Eddie Ross on redecorating with what you've got | Home Front

Feb 02, 2012

Eddie Ross, a lifestyle blogger, designer and retailer, joins Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza on the weekly Home Front chat. Together, they gave advice on how to redecorate your home without spending a fortune.

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How would you redecorate using only what you have in your home? Take our poll.

Good morning, all. Thanks for joining our chat today. We're excited to have design blogger and super interior stylist and decorator Eddie Ross with us today. Eddie has an amazing talent for using what's on-hand to create amazing spaces and for coming up with inexpensive ways to decorate a home, so if you have questions, ask away. And if you want more of Eddie's advice, he'll be in DC town in March guiding a flea market shopping trip. Check out the details here. Now, let's get going on these questions.

Check out Terri's story about redecorating with what you've got in today's Local Living. Read it online here

I liked today's article (and am thrilled to have found Eddie's blog). I noticed that you aren't afraid to paint wood furniture. Any tips for getting over that fear of ruining the wood and the item? I'm haunted that I'll regret the decision to paint down the road. Thanks!

Yes. Eddie has a wonderful blog that's really fun to follow. Don't worry about runing anything unless its really a fine antique or something that's a family heirloom. Next week I am doing a a piece about another blogger, Christen Bensten of  www.blueeggbrownnest.com , who spends hours finding old chests, beds and tables and then transforms then with chalk paint. She will share her techniques and her ideas on painted pieces.

Chatters, I want to throw this question out to you:  how would you redecorate using only what you have in your home? Take our poll then come back to the chat and let us know how you voted

Inspired by last week's "Get Organized" feature, I am working on de-cluttering, and have accumulated a pile of things to be donated to charity. Do you know of an organization that will take fabric by the yard (from all those sewing projects that I have finally acknowledged I will never do)?

Good for you for being inspired!! Fabric yardage is something you might donate to a local after school program or Boys and Girls Club. Some churches and non-profits have quilting groups that make quilts for soldiers and veterans that maybe could use the fabric. Any other  ideas out there?

I have an old Duncan Phyfe china cabinet and I've been wanting to give it the same treatment for years. I am now inspired! I have three questions . . . how did you get the fretwork off? On my piece, it looks like it sits behind some molding strips. And what paint finish did you use, eggshell, semigloss, etc.? Finally, applying the paint: roller or brush or spray? Thanks!

Love Duncan Phyfe style!. To remove the molding, use a small putty knife. (Make sure you label each piece of molding, so you know where it goes!) Using a brush, prime the piece with Zinsser, then paint with either an oil-based high gloss (takes longer to dry) or a water-based semi-glass. If it's a piece you'll use a lot, I suggest oil-based. The finish lasts much longer. 

Love the color of the blue chair that was featured in the picture today. Will you share the paint color?

The paint on the blue chairs is Ralph Lauren's Sunwashed Blue in semi-gloss. Love it!  

I have two bay windows on the front of my house. I need to keep out the sun in the afternoon. I also need privacy. I have draw draperies and cafe curtains at the lower half. I do not want shutters. Too expensive and hard to clean. Any ideas?

You could take down the cafe curtains and hang Roman shades, either a natural woven shade or one made of fabric. Keep the longer curtains on each side, though (I assume they are floor length?) for a nice layered looked.

No question in particular but just wanted to tell Eddie that I'm a big fan. I love to get inspiration from your blog on what to do with those marvelous things for sale at garage sales and thrift shops. I can't wait for "saling season" as I call it to begin once the weather warms up a bit. My husband does a bit of eye rolling sometimes when my treasures come in the door but when he sees where it ends up, he loves it and so do I. You're an inspiration to all of us thrifters!

Thank you! I get a lot of eye-rolling too! But one person's trash is another's treasure...especially after applying a little elbow grease to make a piece your own!

ACK!! I have lots of furniture that I'd like to paint. Do I really need to strip it, sand it and then paint it? I find this a big hurdle to painting furniture. Also, what kind of paint to use? Thanks!

No...clean it, lightly sand it with a sandpaper or steel wool, prime it with Zinsser, then paint a color you love!

