Home Front: Design ideas from Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza

Sep 02, 2010

Washington Post Local Living section writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss.

Maybe hurricane prep should be a topic of today's chat... Terri and I are here to talk about whatever you want to dish about. Let's get going.

Is it outdated to have each room in your home a different color (colors that coordinate with each other)?

No not really. Just hopefully the rooms will pick up colors in the preceding rooms in things like pillows, rugs or fabrics to give it a bit of a flow.

One more question, please. What is your take on the Obama Oval Office makeover? Personally, I love it. It reflects his personality, which is warm and caring, comfortable with himself, accepting of diversity (my take)!

Yes. You are right. I think it does reflect the personality of President Obama, or as much as we know of it. The neutral colors don't bother me as much as the fact that there aren't as many American antiques in it that reflect our history. The White House has so many amazing pieces in it. I agree with a lot of the negative buzz out there about the sofas - personally, I think they are too casual.

I have decided to move beyond my dorm-like blinds and get all new window treatments. Should I buy drapes from a place like Anthropologie or do you have favorite fabric shops? How involved is it to make drapes? I have old-fashioned windows that are about 5 feet tall. Thanks!

I applaude your decision to upgrade your blinds!  However, Im not sure I would recommend Anthropologie as the best source for curtain panels. I don't think any of their panels are lined, which I suggest you consider because it helps the panels look fuller, drape better and insulate the house better. Did you think about Anthro because you like their bohemian style?  because if that's not the case, you can find really nice, plain, lined cotton and linen panels at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware (PB is less expensive). Not sure what your budget is, but having custom curtain panels can be very expensive.

When we were on vacation, my dear cat Gus knocked over an orchid plant and a trickle of water must have stayed on my Biedermeier-style burled console table for days. It left a white water mark on it. What do you think is the best way to remove it? Do I need to have the top professionally refinished?

You are entertaining suggestions to update House Calls, one of the most popular features in Home and now Local Living. Inspired by a comment in the weekly chat to provide both a high end designer solution and an economical copycat, I researched and sourced what I call the "(Mostly) Ikea Home Office" (with help from homedecorators, overstock, amazon et al, along with a little diy). Thinking the owners might be interested in some of these finds I was going to post them in the comments section of House Calls. It seems that the comments section closes on the Thursday that the particular room redo appears (I tried on Friday). No matter, it was a fun exercise. Do you think leaving the comments open for an extended period of time would be beneficial? I'll bet there are plenty of readers who know of cheap copycats (and could provide the links), like the chatter who mentioned the Chloe side table last week. You could list them in a sidebar to the followiing week's House Calls and link them to the appropriate room redo on the website.

Thanks for your suggestion. I will pass it along to our editor and keep it along with all the other great ideas you guys keep coming up with. Thanks for sharing and keep them coming. We love hearing your thoughts and opinions.

I'm moving to a new rental which has a long hallway lined with floor to ceiling mirror panels about 6 ft long on one side. I can't put anything in front of them since that would narrow the width of the hallway. What can I use to mask at least some of them. Currently it's very ballet studio like and that's not my aesthetic. Thanks!

First a question: are both sides of the hallway mirrored?  Or just one wall?

Hi there. I have a nice coffee table I got from Crate and Barrel a few years ago. It's a fairly dark brown, simple design. My lovely boyfriend ordered a pizza when I wasn't home (you see where this is going) and put it on my coffee table, where the heat and steam discolored the wood. It's not terrible, I can probably live with it (not sure about the boyfriend), but is there anything you can recommend?

Yuck. This is similar to the question about the watermark I just posted. Hot plates and hot mugs do a lot of damage to our tabletops. That's why putting glass tops on frequently used tables is a good idea. Even the White House has glass on the top of historic tables in the Green, Red and Blue Rooms. I just pulled out a new book Handy Household Hints from Heloise ($17.99/Rodale Books)  Here is Heloise's solution for removing heat marks from a table: Mix equal parts baking soda and white toothpaste and apply to the area in a circular motion, using a cloth, sponge or even your finger. Continue until its gone and wipe off with a slightly damp cloth.  Buff. Then use furniture polish to restore the shine.

