Episode 300

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Change is in the air… I redecorated the storefront for Fall, and I got to buy some fun new things due to the flood damage.  This month we are also rebranding as Up Loft Interior Design!  Don’t worry, the podcast will stay as Affordable Interior Design – but it’s by Up Loft.  I’m really excited about the change, and it’s going to allow us to expand and grow.  My life in general is a bit in flux right now, and I’m learning to enjoy the literal and metaphorical changes in seasons.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[5:14] The best decor and furniture arrangement for a rectangular space (Stacey)


I recently moved from a 1000 square foot remodeled house in the city to a 2200 square foot fixer upper house in the country.  I have some furniture from my old house in the new living room, but it just doesn’t work here.  It’s just filling space for now, and there’s not enough to fill the space.  The room is 22 feet by 16 feet.   I’ve had the baseboards replaced, and the painters are coming next week.  The walls are going to be Sherwin Williams alabaster and the baseboards will be Sherwin Williams accessible beige.  I have no idea what to do with this room.  What is the best furniture arrangement for a rectangular space like this?  Should I put some sort of light or chandelier or maybe two in the ceiling?  What kind of window treatments would be best?  I don’t want to block the view and privacy is not really an issue for me.  I plan to turn the wood stove into a fireplace.  Should I paint the surroundings?  Any of the questions you can answer are greatly appreciated.

I’ve attached photos so that you can see the view standing in my dining room and looking down the length of the space to the living room.  You can also see standing in the entryway that enters into the living room, and you can see standing opposite side of the living room looking back into the dining room and entryway.  Also, I’ve included a closeup of the stone fireplace.


The one thing I don’t answer through the podcast is furniture layout, because I use a software system to try every possible option with my clients.  I leave no stone unturned, and really examine the floor plan from all angles to see what will work best.  The reason I do that is so my clients can really invest in furniture pieces without wondering where they will put them and if they will work in the room.

That said, I will be able to answer some of the other questions.  It’s a nice big room, and it currently has very neutral walls.  It sounds like they’re going to stay neutral, but just a bit more saturated.  There are beautiful, mid-tone wood floors.  The fireplace is way over in the corner, so it is not centered.  While the fireplace is sort of a big feature in the room, somebody put baby in the corner.  Architecturally, fireplaces are the focal point of a room.  You would never want to put your back to a fireplace because then you can’t see it.  So with that in mind, we know that a sofa or sectional must face the fireplace.  When the fireplace is on a very shortwall, the challenge is that usually the other function in the room is TV viewing.  This means there are two focal points: one architectural, and one practical.

The problem with the room as it stands right now is that the TV is in one faraway corner on the side of the room with the longer wall. The fireplace is on the other side, and it is perpendicular to the TV.  Unless you have all the seating on the opposite wall and it’s all facing forward, you’re going to have a hard time looking at both focal points.  Also, because the fireplace is perpendicular to the TV rather than being on the same plane, you’re only going to be able to see it out of your periphery – and maybe not even that.

Typically, I like to keep both focal points on the same plane.  If I’m using a sectional, one arm of the sectional would be angled to face the architectural focal point (the fireplace, in this case) and the other arm of the sectional would be facing the secondary focal point (the TV).  So, we have two options.  We can put the TV above the fireplace.  There is plenty of room to put it up there, and the room is quite deep at 22 feet.  You could put it above the fireplace, but you’re going to have to think about the cable box and game systems you may have, because there is no room around the fireplace for a media cabinet.  Ideally, then, this would be a smart TV with no ancillary boxes, cords, or connections.

Another option, as I mentioned before, would be to use a sectional and have one arm facing the fireplace and the other facing the wall opposite the window.  You could put the TV there and enjoy both from the same piece of furniture.  The windows are on another very long wall where you could do a lot of different things.

You also have to ask yourself, what other functions do you want this space to serve?  Besides sitting comfortably and watching the TV and the fire, do you need a desk area?  A place to do yoga?  A bar cabinet?  These are all things you have to ask yourself when creating the layout of a room.  You want to think deeply about the primary functions, and once you have established placement for those, then you fill in the room with the other pieces.

Something else I would really recommend is a nice, large rug to define this space.  Also, the windows are very nondescript.  They aren’t framed out with wood or anything like that, so window treatments would really help to bring some “wow factor” to the room.  The wall opposite the windows is very big; it’s the longest unbroken wall, so that typically holds the biggest piece of furniture.  In your case, however, that may not be practical for a sectional given your focal point.  We want to make sure you give the wall the gravitas it deserves.  If you’re going to put the TV over there, maybe you flank it with bookcases.  If you want the TV to be very minimal, maybe you build a gallery wall behind it.  We need to bulk up whatever you’re doing on that big wall so it takes some of the room’s weight and doesn’t just look like the empty alabaster elephant in the room.

