The Washington Post

Kathryn Ivey, who owns Haddon Interiors in the District, joined the weekly chat.

Oct 20, 2011

Kathryn Ivey, who owns Haddon Interiors in the District, joined Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza on the weekly Home Front chat. Together, they gave advice on interior decorating and home improvement.

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We are having a systemwide issue with our chatting technology. So sorry, but designer Kathryn Ivey will not be able to join us today! I am really sad. So it's just me today and I'll do the best I can. Apologies in advance if our system crashes.

I live in Old Town Alexandria, and I need a good window cleaner. I'm having trouble finding somone. Does anyone have a good recommendation?

Try We Do Windows, 301 946-3697 or Stanley Naudus , 703-820-3660 •

I'm thinking about taking advantage of the lovely fall weekend to look for some gently used/antique furniture -- mostly dressers and book cases. Any suggestions on great Virginia shops to check out?

I would suggest Orange, Sperryville, Front Royal, Leesburg or Warrenton. Anyone else?

How can I make my own home seem trendy, fashionable and chic on a budget? Tired of the CB and Pot Barn and West Elm and Rest Hard and Ikea junk -- no character. No class. Yard sales and second hand stores are nowhere near my home. Antique markets many miles away. Live in a high priced resort town (lucky) on a budget (economics) and need to be savvy but want the look to say I spend money on you. Any advice?

Wonder where your resort town is? There must be some second hand stores around, or Goodwill or consignment stores. Is there craiglist? How about a weekend trip to a nearby small town where you might find sources for vintage furniture that has some character. Look for yard,barn or estate sales - even if you have to travel a couple of hours.

I'm about to paint my kitchen and den. Unlike the rest of the house, the walls and ceilings are all painted the same color (a soul-killing tan, which contributes big-time to my Midwest winter moodiness), and I'll be switching the walls to a zen green and the ceilings to white. My question: Does it make a difference whether I paint the walls or ceilings first? And thank you, as always, for your help! These chats are great for former D.C. denizens like me who still miss the place!

Good for you for getting rid of your tan - it is a soul-killing sort of color - my bedroom is actually khaki in color and I really want to change it. Anyway, you should paint the ceiling first - get it perfect, then you can do the walls and make sure that you keep a clean line where the two colors meet.

Are sisal rugs a good option for a family room? Are they soft enough on the feet?

I would go with seagrass. It's softer and a bit hardier.

Sorry about your chat issues, but it seems to be working fine for the Sports chat. (Yes, I have very diverse issues.) How long will unopened paint last? I bought some paint last year for my bedroom and changed my mind. It's lovely paint and was expensive. Should I just try it out in a closet or basement bathroom? I would hate to throw it away.

Amanda Johns, assistant manager of Monarch Paints in Chevy Chase says a can of paint not opened and stored in a heated and cooled place can last up to 10 years. But if you keep it in a garage or other unheated location, and it freezes and then heats up in the summer, you might not be able to use it after a few years. The best solution is to open it up, and smell it. If paint has gone bad, it will smell like rotten eggs!

Jura, what's your opinion of Halloween decorating? There's so much to choose from. Just walking into Pier One the other day was a surprise. It was crammed with Halloween tableware, black trees and ornaments. I only have a few pumpkins and gourds by my front door. Am I missing out?

Love Halloween and I must admit I have an orange and black storage container in my basement filled with treasures from over the years. I still put up a small white ceramic ghost on my mantel that was a gift to my son from his grandmother when he was a toddler. I also always get a princess pumpkin in pale green for my hearth and a big orange coach pumpkin for my front door area. I have a witches hat that I wear when I answer the door.  Why not get a black tree?

I have a 60's ranch that's half Navajo White vinyl siding and the bottom is medium red brick. What color would be good to paint the front door?

How about Martha Stewart's Spanish Moss for Home Depot.

Help! I have a two-story townhome with high ceilings and a stairway leading to a dark hallway upstairs. I am lost as to what to do: mirrors, pictures/paintings, wallpaper, paint, etc. It is builder white now but oh so ugly. No windows, no molding and not much fun. I want something to say 'wow' 'pop' and 'look at me' so what to do? Ceiling height is high with can lights and doors off hallway to bedrooms and baths. It needs some attention. I will give it, if only I knew what to do! Thanks! Love these chats!

