cork flooring, visit the World Floor Covering Association website at www.wfca.org.

Q: You always write about "stealing" ideas from designer showhouses, but I've never seen any rooms I really want to take home and live in. Those houses are like a tour de force where designers show off their most far-out ideas. How useful are they to anyone who wants to try this at home?

A: You know, stealing ideas is an art. Look not at the entire room -- that's the 3-D realization of the designer's personal vision. Instead, observe the little things, the details that give the room its personality -- and are likely to spark your own creative juices.

I just saw the Hampton Designer Showhouse in Water Mill, Long Island, N.Y., the summer habitat of many of Manhattan's most inventive interior designers. Summer showhouses make up a special breed; they're usually in resort areas with a holiday-festive attitude, which makes idea-shopping especially delightful.

I came away with a notebook full of ideas that could easily adapt to other homes. Among the favorites:

o Driftwood lamps: Designer Greg Lanza showcased two whitewashed, driftwood floor lamps in his fresh, yellow-themed, two-story foyer.

o Swinging settees: Literally. Designer Brad Ford hung a pair of upholstered swings over a cowskin rug on the all-white screened porch of the house.

o Brilliant chandeliers: Marshall Watson lined up five lighted bee skeps over the long, natural-edge kumbuck table in his rustic dining room. Lit by hidden halogens, the skeps were filled with sparkling glass balls and beads.

o Mirror, mirror, off the wall: Kat Burki filled an 8-foot-tall salvaged window frame with beveled mirrors and stood it against the wall of her girlie dressing room.

o Tickled by ticking: Benjamin Bradley and David Thiergartner revived good old mattress ticking as the fabric of the day, using it to upholster a Knoll bed and drape a skyscraper of a shelving unit.

o Recycling with a capital R: The inventive team from Nathan Egan Interiors showcased edgy ideas, such as a chair made of old blankets and baling wire or a feedbag throw pillow.

o Clever canopy: Elizabeth Bailey bolted iron rods to the ceiling of her bedroom to hang long curtains at the four corners of her budget "canopy" bed.

Produced with Traditional Home magazine to benefit Southampton Hospital, the showhouse runs through Sept. 6. Take a closer look at www.hamptondesignershowhouse.com.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

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