Jura Koncius on interior design and decor | Home Front

Jun 27, 2013

Need help with summer design, shopping, decor or more? Jura will be taking your questions on everything and anything design.

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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After 52 weeks of hosting a guest on my chat, someone suggested that I be my own guest. So here you go. Just me. Ask me anything. I'd love to know how many of you are on Pinterest and what you think about it. I happen to love Pinterest and you can follow my boards at www.pinterest.com/jurakoncius .  What are you doing for Fourth of July entertaining and do you have any ideas for those of us who are having parties? What neighborhoods should I feature in my monthly Destination Design column? Do you have a new paint color you are in love with that you want to share with us? Got any new stores or upholsterers to recommend? All questions and comments are welcome. So let's go.

Good morning! I always enjoy spending Thursday mornings with Home Front. The walls in our guest room have several patches of (rejected) paint samples. I'm paint-chip weary....please help me find a lovely shade of sage.

Thank you for spending an hour with us on Thursdays! I know choosing paint colors is stressful and everyone always thinks they are making the wrong choice! Too light or too dark!! I really am getting to love the new Benjamin Moore Williamsburg colors. For sage, they have Russell Green and maybe you'd like Burgess Green. Farrow & Ball has Stone White and Ball Green. Martha Stewart for Home Depot has Spanish Moss. And C2 has the aptly named Sage.  Has anyone out there used a sage green recently that they think was great - please share.

Does anyone have any good ideas for storing magazines? I've downsized as much as I can, but I can't bear to throw away my old, beautiful Martha Stewarts. The issue is that not only is the collection BIG space wise, but it's also very heavy. How do others manage their magazine collections?

I once was doing a photo shoot at a designers house and found that they stacked their magazines under all the skirted tables in their house! I actually love to see stacks of magazines neatly piled on shelves, whether in slipcases or just in simple rows. The lucite cases are attractive and don't take up visual space. I don't blame you for wanting to keep these magazines for inspiration. They also look great in big oversized baskets. I recently bought some wonderful big woven baskets at Marshall's in their linen department for $20. They have an expensive look and would be great for stashing your magazines. Anyone else with ideas?

How do you know when is the best time to reupholster or replace your couch?

I think the best time is when you look at your sofa and it makes you cringe a bit. I know I have a sofa that is a bit faded because it sits in front of a sunny bay window, the arms are scratched by my dear beloved cat and the arms are a bit worn. I am thinking it's time.

I love the idea of mixing and matching frames to decorate a wall, but don't know where to begin. Should I just go to the store and buy a bunch, or do I need to map out on the wall where to place them?

What a great question. You could go one of two ways. First of all, you could go the same frame route. I might go to a store such as Michael's, Marshall's, Target or Container Store and pick up some identical frames in different sizes. You could go black, white, gold or silver. Buy more than you need since you can return the ones you don't use. Measure your wall and lay out the frames in a neat pattern. Figure out which photographs or artworks will work together in a pleasing arrangement. Don't put any holes in the wall until you are sure you like your arrangement. Or a second route would be to use an eclectic assortment of old and new frames, some carved, some modern, some painted, etc. I prefer the frames be in the same general color scheme, but some people like to mix the whole thing up. Do the same process of laying everything out before you nail.

Is it safe for a pregnant woman to paint a room? If she hires someone to paint the room for her, how long before she can safely use the room? My question is mainly concerned with harmful fumes and effects on the baby, not the physical strain of painting, the bending up and down, the lifting of paint cans, etc.

I would point you to the American Pregnancy Association guidelines.  Even they say personally avoiding paints and solvents is the safest course of action.

What are some good white trim colors? I am planning to repaint a couple of rooms over the long weekend next week.

Some of my favorites are: Ivory White and Linen White by Benjamin Moore. I know designer Darryl Carter recommends Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Arrowroot by Pratt & Lambert is an interesting choice, too. I like C2 Sheer.

Hi there - I'm considering purchasing a rectangular pendant for my eat-in kitchen area. Dimensions are 30.5"w x 14.75"d x 15.5"h. I do not currently have a table for the area. My question is, can I have a round or oval table beneath a rectangular pendant or would it have to be a rectangular table? Thanks!

Yes. I think you could have a round or oval table beneath a rectangular pendant. That classic shape works with everything.

We are living in a home that has a steam shower and are looking for a quick was to keep it clean! We have been using a squeegee on the glass and walls after each use but are still challenged with keeping the tracks, corners and all those nozzles clean. We also have pets and are hesitant to use those spray and leave type of shower cleaners.