Hey y'all! I've got a major sofa dilemma. For various reasons, we've got two sofas in our living room, and neither of them can be moved anywhere else. One is dark burgundy leather; the other one is upholstered in a lighter fabric that's primarily light gold and cornflower blue (think French country colors, but with an Indian motif). Is there anything at all I can do from an art/rug/window treatment/etc. angle to bring these guys in harmony with each other?

How about having matching slipcovers made for both?

Did Eddie Ross strip finish on furniture before painting or just sand? What type of paint did he use? The finished pieces look beautiful. Thank you. MJE

Since the secretary wasn't a piece we used a lot, I lightly sanded it, then painted it in a semi-gloss latex. 

I need a nice white color for my walls. The trim is bright white so I'd like something that wil stand out, but doesnt' have a lot of undertones.

Use Benjamin Moore White Dove. Love! 

Hello! I really want to organize the photos I have accumulated in a large, large box. I just know myself and relaize i will not sit down and go through the pictures and organize them into several photo albums. Do you know if there is some person or place I can hire to do this for me? It would be a plus if they can scan the photos so I can also have it on a CD. Thanks!

Yes. You can hire a professional organizer to help you with this project. Go to www.napo.net

What thoughts do you have when you want to essentially redecorate (use what you have on hand), but you're in a different home? I'm a bit baffled about how to approach the project, since the spaces are so radically different, and I don't know what to keep, and what to give up.

Great question! Re-think the furniture plan, experiment with different configurations and live with them for a while. That way, you can see what piece you ought to replace!

Related to redecorating with what you've got, I have kitchen cabinets that are generally in good shape but are the dreaded honey oak color. As part of an overall kitchen remodel (new countertops and backsplash, refinishing the wood floors), I am considering whether to utilize the cabinets I have rather than replacing them. I would have them painted white (and have a professional do it with some sort of spray enamel). However, I have heard mixed things about the durability of painting previously stained cabinets. Any thoughts on how well this will last? Are new painted cabinets that have been "baked" at the workshop have a more durable finish? I have small kids, so durability is an issue.

I would suggest that if they're already stained, re-stain them a darker color. Love walnut finish with brushed nickel hardware. Staining is a good option, too, because it doesn't chip. Best of luck!

Our dining room walls are mostly wainscoting painted white but there is some wall space on both long walls. Normally I like neutrals but since it is not a lot of wall space I thought I would take a chance of one of the colors in our new area rug which is a pumpkin color. Do you have recommendations for pumpkin colors that are not bright orange? We prefer BM or Sherwin Williams if possible. Thank you so much.

How about Soft Pumpkin from BM? You could also try Yam from SW. Let us know how it turns out.

but it's pretty beat up. Do I need to start with something a little rougher than fine sand paper?

Yes, start with a heavier grade sand paper for a smoother finish. Then go to a finer paper for a smoother finish. That way, the paint adheres well!

What is the most often overlooked item at yard sales that can be repurposed?

Hard question. I'm thinking lamps. Rewiring is easier than you think. Google a how-to video, then buy a lamp rewiring kit. Swap out pleated shades for drum shapes to update the look!

Thanks so much for introducing Eddie's website/blog. Saw the Southern Living bedroom redo a few days ago -- love it. Eddie: have you ever considered bringing your "show" to Lancaster County, PA, specifically all the flea markets we have in Adamstown? I guarantee you'd have a ball. (And, it would keep me from having to come down to D.C.).

Love Adamstown! Yes, we're absolutely thinking about a trip. It can a little overwhelming...in a good way! Come to our shopping trip at the Big DC Flea in Chantilly on March 4th!

we just re-arranged our whole living room a few weeks ago and it's amazing how much of a big deal that is, it's so refreshing. Caused us to change a few things--put out different throw pillows and a blanket on the couch. I still gasped when I came into the room for weeks. it made the room look bigger, which I still don't really understand. I love rearranging! but, now I want to paint...

