Episode 302

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Halloween is coming! I love to dress up, but I also love to accompany my children to the door and make sure they don’t take too much candy… while also peeking at other people’s decor. I hope you and your families are getting ready to have some fun during this season as well!  This week I’m digging back into the mailbag to answer some design questions.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[6:26] Dining room window treatments (Stacey)

Question:

I previously wrote in about my new living room in the country. This time, it’s about the dining room. I love the view. I don’t want to block it. Should I put window treatments on these windows? I’d also love your thoughts on the dining table. The previous owners left it, and I’m not sure if it’s something special that I should keep or if I should let it go and get something else.  It has two additional leaves and it can seat up to 12 people. The chairs seem really large in the room and the cushions are old. I thought about keeping the table and getting new chairs or potentially painting the table or just using a tablecloth or just keeping the natural wood.  What to do?  Last question – do you think there’s room in this space for me to add a hutch, a cabinet, or something along the wall to the left of the dining table, or is that going to make it feel too cramped? The ceilings in this room are eight feet high, and in my previous submission about the living room, I forgot to add those ceilings are nine feet.

Answer:

Stacey does have beautiful views through these majestic windows.  I can see evergreen trees, rolling hills, and it looks like mountains in the distance.  One of the windows is a sliding door, and I don’t always treat sliding doors, but sometimes I do.  What determines that, for me, is if I need privacy.  In Stacey’s last email, she mentioned that she doesn’t need privacy. Maybe this is so deep in the country that there are no neighbors – just rolling hills for days. So, we don’t need privacy and we don’t need light filtration.

I then ask myself, how am I treating the other windows in this room?  If I’m going to dress the other windows, I should probably dress the slider – I’d say I do it about 60% of the time. If I’ve dressed the other windows with drapes, I’ll do a similar treatment.

Looking at Stacey’s pictures, it looks like there is a pass through or a cutout in the wall that leads to another room but isn’t truly a window.  There is a very deep ledge, like an overhang of sorts.  It’s like a really deep window cell, and it’s probably 8-12 inches extending from the wall out into the room. There is also a floor vent under this pass through space, so there couldn’t be stools on top of that metal grill.  Long story short, I would not put any drapes around that pass through window because the drapes would have to go around or over the big cell that is poking out and exacerbate its awkwardness.  If this were my place, I would probably just shave that down so it’s flush or just an inch past the window box.  If it was shaved, I think adding drapes to the pass through and the slider would be very interesting because otherwise – and I hate to say this – the room isn’t really that interesting.  It’s small, doesn’t have much going on, and it is kind of in between these other rooms.

I do think drapes would warm it up and give it some visual interest, especially because it’s kind of open to these other rooms.  I typically love to paint a dining room a surprising color to really give it some gravitas and make it feel unique.  In this case, however, it’s so open to other areas of the home that Stacey would have to continue that pink color or stop it arbitrarily, which would look strange.

So, if the window sill gets shaved down, dressing it with drapes is the way to go.  If not, I wouldn’t recommend drapes.

[13:00] Dining room furniture (Stacey)

Answer (continued):

To answer the question about the hutch, server, or other piece, what I would do is measure all around the table, 30-36 inches everywhere there will be chairs.  So basically, take the table measurement – say it’s 42 by 72 inches, then I add 30 inches on each side.  That is the bare minimum for the chairs to push out without feeling tight.  If there are at least 24 inches leftover on that one side after adding those extra inches, then a storage piece will fit in the space.  We want to make sure that chairs won’t be hitting the storage piece.

Stacey was also unsure if she should keep the table. From the pictures, I can see that this table has a lot going on.  It’s ornately carved with intricate legs. They have some filigreed carvings, some curves, and some kind of metal inlay.  She needs to ask herself if the look of this table reflects her style, because it is a dominant piece.  This is not a wallflower – it has a lot to say from pretty much every angle.

It is a mid-tone wood, which seems to go really well in the room with its mid-tone floors. I wonder, though, if that is the color wood Stacey wants to use for other furniture pieces.  If there is going to be espresso wood or light birch wood in the adjacent living room, it will look out of place with this table because the space is so open.

