The Washington Post

Home Front: House Beautiful editor in chief Newell Turner joins staff writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza to give design advice

Feb 03, 2011

Local Living staff writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza were joined by Newell Turner, editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine, in this week's online chat. Together, they gave advice on decorating and household problems.

Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining our chat this morning. Jura and I are excited to have Newell Turner, editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine, as our guest today.  The March issue of House Beautiful, which will be on newstands next Tuesday (February 8) is a fantastic issue dedicated to the color pink. Be sure to check it out for lots of colorful inspiration for your own home. Also check out today's Local Living story about honeysuckle pink, Pantone's 2011 color of the year, and vote in our poll: Would you paint a room honeysuckle?

Okay, lots of questions already, so let's get started.

Newell, I love the photos in decorating magazines and blogs. What is the height of the ceilings on many of those rooms? 12 ft? 15 ft? I want to eventually build a small home but with extra-high ceilings. Needless to say, 9 ft. is no longer cutting it!

I love high ceilings, too. You really only start seeing the height of a room at 10-12 feet, especially in larger rooms.

We don't have a dishwasher. In addition to the cost of the machine, we'd also have to factor in the cost of a plumber and at least some work to remove a cabinet to accommodate the machine. Are there any reliable, "nonpartisan" tools you know of that can calculate the payoff over time for this kind of investment vs. sticking with handwashing? There are only two of us, but we do actually cook (not reheat-cook) which I suppose is a factor. We probably would not run the machine every day, but maybe every 2-3 days. Does that mean more pre-washing? Thanks!

You shouldn't let dirty dishes with food stains sit for long in a dishwasher. I usually wash by hand during the week when I'm not generating a lot of dirty dishes. Then on the weekend, I'll usually let dishes collect for a day or two and run the machine once.

I remember reading that Mr. Turner had painted his paneled doors two different colors. Can you remind me what the colors were and whether the panels were lighter or darker?

Hey! I'm flattered that you remember that detail. I have to admit it's a decroating tip I picked up from interior designer Steven Gambrel. It works best with paneled doors. I painted the surround a mid-gray and the raised panels a slightly lighter gray.

I have a brown thumb and need to give up on keeping plants alive, for now. But I love the look of greenery in my house. Where can I purchase good quality fake plants and trees for my home that hopefully look real unless examined closely?

I have mixed feelings about faux plants. If you go faux, you need to find the best quality you can. I've been looking at the flowers and greenery sold at Pottery Barn. The quality is very nice, but faux can get a little pricey. One of the keys is to splurge and buy something full and lush looking. Don't skimp.

What are some good websites for getting decorating inspiration? I particularly want to search by color.

Ha! I'm biased, but House Beautiful has a wonderful website that's getting better and better every month. We love color, so there's always lots of content on the website, and definitely in the magzine on color.

Hi Newell, you must get thousands of projects submitted for publication. A deft way with the color pink aside, what are some of the elements of style that would make you say "yes," this is exactly right for House Beautiful, these days? Do you have any personal dislikes that would automatically disqualify a particular project? Thanks!

We do look at lots of projects, and we try to keep open minds when choosing projects to publish. Color is always interesting to us, but we're not interested in design that uses lots of color just to be colorful. We're interested in the story and the idea behind the color choices.

Hi Newell! I really love your magazine, and as a consumer and interior designer I am wondering why there isn't a Living Green Session on your site?

That's a great question, and something we've thought about. We're always interested in the green aspect of design when a project is a story for us. Interesting design (that's also green) is hard to find. It's easy to find individual green product that's well designed, but not green decorating stories.

My dining room walls are painted a color that is close to BM's Muslin. Trim is Martin Senour's Haitian Cotton. I'd like to paint an old china cabinet, probably in the same family but a bit lighter or darker than the walls. The room doesn't get much light, so I doubt think black is a good choice... Any ideas from the BM palette?

If your room doesn't get a lot of light, how about painting the cabinet the same color as your trim and the inside of the cabinet your wall color? Better yet, you could paint the inside a completely different and fun color like blue or, to go with the current trend: pink!

