Erin Paige Pitts on coastal home design | Home Front

Jul 17, 2014

Named one of the Top "20 Young Designers to Watch in 2010" by Traditional Home Magazine, Erin Paige Pitts is the principle of Erin Paige Pitts Interiors. The full service residential design firm specializes in coastal design and homes.

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

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We have a beautiful beach house by Erin Paige Pitts featured in the paper today. And Erin is our guest today. Erin, who lives and works on Gibson Island and recently opened a design studio in Delray Beach, Fla., has lots to share about coastal style as well as decorating in general. So let's begin.

Is the Delray Beach location open? - If not, when will it be complete ?

The Delray Beach office is currently being updated and will be open in September.  I am in Delray every few weeks and accepting projects in Delray starting in September.  Do you have a home there or project you want to discuss?

Ms. Pitts, so glad to have you here. Your story in the Post from a few years ago is my very favorite. I refer to it often. My husband has inherited his childhood home, a beautiful house in a beautiful spot on the bay. It is a perfect time capsule from about 1984 -- mauve cabbage roses, etc. He is resisting any updates, even changing the paint color. How would you suggest I encourage him to update the place? The cost is not the problem -- it's the emotional attachment. What do you do in this situation? Thanks!

Thank you so much for your kind words and remembering my post from a few years ago!  I think baby steps are important in this type of project.  Earning the trust of a client and showing them you are not out to change a house but help them improve it without losing it's character or what makes it special to them is important.  I've had that challenge on many projects.  Usually once you've demonstrated and proven yourself, the client relaxes and allows the process to unfold.  Best of luck! Let me know if I can help you in any way!

How do you feel about a large area rug on top of carpet? Our second floor is wall to wall in a beige. I love area rugs bringing color and pattern into rooms, but we do not want to unearth the hardwood floors right now. So, it's a matter of adding area rugs on carpet. Do you have any thoughts/rules on that?

Hi, I would add flat weave area rugs so you get some pop of color without a thick rug onto of the wall to wall.  If you ever remove the wall to wall you can use them on top of the hardwood.

I would like to know the source for the blue and white starburst-patterned carpet used in a living-room. It was difficult to tell from the photo whether it is a rug or wall-to-wall carpeting. Our home, while not near the water, is done in blues and whites, with nautical touches and a rug in that pattern would work well. Thank you, Sheila

It is an area rug and it is from a company called Company C.

We just bought a home and the walls seem very 90s to me, particularly the dining room which has a chair rail. Any suggestions to update it?

I am not a fan of chair rail as I feel it splits a room in half visually.  I would rather have walls appear taller not shorter.  I would hang draperies as high as possible to make the walls seem higher.  I would add crown molding to give it some definition and a good paint job with an eggshell or pearl finish will jazz it up a bit.

I am in a rental with the standard blinds that I cannot remove but would love to hide with curtains. The problem is the window is huge (200" long) and the blinds go to the top of the wall, so no place for me to put a normal rod anchor. Any solutions? Is there such a thing as hanging curtains from the ceiling? I appreciate the help, thank you!

Yes, there are ceiling brackets available with many rod companies.  You should try Antique Drapery Rod Co.

My front door hardware has tarnished to the point where it is unrecognizable as brass. It's over 20 years old, and was a gleaming polished and lacquered brass when installed . Is there some way to bring this back to its original shine without removing the unit from the door? It's a huge unit and was very expensive and beautiful when installed and I don't want to replace it unless there is no hope of restoring it. Thanks so much for your help!!

Unless it was a forever brass finish, it may not be able to be salvaged.  If you've already tried cleaning it with a good brass cleaner than it is most likely past its usable life and should be replaced.  There are products available with a "forever" finish which shouldn't tarnish.

Not a coastal home design question, but how do I find a good company to design and install a moderately priced home theater, including furniture and furniture placement, in my basement in the DC area? I have not been able to get references from friends. Thank you.

Most interior designers can assist with the furnishings and design of a home theater. The equipment aspect of the theater should be handled by an experienced AV company

I am pretty crafty, creative and resourceful so I am teaching myself how to upholster furniture. Please, could you tell me where I can find in the DMV area used or old Louis XVI chairs which I could re-refinish and reupholster? Of course, I am not seeking true antiques since I am on a tight budget. Any recommendations would be very much appreciated. Many thanks.

I would just search flea markets and thrift shops.  You are likely to come upon some real finds....

I realize this isn't an interior question and a lot comes to preference but my husband and I are torn and would like your pro's/cons. We're rebuilding our deck and have a split level - the deck will walk out about 5 feet off the ground (no lower level walkout). For resale value is it better to have all 1 level deck (7 steps down to grass level), have something at the walk out, then go down a couple steps to another deck or do a all 1 level and walk out into the grass (no steps)? We are planning on selling in the next 3 years so I'd like to get as most for the buck as possible. Does it matter on design as long as it's structurally sound and all stained?

I think all the space on the same level is more usable and would therefore be more attractive to a potential buyer who may use the space differently than you might.

