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August 30, 2012

10:59
A.M.

Home Front: Lori Graham talks art and home design

Total Responses: 42

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Jura Koncius

Jura Koncius

Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archive
Host: Lori  Graham

Lori Graham

Lori Graham is an interior designer who lives in Logan Circle. In June, she opened a showroom and gallery on 14th Street called Showroom 1412 that provides visitors with uncommon, beautiful finds with a west coast flare. Graham was raised in Oklahoma but attended Georgetown University for law school and has lived here ever since. She'll be online to chat with us about buying and collecting art, glam-ing up a dull home and her new project, Showroom 1412.

About the topic

Lori Graham, a D.C. designer who recently opened a new gallery and shop on 14th Street, will be online to chat about art collecting and trends in home decor. Submit questions now and join us Thursday at 11 a.m.!

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

Follow @jurakoncius on Twitter.

Home Front Live Q&A archive Older Home Front Live Q&As

Q.

Jura Koncius :

Good morning! Nice to be back chatting with you guys after two weeks on Cape Cod and very excited to have designer Lori Graham with me today. Lori's new shop Showroom 1412 on super hot 14th St. does remind us of South Beach or West Hollywood. Don't miss Megan's story on Lori today in Local Living. Lori has a wonderful take on DC style and she's right there in the center of action. So ask her what color you should paint your loft or what boutique or flea market to hit over Labor Day weekend. Let's go.

Q.

Home Decor Trends

Hi Lori! What home decor trends would you suggest for a 14th street studio?

A.
Lori Graham :

The trick with small spaces is using clean lines and hiding clutter. Also since you are right in the hub of a very urban environment, modern decor is perfect. Think about built-ins; they provide create storage and display options without the bulkiness of furniture. If you have an open floor plan, desigante spaces with your furniture layout and rugs - create a sleep space, a work space etc.

– August 30, 2012 10:56 AM
Q.

Inspiration for the showroom

Lori, as an interior designer, what made you decide to open a furnishings and lighting showroom in DC?
A.
Lori Graham :

I wanted a space where my clients could see, touch, sit-test, etc. my collection of custom pieces – LG Place – as well as pieces from other lines I frequently recommend such as Ochre out of London and Shine by SHO out of LA.

As I started developing my business plan,  the possibilities of collaborating with two of my  favorite DC resources – Lauren Gentile of Contemporary Wing (for fine art)  and Mike Johnson formerly of Sixteen Fifty Nine (for fantastic vintage finds) arose—and at each turn, I jumped at the chance.

– August 30, 2012 10:56 AM
Q.

14th Street

This question is for Lori: Why did you decide to open your showroom on 14th Street? What appeals to you about that area?

A.
Lori Graham :

I’d say 75% of my personal art collection was procured at Galleries along 14th Street and, professionally, I do a great deal of work with the furniture stores here – such Timothy Paul Carpet + Textiles,  Timothy Paul Bedding + Home,  Muleh and Miss Pixies.  With the arrival of great national brands Mitchell Gold and Room & Board, 14th Street really started to turn into a DC design hub.  Given the Modern Mix Showroom 1412 offers, there was no question that it should be on 14th Street.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Playing favorites

Thanks for joining us Lori! Do you have a favorite piece in your Showroom right now? How frequently do you get new products in? 

A.
Lori Graham :

Ah!  This is like asking someone to pick a favorite child or a favorite pet, but I will say I have a huge crush on all the lighting in Showroom 1412 - especially the Artic Pear chandeliers by Ochre and the Dauphine Chandelier by Shine by SHO.

And our space is always evolving.  We bring in new pieces almost every week and tend to create new vignettes out of new collections every season.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

exterior paint question

We need to paint the wood siding on our split level home but we are at a loss with what color to go with. The house has highly visible reddish brown roof and medium brown bricks. We had thought about a deep blueish gray but we wonder if the cool hue and the warm roof/bricks will clash. Can you suggest a good color from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore? Thanks so much!
A.
Lori Graham :

Stick with a warm tone color and you might want to look in the brown families. Grey is going to be tough with the brown and tan.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Getting in touch with art creators / artists?

