Episode 353: Purple Problems and Space Shame

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I have a confession to make. I’ve done well, I’ve done a bad thing. I’ve done something I told you guys never to do. Not only did I do it once, I did it twice. Let me share the confession with you right here. I have this beautiful stained glass in my dining room. I really love stained glass. It’s so beautiful. When I saw it in the listing when I saw it in person, it was just perfect. It’s very colorful. And you can see the stained glass all the way from when you walk in the house. So I based the entire color palette of the house off of this stained glass. It has Navy, it has gold, it has emerald green, it has some orange. It’s very colorful, very lively. And it changes based on the light in the room. But it does get a lot of afternoon sun and the colors totally change And I based all the colors, all the paint everything off of this palette, it is the inspiration piece for the entire downstairs area.

I wanted to make a bold statement. As you know, I did my rainbow fruit flavors and did a lot of bold colors on the wall paint more than I would normally say as appropriate. But it’s my space. And I can break my rules if I want to. And I wanted to, and in the dining room I wanted to make a brilliant deep purple. I found a couple of colors that I think are also pretty good, but very different. But still in that deep saturated plum purple family. I go to the hardware store and I buy my samples because I’m a very good girl, especially with bold colors that I’m not familiar with. 

I buy the samples, I put them on the wall, I find one that I really like ,and I move forward with that color. Now I’ve told you guys many times purple is dangerous. Purple is a horrible color to work with. The other reason is because it’s very hard to match purples. Some purples have more blue, and are more like a Periwinkle. Some purples have more red and are more like a deep plum, even magenta. And there’s this whole range in between and it’s just a nightmareville. When nighttime came and the doors the stained glass did not match this paint color at all. 

In fact, I really hated it. 

This is the only room in my personal life that I’ve ever had to repaint. I told the painters guys you did an amazing job. Luckily, it’s just the first coat for the second coat. I want you to use this color instead. That will work fine as a base coat. I mean they were only one step away on the chart. But to me it felt like worlds away right? The guys were very obliging. I said I will pay for the discarded cans. This is on me. This was my bad. They change the color with the second coat. And during the day it looks fabulous. During the day I just love it. When nighttime came. I look at that room. I hate it. It doesn’t go at all. Purple is such a horrible color. But I’m not going to ask these poor guys to paint it again.

Then my daughter wanted a new vibe for her room and she picked purple. And I was like, yes, let’s do the purple. I let her choose the one and It came out really beautifully. But when I tried to buy drapes and a duvet, we couldn’t find the perfect match. And it’s again just that subtlety there is no room for error with purple. Anyway, that’s my purple shame. I don’t know if you can resonate with that. But do learn from my mistakes as a professional designer of two decades, I should have known to not paint rooms purple, use purple in 10% doses throughout your space and no more. No matter how much you love purple. 

Without further ado, let me get to the questions that are already in my mailbag. 

This episode, we discuss…

[20:27] How do I transform our “Frankenstein” vents (kitchen range hood) into something livable?  (Sonia)


Betsy, please help, you’re our only hope! How do I transform our “Frankenstein” vents (kitchen range hood) into something livable? Husband upgraded our kitchen and installed an actual range hood and had to cut holes in drywall under the microwave to make air flow work. He covered them with mesh (see pictures). They’re a complete eye sore and we’re stumped. Thought we might find a piece of stainless steel and have someone laser cut a pattern into that, so that airflow could be achieved, but we were told that we would have to come up with a “design” and create some sort of computer document to give to people who could laser cut…?@#$? That advice was way above our heads and we’ve sat on this now for two whole years! Please help. Getting rid of the holes in the drywall isn’t possible – without a range hood we smoke out the house in wintertime.