We remodeled a basement bathroom and chose not to pull up the tile floor. Maybe that was a mistake because I need to replace 11 tiles, and I can't find a match anywhere! They are 6 x 6 matte ceramic tiles in a light grey color. I've been to Home Depot, Lowes, DalTile showrooms, none has a match. I'd like to give it one more shot before I put in a mis-matched white... Are there any tile stores in the DC/MD area where I might have some luck? No luck at Architectural Ceramics in Bethesda.

What a pain. I guess this floor was there when you bought the house. You might try Bartley Tile on Arlington Blvd in Bethesda or Morris Tile which has lots of locations here. Any other ideas for tile stores in the DC area? 

Newell, what's your favorite style at this moment?

! I have to admit that I'm interested in the designs of many aesthetics. But, personally....very personally because it's not a huge audience and really on the edge, I'm fascinated by the Steampunk movement. It's really fringe, so we don't do much on the look, but I'm a SciFi it interests me.

I want to get a subscription to a few more decorating magazines. I already get (and love) House Beautiful. My taste is fairly traditional, cottage, beachy and contemporary. I'm not interested in the super-modern styles. You guys are the experts, what do you read?

Have you considered Veranda, Traditional Home, Country Living or Coastal Living?

My daughter's room is painted BM's Bird's Egg, with BM's Albascent on the ceiling and Simply White on the trim. Her sheets are almond and white, with a couple of accent pillows in the dusky lavender family. We'd like to paint an old nightstand for her, but going darker on the Bird's Egg card doesn't seem to work - colors are too muddy! What do you think about BM's Bahaman Sea Blue or Carribean Blue Water? Also, should we use high gloss?

How about drawing inspiration from the lavender pillow and going in that direction instead? I think a high-gloss would be great.

You don't need a plumber; all you're doing is adding flexible lines to your existing sink plumbing. And removing a cabinet is also no big deal: you basically take off the doors and slice away the wood trim at the top and bottom. It's a couple hours' work with a handy neighbor, or a day and two trips to Lowe's without a handy neighbor.


You will be better off in the long run to replace the whole tile floor. Tiles may not match and the grout will definately be different in the newer tiled floors. Tile flooring is cheap compared to other types of floors - and go with porcelain tiles (which are better grade than ceramic) and a grout that does not need to be sealed. You can also get tiles that resemble wood floors or slate or any other idea you would like. Plus, if there are any underlayment problems, they can be fixed on the new install. You just completed the re-do and new tile will be money well spent.

Good point.

Hello! I'm repainting my home and was wondering what the best whites are for ceilings & window trims? Thank you!

White is one of the most challenging colors. There are so many variations (cool, warm, blue-ish, yellow-ish...) and the differences can be so subtle. It's hard, even impossible, to ID just one as the best. BUT, if you're familiar with the term "full spectrum" then you might pursue paints that are that. Full spectrum paints refers to paint formulas that use pigments of all colors, although the result might look like blue or red or even white. There might be only a touch of some pigments, but they give a depth or life to the final color that can be wonderful. A full spectrum white paint might look more warm-ish in the daylight and cooler, eveny gray-ish in the evening. The color shifts subtly given the type of light. Benjamin Moore is coming out with a new line of full-specturm paints in April. Expect them to be amazing!

Do the magazines go on the grocery store shelves before the subscribers receive them? What is the time difference? I end up reading House Beautiful magazines in the store even though I get it at home.

That's an issue that drives editors crazy. Distribution is effected by many variables. So, there's no exact answer. Subscriptions usually go out by region and not all at once, and sometimes the order of release even changes. Our newsstand issues should land everywhere with only a day or two difference.

I don't know about prewashing, but one thing your plan does mean is ants. Yuck. Newell's method is a lot better for preventing infestations.


I love Veranda, but as a long subscriber of Coastal Living, it isn't what it used to be and I won't renew again. Repetitive photos, more ads than homes and their yearly beach house publication was a rehash of last years along with the same old photos from the publication. I'm disappointed in this mag but hey, it's published by the same company as Southern Living so maybe they're all in trouble.

Another opinion for you, which is what this chat is all about!

I love House Beautiful. Do you feature only designers that are ASID or do you also include interior decorators who may not have gone the ASID route? How do you view the differences between the two groups?

We make no distinction between designers who are ASID or not. We're looking for good design. By that I mean design that is good in plan and good visually.

Hi Terri! I loved your article highlighting Pantone's 2011 choice for honeysuckle. In your experience, where is this color family best used? Is it better suited to indoor or outdoor settings? I found that I liked the brown sofa with pink accent more than the walls, which were a stark pink.

