Inspired Question: Which backsplash should I choose to finish this kitchen renovation?
Oct 25, 2010
What is it about that last little bit that's so hard? The final steps can be the most difficult, whether you're getting in shape, writing a novel, or as in Georgia's case, renovating a kitchen. She wrote:
I love your website. Thanks for the ideas. I am attaching my "nearly" finished kitchen photos and am anguishing over backsplash tile. Ideas I have considered include:
•subway tile (4 x 12) buscuit with brownish grout
•"copper rust" color that has a shimmer (squares, either small or large or mix) with grout to match counter
•subway style "bowed" tile in off-white (Fiji)
My countertop is honed Caesarstone Lagos Blue, which looks greenish. I have yet to paint the walls but will probably do a Benjamin Moore buff, and one wall perhaps a peachy tone (colors from Agnes Sims Indian print). I am attaching my nearly finished kitchen but I am STUCK. Help! This kitchen has been in limbo for 2 months… Due to cost I think i will just do the backwall in back of the hood. Any ideas? Should i just do squares?
Here's Georgia's not-quite-complete kitchen renovation. There's a lot to love about it already…
This is a very small kitchen, but the layout is smart. Recessed and under-cabinet lighting were the right choices here. The floor has a dominant red tone. Let's keep that in mind.
I really like the simplicity of the cabinetry for a space this small, and I love that the upper cabinets have been built up to meet the ceiling— no awkward spaces to collect dust. Plus, this gives the cabinetry a custom look.
There's the print Georgia referenced in her email. I like how it blends with the reddish tones in the flooring.
And here are a couple of the samples she's been playing with:
Above, bowed subway tile. I think this is a cool tile, but it's not right for this space. The lines in the cabinetry and appliances (which are a dominant element in a space this small) are very straight. This tile seems out of place. Also, it lacks color, and I think the backsplash is a good way to introduce just the right amount of color into an otherwise neutral space.
Above, copper rust square tile. I like this very much. The tones of red and gray pick up hues from the flooring, counters, and appliances. I like this smaller size also. The proportions seem right for the space, particularly if you'll only be tiling the space above the stove.
The "biscuit" subway tile you mentioned but did not picture sounds like it would be too bland. The bulk of the space is neutral, so go for it on this focal wall! Here are some other ideas you might consider…
- Any tile with subdued red tones will help balance the strong color of the floor, so if you're not quite happy with that last option, use it as a starting point and look at tiles with similar tones.
- Porcelain tiles with a metallic glaze are interesting. This textured coppery porcelain tile by Apavisa would look great highlighted by your under-cabinet lighting. It is also available in a listello tile if you like the proportions of the subway tile. Ask your tile supplier to see similar options.
- Backsplashes don't have to be tiled. Consider a copper-toned metal backsplash. This material is more affordable and much faster to install, so you could afford to do the whole wall if you want. Check out the metal panels by Frigo Design available at Home Depot.
- Paint the wall any color you like, then have glass fitted to the wall behind the stove. This maintains an open look and couldn't be easier to clean. The space is so small, that I would paint a single color on the walls. I like the idea of pulling a peach tone from the print. Keep it pale. Next to those white cabinets even a hint of peach will stand out and nicely complement the green tinge in the countertops.
One Last Tip
It looks as though the soffit and molding above the cabinets is a slightly different white than the cabinetry. Maybe this is because you haven't painted yet, but I would make sure to paint those the same white as the cabinets to enhance the illusion of tall, custom cabinets. And don't forget the fifth wall: your ceiling! If you choose an earthy tile for the backsplash, that ceiling would sing covered in a copper-colored aluminum nail-up ceiling tile like this one.
Hope that helps you reach the finish, Georgia! You've done a beautiful job so far. Send after photos, please. —Diane
Have an Inspired Question of your own? If you can sum it up in a few sentences and send me 2-3 photos, I may feature it with ideas and solutions on Room for Inspiration. First question is free! All I ask for in return is a little social networking love. Email questions to designer Diane Kolak.
