Episode 346: Picture Lights and Not-So-Picture-Perfect Inspo Images

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Happy fall! It’s officially fall in Connecticut and I feel like I’m living in a long episode of Gilmore Girls. We have been doing all of the fun fall activities the past few weekends and it’s been a lot of fun and very charming which is making dealing with all the renovation issues a little easier. I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s currently a very dim light. 

In the meantime, you have been sending me all kinds of amazing questions and I am excited to hop into the mailbag today.

This episode, we discuss…

[5:59] What window treatments to select for a 100+ year old home (Kalan)


This is a follow up to my last question, which I asked, but this one is about window treatments. As you can see in the pictures I’ve provided, the window casing and baseboards have been removed and they need to be replaced. The previous ones were unusable. What should I go for? Should I use standard square primed MDF baseboard four inches height or more or should I go for something with curves?


After your last question, I am very familiar with your space. I think introducing curves may feel a little bit arbitrary and inorganic in your space. I would certainly do so as you’re bringing in furniture and artwork because there are so many straight lines that it’s a little overwhelming. Frankly, we definitely want to break those up with some soft edges like fabric on the roman shade, or a more curvilinear pattern on the rug. For me, the baseboards are not a place to do this as the ceilings are really low so I think the baseboards should be something simple. 

Something like a straight two by four for the baseboard would be perfect. Maybe something slightly skinnier for around the doors and the windows only because we’ve got the outlets right there and I don’t want you to have to move an outlet to accommodate larger trim. But my advice to you is just keep it really simple and bring the flair bring the visual interest with the accessories and furnishings.

[8:17] How to add picture lights to a gallery wall (Jasmine) 


My burning question is about picture lights. I put together a gallery wall in my entryway, please see the photo I’ve attached. I would love to install picture lights over this gallery wall. I’m not sure if I should get four picture lights and install them directly over the top of each picture or only install three in between each picture. All the photos that I have have one picture light over one photo but since I have four photos over the top, I’m wondering if it would look weird with four lights instead of three. The thought has me second guessing doing the picture lights all together. I love the look of them and think that they offer a more upscale look to my space. In your opinion. What is best?


I love a good picture light, I think that they can really enhance the look of an image. They can draw your eye to the look of an image. It can be a really nice way to provide illumination like a wall sconce that’s just more subtle than a wall sconce because it’s directed down towards the picture versus providing atmospheric light. I love wall lamps because they don’t always have to be hardwired. Some can be plugin, some can be battery operated. So I do think there are a lot of times names and places for art lights, above pictures. 

However, the thing that determines it for me is not necessarily the architecture, the thing that determines whether or not a picture gets a light, in my humble opinion, is whether or not that picture is very special. You know, if I’m going to illuminate something, if I’m going to put a spotlight on something, it needs to be really special. You have a gallery wall of, they’re probably 20 by 20 inch frames, maybe 24 by 24 inch. It’s a thin black frame with a very chunky, probably four inch mat. And inside, you have black and white pictures of your family and you have three rows of four. 

My concern is while these pictures are very special, I mean, what could be more special than a gallery wall of family photos. I do think photos in general, are slightly more pedestrian than say an oil painting or a very special drawing. 

Typically, a picture light may be used to enhance your ability to see the picture. And in this case, all the images are very clear. I actually think a picture light would detract from these images. I think the last thing we need here is more multiples. 

​Since this is in the entryway where it can start to be a little cluttered and a little visually chaotic. Now, of course they do make really long picture lights, and you could just do one centered over the whole space. But my concern is that these just feel like not the right artwork for a picture light. I also worry that the glass right now has a lot of glare, and there’s no light directly on it.

You have a chandelier in the entryway but it’s up high. Already I see just a ton of glare which is causing me to not be able to see the picture all that well. The more that you spotlight these, the less I’ll be able to see the images. 

I want you to think is this picture truly special? Is this picture light going to enhance the picture or actually detract from it because it’s going to be visually chaotic and cast a lot more glare? 

Therefore, you know my vote. My vote at this moment is absolutely no picture light. There’s lots of other ways that you can make this space feel more elevated. I think for sure you’re going to need a nice big rug. I love the idea of the black bench you have under the black frames but it is a lot of black so consider breaking up all this sort of hard black material via the wooden bench or the picture frames with something soft, like a lumbar pillow, whose color or texture or pattern might relate back to the rug. There’s lots of ways to elevate this space. And the picture light, in my humble opinion is not the right answer. 