Hi, there! Glad you enjoyed today's honeysuckle story. While I have no personal experience with this color in my own home (though, I have been recently contemplating it...), I think it would be great both indoors and outdoors. If you're nervous about painting a big room in this color, try it in a powder room - a small space that you don't use all the time. It would be a fun surprise for guests, too. I love Alessandra Branca's suggestion in my story today about using it in a dining room with white trim and dark wood. I think it's a fresh alternative to the popular red dining room.  If paint is out of the question, just use accents of this pink anywhere you want it. 

Your poll left out an important option: would my husband agree to paint a room Honeysuckle? (Unfortunately, in my case, probably not. I couldn't even get him to do a deep coral for the dining room.)

Yes. I know what you mean. This morning, my husband read the article about pink and I don't think he was ready to rush to the paint store. He reminded me that about 25 years ago, we helped a friend paint her store a preppy pink color and he has never gotten over it!

Dear Newell. What has been the biggest change for you from being on the staff of House Beautiful to being its editor in chief? Would you go back?

I'm laughing....the biggest difference is that all the responsibility for the content now lands on me. So, that means I'm also responsible (in the end) for what all my editors are doing. It's also a very exciting time in publishing, because there are so many new mediums. As editor in chief, I'm very involved in all of those developments....and exploring a future for HB on all those platforms. I'm a journalist who is very interested in and loves design.

I love the new Pantone colour Honeysuckle! It is bright, vibrant and totally unexpected. I have last years' Turquoise in my beach house, and now I want to incorporate Honeysuckle too. Would the blues and the pinks be too juvenile? I love the green-turquoise and white combo I have now, so how can I use Honeysuckle in this color scheme? Thanks!

Oh, I think pops of honeysuckle would look terrific with your beac house color scheme. try it out with a few pillows or maybe an area rug like the Madeline Weinrib Brooke rug in today's story. I love that rug.

Any suggestions for a woodtone that looks nice with a bedroom painted Palladian Blue? I'm in the market for new furniture!

I would steer away from woods with a red tone like cherry. Personally, I think walnuts and even darker wood tones are gorgeous with the blue palette.

Hello! I'm thinking of buying a counter-height table and chairs for my kitchen because we lack an island and I feel like this style encourages gathering. What are your thoughts on this style -- is this a trend that will soon look dated? Does the additional 6 inches of height over a standard table make a significant difference in the look of a the room?

Will this be the only eating table in yout kitchen? If so, I would advise against it. I think pub-height tables are less comfortable to sit at for long periods and stools are no fun to do work from or hang out in, etc.

I have a hard time selecting art to go with my decor. Sometimes, I don't even finish decorating because I'm at such a loss. I like to make pictures the focal point, but I'm terribly picky even though I have no expertise. I like landscapes that are not old-fashioned but also not abstract, and I can't afford real art in the thousands of dollars. Help! How do I put an end to this cycle?

Wow. This is an interesting dilemma. How did you get into this vicious cycle? I think you should forget about the art and decorate a room the best you can using colors that you love in fabrics, carpet and paint. After you finish that, see what spaces you have left. Actually blown up black and white photographs make wonderful focal points in a room and can reflect things that interest you - whether portraits or travel.

Newell, curious as to what the inside of your house look likes! What is your person decor taste?

I'm a big fan of English decorating. I like a layered, years-collected look personally. Blue is my favorite color (used in my living room) but I sleep in a green bedroom. I also have a pale, whisper-of-pink guest bedroom that I'm crazy about. I slept a lot in that room when I was working on my own bedroom. There are many shades and tones of pink, and it can be a great interior color. Men secretly love it too—very pale.

Newell, what would your advice be for a VERY tiny entry hall? (No more than 30" in width for a table!) Should we go with art? Mirrors? Lighting?

I have a very small, dark foyer. I had it wall papered with a very realistic bamboo pattern wallpaper. The effect is a little like being in a grove of bamboo. After a couple of years, I added a large mirror above the console, and it transformed the space. Suddenly the little hints of light that go into the foyer were magnified...and the mirror became like a window into another room. Mirrors can do all sorts of wonderful things for a room.

