The dining area of my living room is lit by one boring ceiling light and I want to install something more mood-evoking. What do you suggest?
Tania Chow replies: In terms of atmosphere, a dining area is as important as a bedroom. But the lighting doesn't necessarily have to be electric - you can suspend a chandelier over the table, using candles rather than bulbs. Just make sure the candles have ample-sized 'collars' or your guests will have to dodge dripping wax.
Alternatively, remove the ceiling fixture and install one or two floor-standing uplighters, ideally with dimmer control so you can change the light intensity as the evening progresses. Uplighting will flood the ceiling with light but the brightness will diffuse downwards to create a soft and flattering indirect light. Ikea (tel: 3125 0888) stocks a terrific selection of inexpensive lighting while a good upmarket source is Artemide (1/F Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333) where fixtures start at around $2,000.
Or you can replace the existing fittings with a single fixture consisting of three spotlights. Normally in white or aluminium, the spots can be manipulated to highlight specific areas such as the walls or artwork. I would recommend PLC on Lockhart Road (tel: 2519 9601).
My pine kitchen table is looking the worse for wear. How can I revive it?
Mark Fraser replies: There are three ways of reviving wood - refurbishing, refinishing and stripping - with each process becoming progressively more difficult, messy and time-consuming.
Assuming your table has been stained or varnished, sand thoroughly with a medium-grade sandpaper; then, using wood filler, fill in chips, cracks or gaps. When dry, sand until smooth, wipe with thinner to remove all dust, then apply a coat of primer if the wood is bare. If you want to varnish the table, I recommend Sikkens Cetol TS Interior woodstain (around $200 per litre from Yuen Fat Ho, 77 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2546 8020) which comes in a variety of colours and is resistant to knocks, spills and abrasions. Apply a coat of this, sand down when dry, then apply a second coat.
How do I recreate the look of blue mosaic-style tiles on my bathroom walls?
Paola Dindo replies: First, prepare your walls by making sure they are completely clean and free of holes. Smooth over any holes with a prepared filler using a spatula, leave to dry thoroughly, then smooth down with a medium-grade sandpaper.
Mix two parts oil-based eggshell paint in the shade of your choice with one part turpentine, and apply to the walls using a special oil roller (available from paint shops). The turpentine will help the paint penetrate the wall surface. Allow to dry overnight then apply a second layer of paint, this time mixed with less turpentine to give thicker coverage, and leave overnight.
Using white oil colour, carefully paint in the 'grout' which divides the mosaic tiles. Measure and mark out the top and bottom of the wall then hang a marking cord (available from hardware stores) which you can follow. Turn a ruler upside down and use the edge as a guide for your paintbrush. For first-timers, it might be easier to create the conventional square mosaic shapes, though you could opt for a more irregular 'crazy paving' effect. Again, allow to dry overnight then apply a few final layers of strong, clear lacquer, such as the type used on boats, until you achieve the desired sheen.
Tsang Chi Fan
Christie's Hong Kong
Paola Dindo & Associates