Episode 319

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Happy March – and almost spring! The sun is out, the warm weather is coming, and I’m feeling alive. I’m jumping right into the mailbag today, and if you have burning questions please feel free to submit them for some free interior design advice: affordableinteriordesign.com/podcast

This episode, I answer questions about…

[3:33] Buying window curtains and rods (Sabrina)


I have to buy some window curtain rods and curtains. Where do you buy this ****? I think I want a double curtain rod, but I get overwhelmed. West Elm? Target? Home Depot? And then – curtains! I want some beautiful, drapey heavy material, but am I insane? I was thinking velvet – but then I ordered some samples off Etsy and they’re cheap AF. Curtain/Curtain-rod suggestions. HALP!


I’m happy to help! First of all, I like the Cambria Collection rods and you can get those at Bed Bath and Beyond. I typically go with their Classic Complete line. The reason I like the Cambria Collection rods is because they have a wide array of finials, which are the decorative caps that you can add. They also have a wide array of sizes. The price point is great.

If you have listened to this podcast, you know that I hate rods that are under one inch in diameter. Anything under one inch in diameter is not a rod – it’s a pencil. It’s a dowel. It’s lame, it looks scrawny, and it really shouldn’t be holding up anything besides a tapestry – definitely not heavy velvet drapes. You’re going to want to make sure that when you purchase a rod, you get at least one inch in diameter or thicker, especially with those heavy drapes.

I do, however, want to challenge the double rod. In chapter 9 of my book, you will see things that I hate. You will see the naughty word list, including sheers. You would hang sheers on the second inside rod and then the thick, velvet drapes would hang on the outside. I think sheers are like granny panties for your window. They’re ill-fitting and blousey, and sometimes they even flop out from behind the drape. They just look bad and they add a lot of volume. You are already going to have a lot of volume with thick, velvet drapes so adding a bulk of fabric behind it is just going to be a lot of density.

Let me say, the one time I do like to use sheers as well as a drape is when I need blackout curtains. Sometimes I want things to be very dark at times, but also have the option for privacy and translucency. I tend, however, to use blinds rather than sheers. Blinds give me the ability to manipulate the light and the privacy level, and then I can still shut the drapes for blackout or darkness effects. I do understand that you want to control the type of light and have different experiences throughout the day, but I think having the double rod with the drapes and sheers is just too much fabric. If that is the route you want to go, I recommend the Cambria Collection Classic Complete line. I also like Crate & Barrel’s rods. West Elm and Pottery Barn are also fine, but a little pricey. So if you’re looking for that good value and nice diameter rod with different capabilities (L brackets, extension rods, inside mount brackets), I just love Cambria Collection. There are so many reasons to head over to Bed Bath and Beyond to check those out.

The second half of the question is about where to get great velvet drapes. High-quality velvet drapes are going to be very expensive. You’re going to want to look at places like Restoration Hardware, where you get that top-of-the-line experience and several velvets to choose from. You could also look at Smith and Noble, because they have a wide range of different fabrics that come in different categories in terms of price point and luxuriousness. You would look there for more selection and to get that premium quality product. Additionally, with Smith and Noble you could get a wide variety of samples. If you are looking for a more affordable price point that still has fairly good quality, I would look at Pottery Barn. When I’m shopping for drapes, I tend to look at places like Overstock and Wayfair. If you are on a budget you may try some of them at those retailers because they have a wide variety to choose from as well. Make sure to read the reviews, and look at the weight as you are considering a purchase. I also love working with those retailers because of their free returns policy. No harm, no foul. It just takes a little extra time to order those and see if you like them, but you may save hundreds of dollars going that route.

[11:13] Keeping lighting fixtures cohesive within a transitional minimal style (Bee)


I am not quite sure what kind of lighting fixtures (red dots in the floorplan) in these areas that would make it cohesive with the whole house, especially since it has an open plan layout. They are wired for light fixtures and not can lights or recessed lights. The green dots in the image represent can lights. I will include some images of what I’m eyeing to give you a little bit of an idea of my aesthetic. I’m looking for transitional and minimalistic; aiming for light and airy. As much as I like fabric shades, I need to eliminate them due to other more important reasons. I plan on a lighter honey-colored wood-look tile for the whole house. I really like Studio McGee’s style. The living room will have a ceiling fan with a light in the middle or a fandelier. I’m thinking to use a double sconce (see photo) as the wall light above the 33” kitchen sink. Really, I am trying to have an all-white kitchen with brass/gold cabinet hardware (white is timeless), and a black island but have heard that black will show more dirt and smudges so I might consider leaving them white as in the photo. I am open to your suggestions.


