Zoe Feldman, who owns her own interior design firm in the district, joined the weekly chat.

Oct 06, 2011

Zoe Feldman, who owns her own interior design firm in the district, joined Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for their weekly Home Front chat. Together, they give advice on home improvement, cleaning appliances and stain removal.

Home Front Live Q&A archive Older Home Front Live Q&As

Hi, everyone. DC designer Zoe Feldman is here with us today to answer all of your pressing decorating questions, so let's get started.

Good Morning Ladies! whatever became of your occasional craft column in Local Living that was written by Post executive Tom Wilkinson's daughter Kelly, who is a professional crafter out West?

She just wrote a book.  Check it out.

Thanks for taking my question! I'm looking for a rug for a nursery. The rug that's in the room now is 5x8, but I think a slightly larger rug would look better. The room could handle up to a 7 x 9. . .but it seems like at all the usual suspects (Pottery Barn, Ikea, Crate and Barrel) rug sizes go from 5 x 8 to 8 x 10. Any ideas where I could find a good quality 7 x 9 rug?

You probably will need to have a rug custom cut/made. A good place to start is with the remnant pile at a local rug store that has good quality carpeting. Carpet Palace and Georgetown Carpet come to mind. Anyone else?


I always read about people having furniture painted by auto-body shops . . . does anyone know where to have that done in the DC area?

Great question.  Terri and I don't know of any. Do you guys?

Funny you should highlight navy today. It's the color of my LR drapes, and I have been trying to find navy slipcovers for my chairs, which have some serious cat damage on their backs. I've looked at the SureFit website and tried a Google search. So far I've had no luck. Do you know of any sources? Preferably in Northern Virginia.

I don't have a source for pre-made slipcovers, but you might want to consider having some made. It will be a little more expensive, but you can choose the exact fabric you want and the slips will fit the chairs perfectly, so the look will be more tailored. 

My husband and I are moving from a tiny one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom single family home in two weeks (hurray!). I've been waiting for literally years to get a nice set of living room furniture to replace the once-servicable Salvation Army hand-me-downs I have, we're in dire need of a dining room table that will actually fill the dining room, and we'd love to finally get some big enough dressers/chests of drawers. Plus we have a nursery to furnish. In other words, we have a ton of furniture we could be buying. We know what our style is and we know we like quality (my husband used to be a woodworker's apprentice). Unfortunately we also have a budget. Besides trolling craigslist, which we're already doing, how do we find that balance between wanting nice stuff that will last and suit our tastes and not breaking the bank? What are acceptable compromises and where should we be willing to pay more?

First, I would say the best place to "spurge" is on larger upholstery like sofas and arm chairs.  A good frame will last a lifetime and can be reupholstered at a portion of the cost of the original every 8-10 years as your taste changes and/or the upholstery tires


I have a king size bed and I use king size bed coverings and king size pillows, but lately I cannot find king size pillow shams. Only standard or European (?). Is this a new trend?. When ever I purchased king size bedding I could always get a king sham. Not lately. Any suggestions?

I've heard many stores are reducing inventories due to the recession. They just don't want to stock as many sizes in everything like they used to. I would imagine king shams are not huge sellers and that may be whey they are disappearing off store shelves. Keep checking online and inquiring whether the manufacturer does offer this size or whethery you can custom order it. You could also buy an extra flat sheet and have them sewn. 

Is there such a thing as a Roman shade with two layers? One layer that is a bit translucent for day – a little privacy but still lets in light – and another that will darken the room at night and add some winter insulation? Better yet, top-down/bottom-up configuration. Are we dreaming a pipe dream, or does such a thing exist? We only need one, for a standard casement/sash window. In theory, I could make one if that is more economical. Patterns? Ideas? Thanks.

yes--you can either layer the shades meaning have say a woven bamboo (unlinded) as the front shade and have a non-decorative black out shade in back to draw only at night or when full privacy is desired.  That may be your best solution assuming you have the depth in the window to house both.  Otherwise you would do a top-down/bottim-up configuration and have the shades black out lined.  That way you can let full light in from the top at times or full draw them other times.

