An interior design blog with furniture reviews, interior decorating tips, DIY projects, and home furniture guides.

Posts Tagged ‘free design advice’

From the Design Files of Heather B – Bedroom for Baby-to-Be

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Design Question

Hi Heather,

I need your help. My husband and I were enchanted my different pieces of furniture that have different colors, such as a white crib (the best we could afford, but they only have it in white), a cute dresser in lilac, yellow and a bit of pinkish on the top (which will be almost all covered by the changing table), and a rocking chair in pine color with a blue cushion that a friend gave us to help us save money. The walls of our little princess-to-be’s bedroom are light yellow, and the floor is light hardwood. We don’t have too much money to spend on buying more/new baby nursery furniture, but we could paint the walls and change the chair’s cushion, but I have no clue about what to do. Please, help us.

(Desperate) Mom-to-be Cris H.

Design Answer

Hi Cris,

Congratulations on the new edition to your family! This is an exciting time for you and your husband and one of the best ways to welcome your little princess is to design a nursery for her.

It sounds like you are off to a great start by selecting baby nursery furniture pieces that are pleasing to you. So, don’t stress out; you’re on the right track. There are some simple things you can do to bring all of the current elements in the room together – and they don’t have to cost a lot.

a) Pick a theme. Choosing a theme for your baby’s bedroom is a quick and inexpensive way of connecting the different elements in the room. The theme could be anything that interests or inspires you such as rainbows, butterflies, a particular nursery rhyme, the alphabet or characters from children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland or The Wind and the Willows.

b) You said you’d be willing to paint the walls – I would. While the color looks all right on its own, it’s too close in tone to both the dresser and the floor. I suggest a yellow that is a couple of shades lighter than what is now in the nursery; one that is more lemon or sun than sand or gold. It might be different in “real life” but based on the picture that you included, the current wall color seems to make the room seem smaller.

c) Buy crib bedding that matches the theme you picked and will complement the wall color in the room.

d) If the cushion color doesn’t go with the nursery bedding, I would replace if with a cover that does.

e) I would purchase an area rug for either the rocker area or by the crib. Don’t forget that this is “your” room too since you will also be spending as much time here as your baby will. Making the baby’s bedroom comfortable for you as well is important too.

f) If you have the budget for it, I also suggest you change the window treatment to match or complement the new wall color and the bedding.

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

From the Design Files of Heather B – Bathroom Paint Question

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Design Question

We are redoing our powder room with a mahogany vanity and mirror. What lighter colors will make this room feel cozy but not cavey?

Design Answer

Since you want to make the room feel cozy, I would start looking at “warm” colors such as red, brown and orange – softer shades rather than darker ones such as Sherwin Williams – Champagne SW6644, Sand Beach SW7529, Colonial Revival Tan SW 2828, Impatiens Petal SW6582 or Romance SW6323.

I know some people shy away from pink in a bathroom, but I think a very pale rose shade or a warm tan or beige with pink in it would also be a good choice, something like Sherwin Williams – White Dogwood SW6315.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Next Monday I’ll answer another on of your design questions.

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 – 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 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 – 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 – Home Decorating

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Design Question

I need your help. I have a coffee coloured settee and cream coloured walls. The ceiling is white. What colour of curtains will suit the living room to give it a beautiful vibe? Thanks

Design Answer

I would match the color of the curtains with the sofa. But choose a patterned fabric that will include cream and white, as well as another color like red, blue or green. When selecting additional colors for the patterned fabric, tie them in whatever other predominate color is in the room. The predominate color doesn’t have to be a substantial piece of furniture such as a club chair or a recliner; you could also pick up on a particularly bold shade in a painting or piece of wall art, throw cushions, a vase, etc. that is already in the room. Choose a patterned fabric for your window treatments, especially if it’s geometric or striped, as this will also add both texture and visual interest to the living room’s décor.