We are remodeling our basement and are uncertain about colors. We'd like vibrant colors, but we showed our choices to our contractor who basically said, "Yuck," and suggested we go lighter. Our preference is for a blue-gray color in the bathroom and an aqua-green color in the main part of the basement. Any suggestions would be most appreciated... we're totally at a loss.

First of all, why are you taking your decorating cues from your contractor? Maybe you wouldn't like the color he or she has picked for their home. Bottom line: it's your home, you should have things in it that you like. If you like blue-grays and aqua-greens, go for it. Take a look at C2's Variegated for a pretty blue-green, and Benjamin Moore's Glass Slipper for a soothing blue-gray.

Newell, I love House Beautiful. What are some of your favorite tricks to spicing up home decor for those of us on a budget? Thanks!

Thank you! I justed posted another comment on mirrors. There are tons of great things you can do with them very inexpensively. Paint is also another quick fix, major transformation tool.

Red, orange, yellow, all the Tuscany crap is so over! LOVE the new honesuckle pink color as it is fresh and alive! Thank you! And everyone has done the red dining room walls that now it is a turn off to most buyers (I'm a real estate agent) so I'm glad to see a new pop of color and it is so perfect for spring!

Agreed. I've never been a fan of the red dining room and love honeysuckle as a fresh and fun alternative. I wonder if everyone who says they love the color will end up using it in their homes.

I've always  loved House Beautiful when Stephen Drucker was editor and continue to love it under your direction. I was shocked to read that Stephen Drucker has left Town & Country so quickly. Any news of your former colleague's future plans? Thanks.

Stephen is one of the great editors of our time. I'm having breakfast with him next week to catch up, so I don't know anything specific. BUT, I have no doubt we'll be seeing amazing things from him again.

Try devil's ivy. My mother gave me a small plant when I went to college. It was not watered, over-watered, watered beer, left over breaks, etc. Ten years later, I still have it.

You are a genius.

Newell - is the any particular session of HB that gets more readers and comments?

I don't know what you mean by sessions. Issues?

Does bathroom cabinetry have to match the kitchen cabinets? We gutted our kitchen and have cool tones (white cabinets, grey granite, cool blue paint). We are about to DIY our bathroom (separated from the kitchen by about 10 ft of hallway). We're thinking warm colors (dark brown cabinets, sand-colored granite, warm paint) but will that work? Thank you for chat - it is always so helpful!

You absolutely do not have to match kitchen and bath cabinetry. Go for another look - good for you.

This may sound odd but when I redecorated my bedroom and living room I selected the art first. I went thru catalogs, magazines and on-line sites to find something that really spoke to me. Once I found it I then chose the colors for the rooms and have been very happy with my choices.

That's not odd at all. I know many decorators who start a project that way—with a piece of art or even a rug for the floor. It's makes picking wall colors and fabrics much easier. You've got a palette to start with!

Perhaps not the point, but why is that Pantone color named Honeysuckle? Have they seen a honeysuckle bush? The blossoms are creamy white, not pink!

You're right, some honeysuckle (both wild and garden) varieties are white and yellow, but perferred garden varieties do have a coral-pink shade.

Newell, do have any favorite websites or vendors for curtains? I need to repaint my family room and want to be smart and get the curtains first. Thanks!

I think Pottery Barn has a great selection of curtain panels. I also just found some very nice plain curtain panels at West Elm.

Hi Newell! How many mirrors are too many? I have a large round one in the foyer, a large rectangle in the DR, and a group of 4 in varying small sizes with similar frames in the LR. Our house is dark and these are huge in adding light. I want to install some in the family room, but that would mean mirrors in every public space save the kitchen... Too much?

Well, it's hard to say without seeing the location in person. But here's what I think in general: mirrors are not like art with a fixed image, so they're more like windows and doors. And, most rooms can always use more openings.

Hi Newell, I'm a big fan of yours! Wondering what decorating mistake you see most often that we should avoid and what trends you have seen enough of?

Great question! I think the biggest mistake people make is not starting with a floor plan—even something very basic and simple. Knowing size and space needs and limitations takes a lot of guess-work (and potential mistakes) out of the decorating equation.

I have a small, windowless powder room with black and white floor tiles between two rooms - one is painted in C2 Overcast, the other's main color is C2 Sahara. I was thinking about painting the powder room BM revere pewter. Does that have too much green in it? Other color recommendatiosn are welcomed. Thanks!