Okay, well, I see what you’re talking about. It is pretty offensive. And the problem, Sonia, is that you are not tapping into my zone of genius. Because you do have you know, for those of you who aren’t following along on YouTube, you’ve got an electric range. And above the electric range, you have a microwave that’s embedded in the cabinetry right above. And there’s only about a foot between the top of the stove and the bottom of the microwave, probably even less. And in that small gap. There’s these two, kind of stainless steel bordered vents that have mesh in front of them, they look like two little holes you’ve covered with screens, right? And the rectilinear. They’re similar size, but they are indeed a pretty bad eyesore. This solution would need to be custom, I would like to see one long piece instead of two. And I know that you do have drywall in between the two holes. Either you could expand the hole and make it just one long hole. Or you could just use the mash or whatever new solution that you create, and put it over the entire expanse so that you don’t have the separation.

One piece would look a little bit more streamlined. If you go to Home Depot or whatever, I’m kind of thinking that you get this metal trellis stuff, there’s probably a better word, but I don’t manage renovations. But it’s often the stuff that you might see in front of a radiator on a radiator cover. I would recommend that you buy that and have it extend all the way from behind the stove, the same width as the stove all the way up behind the microwave. If it was one clean piece of sheeting that was perforated, I think it would be a much better look, it would almost look as if it was a feature. Now you might be thinking to yourself, Betsy, I’m going to clearly be able to see these holes, right, because the sheetrock and the holes are different colors. But what if you painted behind the metal work, something that was a little bit darker, so it looked more similar to the shaded holes. So you’re really kind of creating this interesting effect, right where the painted drywall and the holes are the same color. And then you’re overlaying the sheeting from all the way from the bottom of the microwave down behind the stove. So you’ve got this really clean effect. 

Now the other option that’s very affordable is they do have microwaves with range hoods at the bottom. I don’t know if you’ve explored that. I don’t know if that’s something that you’d be tempted to look into because it wouldn’t be more expensive than just buying, metal radiator cover, whatever at Home Depot. But these are some ideas I have for you. I don’t want you to feel bad about your space. These are eyesores, but I think there are several affordable solutions. It’s just about getting something that’s perforated, something that’s metallic, and maybe something that could be one cohesive piece rather than these cobbled together rectangles. I hope this helps you to embrace your space and your limitations in a new way, but also give you some insights and how to deal with this Frankenstein situation. 

[25:21] Where to place the storage cabinets/bench to help with the functionality and aesthetics? What about foam mats? (Stephanie) 


Playroom Puzzled! Hi Betsy! I enjoy your podcast so much and have learned many things along the way. My family and I just moved into our potential “forever home”, and we are excited to get settled, but decorating with confidence is just not one of my strong suits. Our playroom is downstairs and open to the kitchen, living room, and dining room. It’s perfect so my wild toddler can play while I work in the kitchen, but it also means I want it to look polished so storage cubes/baskets will be good for us. My question for you is on which wall should I put the storage cabinets/bench I think will help us with the functionality and aesthetics? I’ve attached a picture of an idea I found from Pinterest using the Ikea KALAX storage cubbies. The room has a large window on the wall that you face when looking into the room, so that is a nice focal area. Do I have to try and fit the cabinets on the window wall so that we only have one focal point? Or can I put the storage cabinets/bench on another wall and if so, which one (the one you would see when entering the living area), or the one that would be hidden unless you were in the dining area? I’ve attached a few pictures. I hope that helps. Also, I need to get a big rug or floor mat that will be easy to clean with toddler spills for the room. I like the idea of the foam mat, but I wondered if you had any recommendations for places that have more adult colors that look more like a rug? Thanks so much for your help!!!!



Stephanie, you’ve triggered me, I want to go back to your original question, but I can’t because now we’re talking about foam mats. I hate foam mats I hate with a passion. I had toddlers and I had infants. I hate foam mats, so I refuse to buy them. The only foam mats I find even slightly tolerable are the ones that have the woodgrain. I think it can be fun to kind of be whimsical and make them try and match your wood flooring. So they almost disappear. But overall, I just hate them with a capital H so I’m really excited that you’re interested in moving away from the foam tiles. I’m just going to answer this quick and easy 

Question first, because the other ones are quite complicated. And let you know that I love floor tiles. So floor tiles are those square carpet pieces that come in lots of colors, shapes, textures, so many patterns, so many price points. And they stick to themselves with these kinds of industrial techie stickers, they don’t stick to your floor so you can peel them up very easily. My kids spilled bubble bath on one, my friends spilled a bottle of wine on one. All of these are things that are not going to easily come out. But the floor tile itself easily comes out. So I just literally cut it out. And I kept extra in my closet and I plopped a new one right in the hole. And we were good to go. I highly recommend checking that out. They fit a variety of styles and budgets. And they’re just so practical for people with kids, people with pads or people with friends who spend like mine. I also spilled. I also still was just not me at that time. 

