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Posts Tagged ‘free interior design advice’

From the Design Files of Heather B – Privacy Fence

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Design Question

We are planning on installing a wooden privacy fence. Our issue – Cypress or Pine? If we go with Cypress then we would stain it. If we go with Pine then we would paint it a deep chocolate brown to match our doors and shutters. The Pine is the option that I am leaning too but have searched for “painted wooden privacy fences” and found none other than white picket fences. We have been riding around neighborhoods for months looking for someone with a painted fence and nobody has one. I don’t care for the stain because in time it has a grey “ugly” look to it. I think the painted would look good and everything would match but why am I the only one thinking this way??? Please help – need your advice.

Design Question

That’s good that you have done your “homework;” you don’t want to do something to your property that is going to strike a jarring note with what is going on in the rest of the neighborhood. By the same token, you don’t want to be the same as everyone else.

I don’t know what type of wood it was, but the backyard fence of the family home I grew up in was chocolate brown. And we were the only ones on our street to have a brown fence; as you mentioned already, the popular color choice for wood fences appears to be white.

I’m sure you have checked it out already, but I do know that some cities have by-laws that dictate how high the fence can be; I’m not aware of any by-laws that state or limit the types of materials used in building and/or painting a privacy fence. If you haven’t already, you might want to check the local by-laws just to see if the fence you are planning to build will meet all pertinent codes.

Some people like that “gray” weathered look cedar attains over time; it’s a matter of personal preference. I say you go with what you like – as long as your privacy fence isn’t breaking any by-laws and looks good to you, I would go with the pine/chocolate brown paint combo.

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next week when I will answer another one of your design questions. Don’t forget to keep sending them to; just remember to send one per email.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Room Colors

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Design Question

Hi, My husband and I just bought our second house and we really want to make sure that this one is done right. We have dark hardwood floors and dark wood end tables and entertainment center. We were thinking of a grey blue colour for the walls? And maybe a red for our drapes? Would those colours go together and if not what would you suggest? For paint and drapes and area rug and throws?

Design Answer

Congratulations on your new home! The dark hardwood floors sound lovely.

Grey blue walls and red drapes certainly do go together. A colour might look just fine in the room but, especially if it’s a “focal point” colour (wall, drapes, sofa), you will want to “connect” it to other elements in the room. You can do this by choosing an area rug, throws and accent cushions that incorporate the red of the window treatments.

You didn’t mention which room this was so I’m assuming that it is the living room or the living space where plan relax and entertain the most. Cool colours like blue and neutrals such as grey can make a room appear larger. Red is a warm colour, so you are creating “balance” by pairing it with a cool shade (grey blue walls). Whether the dark hardwood floors and dark wood end tables have more black or brown in them, the cool blue wall colour will be a good “foil” while the red will work well with either black (a neutral shade) or brown (a complementary color of red).

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Next week I will be answering another design question – please keep writing in!

From the design files of Heather B – Replacing Granite Countertops

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Design Question

Hi there…The countertops in my kitchen are granite. Two counter sections are fine but the granite counter between the stove and the fridge is pretty scratched up. Should I replace all of the countertops or just the one? And I don’t think I want granite again – if I wanted to replace all of the countertops so that they match are there any alternatives you would recommend?

Design Answer

Thanks for writing in. You might want to give replacing them some more thought. As a construction material for kitchen countertops, granite has more pros going for it than cons. It is a hard, nonporous stone, which makes it durable and heat resistant: you can take hot pots off the stove and place them directly onto a granite counter without having to use a trivet or a hot pad and being able to cut food on the granite itself eliminates the need for buying separate cutting boards.

As for the scratches, have you considered consulting a local retailer that features granite products? Because granite is so durable, often granite countertops, even severely damaged ones, can be repaired and restored. It might be less expensive than have to replacing all three countertops in your kitchen.

Should you need to choose new kitchen countertops, there are plenty of different types to choose from – one isn’t necessarily better than any other. It largely depends on personal preference. Three main factors to keep in mind when selecting a construction material for kitchen counters are: cost (how much you’re willing to spend; appearance (does it blend with cabinets and the other décor elements in the space); and lifestyle (you love cooking for friends or you can never remember to grab a hot pad when taking a casserole out of the oven).

Also take into account that each type of countertop material has its own set of pros and cons. Laminate kitchen countertops are economical and most versatile, but isn’t as durable as some kinds of stone counters. Stainless steel is very easy to clean but can be easily scratched if not sealed.

Come back next week when I will answer another one of your design questions. Don’t forget to keep sending them to. I don’t have a one-question rule; you can ask as many design question as you want; just remember to send one per email.

