Home Front

Apr 29, 2010

Washington Post Local Living section writer Jura Koncius will be online Thursday, April 29, at 11 a.m. ET to help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss.

Washington designer Annie Elliott has created a large following for her candid views on color in her Web site bossycolor.com and her bossyblog. A hallmark of her design work is incorporating lots of art into her rooms, as she has a background working in museums. In addition to being able to answer any question about paint and color, Annie can dish on grouting, arranging framed prints, renovating a bathroom and about the controversial topic of accent walls! Send in your questions in advance here.

Hey everyone. I've got a great guest today - Annie Elliott who is a terrific interior designer and expert colorist. Her website www.bossycolor.com has lots of great tips. And her blog www.bossyblog.com will give you the strength to rid yourself of white walls. She's got practical advice for everyone and has a very interesting museum background that you should ask her about! I have a beautiful book "At Home With Country" by Christina Strutt (Cico Books; $29.95) that has lovely photos and colors in it that will be the prize for the best question to Annie today. Check back at the end of the chat for the winner's name and they should send their mailing address to localliving@washpost.com. Let's roll.

I'm moving into a rental with hideous chandeliers. I plan to be in the house for a few years, but think given the age of these pieces, I won't be able to replace them. What kind of things can we put over/around them? Any product suggestions would be great, too! Thanks so much.

I don't think you can cover them! Why not just have them removed and cap off the top - if you can't afford to buy new ones, just take these out if you totally hate them and put them up when you vacate the house.

Hello, all! Jura, thanks so much for inviting me to participate in Home Front today. It’s a real pleasure to be here, and I look forward to everyone's questions.

Me too! Thanks for being on.

We're moving into a gorgeous duplex in June and want to carry a buttery/buttermilk yellow throughout most of the place (except master bedroom). Could you recommend a color? I know yellows are difficult. If anyone has a cheap and cheerful person to recommend for painting, I'd also be grateful. I'm not looking for architectural digest quality - moving is so expensive! Thanks!

Oooh - one of my favorite colors. Take a look at Ben Moore's 211 Fresh Air and 212 Happy Valley, and at Valspar's 7003-19 Homestead Resort Whitewash. (Who comes up with these names?)

I know you are not a fan of painting accent walls (I'm not either). However, what do you do when you have a two- story open floor plan townhouse. Kitchen, dining area, living room, loft area (TV room), entry area and stairs all open to each other. Right now all the walls are builder's white. I would like to paint, but I don't know where to start, or stop for that matter. Thanks for your help.

Oh dear - how did I get such an anti-accent wall reputation? Here's a defense-slash-clarification: http://bossycolorblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-askedabout-accent-wall.html


But YOU don't like accent walls - that's the important thing! Start by painting the open space a warm neutral. I love Ben Moore's Natural Wicker and Pale Almond.


And then remember that "accent wall" does not have to = high contrast. If you stay with taupes slightly darker than your neutral - look at Shaker Beige or Putnam Ivory in the HC series - you can paint a wall or 2 adjoining walls without having it scream "accent."


If the dining area has a single wall, consider that for the deeper color. Ditto backsplash area and space above kitchen cabinets if you don't have tile. The staircase wall is another place to consider.


Open floor plans are tough, but hopefully this will help. Good luck!

Hi, We are going to completely gut and redo our master bathroom this fall. I would like to go with a "classic and timeless" tile/stone floor and shower surround. Can you give me a few suggestions on what I should consider? Also, do you recommend the color of the fixtures (bath tub, toilet, sinks) coordinate with the tile or would you just go with white? Thank you.

Oh my goodness, you have three choices for the fixtures: white, white, or white. Please.


For the floor tile, it doesn't get more classic and timeless than grey-veined marble - Carrara or similar. Gorgeous. Then a simple white tile on the walls would be great. I'm tired of 3 x 6, personally - you could use 4 x 4 tiles installed in a staggered way ("running bond" or "broken joint" installation) where the grout lines don't line up. Good luck!

Hi Annie, Love your color blog. My 14-year-old daughter's bedroom is Tiffany blue (actually Verditer Blue, from Sherwin Williams Historic Colors of Charleston). Her furniture is white. We are thinking of using a black and white print for the bedding, and I'm not sure whether we should bring in one more color as an accent. Bright pink? Coral? Your thoughts? The wall color is definitely vibrant!

