Design solutions: Victorian decor and condo kitchen questions
Q I'm a senior who's about to downsize to a smaller home or apartment. I have lovely Victorian parlour furniture purchased in Belgium approximately 22 years ago. I have one large four-seater sofa and two matching wing chairs covered in an old rose-colour mohair. What can I do to update this look? I really don't want to be a stuffy old grandmother! Elizabeth Carol Lee, Dartmouth, N.S.
A You're in luck! Granny chic is super hot right now and anything but stuffy. The look is typified by Victorian or other curvy antiques reinvented with bold fabrics. On their website, British carpet specialist The Rug Company showcases its gorgeous wares in granny-chic rooms. I hope the one above, featuring a carpet by fashion designer Matthew Williamson, inspires a fresh start for you. First, find a good upholsterer, then start your fabric search. Consider wide stripes, graphic geometrics or overblown modern florals. Not into crazy prints? Then opt for a saturated solid colour. How about swapping old rose for fiery fuchsia velvet or linen? You can have the wooden legs or any other exposed wood painted glossy fuchsia to match -- or even dressed up with silver or gold leaf! Before going ahead, check that your furniture will fit in the new space; only a tape measure will tell you. Measure the pieces, the space and any doorways leading to it.
A In a small-space condo, I wouldn't mix two different colours of upper cabinets. I think the result could be a choppy, cluttered look. Instead, you could try one of these schemes for a fresh take on kitchen design.
1 Choose all uppers in one colour, all lowers in another, check out the Septmber 2007 issue of on page 94 for a great example.
TIP The darker colour should be on the bottom units to ground the space.
2 Forgo the upper cabinets altogether and instead install a few sleek open shelves.
Q Help! I've been living without handles on my kitchen cabinets for two years. What's the rule of thumb for choosing hardware? We have stainless-steel appliances, tan cabinets and black marbled countertops. Myriam Poirier, Rockland, Ont.
A Follow these three steps for selecting the appropriate cabinet hardware.
1 Style Your kitchen hardware should work stylistically with your cabinets. Is your kitchen contemporary or country, traditional or modern? Look for kitchens with a door style similar to yours in STYLE AT HOME, in books or at kitchen showrooms. Once you've identified the style, note the hardware shapes the pros have used.
2 Finish The metal finish and colour should harmonize with at least one other element in the room. For example, iron or oil-rubbed bronze hardware will work with your dark countertop. Brushed or satin nickel or chrome will work with your appliances. Polished chrome or nickel, glass or crystal hardware add sparkle and a touch of formality, so if your kitchen is open to the dining or living room, you may want to go with one of those options. Polished hardware also looks great with shiny chrome countertop appliances like a kettle and toaster.
3 Feel Perhaps the most important consideration is how the hardware feels in your hand. Can you grip it easily? Is it smooth? Does your hand fit through the pulls?
Margot's favourite sources Lee Valley Tools, Restoration Hardware and Rejuvenation. When you find the style you want, mix two or three different pieces from the line. For example, install knobs on doors and pulls on drawers. Or all knobs on the uppers, one size of pull for the lowers and another size for any pantry units.
A The exact dimensions will vary depending on the size of your bed. If you can't find the right size area rug in your budget, then have broadloom cut and bound to the correct size. Here are two options.
Option 1: A generously sized bedroom rug that's large enough for the entire bed and bedside tables to sit on it.
Option 2: A slightly smaller carpet that begins just in front of the side tables but is still wide enough to allow a walkway along both sides of the bed and at the foot of it.