Dear Readers: Going back into the office is what lots of us are doing. We can now reclaim the living room as what it was meant for: living, relaxing and entertaining, instead of office space. Let’s look at the basics of how we should decorate the living room for fun and function. There are five elements:

1. Seating. Think about who will be doing the sitting and if they have any physical limitations. Think about the size of the living room and what pieces you need. What materials are the pieces made of? Leather? Fabric? Do you want a sofa, loveseat and chair? Or can one unit do double duty? Do you need recliners?

2. What about tables? Coffee tables? Console tables? Side tables? Coffee tables are usually in front of the sofa — home base for books, coasters and drinks, remotes, etc. Try to keep this space tidy and uncluttered.

3. Entertainment is a must. TV? Sound system? These can be artfully designed for maximum enjoyment. You might need a specialist to design your setup.

4. Next up: storage. Bookcases and room dividers can work well here to keep you organized and tidy.

5. Finally, accessories. Tell your story with great art and easily swapped-out throw pillows. Don’t hang art too high. Window treatments can fall into this category also. Beautiful, crisp window sheers can make the room feel bigger. Hang ‘em high. Also? Reflect on mirrors.

Let’s get the living room back to what it was designed for — living — instead of computer conference calls! They have their time and their place. — Heloise

Tech talk Tuesday

Dear Readers: Definition time again: hashtag. We called it a pound symbol, but the hashtag is boss in social media. A hashtag along with a word, phrase or slogan links content across the many social media sites.

A search in an online platform of, for example, #moon, will return all posts that contain the same hashtag and subject. Interested in the full moon? A hashtag can help. — Heloise

Wet phone? Dry this

Dear Heloise: We’ve all heard about cellphones getting wet and drying them out in a bowl of uncooked rice. I found a better way: those silica gel packs that come in shipments of shoes, bags, etc. Their purpose is to keep moisture at bay, right?

The little packets are porous. I put the phone in a zippered plastic bag with the gel packs, seal the bag and give it anywhere from two to three days to dry out. — Marco S. in New York

Grawlix

Dear Readers: Have you ever been reading and come across a bad word where there are punctuation marks in place of the bad word? Ex: #@!%&#@? Did you know that there’s a term for that: grawlix.

The use of grawlix is mostly limited to cartoons and casual fiction writing. Grawlix are never appropriate (nor are the bad words they stand in for) in professional business writings. — Heloise

Come back clean

Dear Heloise: Before we go on vacation, we clean the house from top to bottom. Dishes, clean sheets, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, laundry, trash gets taken out. It is a lot of work, but ...

Nothing beats walking into a clean home, and all we have to do is the dirty laundry from the trip. — Jennifer J. in Texas

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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