Episode 289

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There are so many exciting things going on with the podcast!  I really wanted you to be able to see the images I was talking about on the show, so I launched a YouTube channel.  We also have a Facebook platform, a show notes page, and an Instagram.  You can check everything out at affordableinteriordesign.com/links

New questions with lots of delicious pictures have been rolling in, and I’m so grateful!

This episode, I answer questions about…

[6:07] Replacing a formal dining room set with a corner banquette (Irina)

Question:

I’ve been working from home for the last 7 months, and with the pandemic being nowhere near the end, I realized I need more comfortable areas in my house to work and lounge. I have a traditional dining table in my house, but I noticed we almost never use it… probably because it’s an IKEA table with 4 wooden chairs with pillow tie-downs. It feels rather uncomfortable and too formal.

I was wondering if having a corner banquette instead of a couple of chairs would be a better idea – that way I can relax, lean back, maybe even put my feet up when I work, or sit cross-legged while I eat in front of my laptop. What do you think? Is it too old-school? For some reason most furniture stores don’t have a lot of choices. I only found one at Pottery Barn.

I would love to hear your opinion, and if you have any tips on how to make the dining room more inviting and comfortable. My house is small, so I’m trying to find creative ways to work from different places for “changing scenery” sake.

Answer:

I think banquette seating can be comfortable for some people.  The problem, however, is that the prefab banquets you can buy from a furniture store are typically in a small L-shaped configuration.  They dictate the size of your table, and if you have one of these small L-shaped banquettes, you have to use it with a small circular table or a square table.  Because the banquette is equidistant on each side, the table needs to be equidistant on each side.  That can be quite limiting, and I’m hesitant because this is your formal dining room.  I’m wary of limiting your seating like that.

If these limitations don’t feel limiting to you, then go for it.  I do think that a banquette is much more expensive than just getting separate chairs.  To me, it sounds like the real problem in your situation is that the chairs are just uncomfortable.  So if you’re not finding enough banquette selection to float your boat, or if you don’t like the limitation to a circular or square table, I would advise getting four chairs and a rectangular table that seats six.  On one of the long sides of the table, I would do a bench with a back.  That way you can put your feet up, but you aren’t literally pinned into that prefab banquette.

If your current house is a place where you feel comfortable making the investment of a built-in banquette, that will give you more options in terms of making one side longer and one side shorter.  Before making any decisions, however, I would urge you to consider your experiences with banquettes at restaurants.  Once you get more than three people on one side, it’s quite uncomfortable.  You have to ask everyone to move if you need to get up for any reason.  You are locked in, and that can be uncomfortable for some people.

[15:57] How to select a rug for a nursery (Kelsey)

Question:

I’m writing to you today because I just can’t figure out what type of rug to put in my son’s nursery. It’s a small room, and I keep debating what size and shape of rug would work best. I settled for a small, white rug by the crib because my son was due any day and I had to make a decision! But that lovely white rug quickly became grey from us standing beside the crib, and I’m realizing a white rug may not have been the best choice. So, back to the drawing board!

These are my questions:

-What size rug should I buy? The room dimensions are 9’5″x11’2″. There’s a dresser against one wall and a crib against the parallel wall. I’ve heard various rules about rug sizes, but I struggled to find any standard rug size that would work with the design rules I’ve heard.

-What shape of rug should I buy? I like the idea of a larger rug that my son can play on. Our entire house is hard wood, which is not a friendly surface for crawling and falling. I do like the look of the hard wood though.

-What color rug should I buy? I don’t like color (sorry!). It took everything in me to incorporate any color into the nursery at all (especially since we didn’t know the gender, and I wasn’t into the yellow and green idea). So the nursery is grey and white with navy striped curtains and green artwork. Since another white rug is out of the question (gets dirty too quickly!), perhaps I should buy grey, green, blue, or some subtle pattern that incorporates those colors.

-What types of rugs wear well? I’d love for it to be somewhat easy to clean, but the appearance definitely matters.

-Where should I buy a rug? I’ve shopped a number of places but would love to hear your advice!

Answer:

I’m right with you, Kelsey.  I never recommend getting a white rug because of the experience you just described.  It gets dirty quickly and never looks fresh.  I also don’t recommend really dark rugs, like navy or black.  Those also tend to look dirty pretty quickly.  If there is any lint or hair on the rug, it shows everything.  I recommend going with something in a more muted tone, and ideally with a pattern.  These rugs tend to camouflage some of those stains.