Sounds fabulous! Your daughter has great taste. Do bring in a shot of warm color, though - coral is edgier than pink.

Help! I am a clutter bug! I know I need to do something but when I look at my room I just don't know what to do. One major problem I have is I'm always taking notes on post its or other scraps of paper, or tearing out a part of an article so I can remember to try a restaurant. These papers are everywhere in my room (and purse and desk). I don't really store them, just put them somewhere visible so I can remember to go back to it when I have time. Any suggestions on how to overcome or manage this habit? (And I tried putting all my notes in small notebook I carry in my purse and it doesn't seem to work.)

I have a friend who is addicted to Post-it Notes and she keeps them on a kitchen cabinet. What she does do is combine the notes on as few Post-its as possible so there aren't dozens around. They make larger versions of the small Post-it that are good for making lists and can still stick on. I think using a notebook to stick these in and carry it around is also good. Do you have a smart phone? You could make notes to yourself in there in one place. What about a bulletin board or a chalkboard for all these random thoughts. You should keep a small file box to fil those ripped out articles on decorating, recipes, travel - make files for each subject and drop the clippings in there. Do you all out there have other ideas. I am asking our producer to post a great article I did today on a very good book on organizing that just came out called "What's a Disorganized Person to Do" by NY professional organizer Stacey Platt. Check it out.

Yet another paint question--I'm redoing my small shower-only bathroom in white and black tiles. Do you have any suggestions for a nice gray for the walls that would look sophisticated but not too dark? The gray I used when I last painted turned out to be too blue, and I'm hoping to avoid that this time. Thanks!

Go with a warm gray - try Ben Moore's Revere Pewter or Edgecomb Gray. They're tried and true - and not a hint of blue in them!

Thanks for doing this chat! I think my family has made some major progress in organizing stuff. The last battle is mail. What's the best way to organize bills and junk mail like credit card offers so it doesn't sit on the kitchen counter for weeks on end before we get around to shredding it?

Buy yourself a small shredder that is kept in close proximity to where you open the mail. Put all those credit card offers right in there immediately so they don't pile up. I have a small wicker basket with three slots in it that I got at the Container Store that I put all my bills in immediately. It's also a good idea to contact the companies that keep sending you offers (I swear we get a United Airlines VISA card offer letter every day!) and ask them to cease and desist! I must do this myself...

Thanks for taking my question! I am trying to select some paint colors for my condo, and decided on a bright green for a den, a gray for the bedroom, and a neutral green for the main living space. I have searched everywhere for specific colors, and saw on the Pantone web site that they now do paint, and found some great colors there. Is there anyway to go to another store and ask them to color match to the Pantone paint? Thanks!

Absolutely. Ben Moore stores match colors very well. (At Monarch Paint in the DC area, or Strosniders).

I would LOVE to hire an organizer, but at the going rate which seems to be $100/hr with a 4-hour minimum, I just can't do it. Any suggestions on how to get organizational help without losing an arm and a leg?

You should be able to find one for less. Go to the National Association of Professional Organizers website. www.napo.net and see what pros we have in our area and what they charge. Even Stacey Platt in NYC only charges $85 an hour!

Just wanted to let everyone know that Annie came to my home for a bossy color consultation and she was great and the colors she recommended for our home are perfect. She also had other decorating suggestions for the whole house which we are going to make. I could have spent the whole day with her. Thanks Annie

Well, thank you! You made my day!

I simply do not know what to do with paper that comes into my house. Items such as bank statements, utility bills and misc. papers just end up in a pile. I want to be neat, but cannot figure out what to do. I just end up with boxes full of papers. Please advise. Thank you!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put all bills in one box or basket or bin. I throw out all the outer envelopes and accompanying stuff inside with the bill immediately. Bank statements should go into a folder, as should utility bills if you even want to keep them after you pay. Most of this stuff is available online now. Have you thought of automatic online bill pay? Also I pay a lot of my cell phone bills, Comcast bill etc on my AMEX card - I get points and it's one less thing to worry about or mail.