Hi ladies. Thanks for the great chats! I just bought a new chair for my nursery and I want to get it reupholstered. Any suggestions in the Northern VA/DC area for companies that do this well and for not too much $$? Is it crazy to think I could get a chair done for around $100? Thanks!

Hate to break it to you, but the answer is: yes. It is crazy to think you can get a chair reupholstered for $100.  Sorry. According to Edward at Yi's Upholstery in Rockville (www.yisinterior.com), to have a fully upholstered chair recovered you can expect to pay about $400. And that price does NOT include any frame work, spring work or new cushions, if any of those things are needed. It also doesn't include the cost of the new fabric. 

Yes, you're right. I like the whimsical prints of Anthro. I have pretty simple sofas, so I wanted the drapes to add a little snap to the room. If I could find comparable patterns, then PB would be perfect. But I think custom panels for all the windows (It's 4 per window area) would be too expensive. Thanks!

Maybe you could buy the panels from Anthropologie, then sew lining in yourself? Im sure a dry cleaners could do it for you, too.

I recently moved into a new house and the master bathroom is soo small -- just a stall shower, pedestal sink and toilet. I'm desperate for some counter space so I'd like to find a small sink that also allows for counter space (and maybe a cabinet below). It has to be 24 inches or less. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much!

I have a very small bathroom and used the Corner Minette sink by American Standard. This has no counter space on it at all. But it was the smallest sink that my plumber knew of. If you used something this small, perhaps you could fit in a small cabinet on wheels  such as the ones they sell at Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn. Otherwise check out the Kohler website - they have some very nice small sinks.

My fiance moved in with me last weekend (yay!) but our now-shared apartment is very cluttered (fiance is a packrat, I throw it all away with glee), with a mishmash of styles (I'm more bohemian, he's more traditional). How can we put together a home that both of us will enjoy?

Congratulations on making the move in together. I would suggest you take some time this weekend to walk through each room with your fiance and discuss the look you want for the room and how you will use it. A home should be a combination of the people who live there so you'll both have to be a bit flexible. I think Boho and traditional style can work well together - or you can have a traditional living room and a Boho den or something like that. Make a plan on how your things can be best combined and then make a list of things that you might need to buy in the future to pull it together.

Only one side is mirrored.

Oh, then this is easy. You can hang art or a series of frames prints or photographs. Can you paint? A better idea: get some of that peel-able wallpaper (which is supposed to easy to hang and easy to remove  - just peel it off). Hanging a fun, patterened wallpaper would make the mirrors almost disappear because they will reflect the paper look like another wall.

Ballard Designs, a different kind of catalogue

If ever there were a place for a washable slipcover...

I agree. I have a swivel/rocker with a white slipcover in my daughter's nursery and I love it. One of the best decisions I made.

We are thinking about hosting an open house to celebrate my MIL's 70th birthday. I would like to protect my new dining room chair seats with nice looking slipcovers--seat only. Can you recommend a manufacturer? I can only find the full chair slipcovers. I like the wood of the chairs and want to keep them exposed. Thanks!

Ballard Designs website has some chair cushions you can tie on to your current chairs. Terri wrote a great article on Ballard that our produceris going to post for you. Ikea has some of these too.

Try mayo on it or if you don't have mayo deli mustard. It may require a couple of applications.

Oh fantastic. Thank you! I'm going to try it tonight.

How do I furnish a room with a deep bay window? I have a 9 ft wide bay window (6 feet deep) that I just can't get right. I put a sofa there and it seemed to plain. I put two chairs and it was too cramped. I put one chair and a bench and it looked too boring. I can't be the only one out there wondering how to take advantage of what should be a great asset in a room. Ideas?

Puttind two chairs with a table in between seemed cramped in front of a 9-foot window? Tell me why it looked or felt cramped?  Were the chairs you tried there oversized?

