Ask Alice

Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Q. I would love to invest in a special chandelier for our dining room, but I'm not happy with what's on offer. Can you recommend some original options?
Mary Hammond, Hereford

Q. I would love to invest in a special chandelier for our dining room, but I'm not happy with what's on offer. Can you recommend some original options?
Mary Hammond, Hereford

A. Chandeliers have become so desperately fashionable they've almost become a turn-off. But I've found three good retailers who sell chandeliers that are worth the investment. The General Trading Company, in Sloane Street, London SW1, has some beautiful Italian Bohemian glass chandeliers (£695). If you're after an heirloom, look at the ones on offer at Mediterraneo Design (020 7720 6556), where every piece is handmade, and prices for a simple 20-piece example start from £3,380. For a more modern look, contact Ochre Designs (0870 787 9242), which has some real beauties made from coconut shell and horn - a 60cm round horn chandelier costs £1,250.

Q. I read with interest your piece on 23 February about beech worktops. If beech is the most high-maintenance worktop, which wood is the lowest? Also, we love our white floorboards and are happy to repaint them every year, but they need cleaning in between and I find Flash isn't powerful enough. Can you suggest a stronger cleaning agent?
Mark Osborne, Clapham

A. Generally, the harder the wood, the better it will cope with heavy-duty wear. The best bet for a kitchen surface is probably African walnut, or its cousin, European walnut. Both will stand up to many years of use - although they're not cheap. My choice would be the slightly less expensive iroko, which grows in a naturally damp environment, so will be happy in a kitchen. For advice, contact Unicom Kitchen Worktops (0845 330 7642). As for your painted floor, have you considered coating it with a clear acrylic varnish to provide a surface that will be easier to clean?

Q. How do I get a small hole in a carpet repaired? I have tried to do it myself without success. I do have a piece of the original carpet.
Philippa Hunt, by e-mail

A. Carpet repairs have to be carried out from the back, which involves lifting the carpet - and I'm afraid this is one job best left to the experts. Some carpets will be glued to the underlay, which will be difficult to lift. Loop-pile carpets can fray badly once cut, but velvet pile carpets are more forgiving. It's best to ask a professional fitter to bond the repair with latex or heat-seam tape, and then nap the pile to blend in perfectly.

Design dilemma? E-mail askalice@independent.co.uk

Comments