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Design Tips Coloring Inside the Box
Designing Dilemmas - February 2008

Coloring Inside the Box

Dear Debbie: HELP! We have a Cape Cod house built in 1930. The walls in the living and dining rooms have molding. The room is approximately 35 x 12, with a beautiful stone fireplace, but it's only painted one color- BLAH! The ceilings are 8 feet tall and have crown molding. Do I paint the inside of the molding one color and the rest of the walls another, and then the crown molding another?? It's a BIG room and I don't want to invest time and hard work in the wrong way. Can you help??? Amy

Dear Amy: The truth of the matter is, there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to painting moldings- it's all a matter of personal style and taste. Here's some simple, fool-proof advice that is by no means the only approach:

1. Paint all the moldings in the same color- I like Benjamin Moore's "Decorator White" and for something creamier, "White Dove".

2. Choose two colors in the same intensity that look good together. You can play it safe with tan and blue, red and gold, green and yellow or make a stronger statement with pumpkin and poppy red, chocolate brown and rose or pale blue, moss green and copper. Need inspiration? Look at clothing, rugs and furniture to see how colors work together and how they make you feel. Browse through catalogs and magazines for ideas on how to use color. You can even visit fabric stores and ask for small cuttings. Like working a puzzle, mix them up to find the combination that pleases you most and transfer that to your walls.

3. The color you want to see most should go on top, above the chair rail. Often this is the lighter color. The darker color goes below the chair rail. In the boxes, below the chair rail, you can keep the same darker color or you can add the lighter color that you are using above. Your call. Mixing it up will make the room more lively and would be a great way to add more style in a dining or family room.

4. If all else fails, choose one color in two intensities such as a light tan and a darker tan, and follow step three as described above.

5. Don't forget the ceiling. Your white crown molding will stand out against a pale blue ceiling. If you paint the walls in cool colors, try a pale, warm tone on your ceiling. If the walls are warm, add something cool above. The subtle contrast will make your crown moldings "pop!"

Bare Windows

Dear Debbie: I have a deep kitchen window above my sink, similar to a garden style, approximately 16" deep. Where would I put a valance? I like contemporary/cottage style. Also, I have a transom window above my door. Any idea for a window treatment there to match the garden window? They are both on the same wall. Thanks so much. Terri

Dear Terri: The first thought that comes to my mind is "Why add anything to your window or transom?" You're fortunate to have a garden window in your kitchen. If you add some greenery, or an herb garden, why add anything else? I hate to have you do anything that detracts from the outdoor feeling a garden window brings to the kitchen. But, to answer your question, a valance would mount outside the garden window, flush with the other walls in your kitchen.

Transom windows are wonderful architectural features that have the effect of letting more light into your home without sacrificing privacy. Unless the sun coming through the transom threatens to fade or damage your furnishings and floor, there's no reason to cover them. But, to answer your question, if I were choosing a contemporary/country covering for a transom, I would probably choose a plantation shutter. Because of the open, architectural feeling that shutters add to room design, they look perfect on every window, large or small.

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