Episode 306

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Happy Thanksgiving! Are you supposed to be making cranberry sauce right now? Are you escaping into the bathroom, the closet, or the basement, just to catch your breath and get some alone time? I feel you!  I love having people over, and I love to cook (even though I’m not all that good at it!) but I’m an only child at heart and every now and again, I need my personal space.  So if you need some time to yourself to think about interior design, I have an episode for you!

This episode, I answer questions about…

[10:19] Making a bedroom feel balanced despite an unbalanced window placement (Carrie)

Question:

My husband and I (and our 16 month old daughter) have bought our forever home. I really want to make this home feel special since we have moved around a lot before this. However, the master bedroom is a real head-scratcher for me. There is this very low to the ground, large, off-center window. It is a beautiful window and I love all the natural light, but how do I make this room feel balanced with such an unbalanced placement of the window? And with the window being so low to the ground, I can’t put anything in front of it without losing precious sunlight, right? All that I plan on having in this room will be our bed, end tables, a desk, and a dresser. I love your eye for these things and I’m open to anything you have to say- I’m ready to play around with anything: curtains, paint colors, furniture layout…I have been mulling this design conundrum in my head for a while which is why I believe it was fate that I found you! Thank you for making the world more beautiful!

Answer:

I have never seen a window this large and off center. It makes me think that maybe they added a master suite later on, or maybe the architect was just off his rocker. It is a really beautiful, large window on a wall that is also large. I’m going to guesstimate that the window is six to seven feet wide, and it’s just about two inches off the corner of the wall. On the other side of the window is another six to seven feet of wall. It is so awkwardly placed because, not only does it have three different breaks, but it also has a half circle at the top. It’s quite a grand, visually powerful window, that would normally be the centerpiece of a room – and instead, it’s the corner piece. It’s very strange. Nobody should put Baby in the corner, and nobody should put an extra large and semi-ornate window in the corner. It leads me to believe that they added a bathroom later on.

This room is a really great size and has a lot to offer, otherwise. I’m a bit jealous, because my primary bedroom does not have an en suite bathroom. I wouldn’t mind having an off-center window if I had a luxurious soaker tub. Speaking of “primary bedroom”, this was only brought to my attention a couple months ago by our amazing content writer, Sue Allen. She let me know that we don’t say “master bedroom” anymore – it’s “primary bedroom”.

Typically, the biggest piece of furniture would go on the longest unbroken wall. Unbroken means it doesn’t have windows, doors, or other openings. In the pictures we can also see two floor vents, and they aren’t centered on this window either. I like to use the process of elimination. We know the bed isn’t going on the wall with the large window. It can’t go on the wall with the bathroom. We aren’t going to put it on the wall with the walkway opening. Ideally, we want the bed kitty corner from the main point of access so that when you walk in you can clearly see the bed. From the bed, you can clearly see who’s walking in.

Now we’ve solved the problem of where to put the bed, but what do we do with the funky window? You can block windows, especially if they are large. Don’t worry about obstructing some of the light, as so much light comes through that it will be totally fine. That being said, I would probably block it with something small and inconsequential, because you can see this window clearly as you are walking down the hall. I think it would be a great opportunity to put an upholstered bench that is maybe four feet long in front of the window. I would also add window treatments – not just because I like to sleep in total blackout, but also because I think it will help this to look more finished and less awkward.

With the half circle window on top, there are two ways to dress them. Either you put the rod under the half moon so it spans the entire length of the windows below, which are wider than the half circle, or you get a really long rod and put it above the half circle. In either case, you’re going to have drapes that go all the way down to the floor. The good news about these off-center, awkward drapes is that, if you use my four-foot bench idea, and if you have drapes that go all the way to the floor, you won’t obstruct the floor vents. We definitely don’t want anything covering those, because that is probably how the AC and the heat is getting into the room.

If this were my room, I would do the long rod that goes above the half circle. The windows are about 8-9 feet high, and I like to sleep in total blackout. I would also make sure the finials or end caps of the curtain rod are very small, because the window is just inches away from the corner and you don’t want the edge of the rod to touch the perpendicular wall. We want at least an inch gap. Then, because I like them to shut, I would be doing double wide panels because you want double the width of drapery that you have with the window. So, say this window is 100 inches long. Each of your two panels should be 100 inches. I would do blackout, double-wide curtains that go all the way to the floor and are above the half moon.

In terms of where to put the ancillary furniture like the desk and the dresser, it really depends. You could off-center the bed so the wall next to the door as you enter could potentially have the desk. That would be sort of my feeling. So as you enter the room on the right hand side you would have the desk. If we are going counterclockwise, you would then have the nightstand, the bed, the other nightstand, and then a piece of wall leading to that strange window.

On the wall opposite the bed, I would put a long, low dresser with a TV – question mark. I don’t currently have a TV in my bedroom and twice this week I have regretted it. I just want to go to my bedroom, watch horrible shows like 90 Day Fiance and Married at First Sight, and fall asleep.

[22:05] Updating a galley kitchen (Cindy)

Question:

This is our very small galley kitchen.  The dimensions are 9’2” wide and 18’2” long. Unfortunately, changing the flooring is not an option at this time. My thoughts are to change the lower cabinet fronts to match the top, as all the cabinets and drawers are in excellent condition.What do you think?

And what should I do with the crown molding?

Also looking for advice on countertops, backsplash, and hardware. The sink is black granite and I’m not sure about keeping this?

Do you have suggestions for lighting over the kitchen sink?

I have attached a panoramic photo of our front windows.

The window closest to the kitchen has the table in front of it. The window is 4.5 feet wide and 27 inches from the floor. There are 12 inches from the outside kitchen cabinet to the window.

