Home Front: Design advice from Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza.

Nov 03, 2011

Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza give advice on interior decorating and home improvement.

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Sorry we are late gettting on. More gremlins in the system. But let's get chatting!

Ballard has a line of accessories and fabric called "Document."

Perfect. Thanks.

Love the chats, great resource! Our new home has a White Viking Professional Range and other white appliances. We have cherry cabinets and tan grey granite. We painted Revere Pewter which toned down the peach/salmon in the granite. So, now we need a new dishwasher and Fridge. We don't like the white, but we do love the Viking Range and will keep it. Would you recommend Stainless Steel, paneled, or go back to white for the new dishwasher and Fridge? Thanks!

I think stainless would look great with your Revere Pewter walls and adds a bit of the modern edge to the kitchen.

Cupboard space is at a premium in my kitchen and right now several shelves are taken up with lovely wine glasses. We don't have an official bar, or liquor cabinet to put them in. I don't know where we would put one. Lately, I've been thinking of packing the glasses off to the garage since we only drink wine a couple times a month. I wanted to ask about some good options for liquor & wine glasses storage. Somehow it feels wrong to send them packing to the gargage. Any help is welcome!!

This is a great question. I actually have one box of wine glasses in my basement in the original box of 12 with dividers that I purchased the glasses in at the Crate & Barrel outlet. A divided box is probably the safest way to store wine glasses when you are not using them. As for shelf space, if you only use wine glasses a couple of times a month, just keep two or four glasses in your cupboard and keep the rest of them somewhere else. Some people keep glasses stored in the top of closets or under beds, although this is cumbersome. Is your garage attached to your house? If so, this may be a good place to keep them. Professional organizers always say that you should use your primary shelving in the kitchen for things that you use on a daily or regular basis . Any other ideas?

Love your chats. I've gotten many tips here and followed good advice. Thank you! Today, I need your help on committing to kitchen cabinet hardware. Once the holes are drilled, these are my pulls/knobs for a loooong time. I have white kitchen cabinets, grey/white granite, hardwood floors and stainless appliances. I love the long tubular stainless or nickel pulls, but now I am seeing them everywhere so is this today's trend and will date my kitchen? Any suggestions on where to buy for decent quality at a reasonable price? I see all kinds of prices out there. Lowe's sells this type by Liberty. Top Knobs has them, too. I am looking for a clean contemporary look. thanks!

This is a great question. Those long tubular stainless or nickel pulls are indeed the look of the moment for kitchen hardware. Also try www.knobs4less.com or www.coolknobsandpulls.com.

I need to replace two flush mount ceiling lights in my upstairs hallway and I cannot find anything that I like. I dislike the round bulbous or brass fixtures. Do you know of anywhere that I can find something interesting, not too modern and not too expensive. I have already checked so many websites.

This is a real problem. I still have several of those ugly round bulbous fixtures in my upstairs, I must admit. But I need to attend to this also. Try www.shadesoflight.com and www.bellacor.com and www.lampsplus.com. Please feel free to share other sites with us anyone out there.

Hi Jura and Terri, have you ever thought of doing an article about DC author/knitwear designer Tanis Gray? She was at Vogue Knitting Magazine for years and recently wrote a book about about 'knitting local.' Her designs are so fun!

I would love to know about her. Please send information at konciusj@washpost.com.

I painted my bathroom cabinets and added hardware. There are four drawers that are just for decoration (they don't open). Should we also add hardware to those? I think it looks a bit weird that there is hardware on everything else and not those, but my husband worries that people would try to open them if they have hardware. Thoughts?

If you think it would look better and more cohesive, definitely add the hardware.  If someone tries to open them, oh well...

I saw dining room chairs that I love, but they are prohibitively expensive 1950's designer chairs made of leather and a steel-like material. I found a photo of them on-line. Is there anyplace in the DC area where I can have the chairs constructed? There is nothing like them made today. Thank you.

Check out a new mid-century modern store called Archer, 1027 33rd St. NW 202 640-2823. http://www.archermodern.com

I am in the processing of painting my guest bedroom. The room is on the smaller side, and I plan to keep the bedspread which is white with a dark blue pattern. For the walls, I want to avoid blue and tans. I was thinking that if I used the dark blue as an accent color, the walls could be painted in a redish color - perhaps something like a red clay color but not too dark. Any ideas?

I would reconsider the red clay color, especially in a small space. Instead, I would keep things on the lighter and think about a warm gray for the walls. A green could be nice, too. We'll post a story I recently did about colors that go with navy.

Here is a link to Terri's story about incorporating the color navy into your home. 