How do you find new artists for your gallery? Are there any particular credentials you look for? Thank you very much and looking forward to seeing your new gallery soon!
A.
Lori Graham :

Lauren Gentile of Contemporary Wing operates a gallery out of 1412 and has a program of represented artists we exhibit.  She and I are always looking at recent MFA exhibitions in DC and Baltimore for new talent and we also use the resources offered by local non-profits Transformer and WPA who support young and emerging artists.  As for credentials, we look for work of high-craft, pushing the boundaries of medium.  You should visit the next exhibition, BEYOND THE FRAME, which features 3 emerging artists from MICA responding to modern master, Lucio Fontana. It runs from September 8 to October 6th.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Not-matching vs. A Royal Mess

I love Lori's philosophy of starting with art (or other designers would suggest another "starting point") and then adding great, but not-necessarily matching, pieces to the room. For the amateur, how do we prevent it from becoming a Royal Mess? There are tons of pieces that I dearly love, but if I put them all in the same room, I'd just cry. I guess what I'm try to ask is: what's the trick?
A.
Lori Graham :

Use a favorite piece of art to provide the palette inspiration for the room.  Let it drive your color choices and let it anchor your architectural focal point such as a fireplace.  Additional art can be added so long as there is a unifying factor between the pieces - either medium or palette or even framing.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Explain Mid-Century Modern

You mention Mike Johnson's collection of mid-century modern items. What do you think makes mid-century modern so popular right now?

A.
Lori Graham :

Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mad Men! I think Mad Men responded to an existing love of the aesthetic -- of course, Mad Men’s popularity likely heightened the craze but it did not ignite it.  These Post-War pieces celebrate clean, modern lines and natural shapes – a certain political non-statement at the time –that have proven the test of time aesthetically.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Showroom 1412

Funny this article should come out today, I've walked by this store a few times and wanted to pop in, but was never really sure what it was? I also wasn't sure if you needed an appointment. This article makes me want to go in but I still can't tell if anything she sells is affordable... you never know with design stores, especially galleries or boutiques! Do you have some price points you can share?
A.
Lori Graham :

Well you certainly don't need an appointment! We are open Monday through Saturday 11am to 6pm.  Come on in.  We love for people to come in and have a seat and chat with us. 

As for pricing, affordable is different for everyone.  We'd be happy for you to come in and talk with our Showroom Manager Stacy and she can help you find great pieces at your desired price point.  Everything from a great statement accessory piece to a custom made to order upholstered piece.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Lover of all white, looking to convert

Hey Home Front design experts! I read this chat every single week and I really hope you'll take my question. My husband and I lived in South Florida and Southern California for years and moved to DC about 5 years ago, but we never shed our love for all-white spaces. More recently, though, we've begun to feel more open to the idea of throwing some color on the walls. And very recently, I've begun sort of obsessed with the idea of going dark (I can't believe I just said that!). I love the bold deep charcoals or rich navy shades, or even a nice dark cranberry. So my question is, what are some of your favorite bolder colors? Any good lines you recommend checking out to get started? Needless to say, I'm new at this color thing! -- Dina, Capitol Hill
A.
Lori Graham :

C2 and Ralph Lauren offer some great saturated colors.  I've also had success with Benjamin Moore's classic collection.

I love high-contrast pairings.  For more intimate or “moody” rooms (such as dining rooms, master bedrooms, “jewel box” powder rooms, etc.), I’m into deep teal or indigo blues – think “peacock colors.” For more open and “public” spaces, I’m still in love with various shades of cool greys (from almost white to deep baby-seal grey) as a great back drop. My own 50 Shades of Grey affair.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

What's Next?

