Q I know they are beautiful, but how practical are silk draperies in the sunny state of Florida?
Judy Graham of Graham Interiors answers: "I use a lot of silk drapes because of the incredible sheen, the texture and the color. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like silk for a drop-dead gorgeous look. Besides, silk is not as fragile as most people think. Because of newer manufacturing processes, it's more durable and more colorfast than ever before. And now with UV-tinted windows, silk drapes are an even better option.
"When selecting silk for windows, the paramount consideration is lining, which adds structure to the fabric and protects the silk from fading over time. Proper lining also adds to the insulation of your room. The best lining for silk is bump cloth, which has to be ordered from England. It's cotton flannel and has the weight of a baby's crib blanket.
"Whether you allow your drapes to pool on the floor in an elegant puddle is determined by the style of the room. In a modern room you probably would not puddle. And I can tell you from experience, if you have a male dog, do not puddle your silk drapes. Otherwise, you'll have real puddles to contend with." Graham Interiors, 50 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. 955-9495.
Q I keep hearing the term "zone" used in kitchen design. What does it mean?
Ron Cook of Cook's Custom Cabinetry answers: "We used to talk about the work triangle-a 30/60 triangle of the sink, refrigerator and stove. Kitchens were arranged to efficiently accommodate the cook in this compact area. But today kitchens are bigger, more open and more multi-purpose. Now we design space in terms of zones-the hot zone for the stove and ovens, grill and such. The prep zone is often an island with a vegetable sink, disposal, and waist-high refrigerator drawers to hold vegetables. The clean-up zone is for the double sink and two dishwashers. You might even have a pastry zone with a marble slab for rolling out dough and places to store mixers and baking pans." Cook's Custom Cabinetry, 1191 Palmer Wood Court, Sarasota. 366-6112.
Q I want to do a West Indies bedroom. Any suggestions for basic pieces?
Howard A. Firth of Robb & Stucky answers: "Start with a four-poster bed in carved mahogany or walnut. Or it could be a combination of rattan and bamboo. Tommy Bahama makes a popular one. Next, you need a case piece for storage. An armoire would be a good choice, one in dark wood with wicker or rattan accents. Next, select an Oriental rug in faded vegetable dye colors. It should look old. Finish off the look with a pair of chairs. My favorites are the woven wicker honey tone wing chairs from Milling Road. To pull off a West Indies attitude, the furniture and accessories in the room should look collected, as if a world traveler with eclectic tastes inhabits the space. The furniture should not match but harmonize." Robb & Stucky, 7557 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 922-2274.
Q I need some guidelines for choosing a wallpaperhanger-I've heard horror stories.
Jonathan Kendall Slentz of The Wallpaper Store answers: "I've heard those stories, too, from customers who thought any paperhanger who advertised must be a professional. Often the homeowner ends up with paper upside down or else it peels off a month after it was hung. One of the most important parts of the process is proper preparation of the surface. It's different for fabric, paper, foil or vinyl. And preparation is different if you're applying a wallcovering to new wallboard, plaster, wood, etc. There are even papers made for mirror trim and for windows, which is tricky because glass expands and contracts.
"If the paperhanger doesn't talk to you about preparing the surface, get another estimate. Some paperhangers (the ones we use) are certified, and all guarantee their work. A professional paperhanger should charge in the range of $18-$24 per single roll. Ask for referrals and call those homeowners." The Wallpaper Store and Jonathan-The Interiors, 7350 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 924-3640.
If you'd like advice from a design expert, send your question to Marsha Fottler, SARASOTA Magazine, 601 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, FL 34236 or e-mail to email@example.com.