This is a great opportunity for us to help you navigate through some of your decorating dilemmas. At the end of this article, I’ve prepared a special offer for you, if you’d like to decorate your home using a fresh new approach…that really works!
Question #1: I just bought a house and I'm having trouble with picking a color to paint the kitchen. The countertops are grey with a mauve splash. There are mauve ceramic tiles around the edge and on the back splash. The cabinets are a light to medium brown color. The walls are white now and I hate it.
There is a big open window on the wall that looks into the living room and I don't know what to do with it either. My living room is done in a country look with deer hanging on the wall. I would like to make them blend together but I can't come up with any ideas.
Answer #1: By gaining an understanding of color harmony, you can quickly find the perfect solution to tying your kitchen and living room together. We won’t cover that topic here, but Awaken Your Interior Designer makes it very easy.
The book also offers 135 ready-to-go paint color schemes, several of which include grey and mauve. So I’ll use one of those palettes to quickly answer your question.
One of the American Country palettes includes three paint colors by Glidden: "Frankly Scarlet", "Rosey", and "Butterscotch Tempest". This scheme uses a light and dark shade of mauve combined with deep butterscotch yellow as an accent color. These colors will brighten up your grey countertops.
You might select one shade of the mauve for the kitchen walls, and paint the living room the other shade. For extra impact, paint one living room wall in the "Butterscotch Tempest".
Project Planning Tip #1: Before finalizing your color choices, I recommend that you take the color preference quiz in the book. (pages 73 -79)
Question #2: I live in Manhattan in a studio apartment with no windows. I would like advice as to what I can do with my very small space so that it feels less crowded. And so that I have space for everything I need to do - sleeping, eating, study, entertaining, etc.
Answer #2: In small spaces, function should come first. Start by arranging your furniture so that you can perform all necessary tasks and functions adequately. Consider using screens or space dividers to section off private areas of the studio.
You can add the impression of openness by hanging framed pictures of landscapes. Or, you can build faux windows by placing mirrors in old window frames.
Hang long draperies, starting higher than normal above the windows. And use tall furniture pieces to expand the height of the room.
You’ll find more tips for arranging furniture and making your space seem larger in Awaken Your Interior Designer. You also get lots of ideas for how to paint and decorate folding screens.
Project Planning Tip #2: Before furnishing your apartment, I recommend that you review the tips in the book on how to select fabric and wallpaper patterns that will make your space seem larger. (page 253)
Question #3: My partner and I are looking for a change. I really enjoy rich colors such as greens, burgundy's, etc. I have been looking into faux finishing, and I am extremely interested in that type of wall as well.
Could you recommend a color or maybe a faux finish that will liven up our white walled living area?
Answer #3: Faux finishes are a wonderful way to add rich color and texture to your room. And since you want a dramatic change, I encourage you to give it a try.
Awaken Your Interior Designer includes step-by-step instructions for the six main faux finish techniques. It also shares ways to vary the techniques for different effects. Your choice of finish will depend on the style of your room.
For example, a dragging finish in burgundy looks rich and elegant for a Traditional-style formal room. However, a frottage finish, using two shades of deep green, is lovely and relaxed for casual décor styles.
Project Planning Tip #3: Before applying a faux finish, I recommend that you first take the decorating style quiz in the book to learn more about your decorating preferences. (pages 23 - 29)
Question #4: Do I have to choose "a" decorating style? Almost every book or article on decorating begins by introducing the same tired, usually overwrought, and always studied-looking "styles," such as "modern, traditional, tropical, euro" and so forth that I find cloying and would soon lose their appeal for me.
How can I go about blending art, furniture, colors, without ending up with a stylized theme?
Answer #4: No, you do not have to choose one particular decorating style. As you noted, most rooms that are decorated in only one style look like they are out of a catalog instead of a real person’s home.
Awaken Your Interior Designer uses style information as a reference tool to help you make great decorating decisions. It also offers techniques showing how styles can be mixed together effectively.
Project Planning Tip #4: Before starting your decorating project, I recommend that you complete the color preference quiz and the furniture evaluation sheet in the book. That way, you’ll know which colors best fit your taste, lifestyle, and family goals. And you’ll determine your furniture needs. (pages 23 and 267).
