Wallpaper is back in style — and it’s back with a bang. “In terms of scale, patterns are big, bigger, biggest,” says Andrew Hudson, an interior decorator with Sun Wallpaper & Paint in Poughkeepsie, who notes that many new motifs are classics with a twist. “Manufacturers know there’s a new generation of consumers so they’ve freshened up the designs,” he says. “Customers are opening up wallpaper books and saying, ‘This isn’t my mother’s wallpaper.’ They’re pleasantly surprised.”
Among Hudson’s favorite papers are those by Thibaut (pronounced tee-bo). “They’re one of the last great American companies still producing original designs, and they design with an American market in mind, with a more vivid palette and more clarity of color,” he says.
Today’s wallpapers are easy to hang, easy to maintain, and a lot easier to remove than they were in the past. They’re also the fastest way to completely change the mood of a room and add a luxurious feel — as well as disguise any flaws in a wall. Still, many people are afraid of making an expensive mistake, Hudson says. “So if you’re at all hesitant, ask for help.” Most outlets have a pro on hand who can steer you in the right direction based on photos of the room you want to paper, or even give a consultation in your house, he notes.
A professional can also help calculate how many rolls you’ll need. Just take measurements of the room, including the ceiling height, with notes about doors and windows. “If samples are available, take one home,” Hudson advises. “If not, when in doubt, order a sample roll. Worse case, you’ll have some wonderful wrapping paper.”
Note: All the wallpapers shown come in several different colorways.
Painting a room is by far the easiest makeover — all you have to do is choose from the ten billion colors now available. Trends? Yellow is the new orange, declare decorating trends forecasters. Purple and pink are back. Colors you associate with the cultures of China and India are hot, too — all those rich, spicy tones. One area of consensus: Green. Sage, fern, apple, olive, kiwi — any shade is right. Some designers are even calling it “the new neutral.”
If you want to just go figuratively green, look for Aura, the newest, eco-friendly paint from Benjamin Moore. It’s more expensive than regular paint, but thick enough to cover even dark shades in a single coat. Colors are richer and deeper. It’s water-based, virtually odorless, and dries super fast. All finishes are washable. And it can be mixed in any shade you like.
Gardeners have gone to desperate lengths to keep deer from eating their plants: hanging smelly soaps in shrubs, tying aluminum foil or hanks of human hair to posts, concocting sprays of rotten eggs. None of them are effective for very long. A fence must be at least eight feet tall to keep deer out, and can be unsightly as well as expensive. Water deterrents triggered by motion detectors need water at the site, you can’t use them in winter, and you often get wet yourself.
Lee Reich, who gardens in Rosendale, Ulster County (and is the author of several books on gardening), tried to outwit deer for years — and finally came up with a harmless new gizmo, aptly named Deerchaser, that’s not an eyesore. “Deer were ravaging my garden, so I put out a motion detector hooked up to a radio in the house to alert me that they were there,” says Reich, who soon found that dashing out at all hours to frighten off the deer wasn’t practical. “Then a light bulb went off in my head and I thought, why don’t I put the radio outside — perhaps it’ll scare them away.”
Reich tested his theory by setting up a radio near a row of tomato plants. “The deer ate all the plants up to the ones within range,” he says. “I kept thinking it was too simple to work, but I made a few prototypes, and had a lot of people test it.” One of those was Richard Henry, the big-game biologist for the New York State DEC. Henry reported “no deer damage in the gardens under surveillance … and I have actually rediscovered perennial plants thought to have been eradicated some time ago. Plant species that were previously stunted are now thriving in the protected area.”
“The easy part was coming up with the idea; the hard part was getting it manufactured,” Reich says. Finally, though, Deerchaser is on the market. It’s a simple, weatherproof device, about 10 inches long, that you mount to a pole, tree or wall. When deer come in range — an area about 25 feet with a 110-degree arc — the radio and a dim light will come on and ward them off. Reich suggests tuning the radio to a talk station at low volume, as deer are very sensitive to human noises. The device turns itself off after the deer leave.
“Prices range from $30 to $70, so search the internet and get the cheapest one you can,” Reich advises. “Then you just need batteries and you’re all set.” Reich warns that information you may find on-line about loud, high-frequency noises and bright, flashing lights is not accurate. “The copywriters went a little overboard,” he says. “It’s actually very unobtrusive.”
The Secret’s Out
Last summer, the Putnam County chapter of ARC (which provides services for those with disabilities) launched a Secret Garden Tour of 12 of the loveliest private gardens around. It was such a success, with over 400 attendees oohing and aahing over their fellow gardeners’ efforts, that this year there will be another — with new gardens to see.
The self-guided driving tour includes gardens in Mahopac, Kent, Carmel, Garrison, and Cold Spring. All will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with owners on hand to answer questions. Garden designer Barbara Feldt is scheduled to give a talk at the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market, where the newly inspired will find annuals and perennials for sale.
Set for Saturday, June 14, rain or shine (fingers crossed for shine), proceeds from the event will benefit PARC. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the tour. For more information call 845-278-PARC, ext. 287, or check online at www.putnamarc.org.
The Green Scene
Most of us these days are making an effort to be green, doing little things like composting and recycling, or big things like installing solar panels on our roofs. If you’d like to learn how to be more eco-friendly (and maybe save yourself big bucks in the process), head to the Hudson Valley Green Fair at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds the last weekend of April. Businesses will show off environmentally friendly products and services, offering green alternatives on everything from cars to spas, cosmetics and baby clothes. On the home front, there will be architects, engineers, and other experts on design, construction, and remodeling the green way using beautiful materials, plus tips on how to make your home more energy efficient — and maybe even eliminate your water heating bills entirely. You can also find out about state tax incentives for choosing alternative types of energy, and sample locally grown food and drink while you’re at it. The Green Fair takes place April 26th and 27th at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on Rte. 9 in Rhinebeck. Check www.hudsonvalleygreenfair.com for more information.
Foxgloves have been our favorite gardening accessory for years now. Designed by Harriet Zbikowski, a Cold Spring resident who’s a landscaper and gardener herself, they’re light, comfortable, and durable, and come in lots of pretty colors that stand out so you can find them in the unlikely event that you fling them off while working.
Now there are a couple of improved versions: Foxgloves Grip, with little silicone bumps on the fingers and palm ($20), and Foxgloves Ultragrip, with a synthetic suede palm, for heavy work ($28). If you like to feel well-dressed even when grubbing about outside, get the elbow-length Foxgloves Elle — perfect for the gardening debutante. Check www.foxglovesinc.com for more information.