Dear Debbie: Have you any ideas for backyard shade other than the traditional table umbrella? We have a small but very sunny backyard, and I'd like to be able to cover a kids' play area and picnic table. Thanks for your help. - Madelaine
Dear Madelaine: With the concerns about getting too much exposure to the sun's harmful rays, it is important to find a solution for shading that is not only effective, but also enhances our outdoor spaces. The latest in shade sails or shade tarps is the perfect solution. These versatile covers come in various shapes and sizes, generally triangular, that can be tied to trees, porches or poles and set up to shade gardens, pools and play and sitting areas.
The sails are thin and stretched taut so that they take up very little visual space, unlike a traditional umbrella. They come in different fabrics that provide UV protection as well as shade. They are lightweight, and as most fabrics are translucent, you can still watch the clouds go by. A DIY version such as the Wallabee Ready Made Shade Sail shown here can be found at www.shadesailscanada.com.
Dear Debbie: I have a small living room; however, my sofa and love seat are rather large. They are brown and beige. I would like help picking a paint color for the walls that would work. I'm considering blue or sage green. - Sharon
Dear Sharon: To make your living room look and feel larger, you might consider replacing one or both of the large pieces of furniture. It is possible to find pieces that allow you to seat four or five people but take up a smaller footprint. Or can they be arranged in a different way?
If the furniture is staying, then I suggest a soft cornflower blue for the walls; this color is fresh and inviting and will enhance the browns and beiges you have. For added impact, choose a focal wall and hang one of today's stunning wallpaper designs, such as a blue and green contemporary floral pattern.
House to Home is produced by
Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email your questions to