Design solutions: Unexpected colour
Q: Can you recommend an unexpected colour to paint a mainfloor powder room? We'd like to jump-start the room with a burst of colour. The floors are honey oak hardwood, and the cabinetry, sink and toilet are white. Cathy Stotts, Calgary
A: Powder rooms are the ideal spaces for introducing drama, and the possibilities are endless. You could go with a glossy red paint (try Debbie Travis's Blood Red N26B from Canadian Tire) on the walls to create the look of a Chinese lacquered box. Or you could use a yummy chocolate brown (try Kona AF-165 from Benjamin Moore's Affinity Collection). Another option is a bold lattice-print wallpaper for a garden-inspired feel, or a pretty toile or damask print for a sophisticated, formal mood.
Here are some more tips for pulling together a fabulous powder room.
1 Choose a mirror and lighting that aren't bathroomy. Consider a silver- or giltframed mirror, stylish sconces with fabric shades or crystal drops, or a petite chandelier.
2 Paint the vanity the same colour as the walls or one of the wallpaper colours.
3 Replace cabinet hardware and hand towel holders with more elegant options.
4 Add some artwork and accessories to dress up the space.
Add a small posy of roses, peonies, freesia or lilies to fill the room with natural fragrance. Or try reed diffusers: bamboo sticks placed in scented oil.
Q: I'm a teen into interior decorating as a hobby. I have a small room, with a window on one side, a door opposite it, and a closet on another wall. I also have a twin bed, desk and dresser to squeeze in. I need ideas on how to arrange these to achieve a more open, inviting setup. Lisa Sevenhuysen, Nanaimo, B.C.
A: Start by rethinking the position of your bed. Instead of cramming it into a corner, try placing one long side against a wall, maybe under the window. Then add large square cushions (at least 26 inches) along the back of the bed. That way, you can use it like a sofa when friends come over. When it's time to sleep, stack the cushions on the floor at one end of the bed. Place your desk and dresser along the other walls.
Q: Our home has a large landing halfway up the stairs, and we're lost as to what to do with it. We already have an office, so we thought it might make a nice reading nook. Can you offer some ideas? Kathryn James, Oakville, Ont.
A: To be honest, I'm not sure it would be comfortable to sit and read in an area that's essentially a traffic zone through the house. Instead, consider creating a beautiful vignette incorporating some special furniture and accessories. The grouping will provide eye candy for anyone ascending or descending the stairs – something I like to call a decorating moment. Start with a large pendant lantern, then add draperies that run from floor to ceiling and wall to wall for a theatrical effect; silk would be fabulous for its luxurious shimmer. Place a handsome piece of furniture like a chest of drawers under the window, then style the top with some favourite accessories or a collection. Change the display often to keep it interesting. Flank the chest with a pair of pretty side chairs, large ginger jars or Chinese ceramic garden stools. You could also add an area rug. If so, it should be large enough to cover most of the landing, revealing about a foot of flooring on all sides.
Q: Our kitchen has white cupboards, and the backsplash and floor are beige ceramic tile. The counter is beige laminate. We're planning to renovate in a couple of years but need some suggestions about how to perk up the space between now and then. We love colour but don't want to spend money on a new countertop or backsplash that would just be ripped out in a couple of years. Hellen Harrison, Winnipeg
A: The easiest way to bring life into a plain white kitchen is with accessories. Replace your small appliances with coloured versions. The blue ones above, from Hamilton Beach, are just the ticket since they'll deliver eye-catching colour without breaking the bank. But don't stop with appliances. Treat yourself to new kitchen linens in a bright pattern that picks up on the colour of the appliances. Add a large decorative bowl to display fruit. And you can even opt for dish soap in your new colour scheme.