Dara Caponigro, editor in chief of Veranda magazine, joined the weekly chat.

Jun 09, 2011

Dara Caponigro, editor in chief of Veranda magazine, joined Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for their weekly Home Front chat. Together, they gave advice on interior decorating and home improvement.

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Good morning! Dara Caponigro, editor in Chief of Veranda is here to take your questions. Thrilled to have her so let's get going!

After buying our first house, we are painting our first room. Starting with the main bathroom on the second floor of an historic Hill row house. The bathroom was redone previously with classic black and white tile and looks great. Problem is they painted it seafoam green! We are thinking Twilight Blue by Benjamin Moore to punch it up a bit (the bathroom has a huge skylight and gets tons of light). The question is with these colors what color towels/accessories do you recommend? I have only had beige bathrooms until now! Thanks

Go with white. White towels will look great with your black, white and blue color scheme. So fresh and crisp.

I'm hosting a baby shower for a friend later in the summer. It's going to be a brunch, out on our deck (if it's cool enough--if not, we'll flee to the house). Naturally, we'll clean all the furniture, sweep off all the leaves, etc., but is there anything in particular I should to do to make it an inviting place? Not really sure how to decorate a deck...would love to put out pots of flowers, but I live in a forest so there's not a lot of sun for things to grow...thanks much; love the chats.

Good for you for supporting your friend and doing something nice for her. The first thing that comes to mind for a summertime brunch is to come up with a color scheme and theme. Even though it's a deck, treat yourself to some new table cloths and maybe some inexpensive cloth napkins. Buy some blooming plants in pots and put them around the deck - buy them just a few days before the party so they will be in prime flower. Set up a bar for cold drinks on a tray someplace - lemonade, iced tea, sparkling water and lots of cut up lemons and limes.  Also - get some citronella candles to help with the mosquitos! Set aside a table for gifts. Enjoy!

Hi there, I've heard of a service or maybe even a carpenter who will disassemble your sofa when your doorway is too small, then reassemble it in your living room. Do you all know of a service that will do this in DC? Does it wreck the sofa? I'm nervous but running out of options! Thanks.

Yes. A friend had to have the bun feet removed from a sofa before it could fit in - they took them off and reattached them! It's called Furniture Medic. They area franchise. They can give you all the options regarding your sofa and your space. www.furnituremedic.com

The ceiling height in my bedroom is 8 ft. The window frame starts 12 inches from the ceiling. The windows are 60 inches. Where should I hang curtain panels? Just below the ceiling - halfway between the ceiling and the window frame? What size panels should I buy? 84 inches is obviously too short as I don't want them hanging from the frame height. Thanks for your help!

Normally, I would hang the rod 6" or so above the window.  However, since your ceilings are not super high, I would cheat the rod up a couple of inches to create the sense that the room has more height.  The curtains should break the floor about an inch.

Good morning! Can anyone suggest a good furniture repairman in the Anne Arundel County area? I've inherited a loveseat that is broken. I love this piece of furniture and want to get it repaired. The loveseat is currently at my mother's house in AA Cty; I'm in Baltimore. Any suggestions? Thanks, everyone.

I just actually wrote about www.furnituremedic.com - which might work for you. But does anyone know of an Ann Arundel local company?

Ladies, Love your advice! My husband and I just bought a house, and a wall in the dining room is mirrored from waist-height, up. We're not crazy about it, but it's not high on the list of priorities right now. Do you have any suggestions for covering it up or making it look...nicer? I'd prefer not to paint it as we might be able to use the mirrors elsewhere in the house. Thanks!

I assume the room is on the small side and them mirror was hung to make the room appear larger. I would just leave them as is until you take it down - definitely don't paint them.  Once you have your room decorated, the wall of mirrors may not be as bad as you think because they will make your room feel bigger and they  will reflect whatever you have in the space. Think about investing in a really fantastic chandelier and art for the opposite wall. Wallpaper is always a good choice, too.  Live with the mirrors for a while before you decide what to do with them. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for taking my question! I wanted to ask for help in dealing with a pool filter that is probably less than 12 feet outside our family's main living space. I have no idea why they placed their pool filter next to their home, instead of next to the pool, but we hear it constantly. Is there any kind of sound proofing we can do inside or outside of the home to cut down on the noise? It sounds almost like a constantly running fridge. I thought of trees -- but there isn't enough space between houses. I thought some of your readers might have suggestions if they've had a similar problem....

How annoying! I guess the first solution that comes to mind is asking your neighbors if they would mind moving the filter - this really is not the ideal arrangement and it not fair to you. Meanwhile, do those of you with pools have any other ideas?