Instead of going with Revere Pewter, why not take this opportunity to do something fun in the powder room?  ANY color would go well with the black and white color scheme in the bathroom, you just need a fun color that will work well with the adjoining rooms. Would you consider a tangerine or, I have to throw it out here, again, a vibrant pink?  I think either color would work and would be a fun way to connect the two rooms.

I have one and really love it -- and yes, it is my only kitchen eating space and is 36 inches. I agree that anything taller, called "bar tables," might not be comfortable. Also, not recommended for families with small kids in booster seats. Would not want them to take a tumble. But otherwise, ours has been popular with all visitors and a great spot when the party inevitably lingers in the kitchen. Just my two cents!

Okay, a pro-counter height table comment. thanks.

I just moved into a beautiful colonial style house, but I'm starting from scratch in most of the rooms. Do you have any suggestions for books or magazines that have a updated but not too contemporary feel? We're in our early 30s and don't want to feel like we're in our parent's house with something too traditional.

Ok....House Beautiful is a great place to start! ;-)

I would like to incorporate a small indoor herb garden into my kitchen. The only things I can find are aerogardens or glass shelves across the window. (Condo association won't let me replace the window.) Do you have any suggestions?

I consulted with Washington Post  garden expert Adrian Higgins on this one. You can follow him on twitter, by the way : @adrian_higgins

Adrian says that herbs need a lot of light - so even putting them a few feet away from a window is not going to work. The closer to a sunny window the better so try and figure out a way to do that. Not sure how your window is situated in your kitchen.  If you can supplement the natural lighting with some sort of flourescent or track lighting it would help.  Indoor herbs that do well, says Adrian,  include parsley and chives.

Our previous house did not have a dishwasher, so I got used to living without one (12 years!). My current house has one, but we never use it and I never remember that its there. We're thinking of taking it out to provide more cabinet space (husband is a contractor, so we can easily leave the plumbing so the next owner can put it back in).

Wow. You are brave!

First, I adore HB and would subscribe twice just to help you guys out. It's truly my favorite shelter mag out there (much friendlier than Elle Decor). Have you considered a feature on design bloggers? The genre has exploded over the last 3 years even, and there are a ton of options there for a great story. Thank you!

Thank you. All of us keep an eye on the design blogs. I think we all have favorites. From our business perspective, they're like the new "beat-reporters." They're out there in the communities writing about what they see and feel. And, there are some very original visions and voices.

Please be warned that one reason why faux plants often aren't used by decorators is that they collect dust which immediately identifies them as faux instead of real. If you go with a faux plant, get one that is a little sturdier that you can clean off regularly. I have a shop vac that I bring out and turn on the blower function and blow the dust off them (which then has to be vacuumed up) which works better than trying to vacuum the dust itself.

You are right about this one. They are dust collectors and good idea about how to clean them.

I am renting a great house and like the way I've set it up - except for one room. The rec room downstairs is stuck in the 70s (light "wood" paneling on every wall, an old heater on one wall, and one small window at ceiling level that looks out to the trash cans). This room is where we have our TV and computer so we're there a lot, but it's depressing! I can't paint it, and the wood paneling is odd to deal with. How can I cheer it up?

Have you thought about haning panels of inexpensive fabric? In a color? You could even hang them in very specific places and give the room a "theater" effect.

Any ideas how I can get some rough luxe style in my decor without family and friends thinking I'm crazy? I like the rough wood look.

If you like the look of beaten up wood, then have it in your house! Who cares what your friends and family think!! I think an old wood tabletop that's lived and looks beaten up is charming and cool and would look great mixed with any style. It's especially great in households with young children - it already had dings in it, so you won't care if it gets more. It's part of the charm anyway.

We just painted our small, windowless basement bathroom in BM's White Rain, with 25 percent of that color on the ceiling. It looks great and feels light even without a window, and has enough green to feel warm and not cold.

Great tip. thanks!

I purchased nice 13 x 13 tiles and trim pieces to build a backsplash in my kitchen behind the stove. We didn't get started on the project for several months, then decided to expand it to another section of wall... But the tile was discontinued. Wheaton Tile Center managed to find a small supply of the same tile and now our kitchen looks fantastic with the matching backsplash.

Great customer service.