Good for you. We rearrange our living room every December to accommodate the Christmas tree. We leave the sofa facing the fireplace until April. Its wonderful to enjoy the fire on winter weekends from a better vantage point. In the spring, the sofa nests right back snugly into the bay window alcove and we go back to another seating arrangement. It is fun to have a change that's for sure.

I'm needing to install draperies throughout the house. I have non standard windows. I received a quote of $2400 for a 4 windows of various sizes (for example 18" X 106") and upholstery quality ($35- 75yrd). How can I accomplish my objective for 1/4 of the price? I would like customized or semi-customized if possible.

Hi! Custom window treatments are pricey, but they're something you look at everyday. Try bringing your own fabric (found at discount) to a workroom. Make sure you know your yardage requirements!

I really hate our foyer, which is really tight (small 3x3 foot square space) that leads to stairways to the main level. It's a really small. We have a really small shoe rack and a small ledge with hooks. This already takes enough space as we can't open our door all the way through. Our coat closet is actually up the stairs on the main level. How to make this more functional, cheery, and actually pretty? It's always so dark since there's no windows. All we have is one ceiling light right near the doorway. Since it's the first thing people see, I'd like to make it more inviting.. I'm open to doing something bold and different.

Would it be possible to paint or wallpaper just the walls in the foyer or would you have to continue the color/paper upstairs so it wouldn't look weird? Because my suggestions are: Paint or wallpaper (my first choice) in a bold color or pattern, swap existing light fixture with something that makes a statement (doesn't have to be expensive, just something that's fun and represents your style), hang a large mirror on the wall (will make the space look bigger and reflect any existing light) and hang a shelf underneath (if you have no room for a table), throw a pretty area rug on the floor and you're done.

I bet local high schools with theater programs would love to get donated fabric.

Great idea. Thanks.

I love to move things around, change the art, swap out accessories, etc. But my husband absolutely hates this. In his mind, once things are put somewhere they are there for time immemorial. (I once switched two pictures in the bathroom and he bounced out, asking indigently, "What else have you done?") He flatly refuses to move furniture around once it is in place. How can I redecorate and make him feel not-so-threatened by this process? Any thoughts? BTW, loved Eddie's redo of that secretary. Really inspired.

Tell him change is good! Make subtle changes. Baby steps...

I have a mahogany sleigh bed (probably is about 90 years old) that belonged to my grandfather. Because it's so big and dark, I've often thought of painting it. Quite frankly, I hesitated because my mom would have killed me. She's gone now, so ... What do you think?

First, have it appraised. If it's a true antique, don't paint it. If it's repro, definitely paint it! You'll love it so much more!

Can Eddie tell us the color of the paint used on that gorgeous taupey -greige chair with the lampshades stacked on it?

Ralph Lauren's Brompton Grey on the chairs with the lampshades!

How can I update a very traditional dining room (mahogany, Queen Anne chairs, oriental carpet,). I see your suggestion to paint the chairs. I would be a little nervous. Any ideas for window treatments for a Bay window.

Break up the set! Find a table that you can paint white. Move the carpet to another room and try a neutral. Try sheers on the bay window.

Hi Eddie, First, I love your style! Like Terri wrote in her column this morning, I too am a "serial decorator". As such, I've been making changes around my home like crazy since after Christmas.  I'm considering changing the main paint color throughout my home. I have an open floor plan and the same paint color throughout my entire first floor, with the exception of a bathroom and my office. The same color runs up the stairs and throughout the second floor hallway. I'm thinking a white might brighten things up but we have crown moldings and columns; I don't want these architectural details to get lost with white walls (they're painted a gloss white). What do you think? Do you have a 'go-to' white/off white color? There are a gazillion out there!! Thanks, Barb. Annapolis, MD.

Hi Barb! Love Dove White. Buy foam core boards and samples of paint. Try different whites and hold them up to the columns at different times of day. Less guess work that way...

My kitchen chairs are painted white using general finishes milk paint. I've thought about doing some light distressing on them, but can't decide if I like the look or not. The kitchen is a kitchen/dining combo, so these are my only dining chairs! The rest of the kitchen is fairly casual w/ a seagrass rug, oak cabinets, white cast iron sink.