What projects are you working on right now, Lori? What can we expect to see in the future?
A.
Lori Graham :

I’ve have been lucky this summer and have been able to work on several projects on the water –in Old Town and Annapolis. It has been a great way to tolerate the heat and the water views are always inspiring.  I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of bringing my signature modern mix to more relaxed environments. 

 I’ve also really enjoyed seeing the other designers in my firm flourish.  Mike Johnson’s projects including his own personal condo are receiving great reviews and he recently finished a home in Chevy Chase that is stunning.

As for the future, well, I always have several irons in the fire – I’m looking to expand the Showroom  ( we already need more space!) and I’m working with my Managing Director, Kristy Byrd, on expanding the design firm  - we’re examining innovative ways to bring our design to more people and a wider market.  Very exciting times!

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Oil and Water

Help! I have a burnished oil-finish cherry desk from Harden, which I have loved for many years. However, it sits near a window, where my kitten's water dish is, and I learned recently that she has started preferring her paws for drinking and splashing water. The result is a lot of water spots on the side of the desk. Any thoughts on removal (of the spots, not the cat)? A friend recommend Scotts Liquid Gold, but Im a little leery with the rubbed oil finish, similar to what is used on Mission furniture.

A.
Lori Graham :

Use with caution, the best product I can recommend is Howard's Refinisher in cherry.  This product will remove the water spots but keep the finish intact, but it does need to be used carefully.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

kitchen paint colors

We are looking at various paint options for our kitchen/tv room and would appreciate some help. It's a fairly large southwest-facing room that gets plenty of light. Maple kitchen cabinets, light colored hardwood floor, bay window, floor to ceiling built in bookcase. We like either Coventry Gray or Aura 169 (pale cream) by Benjamin Moore for the walls, and White Dove for the woodwork and bookcase. Eyes are very sensitive to light, therefore nothing too bright or jarring. All ideas are welcome! A devoted reader, I love your columns. Thanks!!
A.
Lori Graham :

If you go with grey, look at warmer greys since you have maple cabinets and lighter floors or a creamy white.  Avoid cool tones.

– August 30, 2012 10:57 AM
Q.

Liz Levin + Childrens Rooms

I love love loved the story today on childrens rooms. I've been a fan of Liz Levin's work for quite some time and I also bought "Room for Children" a couple years ago and keep it as my go-to design book as my family grows. Totally agree with the thought that people don't need to buy disney princess or firefighter themed stuff for their kids. Do you think this is a fading trend? Maybe I don't see enough kids rooms but I feel like I see this less than I used to... if only DC could shed the decor themes once and for all.
A.
Lori Graham :

We tend to treat kids' rooms as an evolving space, not pin-pointing a certain age. Try to let the room be designed so that it can evolve as the child grows older and have the accessories be the age of the child as opposed to the entire room.

– August 30, 2012 10:58 AM
Q.

Catskill Women re Rolling Towels

Just wanted to thank the chatter who suggested a couple of weeks ago rolling towels when storing in the linen closest .... wow, I did it and what a space saver!! Thanks!

A.
Jura Koncius :

Who knew? I have never thought of doing that either. Thanks for sharing your success story!

 

– August 30, 2012 11:00 AM
Q.

Hanging window treatments

Every week I read House Calls, and the one thing I've noticed is that designers always suggest the homeowner hang their curtains by the ceiling to give the impression that the room is taller and the windows longer than they are. Of course, it always looks fabulous in the illustration, but I can't imagine this in real life. Do people really do this? Does it really look good?
A.
Jura Koncius :

Yes and yes. I have my dining room and living room curtains hung to the ceiling in my 1937 brick colonial and it definitely makes the walls look higher. It raises the eye and you look up.

– August 30, 2012 11:01 AM
Q.

Lori Graham :

 Hello!  Jura, thank you so much for having me back for your Thursday chat... I'm thrilled to be here today and ready to answer questions!

Q.

