Episode 283: Giving it Some Thought

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This week I was able to sit inside my favorite coffee shop and I was able to get back into podcasting. What an exciting time! I’m thrilled to be able to answer your questions about interior design.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[3:41] Matching paneling to fixtures in the bathroom (Alison, British Columbia, Canada)


I have a question about matching paneling to fixtures in a bathroom. We are building a house, and are trying to create a traditional Victorian feel throughout. We will be doing white paneling halfway up the wall throughout the main living areas and hallway using the color White Dove by Benjamin Moore. We would like to do the paneling in the main bathroom as well, but I heard that if you are doing a large amount of trim in a bathroom you should match it with the fixtures (in this case the toilet, tub, and vanity will all be white), even if it is not the same white as the other spaces. This is so that it is pleasing to the eye in an especially small space and doesn’t clash. Would you agree with this? Would White Dove be too warm and clash with the bright white fixtures? Would you pick a different white just for the bathroom or forget the paneling all together in this space?


Consider whether you want to have that much paneling in the home. Moldings and trends can add personality to a space, making it look special and intentional. When you do something unique throughout, it can become less special.

It is generally not important, however, to match the trim throughout the house with the bathroom fixtures. If you have off-white fixtures it may be more problematic to do stark white in the bathroom, whether it’s tile or trim. If you have white fixtures, you can make the trim white without trying to match the whites exactly.

This issue stands out more in a kitchen, where you might have a white countertop, backsplash, and cabinetry. All the whites are close together, and it becomes apparent that none of the whites are truly white.

Almost every white has some kind of tone or reflection that makes it look less than pure. White is the absence of color and it is all going to have some kind of cast. Trim in a bathroom, however, is not usually touching the fixtures.

Sometimes when a space is empty, these things can look like bigger problems than they really are. You are unlikely to notice any slight differences in white once you get your bath accessories and towels in the room.

[8:55] Designing and decorating a functional entryway with storage solutions for shoes, coats, keys, and mail (Sabrina, Hastings, New York)


We are moving to my dream home soon. I’m concerned with our entryway and what it will look like. I need to make it functional because my kids are used to apartment living where they dump their backpacks, shoes, clothes out in the hall before coming inside. On the PDF you can see: we enter the house into a small atrium with a closet that is across the hall and next to the stairs. I can already see myself tripping over the pile of shoes and clothes that my kids will peel off as soon as they race through the door. I need entryway solutions for shoes and coats, keys and mail. And how would I style that area?


When it comes to entryways, you want to first think not about aesthetics, but about practicality.

  • How do you and your family enter the space?

  • What are you bringing in?

  • How can you give everyone a zone in the entryway?

It is important that everyone has somewhere to put their things. Every family member may have a different style when it comes to storing items. Are they “throw and go” or do they take more care to place things where they belong?

For “throw and go” folks, you may need more open shelving and trays for shoes, mail, and keys. If you have room, everyone can have a cubby for coats and bags. If everything had doors, people may be less likely to use them.

Moving into a new home is a great time to start new habits and create new patterns. If you have a plan of action for the entryway from the get-go, this transition will be more smooth. It may need to evolve over time, but it’s a good idea to have a plan going in.

Make sure you are maximizing the storage space you already have, whether that is a closet or the natural corners of the house. If you have small solutions everywhere, it’s going to add to the visual clutter and confusion as you walk in. For an entryway, simpler is better when you’re trying to get the whole family on the same organizational page.

[18:52] Using tile in bathrooms while maintaining the home’s overall aesthetic (Bee, Houston, Texas)


I already have a large format tile picked out for the walls of the shower and tub area of our master bathroom but that’s about it. I am stumped as to how to finish off the rest of the master bathroom given that this tile is rather “busy” in some way and my overall interior design aesthetic is more toned down (attaching pics to illustrate). We want to avoid as many grout lines as we can so I had to chuck the idea of using cute subway tiles in the bathrooms even if they give a more timeless element to these rooms.

What color/type of porcelain tile should I use in the shower floor area that is slip-free, and what type of porcelain tile should I use on the rest of the master bathroom floors and the bottom third or bottom half of the walls on the vanity side and the toilet area that is right across the shower tub area? We want to tile the bottom third or bottom half of all the bathroom walls to be prepared for water leak incidents (we have 3 boys).

Lastly, could you please suggest some things I could do for bathroom #2 (kids’ bathroom) that would still tie in with the rest of the house? I know my aesthetics do not follow the 60-30-10 rule exactly because it’s mostly neutral colors but I am trying to put more safer color options for the main elements and plan to introduce pops of color through accent pieces/decor.


You do want critical core pieces (such as the vanity, cabinets, tile, flooring, and paint colors) to be relatively neutral. Those should be relatively timeless, and then you add colors through things like the shower curtain, the bath mat, towels, and artwork.

Renovation selections need to be cohesive throughout the home. Cohesive does not mean redundant. It doesn’t mean using the same pieces over and over again. Rather, it means making choices that all look like they came from the same era, belong in the same place, and have some kind of throughline.

It’s the “two word phrase” that you’ve heard me speak about – one style word and one feeling word.

Regarding the grout lines, you want to prioritize picking the right tiles. You don’t want big tile everywhere just to avoid the grout. A tip, though – white grout in the bathroom is so hard to clean. Gray grout on the shower floor, with a smaller tile, is a good design choice. There will be more grout, but it makes it more of an anti-slip surface. It also helps when you’re grading the shower floor, since they are generally inclined so the water can drain efficiently.

You also want to be thoughtful when renovating with tile. Think about how long you are going to be in the house. If you will only be there 3-10 years, you want to consider resale value. You may want to talk to a real estate agent about what will appeal to others. If you’re planning on selling after 10 years, your choices will likely be dated anyway. You have more freedom to make your own choices, just know that they won’t appeal to everyone and you may want to change some of them before selling your house.

Finally, you do not want to choose tile online. You need to go see and touch it in person. There is too much time, money, and energy on the line with renovations. Don’t cut corners. Think about your choices deeply.

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