Episode 287

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I have been a little delinquent in recording because I was on vacation with my family in Maine, but I’m excited to be back with you!  I’m sharing some vacation lodging tips, and then jumping back into your questions.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[8:03] Having carpeting in the center of a living room, bordered by luxury vinyl plank (Veronica)

Question:

We are in the midst of planning the build for our forever home and so I’m basically spending every spare minute binging your entire podcast. I’m learning so much! I’m even sharing your tips at the dinner table with my husband and kids and they’re into it! Although my 6-year-old’s chosen feeling word of “spooky” just doesn’t fit with my cozy transitional style.

I could really use some help with our living room floor. We are planning an open layout for our kitchen, dining and living rooms, which I’m thrilled about. I am really hoping that this setup is the center stage of the next 18 years of our lives. However, I don’t know what to do about the living room floor. Right now we have a tentative plan for a carpet in the living room area. This is partly financial- we are sticking to a budget and carpet is affordable! But also, our last two rentals have had carpet and our kids are ALWAYS on it- playing, reading, just rolling around. Carpet is cozy and I really can’t imagine an area rug that is as plush and inviting. But right now we have the carpet basically drawn in as a giant permanent rug. There are luxury vinyl plank walkways on both sides for cleanliness and the rest of the great room will be luxury vinyl plank. My question is: Is this a terrible idea? Will it look really weird? And if so, do any rugs exist that are actually as soft and cozy as carpet?? And where can I find them?

For reference, we’re a family of 4- me, my husband, and our kids (3 and 6 years old). We currently  have one dog and we will always have a dog, so there will be puppies in our future. This is also our forever home, so who cares about resale! My style and my husband’s style is “cozy transitional” but my kids’ chosen styles are “spooky futuristic”(the 6-year-old) and “rainbow” (the 3-year-old).

Answer:

Do I think it is weird to have carpeting in the center of the room bordered by luxury vinyl plank? Absolutely.  As a designer, do I feel comfortable recommending carpeting? No.  So, you have come to the wrong place because I’m not going to give the green light on this inlaid rug situation.

There are definitely rugs that can be as comfortable as wall-to-wall carpeting.  In fact, you can go to a carpeting company and have a piece of carpeting bound to the exact size that you want – and it’s the exact same material.  Then you just put a rug pad under it and you’ve essentially built what you were referring to.

I understand that it might be more affordable to inlay the rug rather than putting vinyl plank down all around and putting bound carpeting over it.  You also told me, however, that you will have puppies coming into this house and that you currently have a dog that is going to age as well as two young children.  You’re asking for urine stains, throw up, and all sorts of different things that don’t come out of carpet easily.  I would not want a carpeted room because you just can’t really get it clean.  At least with an area rug or a bound piece of carpeting, you can roll it up and get a new one that feels fresh if it gets stained or destroyed.

[14:25] Artwork and inspiration pieces when re-decorating a family room (Ronna)

Question:

I’m excited to go through our house and start implementing all the things I’ve been learning and to start correcting many decorating mistakes I now realize I’ve made.

I want to start with our family room, which is in desperate need of new furniture.  It needs paint, lamps, and colorful artwork. I’m having a hard time envisioning other furniture in this room. I hope that you may see it from a different perspective and have recommendations for me. The artwork is the most intimidating component to me and I also don’t know what to do about the windows.

The room is almost 20 feet by 20 feet with a 10 foot ceiling, wide baseboards and crown molding. I know I need an inspiration piece for this room and I have considered the throw blanket in the picture as inspiration because I like the colors, but I’m quite sure that I should find artwork first instead. The wall above the sectional is large. Should I look for one big piece or do a grouping of something? And if so, what?

Answer:

Looking at the room, it is a bit dark.  The light colored wall-to-wall carpeting helps, but there is also a dark brown sectional, entertainment unit, book case, and cabinet, with beige walls and wood trim.  There are lots of darker components, making the room feel a bit heavy.

As far as an inspiration piece, you’re on the right track thinking about a large piece of art.  You do already have a nice and perfectly size piece of art above the sectional with the three-piece world map.  It’s blue and cream and nice and high, which really showcases the high ceilings.  If anything, the art may be just a bit low.  I typically like to see 8-12 inches between the top of the sofa cushion and the bottom of the art.  But I think the art itself is perfect, and I wouldn’t be looking to change it.

One of the concerns I have with this room is that it’s really just the brown and blue room.  Looking at the throw blanket, featuring sort of floral mandalas that feature different shades of blue, it strikes me that it’s a blue throw with a white background.  It isn’t an inspiration piece.