Jura and Terri... what are you all doing over the long weekend? I am headed to the <a href="http://www.baltimoresummerantiques.com/Default_Main.asp">Baltimore Summer Antiques Show</a> with two DC bloggers, <a href="http://www.architectdesign.blogspot.com/">Architect Design</a> and <a href="http://janetblyberg.blogspot.com/">JCB</a>. It's the 30th year for this show, and even if I don't buy anything, it will be a great education! Have a great weekend! Meg@<a href="http://www.pigtown-design.blogspot.com/">Pigtown*Design</a>

Yes. The Baltimore Antiques Show is always a great place to spend a few hours looking at gorgeous things. Enjoy. I will be celebrating a few special occasions in town and motoring to New Jersey for a 90th birthday party, IF Earl doesn't get in the way.

Herndon Upholstery shop does a great job in No Va. You do not want to go cheap; you get what you pay for. I did it once and lived to regret it. They are in the old town part of Herndon next to Jimmy's Bar.

Thank you.

I would like to repaint the vanity in my kids' bathroom black. Any suggstions for a good color of black paint? Also, I assume if I lightly sand, prime and paint, the vanity should be fine, but is there anything else I should be doing? Thanks!

Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball is a popular color. I like Behr's Black Suede too. And yes, sounds like you are doing the right prep!

It's been a while since I've looked, but I think you can buy separate curtain liners from Country Curtains. They might be available only for certain panel styles.

Funny I was just checking their website for chair slipcovers/pads.

You can find 24" cabinets at the home stores. You can also get prefab sinks/counters to fit, or you could find a really small sink (like, the size of a dental spit sink) and fit it into a custom-cut countertop. You only need enough room to wash your face and brush your teeth, after all--you're not washing pots and pans.

Hopefully not.

If you like anthropologie's curtains, you might like some of the panels at World Market, too. They're probably not lined either, but they're a lot less expensive.

So true.

I have seen designer rooms where they leave the doors of the china cabinet in the dining room open. Is there a way to do this or style this so it doesn't look like someone just didn't shut the doors? Also - pls recommend a pale icy blue paint to go on walls in a bathroom that has black and white tiles and white fixtures. Thanks

Are the designer rooms you are referring to ones you've seen in magazines?  Because I assume having the doors proped open was done for the photograph only. If you really want this open shelving look in the dining room, I would simply take the doors off of your cabinet if  it's an easy option. 

A good bathroom blue is Hinting Blue by Sherwin Williams.  Oxygen by C2 is also nice.

We found a small vanity at Home Depot. It is definitely 24 inch or less and there are three different colors you can choose from. It comes with countertop/sink. Only drawback is no overflow hole in the sink but for the price we paid for it we decided that we can live with it.

Good to know. Thanks.

Back in the days when many people smoked, we would mix a little cigarette ash and butter (or, better, mayonaisse) to make a very fine paste to rub on the stain with a soft cloth. It worked like magic. If you don't smoke, maybe burning a piece of paper to make some ash would work. I don't think this remedy needs tobacco ash specifically, but the ash should be very fine ash (not gritty).

Great idea. Anyone got a cigarette?

give Ikea a try.

They always have fun stuff. Right.

Hello, our home office is currently dark and uninviting. We have two dark chocolate brown leather chairs, and ebony desk and TV stand. The area rug is dark, too but we're going to remove that. What rug and paint colors would coordinate with all of this dark brown and brighten the place up? I

Your furniture is so neutral that just about any color you choose would probably look great. Would you ever consider painting the desk and TV stand? That's another option for birghtening up the space.

Hi, I'm looking to pull up the hideous 1970s blue carpet that's currently on our front staircase which will expose the nice hardwoods underneath. I'm thinking that we might want a runner to put down the center of the stairs but I'm not sure where to find one. I'm looking for something in the deep red color family I think, and it seems like it needs to be about 120" or so long. We're in Springfield and looking to not spend a ton of money on this, any suggestions?