I keep 4 wine glasses within easy reach. The rest are in the cabinets above my fridge. That space is useless for anything I'm going to use often, since it's hard for me to reach. But I like that I won't have to go unpack a box if I have company and need more glasses.

Good idea.

I'd be concerned about storing glasses in a garage, unless it is heated (mine isn't). Perhaps the basement or under a bed might be a better place. I have the same issue--my crystal wine glasses are stored in their original boxes and I keep six wine glasses, two sherry glasses, and two champagne flutes in a cupboard for "just in case" occasions.

Good strategy.

Re: wine glass storage-- what about one of those wall shelves that have slots underneath for the wine glasses to hang upside down? if you're handy you can even build one. Our kitchen has SS fridge & range, and a white dishwasher. The cabinets are white so the DW blends in seamlessly. I don't think it looks bad at all.

At our beach house, we have a rack above the kitchen counter (it has bar stools on one side). We hang the wine glasses above the counter for eash access and it is safer than putting them in the cabinets out of the dishwasher. With lots of guests and people helping themselves, it makes it more convenient.

Good morning: this may be somewhat of an odd question, but we have an addition on our home that unfortunately is unheated. The previous owners had installed some fairly hideous baseboard heaters, so we're looking for something a bit more stylish to keep this room room warm during the winter months. Any ideas?

Have you thought of a heated floor? Everyone I know that has one just raves about it.

Hi, Jura and Terri! I was hoping that you or the chatters would have some cleaning tips for families with young (active!) children. Ours are 4 and 2 and our house has an open floor plan, so toys drift from room to room and end up everywhere. Add in a dog who is constantly shedding, and our house is often in total disarray. Any tips, advice, etc on how to make this manageable would be welcome! Thanks.

Funny, I was just saying something similar to my mother-in-law yesterday. I only have one 21-month old, but I feel like my need to clean and put toys away (not to mention everything pulled out of the kitchen cabinets when I'm not looking) never stops. One thing I do to keep things easy is place large baskets in every room (that are also shallow enough for my daughter to get things out of without falling in) where I can quickly toss in toys as I'm walking by.  And when my dog was still around, I just swept every single day. 

Not a decorating question, but maybe you guys will know the answer. I have an electric stove and 2 of the burners no longer work. Well, they work sporadically and it's getting hard to time things. Sometimes they don't turn on right away. Sometimes they turn on but then cut off after things have already started sizzling. I pulled the burners out and on each burner one of the prongs is burned looking - they are black and crusty. Can I clean them? I'm hoping I don't have to shell out for a new stove right now, it's not a good time for a major expense.

I would contact the manufacturer of your stove and describe your problem and see how they would handle it. Most companies have consumer hot lines. Be careful doing anything that could be a safety issue. I can totally understand that you don't want to be shelling out for a new stove. You might also shop around for comparative pricing of several repair companies

One sulution to not enough space in kitchen cabinets is to add a shelf (or 2) to eliminate the wasted space above dishes/food. Put items that are similar heights on same shelf. My plates are on same shelf, tall glasses on one shelf, short ones on next one. Move shelves around to fit your stuff instead of last owner/tennent. I have small kitchen but am able to fit in much more. Also simple cupboard with doors in basement or garage can work for overflow. rick

Good ideas. Thanks for sharing.  I think all of us don't think of changing out kitchen shelves. We put things away when we move in and then it's set in stone. It's a good thing to re-evaluate what you are using and rearrange things every few years.

Love the chats! Looking for a new sofa for the living/family room. What is your favorite style? 2 or 3 cushion. Also wondering what fabric you think holds up best to a family of 5. I really like the look and feel of a nice chenille..just not sure how practical it is. If you have a favorite sofa style-would love to hear. Thanks!

Actually, I prefer sofas with one long cushion rather than several small ones. I think the older a sofa gets, the messier the mutiple cushions look. One cushion looks a more clean and modern and is more comfortable, too! If you're deciding between two or three cushions, though, I would go with two. If you like chenille, as the retailer if they offer any fabric protection for their furniture. It will cost a little more, but will be worth it in the long run. 

Most stove manufacturers sell replacement electric stove "eyes." If you can pull out the coil or plate, you can replace it yourself for much, much less than the cost of a new stove.

Yes. Thanks.

if you don't use it & need to heat the room all the time-- what about one of those electric faux fireplaces? I don't know how warm they get but they are actually pretty nice looking in a traditional sort of setting-- they come in various types of wood finishes & have mantels and everything. Plow & hearth has them.

I have never seen one of those.