TAGS: small kitchen renovation remodel classic style white cabinets cabinetry backsplash selection choice interior design edecor edecorating e-decorating ask a design question
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Design Basics: How to Choose a Lampshade
Oct 17, 2010
Life has been a whirlwind of eDecor Plans and design problem-solving for me lately. I love it! Finally finding some time to freshen up the blog on this beautiful Sunday.
Remember this lovely find? I snapped up this vintage 1950s lamp at Elk Rapids Antiques Warehouse about a year ago. For 8 bucks! It needed a shade, of course, but I wasn't willing to spend $40 for one, thereby turning my fabulous deal into just another $50 lamp. But I wasn't willing to settle for a crummy, cheap shade on such a beautiful base.
I found the perfect shade at the Pottery Barn outlet in Birch Run, for $21 (lists at $49 on the site). It's a simple tapered linen drum shade, nothing to detract from the design of the ceramic base. After spending a few bucks on a harp and simple finial at Artisan Gallery (art in the front, lamp parts in the back: 231-922-7148), it's at home on a side table in my bedroom, casting a lovely glow.
The relief design on the base is enhanced when the lamp is lit. This is one of my favorite vintage vignettes in the house: a strip of 50s barkcloth that I nabbed on Ebay several years ago, and a 1940s John Widdicomb mahogany cocktail table that I dug out from a pile in a messy booth on the fourth floor of Wilson Antiques.)
There was a surprisingly large selection of harps and finials at Artisan Gallery on Garfield. I found the perfect-sized harp and a pleasingly simple finial both in the perfect nickel finish to match the shade hardware.
If there's one thing I learned in my search, it's that lamp shades can be very confusing. So many shapes, sizes, and styles… even the inner hardware has to be just right. So here are my tips for choosing the perfect shade for any lamp.
How to Select the Right Lampshade for Any Lamp
The shade should complement, not compete with, the base. A large base requires a large, sturdy-looking shade. A delicate base requires a similar touch on top. Square bases look best with square shades, round with round shades. Curvy bases look good with curvy shades.
Measure the height of the lamp from base to socket. The shade height should be about 3/4 of this measurement, and the width should roughly equal this measurement. The width should always be wider than the widest part of the lamp base.
Even the perfect lampshade can look ridiculous with the wrong hardware. There are various types of fittings that secure the shade to the lamp: harps, spider fitters, and UNO fitters. Whichever type of hardware your lamp requires, it should position the shade to just barely cover the switch at the bottom. If you are replacing an old lampshade, look for a new one with the same type of fitting.
Be aware of how the color of a shade affects the light the lamp casts. A dark shade will reduce the ambient glow of a lamp and create more focused light beneath it—nice for task lighting. Pale shades allow more light into the room—better for ambience. Patterns cast shadows. In general, the more detailed or "designed" the base is, the simpler the shade should be.
Be sure there is enough space around the bulb to allow heat to escape. The higher the wattage, the more space is required. Compact fluorescent bulbs run much cooler and require only about 1-2 inches of space around the bulb.
Remove the plastic. Please.
Maybe you're the type who just wants someone else to find the right lamp (sofa, coffee table, bedding, rug… ). I can help. Whether it's a roomful or just one piece, I have an affordable service that fits your needs. Just email me. There's never an obligation. —Diane
TAGS: how to choose select lampshade lamp shade hardware harp spider uno fitting decorating tips wilson antiques traverse city michigan mi artisan gallery lamp parts service edecor edecorating e-decorating
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Oct 06, 2010
ALL PHOTOS: Canvas Home Store
I'm just emerging from a pretty intense week of work (combined with finishing my entry for the Goodwill Reinvention Convention… another story). Somewhere (?) along the line I discovered this fabulous new home goods store, since I left myself a link in my blog ideas folder. Now that I have time to really soak it in, Canvas has me hooked.
It's a home store that carries sustainable products made by artisans and craftsmen from the US and around the world. In their words: "Canvas is a journey around the globe that combines natural materials with interesting textures. Unstructured, soft shapes and subtle colours define a look that is understated yet elegant. With a continued pursuit of products made under fair trade and green principles, we aim for a collection that represents simple, sustainable style."
Yes, please. They have mastered a sophisticated rustic look that's clean but patinated. Kudos to their creative director! Here are some of my favorite picks from their collection of ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, accessories, and lighting. So much inspiration to be had here! —Diane
Having trouble finding the perfect pieces for your room? Even if it's just one little thing you can't seem to track down, I can help. And if I can't find it, there's no cost to you. Email me for details. —Diane
TAGS: canvas c a n v a s home store online catalog decor inspiration from catalogs diane kolak edecor edecorating e decorating e-decorating
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Inspired Question: What do I do with this big, curved wall?
Sep 29, 2010
Time to dole out some free decorating advice! Click here for details on how to have your own question answered.
Cari writes from Greenville, South Carolina:
"My home was built in 1970 and has a few 'unique' features. One of them is a curved brick wall in my den. At some point it was painted a creamy beige. There is a gas log fireplace in the wall and, I suspect, at some point the mantel was added to it. The other thing is an intercom system that was likely state-of-the-art at the time, but has no use now and could be removed. I have NO idea how to decorate this wall. I can't hang anything on the wall because of the curve. No shelves, no frames, nothing. I can't put any furniture against it because of the curve. Did I mention that the wall is HUGE? As you can see from the pictures, we have a vaulted ceiling in our den. The result is something akin to the Green Monster of baseball legend. The only natural light in our den comes from two skylights. So, the brick wall is clearly the focal point of the room. What in the world do you do with a wall like this? Many thanks for any suggestions you can give."
Well, Cari, you weren't kidding. It's a challenge. A very beautifully crafted challenge. There's a proud brick-layer out there somewhere, probably retired by now. I see two directions you could take with this. You can embrace it, or you can disguise it.
Option A: Embrace it.
This solution is easy but it could be expensive, and it might not suit your style preferences. I haven't seen the rest of your house, nor an exterior shot, but I'm guessing it leans modern with a feature like this. The wall would look dramatic and beautiful if surrounded by the right stuff: sleek, modern, minimal furniture and accessories. Picture the room completely empty, with the mantel removed. A very large, vertical painting hangs over the fireplace, and this is now the focal point of the room. Furniture is long and low but substantial, and has very clean, curvy lines to reflect the architecture. An oversized, round chandelier hangs from the peak of the ceiling. With this arrangement, the wall creates the perfect backdrop and no adornment is needed.
I put together a very rough moodboard for you to illustrate the look. This is really what the room "wants" to be.
But if modern isn't your style, you might really just want to cover it up, minimize it. Hence…
Option B: Disguise it.
You mention the challenge of hanging anything on the curve. Consider these options.
- Hang several tall, narrow pieces. The width is what prevents a piece from lying flat against the curve of the wall. Consider a series of skinny mirrors or paintings hung with a couple of inches between them.
- Hang art from the ceiling. Hooks installed in the ceiling can hold just about anything an inch or so away from the wall. Of course, you'll need wires of different lengths to hang anything level from the slanted ceiling, but the effect could be dramatic.
- Detract from the wall's size with other objects. I think I see a hint of a ceiling fan in one of those shots, so for this option you'd want to remove it in order to have a large, eye-catching, single focal point. I would choose a bold chandelier and hang it from the peak, not in the center of the room but closer to the wall. Then rearrange furniture accordingly, allowing the light to dictate furniture placement. A big, round chandelier with a round coffee table beneath and seating arranged around that would work.
- Put draperies to work. You can buy flexible curtain tracks. Installed a couple feet above the height of the door and fitted with full, floor-length drapes, the wall would be virtually hidden.
- Use color to your advantage. When you want to minimize something, make it the same color as whatever surrounds it. Paint the bricks a taupe color to match your existing walls and it will seem much less noticeable. This trick in coordination with one of the other techniques above will greatly minimize the wall's presence.
I hope these ideas help. Whatever you decide, Cari, send me some "after" photos. —Diane
Got a decor dilemma? If you can explain it briefly and include a few photos, I may feature the solution on Room for Inspiration. Your first question is free; subsequent questions are $25. Just email me.
TAGS: edecor edecorating e-decorating curved brick stone wall how to design decorate hang art pictures draperies flexible curtain rod free decorating advice
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Mini Makeover: Kathy's Harmonious Living Room
Sep 22, 2010
Usually I'm called upon to solve design problems. Occasionally, the situation runs a bit deeper than a question about paint color or upholstery. In Kathy's case, she's graciously allowing her husband to make the call on … you guessed it: wood paneling! Every man loves it and every woman wants to paint it, right? In this house, it's staying. So Kathy asked me to develop a Mini Makeover that will brighten the room, minimize the drab effect of the dark paneling, and make it a comfy and inviting space for the whole family, which includes two boys and a French bulldog. She wrote:
"Would you be able to design a Mini Makeover if removing or painting dark paneling is not an option? :-) It's a "husband thing," and he is sort of attached to it! I have to say, it is the thick, nice kind … not the fake stuff. I'm wondering if you may be able to incorporate some ideas for how to keep the paneling, but maybe work with it by creatively hiding it as much as possible. Also, I'm wondering if you could give suggestions on floor covering since we are currently without (plywood subfloor only) and looking for something to complement the dark paneling and stone fireplace. I'm having trouble finding something within our budget and that would look good in this room as well as extended into the kitchen and dining room. Wood flooring seems like too much wood, carpet isn't an option because of our dog. I'm even wondering about a vinyl with a large pattern (since the paneling and stone are already busy), but really I'm just stuck and very frustrated. Can you help?"
Here are a few photos Kathy sent me of her Kansas City home.
The Dwelement Mini-Makeover
Kathy, here's a solution to keep the paneling, keep your hubby happy, and still update a space that needs color, light, and a cohesive style.
- Edit the furniture in the room. Your sofa is staying because it has a clean, simple look that works with your style preferences: classic, casual, simple, eclectic. Remove pieces that are working against a cohesive look: wicker chair, filigreed console table, curio cabinet, small desk, game table. We're going to keep the coffee table but update it with a simple slipcover (see Decorating Plan below).
- Take cues from the architecture. With the centered fireplace, windows, and balcony, this room is begging for complete symmetry. Move the simple wooden console table to the back wall, centered under the balcony. Its matching end table moves to the far end of the sofa. If you have a match for this table, place the second one at the other end of the sofa.
- Add seating and further emphasize the symmetry with a matching pair of upholstered benches. These pieces give you a chance to add a touch of color and texture to the room, too. Make sure they're open underneath to allow the light in. Try the Phoenix O Vanilla bench from Overstock.
- You mentioned on your questionnaire that you'd like to add a television. I would suggest a wall-mounted model to the left of the sliders. Here, it's visible from the sofa and chair but not the focal point of the space.
- Keep the rocking chair or place another small chair in the corner under the television if you need more seating.
Color and Decorating Plan
The goal with color in this room is to maximize available light, reduce contrast that calls attention to the dark paneling, and introduce some brighter colors to liven the space. You probably thought that white walls would counteract the darkness of the paneling, but in fact they are making the paneling seem darker and more "separate" from the room, instead of integrated and intentional. Therefore, since we're embracing what's there, I'm recommending a medium taupe for the main walls and the ceiling (Balanced Beige, Sherwin-Wiliams 7037). Trim (including all of the railings) gets a coat of barely creamy white. Alabaster (SW7008) is an off white that will add warmth without looking yellowish. A third paint color, Smokehouse (SW7040), is a dark taupe for the ceiling beams. This color will draw the eye upward and create needed balance with the dark paneling. The other colors in the plan won't necessarily come in the form of paint but can be applied to fabrics and finishes.
Your instincts are good in this department. I agree that wood would be too much, and if carpeting doesn't work for your family and something like cork or stone is beyond your budget, then I would recommend a durable sheet vinyl. Shown is Armstrong Highland Park in Stonewall Gray. It looks beautiful with your stone fireplace and has a simple, natural-looking pattern. It will also flow smoothly into your dining room and kitchen and function just as well in those spaces. Add a big area rug for comfort. Shown in the plan is the hand-loomed Ivory Rows wool rug from Overstock, a steal at $349 (on 9/22/10) for the 8x10 size.
Now that we've minimized the contrast, a lighting update will improve the ambience. Wall-washing sconces and small lamps are perfect for this. Consider adding a pair of sconces on the stair wall, flanking the window. Add a pair of small lamps on the ends of the console table. A lamp on each end table and maybe a floor lamp for reading near the rocker will distribute light evenly around the room. Consider updating the chandeliers on the stairs and in the balcony. Try the Park Ridge Vintage Bronze line from Bellacor, which includes sconces and pendants of various sizes.
Taking color cues from the fireplace and flooring, introduce some shades of blue-green and gold in the fabrics. I've chosen six beautiful options that all work together and with your sofa, from New Toto Stores, a fabric liquidator with very budget-friendly prices on high-quality upholstery fabrics. Use a few yards to make a simple box-type slipcover for the coffee table. If you want, place a piece of 3-inch-thick foam over the table first to turn it into a cushy ottoman. Use other fabrics to make throw pillow covers. Or how about a stylish doggy bed?
I've also shown an affordable drapery option, the Wheat Hopsack Window Panel from Sears. These will cover the wall on either side of the windows. Add a pair around the opening on the balcony, too, for balance and interest. Or make your own drapes using Stitched Faux Silk in Honey from New Toto, $7 per yard (the diamond-patterend golden fabric shown below). Don't cover the windows, just flank them with fabric. This will downplay the appearance of the paneling on that wall.
Here's how your paneling and stone will look paired with some of the materials and fabrics I've recommended.
Other Recommendations and ideas
- Use mirrors to your advantage. It's an inexpensive way to fill a wall, and it will reflect light back into the room. Collect mirrors at thrift stores, paint the frames all the same color, then arrange them in a grouping. For more info on arranging mirror groupings, see my blog post on the topic. In your room, I would employ this technique above the console table or on the large stair wall.
- Keep the mantel arrangement simple. A single large, horizontal print would look lovely. Shambala I by Chris Donovan from art.com is a decorative option that would work. But I always advocate taking your time looking at local art to find something you really love.
- Update the polished brass around your fireplace by painting it black using heat-safe stove paint from the hardware store.
- Accessorize with a light touch, but use large items in a room this big. Look for things with textural interest and colors that fit within or complement the color plan. Avoid pieces that look very ornate or heavy.
- Add life and improve air quality with real plants.
- Consider carrying the new wall color, or another shade from the palette, into the dining room and kitchen.
That should give you a good start toward a fresh look. As with every Mini Makeover, I tried to develop a solution that requires very little shopping and incorporates ways to update things you own or secondhand finds. Sometimes you don't need new stuff, you just need a new outlook! Hope you and your family like it, Kathy. Please send "after" photos! (And watch for your extra-large paint samples in the mail so you can see the color accurately.) —Diane
Want a Dwelement Mini-Makeover of your own? If you can sum up your problem in a few sentences and a few photos, I can put together a plan like this, customized to your room with solutions that fit your needs and your style. $95 per room. Interested? Just email me to get started!
TAGS: edecorating edecor e-decorating mini makeover long distance space plan color scheme updated accessories work with what you have furniture arrangement minimizing dark paneling without painting
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