What are some recommendations on interior design with limited access due to lots of furniture. Unfortunately for room design purposes, I have inherited a few generations of nice furniture, and I would like to keep it, but it makes room look too busy. Plus, it makes it difficult to repaint and carpet, so any decorating decisions should be long term, hopefully. How would you recommend strategizing and thinking of a room with a lot of stuff in it?

First, I would separate the furniture into three groups:  what you really love, what you like enough and then what you could do without.  I understand the desire to want to keep it all but I really do think editing makes you feel freer.  Design a floor plan with your favorite things and then SLOWLY  add things in.  Give away what doesn't work to someone who will really appreciate the gift!  That will make you feel good, too.  There is a story in our May/June issue called Forever Charmed about a man who is antiques dealer.  The house is full but not cluttered.  I think looking at it might help you.  Good luck!

I want to paint all the common areas (family room, living room, great room, hallways, stairwells, etc.) the same color. Could you suggest a beige color and a gray color that I could try?

For gray I would choose Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore. For beige, Sisal by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.

Hi Dara! I loved your former work at Domino. I have a question for you. I have a very large master bedroom (maybe 15 x 23?), with a king size bed and Mitchell Gold's massive 96 inch Keaton couch in the seating area. Walls are Benjamin Moore's "smoke" and the curtains are ivory linen with a camel greek key edging. Upholstered wing bed and couch are camel and wheat. Overall effect is quiet and serene, which I like. I generally don't like any pattern. It still looks like a mostly empty warehouse, and I'm sure a rug will bring it together and make it cozier. (As will more lamps, coffee table etc., which will come once I get the rug decided) I need to spend less than $2000 on the rug. I could get a 12x18 ivory shag rug that will I think make the bed and seating area seem more cohesive. Or, I could buy this 9 x 12 crewel rug from Anthropologie in sand that will bring in a little color, but it will be a small rug in the context of the whole space - a good part of it will be under the bed. What would you recommend? I've seen photos of your home in and love your style.

Hi, thanks so much!  It is hard to tell without seeing photos but I don't think it makes sense to do a smaller rug that will be hidden under the bed.  You could do two smaller rugs, one for the foot of the bed and one for in front of the sofa.  If that wouldn't work, I'd go for the big one.  Hope this is helpful!  

Hi there! I am turning my den in to a playroom for my boys. I was thinking of using either chalkboard paint or chalkboard decals on the wall to add a little fun for them. However, I am worried about re-sale. Has anyone had success painting over chalkboard paint when their children outgrow it? Also, do those vinyl wall designs that have become so popular remove easily without leaving a mess on the wall? Thanks!!

I can't imagine painting over it being a problem, especially after a coat of primer. If you have any concerns, though, then I would stick with the decal option. But, I'll throw this question out there to other chatters: has anyone painted over chalkboard paint?

I would like to hang a group of pictures of some New York scenes my daughters have taken as they were taking photography in high school. We don't have a alot of wall space and the only place I can figure out to hang them is the family room but it's on a wall right next to the couch that has lots of old black and whites over the couch. Is this too many "groupings" in one place?

The way you could make this work is by having all the frames match - like all black, all gold or all silver. Hallways and stairways are other good places to hang groupings of photographs.

Hi, what is the recommendation for area rugs? oval dining room table = oval rug? rectangular coffee table in rectangular room = rectangular rug? thanks!

I would look to the shape of your room as a guide for picking a floor covering, not the furniture.  Hard to offer a specific suggestion without seeing your space, but I would assume your dining room should have either a rectangle or square area rug; definitely not oval.

dara, how were each of the shelter mags you worked for different? I'm especially curious about working at Domino versus Veranda. Were the environments similar?

I've learned something from every magazine I've worked for.  Certainly, Veranda is different than domino, but in lots of ways it is similar:  For one thing, Veranda is a very gracious magazine, we are never snarky and there is a real joy in celebrating design and beautiful things.  When we feature products at Veranda,  we need to want to take them home ourselves .  We never feature things we can't stand behind.  Finally, I see Veranda as inspiration much as domino was.  Lucky for me, some of my favorite people from domino have come to work at Veranda

I recently got a new sewing machine and want to start sewing simple things for the house like curtains and pillows, but am at a loss to find great fabrics at good prices. I've looked at places like Joanna Fabrics and Calico Corners, can you or your readers suggest anything else? Thanks!

You don't say where you live, but there is Discount Fabrics USA in Thurmont, Md. and DeBois Fabrics in Baltimore and Haute of Marshall and Georgetown and The Second Yard in Fairfax. Please tell us more.

My husband is very into design and always says the most neglected part of any home is the ceiling. We currently rent an apartment downtown (we're young and both of our jobs are downtown) but we are beginning to think about buying a home outside the city. Only problem... all of the homes we've perused have horrendously boring ceilings (among other things). Is there a service to spruce them up? Or are ceilings something that kind of have to already be there when you purchase? Thanks!!