I've been reading the arguments for and against colored towels the last few weeks, and the idea that towels need to be bleached because they are unhygenic otherwise keeps coming up. What are you guys DOING with your towels? :-D I use mine after I get out of the shower -- when I've soaped up and rinsed myself (or my face and hands if it's a hand towel.) My towels should be cleaner than my dirty clothes in the hamper, and I don't bleach them. So why are towels so "unhygenic"?

You have a great point here! I don't know if we REALLY want to know what everyone is doing with their towels. But I agree with you - My family is hopefully toweling off on clean bodies...

Hello - I am posting early but hope you can help me choose the paint color for my 5-year-old daughter's bedroom in our new house. She wants pink. I am closing in on Benjamin Moore Candy Strip  -- do you have any other suggestions? My daughter wants bright and bold, but I have convinced her we should go lighter so we can have bold accents. Thank you!!

Hi! Candy Stripe isn't that bad, actually, but it could end up looking lavender-y depending on your light. If you're nervous, you could cut it 50% with white.

With pinks, it can be better to go a little peachy so the room doesn't look too cool. Look at Ben Moore's Pink Swirl or Sun Washed.

As for accents, if you REALLY want your daughter to be hip, do some accents in dark grey or deep olive green!

I think the designer did a great job updating the bathroom. I was especially impressed with the inexpensive materials that he selected. This looks like a great affordable solution for the homeowner.

House calls.

Yippee! So glad you liked it. Thanks for your comments.

Couldn't enter a comment on the link provided for House Calls, so I'll ask here. While I liked the redo, where was the shower curtain (or other splashproofer) and where were the towel rails? These are things the bathroom must have to make it functional, but incorporating them into a design concept is not always easy.

Sorry about the Comment link. We reported your problem and there was indeed something amiss so it has been fixed I have been assured.

Could you suggest some lavenders paint colors? I loved your article on lavenders a few years ago, but no one mentioned any specifically by name. I want to paint my north-facing bedroom a light-medium dusky lavender, with warm gray undertones but not too blue- or mauve-leaning. I have a blank slate in my first house that I'm thinking of painting mostly in calm blues and greens elsewhere (I'm tired of the blah neutrals of my apartment). The trim is white and I'm leaning toward buying dark brown furniture.

Take a look at Ben Moore's Iced Lavender and Spring Iris. I love Violet Pearl and After the Rain, also - used that last one in a DR to great effect - but could look too brown in a room w/ not much light.

Please promise me you'll test swatches on the wall first, ok? Lavenders are notoriously tricky.

HI, I have a very " Pottery Barn" furnished home...heavy darker furniture and accessories. I want to do something totally different in my dining room and go with a sea glass color on the walls and a casual beachy theme. The dinning room is somewhat open to both the living room and kitchen which are both Chestertown Buff HC-9. I have darker burgundy and green oriental rugs in the kithcen and living room. Will the dining room be too much of a design difference if I go this direction?

Next week I'm going to have a terrific article about a family who loves talking about paint and paint colors and whose house has a wonderful color flow in it. You have to consider the colors of adjoining rooms and that they are complementary. If you have some green in the other rooms, why not find a seaglass green sort of color that would flow well from the other rooms. The Buff color should be no problem. What about Behr's Spring Morn or Water Sprout?

A "black and white color scheme creates the illusion of more space?" I never heard that, and it seems to me all of the busyness actually closes in the space. I would have chosen something softer and monochromatic.

Another House Calls comment.

Annie: Love your blog. What color shutters would you recommend for a 1940's peachy-reddish brick Cape Cod home? Prefer BM. Thanks!

Deep blue - fresher than dark green, but just as pretty. Look at Ben Moore's Patriot Blue (warmer) and Blue Suede Shoes (cooler). Good luck!

Good morning ladies, I plan to purchase an ottoman for a small sitting room (about 100 sq. ft). The ottoman will be used primarily as a foot rest and occasionally as a coffee table. Do you think two small ottomans or one large cocktail ottoman would work better? The sofa is about 70 inches.

You could go with two small square/cube ottomans or a medium size oval or a rectangle. It's nice to have trays that fit on top of the ottomans if you want to put drinks on them. I like the look of oval ones myself.