A carpet store can make a runner for you from any wall-to-wall carpet they carry.

Is there a way you could hang some type of drapery over the mirrors to minimize them and create almost a window treatment by framing them? Or what about applying decals and create a wallpaper?

more ideas...

I would like to add tiled backsplash to our kitchen, Currently there is a 4 inch granite backsplash. Should I remove the granite backsplash first before tiling? I am going for a more modern clean look.

Yes most definitely you should remove it.

Right now in our living room, we have a dark brown leather sofa and two leather recliners. I would like to soften the look a little bit (make it less masculine) and replace the recliners with a loveseat. What type of fabric and color do you recommend for a loveseat that would match? Or will any different type of sofa look completely mismatched?

Have you considered having slipcovers made for your chairs rather than replacing them?  Not sure what the cost would be, but I think it's worth looking into.

Don't do it unless you're really skinny and/or the hallway is wide and/or you never carry anything into the hallway. You're going to bump into the "drapes" at some point, and something will catch, and you'll have--at best--a mess. Better to put on something like pictures or wallpaper that won't catch stuff.

I agree. I don't like this idea. I hope the renter goes with a really fun wallpaper and sends us a picture when it's up.

I had two zebra-patterend armless chairs from overstock, not particulalry oversized. The table really cut the bay window area off from the living room, but not in a good, private nook way. It looked cluttered. Would it be better to go asymmetrical with some type of chaise???

I'm still confused by this. I think it's just too difficult to advise without seeing a photo.  Maybe you should send your room into House Calls?

I love your chats! We need to repaint our smallish family room, which gets a lot of natural light. It's currently BM Grant Beige, and the natural light makes the room look yellowy and washed out. Our furniture is warmer colors -- beige and brown, mostly. Any suggestions on a color (preferably BM)? I was thinking about doing a taupe or light brown on the walls, and then adding color through accents. Maybe BM Baja Dunes or Pismo Dunes or Litchfield Gray? Bad idea with the warmer colored furniture? Need to get brave and add color? Thanks!!!

I love Benjamin Moore's Historic Colors myself.  I do like Litchfield Gray if you want to keep it neutral. Or what about Arizona Tan or Wheatfield?

I'm looking to paint the handrail and balusters of my steps this fall. We live in a 2-story brick colonial with the stairwell at the front entrance. Currently the balusters and handrails are stained but I want to paint the balusters white and the handrail black. Do you have a recommendation of a black paint? I prefer Benjamin Moore paints. Thanks for this great discussion!!

Good old BLACK by Benjamin Moore!

We plan to move the recliners to another room, and would really prefer a loveseat.

Again, hard to say without seeing your space and what else you have in the room, but I would pick a loveseat that had lines similar to your couch and either go with a neutral fabric and bring in color with a rug, pillows and other accessories or go with a solid color fabric and bring in patterns with accessories.

There are some small vanities that have a ledge that extends over the toilet (if it happens to be next to the sink) to give some extra space. Of course, you have to make sure you can get the top off the toilet in case you need to do repairs.

Yes. You are right.

I'm so glad for all the ideas. I watered a plant in my office and it overflowed out of the bottom drip tray. I didn't even notice until I came back to work the next day. I've been worried our office manager will see the mark and pitch a fit. Must remember mayo tomorrow.

I hope Hellman's LITE mayo will work. Wonder if it has to be high test. Actually maybe it does!

This is a LOT! of work. The sanding and prep will take hours and hours and hours, and the painting will take even longer. Trust my painful experience and be absolutely sure you want this before you start.

That is a very good point. Because once you paint them, it is really really really hard to go back too.

Try walnuts! This really works. Just get some English walnut halves and sort of grind them into the watermark. Press really hard until all of the oil comes out. Works miracles.

Wow. Will get some walnuts along with my full strength Hellman's on the way home.

Have a great Labor Day weekend and stay safe from Earl. Bring your outdoor furniture and plants in.

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.

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Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
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