From the design files of Heather B – Townhouse Décor Dilemma

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Design Question

Hi there! I have been in my new town home approaching two years in May – I’m happy with the design of all my space but remain stumped with my living room-dining room combo.  I have no idea what will fit and where to put it!!!!! I’ve attached the floor plan a few pics of my space. Any recommendations of the pieces and sizes and placement of my living room and dining furniture would go a loooong way! Thanks a million!

Design Answer

What a great townhouse this is! Sometimes that happens; we get stuck on a certain room that just won’t fall into place. I think the stumbling block, if you will, is the difficulty of creating a focal point in an open concept space.

Whenever deciding what goes where, get out your tape measure! Measuring the dining area separately from the living room space will help you visualize how much room you have to work with. I would suggest that you define these areas so that they are visually separate from each other in one or a combination of the following ways:

  • choose an area rug for the dining room or the living area
  • choose different area rugs for the dining and living rooms
  • different color schemes for each space; the colors could be complementary (tranquil) or contrasting (bold) depending on the mood you would like to create
  • arrange the furniture in such a way that it will form “boundary lines” between one space and the other; for example, chairs or a couch in the living area would have their backs to the dining room

Regarding the dining room, in the floor plan it looks as though that they have placed the buffet against the long wall (the one shared by the living area). I would try placing it on the wall in between the family room and kitchen; measure the area and then find a contemporary style buffet like the Coaster Stanton Contemporary Server and then centering the dining table and chairs parallel to the buffet. I would find a big print, painting or some form of wall art to go on the dining/living area wall.

Regarding the living room, I would start with that gorgeous accent chair that is now in the family room and put in the right hand corner when facing the entryway; perhaps a low storage console could go underneath the window. You’ll have to see how it works in the space, but I would go for smaller sized seating such as two loveseats perpendicular to each other. I would place one of the loveseats opposite the accent chair (in line with the doorway so that you don’t impede traffic flow). Another option is to replace the loveseat that will be facing the window with a pair of club chairs with an occasional or accent table in the middle. Then on the shared wall, the one that will have the accent chair in the corner, perhaps a small entertainment center or electric fireplace – something that will give the space “focus” or “purpose.”

Thanks for writing in! Let me know how it turns out.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Black Mantle Headboard

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Design Question

Hello. Construction on my new home is almost complete. I have in my bedroom cove ceilings and my bedroom furniture includes a black mantle headboard bed. In my bedroom I am also going to be adding a red leather loveseat. Can you give me ideas of what color(s) I can use to paint my bedroom? I am horrible at selecting colors and plus this is a brand new home I don’t want just plain white walls. Any help is so much appreciated.

Design Answer

Congratulations on your new home! Your bedroom sounds gorgeous; I’d love to see pictures of it after it has been completed. Yes, choosing a paint color is not a particularly easy task, but there are ways to simplify the process so that you end up with a paint color that will work for you. I suggest a neutral shade like gray and have selected fo ur just to give you a starting off point. Here are some pointers that will help you find the ideal color for your master bedroom:

  • Match the paint color to something in the room such as the window treatments; a predominant shade that appears in your bedding or a favorite picture or print; or an accessory piece like a piece of sculpture or a vase. For example, a pale hue of green like sage or even forest or silver crest 1583 from Benjamin Moore would complement the red in the room.
  • Unless it is your personal preference to leave it white, plan on painting the ceiling as well; typically one or two shades lighter than the color you have chosen for the walls.
  • Choose a neutral color – this in no way is an endorsement for beige or cream. Colors like gray, silver and hues of navy blue can go with almost anything. While navy blue isn’t strictly a neutral color, it works like one, in that it “plays nice” with most other colors in the spectrum.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this was helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Next week I will be answering another design question – please keep writing in!

From the Design Files of Heather B – Oak Furniture Help

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Design Question

Our oak furniture is too large for our bedroom but I have no choice but to keep it. So I would like to at least make it look different. My original plan was to paint the bedroom furniture black and distress it; paint the walls a steel bluish color; and use white bedding. I am now rethinking that design because I am scared that the black of the furniture will just make it pop and be that much more noticeable that the scale is too large. Any suggestions on paint color for the furniture, paint for the walls both bedroom and bedding? My trim is white and I really would like to keep it because it would be a lot to paint. I also have an attached master bath that I would repaint as well to match or blend with the bedroom. Thanks for your help!