If you want to spruce up your ceilings, I would start by just painting them a color other than white (you could also hang wallpaper). Adding crown moulding is another option. If you're looking for something more, you could always add more architectural detail, like coffers, beams, beadboard, etc.

Hi! After almost 15 years of military quarters and rental houses, we've finally purchased our first house. It's a mid-century ranch and we want to make the front facade more appealing. We've lived in the South for the past few years where fun front door colors are very popular. Can you recommend a color for our front door that isn't expected, but isn't too funky? It's a rose colored brick house. I love the black shutters/green door combos I've seen, but it seems tough to get the right green--not too neon, not too pastel. But, I'm not wed to green, either. Thanks for your help!

Good for you. Green is indeed popular as a door color in our area. But with a ranch you could be a bit more adventurous! Instead of a dark green, what about a grass green like Stem Green by Benjamin Moore. You could also go for a mid-century ranch color like teal - Ralph Lauren's Oyster by for example or Behr's Opal Silk.  A good idea is to drive around and look at houses like hours and check out the door colors. 

And if you don't have enough light to keep them back there, consider giving them away as favors. You could decorate with clusters of smaller pots of flowers.

Good ideas. Thanks!

We would like to get our dining room/living room carpets cleaned before my daughters graduation party. I'm trying to find someone that does "green" cleaning because I'm worried about the chemicals they might use on the carpets. We have some health issues in out house and I am afraid there could be side effects. There are a few pet stains so I'm not sure I acn get them out myself using natural products.

I have heard of www.greenchoicecarpet.com but have not tried them personally. Do you guys have cleaners to suggest?

Should not have to run 24 hours a day.


Good morning, I will be purchasing wood blinds for my small sunroom soon and I'd like your recommendation for a color. The room is about 10x10 feet and has 6 windows each measuring about 27x54 inches. The room gets tons of light and has carpet but I plan to replace it with hardwood floors (maybe cinnamon). So, medium or dark wood blinds? The room is decorated with medium gray paint on the walls, a red couch, a dark brown leather ottoman, a black glass tv stand, and glass nesting tables with a black frame. I don't want to wait until I replace the floors because the blinds need to be replaced ASAP and I cannot afford to do the floors now. Thanks.

This is really too hard to say without seeing your room, but my inclination is actually to go with white.

What do you think the biggest trends in magazines are right now? And what do you think about online-only shelter mags?

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I think there is more of a bent toward classicism right now.  That's not to say that modernism is out by any means.  But,  I do think stark modernism is waning.  I, personally love rooms with at least some modern elements, particularly lighting.  

There's a place for all different kinds of media.  As people buy ipads and similar digital devices, they will download their favorite magazines directly so that any magazine is virtually a digital magazine making the "on-line" magazines less differentiated.  The digital version of Veranda, for example, is available through Zinnio and also on The Nook.  

I have mirror door closets and mahogany dressers with a upholstered nailhead high back light green bed. I wanted to paint the bedroom with either a light blue (not necessarily a turquoise color) or a neutral that would go with the furniture. Any suggestions?

Let's see, a light blue that would go with a light green... What about our fave Palladian Blue by Benejamin Moore? Or for a neutral - Fossil by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.

Hello - love your chats. We have settled on Benj. Moore HC-26 (a khaki color) for our master bedroom walls and would appreciate your thoughts on ceiling color. I am leaning towards a soft blue, for a sky-like feel, but haven't been able to find the right blue that is both (a) light enough and (b) coordinates well with the wall color. I'm thinking that other potential options are to paint the ceiling white, or to continue the wall color on the ceiling. What are your suggestions? (If you recommend that we go the blue or white route, specific paint color suggestions would be greatly appreciated!)

I like your idea of a blue ceiling with khaki walls.  Sounds beautiful.  I would encourage you to keep pursuing it until you get the right color combo.  

Don't forget that there are many gorgeous flowering plants that prefer shade! Any garden center can guide you so that you have a beautiful deck all summer.

Yes. That's right !

We have a small, 1950's-era kitchen. I'm thinking about painting the outside of pantry door with chalkboard paint to give the room some personality and fuinction until we can do a reno in a few years. Good idea or cheesy?

Great idea. I just went to a cool kitchen where they had painted created a message board with chalkboard paint and drew a nice fram around it. (See June 30 Local Living for more on this!) Meanwhile I think the back of the pantry door is a great idea!