An inspiration piece has at least three colors, and it is prominently placed in the room.  Throw blankets sometimes get folded up or put away, so I wouldn’t typically use that as an inspiration piece.  I would use a piece of art, an area rug (which you don’t need because you have wall-to-wall carpeting), or prominently placed large pillows.

You could certainly swap out your pillows, because you have two sets of the same pillows.  Four identical pillows does not allow for the introduction of a new color pattern or texture.  The other place I often go to when I’m looking for an inspiration piece are the drapes, and you have nice, high windows that are untreated.

Everything three feet high and above in the room is brown, and everything below three feet is where you find your color.  I think if we’re looking at this room holistically, thinking of balance, color is missing from the upper part of the room.  So I would bring in long drapes that span from the top of the window frame down to the floor, and I would look for them to have more than just blue going on in the pattern.  We need to add in at least one more color, and it would be great to incorporate a warmer tone to balance the cool blue tones.  The brown neutrals are helping to warm the room, and then I would suggest bringing in a yellow or an orange.  I’m avoiding red because you already have strong blues and whites in the room.  If we add red, it’s going to scream Americana.  We want to avoid doing anything too literal, in terms of evoking a certain color palette.

[22:45] How to update a dark, barn wood fireplace (Cindy – Winnipeg, Canada)

Question:

Attached is a picture of my dark, barn wood, shiplap fireplace wall. Because of your podcast I’ve been confident in decorating my home but this wall has me ‘stumped’.  We aren’t able to remove the barn wood and so I’m trying to decide what to do. We will be painting the other walls, but I haven’t made a decision on that yet.

This is part of an open concept space. It’s a long room with a U-shaped kitchen and dining room in front of the patio doors. The living room is 14 feet x 14 feet and the ceilings are 9 feet. The fireplace is 4 feet wide.  I’m thinking I’d like to paint, or maybe whitewash it.  What would you suggest for a mantle and surround?  Should I put built-ins along the sides?  I live by the lake and will be decorating beach/farmhouse/shabby chic.  I prefer neutral colors like gray, white, and blue.

Answer:

This is also a dark room, with dark floors that have a strong wood grain.  The wall with the shiplap definitely looks very rustic.  It looks like barn wood, and it’s a really fun vibe.

The first red flag for me is that you’re kind of all over the place with your style.  Beach, farmhouse, and shabby chic are each distinctive styles.  I think by having one toe in each, you’re going to really confuse yourself as you’re starting to choose items and find direction for them.  So, the first thing to do before you make any design decisions is to lock in those two key words: the style word, and the feeling word.  All three things you listed are styles – beach, farmhouse, and shabby chic – and we need to narrow it down to one.  We then need to accompany that style with a feeling word, describing how you want to feel in the space.  Because it’s an open concept space, we need to be thinking about the dining room and the kitchen as well, and bringing that same two-word phrase throughout the entire open space.  When a room is open concept, you need to carry the color palette and the two-word phrase throughout.

Your two-word phrase would dictate what I would do with this wall.  Keep in mind when you do something with this wall, it’s going to be pretty permanent.  Anytime you paint or whitewash wood, it’s very difficult to undo that without just ripping the whole wall apart.  So, let’s be really strategic with our choice.

Because this one wall is treated differently than the other walls, we want to feature it.  It’s called an accent wall.  While I don’t always love accent walls, I’m going to go with it here because I do love making things work.  We want to keep the idea of a focal wall, since you’re not going to rip this out.  I don’t think we should cover it with built-ins, because then you might as well just rip it out.  You live by a lake, so having barn wood walls might make a lot of sense.  I would explore the idea of whitewashing it because the floor is so dark, and so similar in tone to the walls.  The wall color is a gray tone now, and you mentioned you might be changing that – but whatever the paint color ends up being, you can dilute that color and use it to wash the accent wall.  That way you’re getting a textural differentiation with the accent wall, but it’s not a color differentiation.  I think that could be quite striking and sophisticated, allowing you to minimize the barn wood while also upleveling it.

In terms of the mantle, it really depends on what you want to do with the wall.  One thing I ask myself when I’m looking at a room is, what texture is not being represented?  What’s missing, or what do we have too much of in terms of texture? I will say that for this room, we have too much wood with the really dark and highly patterned floors and the focal barn wood wall.  So, I absolutely would not do a wood mantle.  I could see you doing a fresh, white mantle that reflects the color of the trim in the room.  I could also see doing something in stone.  That would play up the rustic nature of a lake house while bringing in a new and unexpected texture.

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