In terms of light fixtures, I don’t see any connections there.  Certainly you could add in additional overhead lighting, but if it’s not there currently then I would start with lamps.  Interior designers generally aren’t huge fans of overhead lights because they’re kind of like interrogation rooms.  They just beat down on you from above, whereas floor and table lamps are on a human level.  They create cozy pools of light that you can use to make a space more inviting.  You can also use them in terms of task lighting for reading a book or working at a desk.  Those are all things to consider as you put everything together in a room.

[19:03] Treatment for a small window (Ranae)


How would you address the smaller window in this scenario?  So far it has a blackout inset roller.


I’m looking at this room and it appears to be a nursery (congratulations!).  It has these kind of high transom windows.  They’re probably two feet top to bottom and side to side on one wall, probably six to eight feet long.  These walls are perpendicular to each other, both windows are high, and they’re kind of close together.  Each window is about a foot from the corner.

The larger window that I explained has been dressed with a nice long rod and two panels that extend all the way to the floor.  I like the idea, and I have a couple thoughts.  First, I like a rod that has a thicker diameter.  To me, skinny rods do not look sophisticated.  They look wimpy.  I never purchase a rod that is less than one inch in diameter, so that way it has some visual presence.  I also dislike clip rings .They look too casual, and the fabric starts to pull out of them – especially with little ones tugging on drapes.  Sometimes the easiest solution is not the best solution.

For the little window that is two to three feet wide, you’re going to want to do the same type of rod – the one that has a one-inch diameter – and you’ll want to make the rods on both windows.  Hang them at the same height and have the drapes go all the way to the floor, but hang it outside the window significantly to make that window look larger.

I would hang the bracket for the rod at least six inches outside the window on both sides. I know this window is not the same as the window adjacent to it, but guys, if you have one window in the space and you decide to fully treat it with blinds and drapes, you can’t ignore its little sister that’s right next to it.  You have to do the same thing.  So because there are blinds, I would either leave well enough alone and just do the blinds, or I would do blinds with the drapes.  I really love that because it adds color, patterns, and softness.  Also, if these windows are at all drafty, thermal lined drapes can help to keep out those gusts of wind.

[24:12] Choosing drapery colors and patterns (Cara)


How do you choose drapery color and pattern?


I choose drapery after I’ve designed the entire room.  Very rarely does the drapery serve as my inspiration piece – inspiration pieces being the multi-colored piece from which I’m going to derive the color palette for the room – in which case I need to find it or decide in the middle of my design process.  I don’t tend to design a whole room around the drapes because there aren’t that many patterned drapes I find that compelling.  Also, drapes fade a lot in the son, so they are something you may want to change out more regularly than a piece of art or a very large rug.  Those are typically easier inspiration pieces to use because there are more selections.  In addition, when drapes are pushed to the side you can’t really get a sense of the colors or patterns because they are all smushed together.  You don’t get the full dose, unlike a rug or artwork that is always in its full glory.

I use drapes to complete this picture, but it doesn’t drive the design.  I’ll design the whole room first: the core pieces, the color palette; and then I’ll drop it in my mood board.  After I’ve gotten 90% of the things selected, I’ll ask myself what this room needs.  Does it need another pattern, or do I already have two to three patterns in this room?  Does it need a dose of color, or are the walls colorful?  I may not want to compete against the wall color with another color, and I certainly wouldn’t want to compete with another solid.  I can’t say I’ve never done it, but I usually prefer to choose a drape with some sort of pattern.  It could be tone on tone, a trellis pattern, a linear pattern, or even an ombre or color block drape.

Once I decide what the room needs, I can literally Google search for grommet panel drapes that will work with that vision (you know I love me some grommet panels!).  If nothing comes up, then I change my idea or my wording.  Instead of “grommet panel yellow ombre blackout” I might do “grommet panel gold ombre blackout” or “grommet panel wheat” depending on the shade I’m going for.  Ninety percent of the time I’ll be doing a grommet panel – if you want to know more about my obsession with grommet panels, you can check out my book.

When thinking about what the room needs, not every window needs drapes.  There are some circumstances where I will just do a blind.  I will very rarely do a naked window, but it has happened.  You’ll really want to analyze the window and ask yourself not only what the room needs, but also what is best for your window.






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