Good morning! I have 2 nice side tables that I would like to sell but don't want to put them on Craig's List. Can you recommend any consignment shops in the DC metro area that I could take them to? Thanks!

Sloans & Kenyon has a consignment store in Bethesda.  Also there is the Opportunity Shop in Chevy Chase.

I'm the poster from last week who asked about door knockers. Thanks to everyone for all the leads. I have no idea why this didn't occur to me earlier, but I did a search on eBay for antique door knockers and found several I really like. So thanks much for the inspiration. Love the chats.


Check with Mom and Pop Oriental Rug stores. Rugs made overseas are made in meters and because they aren't standard, you're more likely to find an odd size. Something bright and fun would probably be great for a nursery and would last the child's entire life!

Yes good idea.

I've heard that you can go to a regular furniture refinishing shop and request that they use autobody paint.

That's true.

Don't overlook Martha Stewart's carpets at Home Depot, they will cut to size and have plentiful choices in pattern, color, and binding. I purchased a 10 x 14 sisal-look in nylon and it was much cheaper than even a remnant at a carpet store.


Terri, what color paint would you recommend for a bath room, no natural light, chocolate brown vanity, desert gold top. I want something in the yellow/beige family but more on the yellow and what type of sheen ie: flat, egg shell. Thanks!

Honestly, it's really difficult to say without seeing the room and the exact shade of the countertop. That said, i would do the following to make the space look and feel lighter: paint the vanity white, hang a white linen shower curtain (it could also have a contrasting trim, if you like) and use white towels. For the wall color, I would go to Home Depot and check out Martha Stewart's paint color collection. Her selection is very nicely edited and she has some great yellows. I don't have the paint deck in front of me, but I think I remember really loving a yellow called Macadamia. But remember that yellows look much brighter on walls than they do on a paint chip, so when it comes to yellow, it always pays to go a litlle lighter than you think you  want. Good luck!

I am thinking it is time to bring in my geraniums but yesterday I picked up one of the pots and there were quite a few bugs - the ones my daughter calls "rolly pollies" -- clearly living in or near the drainage hole. Is there some easy way to get the bugs out of the pots before moving them into my home?

From Mr. Higgins:  He says the rolly polly bugs are harmless to house plants. Handpick them off before you bring the pot in.

We're about to put our house on the market, and want to freshen a few things for as little money as possible. The hall bathroom needs to be painted, and has the original builder's white 3" tile, an off-white beige-y faux marble sink, standard white vanity, and a 90s duo-tone, 5-bulb light fixture above the mirror. The rest of the house has shades of green (Bermuda Grass in the foyer and upstairs hall, Revere Green in family room, and other shades in kitchen/dining room) , and medium blues and light grey in the bedrooms. The master bath was recently re-done with a very contemporary feel, and I'd like this one to look less dated, but don't want to spend beyond the paint. What color would you go with?

Because this is a "private" space and the existing fixtures and tile are so neautral you can really go with an color you like.  I always like to add a bit of drama to less lived in, smaller spaces such as the powder room...i'd stay away from greens and go with something a bit less expected.  What color do you love but are a little afraid of--that is the color you should do:)  Maybe a persimmon or turquoise...However, if you are concerned about resale, perhaps you go with something more neutral like a navy, chocolate brown, latte, slate grey. Hope that helps!


Hi Jura, Not sure if this if the right place to ask, but we've got some beautiful and truly unique properties all over the world that we'd love for you to feature. We're based in the UK so I was just wondering the best way to go about this? Many thanks. Rhianna

If you have any in DC, send photos our way! Thanks.

