How-To - Home Improvement

Decor dilemmas

Design experts solve 20 common decorating problems.

Q. Blinds or drapery?
"That depends on your budget, your style, the shape of the window and the amount of light and privacy you need in the room. Generally, the clean look of blinds works well in contemporary spaces, and drapery enhances more traditional looks. But a combination of blinds and framing side panels is also a great look, even in contemporary spaces." -- Cynthia Bennett, The Decorating Shoppe, Halifax

Q. How do I determine the right height for hanging a picture on a wall?
"As a general rule, centre the piece according to average eye level, which is five feet six inches. (If you have cathedral ceilings, you may want to change the rules a bit and hang some pieces a little higher.) The space where the art hangs should also be considered. For example, on a large wall, smaller pictures may look best in groupings. If you're creating a photo wall, you may want to mix up the heights of the pictures. These rules are just guidelines, but generally the most common mistake is hanging art too high. You should look at art, not up to it." -- Scott Yetman, Scott Yetman Designer, Montreal

Q. Faux wood panelling - what's the best way to update it?
"If you can't blow it up, whitewash it or paint over it to make it disappear. Faux wood panelling is just wrong, so make it as unobtrusive as possible."
-- Dee Dee Taylor Hannah, Taylor Hannah Architect, Toronto

Q. What's the rule of thumb for hanging drapery rods?
"They should be one to three inches above and beyond the window frame. I like to hang them two inches above and beyond. Whatever you do, don't hang them too high: when the drapes are open, too much wall will be exposed above the window, and the look will be awkward." -- Jacqueline Glass, Jacqueline Glass & Associates, Mississauga, Ont.

Q. What's the best way to minimize the appearance of bulkheads?
"Treat bulkheads like any other structural element, not like a decorative one. If the walls are eight feet or lower, paint bulkheads the same colour as the ceiling; if the walls are higher than eight feet, paint the bulkhead the same colour as the wall." -- Mitchell Freedland, Mitchell Freedland Design, Vancouver


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