Episode 290

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I’m coming to you from the dog days of summer in the northeast.  I love the heat, and I have had the opportunity to take my kids on some great “adventure dates” this summer.  One of our future adventures entails helping to make my store more inviting in the wake of the major flood that happened a few weeks ago.  I’m excited about that!

I would love to hear about what you are doing over the summer.  You can keep me in the loop by sending your comments and questions to affordableinteriordesign.com/podcast !

This episode, I answer questions about…

[5:34] Redesigning a home, and keeping a furniture set that doesn’t fit the new theme (Tabitha)


I’m in the process  of redesigning my home.  My theme that I’m going for is “modern boho”.  Neutral palette, lots of texture, pops of color, with a Moroccan flair.  My husband gave me permission to redo the house with two stipulations.  One, we have wall-to-wall carpet and I cannot rip it out yet.  He wants to do it, but in the fall.  So in the meantime, is it okay to put a rug on a carpet?  Second, we have a matching chair and a half and an oversized loveseat.  I don’t like them, but he does.  He’s dead set on keeping them.  How can we not make them stick out like a sore thumb?


First, there was a bit of a “red flag” within this question.  Tabitha said that the theme for the room is “modern boho”.  I love that it’s two words, but it is not a two-word phrase, right?  Both modern and boho are style words.  So I want her to only take one of those two words for her style word, and then I want her to come up with a feeling word.  If you’re using two styles in the same room, they’re going to conflict.  I won’t hold Tabitha’s feet to the fire because she misdefined something, rather I’ll redirect and encourage her to get that feeling word and use boho as her style word, because that’s where I’m really seeing her enthusiasm.

I would put a rug on top of wall-to-wall carpeting, if the carpeting is very low pile.  Looking at Tabitha’s picture, I see standard plush carpeting.  When I say low pile, I’m talking about a Berber or a commercial grade carpeting.  With more plush carpeting, a rug that you choose to layer on top is not going to sit well because it’s going to move around and bubble up.  It’s going to be hard to get it to stay in one place and it’s going to be a tripping hazard.  So I only layer rugs in very unusual circumstances, and I make sure that the rug I’m putting on top is anchored with something.  Maybe it’s anchored with a sofa and a coffee table, or a bed.  I would also consider putting rug tape on the upper rug to adhere it to the lower carpeting.  The problem with that, however, is that it may wind up harming the carpeting in some way.  So it’s not something I do very often, and it’s not something I recommend very often either.  In Tabitha’s case, I would ride it out until the fall when she can rip up the wall-to-wall carpet.

Regarding the matching chair and a half and oversized loveseat, the one thing I’m not going to recommend is a slip cover.  They are saggy, baggy, and always ill-fitting.  If there is a slip cover that was meant for that particular set, then I might be okay with that because the pattern is a very intense and busy paisley.  It doesn’t seem to be the style that was described within the question.  Instead of a slip cover, I would instead maybe layer this with a throw blanket.  I think it’s kind of compelling when designers put throw blankets that are very long over the back of the chair, then they tuck it in slightly where the seat meets the back.  Tabitha could put a pillow on this furniture and then a throw blanket either on the arm or the back.

The bottom line is, sometimes when you’re trying too hard to cover something up, it looks like you’re covering something up.  It draws attention to itself because people are wondering what’s under there.  So, just integrating it in a casual, styled, but not overly disguised way is the best way to handle this oversized chair and loveseat.

[14:05] Making an heirloom more aesthetically pleasing (Tabitha)


We have an heirloom china hut that can definitely not be removed.  My theme is “modern boho” and I don’t even have china to put in this cabinet.  The bottom cabinets hold our games – we’re big into board games.  What can I do to the top to make it more aesthetically pleasing?


It’s nice to have pieces that are sentimental, that evoke memories, or that are special to you.  I think having elements of that in your home can make it feel like a personalized oasis rather than a hotel room.  With that said, a lot of people inherit items that aren’t “them” – that really go against the style that they want.  It can be fine for smaller items like a piece of art that you can reframe in your style or a homemade blanket that can fit into a chest.  This piece is the heirloom elephant in the room, and it’s not boho nor modern.

I would say change up the brass hardware, but underneath you’re going to find that there has been sun damage over time and that the texture or color of the wood underneath may not match the stain or the color of the current cabinet, and it would be really conspicuous if you remove them.  Oftentimes, the other problem with heirloom pieces is that you don’t want to change their integrity.  So Tabitha is probably resistant to painting this piece, even though I would love for her to do that.  I think that’s really the only way to salvage it and make it more of the style she is looking for.  The other way to make it more her style would be to style the shelves with items that reflect the style of the room.

We could add some interesting baskets, some sculptures, some colorful picture frames – anything that could pop – maybe a collection of glassware.  It depends what the piece is used for.  Tabitha mentioned that they don’t have china, but if it’s in a dining area, we want pieces that would be used for dining.  She could buy a brightly colored tea set, for example.

I’m going to get some negative feedback for this, but another option for this large, dated piece with so much intrinsic character, would be to move it to a less conspicuous spot.  Maybe this piece would look great in Tabitha’s basement.  Just putting that out there.

[18:26] The practicality and longevity of open shelves in a kitchen (Allison)


I’m in the beginning stages of a kitchen refresh.  I would love to hear your opinion on the practicality and longevity of open shelves.  Do you think this fad will pass?  Is this something you would put in your own home?


Would I ever use open shelves in the kitchen in my own home?  The answer is, emphatically, no.  I have a lot of things – a lot of glassware, mugs, bowls – and they don’t all match because my husband likes character glasses and souvenir cups.  I want to be able to live in peace, so I need opaque doors on my upper cap.  Open shelving is just not for me.

Even though my shelves are organized inside, not everything is in perfect alignment and not everything is used all the time.  With open shelving, that stuff can get dusty, right?  For me, open shelving is not at all practical in my primary home.  Maybe if I had a beach house or another secondary home where I just needed a very small set of minimal dishes, and I wanted a lighter look, didn’t have the real estate for cabinets, or didn’t want to invest a lot of money in cabinetry.  If I was going to rent it out as a vacation rental or something like that, I might not want to invest in upper cabinets, and then it would be the perfect solution.

My life is just a little too real for open shelving, and I think most people’s lives are a little too real for open shelving.  Additionally, it can just look like visual clutter.  I do think it’s a fad, and I think that some things we see in magazines or on TV don’t look that great in real life.  It’s going to shoot really well for a magazine, it’s going to look perfect for two days, and then you’re going to want some juice.  You’re going to take the glass down and it’s going to take everything out of alignment.  Personally, that would drive me crazy.  It’s like a white rug – these are things that look great on day one and are really hard to upkeep.  So I warn against it.








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