Do you know of a place where I could go to physically look at bamboo or other wooden Roman shades whose price comes in at under $75 per? I see online lots of different options, but the stores I've checked only carry options that are much more expensive. I'm worried that if I go with an online option I'll be getting ripped off with a totally cheap product. At the same time my budget just doesn't include $120-$200 a shade for the many windows in my new house that have no shades or blinds. Should I just give up on having bamboo/other wood shades at a price I can pay or are there options out there where I can feel comfortable with the money I'm spending?

If you're not too picky about the color, Lowe's sells standard size bamboo shades for about have the price you mention. Take a look here. You could also try Home Depot. I think they sell standard size shades, too, but I was having trouble with their website.

We would like to get some custom built bookshelves/media center done for our family room - what is the best way to find someone to do this? Would a place like California closets be good for this? Any local recommendations (we are in Arlington) would be appreciated! Thanks!

Yes. Most closet companies will also build custom shelves. www.closetsbydesign.com, www.closetfactory.com and http://www.californiaclosets.com/should be able to help. Also ask friends for names of local carpenters or check your local list serve.

I have cats and carpets and the cat hair does pile up if you don't keep up with it. My large vacuum is in the basement and I don't like lugging it up the stairs when I just need to do a quick cleaning. So I also have one of those smaller vacuums on my main and upper levels. If I had hardwood floors, I think I'd just swiffer every day. Toys we keep in canvas bags (one small and one large) from LL Bean. Baskets would be prettier, but I do like being able to easily pick up the bags and cart them off somewhere. When guests are over I move them upstairs. When I'm going somewhere and need to take toys, I just grab the small bag. My daughter has been doing her own toy clean up since she could walk. It's really easy for her to toss things in the bags. Sometimes we make it a game - who can clean up their pile fastest?

Thanks for all these organizing tips. You sound like you have a handle on this!

We live in a very small cottage; our main living area is 25x14, living "room" at one end and dining area at the other with sliding glass doors; my husband has just added a third, fixed, door, which has opened up the room to more light and a wonderful view of our garden. Question: what do I do with all that window? The two other windows in the room have Hunter Douglas pleated shades. Do I continue with that theme or soften the area with drapes? (We have an eclectic taste---with mid-century teak dining room furniture.) I need guidance!

All the windows in the room should have at least one similar element in order to keep the look cohesive, so I would use the pleated shades on the new window, too. But, you could also layer the new window with curtain panels to add warmth.  I think that sounds like a great idea. 

Thanks for responding to my question last week about my absent designer. I sent a note today informing her I will be going elsewhere. Problem is, I don't know where to go. Any suggestions? I need someone to help with lighting throughout the house. Is there a way to search for just such individuals?

You can call the local office of the American Society of Interior Designers. Some local designers will work by the hour. They can match someone up with you. 202 488-4100.

I found long-ish tubular handles for my built-in closet that fit into one hole - picture a T shape - when you look straight on, all you see is the silver "tube." They gave me a more modern look, but left me with only one hole, so that future change-out would be easy if I wanted a more traditional knob. I'm pretty sure I got them at a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes. Might be a more flexible solution for you if you're afraid to commit!

Very good tip! Thanks.

Just under contract to buy a house: hooray! One of my first design projects will be the basement. It's cozy and welcoming, but the owners who finished it did it on the cheap. The walls have that just-drywall feel and the doors are very cheap looking and had to be cut down to fit in the space, which has low ceilings. What can I do to make it feel and look more valued? Painted beadboard? Help!

The beadboard sounds like a good idea. You could paint it white and paint the walls above any color you like. As for the doors, you could add some molding (to create a single or multiple squares) and then paint them in a glossy finish (in a color other than white) to make them look a little more special.     

A tip if you find yourself sweeping dog hair daily: I work in an animal hospital and we use nothing but rubber brooms to sweep up the floors-- they are amazing for pet hair! If you have hardwood, linoleum, or tile floors I would definitely recommend trying one. Here's an image.

Oh, great idea! thanks for the tip.

Hi, I'm a recent college grad in a studio apartment. I'd love to do some decorating (i.e. make the space more my own), but have no idea where to start! Do you have any tips for me? Thanks!

Hi. Can you email me directly and send me some images of your space at sapienzat@washpost.com. Could be  a good story or a great House Calls. thanks.  

We appreciate your joining us. Next week, we will have some great chat guests, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams who run a $100 million furniture business. Mitchell and Tim Gold's very cool Washington loft will be featured in next week's Local Living that same day. So please join us. Have a great week.

Try Pier One and World Market - lots of bamboo or natural fiber options in a few sizes.

great, thanks!

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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