You know a bold wallpaper would be really cool. Another idea would be to hang a collection of found mirrors. You could hunt out old frames and have mirror cut and put into them. You could also frame old family photos, diplomas, or letters and put them up there. Any other ideas?

I am painting the hallway and stairway of my federal row house. I have kept the original oak trip and dark hardwood floors, and while the living areas of the house get quite a bit of light (I have the end unit), my hallway/stairway is very dark. I am thinking of a warm yellow/beige, but am struggling with what color works. Right now I'm considering BM's "Edwardian Lace" but it isn't quite warm enough I think. Any suggestions?

I do like Dorset Cream by Farrow & Ball.  Also Caribbean Sunrise by Behr.

Don't overlook Homegoods, T.J. Maxx and Marshall's. You never know what you'll find at these stores.

Yes. Great idea. I saw there was a new HomeGoods in Rehoboth Beach.

For the chatter who wants a luxury look on a budget: Don't be afraid to modify/improve garage sale finds with new knobs, upholstery, paint, etc. Just find something that had a great shape and is well built, then make it your own.

Yes. Great advice. Sometimes a coat of white or black paint transforms a found piece.

I keep seeing lovely greys on walls. Do you have a grey that you like in Benjamin Moore that's not too light but not too dark? We have a charcoal grey sectional and just bought a console and coffee table from Mitchell Gold (the dorian;  its cherry colored.) Still need a rug. Any ideas on paints or great places to go look at rugs? Thanks.

I really like Wickham Gray or Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore. I don't know where you live, but check out rugs at West Elm, Georgetown Carpet, Green Front or Restoration Hardware.

I have had all my recent house and my current condo interiors painted in antique white, but I'm thinking of making a change to something in the taupe family. Any ideas, or perhaps another color that will work everywhere? I want the color to be fairly neutral for displaying art. Thanks.

Latte by Benjamin Moore is nice. So is Sisal by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.

Hi. I am remodeling my small main bathroom (1950's Cape Cod). I am using white subway tile and a black,white and grey mosaic glass tile around the shower/tub combo and slate tile on the floor. The vanity is black with a travertine top and the hardware is all nickle. I want to paint the rest of the room and was thinking of a light grey- green/blue. Do you have any color suggestions? Thanks.

Borrowed Light or Pale Powder by Farrow and Ball are two nice colors. Also  what about the perennial Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore?

1) Spend time each day/week looking at blogs that showcase cool houses (Apartment Therapy & Design*Sponge come to mind). You'll see that these amazing spaces are all about how items are pulled together:  the stuff you mention from national chains, plus unique decorative items from Etsy, local shops, family heirlooms, etc.

Great advice. You are so right. You can get so many ideas by looking at how others use creativity to put things together and reuse pieces in inventive ways.

This question comes up so often, but I'm asking anyway! A key living room chair needs to be reupholstered, and I need HELP selecting the right fabric and guidance in other spaces in my house. Site visit + access to 'to-the-trade' swatches + guidance = small job. Perhaps too small? Sigh.

How about investing in a decorator's services for an hour or two. It would be money well spent. Or grab a friend whose taste you admire and ask them to help you. Many larger upholstery services also offer design services.

Try Benjamine Moore Cedar Key. We just painted our family room in that because we wanted something to complement pewter-colored sofa and chair that would relate to the stone/slate fireplace but wouldn't be cold or too dark. Looks great with Linen White trim. Hot Spring Stones is the next darker color and that might have been good, too, but we're happy with this.

Sounds good.

For the luxury seeker, I have been in the same boat. I found fabric is one of the best ways to give a sense of luxury. Curtains, shades, tablecloths and such are not at all hard to make and even high-end fabric regularly goes on sale! If you can't sew, take a beginner's class -- Joann, Hancock, G Street, etc., should be able to help you find one. That'll give you the confidence to sew straight seams and such. Even upholstering isn't hard once you know how. I learned on two overstuffed armchairs that still get compliments! Best wishes to you!

Thanks.

Really sorry about our difficulties here with our chat technology and that Kathryn was not able to join us. We promise to book her again for this chat soon. Do check out her House Calls redo in today's Local Living. Have a great day everyone. And again,  our apologies.

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.
Kathryn Ivey
Kathryn Ivey received a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After years of working with various designers in the Washington, DC area and co-creating an online furnishing boutique, Kathryn decided to launch her own interior design firm: www.haddoninteriors.com.
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