Hard to describe, but here goes. There are two large square openings on the wall beside the fireplace in our condo. The mantel spans both the fireplace and the openings. One of the openings was for a TV (before the days of flat screens). Not sure what the other opening was used for. Any ideas on what I should do with these openings?

Without seeing it, it is a bit hard to say.  I would try to treat the openings like opportunities for artwork or display.  You will need to delicately balance the sides without duplicating them.  Try one large piece of artwork on one side that fills the square and two coordinating smaller pieces of artwork on the other side.  Good luck!

I am ready to turn out 2nd bedroom to a guestroom instead of a reading room it is now. The room is rectangular and about 13x9 but because of the placement of the doors, closet and window the only option is to have something along the 13ft wall. Is it better to do a day bed, something that's a twin xl or a full size and cover part of the window? Do you know anyone who sells a daybed full size? My husband liked a day bed idea for watching t.v. but I feel it's look like having the couch in there. Since only my father in law comes out 3 times a year do I need something he would be more comfortable in (he's 6'3'' and 400 lbs). How do you decide between day bed and bed - the room lately is used more for sleeping for me since I don't sleep through the night anymore (stress) and I don't really care one way or the other.

You need to decide based on how the space will be used most often but then make sure there is a plan for when visitors come.  I like daybeds for infrequent guests and mainly kids.  Adults don't seem comfortable sleeping on daybeds.   So in that case,  I think you need a bed but perhaps one with a head board and foot board that are similar and not too high.  So it mimics a daybed but is actually a bed.

Hello! I have a set of french-style dining chairs that I have been trying to refinish myself (strip/restain/reupholster) and I have run out of steam. Do you have any suggestions for places in the city that could refinish them for not crazy prices (I'm not sure that they are worth investing a huge amount in)? I do have the fabric I want to recover them in already. Thanks for any recommendations!

refinishing is always costly because of the amount of labor involved.  I don't know of any inexpensive re finishers unless you want to give it a try yourself.  It isn't hard, just time consuming. 

A beach house can get pretty messy, with kids and towels. Do you think about that when you're designing? Organizing tips?

Yes, beach houses with kids and any house with kids for that matter can be messy.  Keeping order is something you have to do no matter how well the house is designed however, having purposeful storage is a great way to do it.  Store things you need in beautiful things- ie. towels in pretty baskets, suntan lotion in baskets on shelves.  Have lots of hooks for wet bathing suits and make the kids hang them up (I do!)  A large basket at each door for flip flops (no sandy shoes in the house!)  Hope that helps!

Everything is beautiful but I'm afraid I would never have the budget for some of the items. How can you get such a glamorous look for less? I have a small jersey shore house that needs some work.

My mantra is fewer better things.  If you have a small budget you just need to choose wisely and don't buy a lot of knickknacks.  Also, plan your space, completely and then work logically through purchases as funds allow.  A well planned room can be implemented over time.  Also, there are many affordable options for outdoor rugs and sunbrella covered furniture these days.  Good luck!

You used a lot of white paint in that beach house on the walls. What was your reasoning?

First of all, white reflects the most light.  Especially white with a hint of sheen.  I love the crispness of white walls in a beach house.  

Do you have any tips for guest rooms/organizing for a beach house? We rent our summer cottage out and im always hesitant to leave our best stuff around, too.

If you don't have an owners closet than you should covert a linen closet to one.  If you do and you are just talking about more general items, I would rent only to friends or friends of friends and have a large deposit in case of damage.  If you still want it to feel like your home and not a hotel room...

What are some of your sources for nautical lighting?

There are a lot of great sources.  I buy mainly directly from the manufacturer but as for retail try Circa lighting

I LOVED everything about today's feature - a dream home! I was especially interested in learning more about some of the art/pictures that were featured. Can you share some of your best nautical/sea-themed art sources?

Thanks!  I appreciate that.  I love some of the things from Longstreet Collection and Natural Curorsities

I've seen people use these for oversized books, stacked or on end. You know, like coffee table books and such.

I have never seen this. A great idea.

What are some good alternatives to sisal for summer rugs? And what are sources for them?

There are so many great polypropylene (aka outdoor) rugs available now,  would stick with them  There are even ones that look like sisal but are not.  Almost all the typical retail catalog sources have them such as Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn etc...

Thanks Erin. I appreciate your being on our chat. Next week we will be chatting about organizing.

So glad you are here. Just bought a beach house that will be rented. What furnishing materials should we stay away from? I just bought some "vintage" solid maple chairs and am painting them with chalk paint - should I stay away from the wax and use hard wearing polyurethane for example? What about bedding? Thanks.

I would try to cover all upholstery in Sunbrella fabrics.  I would put glass tops on all tables.  The most durable finish on furniture (polyurethane) would be the best.

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

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Erin Paige Pitts
Named one of the Top "20 Young Designers to Watch in 2010" by Traditional Home Magazine, Erin Paige Pitts is the principle of Erin Paige Pitts Interiors. The full service residential design firm specializes in coastal design and homes.
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