PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 12:00am

Send your home-related questions to our experts at homehelp@scmp.com

How do I go about decorating an outdoor table with mosaics?

Paola Dindo replies: Measure the surface of your table, create an exact template in plywood or strong card and sketch your design on to the template. Collect enough shells or broken tiles, glass, mirror or old crockery to cover the surface of your table and then create your design on the template without affixing the pieces. (This will give you an opportunity to experiment until you find a pattern you are happy with.)

Take thick tape and wrap round the edge of the table a few times to build up a five-centimetre rim. Prepare the white cement mix (available at all hardware shops) and if you desire, add powder pigment to the cement to colour the grouting. Make sure the table surface is clean, then apply a smooth layer of cement with a spatula, roughly 1.5cm thick. Then carefully transfer your mosaic design on to the cement. Sprinkle with a layer of fine sand to absorb humidity, allow the cement to dry overnight and brush away the sand with a household scrubbing brush.

I'm an expatriate living in a fully furnished serviced apartment which is a bit bland and not furnished to my taste. How can I make it more homely and personal?

Gary Chang replies: As you are unlikely to stay in your serviced apartment for a long period, it would be unwise to invest vast sums of money in redecorating it. Instead, aim for maximum impact with minimum expenditure. As you're not keen on the existing furnishings, I would suggest you ask the owner to clear away as much as possible so you can aim for a minimal look.

If you can afford it, invest in a few bold pieces that will stamp your character on the apartment. If the flat has fitted storage space (typical in serviced apartments) this could consist of as little as a striking sofa which doubles as a bed, a dining table that doubles as a desk and some chairs. You could pick up some stylish, co-ordinating pieces in G.O.D. (www.god.com.hk) or Ikea (www.ikea.com.hk) which may not last a lifetime (not a problem if you're a short-stayer) but will be inexpensive.

Lastly, add a few personal items such as pictures, plants and rugs and your apartment should feel more like home.