Question #5: I’m wondering what type of paint I should use to paint my kitchen cupboards white? Right now they are stained and varnished. Also, could you give some ideas on how I should prep them before I start painting?
Answer #5: Refurbishing the surface of your cabinets requires three steps: cleaning and repairing, priming, and painting. First, you should wipe them down with a mixture of water, dishwashing detergent, and a bit of ammonia, and then sand or caulk any imperfections.
Next, you should apply DTM Bonding Primer by Sherwin Williams or a similar primer to ensure a smooth paint finish.
Finally, you may apply either a water- or oil-based paint in the desired finish. Awaken Your Interior Designer discusses the pluses and minuses of each type. It will also give you insights into selecting the right shade of white paint.
Project Planning Tip #5: Before purchasing paint and painting supplies, I recommend that you review the tips in the book for avoiding common mistakes many people make when shopping for these items. (pages 200-204).
Question #6:Can you tell me if there is any rule of thumb as to how to put together fabrics to match and complement one another. I can put the color schemes together, but it's the patterns that throw me off.
I see plaid put with floral and stripes and they look great, but somehow when I do it, it doesn’t look right. I would appreciate any help with putting me in the right direction.
Answer #6: To mix and match fabrics, you need to have an understanding of three elements: emphasis, scale, and color.
Emphasis refers to the way in which you use patterns to create focal points and keep a room visually balanced. And scale has to do with the size of the patterns that you mix together. With a basic understanding of these concepts, you won’t ever have to worry about mixing and matching patterns.
Awaken Your Interior Designer introduces what is called the “Ground Up” method. It leads you through mixing and matching fabrics, as well as determining where best to use them in your room.
Project Planning Tip #6: Before mixing and matching patterns, I recommend that you use the fabric planning chart in the book to identify the best types of fabrics for your lifestyle and decorating style. (page 238 - 239)
Question #7: We are building a house this spring and I already have three rooms furnished. I have bought red furniture with sort of suede texture for the family room.
The dining room is sort of an Asian style table with chairs. The living room has a smoke colored look with colorful pillows. My kitchen cabinets are two toned cream and cherry.
What color trim would you go with throughout the house? Should the trim be the same throughout or different for each room? If you can give me any help I would appreciate it.
Answer #7: The best color choice for your trim depends on whether you want to actively highlight the moldings or have them play a more subtle role in the room.
If you want to highlight the moldings, go for a color that contrasts with the wall color. For example, a bright off-white used throughout the house would contrast with each of the colors you mentioned. But it would tie the house together, visually.
For a more dramatic look that also highlights the moldings, paint the trim in each room one shade darker than the color on the wall.
In Awaken Your Interior Designer, you can review the trim painting tips for more options. You can also find out if highlighting the trim is a good choice for your home, in general.
Project Planning Tip #7: Before you decide on the colors for your molding/trim, I recommend that you first review the section in the book on how to use to color to relate rooms throughout your home. (page 151)
Question #8: I have 2 wing chairs with Queen Anne legs. I also have an oval cocktail table with a glass top and Queen Anne legs. I plan to place the cocktail table parallel to the sofa.
A wing chair will be on each end of the cocktail table. Hence, there will be a wing chair somewhat in front of the fireplace. Is this a good placement for the wing chair?
Answer #8: Two classic furniture arrangements that are timeless and effective are the L-shape and H-shape. The arrangement you pick depends on your furniture pieces and decorating style.
I’d suggest that you arrange your items in the classic “H-shape” configuration. This involves any combination of a sofa, loveseat, or chairs that are placed across from one another, with a large coffee table in the center.
This will maximize the impact of your fireplace. It will also create a sense of balance in a room with heavy Traditional style furniture.
Project Planning Tip #8: Before going through the pain of moving furniture around, I recommend that you use the graph paper and instructions in the book to sketch out a floor plan of your room.(pages 98 – 102) Then use the drawn-to-scale furniture pieces to evaluate different layouts (pages 320 - 321)
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