Tyler Whitmore on home staging and interior design | Home Front

Aug 28, 2014

After growing up in a family of designers, builders and artists, and a veteran of home renovations and remodeling, Tyler Whitmore founded Tyler Whitmore Interiors and Ta-Da! Homes. She brings years of experience and skills in graphic design, theatre production and creative direction to her work. After graduating from The George Washington University with a degree in fine arts, Tyler managed her own design studio, served as the executive director of Chronicle Type & Design and more.

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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Home stager Tyler Whitmore has owned Ta-da! Homes since 2008. She is based in Bethesda and has staged homes all over the area. She has great ideas for how to make your home look better, whether you are selling your place or not. Here we go.

Good morning. So happy to be part of the chat. Thanks.

We are just beginning the design phase of a much needed kitchen renovation. I want white cabinets and counters with the look of marble but not the bother. Is there an indestructible (or nearly) material that has the look of Carrera marble without the fuss? I'm no trying to fool anyone; I just really like the clean simplicity with the interest of the veining. Any other don't forget tips for this first timer? Many thanks.

I just happen to be working on kitchen that fits your description. Quartz is the way to go. Comes in a finish that resembles carrara marble. Easy maintenance. Measure, measure, measure. Nothing worse than having cabinets delivered and finding something does not fit on the day of installation.

Good Morning! Hoping to get some input on the quality/comfort of furniture available through the Ballard Designs catalog. I love the look of their Brooke dining chair paired with a farm table in my little vacation cottage. I've looked locally an cannot find anything to compare. Thanks so much.

Can anyone speak to Ballard Designs and their products and customer service? I know they have been around for a long time and I've ordered lots of accessories from them, but never furniture. They have a new stylish collection each year of fresh merchandise.

I really want to renovate my kitchen -- this includes adding hardwood floors. Do we need to remove all cabinets, replace the floor, then reinstall? I'm trying to figure out how one would replace, say, the dishwasher or range if the "lip" of the floor is higher than the appliance? I'm guessing this sounds kind of lame.... ;-)

No question is lame in my book. If you are hiring someone to do the work, they should know what is the best course of action. Most likely, you will need to remove cabinets. The level of the floor should be an important detail to review.

I cannot decide on a back splash for my kitchen; all the tiles seem to look outdated as soon as they come out. So, I've decided to paint my backsplash black in my all white (cabinets and counters) kitchen. The counters are white quartz which is pretty shiny, so what kind of paint should I do: glossy or more matte?

Very bold. Love it. And if it doesn't work…hey, it's just paint. I would go with an eggshell or semi-gloss finish. Easier to clean. You can get a sample of finishes--similar to paint chips--at your local paint store. 

Hello - I'm struggling with the right size for bedside lamps. I have a large bedroom with a king-size bed and headboard about 55". Is there a rule of thumb for lamp size? I'd like to do lamps rather than sconces on the wall. Thanks!

What also is coming into play here is the height of your nightstands. If you read in bed, you may want to ensure you are getting good task lighting. That may help determine the height.


I'm selling my parents' 40-year old house and it's empty. I've added a few vignettes to warm up it up; books on shelves, a few pictures on walls, new towels in ktichen and baths, but no offers. It's spotlessly clean, new paint and carpet throughout.

You may get more traffic if the photos that are posted online are more inviting. Maybe you need more furniture, art and accessories. Also, furniture gives scale to a room. That helps when people are looking at a bedroom, for example, and know their king bed will fit.

I inherited a vintage glider (fab!) and am cleaning it up/repainting it. The cushions are disgusting. I see several online sources but anyone aware of local places that would make custom, quality, outdoor cushions? (I live in MD but close to DC and NOVA too) The original seat cushion is almost mattress-like as there are springs! The filler and materials are dry rotted, otherwise I'd even try to cover that. THANKS!

I, and many of my clients, have used J&C Interiors in Gaithersburg for years. June is wonderful and does a fantastic job of reupholstering, drapery, pillows. I highly recommend them.

So glad Home Front is back! I painted a room a few weeks ago and have about 1/5 of a gallon of paint left. What’s the best way to store what’s left so I have it when touch-ups are needed? Should put plastic wrap over the surface inside the can (with a note on top reminding me NOT to shake the can)? Should I decant it into a Mason jar? Or …?

Thanks! This is a great question as I have a huge plastic container in my basement holding about 12 gallons of paint that is half used and probably now dried up. I did a little online searching and found this great blog Goodbye, House!; Hello, Home!


- where a mess of paint cans was organized beautifully into paint filled Mason jars that are now labeled and so attractive to look at. If you are storing paint in gallons, some experts suggest putting a piece of clear plastic wrap over paint before you put the top on, and then gently tapping it with a rubber mallet to make sure it's closed tightly.  Always store in a cool, dry place.

How has your oldest brother influenced you in following this career path?

This question could only be asked by my silly brother, Hap. He has been a constant supporter in all of my creative endeavors. And there have been many over the years….all leading to where I am today. Thanks big brother. 