I wouldn’t use the corresponding chairs.  I hate a match set.  Interior designers don’t want things that came together in a set. They want things that go together and were curated to work well together. For me, the chairs are really bringing the room down because they are so ornate and carved. It’s just too much. So I’m thinking one or none – the table, or none of it. I would also be inclined to do a rug to break up all that wood, and then I might do leather chairs that you could easily wipe off and that provide a contrast in color and texture.

[17:57] A baffling ceiling situation (Stacey)

Question:

The primary bedroom in my new house has an interesting ceiling situation. While a lot needs to be done to this room, this ceiling has me baffled.  The previous owner turned the garage into the bedroom and to maximize the ceiling height, he created two areas with a tray ceiling. I think that’s what it’s called. The low parts of the ceiling are seven feet. The tray ceiling above the bed is almost eight feet, and the other tray ceiling with the ceiling fan is about seven-and-a-half feet. Ideally, I’d love to raise the entire ceiling, but that’s not going to happen for a long time, if it’s even possible.

In the meantime, how can I make this most visually appealing? Do I need paint? Should the different areas of the ceilings be different colors to accentuate the tray? I’ve seen that online, but I think it would just draw more attention to it. Should the entire ceiling be the same color? How about the walls? I know the ceiling fan needs to go. Should I replace it with a chandelier, or is seven-and-a-half foot ceilings too low for that?

Answer:

Again, Stacey has included some really cool pictures that help to illustrate the situation. This room is unusual, and the ceilings are a bit low. In a bedroom, at least, it can feel like a cozy place to snuggle up. That being said, it’s weird, right? The two tray ceilings are octagons or hexagons and they are adjacent to each other. This kind of garage-like  room, which really doesn’t look like a garage anymore, has these two symmetrical ceilings right next to each other. I think it was a very odd choice that the previous owner made, but I always encourage people to discover their artistry.

Sometimes the tray ceiling butts up against the wall when it starts to angle versus just being strictly in the middle of the room. Also, the tray is not deep. So if they did involve an accent color or something like that, it would really have a visual presence because there would be a lot of that color. He also inserted crown molding into the tray, which is just kind of next level.

I would paint the walls whatever color Stacey wants to. It could be neutral, but mid-tone, something pretty intense. Then I would do two shades lighter than that as the ceiling color. That first ceiling, the lower ceiling, would be a color that is two shades lighter than the wall. I would bring that up into the tray curling over the edge right up into that interior crown. That way, the ceiling kind of continues into there. Then the crown molding would be the same color as the trim around the windows and doors. It tends to be a shiny, glossy finish and a brighter version of white. So let’s just say we use Benjamin Moore’s Atrium, then at the very top for the highest ceiling inside the tray I would do a brighter pop of white so we can see the delineation.

In this room, we’re using (1) a color for the walls, (2) a color for the first ceiling, (3) a color for the trim, and (4) a color for that inset ceiling at its highest point. I think that will help to make sense of what is going on because we can’t ignore it. We can’t paint it all the same tone and just pretend it’s not happening. That’s kind of what I want to do here, but we have to acknowledge that it’s here – in a graceful and sophisticated way. Keeping the paint neutral but bringing in those different tones is my best suggestion.

Let’s talk about the light fixtures sitch, shall we? In the tray furthest from the bed, there is a ceiling fan. Knowing that this room has shorter than normal ceilings and that this is not over the bed, I would not do any sort of drop. I would make it a flush mount – that’s kind of cute because it’s in this tray ceiling. In other words, it’s framed by the ceiling and the ceiling is drawing attention to this light fixture. So I do want the light fixture to have a little something going on. I want it to feel special, look interesting, and be very close to the ceiling.

I’d also love to add drapes, because drapes draw your eye up to the ceiling – and in this case they should, because the windows are practically hugging the ceiling. Drapes in addition to blinds would be a really beautiful way to add a splash of color, since we know the walls are going to be a mid-tone neutral. Window treatments would also draw the eye up and emphasize height in this short room.

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