Posting early, hope you can take this question! An oriental rug store near my is going out of business. It has been here for 40 years and I'd like to stop in a look around, but I know the quality runs the gamut. Is there anything I should look for in order to be a little more informed before I go in? Thanks.

sure!  Hand knotted as opposed to machine made will absolutely yeild better quaility and long term wear.  For a more authentic look consider vegetable dyed rugs.  also, I LOVE vintage and antique rugs--they have great character and offer a little bit of history to their space

You guys are a great resource! I am constantly looking for pedastals or cubes on which to display sculpture, vases, of flowers, etc. One often finds ornate doric or corinthian columns in the craft stores, but I would prefer simple sided cubes. Short of making them myself (I am not handy) or hiring a carpenter, does anyone know of a place where I can find some new or used? Thanks

Have you tried salvage stores? I know Caravati's in Richmond is very good.  Second Chance in Baltimore is good. You might try Great Stuff by Paul in Frederick.

is BM's Gentleman's Gray. I believe it was used in one of the theatre renovations recently at the Kennedy Center. We repainted my teenage son's bedroom in this color as he insisted on navy, but some were just too harsh and cold for a bedroom. (I think the wrong navy can feel very cold.) This one has a touch of green and gray and easily blends with red, mustard, chartreuse, tan, grey . . . you name it. It's a gorgeous color.


I am looking for suggestions for a pale blue and lavender mix for the walls of my fairly large master bedroom (i find that color scheme relaxing and it matches my decor) plus an off white/cream for the molding and window trim. The biggest dilemna, though, is the cathedral ceiling. Should it be the same color as the walls or an even ligher version of the wall color? Thank you.

Benajmin Moore's White Satin is a pretty and pale purple-y-blue.  Some nice creams for trim: Linen White, Antique White or Navajo White (all also BM).

I have been remodeling my basement rec room by updating the floors (sand colored tile) and doors (white), and adding a bathroom (small, sand tile floor, cinnamon vanity with white sink and white shower). It's been a whirlwind and I honestly had not thought about paint until today when my contractor asked. Can you recommend a tan/cream paint for the rec room, and any color (cream is my default) for the bathroom? Thank you so much!

Benjamin Moore has a great ivory called ivory white--very clean but colored with a hint of yellow. For more color, try something like Ben Moore's Danville Tan or crown point sand

I have an antique pedestal table that I love but through a series of errors it got ruined. One of my kids put a wet newspaper bag on it & the print stayed on the table. My husband was trying to help, so he rubbed the table with Murphy's Oil soap. That took off the print, but now the finish isn't the same as the rest of the table. How do I find someone reliable to fix this for me? Thanks!

You know those wet newspaper bags can really do a lot of damage! Toss them out before you put the newspaper on your table. So sorry you had this happen. You might try the services of someone who comes into your house to do a minor job like this. There is www.furnituremedic.com. Or look on your local listserve for a neighborhood furniture refinisher.

Um, aren't they all? Beware of those sales . . . .


But they would brush it on, and the benefit of using a autobody shop is that it's sprayed on for a seamless finish.


I have a girlfriend who wears a lot of navy blue which, frakly, clashes with the sky blue of my living room rug? Which should I switch - the girlfriend or the rug?

Dump the girlfriend.

I'm re-doing the bathroom in our 1920's bungalow, and want to keep the period charm of the clawfoot tub (rather than modernizing the bathroom-- which we've done to two others in the house). I'm envisioning black-and-white penny/subway tile, but that's where my questions lie: 1. how far up the walls can/should the tile go? There's no chair rail or anything, and this is a small but light-filled bathroom. And then 2. Can/should I paint the clawfoot tub a fabulous color? I would love to do a high-gloss deep teal or plum... but is that insane?

First of all, can I say that I love you!  Your ideas are awesome and you are really trying to push the envelope a bit--hooray for you!  That said, you can totally bring the tile all the way up the wall as wet spaces are the perfect place for full height tile.  If, however, you prefer to only go part way up, that is fine too.  I'd say (without knowing ceiling height) to go up with the tile about 3/4's then paint the upper portion in a high gloss that works with the tub color you choose.  As for painting the tub, I great way to do it is to just paint the under belly (the outside portion) a color and keep the interior white-that way it doesn't effect the color of the water and creates a beautiful contrast.  High gloss is great--any color would work--I have also used the following colors and had great success--Farrow and Ball's down pipe and blazer--just food for thought!  Embrace the smallness of the room and have fun!