Okay, so let’s get to the other question about the layout of the room. Now you guys know from listening to my podcast, that the one thing I don’t weigh in on is the living room layout, or any layout, not just living room, not just play room layouts in general because I have a proprietary method that I use every time to create the perfect layout for every room. And I need to do my due diligence and go through all of my process with that. And I can’t easily do that without talking to you and learning more information. So I don’t ever like to give specific feedback on layouts. That being said, I can give you things to think about and things to consider places to start. 

The thing about a playroom is there’s a lot of clutter. There’s big toys, they’re small toys, and I do love the calyx I had in my playroom instead of having the low one that serves as a bench. I had a really high five by five and it could do anything. It held the diapers and baskets, it held books, those deep books like the larger ones that kids have the calyxes although Have a bit deeper than normal bookcase. So they fit really nicely. bins of Legos, toddler toys, it all worked really well. But it can be very visually cluttered if you don’t use bins, especially the bigger ones. Now you had mentioned putting this calyx on its side under the window to use it as a bench just to paint the picture.

When I’m in the main space, I can easily see right in there, like a very big, maybe eight foot opening into this playroom. Thus, the playroom only really has three walls, right. And the wall opposite the great big opening is the window. So I see why you’re calling that the focal point. And yes, that can be the focal point in the room. But right under the window, you have a vent. If you put the calyx there, it’s going to completely shut off that airflow source. So I worry that it could be problematic to get heating and cooling into the room. Also, while the window is the focal point, the toys are not a focal point, I do not want that to be the first thing I see when I walk into this playroom, I would much rather you flank this window with a beautiful, fun, playful, patterned drapes, and then put the storage on the sides. So it’s kind of what I see in my periphery, but not what I see in my main glimpse, as I’m walking by. 

The other thing you may want to consider, because let’s see scrolling through your pictures, it doesn’t look like there’s much wall on either side. So you really couldn’t do a barn door, anything like that you couldn’t even do pocket doors in this space. But what you could do is do a drape on the outside that you can easily pull back and forth saying it was on grommets. So that way I can close this space off visually because some of these toys your kid pushes and can learn to walk with it. And then it has all the activities on the other side. And then of course, the baby stroller, I think he even had a baby fireplace tool here. And then of course, you have the big climbing tunnel, the jumperoo, these things are never going to fit in a calyx or any storage unit. And sometimes we just don’t want to see that stuff. I certainly wouldn’t want to see all that stuff when I’m making dinner or making something like a midnight snack if the kids are asleep, right? I think drapes would be a very nice thing to install, even on this side. And I would want them to maybe coordinate with the drapes you find inside. And of course, they’re going to have to coordinate with the main area’s decor to make everything feel very cohesive.

I don’t think that the calyx is a misstep, it just bothers me that it doesn’t have doors, I think you need bigger storage solutions, something more like a Pax or a Vesta that could have some open areas, but could ultimately have doors where we could shut these items away. Kids toys are all these very vibrant colors. Typically, your main living areas are not going to be that vibrant. So they could be overwhelming. They could harm the mojo of the other space, just saying. So we really want to kind of hide them from view rather than making them so conspicuous. And certainly the bins on the calyx will do that. But for these items that don’t always fit in a bin, you might need a larger solution. Or you may need to put them on some wall that’s less conspicuous. So that way, you’re kind of keeping a more calm view, even though there’s a lot of chaos going on. Well, I hope that helped to answer your questions.









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