Ask Alice

Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist

A. I'm with you on this one, Alex. If you can't afford the real antique thing, I'd be tempted to forget the repro and go for something contemporary. Heals (www.heals.co.uk) has a good compromise - the Agra table, at £825, which has chrome legs and a white lacquered top - unashamedly modern but with a certain classic elegance, too.

Q. My wife has asked for a pair of kitchen scales as a birthday present, but the only examples I've found in my local kitchen shop seem very expensive and a bit soulless. Can you give me other examples?
Eric Martin, SW19

A. Here are three suggestions: try the Typhoon Classic Spring Scales (£25 at John Lewis), which come in a range of delicious retro colours, including vanilla and Buick red. I'm also fond of Sebastian Conran's beautifully curvy and award-winning Equilibrium Scales (£57.99 at Scales Express; 0870 010 8507), made from polished chrome and available in clear or translucent blue. If she likes old-fashioned stuff, scour junk shops for an antique example.

Q. I have been searching for a patterned ceramic-tiled floor for my north-facing kitchen, but without success. Most of the designs that I like are too shiny and cold - I would like something quite warm and inviting. Can you suggest anything?
Tim Hart, West Wickham

A. Glazed tiles can often cast rather a cold aura, particularly when used in a day-lit environment. I would suggest that you take a look at encaustic tiles. Fired Earth (www.firedearth.co.uk) has a selection of beautifully natural-coloured designs, produced using liquid clay to give an authentic, soft, antique appearance, while being bright enough to enliven your kitchen. Prices from £3.76 for a 20cm tile.

Craven Dunnill Jackfield (www.cravendunnill-jackfield.co.uk) produces a lovely range of encaustic tiles in geometric as well as traditional designs; visit its website to find a local retailer. Or for something new and exciting, check out the selection of concrete floor tiles by Cho Cho San (www.chochosan.co.uk). They are printed by hand, with images of Persian carpets, and their warm colours are bright but mellow, effectively reproducing the tones of a lovely old rug (£47 per 30cm tile).

Q. I would like to commission a dining-room mural along the lines of one of my favourite Matisse paintings, but there are so many muralists out there - can you recommend anyone?
Sally Feltz, e-mail

Q. One company that springs to mind is eclectic 3 (www.eclectic3.com; 020 7272 8111; prices vary) which can reproduce a picture from any photograph of your own. It can also produce a mosaic version, where your photograph is reproduced in tiny tiles, and then installed on your wall or floor.

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

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