Q: My house is 40 years old and it has been added on and renovated many times by previous owners. Over the years all kinds of different finishes and colors have been introduced and I’m afraid that mix makes the house look outdated. Some light switches are white and some are almond color, some knobs are brass and some are satin nickel – it’s one big mess. Should I try to unify it all? A: Consistency in elements such as light switches, door knobs, window hardware, thermostats, etc., will create a pulled-together feel to your home. If such changes are in your budget, I would highly recommend moving forward and making sure all finishes are consistent – it will provide an eye-pleasing look. Save
Q: My husband and I recently started a renovation project and I have been overwhelmed by all the decision that have to be made and I find it so hard to keep track of it all. A: To stay on top of things, create a binder containing all the documentation of decisions made so far and get in the habit of carrying all your swatches and samples with you so that wherever you are, you can match things up.
Q: I really like my kitchen (it’s only about 5 years old and in very good shape) but I see in all the magazines that kitchen cabinets go all the way to the ceiling and mine are normal height, and the tops just collect dust. How can I update the look without changing the cabinets? A: Thankfully there is an easy way! You can extend the height of your cabinets by having a wooden soffit created above the cabinets and trimmed with large crown molding for a custom, expensive look.
Q: I would like to redecorate my bedroom. How can I make the biggest impact without breaking the bank? A: If we were to choose one thing that can turn any bedroom into a design statement, it would have to be a decorative headboard. The design options are plenty – different shapes and fabrics – even the ones available from popular catalogs and retailers.
Q: I’m renovating my small kitchen so I need to focus on storage but I would like to incorporate a breakfast table for informal meals as well. Do you have any tips? A: When planning your renovation see if you can carve out a breakfast nook in a corner. To help with lost storage, opt for built-in corner banquette instead of using chairs. A banquette takes less space than chairs, and, if designed well, can offer storage for less frequently used items. Make sure to opt for drawers in the banquette (instead of light up top).
Q: I spotted great dining chairs online. How do I make sure the chairs will fit my dining table? A: Pay the most attention to chair seat height, and arm rests, especially if your table has a very thick top or an apron.
Q: I’m struggling with finding the best kind of table for my dining room, which is small and almost exactly square. Can you help? A: The best table shape for a square dining room is a round one. The most space efficient tables are the pedestal ones as there are no legs to get in the way of chairs.
Q: I’m designing my formal living room and I would like to make it look traditional but not too stuffy. Do you have any recommendations for window treatments that are not too “grandma” like? A: Window coverings can be traditional and formal without being too stuffy. Jabots, swags and ornate valances might make a room feel heavy but a simple French pleat silk drapery layered over woven woods shades will give you a formal, tailored look that is also light and simple.
Q: I just bought my first apartment and I have limited budget for furniture. Is there any advice you can give me on selecting furniture pieces with lasting value? A: Congrats on your new place! In my experience, many first time home buyers are eager to leave their own design mark when furnishing their first home. After years of living with white walls of a rental, they want to express themselves with color. There is a catch, though: that wildly patterned sofa might get old pretty quickly. If you crave color and pattern, you can go for interesting pillows, accessories and artwork, but keep your upholstery neutral and you will not get tired of it.
Q: We are remodeling our side entry, which also serves as laundry room and storage. What is the easiest upgrade to make a utility space feel more “finished”? A: The easiest upgrade for a busy, high-traffic utility space is wall paneling. You can get inexpensive pre-made panels at home improvement stores and online. Make sure to bring the wall paneling to at least 36” above the floor and finish it with a coat of glossy paint for hassle-free upkeep.