Episode 323

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April is upon us, and Spring is here at long last. We recently sold our house, and we’re all having mixed feelings about it. My husband and I are thrilled with the amount we got, but I’m feeling nervous because we don’t know where we’re going next. We’re giving up not just a house, but truly a member of our family. When I design homes for anyone, I want them to become more aligned with their home and to fall more in love with it. I want them to feel a sense of ownership and pride over their space. When I design my own spaces, I want each member of the family to truly feel represented by the design and functionality. I know we are going to feel even more excited about the next space, but there is a massive leap of faith involved with selling your house at the height of the market. I am very hopeful, however, that we will find the perfect place for us before we are displaced in July.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[4:31] A sideboard or buffet to store china in a formal dining room (Melissa)


In my formal dining room, I’m having trouble finding a sideboard/buffet to store my china.  The walls are Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black and there is white trim. The table was refurbished and was my great-great grandmother’s. Then a different wood tone with the floors. Should I look for a white sideboard? Wood? I’m afraid there are too many finishes and I’m not sure what direction to go. Hopefully I haven’t messed this room up because I can’t change anything else! Should I hang more photos on the wall?


The chair rail and the molding are all painted bright white. Above the chair rail is a deep black wall color, and the table and floors are a mid-tone brown. You also appear to have a rug with some blue in it, or maybe it is also black. The chairs have black legs with perhaps blue or gray upholstery. There is a perfect indentation for a sideboard or a buffet, and you also have a cool piece of geometric abstract art featuring a variety of colors.

The table, floors, and artwork frame are wood, so I think your instincts are correct that we don’t want to go wood. We also don’t want to go white, because everything below the chair rail is white. A buffet is going to be 30-36 inches high, so it will likely be right in line with the chair rail and a white one would just blend in.

I would go for something that is a true color, and probably one that is found in the artwork. If you could find a cool coral buffet, or something else that introduces a new tone, that would work well. It would be great to find a warm color to round out the space. Now, some of you may be saying that if she picks a coral buffet it will most likely be wood that is painted coral. That is true, but keep in mind that painted wood does not count as a wood tone. It has to have visible grain for it to count as a true wood element. As long as you can’t see the wood grain through the paint, you’re fine. It counts as a coral element rather than a wood one. Then, you will want to be careful not to layer more coral on top of the coral buffet, because we are constantly looking for a contrast in materials. We don’t want it to look like we shopped at the wood store, and we don’t want it to look like we shopped at the coral store. Choosing a color from the inspiration piece will keep everything looking cohesive.

Melissa, you also asked if you needed more art. The answer is, yes. I think the head and the foot of the table both feel a bit empty for me. There are windows at the foot of the table, and I think those need to be dressed with some drapes – preferably panels that would flank either side of the window and bring in that color. Incorporating the coral would be really dramatic and it would warm up this space. The other side of the table could use some artwork. There is already a large, dramatic square piece above the buffet, so I’m going to recommend that you don’t do another square.

You could potentially do a series, although I am a bit dubious about multiple multiples in a dining room. In a dining room, we already have multiple chairs that are all the same. So having multiple chairs and multiple pieces of art can create visual clutter in the room if we are not totally intentional. Maybe you could do a mirror that would reflect the beautiful natural daylight coming in from the windows. That would be a beautiful way to bring that daylight over to the other side of the room. Especially with the dark paint, we want to be really mindful that this room does not become too “cavey”.

[11:45] Rugs in the dining room (Bailey)


I am working on decorating my new home, and was wondering what is the rule when it comes to rugs in dining rooms. Are they necessary, and what do they add to the room? I don’t have an inspiration piece yet for my dining room, so I won’t be getting a rug right now but I am curious how long I go with bare floors.


Could we go without a rug in the dining table? Sure. Should we go without a rug in the dining table? Absolutely not.

A rug in the dining room helps to break up the flooring and the table, and as we just discussed they are both often wood. We also want to create some kind of padding so that when we pull our chairs back and forth, we are not scratching the floor. It’s great that you don’t yet have an inspiration piece, because I love using a multi-colored rug under a dining table. It camouflages stains and spills, and it can serve as an inspiration piece.

When you are thinking about a rug for under a dining table, you want something relatively low pile. You don’t want something thick and shaggy, because it will capture the food and become very hard to clean. I love FLOR tiles, and I use them all the time in dining rooms – especially for people who are a little bit messy. These can be game changers for people who have younger children, and it’s great for people who don’t want to worry about throwing the whole rug out if a bottle of wine spills or someone drops a bowl of marinara sauce. You can just pop out one of the carpet squares and insert a new one. That being said, it’s not the most luxurious look. A nice big rug is a better visual experience and a more high-end look than carpet tiles (although I have carpet tiles in my dining room and they look fabulous, if I do say so myself!).

I would be going for a patterned rug that can be an inspiration piece, and that is maybe one long, large piece – if you don’t have the concerns I mentioned previously. The rule is that the rug has to be 30-36 inches larger than the table on every side where you are going to have a chair. Most people want the option to have head and foot chairs, so you will have to add that to all sides of the table. With a standard 36”x60” table, that brings us to an 8’x10’ rug.

A lot of people don’t know this – or they don’t assume this when watching HGTV or dreaming about becoming an interior designer – but a good half of my work is mathematical formulas for determining where things go, how much space they need around them, and what size of item I should be looking for. My job is half math and half art, which is perfect for me. I love toggling back and forth between right brain and left brain. A lot of people assume that interior design is all art, and that could not be more untrue in my personal opinion.

[16:35] A living room before and after (Ranae)


Thanks for all the free advice! Here are some before and afters from a question I submitted a while ago. I was trying to find a focal point for the living room. You threw in advice on hanging art over the couch with better spacing. We love it all! We are still working at styling the shelf in a toddler friendly way, but I’m so happy I wanted to tell you.


I really appreciate this update! If you want to see Ranae’s before and afters, check out our YouTube channel. Looking through the pictures, it does make a big difference to take those pictures that were clustered above the couch and spread them out.

In my opinion – just to go next level with you – I would incorporate more pictures. Right now, you have three: one very elongated landscape, one squarish type painted landscape, and one square landscape with a frame and a matte and maybe a secondary matte. Because you are doing an asymmetrical arrangement, I would recommend doing an odd number of images. In this space, I would include two more or four more. I think that will look better above your big sofa, and I think you’re going to love it even more than you do now.

Now, let’s get to the bookcase that you put next to the television. The television was in this sort of walkway space and it can’t be centered in the room. You were talking about styling these shelves in a toddler-friendly way, and I think you’ve done just the right thing with a basket at the bottom. You might want to go with a slightly larger basket that better fills that space, and then I would include toddler-friendly things inside that basket. Your little one can pull what they want from it, and then take ownership of putting the things back. I also think you have the right idea started by incorporating some books and chotchkies. I would also consider doing some picture frames because this is the focal point when someone is sitting on the sectional. They need some imagery to stare at, in addition to the sculptural items and books.

Ranae, I want to see another after – I want the “after after”. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

To see the accompanying pictures, make sure you head over to affordableinteriordesign.com/links and check out the YouTube channel or our social media pages.






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