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Just Add Paint to Update Traditional Moldings

A Seat At The Tabl
Designing Dilemmas January 2006

Just Add Paint to Update Traditional Moldings

Dear Designing Solutions: We moved into a traditional-style home but have more contemporary taste. Thereís nice white molding everywhere, especially around the fireplaces, but I think it looks too traditional for our style. Is there any way to make these traditional rooms look more contemporary so that our furniture works in them? Susan B.

Dear Susan: Donít despair- you can make those white moldings fit your style by changing the color. At the ceiling, consider re-painting crown moldings in a hi-gloss version of your wall color. Blending the crown molding into the wall makes them less conspicuous and, as a result, less traditional. Simply changing the paint finish to a hi-gloss will give you a nice, subtle transition between the wall color and the ceiling color (you did remember to paint your ceilings, right?) You can do the same for base and window moldings and your doors and match them to your wall color. Another subtle, updated approach calls for painting your trim in one or two shades darker than your wall color. A soft taupe wall with dark taupe moldings and doors, for example, is much less traditional-looking than a soft taupe wall with white trim.

Painting all that white trim can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if youíve just moved into your home and havenít yet settled on wall colors. So hereís an easier fix. Pull out one or two accent colors that you are using or planning to use in your room. These can be colors that come from upholstery fabric, wall art, curtain fabric or your rug(s). Use these two accent colors to highlight areas of your white molding. For example, at the ceiling where traditional rooms can have oversized crown molding, add a thin stripe of color in pumpkin, teal, black or periwinkle. If thereís dental molding, paint the raised trim on one color and the recessed trim in another. On tall baseboard molding, use simple decorative techniques, like sponging or metallic paint, to add a contemporary twist. Doing a little with your moldings can make a big impact in your room without shrinking your pocketbook. Just add paint!

A Seat At The Table

Dear Designing Solutions: We inherited a nice dining table thatís 86 inches long by 40 inches wide. I want to be able to seat as many people as possible around this table without feeling squeezed in. Since we have to go and buy chairs for this table, how many chairs do you think we can reasonably fit around this size table? Judith M

Dear Judith: You can purchase up to eight dining chairs; three on each side and one at each end of the table. Even though you might be tempted to squeeze in one more small chair on each long side of your table, youíll be making the whole dining experience feel restrictive and uncomfortable for your guests, especially for adults. Hereís why. Each dinner guest at the table needs a minimum of two feet of space on the table for their place setting and dining comfort. If you use multiple stemware or oversized chargers in your place setting, then you need to add more space per diner. Each dining space at the end of your table should have a minimum of 6 inches of free space on each side edge of the table. So, measure out each two-foot dining space after coming in six inches on either side edge of the table. Use these guidelines when determining how many guests to invite to a dinner- they tell you how many adults can fit with comfort at your table. Of course, throw all the rules about dining space out the window if weíre talking about close family members at the dining table. In that case, squeeze everyone in- the more the merrier. So, whatís for dinner?

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