I know what you mean about those spray-and-leave shower cleaners. They make me a bit nervous too and some have a weird smell. Squeegee's are the best way to go I think, although sometimes you have to go back with a microfiber cloth and wipe down the fixtures and the walls. A pain but worth it in the end. Do you all with steam showers have any other suggestions?

Shamelessly promoting a piece I did online today about GE's new line of kitchen appliances targeted towards millennials . Check it out. They were designed by a 27-year-old industrial designer at GE. I think their simple, modern design not fully loaded with tons of buttons and features will also appeal to older homeowners who are looking for value and style.

Thanks for taking my question. We have peachy-pink 12" square ceramic tile kitchen floor with smaller tiles in backsplash. Counters black faux granite (shiny) with medium brown cabinets. What color for walls?

Peachy pink and black? I think I would go for an off white. Maybe something like C2 Breathless, a white which has a very pale touch of pink. Or Martha Stewart's Fledgling. 

1) Get a water-proof plastic container that can fit under your bed. 2) Be realistic about the dates - for example, perhaps you only want to save the magazines from the last two years. 3) Whatever you do, keep the magazines all in one place - when your stash is spread throughout your house, it's difficult to appreciate the true size of your collection, or find the one you're looking for in a hurry. Hope this helps!

Great tips. I agree that you should keep them all together - and keep them organized by months and years.

It's summer now and I see many beautiful home magazines with easy breezy coastal living rooms that employ white sofa slipcovers. The articles assure me that bleaching the slipcovers is easy when they get dirty. Since I have never used bleach in my life, how easy is this? And, assuming it's relatively easy, where is a good place to buy nice-looking yet affordable slipcovers? (Custom made would be way out of my budget) Thank you!

I personally only use non-chlorine bleach. Some laundry detergents have non-chlorine bleach as part of their formula, or you can buy something such as Clorox2 and add it to your cycle. I like the Tide pods for tough stains because they have detergent and stain remover and brightener in them. They would be great on white slipcovers. I know what you mean that you don't want to get custom slipcovers, but they really would be the best look for your sofa, unless you can contact the manufacturer and see if they sell slipcovers to fit your particular style. I know Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams offer this service. Otherwise, there are Sure-Fit white slipcovers and sometimes you can find them at Walmart and overstock.com.

Hi Jura, Can you please recommend a ceiling color for a living room/ dining room. I was thinking of White Dove by Benjamin Moore. Is that a good color? Thanks.

Yes. That is a popular color with designers. Decorators White by Benjamin Moore is also a good choice.

I moved into a new house and am getting new furniture because my old bedroom furniture doesn't fit in the new room. The problem is that my old furniture isn't really all that old (only about 10 years) and is pretty nice (Thomasville). What is the best way to get rid of it? I've never had great luck with craigslist and it seems a shame to donate it and only get a small tax deduction, plus I don't have a vehicle to take it to be donated. Thanks!

You might try calling a consignment shop - there are a couple in Bethesda that I'm writing about right now for my next Destination Design - it will run on July 18. Most consignment shops do well with name brand furniture that isn't too old. They have haulers to recommend if you need the things transported.

I love Pinterest for many reasons. Since I'm not super organized and in general I am just a little bit lazy, Pinterest is a super easy way to share my design ideas with friends and family, plus keep track of ideas I'd like to try later. Plus, Pinterest is an innovative tool (solution) for an ever increasingly digital world. However, if I could change just one thing about Pinterest, it would be to make the secret boards easier to use. Linking to products I bought means that friends/family will know exactly how much I paid for the items in my home (yikes). Having only three secret boards (the max on Pinterest) is not enough! Furthermore, once I make a board "public", there's no going back. So, moving even a single pin from one of my public boards to one of my private ones is not possible at the current time.

Thanks so much for all these observations. I hope someone from Pinterest will see them. You make some excellent points. They do have some fine-tuning to do.

We're looking for some kid friendly furniture for both a basement rec room and our living room. I'd love it to look nice (especially for the 2 chairs for the living room!), but am a bit lost as to where to start. Also, how does one go about finding a home designer that will work with what we have already?

Many designers are happy to work with what you have. Check local publications for designers whose work you admire and call them and see if they or one of their assistants will work by the hour and come to your house to help you. You might also call the local chapter of ASID for names. Kid friendly furniture should be simple and hopefully the upholstery might have slipcovers that would be washable. I would look at Pottery Barn, JC Penney, West Elm, and Belfort. Any other ideas?

we bought a small house and we are almost done with the renovation. now we need to get window treatment; since the house is small we are leaning toward blinds. We started with HD but we got really frustrated with them I had to take store credit. So my question is where do people get nice window treatment at a reasonable price...I looked on houzz most people seem to do Hunter Douglas, is that the way to go? We know for sure we can't afford the "ouette" ones but maybe a lower end of Hunter. I am so confused and overwhelmed with this one. thanks for the help.