I'm looking for a nice chair for our home office. My husband works from home at least once a week, so it does need to be comfortable for working at the computer for a full day, but everything I find that's "ergonomic" etc is a hulking black behemoth. We use a front room (decorated in yellow/gray scheme) as the office, so I'd like something a little more décor-friendly. Thanks so much for your help!

Chairs can be tricky. You really need to shop around and sit in them. Maybe an occasional chair with a combination wood and upholstery.

Short of wall to wall, which I do not want, what is the best way to use carpet in a master bedroom. I'm going for a comfortable look. I have a queen size bed and the room is 11 x 17. The walls will be medium blue and I'm not looking for a carpet that "pops" too much.

I would consider a carpet remnant that is bound or edged with a border. You can specify a size that fits best in the room.

I am considering a campaign style end table for our family room. I love the brass accents and the storage that it provides. We want to replace our coffee table as well but are having trouble finding something to go with the campaign style. Any suggestions?

Have you checked out Arhaus Furniture?

Help! My 12-year old son's is very furniture heavy - not the haven you described a bedroom should be! Between the bed, dresser, desk, bookshelf and nightstand, there is little perimeter space. The closet is small, but underutilized. Would shelving in there be an answer to possibly replace the dresser? Any other suggestions are most welcome for creating a comforting near-teen space.

If you have a good space plan for the closet, you could probably remove the dresser. I think it's worth the investment to have closets designed and installed by Container Store. Wait for the Elfa sale.

quick question - my new bathroom remodel features a gorgeous, refinished antique clawfoot cast iron tub. what's the best way to clean/disinfect it without damaging the surface? thanks!

I just had a claw foot tub restored for a client. Charlie at Porcelite in Beltsville did a fantastic job. Do not use anything with bleach. I would use a mild solution of white vinegar and warm water, apply it with a sponge and let sit for 5 minutes. If you add a bit of baking soda, the bubbling action will help with deposits. Rinse with warm water.

I have a very small den and am trying to figure out where to put a new TV. Should we mount it on the wall, or get a stand?

I would probably mount it on the wall over a console. Allows you to use the console for other items. Small rooms require multi-function furniture. Ottomans that have storage, etc.


I've heard that one should remove "personal" items when staging a house for sale. Does that mean ALL family pictures, etc? We keep ours in bedrooms, not living room, and I think a house looks a bit cold without some reminder that real people live there. We're not talking clutter here, just a few pix of kids, weddings, etc.

This is one of the toughest jobs for homeowners--depersonalizing their home. I tell clients to remove all family photos, anything of a religious nature or very taste specific items. It may look cold to you, but to a potential buyer, you want them to come in and say "I could live here." If they see family photos, it makes them feel like they are on a house tour and not looking at their future new home.

I have been seeing C-tables, little pull-up accent tables that take the place of TV trays, on home decorating websites. Where do they go when not in use? Do they get in the way of end tables or do they replace end tables? How do I get some that do not look cheap?

Most C-tables do not stack or nest. So unless you have space to store them when not in use, I would use them in place of end tables. Have you tried looking at West Elm, Room and Boaard, CB2?

I have a 27-inch flat-screen TV for my 11 x 14 foot living room. My question - is this too small? A supplemental question would be, what would be too large? I think the TV is a little bit too small for the space, although I'm not sure it's worth it to upgrade.

There is a mathematical equation for figuring out the best viewing distance. Amazon.com guides can help determine the right screen size and distance for you. The other thing to consider is…when you are watching TV, do you feel like the screen is too small? If so, it probably is.

We are condo/home shopping and it seems every place we look at has new white carpeting everywhere. Whose idea is this? Having to remove carpeting and have floors refinished is just another expense (after we get rid of the SS appliances and granite). My husband and must be outliers because we prefer to see totally empty residences.

I'm with you. Refinishing floors is a better option than carpeting….unless there is no saving the floor or condo rules for percentage of flooring that needs to be covered. 

For staging purposes, do all walls need to be off white? Or is some color ok?

Some color OK….I would stick with muted tones.

Recently our furniture, which had been in storage for 4 years, was delivered to our home. A few of the larger pieces (4 poster be, dining room table and china closet) were damaged in the delivery. The furniture is solid mahogany, no veneers.Could you recommend furniture repair companies? We live in the Village of Chevy Chase but would be open to suggestions from the DC/MD/VA area. Thank you for your time, Marianne Pappalardo

Harry Johnson Furniture Repair in old town Gaithersburg. Expensive…but well worth it.

Tyler has a lot of super information today. I'm going to read this chat closely after we're done here. Have a great Labor Day Weekend everybody. Here's my story today on six tips from home stagers meant for those who are not even planning to sell their homes.

Thanks so much. Some great questions. Wish I could have gotten to all of them. 

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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Tyler Whitmore
After growing up in a family of designers, builders and artists, and a veteran of home renovations and remodeling, Tyler Whitmore founded Tyler Whitmore Interiors and Ta-Da! Homes. She brings years of experience and skills in graphic design, theatre production and creative direction to her work. After graduating from The George Washington University with a degree in fine arts, Tyler managed her own design studio, served as the executive director of Chronicle Type & Design and more.
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