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Archive for the ‘From the Design Files of Heather B’ Category

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wallpaper or Paint?

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Design Question

I have really bad wall paper in the kitchen of the house I live in. Should I change it to a new wallpaper or should I paint? It is an old kitchen. I would like to update it in expensively. It has a border I really really don’t like. The main wallpaper is a red check. It is ok but the “chicken and egg theme” border is bad! Is wall paper still “in”?

Design Answer

One of the cheapest ways in terms of renovating is to repaint or repaper the walls. Yes, wallpaper is still definitely “in. While some design professionals insist that wallpaper never fell out of favor in the first place, it has been making a comeback in interior design for several reasons:

  • there are an endless variety of patterns and colors to choose from; while there are an endless number of paint colors, they don’t come in different designs
  • because of the different designs and patterns, wallpaper adds “texture” to the room, in this case, your kitchen; adding texture to a room’s décor makes the space visually interesting
  • wallpaper has entered the 21st century, so to speak – since it is no longer thick, requires paste to install and the patterns have become more stylish and sophisticated, wallpaper or wall covering, as it is also known as, has become more and more appealing to homeowners

If you are not happy with the wallpaper, you should change it. Paint or wallpaper can be inexpensive if you look for bargains. Paint/hardware stores often sell “mistakes” (paint that was improperly mixed, but still looks fine; it’s just not the color on the paint chip) at a fraction of the cost of a regular can of paint. You can sometimes get good deals on wallpaper “ends” or patterns that have been discontinued.

Why not do both – paint and wallpaper? Paint three walls, and wallpaper an accent wall. You mentioned that your kitchen is older; you’ll have to do a little investigating; if the current wallpaper is the older kind it’s going to take some effort to get the paper off the walls, and depending on what you find, it might take some work to prime the walls for whatever you want to do with them – painting or wallpapering.

While wallpaper is making a bit of a comeback, the same cannot be said for borders. Manufacturers make them available because people like what is familiar, but for the most part, they are keeping a low profile in spaces designed by decorating specialists. Especially if you don’t like it, I suggest that you dispose of the border and plan not to replace it.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. Don’t forget to join me in the New Year for more design questions and answers.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Help! Small Living Room

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Design Question

Hi Heather, We have a small living room which contains a floor level gas fireplace with a TV nook on top of it. I recently painted a red feature wall and do not like it! I also hate the nook above the fireplace with our TV and all the junk that goes with it on top. I would be willing to move the TV and could do without the small white arm chair in order to accommodate the new TV location.

I like airy, light, white and grey spaces. I am open to doing wall paper and would like to accent the whites and grays with a color of some kind. I would also like to change the light fixture which is in the center of the room and is a simple white dome. In the future I would like to re-tile the fireplace and add some type of mantle as well. I have no idea how to bring style into this space and desperately need some help! Thanks you so much!

Design Answer

Thanks for sending the pictures. They really help me to visualize what’s going on in the room. It’s actually a great space the way the room is now: it has a focal point (TV/niche/fireplace wall), furniture is arranged in a balanced, thoughtful way and the color is warm and does make the living room welcoming and inviting. It’s just my personal preference of course, but I would have put the accent color only on the TV/niche/fireplace wall and painted the niche the neutral color (reverse of what it is now and no red on the window wall).

I can see why you would like to find a new location for the TV; I did wonder how comfortable it is to watch!

I do have some suggestions as to how you can bring some more style into this space:

a)     When choosing a paint color for the room it should match or complement something in the room. You could match the color to the couch, which is a very soothing neutral. It’s a little difficult for me to see exactly what shade of white it is; perhaps an antique white or egg shell, but not pure white. You could also choose a grey hue that will go with the darker shade of gray of the accent pillow on the sofa.

b)     For an accent color, you could take some inspiration from the fireplace which is a mix of warm and neutral colors: dark grey, brown with gray in it, light brown with black in it (not yellow), green.

c)     I would get a TV stand that matches your coffee table and put it where the plants and white arm chair are now.

d)     If you choose the fireplace wall as your accent color wall, I would paint the niche your main wall color (or vice versa). Then you can use the niche for some sort of display, a large print, a wall sculpture, etc.

e)     Definitely add a mantle; it will provide a visual divider between the niche and the fireplace.

f)       I love the clean lines of the furniture – I suggest you choose an overhead light in the same style – perhaps a semi-flush mounted fixture like Minka Lighting Ansmith 3 Light Semi Flush

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Updating an Ensuite

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Design Question

I am updating my ensuite to modern but keeping the bedroom’s American colonial decor with its gold candelabra with little material covers and pinky beige Thai silk curtains. How do I match things like tap wear in the bathroom when I don’t really want gold bathroom fixtures? I do not want it to look OLD FASHIONED. I need a fresh new look for the ensuite like modern style which can come with beige coloured marble tiles tiled almost up to the ceiling and replacing the bathroom cupboards with wall hung modern drawers.