Hi there! I have a new house that was painted entirely in BM Monroe Bisque. I've left it as is all around, but it looks horrible in my den - I have a muted kiwi-colored couch, which does not go with the Monroe Bisque at all! The problem is that I don't know what color will work better. My floors are a medium brown oak. The rest of the furniture in the room is in transition - the couch has dark wood legs, so it will likely be a dark wood. In the past, the couch was in a plain, white room and looked great. I don't want to revert, but nothing seems to look right. Suggestions???...

Yikes! I can see the problem :) What about going the other direction - super dark, dry brown? I love dark cozy dens, and the couch would really pop. I'm talking DARK, like Ben Moore's Clinton Brown or even Whitall Brown. Then make sure your trim is nice and creamy. Promise me you'll think about it!

What's up with today's House Calls feature? Apparently the designer moved the window! It kind of invalidates the whole design, doesn't it? Don't tell me House Calls is succumbing to the same absence of editing as the rest of the paper.


We are going to get new carpet - eventually. For the time being would it be wierd to place a striped runner OVER the existing stair carpet? The carpet has a low nap and the treads are exposed on one side of the stairs half way up the stairs - if that makes sense. Another option would be to rip out the carpet - is it ok for the runner to extend to the full width like the carpet does? (don't want to put in new hardwood where rough wood now is). Thank you!

Hmmm I would not put the runner over the existing carpet. Too wierd. Rip it out and install the runner any way you must to make it work. It will look better and fresher than the alternative.

Good Morning! I like the new Martha Stewart paint colors at Home Depot. I took a sample of Sea Glass and tried it in my kitchen. It looks pretty with my white appliances! I also tried Spring Melt in my living room, which looked very white. Can you suggest another neutral color that will look good with Sea Glass in my living room and stairwells? Is Sea Glass too trendy or beachy?

You might want to try a really light gray - I mentioned Ben Moore's Edgecomb Gray earlier as a warm one. I don't think one color on its own can be too trendy, so don't worry about that -

Hi. Wrote in with this question before and got nice suggestions for furnishing a guest room to encourage my mom to stay more. Now I am onto paint! I have blown up photos from my mom's many trips, color and b and w. The room gets direct eastern morning light. Bedding is a deep turquoise with Kelly green accents. I want the room to evoke restfulness, but be cheery and also remind mom of her trips all over the world. Do I go light and airy blue or green, or pale on all but one jewel-like wall? Thanks!

Or what about very light yellow on all the walls, so the bedding and photographs pop? Behr's Pineapple Fizz or Rich Cream?

Accent wall doesn't sound right to me in here, for some reason. If you can't resist, hang ALL of the photographs on that wall.

I just painted my guest bedroom in Behr's "Silverberry," with warm white trim, and I LOVE it. It's pretty but sophisticated-- not too warm or too cool.

Thanks for the tip!

How timely for me to have an organization expert today in your chat!! Still sifting through the several generational family contents from my mother's home. She died in 2006! UGH! I want to get rid of the remaining stuff -- but I can not just put stuff into the trash. Have saved, given to family members, sold large amount to an estate auction but now I'm at the last dribs & drabs. What can I do with 40 railroad iron spikes & 2 burlap bags of small corks (probably 60 years old)? Do you have resources for how to save newspaper articles, old letters, photos about family members? Hey, at least I sold great grandparents wedding travel ensembles from 1885!!!! Help! I'm just trying to live in 2010.

I know what you mean. I have my mother in laws 1940s wedding dress under my bed! It's a beauty and the veil is awesome but can't figure out what to do with it. You could put some of this stuff on craigslist - you will be surprised how people come to pick up anything, especially if it is free. Some crafters actually use corks in their work and would love to have them. I know what you mean about not being able to throw stuff out - you just would like somebody to use it. I think the railroad spikes would be a hit for someone who does sculpture!  For preserving things, my favorite go-to book is Saving Stuff by Smithsonian conservator Don Williams and Louisa Jaggar - it tells you how to care for collectibles and prize possessions so they will last for many generations.

House Calls!

Hi, I have a sunny yellow house high up on a hill. I want to do a bright color on the door that will have impact from the street but don't want to do anything to crazy because we live in a very conservative area. I would love a deep purple Grey..any suggestions? I use ben Moore paint.