Now the size, I can’t really advise you on because dropping things into floor plans is more technical.  I always try every possible option, which leads to about 10-15 minutes of my time.  There are a number of factors, so I’ll just give you some guidelines.  Sometimes putting a rug under a glider, half on and half off, means the glider kind of wobbles.  Often, it is best to put the rug either fully under the glider or not under it at all, to avoid that unstable effect.  I also really do not like the look of a rug under a dresser, because it starts to look like wall-to-wall carpeting.  I don’t mind a crib being half on and half off, because of its heaviness.  Since it has four legs, it tends not to wobble.

I also agree with you that I would like the rug to cover as much floor as possible so that your little one can have room to play and crawl.  Sometimes that means it’s not a great fit for a standard size rug.  You may need a long, narrow rug, or an interesting, square rug.  FLOR.com offers carpet squares that stick together, with a built-in rug pad which prevents them from slipping.  They have a variety of styles, colors, and patterns to choose from.

Since you already have blue in the drapes in that deep navy that I’m wanting you to avoid with the rug, you could either go with a rug or floor tile option that has a navy pattern on a gray background, or maybe a gray floor tile that has a very subtle pattern.

I prefer lower pile rugs in nurseries because higher pile rugs will capture a lot of stuff – Cheerios, dust, pet hair, etc.  When your child is crawling or grabbing at the fibers, they might be getting all kinds of things on their hands.  Lower pile rugs are also easier to clean.  That is another benefit of the floor tiles – when one gets really nasty, you can pop out that tile and put in a fresh one.

Getting back to some of your other questions – I already mentioned I would advise you to avoid navy and white and keep it neutral.  It really sounds like it is your dream to have a neutral nursery.  Even though you did some pops of green and blue, it sounds like it was against your will.  So let’s just make the rug, which is a huge visual element within the room, something that totally aligns with your original vision.  I suggest a very light gray, maybe with a subtle pattern.  I would not recommend a wool rug – polypropylene or acrylic rugs are much softer and easier to clean.

Additionally, I do not like to invest a lot in a nursery or a kid’s room.  My kids’ tastes change a lot and their rooms are constantly evolving.   I think it’s really important to reflect your child’s tastes back to them.  When they’re little, they may not have many opinions.  As they get older, however, they will be more likely to have thoughts about how they want their rooms to look.

[26:51] Choosing a paint color for the ceiling (Tabitha)

Question:

I have been given the green light to redecorate our house. Tragically, the person who owned our house before painted every wall and every ceiling the same shade of brown. Ick. Anyway, my husband insists that our ceilings not be stark white. We are going with the color Silver Gray for our living room walls and Beach Glass for our bedroom and bathrooms. What color would you suggest for the ceilings?

Answer:

Yes, you sent a picture of this brown and it is really a problem.  I’m happy to hear that you’re changing that out, but I’m sad to hear that your husband does not like white ceilings.  Typically you do a white ceiling, especially when you have a textured ceiling like yours.  With textured ceilings, we really don’t want to draw attention to it.  The more colorful, the more out of the box, we choose for the ceiling paint, the more attention is going to be drawn to it.

I would really suggest painting it a shade of white.  We can tell your husband it’s a different color, because paint colors all have interesting names that often don’t involve the word “white”, but I don’t think we want to go with a true color.  I love the colors you mentioned – Silver Gray and Beach Glass.  Both of those Benjamin Moore paint colors do have subtle cool tones underneath, so you’ll want to go with a white that has some cool tones that play off those.  You might look at something like Decorator’s White for the ceiling, even though that does have “white” in the name. I would avoid doing a warmer white, because that won’t work as well with the blue.

To make your husband feel a bit better, there is no such thing as pure white.  In paint, the actual material itself has a color and it is hard to remove that color.  We have an amazing rep at Benjamin Moore who did a two-hour class for the Interior Design Academy and my own interior designers.  She gave a wealth of knowledge, but one of the key takeaways for me is that Benjamin Moore does not offer a pure white.  It may be called “white”, but against another tone you’ll always see some kind of underlying tone because they had to infuse it with something because they had to negate what is going on in the base of the paint.

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