As I do not want any gold plated tap wear or gold knobs, my problem is how do I blend this in with my bedroom which is as I have said, a more traditional style? What do I do with the lights over the modern square or round basin type shaped basins (I haven’t quite decided on which one yet)? Can I have a pair of old type bronzed candle set with the same little shades as the bedroom. Would this go with say chrome bathroom fixtures?

Design Answer

One way to tie both rooms together even though they are essentially two different décor styles is to choose the same wall colour for the ensuite and the bedroom. You could also use the same curtain fabric in the bathroom – I would have to see a picture of the beige coloured marble tiles but it sounds like they would mix well.

I probably wouldn’t mix bronze and chrome together in the same room; they might “fight” with each other in the same space. However, they are technically is two separate rooms. But in terms of connecting the ensuite and the bedroom together thematically, when you say you don’t want gold plated bathroom fixtures, I’m thinking shiny yellow/gold, but when you say bronzed, I picture an antiqued yellow/brown shade. If I was to add a pair of old type bronzed candle set to the ensuite, I would be inclined to match the taps/faucet to the lighting.

Another option for hardware/tap ware would be wrought iron or black. This will add a retro element to the bathroom while still connecting it to the master bedroom.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next week and I will answer another of your design questions.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Countertop Color Dilemma

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Design Question

Hi Heather, I’m really having an issue with a color for my kitchen which I have not done anything with for 9 years but I’m ready to have it done before the Holidays. My countertops are Kelly Green and cabinets and wood floor are Oak. I have not changed appliances (not in the Budget) except the dishwasher which is stainless steel and fridge and stove are Ivory. What can I do?  Anything you suggest will be helpful. Thank You.

Design Answer

Thanks for including a picture – it makes it easier for me to visualize what’s going on.

I have a few suggestions for where you can start getting some color choice ideas.

The kitchen mat has colors in it that would be excellent matches for the kitchen island counter tops. For example, there’s a shade of lighter green that might be a good hue for your kitchen. Choosing a lighter toned green that works with the Kelly green is called a monochrome color scheme.

The second option is to choose a complementary color scheme. The complementary color of green is red. Selecting a very pale rose, pink or beige with pink undertones might also work in the space.

The third option is to pick a neutral color such as beige, cream or lighter earth tone shades. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, don’t forget to test the color out in the kitchen itself, just to see how it really looks. Some paint company websites have visualization tools that will let you upload a picture of your kitchen so that you can see what the color might look like.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this is helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Don’t forget to come back next Monday when I’ll be answering another design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wall Color for Finished Basement

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Design Question

In our basement we have two grey leather sofas; blue with a hint of grey ceramic tile floor; and walls are half drywall and medium oak (on the darker side) on the bottom half. I have had a linen paint color in the past…French vanilla is the name…and want to repaint. We are just doing a fresh up as we really do not use the basement any more as the kids are gone. But I have been watching too much HGTV and want to cover the nicks and so forth.  My neighbor says paint it French vanilla again but what would you think? Would a picture help?

Design Answer

I’m definitely with you on wanting to repaint since the walls are showing some wear and tear. However, if the French vanilla looks good in the room and creates the desired effect or mood you would like to achieve, then sticking with the same paint color will save you the time and effort of having to choose a new one. On the other hand, it sounds like you are ready for a change and now might be a good time to introduce some color into the space.

When choosing a color for the walls, it definitely should have some relevancy to other elements already present. Blue that matches the hue of the tile floor, for example, would be an option or if there are accent pillows on the sofas, select a predominant color that appears in one of the pillow fabrics. You could also match the new wall color to your window treatments if there are any. Given that it is the basement, you might want a warm color to make it feel even more inviting. A picture would definitely help me visualize the room.

 Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. And as for the rest of you, don’t forget to come back next Monday when I’ll be answering another design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Open Concept Condo

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Design Question

Hello, I have a brand new condo, with the open dining room / kitchen / living room concept. Can you please tell me what I could put on the long counter top just to decorate it? Right now, I have nothing on it, because I do not want it to look cluttered as you can see it very clearly when you walk into the dinning area or what they call the great room. I have kept my kitchen counters also pretty clear, since it is all open.

Is it ok to maybe get two or three nice counter stools to put under the counter that is part of the living room? It is bare and cold there. It would be more for decorative purposes, but I could use them to sit at the counter if I wanted to. Thank you!

Design Answer

Adding nice counter stools to the area will certainly create a focal point. Even if as you say, they end up being more for show, it never hurts to have additional seating especially in smaller-sized living spaces like apartments or condominiums for special occasions or holidays.

As for the counter top itself, take your time choosing an accent piece that is meaningful to you. For example, if you are particularly fond of ceramics scour your local markets for hand-crafted bowl that you really like. If you like flowers or fresh fruit, select a simple wood fruit bowl or stone, glass or porcelain vase.