What is the latest trend and advice for someone remodeling a 25 year old master bathroom?

My advice would be to avoid trends, which will eventually go out of style and make your new expensive bathroom look dated sooner rather than later. Instead, stick with classic choices for the big things (tile, fixtures, flooring) and bring in trends, if you want them, through accessories. I'll see if we can post a story we did about bathroom makeovers a couple years ago.

Good morning, My family just moved into a new house (50s rambler style) and we are trying to have a clean, modern (non-clutter) look inside. Unfortunately I have a bunch of mini items that I have collected over the years from around the world that I just don't know what to do with. Is there a modern way to showcase these or should they just go into storage for my kids to find after I am long gone? Thanks!

This is such a great question. First of all please DO NOT put these items in storage for your kids to have to deal with after you are gone! Here would be my suggestion. First, go through the items and keep only those that really realy mean a lot to you. Perhaps you might want to photograph all of them and just keep a digital file of your travel memories. If you really want to keep some of them, why not display them all in one cabinet or shelf in your bedroom  - don't put them in the living room. Keep them all together. There are small end tables or coffee tables with glass tops that you can buy and display things in there. Sometimes it helps t put a date and a place on the bottom of these items so that in the future people will know where they came from!

Thank goodness for rich color! I'm really hoping that this "all neutrals all the time" design phase is on its way out. I had always figured that all the neutral items for sale everywhere were a result of the recession and people who were just replacing one piece instead of a whole room, so they needed something that wouldn't clash. I hope this burst of color means things (including design) are on their way up! I'm ready for my colors to be rich again (and maybe me too, but that is a different section of the newspaper).

I fully agree--and people should learn that there are other "neutrals" beyond beige, cream--navy is a perfect example of that.  Classic and plays nicely with a color weighs

Just because a place is going out of business doesn't mean that they have the best prices. Still shop around, and make sure you take lots of notes so you can compare apples to apples. Oriental rugs are like jewelry. You can get a gold ring from WalMart, a Pawn Shop or Tiffany. You need to know the all the details to be able to compare.

I actually bought a great Oriental at Ikea.

Good morning: nice article today on using the color navy in interior design (I painted my study BM Wolf Gray a few years ago and it turned out well). We're interested in a warm cream-ish color that has some depth for our master bedroom - would you happen to have any favorites that we should check out? Thanks...

I love both White Tie and New White  from Farrow & Ball.  In fact, I painted my own master bedroom in White Tie.

Look up "powder coating" in the yellow pages, or google.


As we speak, my house is being transformed. I am putting in a white kitchen that opens up to my existing dining room. The wall has come down which means that the dining room will need freshening up. Currently, the dining room walls are Ben Moore Windham Creme & Hawthorne Yellow stripes above the chair rail. I was going to paint the wall below the chair rail white, but love the sophistication of navy. I hate to give up my striped walls, but want the ktichen and dining room combo to look amazing! I have oak hardwood floors. Kitchen counters are granite, Minsk which is blueish greenish with white. I haven't painted the kitchen walls yet. Backsplash is white glass tiles. Thanks!!

Not entireply sure of your question, but hope this answers it--I would love to see a high gloss or semi-gloss navy used on the wall and even possibly the woodwork (chair rail, etc).  That is a great color combo and will certainly make the stripes pop more than white.  Would you consider painting your kitchen cabinets navy?  You certainly do not need to paint both areas navy as your palette in the dining room is classic enough to blend with what is goong on in the kitchen.  For the kitchen walls, you could consider pringing in the Hawthrone yellow or windham cream.  Just a thought!

The cats have clawed the leather on our sofa, and we're not ready to replace it, since we'll be moving soon. How would you disguise or hide the claw marks?

Oh dear. I know lots of people have this issue. The arms of my sofa are clawed up and there isn't much you can to do hide it. Have you tried using a rich leather polish/cream on the sofa? It's hard to put a throw on a leather sofa as it will probably slide right off. Lots of pillows? I'm afraid you will just have to live with it and know that your dear cats are more important than the sofa.