I hope this helps. Thanks for writing in. Don’t forget to come back next week when we’ll tackle another design question.\




From the Design Files of Heather B – Looking for Design Ideas

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Design Question

 Hi there, I am wondering what some better ways to set up my living room are? Also do you have any ideas about how to make the space more dramatic? I have put up some red sheers and am hoping to finish my window treatment soon. Thank you.

Design Answer

Many times you can improve the look of a room by simply rearranging the furniture. There are some simple things you can do to increase the aesthetic appeal of the room and to make the space more dramatic. 

  • It looks like there is just a plant in the left-hand corner of the living room on the other side of the entertainment center. If it’s possible, I would trade places; put the desk on the other side of the television. This will give the work area a sense of privacy, simply because it won’t be the first thing someone sees when they enter the room.
  • Once the entertainment and floor lamp have shifted down the wall toward the “entrance” of the living space, move the armchair in the far right corner to the left side of the room by the lamp. Then center the sofa and coffee table on the right-hand wall and position the dark-colored armchair accordingly. By placing the armchairs opposite each other, it creates another conversational group.
  • If the bookcase on which the aquarium is sitting has a finished back, perhaps you can turn it sideways; not only would it act as a focal point but it would function as a “divider,” defining the living room from the other areas of your home.
  • Adding red sheers is certainly a good start to making the living room more dramatic. If painting is not an option, you could give the walls some color with bright or bold colored prints or artwork. Try replacing the two smaller pictures on the sofa wall with one big colorful framed print. See how the two smaller pictures look on either side of the entertainment center. You might also consider placing an area rug that will work with the red sheers underneath the coffee table.

 Don’t forget to take measurements, both of the furniture piece you would like to move and the space to which you like to move it to. Assuming that you can shift a chair or table from one place in the living room to the opposite wall and have it fit is not always a good thing (and I speak from personal experience).

Thanks for writing in. Don’t forget to come back next week when we’ll tackle another design question.

From the Design File of Heather B – Accent Color Paint Choice

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Design Question

I need advice on interior paints. Currently I have Fresh cut Grass (~ cream from Benjamin Moore) colour in my living room. I also have lot of Cherry wood furniture on dotted gum (Brown) wood floor. I like to paint one wall with a different colour. Could you please advise me which colour goes with this setup?

Design Answer

You’re definitely starting off on the right foot. When choosing an accent color for a living room, you want to take several elements into consideration: the main paint color choice (fresh cut grass); the predominant color of the furniture whether it’s construction material of the furniture or the fabric of the sofa/chairs; and the mood you would like to create with your paint choice. Another thing to remember about choosing an accent color is that many people think that it must be bolder or darker than the main color that has been chosen, but it all depends on your personal taste and the effect you would like to achieve.

Warm Colors

Warm colors are red, orange and yellow. They, of course, include any shades, tints and hues in the red, orange and yellow color families. Warm colors have specific characteristics that contribute to the overall mood of the living room and how it interacts with the rest of the living room furniture. A warm color has the appearance of “moving toward you” which is why bright reds, yellows and oranges have a tendency to make a room look smaller in the cozy sense (not the cramped sense). Because warm colors are closely associated with fire, they energize a room. 

Cool Colors

Cool colors don’t mean “cold,” but they do have the opposite effect of warm colors. Cool colors include blue, green and violet. A cool color looks like it is “moving away from you.” This will make the room seem larger; contributing a sense of distance or space in the living room’s décor. Cool colors have a comfortable soothing and tranquil vibe to them.

Even if we are conscious of the affect that color has on us, the color choices in a room does contribute to the overall mood. So, it really is a personal preference, depending on whether you would like your living room to energize (warm accent colors) you or to soothe (cool accent colors) you. However, from the description that you gave me of your living room, but without seeing any photographs, I would be drawn to warm color choices.

I hope this has been helpful. I answer your design questions every Monday, so keep sending them in! I love to hear from all of you.

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