Congratulations on your new condo! Thanks for writing in. Come back next Monday when I’ll be answering another design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wall Sconces

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Design Question

I would like to put wall sconces on each side of my sofa instead of table lamps. What are the appropriate dimensions to hang wall scones each side of a sofa; specifically the height from the floor, as well as the distance from the arm of the sofa? I decided to use swing arm sconces because my end tables are different heights which makes it hard to work with table lamps (height inconsistencies).

Design Answer

As a general rule of thumb, standard design wall sconces should be hung 60 inches from the floor. Because wall sconces are essentially used as ambient lighting and provide a decorative accent, you don’t want them too far down the wall. But they shouldn’t be so high that once in place you can’t change the light bulbs without having to use a stepladder.

However, swing arm sconces have more of a functional aspect to them – they can be used for reading or as task lighting. But the lower down on the wall the less useful they will be. I suggest that you place them at the same height no lower than 40″ and no higher than 50″. Before you make it permanent, check to see that the height you’ve chosen works okay with the end tables that are different heights.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out.

Don’t forget to keep writing in. Visit Furniture and Design Ideas next Monday when I’ll tackle another design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Sleigh Beds

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Design Question

When dressing a sleigh bed, should it ever have a dust ruffle?

Design Answer

Whether or not you use a dust ruffle on your sleigh bed is really a personal preference. I have a sleigh bed and I constantly use the dust ruffle that came as part of the bed-in-a-bag. When the dust ruffle is in the wash, I really don’t enjoy seeing the space under the bed. I tend to feel that the bed doesn’t look completely dressed. On the other hand, I love seeing the exposed wood sides; it makes the bedroom look richer somehow.

You didn’t specify, but it would also depend on the type of sleigh bed that you own. For example, a platform sleigh bed is typically lower to the ground than a standard sleigh bed that uses a box spring. In that case, you probably wouldn’t be able to use a dust ruffle then, because the frame would be too low to the ground.

Hope this helps. Thanks for writing in. Come back next Monday for another design question and answer.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Furniture for Living Room with lots of Doors

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Design Question

Our living room is 18′ x 22′ with a vaulted ceiling about 12′ at the peak (which runs East/west). The rear (south end) 3′ are taken up by a staircase descending to the basement and is separated from the rest of the room by a 4′ partition wall. This leaves about 18′ of useable floor space, making the floor area nearly square. The opposite side (north side) has an entry door about 4′ from the West Wall. The West wall has two doorway openings, with about 6′ between them, One next to the partition wall over the stairs, and the other about 4′ from the North wall. The East wall has a garden door somewhat south of center.

My question is this. What is the best furniture arrangement for this space to allow people to watch TV and entertain? We have a front projection system that displays on the North wall. We are shelf mounting above the partition wall by the stairwell, to avoid conflict with the ceiling fan. I have attached a few Computer renderings to show door positions. We are planning to purchase newer living room furniture over the next while as our children are now older.

Design Answer

Yes, I agree; you will have to arrange the furniture in relation to all of the doors in the room.

I would start with the couch and place it parallel to the stair (south) wall, leaving a path to the kitchen and stairwell. I would see how it looks, but position the couch so that it lines up with the kitchen door frame closest to the north wall. A path that is a little wider than the door should be enough room to ensure easy traffic flow to and from the kitchen door to the basement stairs. You’ll have to take measurements, to see if it will work for you.
Also take measurements of wall that has the kitchen door. You might be able to fit in a recliner, club chair or even loveseat.

You could also put a chair in the left-hand corner of the north wall and of course, you would want to keep the French doors wall free.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next Monday when I will be tackling another design dilemma.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Bathroom Makeover

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Design Question

Hi, I have a difficult question about paint colors. I have a 43 year old canary yellow bathroom sink and cast iron bathtub. I redid my floors in a light beige tile. I also used the light beige tile for the tub surround. I accented with some darker beige pieces. My cabinet is dark wood. I used the darker beige tiles for a back splash. My trim is white and the wainscoting is white. I don’t want a pink glow on the tub surround. What color should I use to paint the wall? Should I repaint the cabinet or leave it dark? And what color accessories should I use? We could not afford to take out the tub. So we left the tub and sink to match. The bathroom is very small.

Design Answer

Because the bathroom is small, I would stick to a more neutral shade that will match or complement the darker beige tiles you selected for the back splash, such as cream or even a pale hue of chocolate or mocha should you want some color in the room. Since there is already white in the room in the trim and wainscoting, you could repaint the cabinet white to give the bathroom a lighter appearance. However, see how it looks first once you’ve made all of the other changes. They don’t have to bright hues, but you could choose primary colors like blue or red as the predominant color for your accessories.

Thanks for writing in. Hope this has helped. Let me know how it turns out.

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