3 common decorating dilemmas
Q We've just finished building a large great room. Although we've added new floors and furnishings and painted the walls, the room still feels unfinished. What can we do?
-- Donna Miglin, Huntsville, Ont.
A Finishing your great room by adding rugs and window treatments will make it feel cosy without taking away from the view, which is definitely the main focus of your new addition. Hang drapery panels on the sides of the larger windows (as seen in the picture above), except the angled upper ones, to soften the walls and windows; select a colour found in the sofa and chairs.
Add simple two-inch light-tone oak blinds for privacy at night and a natural touch during the day. A nine- by 12-foot area rug in the main sitting area will tie all the furnishings together and help define the living area. A decorative runner in front of the door will also help divide the two sitting areas and introduce more colour into the space. Take your inspiration for the area rug and runner from the furniture, making sure to choose tones that are richer and deeper than those of the furnishings in order to ground and tie them together.
Q I'd like to paint my kitchen cupboards and walls. My countertops are currently a rosy mocha colour. What colour would you recommend?
-- Val Dunham, Edmonton
A In my opinion, there are really only two colourways for kitchen cupboards: white or dark brown. A dark espresso colour, which is trendy now, will update the cupboards, but you'll probably want a change in a few years when it's out of fashion. For that reason, I suggest painting the cupboards white for a classic look that will be easier to live with longer. If you have white trim in your house, paint the cupboards the same colour.
The first step is to have the cupboard doors and drawers removed and sprayed by a professional for a smooth finish. If you're going to do the job yourself, prepare the doors by sanding and priming them, and apply paint with a foam roller.
This is also a good time to remove the old hardware, fill in the screw holes and add new up-to-date choices. For an eclectic look, choose decorative bronze knobs for the cupboards, and bronze pulls for the drawers. The bronze tone will blend beautifully with the rosy mocha countertops.
For the walls, I'd suggest Autumn Brown 2099-40 from Benjamin Moore, a rich mocha colour that contains a hint of pink. It will not only tie the countertops into the overall scheme, but the dark shade will lend some drama, too. To add punch, introduce green accents (green and pink are opposite on the colour wheel and complement each other nicely) throughout the room.
Q I've purchased new furniture for my living and dining rooms and would like to rehang the artwork. Do you have any suggestions regarding what the appropriate height should be?
-- J. Achebe, via e-mail
A Most people hang artwork too high or too far apart, and as a result it looks lonely on the walls. This is a common dilemma for homeowners, so I've put together a few guidelines for hanging art in your home.
Above the sofa: Hang six to nine inches above the top of the sofa. The grouping or size of the artwork should be about two-thirds the overall width of the sofa.
Above a mantel or console: Hang four to 12 inches above, depending on the height of the mantel or console. If the mantel is four feet or taller, then hang four to six inches above. If the artwork (or mirror) is taller than three feet, lean it on the mantel or console for a casual effect.
In a hallway, on a landing or on a blank wall: The middle of the artwork should be 66 inches from the floor.
On a double-height wall, such as in a foyer or loft: Move the artwork up three to four inches in order to take advantage of the extra height and proportions of the space.
Up a stairwell: Follow the same rule as for hanging art on a blank wall, except measure 66 inches up from every third step, forming a diagonal line that the middle of the artwork will follow.
When grouped together, many small framed photos have the same impact as a single large piece of artwork. Start with the largest frame in the middle of the wall and surround it with the next largest frames; hang the smallest ones on the outer edges. Position the pieces no more than five to six inches apart, so they don't look disconnected. This is an attractive way to display old family photos, children's class pictures or a collection of small paintings for big impact in a room or hallway.