I’m going to start with the second part of your question. First, I’m looking at the imagery that you sent me. If you all want to see the pictures, you can head over to our YouTube channel. Once you’re there, you can see the images people have provided. Sometimes when they don’t provide images, I pop in my own.

I’m hearing that you’re wanting a transitional, minimal look. I would say that many of the fixtures that I’m seeing here – the dining fixtures, the ceiling fans – are not giving me any sort of transitional vibe. They are super contemporary. I am seeing the minimalist, but I am not seeing the transitional. Where I do see the transitional is in your pictures of the kitchen. The pendants with the clear glass and the cylindrical glass shade, those feel very transitional. My concern is that those two have a silver metal finish, from what I can derive from the image, and you mentioned you wanted to go with gold or brass.

Now I will say, as much as I love the Studio McGee aesthetic, I do think it’s very trendy. I think that black/white farmhouse with some woven material, high contrast, sort of transitional but really more contemporary style will be out very soon. I would be mindful of that – not necessarily as you make your decor choices, because decor is meant to be swapped out. You can add trends. Part of what I love about my job is evolving spaces with the times. When you’re making renovation decisions, though, I want you to avoid trendy looks. I want you to think about something timeless.

You mentioned that you think a white on white kitchen is timeless, and I beg to differ. I don’t care for white on white kitchens because if the cabinets, tile, and countertops are white, they are unlikely to be exact matches. None of them are going to look pure white and over time, wooden cabinets tend to yellow. When you choose things that don’t have any contrast, like white on white on white, it doesn’t look like you made any choices. I want you to look like you made designerly choices. I want this space to look sophisticated, and to have visual interest. This doesn’t mean you have to do something loud or over-the-top, but it means you have to make curated choices that look like they came from different places – not just the “white store”.

I love the idea of doing an island that is a different color than the cabinets in the kitchen, and I think black is a really good look. I don’t think with cabinetry it shows everything. If you were choosing a rug, upholstery, a chair, even a bathmat, I would steer you away from black because you can see every piece of lint and hair. I myself have a black countertop. It does have some stippling and different colors in it, but I can’t see anything. I didn’t choose these countertops in my kitchen, and I kind of don’t like that I can’t see if it’s dirty or clean. I have to sort of rub my hand along it to see if there is any schmutz. So I do like the idea of black, especially with that Studio McGee look. You just want to be careful that if you repaint your cabinets, painted cabinets can easily chip if they aren’t done professionally and with the right finish of paint. Make sure your painter is very knowledgeable before you start painting your cabinetry, because you want it to be durable and stand the test of time.

Let’s look at this floor plan now, because you mentioned you were doing a mix of recessed lights, pendants or chandeliers, or even flush mounts. I always recommend a pendant or chandelier above the dining table, because I think it adds that wow factor. Even if you have an open living/dining combo, it can really formalize the dining area and make it feel different energetically.  The dining fixture needs to be a stunner.

The kitchen pendants are also a great opportunity to do something interesting. I like both of the transitional ones you showed, but I don’t mix cool and warm metals so they cannot be in a silver finish. I do mix black metals with brass, so if you want to mix metals you could consider bringing a dark metal finish in.

In the family room, it looks like there is a kind of window seat and you’re thinking about putting a pendant above the banquette in the window seat. That’s a really fun idea.In the hallway, it looks like there are some flush mounts in the entryway. I love a semi-flush, which is a fixture that comes down from the ceiling roughly between 8-18 inches. You do need seven feet between the bottom of the fixture and the floor, so you want to do the math and make sure it doesn’t come down too low. We don’t want anyone feeling like they’re going to hit their heads when they walk into your home. I love that small drop in a foyer because it really adds a level of sophistication and makes the foyer feel different than what you experience as you walk down the hall.

In the hall, or the gallery as it’s called on the floor plan, I would use a flush mount – something tight to the ceiling. It should look good with both the dining chandelier (because it’s right next to it) and the foyer fixture. I do love mixing the recessed lights with overhead fixtures. I think that recessed lights provide a lot of opportunities in terms of additional illumination in pockets where you may not have a table lamp.

My concern with recessed lights is, I don’t ever like them to be directly over my head when I’m eating at a dining table or sitting on a sofa. So I would like to make the furniture plan first and then determine where the recessed lights are going, because I don’t want to be in an interrogation room. It feels uncomfortable to have them directly over me while I’m trying to relax.






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