Don't do purple grey, do PURPLE! You're high up on a hill  - your neighbors probably can't even see you :)

In Ben Moore, look at Autumn Purple and Purple Rain (both reddish) and Blackberry Wine (darker, blue-ish). No one could argue w/ Plum Royale, which is almost black. Good luck!

Re: Someone who commented earlier that the House Calls designer had moved the window - an editor just pointed out to me that that they did not move the window - the BEFORE photo is taken from a different angle than the illustration.

Hi, thanks for doing this chat! I'm thinking about painting my bathroom a deep purple - it gets a good amount of natural light and everything else is white. Is this a bad idea? Any BM color suggestions? Thanks!

I love it! Here's a purple bathroom a brave client of mine did recently: http://bossycolorblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/strategic-medicine-cabinets-streamline.html

Please don't go too deep with the purple, even if you get a lot of light. You don't want to feel like you're in a cave at night. Look at Sherwin-Williams' Grape Mist or Ash Violet - both are lovely.

I have small upstairs with two bedrooms, so I need to tie paint colors together. I like blues and greens and would like something summery in both rooms--the words "beach glass" spring to mind. Any suggestions?

So many people are going for a beach glass look. Very interesting. I think Martha Stewart Living's Home Depot paint line has nice colors in that vein - Sea Anemone, Beryl, Salt Glaze and Aegean Blue.

Professional organizer Stacey Platt offers tips for minimizing clutter

Check out my article today on a practical new guide for getting your life back by decluttering and organizing.

You all are into lavenders and purples today! What did everyone have for breakfast?

Howdy! I am recently engaged, and my future hubby has a large all-white house. We don't need a single towel, dish or picture frame. We need paint, tools, and other practical things. Any suggestions on where to register?

Wow! You are lucky. I love the idea of registering for paint. You should register at Ace Hardware, Lowes or Home Depot or Sears. Or you could simply list the paint colors you love from a boutique line like Farrow & Ball. Or could ask for gift cards from these stores. Very practical.

Hi Annie, I'm closing on a condo in a few weeks, and wanted to get the painting in before I move everything. The unit has minimal windows for the square footage and is northeast-facing, so there is not very much natural light most of the time. I have a couple of questions about how I should select colors: -I love purple and blue, and was consiering using light blue-purple shades on the walls. Would this generally help brighten the space? -I also love black and white paired with light shades (my wardrobe demonstrates this), and was considering using white for most of the trim/borders. But then I wondered if I could use black for some of the trim - would this be too dark or too strange? I haven't seen much use of black trim. Thanks!

Now, you KNOW you're not supposed to paint until after you move in, right? :) But I understand why you want to, so I'll help. Just don't tell anyone.

The light blue-purple sounds too cold to me, esp. with small windows and a northern exposure. You could move to a warmer blue on the walls - super light aqua, for example - which would look great w/ black and white accents. Or you could go more neutral on the walls (cream, light taupe) and bring in your color through accents: a purple rug, pillows, etc.

Black trim is a topic all its own. Yes, it's done, but it's a very dramatic look. I'd skip it for now. Good luck!

Yo! I love classic marble but for a busy master bath it is way too slippery, esp. when wet. Banana peel time, and if they put down bath rugs it will kill the clean classic look. Sorry, this one is a non-starter.

I would put down the rugs.

You could take them to a local recycling center and trade them for cash. Or if that's too much trouble, put them on the street with a "for sale" sign and the scavengers will take them away for you...

Those scavengers...

I put all of my mail, catalogs, etc., in a pretty basket on my coffee table. This basket also has checks, pens and stamps. Under the coffee table is a small accordion file for my records. Whenever I'm watching TV, I pull out my basket and accordion file. I open/sort the mail, toss/shred what I don't need, pay any bills (checks, pens and stamps are right there!), and file it all away. I can usually knock out a lot of work during commercial breaks.

Nice system.

I've painted my bedroom 3 different shades of blue in the past 6 years and am still not happy. Currently, it's BM Blue Marguerite which I find too jarring. I'm looking for a sea-glass blue sort of color or a blue-gray (I think). I definitely like color, so I prefer something that is not too pale. The furniture is mahogany. Can you help me find that perfect blue...and maybe help convince my husband that THIS time will be the LAST time he has to tape off the ceiling??

A person after my own heart. We've been in our house for 5 years; the LR has been painted 6 times. It's a miracle we're still married.

