4 simple design solutions
Q: I have a set of patio doors in my living room that lead to the backyard. My decor style is contemporary, and I'm wondering what type of window treatment to choose.
Thea Williams, Calgary, AB
A: "Vertical blinds are a great option for patio doors since they can be pulled to one side, but their style hasn't changed in a long time," says window treatment expert Mary Dobson. PanelTrac from Levolor (left) offers a new twist on the vertical blind – a similar function with a style update. As with a vertical blind, the wide fabric panels pull off to one side and stack on top of each other. But PanelTrac features a modern look – much like a shoji screen. There are many fabric choices, from light, airy sheers to heavier fabrics like faux suede. For more options, visit the Levolor website.
Q: Is there a general rule for matching paint on the walls with trim and baseboards? Personally, I always thought there should be a big contrast between the two.
Judy Hudson, Winchester, Ont.
A: Trims are usually painted white or cream. If you're using light to medium wall colours, then choose white or off-white for trims. Since every version of white has some other colour in it (bluish white, pinkish white, and so on), try to select one that has hints of a neutral colour, like beige or taupe. If you decide to go with a dark wall colour like chocolate brown, hunter green or burgundy, white will be too stark for the trim. Instead, pick a light creamy colour.
Q: Should the colour of my drapes be the same as the walls, my sofa or one of the tones in my area rug? My living room walls are beige, the sofa is dark green, and the rug is camel, burgundy and green.
Barbara Harris, via e-mail
A: Draperies can be expensive, especially if custom-made, but they're excellent investments if you pick a colour and fabric that won't look dated in a few years. The colour should be a shade lighter or darker than your wall colour. If you choose a patterned fabric, match its background colour as closely as you can to the paint colour. With the dark colours you've described in your furnishings and accessories, pick a shade darker than the walls – perhaps a soft taupe or sand hue. Classic fabrics include hatched linen and slubbed silk (or synthetic looks). Linen looks best in a casual or contemporary space; silk suits more formal rooms.
Q: Our basement family room doesn't have any windows. There are plenty of pot lights, and the carpet and walls are off-white. Can you suggest a way to bring at least the illusion of light into this room and a colour scheme that would enhance this rather plain room?
Judie Gehrer, Victoria, BC
A: Paint the ceiling a pale blue, like Icy Bay 555-1 from Pittsburgh Paints. This reflective colour will help bounce light around the room, simulating light from the sky. Paint your walls a soft creamy colour like China White 515-1 (also from Pittsburgh Paints) to tie in the carpeting and create a warm glow. Use uplighting like torchiere floor lamps, with halogen bulbs to replicate natural light; that will allow light to hit the ceiling and bounce into the room for a natural effect. Halogen bulbs in your pot lights will create a natural daylight effect as well. You could also consider trying trompe l'oeil mural art (check out wallpaperstore.com for examples) to create the illusion of a view from a doorway or window, as well as a focal point.