I'm painting my living room a light gray and need a contrasting color for the adjacent dining room. The DR is narrow, long and has no windows. Also, any recommendations for a neutral color for the hallway & stairwell?

Given the details of your dining room, I'd suggest something dark, which might sound counterintuative. Dark colors can make a small space seem larger because the walls will appear to recede. You could also consider something dark and glossy, which would obviously help capture and reflect any little light that makes it into the room. Candlelight would look magical in this scenario.

I love the picture of the room with the honeysuckle paint! The ceiling paint seems to match the wood trim, and it looks beautiful and seamless. We need to repaint our ceiling and have just finished repainting all our trim BM mountain peak white. Should we paint the ceiling the same color? The walls are a vivid santorini blue with 8 ft ceilings.

Ceiling paint color is just a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer white, some use the same color as the trim, others like to mix a little of the wall color with white and still others prefer a completely different color - or even wallpaper. The choice is yours. Any of the above would work. 

We have a counter- height table in the kitchen and a regular-height table in the dining room. The tall people tend to really appreciate the taller table, and as we get older I can see my husband truly appreciating the height (he's 6'2" and doesn't have to try to stand from a low seat), where as us short people are more comfortable with the regular table. So yes, the counter height tables are great, if you're tall!

Another opinion about tall tables. thanks for chiming in.

I need to update my small, sunny kitchen by removing the old wallpaper and replacing it with paint. I have light maple cabinets and a dark blue corian countertop. Any color suggestions would be greatly appreciated - I'd like to keep the white trim. Thanks!

Would you ever consider painting the cabinets, too?  I think a light to medium gray would would great with the dark blue counters.

I'm a renter and the floor in my bathroom is awful. It's tiny 1x1 tiles in icky shades of blue-gray, and since the cat's box is in the bathroom, the thousands of grout lines are a nightmare for trapping and holding litter. The building has also shifted so the floors aren't quite level. I would love to put something down over the tiles that is easy to clean, removeable, and cheap, but I'm not sure what that would be... Any ideas?

First tip: small, tiny tiles need pefectly smooth surfaces underneath (and a perfectly square room). "Removable" is the challenge that's throwing me. Have you looked into real linoleum tile? They're a bit retro, but can look very modern and come in colors. I just don't know about how removable they would be. Another thought is Interface floor tiles. Try googling them. They're relatively inexpensive, easy to install and remove, plus come in a variety of materials.

What do you suggest for a desk chair? I want something that is white or cream, has arms and I can sit in for hours while I waste time on the internet.

Speaking of the Internet, you must check out  Amazing.West Elm has some very chic looking ones that look very comfy.


After killing houseplant after houseplant, I gave up. Now I have a few fakes. I found some nice ones at Merrifield Garden Center in VA. I also mix in clippings from my garden. Just clip, take the bottom leaves off and put in some water. I have ivy in pots on my front porch, so I clip from that. I also have some acuba clippings from my mom's garden. The ivy I usually have to replace every few weeks, but that acuba has lasted for about 4 months now!

Interesting idea. Thanks.

A dishwasher is much more cost-effective than hand washing, even if you don't have a lot of dishes. I'm single, cook a lot, but only fill up about 1 load a week. The machine gets scraped dishes perfectly clean, uses less water (less than 2 quarts per load) and less power than heating water and hand washing. It is a great change for your energy bill and for the environment.

This is true - I have seen research on it and spoken to experts about it. Thanks.

We are looking for 2 or 3 new armchairs for our relatively small living room (11x13). How do we coordinate the colors? Since we're having trouble finding chairs of the right scale for the space (everything is McMansion sized) it is likely we'd buy two of the same. Our walls are painted in Behr Creamy Beige (290-C), we have hardwood floors with a gold rug w/ navy-purple oriental floral. We're keeping a Queen Anne style chair upholstered in a rich yellow. Thanks!

Do you have a sofa in this room yet?  Instead of three arm chairs, how about a small-scale sofa, your Queen Anne chair and another chair?

In selecting art, try playing with colors and textures on your pillows and other room accessories ? As far as the wall goes, create a mirror collection on the wall; this will reflect more light and could even help to showcase some of the accessories!

Yes a beautifully framed mirror is another idea for our chatter who is stuck on choosing art.