Are you interested in wood blinds? I really like the look of the white ones. Plantation shutters are also still popular but they can be expensive.  There is Next Day Blinds, which has alternative brands to Hunter Douglas. And also JC Penney and the major big box stores do blinds. Does anyone else out there have stores to suggest?

Last week your guest suggested Dark Warm Grey, but I have shrubbery and trees that are purple and rust colors. The porch tiles are pinky rust and the brick is an apricot tan. I am thinking sage green but would need to cover a dark pink which has been on for 10 years. Also I have a white garage door in front and white trim around the windows. Shutters on windows are that pinky color. Please help me.

With all that going on, I think I would stick with a basic white paint for the trim.

Just writing back to say a big "THANK YOU!" for your tips regarding bleach and slipcovers. You are the consumate expert on all things home :).

How kind of you to say!! You made my day!

I live in a split-level "colonial" house that has light (pale) gray siding. The shutters are terribly faded and made of cheap plastic, so I am considering buying new ones. The question: should I go with dark blue shutters, similar to what I have now? Or should I go with dark red shutters? Some houses in my neighborhood look great with dark red shutters, but they're siding is white (not light gray like mine). My door is currently white, but I'm thinking that I'll paint it blue if I do blue shutters, or that I'll paint the door red or black if I do red shutters. Thoughts, pretty please??

I would definitely stick with navy blue shutters. They have a more classic look to them than red would. You could paint your door in a lot of different colors - dark green would be nice - or a mustard yellow.

Hello, Love the chat. We have small room (8x8) just off the kitchen. The kitchen is white and our tile is grey. We just painted the room BM colonial blue, but we think it looks too much like a bedroom color. We have a large window in the room so it get a significant amount of natural light. We would like to stay in the blue/grey area, but we are open to all ideas, any thoughts on a color?

I like the idea of blue but I can see that this particular blue might be a bit bedroomy. I like the new Palace Pearl by Benjamin Moore in their Williamsburg line. Also Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light has a nice luminescence to it.

I'm looking for a warm gray paint for my kitchen. There are no windows in the room, so it's not a particularly light room except for the overhead can lighting. The cabinets are a soft white wood and the countertop is a granite that looks much like soapstone, with carrara marble subway tiles as a backsplash. The rooms opens into a family room which is painted powell buff by Benjamin Moore.

Gray seems to be the color of the day. Pratt & Lambert Pearl White is nice. Paper Clip by C2 has a nice cast.

Jura, Have you made an "oops" moment where you regretting a designing choice or a furniture purchase for your home?

This sounds like a great idea for a story. I have made mistakes, sometimes by ordering things online. I just bought an orange lacquer tray for my beach house from West Elm. I was hoping it would match some new sofa pillows we got last time we were there. I opened the box and it is a really really bright orange not sort of the burnt orange of the pillows. I am taking it there this weekend so we will see. I sometimes make fast decisions because I don't have time to ruminate over things. The yellow paint in my guest room is a bit harsh and I have never liked it. I could go on... What about you?

Get blinds online...much cheaper than the mortar and brick stores in our area. You'll have to do the measurements yourself but you'll save lots of money. I like the aluminum mini-blinds...


"Many designers are happy to work with what you have" I have not found that to be true. I wanted to do a little bit of updating, so I did the ASID fundraiser "get a designer for an hour or two" thing. I bought two hours. She was difficult to schedule - didn't want to come to DC. She hated all the art - told us to replace it all as it was "boring." She hated the furniture - mostly antiques. She hated the wood floors - "You need to carpet these rooms." I had a great experience with my kitchen designer, so I know there are good designers out there, but I recommend having a preliminary interview with a designer before planning to work with them. Indeed, before getting them out to your house. I could have told you that it wouldn't work with just a few minutes of discussion. Oh, and she left after an hour because she had nothing useful to say.

That is very unfortunate. I hope you did a follow-up with ASID. They should know this.

Thanks so much. When we bought the house all the trim was white with a cement porch and we painted the trim brown. Boring. I think I will go back to white. You have been a big help.


I actually did not follow up with ASID, as I assumed that the fact that it was clear from the beginning that you did not have a choice in who was assigned to you meant that I had not recourse.

Thanks a lot for joining me. I had fun being my own guest. Next week, we're taking a break from chatting on July 4. So have a wonderful holiday and see you again on July 11 when we will have Ronda Rice Carman who writes the very popular blog ALL THE BEST and has just published a great book "Designers At Home."

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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