Episode 332

Share This On Social

Thank you, everyone, for bearing with me as I am still getting over Covid after having it three weeks ago. This stuffy and congested feeling has me struggling as I’m not back to normal yet. The brain fog is so real. Others have had it worse, so I’m grateful for being able to taste and smell. That would be a problem for me because I am a food lover! Bear with me as I muddle through the remaining side effects. Let’s dig right into the mailbag because I have had so many delicious questions come through.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[2:45] Storage options for a small master bathroom (Ranae)


Hi Betsy! What would you do for storage in this small master bathroom? The wallpaper is coming out soon, along with the vanity, wall cupboard, and maybe the mirror medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, there’s an HVAC vent as well as the towel bar that keeps the vanity from going to the wall. So far I’m leaning towards a pedestal sink with a round edge to fit next to the towel bar and some IKEA bathroom wall cupboards. We’re trying for cozy mid-century or modern.

Can you comment on fixtures too? Most of our house is 1970s brass, except for the chrome in the bathrooms. I don’t want to go too trendy so that our updates will last a while but I do like the brass.

Thank you for your generous attitude towards design.


Let me begin at the end. You mentioned maybe making the fixtures brass because you’re changing them anyway, and the rest of the house has the brass. Now, I can see here that the bathroom doorknob is silver. The hinges appear silver, so you want to think about that if you’re going to change this to brass because you’re going to want to change those things. You want to make it consistent. It is not unheard of to have brass hardware throughout a home and then to have chrome in the bathroom. Whatever you choose, just keep it consistent.

It could also be a bit more obscure to find something that could be two-toned in the bathroom. Typically, it will be the light fixture or the mirror that is both brass and silver. I don’t typically mix warm and cool metals, but if I’m doing something very intentional, and I’m trying to make something work architecturally without having to rip everything out, I will have the two-toned look to pull all of the pieces together.

Something I would highly recommend is getting a vanity cabinet that has storage. You’re going to regret the pedestal sink because you’re telling me you need storage. A pedestal sink does not innately have any. However, there are little storage solutions that can go under a pedestal thing. Some people even put a skirt around a pedestal sink, but in this case, I would definitely do a vanity with a cabinet.

Since you’re removing the mirror, the lights, and hopefully the wallpaper, you should consider doing an inset vanity mirror that is a medicine cabinet. It not only spans above the vanity cabinet but also spans above the toilet, so it’s much wider and will give you a lot more storage. Then, when you do replace the light fixture, you’re not going to center the light fixture above the vanity cabinet. Instead, you’re going to center the light fixture above that entire long rectilinear, horizontal mirror. In that way, you’re getting a lot of storage in the vanity cabinet, and IKEA has some really nice selections, especially if you don’t want it to go down to the ground. Based on your note, I think you need as much storage as possible so I’d probably go all the way down to the ground. You’ll find many options in this size which appears to be 18 to 24 inches wide.

I definitely would do that recessed medicine cabinet. If this is sheetrock, which it looks like it probably is based on the air of the home, they can easily cut that in so that way nothing is projecting over the toilet or projecting over the vanity cabinet. Recessed medicine cabinets are so much more aesthetically pleasing, seamless, and feel less bulky. The thing that’s bothering me and giving me a touch of hesitation is that your tile goes up slightly higher than normal. Normally, a bathroom perimeter would be 36 to 42 inches, and yours appears to be 42 to 48 inches, so to see yourself in the mirror above the tile, you need to be on the taller side. If you’re not on the taller side, you may consider redoing the tile because it looks a bit dated.

You can get this tile painted. You can use tile tattoos which are such an affordable, playful way to shake up these square tiles. Still, if you were doing a major overhaul of this bathroom, I would definitely change the layout of these tiles so that they go lower. Your vanity cabinet mirror is more in line with what people are actually looking at and are used to when looking into a mirror.

You should definitely change out that showerhead. You’re gonna have a hard time finding separate shower knobs. Nowadays, it’s typically one. That might be another change you want to make if you pull out this tile. If you’re not pulling out the tile, you will be very limited in what you can find with that. You may want to source from some vintage fixture places. I would suggest that you start there. Find that most difficult piece first and then it will tell you what to do with everything else. Should you stay in the silver family? Should you blend the silver with the brass? I think looking for that hard-to-find item right off the bat will give you a very clear direction.