Look at Ben Moore's Whispering Spring, which has never failed me: http://bossycolorblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/best-of-bossys-colors-2.html

For a more greenish blue, look at Behr's Delicate Mist.

I know people like to criticize this feature but the window is in the same place - right above the toilet.


My husband's pack-rat tendencies are rubbing off. We've lived in our 2-bdrm rented apartment for over 7 years. Over the years we collected "stuff", and now it's becoming so crowded I can't tolerate anymore. Is there a company in Alexandria that will come inside the home and haul items away, akin to point-and-take away?? Thanks

College Hunks Hauling Junk or 1-800-GOT JUNK. Give either a call now!

I got an ottoman: the top hinges up to hold hanging files inside. Great way to organize without putting a filing cabintet in the middle of the living room.


I went on catalogchoice.org and checked off the companies I wanted to cease and desist!

Love that!

For me, the best system of organizing loose bills, receipts, recipes, etc., is to just have a box for each type and purge or file the contents at the end of the year or twice a year. I have a box for all CC receipts where I store my bags so I can do a quick transfer as needed. I purge the receipts every four months so if I need to return something I know where it is. I also have a box in the kitchen, where I put all bills after I pay them. I stopped sorting them by type because I never looked at them except at the end of the year. And the box list goes on.

It's all about purging. Thanks a lot.

We want to add a relatively large piece of art to our living room wall, and we want to support local artists - but original works are just so expensive. Is it impossible to find art from local artists for a reasonable (less than $500) price without it being tiny? If so, where are these hidden gems? What about local art schools? Do their students sell work?

Good for you for wanting to support local artists. Look at the Corcoran's website to see when their next student show is - that's where you might find something in your price range. Also Art-O-Matic.

You can buy original prints around this price (through galleries), so consider that, also. Paintings can get expensive.

Online, there's also Etsy and Quiver for original art, but I appreciate that online shopping is riskier. You have to be in a flexible frame of mind.

Finally, please remember that 2 medium-sized pieces can be very effective, as can a grouping of smaller pictures. Good luck.

corks can be recycled. google to find who does it nearby. In Richmond, Wholefoods accepts them and donates the money to educational programs.

Wow who knew?

Living.. Cleaning up messy kids, dealing with a husband who wipes a spill with a pristine white towel, reality baby, reality. Towels get dirty.

Life is messy.

I have a cute/tiny 1930's white tile with black accent's bathroom. I found a cool twoile black and white shower curtin but I am in need of some color. The white walls feel to cold but the room is small and I don't want to close it in with color. Any suggestions?

You could leave the walls a glossy white but go for broke with vivid color in your rug, towels and accessories -even toothbrushes! Hot pink, bright blue, chartreuse, yellow, pale blue whatever.

The funny thing is, my WHITE towels have a label that says "Do Not Bleach" !


Just a note about this paint color - I would not call it grey. It's more of a tan with grey tones. It's lovely in my house but might not be what the reader is looking for, based on her specific question.

Got it.

Annie, you and Maria Kallam are my idols!! I have a design business and have had good success with my color consults - lots of happy clients. Yet, I don't feel like I'm an expert. Any thoughts on how I can take my color sense to the next level. Thanks so much for all your great advice and sharing your wisdom!

Thank you so much - you're too kind! It's kind of like that old joke, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!" There's no substitution for experimenting with colors - in your own house, though, not in your paying clients'.

To become a true expert, though, look at the IACC-NA's course offerings and talk to others who have been through the program. (Maria has, and Rachel Perls of Hue). That's where you can become a real color braniac - light waves and all that stuff.

I also remember taking a very good Color Theory class at the Corcoran College of Art & Design. I'm sure other design schools offer something similar.

Thanks for the advice! I know I'm supposed to wait to live there, but right now all the walls are an ugly brown-tan-cream color that I hate, and the little light that does come in just disappears with it. I had contemplated just painting it straight white to address that problem in the short term, but if I'm going through the effort, I may as well try something a little more interesting. I was excited about the purple, but a green-blue could be neat too. Thanks again!


Also check out 20x200.com Starts at $20!

Yes, yes yes! Forgot about that - thank you!