Creating a salon wall

I want to create a salon or gallery wall of art along our upstairs hallway which is visible from the front door. This weekend we're painting the walls a pale minty green (Valspar crocodile tears). I haven't selected the artwork, but will be going the budget route and printing or using pages from old books to frame, or maybe some old b&w family photographs. Do you have any recommendations for selecting a theme, choosing frame colors, or arranging the pieces on the wall? Thanks!
A.
Lori Graham :

You can have different styles of frames but they all need to be the same color since you are gong to be showing such a variety of work.  If you're doing colorful works, and black and white photography, and lithography, the consistent frame color will pull it all together.

– August 30, 2012 11:04 AM
Q.

West Hollywood comes to Washington

My daughter and I read this article together this morning and couldn't help but get pretty excited at the idea that a designer FINALLY decided to break from DC's beige, boring aesthetic. Thank you Lori!! But I was curious after reading the profile: Where do you think your tastes came from? You've lived in DC for a long time and before that, Oklahoma, so I'm wondering where the glamorous and west coast tastes came from? Also: Any tips for people who live in DC and want to incorporate these pieces into their homes? We love what we saw but definitely think we'd have to muster up some courage to actually purchase. Any advice?
A.
Lori Graham :

Between Oklahoma and DC I lived in London and I love to travel so my aesthetic is a mix of all the inspiring places I have been.  And you are correct, I love LA and head out there frequently. 

The same courage you muster when buying a fantastic pair of earrings or show-stopping heels should be used when purchasing decorative light fixtures or statement furnishing pieces in a room.  Choose a piece you a love and then play down everything around it.

– August 30, 2012 11:05 AM
Q.

Cherry kitchen cabinets

Hi. I just moved into a new home that has cherry kitchen cabinets, black granite countertops and a gray ceramic tile floor. While I would like to refinish the cabinets because my understanding is that cherry cabinets are outdated, it just isn't in our budget right now. I want to add some color to the kitchen by painting it but I wasn't sure what color to choose. I'd like to keep the style contemporary/modern if possible. The rest of first floor has oak floors and gets a great deal of light. Thank you for any advice you can give!
A.
Jura Koncius :

Who told you cherry cabinets were outdated? Wood cabinets are classics, no matter what wood they are and they last for years. And yes, I do have 1989 vintage cherry cabinets that are fabulous and look as good as the day we had them installed, except of course the color is deeper and richer which is terrific. My counters are also granite, black with beige. I painted my walls a paper bag color, khaki, and I really like the way they look. I have hardwood floors. With your gray ceramic floor, I might choose a shade of blue for the walls. You could splurge on a Farrow & Ball such as Parma Gray or Lulworth Blue.

– August 30, 2012 11:09 AM
Q.

Kitchen floor materials

We have hardwood floors on our first floor, with the exception of our kitchen, which in linoleum. We want to replace the kitchen floor with ... something, but are unsure what. Our floor plan is somewhat open, and whatever we put in the kitchen will directly abut the hardwood in the family room and dining room (although only for about three foot lengths in both places). If we go with wood in the kitchen, should we have it match the other rooms? What about other materials like cork or bamboo - would that look odd next to pretty standard hardwood? Thanks!
A.
Lori Graham :

The best option in this case would be to do hardwood floors. You could do thresholds in both entryways to  transition into a new hardwood floor in the kitchen; but, I would keep it the same color as the other hardwood floors in your home.  Cork and Bamboo are great materials but tend to be very soft and dent easily if you have a tendency to drop things in the ktichen.

– August 30, 2012 11:10 AM
Q.

Vanishing chats?

Hello - I tried to find the Home Chat the last couple weeks but couldn't. There was no link in the home section of the Post that I get via email, and I couldn't find it online either. Maybe I screwed up the time? Is there a link that always directs users to today's chat?
A.
Jura Koncius :

You are right - there were no chats the last few weeks. A vacation break. But we are on weekly now and have some terrific guests lined up.

– August 30, 2012 11:10 AM
Q.

Benches in dining room

My home is in the District and not super huge -- we are not the mcmansion type. Therefore, we have a semi-formal dining area by the family room and a smaller, more casual breakfast/dining area very close to the kitchen. For the more casual area, I'm seriously considering using some wooden benches instead of chairs (kind of like this, except my home is smaller, hah). Is that corny? Or country chic? Do you think it's practical? I have two teenagers, and even though they'll be out of the house sooner rather than later, I feel like it could be a more convenient way to eat when unexpected guests arrive for dinner.

A.
Lori Graham :

I love the image you provide.  What a great space pictured! The benches shown provide both function and flair, and the mix of the raw wood with larger scale modern pendants strikes a perfect balance.  Rustic chic, indeed! This is a perfect concept to use for achieving the look you without it going "corny."

– August 30, 2012 11:13 AM
Q.

Formal dining room table

Hello. I wanted to get your thoughts on whether a round glass dining table could be used in a formal dining room? I've been told the a glass top actually makes a table seem more casual and was told that a grayish maple wood might look a little more formal (with black leather chairs). I'm still leaning more towards the glass table with a more formal light fixture above it. Thanks!
A.
Jura Koncius :

I believe glass is classic and it is so easy to care for. I admit to having a thick glass top on my round wood dining table and have had one for decades. You can use the table for anything and not harm it and I like the  look of crystal candlesticks or mercury glass on glass and it sets off silver too. I think your table would look super with black leather chairs and a formal light fixture.

– August 30, 2012 11:16 AM
Q.

Wallpaper

Alright ladies, it's official: I've entered a wallpaper phase. I'm obsessed with so many gorgeous wallpapers that I see in magazines and blogs. Done right, I think they're STUNNING. So my question for you is, what brands or lines of wallpaper would you recommend? I'm new to this world and definitely don't want something cheap -- but I have in my preliminary searching that it can also run you a pretty penny. What are some of your favorites? Thanks!!!
A.
Lori Graham :

For geometrics, metallics, and large repeats, anything from Osborne & Little and/or Cole & Son is fantastic.  For woven or linen coverings, I love Phillip Jeffries.  For chinoiserie and the hollywood regency look at Paul Montgomery

– August 30, 2012 11:17 AM
Q.

Countertops

Ok, I trust this question with you two -- Lori and Jura -- since you seem up on the trends. What is the deal with countertops? The more I read, the more it seems like granite is (FINALLY) on its way out, and thank goodness. But what's next?
A.
Lori Graham :

Love this question.  Marble has always been around and it is a great option.  People are terrified of using it becuase it is higher maintenance.  I always tell my clients to think about French bistros and all the red wine the French are known to drink - those cafe tables always have marble tops and still have their charm and glamour despite wear and tear.

– August 30, 2012 11:18 AM
Q.

Basement remodel advice

Good morning: We are planning to remodel our basement and I could use a bit of advice. 1) I really like the look of dark/ebony wood flooring, but this wouldn't be practical and I'm not crazy about the laminate options. Any suggestions for alternatives? 2) We have 2 rather large support beams in the middle of the basement that I would like to camouflage. What can we do here to design a comfortable room around them? Thanks.
A.
Lori Graham :

1) The first thing that comes to mind with Basements is moisture/humidty. You might need to do a laminate for longevity reasons.  Speak to your architect or contractor about atmospheric conditions before selecting an option.  Check out Armstrong floors - the laminate options might suprise you. 2) Support beams are a necessary evil. If you can't disguise them architectural (i.e. built-in bookcases or architectural pillars designating passageways, etc.) then play them up by applying a glossy paint to the metal and embrace the idustrical chicness of it all.  :)

– August 30, 2012 11:26 AM
Q.