I also have another idea. In my former West Village studio apartment which was 225 square feet, it did have a generously sized bathroom. The people that lived there before me installed a shelf that was maybe a foot from the ceiling to the shelf. It was just enough space for me to put towels, washcloths, bins that had extra shampoos, toilet paper, and soaps, and it was right above the shower. It never got wet because it was above the shower head. It wasn’t too deep so it didn’t make the shower feel cavey in any way. This storage was so functional and a true lifesaver. This would be a last resort because you can always store a lot of those things, extra shampoos, and extra toilet paper in a place that’s not the bathroom if you have a nice linen cabinet closet or any sort of external cabinet right outside the bathroom in the primary bedroom.

[14:04] “Feeling” words for Scandinavian style and how to apply both together (Katherine)


Hi Betsy, I am a fan of the show and very much appreciate the practical advice in your book, which definitely feels much more inclusive than most interior design books. While I do like the design philosophy of the two-word phrase I was hoping for advice about the “feel” word. I am finding this much more difficult that the “style” word in terms of both deciding what and how to apply it.

After a lot of deliberation, I have settled on “Scandinavian” as the style word. The clean lines, lack of clutter, and the emphasis on natural textures appeal to me. I love the idea of beauty in everyday items and hygge. The only real downside is that Scandinavian can feel a bit muted and I would like to add a bit more vibrancy, character, and interest via the “feel” word. Do you have suggestions for good contrasting “feel” words to go with the Scandinavian style?

The second part of the “feel” word question is how to apply this. It would be great to have more examples of how the “feel” word fits in, Furniture, art, curtains, etc. In my living room, we have a 9X12 vintage Persian rug which is brightly patterned in predominately pinks and blues but also many other colors. The plan is to use this as the inspiration piece and so it would be great to have a “feel” world that matches a colorful Persian rug.

I am afraid this has become quite a long question. Any pointers would be appreciated. Thanks for all your wonderful podcasts.


What I love to do with my two-word phrases is make them disparate and almost opposites because it can make the room so much more complex and exciting. For instance, if your style word was Scandinavian, and your feeling word was calm or subdued, then Scandinavian is pretty calm and subdued. Typically, there are light-colored neutrals, not a lot of stark contrast so you’re just reinforcing the same style word. Maybe that could be perfectly summed up with a style word.

In other words, it’s just not a very interesting or complex space when the style word and the feeling word are too similar. I applaud you for going for something that is really different because that is going to make the space feel uniquely you. If they were similar, it would feel like a Scandinavian designs catalog. In this case, your space is unique to you because you’ve got this really cool Scandinavian furniture, but it’s so playful the way you’ve done it. You want to think about what colors evoke a feeling in you. The problem with me giving you a word, especially in a different country, is that words have different connotations for different people. It can be very dangerous having somebody else pick out your wardrobe or have somebody else pick out what you want for dinner. I think it’s dangerous to give your tastes over to someone else, especially with the different cultures.

This word will be more meaningful if it comes from you. I don’t just make a two-word phrase because it’s fun or because it’s catchy; I make a two-word phrase to check myself when I’m out shopping. Is this Victorian? Or is this Rockin? If it’s not one or the other or maybe both, then it’s not happening in this space. That’s what I want you to be able to do, and that means digging a little bit deep on your end.

It would be helpful if I could see that rug or see some things that you’re really drawn to because if I could see what you’re passionate about, this pivotal piece, this rug that’s going to be the inspiration piece for the room, that might give me some insight into how to build that two-word phrase and find a feeling word that we can associate with this. It’s very important, in my opinion, to get super clear on that two-word phrase before launching into shopping and designing before you get ahead of yourself. You may end up buying a lot of disparate pieces that end up not feeling cohesive in the same room. Be sure to lock that two-word phrase in first.

Going off on a tangent here with my brain fog from Covid, but something I had to do after 17 years of designing for my clients is that instead of using colors, patterns, and styles that I was drawn to, I had to learn to be a chameleon and love all things to adapt and understand my clients’ styles. Things are not exactly linear. I’m going off on tangents all over the place, but that was a breakthrough I had in understanding myself. If you guys are burgeoning designers out there, you might feel the same way. Bear in mind, that it doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful designer if you have a clear style and people aren’t willing to pay for it because I almost never design in the style I loved so long ago. You may find that you need to be malleable and the best way to learn to appreciate other styles is to subscribe to a variety of magazines.

If you’re looking through source material and looking for inspiration pictures for your own space, ask yourself, what feeling is evoked when you look at a certain picture that you really love, or go find that rug online and see how they’ve styled it on the online catalog. Something may come up for you seeing how somebody else arranged it, and it’ll bring your own style to life.

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.






Become a Premium Member:


Submit Your Questions:






Related Post


Your Design