[15:37] Styling blue cabinets in the kitchen (Hannah) 


I’m building a new house and I need help with my kitchen. Attached is my inspiration photo for how I want my kitchen to look. You’ll also see renderings of what my kitchen is expected to look like. How do you feel about the different colored countertops? 

My big dilemma is the blue cabinets. I can’t afford the tall cabinet like the inspiration photo has, but I will be doing a built in drywall pantry instead. Does it look odd to have those pantry doors be blue. I’m hoping to make the pantry doors look like the cabinets. Should I just make the fridge surround the same color as the rest of the cabinets and put a normal white door on my pantry? 

I will have reclaimed beams for trim around the openings between the rooms but I’m not sure what color stain to go on with these. What do you think? 

What should I do with the floors? I like the idea of a wood floor. But is this too much wood? I was trying to create some contrast with the cabinets as light maple with little grain versus a medium tone floor that would show more grain and texture. 

We have a butcher block that my husband built that is wood and it will be used in this space as well. I’m going for airy farmhouse, I realize that farmhouse is past its prime, but it’s my dream home and I am a dairy farmer.



I love what Hannah said at the very end that this is her dream house and even though the trend may be over, she’s going to embrace it because it’s her personal style. I feel the same way. I am using some colors in my space that other people might feel are outdated. I am using this really deep plum purple. I’m using navy, aqua, teal, a little bit of sage green and then I’m using this Tamarin orange velvet. 

All that to say, I don’t really care about trends. The key with breaking interior design rules is that you must first know them so that you can break them in a really conscious way. 

So I happen to know that I am using too many colors from my wall paint, but one of the colors this kind of buff yellow called Hawthorne yellow from Benjamin Moore. I am considering it a neutral and I’m actually using it all the way up the stairs all the way down the hallway all the way down my second hallway. It is my neutral.

The pictures that you have sent in of the inspiration kitchen is beautiful. It has some black cabinetry including a black island, black pantry, black surround around the fridge as well as cabinets on top of the fridge. Then it has black countertops with a warm maple cabinetry otherwise. Then the island instead of having that same black countertop on the black island cabinets has like a white marble effect.

It also has maple colored stools and then the floor rather than being that warm wood color is almost an ashy gray wash wood. Do I love the floor with the maple? Absolutely not. I actually don’t personally love wood floors in a kitchen or bathroom in general. 

I’m a big fan of tile not only because it’s more durable in cases of water damage, but also because it will contrast with wood cabinets, unless you go for a wooden type tile, which I would not recommend in a place with wooden type cabinets, which I would not recommend in your case. 

That’s all to say that I do think that this is a great inspirational image for you to hold on to. But I don’t think it’s perfect in my opinion. As it’s translating to the renderings that you’ve got, I love the idea that you’re going for a bold blue with some of the cabinetry.

Do I think it feels completely cohesive to have the pantry unit and the space around the fridge be the navy as well as the island and have the rest of the cabinets be the warm maple? Not really.  I think it’s more exciting and more of something special to just have the island be the navy color and have the cabinetry around the fridge. 

Because the pantry is so built in, I mean it does have drywall on three sides, I would probably just make that a normal looking door as it looks rather strange just to have the faces of the cabinetry without any of the walls of the cabinetry.  Do I love the gray wash wood with the maple? No, I don’t love that. I would prefer that you do tile. 

I know some people like that super continuous line but I would prefer something then that’s a little bit warmer. It could be along the lines of those maple cabinets maybe just a little bit darker or light but this totally different tone. Going from warm to cool is just not working for me. 

I really appreciate and enjoy the different countertop on the island as opposed to the countertops in the kitchen because the countertops in the kitchen are all black. There’s a lot of countertop, which is wonderful, but it’s very heavy.So I like the idea of doing something different. 

In your inspiration photo, the cabinet countertops were very dark black, and then the island was very light like a white. I didn’t love that super stark contrast, I would prefer something with a little bit more veining something that means a little bit more gray. So we don’t have this black and white effect. Looking at these pictures, I much prefer all the cabinetry to be maple and the island to be the star of the show in terms of that special accent. 

it kind of reminds me of people who do an accent wall,  and an accent wall needs to be highlighting a wall that’s really special. Now the more you use that accent wall, like if you’re using a special wallpaper on multiple walls, it no longer becomes an accent wall and it just looks like maybe ran out a wallpaper maybe ran out of that special paint color and that’s kind of what it reminds me of when you’re using the blue in multiple locations. A lot of people are doing just the island being different in terms of the look. And I think that really works.






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