I have had excellent luck with Mr. Larenas from Wood Work Arts in Clarksville. He worked magic with McGuire chairs and with an antique carved teak piece. Cannot recommend him highly enough. 301-953-9764 Reston reader

thanks for the tip.

what inspires you the most? And what do you think makes you chose a great room to showcase- is it symmetry? Are there always certain things that make you chose something?

That is a hard question!  Because I've worked at  many different decorating magazines with varying points of view, I am really open to a lot of different styles (which makes it hard to decorate for myself!).  In general, I am drawn to rooms that are "intelligent", where I can see that the person pulling them together has a knowledge of the past but is interested in the present and the future as well.  I tend not to like rooms that are gimmicky (i.e. just showcasing a new idea for newness sake).  For Veranda,  a room has to be inviting as well.

My current dining room is red and I have a coffered ceiling that is tortoised on the flat part. My drapes are a dark gold silk. I would like a change. The rest of my house is painted in Ralph Lauren devonshire. (light gold) Would you suggest an off-white, grey, or darker version of devonshire?

Maybe a very light buttery color. What about Dorset Cream by Farrow & Ball?

I've got a brick ranch with white clad windows, a red door, and white shutters. The brick is unpainted, but it is closest in color to Benjamin Moore's Georgian Brick, HC-50. I'd like to change the shutter color, possibly to a gray-ish blue. Any ideas? I am open to other color suggestions. Thanks.

Ozone by Behr is nice.

There are lots of flowering shade-loving plants in pots that would work, especially impatiens. Also consider large green plants that could come indoors eventually as house plants.

Those are good ideas too.

I'm interested in adding a Mexican flair to my kitchen, perhaps with a Mexican tile backsplash. Any thoughts about a good place to find tile and design ideas?

If you do a Google search for "Mexican tile", you'll get lots of hits and images for inspiration. 

Hi! Looking to paint my light maple cabinets, and looking for a creamy white. Not too yellow, but definitely not a stark blue-white. Floors are gunstock oak, counters are a medium brown granite, SS appliances and tin backsplash. Kitchen is not large, what do you think of different colors for upper and lower cabinets? Thanks!

A safe bet would be Benjamin Moore's White Dove.

Hi ladies, I'm on the hunt for outdoor furniture for my small deck (10x12) and am trying to decide between a 5-piece dining set or two lounge chairs. I'm trying to stay under $500, and I've checked the big box stores, costco, pottery barn, jc penney, west elm, etc. I prefer the look of wood, but eucalyptus requires too much maintenance and other woods and synthetic materials made to look like wood are ridiculously expensive, so I'm seriously considering wrought iron because it's less expensive. Do you or any of the chatters have experience with outdoor wrought iron furniture in regards to how well it holds up over the years and if it rusts over time? Thanks.

I have had the same wrought iron furniture for at least a decade. We give it a coat of spray paint every five years or so. If you add fresh cushions to it, it is a very durable investment. Mine has really not rusted.  You can pick up pieces of this stuff at yard sales and estate sales for not a lot of cash.

Didn't they close?

Yikes! You are right. Sorry. It was a wonderful resource.

What do you think the future of Shelter magazines is? Do you think it will all be iPad-only in a matter of 5-10 years?

I think there is a great future for magazines in general.  Our readership is as high as ever.  I do believe magazines that are information-driven make a lot of sense in a digital format. It makes sense to have digital editions of inspiration-driven magazines, too , but  print will continue to play an important role.  I can't tell you how many people come up to me hugging their physical copies of Veranda telling me how much they love the magazine.  There is a lot of power in that physical connection.

Thanks everyone. Dara, your answers were great and thanks for sharing a lot of your ideas about shelter magazines and their future. We are all very interested in that topic. We appreciate your joining us!

Every magazine changes its tone when a new editor in chief come on board. How are you looking to evolve Veranda, and what kind of homes can we anticipate seeing in the future?

Veranda has a wonderfully gracious tone and showcases homes that are both beautiful  AND livable. That will continue to stay the same.  I've injected more color into the magazine while making sure there is always a good mix of styles that underline the sense of livable luxury that Veranda is known for.  If you look at our new May/June issue, you will see the kind of mix I'm talking about.  We've added  a lot more product, making Veranda more shopable and we've added more news-related features that are timely and relevant like our Personal Luxuries column which is one of my favorites.  Thanks so much!  Signing off.

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.
Dara Caponigro
Dara Caponigro became editor-in-chief of Veranda in April 2010, bringing with her more than 20 years of editing experience from tenures at Domino, Elle Décor and House Beautiful. At the helm of Veranda, she directs signature coverage of the world's most beautiful interiors while enriching the magazine's scope: exciting new designers, undiscovered, innovative sources, and more ideas for refined living. Caponigro divides her time between the Veranda offices in New York and Atlanta, where the magazine was founded in 1987.
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