Wow, really surprised at your answer, the vanity & top are new from Lowes, so that last thing I want to do is paint my brand new vanity White, I hate white cabinets! Desert Gold is a granite with brown specks. Can you just tell me what type of paint to use in a bathroom, thank you.

Wow, really surprised by your tone. Your previous question didn't provide the level of detail you are providing now, so I based my answer on the information I was given. We do our best. Good luck with your bathroom. 

Consider FLOR carpet tiles. You can order what you need to fit your space (they have a useful online layout planner), and even cut the tiles to size if necessary (a utility knife is all you need for re-sizing). I have wall-to-wall FLOR and an area rug, which I'm moving to a nursery in the coming weeks. Bonus: FLOR is environmentally friendly, so not as much off-gassing in the nursery!

Good idea.

....you would have to make sure they have a 'spray booth' or the necessary equipment to spray the furniture.

Thanks you are right.

Good morning. I live in a townhouse, kitchen has standard oak cabinets in good shape, Lshaped configuraiton.Walls are lovely sage green. Light over table is black metal with glass panes in sage/amber/pumpkin. Would like to replace white counter, backsplash and ceramic floors. What's new in these materials that would warm up and add visual impact to this space? Thanks.

i still love a classic marble or granite for counters--honed, not polished.  Not sure about"new" but great, affordable optons would be a colored ceramic subway tile installed in the classic staggered pattern or a simple ivory/whte installed in a more unusal pattern like herringbone.  Go with a high quality ceramic--the best I have seen is at Ann Sacks( annsacks.com) they have some amazing quality ceramics is less typical sizes (rectangles or larger squares than 12" x 12") and a profram where all items are $12 sq ft and under.  Try the summit and cappadochia lines in beige tones.  Also, it sounds like a terra cotta floor could be great as well with your look and color scheme.  It sounds like tones of copper cold work in this spaces as will

We are selling our home and relocating - husband and realtor want to paint the entire house beige. We have tan tile in the kitchen and bathroom and will have to get new carpet installed. Seems like it will be a big beige hole. Thoughts?

I think the goal is just to "neutralize" the house so potential homeowners aren't turned off by room colors they may not like. If someone sees a color they don't like they immediately think: we're going to have to repaint (which means more $). But, if the wall colors are neutral they'll be able to live with the color and have their furniture look good until they decide they want (or can afford) to paint. I don't think it's a bad idea.

A friend once had navy blue carpet installed in his living room, because he had a black Lab, and this way the dog hair didn't show. The realtor advised him to replace the carpet with a neutral color before selling the house, but he didn't. The house sold pretty quickly (this was before the real estate bust) to a single guy.

Love this!

Oh how I love thee, Navy Blue. Our prior home had a sun room with huge windows.... we painted the (minimal) wallspace a deep dark navy, trim bright white, and the beaten-up hardwood floor with crisp white high gloss porch paint. Really really miss that room!

Wow, that room sounds amazing!

I would miss it, too : )

Hi Zoe! Regarding the WDC Design Center Show House, I really liked your use of neutrals with pops of bright color. What do you think is the new trend in design? Am I still ok to use neutrals with pops of yellow or are there other colors I should be using?!

thank you!  In my opinion, the pops of yellow are still good today.  As a designer, we certainly try not to let our looks expire that quickly:)  either way, I choose yellow because it worked with the organic materials and colors I was working with-metallics, black, bougainvillea, etc.  However, as for popping in color--anything bright will work--aqua, turquoise, orchid...

As for design trends, I still think organic and re-use, repurpose, restyle is big.  Also, I think a return to traditionalism is looming.  Modernized traditional--ie--giving life to older (vintage, hand-me downs) with fresh paint, high glosses, modern upholstery  Mixing classic forms from all periods.  It's comfortable, classic design but still stylized. I think people are looking for lasting looks right now--not fleeting.

I recently bought a condo and am looking forward to slowly replacing my Ikea furniture with higher-quality items, though I don't have the budget to buy it all at once. Would a designer generally be open to helping me plan out the long-term design even though I don't plan to execute it immediately? And any suggestions on how to find the right designer for me?