Distressed wood moves the style in the direction of country casual. Try painting a piece of foam core with the distressed finish and see what you think!

make sure you use a tack rag and go over it with a rag dipped in something that will take off all the oils etc so the finish adheres. You can use a Scotch Brite pad to give the finish some tooth as we say in hot rod field. you might want to sand between coats. Preparation is the key to good finish. The time spent prepping and masking will pay dividends in the ned result, If you have access to an air compressor and spray gun they give the best finish

All good thoughts.

I need help figuring out what kind of color and finish on a dresser would blend with black nightstands and a neutral upholstered headboard! I am attempting to decorate my bedroom on a budget. Walls are Palladian blue w/ White Dove trim, bedding is white, gets lots of light and the floors are anold golden oak. I found two great lightly distressed black round pedestal tables to use as nightstands for a steal at TJMaxx. I am planning on making an upholstered headboard in a neutral color. But now I am stumped for what to do as far as a dresser is concerned. I would ideally like to find something used and paint or refinish it--I definitely don't want the room to look too matchy-matchy. Any help or suggestions on how to pull this all together would be very appreciated!

Try a beautiful grey for the dressert or with Dove White (same color as your trim). 

We have a sage-colored couch/chair set and just got (long story) a bright red (firetruck red) chair-beanbag thing. Since having all of these in the living room seems non-negotiable at the moment and we have to re-paint anyway, I'm hoping you will have a brilliant solution for a wall color that can pull this all together. The rug is one of those multi-colored square things with yellow, lavender and sage (it matched before the red came into the picture). Something to make us look less...insane...would be nice. Thanks in advance!

I wouldn't base your wall color choice on the red chair because it sounds like its placement in your living room is necessary at the moment, but not permanent, right? I would pick  your paint color based on what are permanent fixtures in the space for now and think of the red chair as the statement piece : ) And I actually think it's good to have something a little "off" in a room anyway - it makes the space more interesting. If the chair must absolutely stay for now, just embrace it.

As executor of an artist's estate, I have many prints and paintings. How many is too many on the wall (92" ceilings)? Does a room with crowded works (3 inch 'gutters', fully covered) look smaller or bigger?

Love gallery walls. The more, the better. Art is super personal, so it's up to you! 

Eddie, your work is wonderful; the before and after bedroom on your blog (the four poster bed etc) is so inspiring. I understand each job is different, but what is a rough idea of how much something like that would cost (the consulting process)? I don't have the eye to make spaces beautiful, but would love a beautiful home (or at least a few beautiful rooms). Do you accept work in the D.C. area?

Thank you! Try a dear decorator friend of ours: Lauren Leiss of Pure Style Home! Great taste and super sweet. Her style overlaps with the bedroom in Southern Living!

We have a dilemma about window treatments. My daughter's room is over the garage and has 2 windows: one is an "eyebrow" window (just the arch) for which I intend to buy some kind of shutters or blinds, and the other is regular window in a dormer. She wants to put full length panels and a black out shade on the regular window. I think we should use a Roman shade; otherwise too much light will be blocked. What do you think?

I'm not sure I understand your question. Light won't be blocked by either option when they are pulled up. But when they are pulled down, you want the light blocked anyway. I think either would work and would look nice. You could split it down the middle: hang full-length panels and a Roman shade with blackout lining. I think I like this option best of all.

We have a 1960s ranch, complete with floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace. I would love to paint it white but my husband doesn't want to because he doesn't want to damage the brick. Any other options? Googling yielded something called Brick Anew, but I can't see how it's any different from regular paint. Has anybody used it? Or should we consider drywall?

Who's to say it's "ruining" the brick? For re-sale, white fireplaces sell homes. Plus, I just love the look so much more! Stand firm.

I am renovating my kitchen and it is time to select hardware for the kitchen cabinets. I am overwhelmed by the possible choices! Do you have a favorite style or source, and some advice on how to pick? We have light maple cabinets in a Shaker style, and our appliances are stainless.

You can't go wrong with classic farmhouse style pulls in brushed stainless (fewer fingerprints).

Hi guys: Love the idea of redecorating with what you own. I have an old pine dresser that was bought from a finish-it-yourself store decades ago and stained with a dark stain by the original owner. The stain is ugly but the construction is good with simple, clean lines, so I'd love to paint it, install new pulls and put it in the guest room. Any suggestions for colors? Will a light paint cover a dark stain? What kind of paint do you use?

Prime the piece with a stain-blocker like Zinsser. Pick a color you love! (I love neutrals like grey...)

Just bought our first home! Very excited but also extremely overwhelmed by how many rooms there are to fill. Any advice/best tips would be greatly appreciated!!

Congratulations! Start with the rooms you live in most (living room, bedroom), then go from there!

I have two of them in my garage, and I know the local Goodwill has a half dozen of them too. Any brilliant ideas on what to do with them? The TVs are no longer massive, but these pieces are.

What a great question. I hear that no consignment stores will take them because so many are out there and nobody wants the giant things. You could offer to a school or an organization that furnishes apartments for people in need. They can be converted to storage or bookcases. Any other ideas? I know lots of people have these things hanging around.

In our old house redo, we are now onto the dining room. I love our furniture - large old dark wood dining table, chairs and credenza - think rustic Tuscan, I guess. The dining room is 12 x 10 so really the only decorating we have room for is the walls (thinking a dulled metallic copper paint to replicate a copper ceiling look and a neutral rug (jute maybe?). I would like to have a wow chandelier with crystals and metal - not too formal but with sparkle. That's where we're stuck... I have silk purse taste on a sow's ear budget and am not finding what I want in my budget. Can you suggest lighting retailers that might have something unique and under $500 - half that price being even better. Thank you.

Look for something vintage or on Craigslist or Ebay. I don't usually buy new lighting, but Circa and Visual Comfort are good.

I plan a couple of times a year when my husband and kids are away and I make my major changes during that time (unfortunately I work during the day but I get ALOT done at night). I rearrange furniture, reorganize and do all kinds of things that my husband would poo-poo if he were home. But once he sees it done, he's converted. Hope that helps.

Good plan! My husband used to get very frustrated by my constant rearranging (and requests for help), but because he usually ended up liking the change after the fact, he's more willing to just go with it now. 

In a small 1940's cape cod - pale blue living room to the right, cream entry way/stairway center ... what fun color for the frumpy dining room to the left. Dark wood furniture. Thank you.

What colors do you like and consider fun? Start there. 

I intend to place my master bedroom in part of the basement with a powder room (toilet and small sink) with spaces to place clothes and other things and also to change a small bedroom on the 1st floor for an office space with spaces to range. Do I need an architect or an interior designer to draw plans?

A master in the basement. Hmmm...you might want to rethink. Do you really want to wake up in a basement everday? Perhaps the office would be better downstairs...

Is it worth (possible?) trying to decorate a room such that from no single point can you see everything at a glance?

I think spending time decorating a space so it makes you happy when you're in it is always worth it.

I just moved into my first house and am on a tight budget. Can you recommend some good thrift stores for furniture in or around Alexandria. I am not afraid of a little hard work to make things look good. Thanks!

Big DC Flea in Chantilly is good. (we'll be there on March 4th). With thrift stores, inventory changes often, so keep checking back. Try searching "thrift stores" or "antique malls" in Yelp!

would you shellac the top? I'm wondering how durable it would be.

If you use oil paint, the finish is stronger. Placemats help protect the finish.

We just purchased a house with an interior design of pure "Tuscan." We are minimalists and wish to use a zen/feng shui approach using what we already have. What advice can you offer to us?

That will be a challenge! Try starting with all neutral furniture. 

Too many choices! If I go with a thumb latch on the outside, should I stick with the same inside or can I use a knob? I see lots of levers these days, and I like the look when two are side by side (ala french doors) but I don't think it works in my colonial style house on a single door. Any thoughts?

Not sure on this, but I love a thumb latch on the outside and knob on the inside. Talk to a specialist at the hardware store...

Hi there. I live in a small 1950s home. I'd like your ideas on what I can do with my bikes, trikes, and strollers that are frequently used. I don't have a garage but I do have a shed. I'm hesitant to keep things out there, however, because it seems like mold and rust still work their magic in it. What to do?! Thanks.

Have you considered redoing the interior of your shed? Check out this shed makeover by local designer and blogger Lauren Liess. Very inspirational.

We are in need of a low dresser at the top of our stairs to function as a "linen closet" with the upcoming arrival of Baby #2 (currently using his to-be-room's closet as storage for towels and sheets). I'm trying to decide whether to take on one of the Ikea "hack" projects as seen all over design blogs these days or hold out for a vintage piece that we can repaint as needed. I love the ability to customize a very basic product into something fabulous, but also know the quality of an older piece might be more substantial. Any views either way?

Hold out for a better piece, so it lasts longer. Try ebay and craigslist!

I'm planning to do a big clean out of my home this spring. How do you decide what is worth keeping, what should be sold and what should be donated? Do you have a process you stick to?

Good question. I ask, what haven't I used in the past six months? Tag sales are a lot of work, but they can be fun! Hospital thrift shops are great places for donation. Such a good cause and a tax write-off. 

This is one of the best chats ever! Thanks for the intro to Eddie's blog. Our family has a connection for this kind of design, basically begun by financial considerations, but the thrill of the hunt and the eventual results beat the conventional approach by a mile!

Yes, it is fun to hunt and score, isn't it? Glad you are enjoying tody's chat. Thanks for writing!

it could be converted into a desk with lots of room for storage. You can attached hooks, white boards, cork board to the inside doors as well. Then paint it a fun color. It could also be turned into a crafting area or a place to keep all your design ideas.

Wow. Great stuff. Thanks.

If you don't know this - you will be glad I posted. BED BUGS hide in many pieces of wood furniture - beds, dressers, etc. Termites do too.  Always inspect all furniture for damage and current infestations. You do not want to bring these critters into your home as you will never get rid of them! I saw this in the NYTimes recently and thought to pass it along to everyone...


I would love to join Eddie at the DC Flea Market. Do you have to register or just show up?

Our trip to the DC Flea will be a super fun, informative trip during which I point out how to find  (and reimagine!) the very best things, including china, silver, glass, furniture, fabric and art. I'll give my point of view on buying/styling vintage as a magazine editor. Trip is on Sunday, March 4th at 11:30 in Chantilly. Tix are $50 person and well worth it. Email jaithan@eddieross.com for a spot! We have a few left...

You could turn it into an extra closet. Put a rod in it, some baskets and voila!

Voila indeed.

Where do you get oil based paint here? I believe it is banned in MD.

Really? Didn't know..

Wall to wall carpet drives me... insane. If I had it my way, we wouldn't have any carpet and minimal area rugs. So, my husband and I are house hunting and most homes have carpet. While this isn't surprising, I'm wondering how much it costs to replace it with wood floors? Would it be cheaper just to stick to homes with wood floors in already?

That's really tough to say and more of a personal choice based on finances, I think.  Sometimes there are nice hardwood floors beneath wall-to-wall, so it wouldn't hurt to ask the agent of homes you like if that's the case.

When we built our home we were on a pretty tight lighting budget. I ended up getting a chandelier for the dinign room that I really liked for its shape, then went to Lowe's and bought extra crystals that I hung on the chandelier for the shiney bling that I wanted. Inexpensive - Personal - Changeable

Great idea and very creative! Thanks for sharing.

Eddie, where are you headed on your DC shopping trip in March? I've always itched to go exploring local flea markets but I never know when to go. These barn sales make it sound like you need to either sign up ahead of time or show up at 5 am with a pickup truck. Is there no such thing as casual thrifting anymore?

I find people are more aware these days of what they have, thanks to ebay and other sites. Regularly scope Goodwills, Salvation Armies and thrift stores for the fairest prices.

Jura & Terri: As veterans of local thrift stores, what are your favorite places to shop? Local boutiques, flea markets, vintage stores. I'm hosting some friends from out of town in a couple weeks that are IN to this stuff (they're from San Francisco) and I want to show them that we can keep up!