Curtains

Where we can buy stylish curtains (for example I really like west elm and PB teen curtains that are a dark neutral color like gray or navy with a cool white trellis pattern) for a decent price? Everything I've seen is $50/panel minimum (usually more like $100) and I need 4 long panels for my bedroom and 2 for my living room, so that is way too much for a place I don't even own. My tried and true - Overstock, HomeGoods, Kohls, World Market, Pier One, Target, and JCPenney - have failed me and buying the fabric gets pricey too. Any other ideas? I'd like to pay around $20-$30 per panel at most.
A.
Jura Koncius :

You have the right idea, but it's hard to find panels at those prices I'm afraid. Ikea does have wonderful buys on fabric panels. You seem to have hit all the other good places. You might go to a fabric outlet such as Discount Fabrics USA in Thurmont, Md. and buy inexpensive fabric and make them yourself. Does anyone else have ideas?

– August 30, 2012 11:28 AM
Q.

slip-covered sofa: Ikea or Crate and Barrel?

Greetings O Wise Ones! I am looking for a new sofa for our family room. What with a pair of slightly messy homeowners, a dog, a cat, and 9 grandchildren, we want something durable and with washable slipcovers. I've seen them at both Ikea and Crate and Barrel, but the latter are FAR more expensive. Is it worth it?
A.
Jura Koncius :

That is the million dollar question in upholstery buying - how much is it worth spending? It is an individual decision of course based on your budget, wear and tear, style quotient and expectations. Washable slipcovers are a terrific option for those with a lot of pets and kids around. Check and see the construction of the sofas and what fabrics the slipcovers are made of. Find out if you can order extra sets of slipcovers. In the end, a more expensive sofa will last longer,

– August 30, 2012 11:33 AM
Q.

Daybed question

We recently purchased the Miami Metal Daybed for our den/guestroom. We wanted to use it as a guest bed, as well as a cozy reading nook for rainy days. Unfortunately, most of the slipcovers I'm seeing for daybeds are either cheesy-country or way out of my price range. (I'm not spending $100+ on a glorified fitting sheet, but thanks anyway Ballard Designs.) Any ideas for dressing up a daybed with a $100 total budget?
A.
Lori Graham :

Honestly it will be tough on that budget for sheets, cover of some sort, and any pillows.  You may want to stalk sites like overstock.com and wait until you get a great buy on somehting you love.  build from there as you can to pull it all together.

 

– August 30, 2012 11:34 AM
Q.

modern dining room table

Looking for a modern, clean-lined dining room table (no particle board) to expand to set at least 10. Everything I find is either too narrow (36" just won't do it), too short (not long enough for 10 seats) or too cheaply made. Any ideas where I can look? Or better yet, any suggestions for specific tables you love?
A.
Lori Graham :

This can be made with expandable leaves.  Also we have a cutom dining room table at Showroom 1412; it can be made to the exact size dimensions you would like.

– August 30, 2012 11:36 AM
Q.

making a small space "bigger"

Our guest bathroom is...tight, and the current navy plaid shower curtain makes it seem even tighter. I'm trying to figure out how to do a low-cost redecorating job make the space seem a bit less cramped. Any ideas? Walls are a neutral beige so yellows look weird, but others might work ok (we repainted the whole second floor the same color to prep for putting on the market within the next few months).
A.
Jura Koncius :

If you are putting the place on the market you don't want to spend too much on this tiny space, except to make it as decluttered, fresh and updated as possible. I would buy a plain white shower curtain in cotton and go with a beige and white theme. You could splurge on new towels with a monogram in a fun color like chartreuse. You can take the towels with you wherever you move. Declutter the vanity and under the sink and leave out only important items you use every day.

– August 30, 2012 11:37 AM
Q.

Dehumidifier question

Hi there. My husband and I recently bought our first dehumidifier for the basement (where we spend most of our time from 7p until 7a). But we wondered about the right way to use it. Should we be running it all of the time? During the night when the air is most humid? During the day when the doors are opening more because of comings and goings? Even though we bought an energy-star one, I'm still concerned about that dang Pepco bill! Thanks.
A.
Jura Koncius :

Yes it should be on 24/7 in the summer is my understanding. I have mine on all the time pretty much until the heating season begins. It is good for mold and mildew and pet smells and that smoky scent that comes out of old fireplaces. It really doesn't use that much energy and glad you got an Energy Star model.