Design Answer

You have good instincts – the original plan you describe sounds simple yet sophisticated. By using neutral (black bedroom furniture, white bedding) and cool (steel blue walls) colors and tying the white already in the room to the bed through white bedding, you are essentially diminishing the effect of the oversized furniture in your bedroom. Cool or neutral paint colors move the walls away from you, creating the illusion of a larger space.

You might have no choice but to keep your bedroom furniture, but does it all have to be in the same room? For example, can you manage with a single nightstand or can the nightstands be replaced by glass side tables that will add yet another “neutral” element to the room? Are there other small changes you can make that will “open” up the room?

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Return next Monday when I reply to another design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Painting Wood Paneling

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Design Question

Hi, I am painting wood panelling on one long wall and two short walls in my basement. All of the panelling starts at four feet from the floor because after a flood we had new drywall put in from the floor to just below the windows of a bi-level house. I have painted the lower walls and all of the drywalled areas of my L-shaped rumpus room/office a medium grey. My furniture is black leather and I have large pictures that may go up that have gold/grey-green “foiled” look frames and grey/green and pinky/red tulips prints in the frames. What color should I go with on the panelled walls? I was thinking a grey/green…

Design Answer

You’re on the right track. When choosing interior paint colors, ideally the color you finally decide upon should have some “context” to something else in the room. A gray/green color like a sage or khaki would be a good choice.

Another option is to match or complement the color of the tulips: I would need to see a picture of the space, but just from your description it sounds like a damask or a dusty rose shade might also work.

I am aware that you will have to be careful as to what kind of paint you select to paint over your wood paneling, but the third option is to paint it the same color as your walls. If you are concerned that it might be too monotone or dark, you could bring additional color into the room through one or two accessories or accent cushions that match or complement the colors in the prints on the wall.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next week when I will be answering another one of your design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Can’t Get Organized

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Design Question

Hi Heather! I hope you can help me! I need help organizing my bedroom! It’s not just my mother nagging me about my messy room anymore. Now it seems that no matter what I do, I can’t find anything and it seems that I’m spending more time looking for stuff than relaxing or studying. When I get ready to go somewhere it’s very frustrating because I have so many pairs of shoes they’re all in piles on the floor of the closet or stuck under the bed. Not only is my closet small, all of the drawers of my dresser are crammed full. I am hoping that you could give me some ideas on how to organize my room so there is more room me and I can find stuff better. I could also use some ideas as to how to organize my make-up and my (many) bottles of nail polish and perfume. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Danielle.

Design Answer

Hi Danielle. Especially when you don’t have enough storage space, things can seem to get out of control pretty quickly. The bottom line is you will need storage solutions that provide a place for everything so that you will have easy access to your clothes, shoes, make-up, etc. Since you didn’t mention a budget, I will keep my suggestions “budget conscious” but it sounds like you might need to splurge on a closet organizer of some kind as well as a couple of other storage solutions.

Storage Solutions for Clothes

The first thing I suggest that you do is sort through the clothes in your closet and in dresser drawers. I’m sure you will find items of clothing you have grown out of or no longer like to wear for whatever reason. After donating and tossing, I’m willing to bet that you will find some “spare” room.

How are your dresser drawers arranged? If everything is jumbled in together, you might try separating your clothes into like with like – all of your underwear in one drawer; tees, camis and shells in another; sweaters in a drawer of their own. When you group and store the same types of clothing together they lie flat so that you can fit more items into each drawer.

If there is room in your budget (and room in your bedroom) for a lingerie chest, this is a piece of bedroom accent furniture that is very versatile. A lingerie chest typically stands taller than it is wide, which means it can hold almost as much as your dresser but won’t take up as much floor space.

Is there another closet in your home that you can use? If the answer is yes, sort your clothes into seasonal, and keep what you are currently wearing in your bedroom. Store your summer clothes and shoes in the spare closet.

Storage Solutions for Shoes

Again, as with your clothes, go through your shoes – donate any pairs you haven’t worn in a year or toss ones that can’t be repaired.

Under the bed is a great place for shoes! Clear storage bins that will slide easily under you bed will allow you to see what’s inside while keeping them out of the way.

How small is your closet? See if some type of shoe rack will fit – it could help you organize the shoes you wear most often.

Storage Solutions for Make-up

Dollar stores are great places to find bargain storage solutions. Baskets can be your friend: choose ones that will easily hold items like blush, lip gloss tubes, mascara, etc. without being too big. You can sometimes find really good inexpensive items like small metal bins or pails that will be ideal for cotton puffs, make-up brushes, pencils and whatever else you need to hide away but keep organized and handy.

Thanks for writing in Danielle. Keep sending me your design questions. I love hearing from you.

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 – 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.