Well...obviously, I think I am the perfect person to help you:)  However, you can go on the washington design center's website and search for other (far less amazing:)) designers.  Either way, the answerr is that most designers are happy to do that.  They will charge a fee for the schematic design and will leave you with a ful plan that you can shop with alone or execute with them whenever you are ready. 

Following up on another poster's question about clawed furniture, can you suggest a type of fabric that might work best in homes with cats? You are definitely right that our cats are more important than the sofa, but we're about to buy new furniture and would like to get something that is less prone to showing cat damage. Thanks.

There are so many opinions on this.  Some people say stay away from leather, velvet and textured fabrics. Some say faux suede is a good choice. Check out www.slobproof.com. A polished cotton or denim or duck works for some, or slipcovers made of these fabrics. Every cat has different ideas about what kind of fabric they like to sink their claws info. Make sure you have lots of scratching posts and boxes around whatever you choose.

Hi Terri. I think you've said before that you have seagrass (or other natural material) rugs in much of your home. Can you tell me where you sourced them? Were they off-the-shelf, or did you have them cut to size? I'm looking to add one to my living room. Thanks!

I got my sisal rugs from Georgetown Carpet in Georgetown and Carpet Palace in Bethesda.  I had one custom cut to the shape of my room and the others I had remants cut (and bound) to the size I needed. I love the look and the durability. One of the first and best choices I made when we moved into our house.

My living room is decorated in shades of taupe, cream, brown and a mauvey pink. I'd like to add another color as an accent (pillows, etc). Could that be navy?

absolutely!  That would be amazing looking.  As mentioned in the article, navy goes with everything and acts as a neutral with a  bit more personality than those of the beige variety

Hi Ladies - I'm moving (but not out of WaPo range). So excited! I need to label my furniture for the movers, but I'm worried about what to use to label it because I don't want to ruin any finishes. Any ideas? Would painter's tape hurt wood? Perhaps I just need to scream like a banshee as the items come off the truck? Thank you!

Post-it Notes?

I've seen a lot of layering of rugs lately. Can you give me recommendations as to what type of carpets and can use and where to find them? Ideally, I think I want a neutral carpet with a patterned carpet layered on top? Any suggestions?

love this look esp when there is a wall to wall neautral and the area rug serves to define the space as well as add some interest.  Regarding where to look...that all depends on your style and budget.  Retail stores like Jonathan Adler, West Elm, Madeline Weinrib are amoung my favorites but I also love the idea of a vintage hide like a zebra--try 1stdibs.com and Oriental rugs--lots of local rug stores for this option and they will often let you take things out on approval to see what you like, first.

I spent a bundle on a Mitchell Gold sectional, and made the mistake of getting it in a light color (looks like linen). Now it looks pretty dirty. The swatch said the fabric type required professional cleaning. How does this work, and am I just better off getting it re-upholstered? Thanks.

I would definitely look into gettin git prefessionally cleaned before you consider reupholstering a sectional, which would be very expensive. My advice: give the local Mitchell God store a call and ask for their advice and if they have any recommendations for cleaning companies.

Any favorites for colors for a narrow basement staircase (hallway)? Obviously, no natural light.

I love the idea of a striped wallpaper here or if you don;t want to wallpaper than you could paint stripes.  Since it is narrow, consider the traffic and opportunity for dirtying--maybe a black and white or brown and white stripe.  Or a straight paint--navy, red--I like to add bold or deep colors or bold patterns to small space and really embrace and play with the tightness of the area

That's all for today, folks. Thanks for being here and thanks to Zoe for helping us out today. Be sure to check out her great advice on incorporating navy blue into your home in today's Local Living. Chat with you next week.

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.
Zoe Feldman
Zoe Feldman has been an interior designer for more than 10 years. She graduated from the Parsons School of Design and worked as a senior designer at Mark Hampton, Inc. Currently, she is at work on homes in the D.C. area, the Hamptons and South Florida. For this issue of Local Living, she helped Terri Sapienza on her color story about incorporating navy into a home.
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