We are tearing out both upstairs bathrooms down to the studs and starting over. Loved your comment about nothing more timeless than Carrera marble floors, because that's exactly what we're doing in the master bath. On the walls, is it better to go with subway tile up to wainscot height, or would beadboard panels (good quality) be fine? I'm torn; love the look of beadboard but tile would be attractive, maybe easier to clean, also. The bathroom is small, only 5' x 10', so we wouldn't be talking about a lot of tile anyway.

Go with tile. Beadboard is pretty - and less expensive, for installation as well as the material itself - but it's a little country. Tile is a little more rock & roll.

We are painting our master bedroom in Farow and Ball's Cooking Apple Green and have mahogany stained furniture. What are some color ideas for curtains and bedding?

That is a really great color and one that designers love as well. They also love Churlish Green, which is indeed a wonderful paint color name! I would say that this green is almost a neutral - it doesn't scream out at you - greens in a similar shade and Provencal yellows would look nice with it. An oatmeal colored natural linen would also be nice for window treatments with that green.

Put them on Craigslist under antiques and call them "railroad collectibles." Some rail fan will snatch them up!

So true.

I'm a single working woman who wants to have her kitchen and two bathrooms completely re-done. What's stopping me is not the expense, but the difficulty of combining a full time job with properly supervising major construction work. Do you know if it's possible to hire a professional to essentially oversee or supervise the contractor to ensure that the job is being down right during the hours when I'm at work?

Excellent question - you're not alone. An excellent contractor is what you need; that's his or her job. This means you will NOT be going with your lowest bid, but you really get what you pay for. Be up front about your concerns when you solicit your bids. You want the contractor who KNOWS what he/she is getting into and happily takes the job anyway.

Good Morning! How often should I repaint the interior walls? And which finish do you think is the best for a bedroom in terms of looks and longevity?

Totally depends how it's holding up; a 5-10 year lifespan is average. If you're me, of course, you paint whenever you get bored :)

I'd go with matte or eggshell in a bedroom, but that's personal preference, not longevity-related.

Love the idea of blue shutters for brick Cape Cod, Should have mentioned that the roof is tannish/brown shingles. Still ok with blue?? Thanks again.


I really want to get a back-splash for my kitchen, but I don't know where to look for tiles. Any recommendations? I live in D.C., but I do have a car.

Ideal Tile on MacArthur Blvd, Tile Shop in Rockville.

Good Morning Ladies! Our 1930s colonial has a small entryway (about 6x6). There are two arched openings - to the living room and dining room. There is also a small radiator on one wall. I have absolutely no idea what to do with this area. So far one lone, ugly mirror is the only decoration! Am planning to have radiator covers made - any ideas for making this a more welcoming space?

Wallpaper! Or paint it a zingy color and hang lots of pictures on the wall. Don't take up space w/ a radiator cover; just paint it metallic bronze and call it a day.

I live in an end-unit townhome with a good amount of natural light and recently had wide plank, maple/cherry finish, wood flooring installed in my standard livingroom/dining room combo. The walls are painted SW's Tamarind which, along with the new flooring and some small red accent pieces, really warms the room a bit, but I want a little more splash. What other trendy, modern colors or patterns would compliment this arrangement?

If Tamarind is an orangey mustardy color like the spice (can't find it in my fan deck, for some reason), try olive green accents and some other clashy greens layered on top - a bunch of accent pillows on a sofa, for example.

Yo Annie! You rock. We dished on two very popular Home Front topics today - paint colors and organizing, so thanks everyone. I award the prize to the person who wrote in about Painting an Open Floor Plan and who brought Annie to task for her distaste of accent walls! That chatter should email their mailing address to localliving@washpost.com to receive their book prize.  Thanks everyone and come back next week when I'll have Alexa Hampton on - the New York designer who is the daughter of legendary decorator  Mark Hampton. Her mom just wrote a terrific book on her late husband for Rizzoli. See you then. Thanks. 

Whew - I'm exhausted! Thank you, Jura, and thanks for the great questions, everyone! Don’t forget that you can write into my blog anytime with your color or design-related questions: www.bossyblog.com. (And you can check out my work at www.bossycolor.com.) Thanks again!

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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.

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Annie Elliott
Annie Elliott's interior design business, bossy color, is now in its seventh year (bossycolor).
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