– August 30, 2012 11:39 AM
Q.

Home Front is back!

Yay--I sooooo missed the chats.
A.
Jura Koncius :

:) thank you

– August 30, 2012 11:39 AM
Q.

Wall Neutrals

What is your go-to color for walls? Can you give us a white, a beige/neutral and a yellow?

A.
Lori Graham :

Decorator's White and Valley Forge Tan - both from Ben Moore for the "white" and the "tan" (I dont really do beige).  Yellows are hard -- have to be careful or it will look like highlighter!  I tend to do more tawny champagnes when I'm wanting a warmer hue, such as C2's "noodle".  Definitely recommend putting up samples on all 4 walls and checking them out in morning, early evening, and at night (under artifical light) as yellow is a tricky lil devil.

 

– August 30, 2012 11:42 AM
Q.

Art for wall at bottom of stairs, also along stairs

I'd like to do something at the bottom of my stairs; currently, it's just a tall, blank wall. Also, I'm thinking about doing something up wall along the stairs, but our stair case is rather narrow and I don't want to feel hemmed in too much. Should I just paint and leave it alone? I have a box of mounted photos that were taken by my mother that I would love to display and this seems like a good place. (And would get rid of a box in the basement.) And if I do photos along the stairs, should I stay with photography for the bottom of the stairs to keep things consistent? Thanks much.
A.
Lori Graham :

Your inclination to make a collage using family photograph is spot on. For an installation on a stairway, don't be hesitant to mix mediums - it is ok  to combine photography with works on paper and paintings.  Familiarize yourself with works by emerging local artists and prints - these are both cost efficient options and a great way to start a collection if you are interested in creating a more ecclectic collage. Make sure your frames are not deep if it is a narrow walkway.  Start with a great piece of art and then build your family photograpahs around it. The result will be stunning.  We have a collage wall at Showroom 1412 - come check it out for inspiration and talk to Lauren Gentile at Contemporary Wing regarding some of the emerging artists she represents.

– August 30, 2012 11:42 AM
Q.

flooring in basements

There's a wonderful subfloor product, Dricore (dricore.com), that mitigates the humidity/moisture issues of basement floors. If you use this, you can lay any floor covering on it. We've used it, as have friends, and couldn't be happier.
A.
Jura Koncius :

Thank you. Great tip.

– August 30, 2012 11:42 AM
Q.

Beach house: hardwood floor selection

I am overwhelmed looking at the Janka hardwood floor ranking system, trying to select a durable, light colored hardwood for entire main floor of new beach house. Any suggestions?
A.
Lori Graham :

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with this line; do they offer any in-house design consultation as part of their sales process? Maybe they can help you with the system's nuances.

– August 30, 2012 11:44 AM
Q.

Front door paint color

Hi Ladies. Great article this morning -- can't wait to visit Ms. Graham's gallery/shop! Looking for some help in choosing exterior paint colors for our front door and trim. The house is a brick 1935 center hall colonial with a small covered porch. The brick is the typical orangish-red, with some plum undertones. The shutters are black and the front door/trim are currently TOO white (and seriously boring). I'd love to remove the old storm door and paint the front door a fun (but not too crazy) color. I'm leaning toward a blue or plum/purplish - and would very much appreciate suggestions for paint colors and updated hardware options. Thanks so much.

A.
Lori Graham :

Thank you so much for the kind words - and yes, come see us!  Your instincts are spot-on as I would definitely want to balance all that warmth from the bricks wiht a striking, cool tone.  I love the silvery-slate blue "Zydeco" by C2 or an even deeper blue/charcoal such as Ben Moore's "Silver Streak" (its the color in the conference room at my stuido -- mention this chat and I'll give you a private peek when you stop by the Showroom :)).

– August 30, 2012 11:50 AM
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Make sure your frames are not deep if it a narrow walkway.

Thanks for the response. Yes, the photos are all mounted on some sort of backing (wood?) probably about 1/4"; they're not thick and don't have a surrounding frame so the look is very streamlined. The pictures are flowers and images from our time living in Brussels, Belgium. My mother was an artist and I have a lot of her work (both painting and photography); it's nice to display it all.
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Lori Graham :

Go for it.  All of the pieces sound lovely.  Make sure the wall color is a neutral - even gallery white and plan your collage on paper (or tape it out on the floor) before you start installing.  Make sure to post or tweat a pic when you're done - would love to see it!

– August 30, 2012 11:53 AM
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Getting a slipcover made

I have a 4 year old Gus Modern Jane sofa and the buttons have almost all fallen off. I'm thinking that instead of repairing the tufting, maybe I'll get a slipcover made and my sofa will look like a similar Room & Board sofa. Any suggestions on a place in Arlington or N. VA that could do this? And how much could I expect it to cost?
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Lori Graham :

You'll likely need 12-17 yards of fabric, the per yard cost for which can run a crazy gammut so you'll need to keep that in mind when picking your fabric.  For the fabrication,  you'll pay anywhere from $300-750 for someone to template and stitch your sofa.  If you love it, and it's super comfy, go this route.  If not, you're not too far off in price from the Room and Board sofa...wait for a sale and this may be the way to go given the cost comparison.

– August 30, 2012 11:57 AM
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Canvas photo art

Love these chats! Also love the photo canvases you can do yourself. Do you think these are too trendy and next year will be out of here? How about photos of your pets displayed on the wall?
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Lori Graham :

Well I'm not very familiar with the DIY photo canvases, but as a pet lover I can speak a bit about displaying photos of your paint in the home.  The basic rule is keep it tasteful. Smaller photographs - even on canvas are great.  Consider putting a framed photo or photo stretched on canvas in a tabletop easle and avoid giant oil paintings of Lassie above the fireplace. :)

– August 30, 2012 11:58 AM
Q.

Balancing Color & Pattern

I'm about to start furnishing the living room in my new house, and I'm having a hard time deciding just how much color and pattern is appropriate for the room. It's not a huge room (about 11 x 15), so I can't really set up multiple "conversation areas" and I don't want to overwhelm it with too much color or pattern. I'm planning for taupe walls, a sofa in chocolate brown with accent pillows of brown, cream, taupe, Tiffany blue and pear green (one pattern is a stripe, the other is a paisley). I'm also looking at an oversized armchair in a textured taupe fabric and a rug that is cream with an abstract design in pear green, Tiffany blue and taupe. For tables & such I'm planning on a mix of stained and/or distressed woods, and additional accent pillows and lamps in the pear green and/or Tiffany blue. I just cant seem to decide on a fabric for my 2 small accent chairs and the window coverings...any suggestions? I was thinking the chairs should be a pattern since the other 2 pieces will be solids but I'm not sure if I should use the green/blue or the taupe/brown/cream part of the palette.
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Lori Graham :

I'm pretty strict/consistent on this principle regardless of the size of the room: patterns are great in rugs, art, and throw pillows.  Solids for the larger peices (or tone on tone textures)  allow you to mix and match more art, accessories, etc. over time.  For the layout, try two smaller sitting areas with standard size/scale peices rather than one group of oversized items - more playful and will stand the best of time better.

– August 30, 2012 12:00 PM
Q.

Lori Graham :

Thank you so much for letting me join in here today, Jura. These chats are great and I love how this has evolved since we chatted two years ago. What a great community! This has been so much fun. Lauren, Mike, and I hope some of our new design loving friends will stop in and see us soon to continue the conversation!

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Jura Koncius :

Lots of great stuff here from Lori. Check out her new store over the weekend, it's fun and funky. Thank you so much for joining us today, Lori. I'm off to finish a photo shoot in Potomac and this weekend I'll be shopping for a new fridge. Any suggestions? Please come back next Thursday, same time and same place. And tell your friends. :)

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