For the person looking for design ideas for a colonial: magazines are great (including HB of course!) but also check out websites like Apartment Therapy, which has a bunch of house tours of real people's homes that are often inspirational!

Thank you. Reading design blogs is a great way to get more ideas.

Mr. Turner, I LOVE your magazine! I purchased a townhome about two years ago and have been decorating room-by-room. After I finished the living room, I realized I may have too many shades of tan (tan sofa, tan ottomans). I haven't purchased an area rug yet, should I be bold & buy a bright colored rug to spice it up? I'm not afraid of color, but could use some guidance.

I'm not a decroator, but I've picked up a lot of ideas and tricks overy the many years in this business. You might think of going in one of two directions: a strong, deep color like burnt red or a shade of brown. The other approach might be to stay in the beige palette, but think about texture. Look for something that would contast in texture with all the other beige surfaces. Playing with texture in a monochromatic palette can look very exciting.

What is the maximum and minimum length the TV should be from the sofa? I have a medium-sized TV.

I know that there are recommendations, but I think it's also very personal. When I went shopping for a large TV for  my relatively small living room, I went to Best Buy and literally stood in front of a number of TVs. The idea was to try testing what felt comfortable for me. That's not fool-proof but how I went about it. Oh, and it worked for me!

You'd be surprised at what the big office stores have these days. My wife found a beautiful cream leather chair for about $100!

Good tip. Thanks.

With two of us and a full size dishwasher, we still only run the dishwasher once a week. I give everything a rinse to remove any food that might attract ants. For more serious food, like lasagne, I may give a quick brush with a scouring sponge, but I don't really clean the dishes. Then I let the dishwasher clean any remaining food and disinfect the dishes. If you have a pest problem, push the dishwasher door all the way closed - it has a water seal and that should keep them out. If necessary, you can spray ant spray around the door seal, too!

Thank you!

For a green decor story, you could interview Carter Oosterhouse of HGTV. He hosts and designs on a show specifically with that focus called "Red Hot and Green."

I've seen Carter on TV. I'll check out the show. Thanks!

I'm painting the half-bath on the main floor of my 1930's colonial. The floor is white tile with an occasional dark red pattern, and the walls are white tile about 4-feet up, with a floor-to-ceiling built-in white cabinet in one corner. Would you go dark red for the walls, or dark dark gray? There is plenty of white tile and white paint, so I'm not worried about the room being too dark. Red is more authentic for the house but might be too matchy-matchy. I like gray but wonder if it would look out of place. Bonus question: would you paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, or leave white?

In a tiny space like a half bath, I'd be very careful about contrasting too much with the white half-walls of tile. Depending on the design and extent of the red accent tiles in the floor, maybe you should think about a patterned wallpaper for this little room. It's a great place to have some fun with decorating. Powder rooms are great rooms to take risks with design and color, because you don't have to look at them all the time.

I'd get some sheetgood product, like marmoleum or vinyl, and cut it to fit the room - maybe hold it down with carpet tape.

Interesting idea. Thanks.

I live in a rented house that is very beige, almost buttery. I want to eventualy have a house that is white with fresher colors that have a white base instead of beige. What are some colors that are passable with the beige?

Generally, every generally, look at colors with warmth. Cold, cool or steely colors don't work will with beige, which is a warm color.

Have you considered FLOR tiles? I don't love the idea of carpet in the bathroom, but these are washable,  replaceable and moveable. You could always throw traditional bath mats on top to keep the bathroom feeling more like, well, a bathroom. Plus you could vacuum up any kitty litter pretty easily I'd think.

Another idea.

Wow, that was a lively discussion! The hour flew by. Many thanks to Newell Turner for joining us and for sharing lots of great decorating tips. Don't forget to look for the new House Beautiful issue all about PINK on stands next week. In the meantime, be sure to read today's Local Living pink story. We'll chat with you next week.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius uses her years of experience as a home expert and her network of well-placed sources to help you choose everything from paint type and colors to how to de-shed sofas from pet hair to where to find the best designer fabrics at a discount.

Home Q&A archive
Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
Newell Turner
Newell Turner has been the editor in chief of House Beautiful since April 2010. Earlier in his career, Newell was editor in chief of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens, Palm Beach Cottages & Gardens and Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, and held editorial positions at House & Garden and Metropolitan Home.
Recent Chats
  • Next: