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2004_07_01 (9K)

2004_07_02 (10K)

Designing Dilemma July 2004

Protecting New Furniture

Dear Designing Solutions: We have three young children and just purchased new furniture for our living room- a kidney-shaped sofa in cream and two chairs in cream as well. How can I keep them in good shape? Karen

Dear Karen: First, with three young children, cream-colored anything is not your best choice- the fabric color will show everything from markers and juice spills to dirty hands and shoes. The fabric will also need to be protected from direct sunlight- or it will fade to yellow. So here are three ways of protecting your recent furniture purchase:

  1. Keep your children and pets, if you have them, out of the living room and reserve this space for adults only until your kids are a bit older.

  2. Make sure your shades or curtains protect your furniture from direct sunlight. Keep window treatments closed when the room is not in use. If your home is older, and still has the original windows, call a window service to apply a transparent film to the window glass. The film will allow you to keep the window treatments up and open while protecting your furnishings from harmful sun exposure.

  3. Accept the inevitable and save your sanity. Let your family enjoy the new furniture knowing that, in a few years, after everything is stained, you can recover it all with new fabric.

In case youíre wondering where we stand on plastic or ready-made slipcovers, we do not consider either to be an acceptable option. Store bought slipcovers move and look messy. They require constant tucking and re-fitting to look decent. Plastic slipcovers have no use outside of your grandmotherís home.

Making a Mobile Home Look and Feel like A House

Dear Designing Solutions:My husband and I just purchased our first home - a mobile home with dark green carpet! There is nothing wrong with the carpet, and our budget is fixed, so we would like to make do with the existing carpet. What wall colors would you recommend? Our furniture is a hodge-podge that we will be replacing gradually with nicer things - we love dark wood. We hate mauve and maroon, especially combined with green, which seems to run rampant in mobile homes. We would also like other designer tips on how to make the place seem less like a "mobile home" and seem more like a house. Also, there is wallpaper in the bathrooms - this isn't everyday wallpaper, but a wallboard that was covered in wallpaper before the home was constructed. We would have to paint over it. Should we prime first? Thank you for all your help! Walkabout

Dear Walkabout:Since you're sticking with the dark green carpet and you love dark wood furniture, you need to put a strong color on your walls so that they won't look pale and washed out against furniture and flooring. Try Benjamin Moore's "Concord Ivory", "Chestertown Buff" or "Dorset Gold". They are strong golden yellow colors that will warm up your rooms and hold their own against the dark green carpet and dark wood furniture.

When painting over paper, first ensure that all the seams are in good condition. Prime before painting. If the paper is strong and shows through the primer, try using "Kilz" to seal the paper and color.

To make your mobile home seem more like a house- the same rules apply. Naturalize your surroundings with small decorative pots of plants. Keep your windows natural and maximize the light coming in with simple window treatments from cloth, bamboo- any natural product other than aluminum or plastic. Use warm, bright colors in your furniture and walls. Avoid clutter and overly accessorizing- edit your displays and collectibles.

Non-Porous Flooring

Dear Designing Solutions:Sometimes my cat is incontinent. I need a bedroom flooring material that is moisture-impermeable. Can I use porcelain tile as a bedroom floor? BeBe

Dear BeBe:Porcelain tile, even natural stone, can be porous. Check with the supplier and manufacturer to be certain you are choosing material that will hold up under your exact conditions. You may be able to "seal" the porous tile and grout to provide a waterproof surface that will prevent any staining from your cat. If all else fails, try ceramic tile- a less expensive, highly durable and non-porous flooring choice.

Decorating an Ugly Hall

Dear Designing Solutions:Our front hall is ugly. The longest wall leading from the front door to the back of the house is full of doors- one for the coat closet, one for the powder room, one to the basement and one to my husbandís study. What can I do to make this hall of doors look more attractive? Sandra

Dear Sandra:Camouflage the elements of your home that you cannot change. For your hall of doors, we recommend painting the doors and trim to match and blend in with the walls- so that they are much less noticeable. Start by examining the hinges and door handles. Changing to a brushed chrome or brushed brass will give a more up-to-date look. The brushed finish also makes the hardware much less noticeable. Think about the paint finish next. A flat finish paint on the trim and doors will match up better with flat wall paint than a semi-gloss finish on the trim and doors. Since the goal is to camouflage, in this case, using all the same paint on walls and wood will give a seamless look in your hall.

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