If I may weigh in, love Miss Pixie's in DC!

I love the picture of the secretary desk painted white, next to today's article. I love painting furniture to give it a different look, but my results aren't that beautiful. What brands/finishes do you use, and which are your favorites?

Thank you! Addressed this earlier, but start with light sanding, then make sure you brush on stain-blocking primer like Zinsser. Use oil-baesd paint if the piece is used a lot.

As Mr. Ross stated, yard sales are a lot of work. On average, yard sale shoppers are not usually willing to pay much more than about 10% of the original cost of an item. However, if it sells you have immediate cash in your pocket. If you donate the item, you get 25-30% of the value (roughly your tax rate), but have to wait until your do your taxes to recoup the money. Much less work too.

Good thoughts. Thanks for weighing in.

I've been studing the color wheel and I think the color that will coordinate best in my kitchen is purple. I've tried to avoid too girly colors in this house, though, and am a bit afraid. Can you reccommend any good shades I won't regret? The kitchen has white cabinets, black granite, terra cotta flooring, a redish brick column on one wall, and lots of green accessories (canisters/towels/etc). Current wall color is green and it is just too much green.

Hmmm...with terra cotta and reddish brick, I can almost guarantee you'll regret PURPLE! The color wheel doesn't have all the answers. Try a neutral stone, grey or taupe. Paint pieces of foam core and hang them in different parts at different times of day. Green and terra cotta screams 1980, unless you're cooking in shoulder pads in which case you're good to go! LOL...try neutrals.

I desperately want to repaint a vintage dresser we bought at a store downtown. But I live in an apartment and have nowhere to actually, well, do it! What should I do! Do i have no options without a garage or backyard?

Ask a friend to use their driveway (with tarp). I've been in this situation...try school parking lots on the weekend!

Weird question, and I promise I'm not a cheap skate!!! But is it ok to give gifts that you find at thrift stores or flea markets? Sometimes I find things at markets where I say, Oh this would be just perfect for so-and-so! But I shy away from giving them away as gifts because I don't want the person to think that all their worth is something used... does that make any sense??

Like any gift, I think it just depends on the person you're giving it too. I give friends things I've found at flea markets and vintage shops all the time because I know they are the kind of people who would appreciate them and the thought behind them.

Don't paint mahogany. Because of the nature of the wood it just wont work even with coats of sealant. And a pro should know better than to recommend painting mahogny, bad idea!

I disagree. I've painted many repro mahgony pieces. Use Zinsser to block in the stain. That secretary is proof.

I'm very interested in buying rugs at a garage sale or flea market, but I've been hesitant with all the bed bug talk. What are your recommendations?

IF you find something you love, drop it off at a professional carpet cleaner. Make sure it's wrapped in plastic and tape before putting it in your car!

Unique Thrift Store in Merrifield. The furniture selection isn't necessarily large, but you'll spend an hour going through the rest of the store.


I find that the Treasure Trove stores run by Inova has nice stuff.


I often move things around in our house. A good time to do it is after Christmas. I put away lots of accessories to make room for holiday decor, and then when I bring them back out, I try to re-think where they might best be placed.

Sounds good.

My daughter (5 years old) has been begging for a canopy bed. It makes my husband and I nauseous to think about... but perhaps we're writing it off to quickly. Is there a classy, chic way to pull this off without it seeming like a disney den?

The answer to your question is: yes! lots of ways to do this but we're out of time. Write in again next week and I will answer.

We're out of time. Thanks for the great chat! And thanks to Eddie for joining us and offering his expert advice. It was fun.  Chat with you next week.

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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.

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Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post's Local Living section.
Eddie Ross
After graduating from culinary school, Ross began his career in television, first as a food editor on Martha Stewart Living and then as a design director at Food Network. He soon entered publishing, serving as a design editor for House Beautiful and Martha Stewart Living. In 2008, Ross co-founded a lifestyle company and design studio with his partner Jaithan Kochar. He currently maintains columns in Woman's Day and Southern Living, along with a blog on decorating and entertaining. He is based in northwest Connecticut.
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