This is the space between the kitchen and the open concept dining area. We will be moving the table in front of the patio doors when we move in which will leave a 5.5 foot area of empty space.

What do you think I should do with this space?

Should I add a bar height breakfast bar front of the window? (the lakeview is amazing)

Should I add a low profile table in front and decorate with plants?

  • [23:39] Cabinetry

You have kind of dark brown, chocolate cabinetry on the bottom. The woodgrain almost looks like zebra wood, but it’s not shiny. It’s a matte dark brown with silver handles. On the top, there are white or off-white cabinets, but it has crown molding with that same dark wood color from the lowers. The crown is also below the cabinetry, which is kind of unusual.  I wonder if it’s concealing maybe a light source or something under the cabinets. It looks visually awkward and I would remove it if it’s only decorative.

Then there are stainless steel appliances throughout, with a black sink. So the first question is, should you change the lower front cabinets to match?  Here’s my problem with that. When you open the cabinets, what tone is it inside? If it’s brown inside, I think it will look a little bit funky to have white fronts. It’s not really bothering me that the uppers are different in color from the lowers. In fact, when I do have a two-tone kitchen, I really like the lowers to be the darker and the uppers to be the lighter color.

I think it would solve some problems to pop off that pesky crown at the bottom and the top. The crown is dark brown, so it’s making this cabinetry look almost cartoon-like with an artificial outline. As I scroll through the pictures, it’s almost all I can see. The other thing I can see is that there are handles or pulls on the bottom cabinets, and knobs on the upper cabinets. I think it would make a huge visual difference to have pulls on the uppers as well as the lowers. I do not like the knobs, and here’s why. I really hate square, rectangular, anything that’s not a circle as a knob. The reason is because you can always tell when it’s slightly off.  As you’re pulling cabinets open and shutting them repeatedly, these rectangular or square knobs can easily get turned. Then they look bad when they aren’t perfectly up and down. It makes it look messy, dated, and poorly done.

I think pulls look more sophisticated than knobs, and I would do pulls throughout this kitchen to give it an elevated look, on the cheap. Just buy more of the same pulls that are on the bottom, and drill an extra hole to accommodate them.

  • [27:56] Crown molding, countertops, backsplash, and hardware

I already addressed my thoughts on the crown molding above – if it’s purely decorative, I’d remove it. If you’re going to be changing out countertops, backsplash, and hardware, that’s practically a new kitchen. I think the countertops are pretty innocuous. They’re dark, and they blend nicely with the darker cabinetry. The backsplash is very thin, and it appears to be a glass mosaic tile with metallic pieces mixed in.  That type of tile is very trendy and I think that trend may be over. One very quick and relatively easy way to elevate a kitchen is to add a different backsplash. I would consider doing something with color, because you don’t want to do anything white.  With white uppers, either the cabinets or the backsplash will look less white in comparison.  One might look more yellow, or more blue.

I was just looking at this dream home in New Jersey, and they had done an extensive renovation and made everything white.  It’s so not my vibe. I can make anything work, so I already had a whole plan based on the pictures. I put in a lot of colorful wallpaper and a lot of colorful art to break up all the white – white walls, white vanity cabinet, white tiles in the bathroom; white cabinetry, white countertops, white waterfall going all the way down to white floors in the kitchen. It was so white. Even the entire stove was white. It was a really cool stove, but it looked cream instead of white. Then the elongated white subway tiles looked kind of blue in comparison to the white lacquer cabinetry. Even if everything was the exact same shade of white (and good luck with that!) cabinets tend to change slightly in color with the sun. It can easily turn creamy. I think people should have to make some color choices. White is the absence of color, and white on white on white is the absence of choice.

Anyway.  You could really add some personality and flair with a more interesting color backsplash.

  • [31:26] Lighting over the kitchen sink

Unless it’s some kind of a pendant that’s coming down from the ceiling (which may be hard to do), I might leave well enough alone unless you already have electric in that ceiling. I might just put a blind in the window over the sink and call it a day.

  • [31:49] Kitchen sink

It does not look good with the rest of the kitchen.  All the appliances are stainless steel, and the countertop is a sort of version of black with some modeling to it. That means the countertop looks less black in comparison to this truly matte black sink.  I would swap out the sink ASAP for a stainless steel sink that would better incorporate the hardware as well as the appliances and just make it feel more fresh and cohesive.

  • [32:22] The space between the kitchen and the open concept dining area

I think it’s going to look weird to put some kind of freestanding pub table or high island there, because it’s just going to look like another piece of rectilinear furniture near the table in front of the patio doors. If you wanted, you could do that with a peninsula effect, but that involves redoing the cabinetry or adding more cabinets, which may not match depending on how long these have been there because they may have faded. Then of course you would have to redo the countertops, which I think are totally fine as is.

Right now in the living area there is a big sectional next to the patio doors. One of the arms kind of separates the patio door from the living space.  I think having a table there might feel a little bit tight. If it is your only dining table, I might center it between the edge of the patio window and the edge of the lake view window that’s 27 inches off the kitchen counter.  I would put in a nice big rug, and have that elongated table with chairs at the head and foot and chairs around the side. I think that would be a better way to do it, so as not to obstruct the patio doors. You’re not using a teeny tiny table next to a massive sectional, and you’re really getting a much more gracious eating area without putting a bandaid in the middle. A high-top probably wouldn’t coordinate with the kitchen, and sometimes it can be awkward to have stools right next to a table because you can sit at either place. You also have to have room to push all the seats out without hitting each other, and by the time you have enough room for that then the dining table is practically touching the sectional.

It’s a lot to think about, but I hope I’ve given you some good food for thought!

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