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In The News - The Washington Post

The Washington Post

September 2013

House Calls: A beauty by the bay
By Margaret Ely, Published: September 18


After Kathy Guida moved to Arnold 10 years ago, she renovated her Colonial home to create an open floor plan. But she’s stuck on how to fully realize that open vision in the 27-by-29-foot space. She wants to replace her dining set with a more comfortable seating area, while highlighting the Chesapeake Bay view.

Click here to read the full article.

The Washington Post

March 2013

Value Added: The color of her Paint Pen is green, as in cash
By Thomas Heath, March 17, 2013 washington-post-2013-03 (45K)

Whether it’s the dining-room table, a tray in the television room or a restaurant tablecloth, my post-meal place setting always looks like Gen. Sherman’s army just marched through.

Blueberries, bread crumbs, yogurt, cauliflower scrapings. I leave it on me, around me, on the rug, on the couch, on chairs.

I confess: I am a slob — which makes me the target audience for Debbie Wiener’s Slobproof products. She is the Silver Spring mompreneur who has built a thriving business on a “camouflage the dirt” approach to home decorating.

Her philosophy is to decorate for the way you really live, not for impressing the neighbors.

It pays......

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The Washington Post

September 2009

Enduring Design:
"How to make the messy reality of family living stylish"

Click here to view the article in PDF format.

The Washington Post

November 2005

Washington Post Housewatch:
"Comfort Comes First in the Family Room"

Click here to view the article in PDF format.

Washington Post House Calls:
"The Hubands solve their decorating woes with a designing solution from Debbie Wiener"

Click here to view the article in PDF format.

The Washington Post

November 2003

Designing Solutions’ Deborah Wiener was quoted in “Is it Time to Give The Sofabed a Rest?” by Washington Post Staff Writer, Annie Groer.

…Another overnight option is a standard bed or a daybed with a pull-out trundle underneath, suggests Deborah Wiener, a Silver Spring designer who specializes in family-friendly décor. Never mind that one person has to sleep on a mattress-in-a-drawer or mounted on a frame a few inches off the floor, while the other is at normal bed height she says.

Wiener dislikes pop-up trundles, even if that means a pull-out model separates couples by a vertical foot or two. “My sons, who are 8 and 12 have trundles in their rooms for sleepovers. But the older boy doesn’t want to be lying next to another boy. And what if you have grownup guests who are not a couple, like a brother and sister?” says Wiener.

She suggests buying trundle sets at furniture stores such as Pottery Barn or Pottery Barn Kids rather than at a shop that sells mattresses “because this is about the frame, not the mattress. And just because they are shown in a kid room setting doesn’t mean you can’t use it in an adult room.

…But if holiday hosts get too frantic, decorator Wiener has this bid of advice: “Want to know where I personally think is the best place to put your guests? In a hotel, especially if they are family.”

The Washington Post

November 2002
Stealing Space for Your Storage Needs

How do you resolve the other storage needs in your new house? The basement or the garage is great for things you don't need very often. But where to put those things you use frequently and want close at hand?

Most new houses do not have wall niches, nooks and crannies, generous stair landings, or that proverbial "space under the stairs." New houses tend to have neatly squared-off rooms. The only way to garner space to store the things you want close by is to steal it.

For example, you can commandeer 12 to 15 inches from one end of your dining room and build a closet to house all that fancy china you got as a wedding present or inherited from your Great Aunt Nancy and use on special occasions.

You may have received Aunt Nancy's sideboard along with her china, but those often do not hold much, and building a closet to take up the slack is an affordable solution, said Silver Spring interior designer Deborah Wiener. Closets cost less than built-in cabinetry and can be built by a handyman who is accustomed to framing and drywalling.

Another plus with the closets: They're also a handy place to store extra leaves for your dining table and the folding chairs you bring out when you have an overflow crowd. To make the closets blend in with the décor, Wiener uses wood doors and stains them to match the dining room furniture. If a client wants something with more character, she refinishes old doors from shops that sell salvaged materials from old buildings...

-- Katherine Salant

The Washington Post

November 2002
Blinds, Shades Offer Solid Start to Window Treatments

You need window treatments in your new house, and you need a lot of them. Assuming your house has about 2,400 square feet -- a mid-size, mid-priced house in most markets -- you have 20 to 25 windows and possibly more.

Covering them with something really classy, such as lightly stained maple blinds to match your maple floors or simple pleated drapes in fabrics that complement your upholstered furniture, would look terrific. But even with the frequent sales and discounts window-treatment vendors offer, both of these options would cost much more than you probably want to spend.

A more realistic strategy to get the privacy and light control that you need, while keeping the bottom line where you want it, is to get simple but serviceable "hard treatments," which are shades or blinds.

Be prepared for a stiff learning curve. Even limiting yourself to simple, serviceable solutions leaves a lot of ground to cover. For example, you may think you want a simple 1-inch aluminum blind, but do you want a 6- or 8-gauge one? A blackout feature to block out daylight? Metallic, brushed, hammered or a leather-like soft suede finish? And which color -- there are more than 100 available.

If your household includes rambunctious children and frisky dogs, durability is important. Silver Spring-based interior designer Deborah Wiener says she spends a fair amount of time with clients just outlining all the choices.

"Many people start out thinking they need drapes, which they find confusing because there are so many different types of pleats and styles. And they're afraid to commit to a color or fabric because they haven't picked out all their other furnishings yet. I tell them, 'Go slow, start with blinds or shades that give sun control and privacy, and deal with the drapes later.' I usually recommend a simple, good-quality, white fabric roller shade, with a side cord mechanism so you don't see the clips on the side. It's inexpensive, it's simple, and it looks good."...

...The eating area is often next to a sliding glass door that opens onto an outdoor area. Adults, children and pets going in and out can bang against whatever you put there for privacy or sun control, so the solution must be durable as well as functional. A faux-wood blind would work well, but one wide enough to cover the entire slider could be heavy to raise, especially for small adults and children.

Instead, Wiener recommends a one-inch aluminum blind. She usually specifies the Hunter Douglas "soft suede finish" because "it's good-looking, a low price point and difficult to damage."

"It's easy to raise and lower if a sliding glass door will be used a lot to go in and out, and it's easy to keep clean," she said.

A vertical blind with fiberglass or vinyl slats that can be pulled to one side would also work, but in houses with kids and animals, a vertical blind next to a sliding door will start to show wear as kids, chairs, pets and a vacuum cleaner bang into it, Wiener said.

If you have French doors that open onto the outside area, selecting a window treatment is easier because you won't have to raise it every time you want to go outside. You can simply attach a blind or shade to the back of each door. But it must be durable, because kids, pets and chairs can still bang against it, and easy to clean, because the doors are next to an eating area.

The windows in the family room are less likely to get damaged or dirty, so durability and cleanability are less of an issue.

For sun control, Wiener often suggests a softer look with a fabric blind called a "silhouette." It has 2- or 3-inch fabric slats suspended between two pieces of sheer fabric. When you look through the blind, the sheer fabric filters the light, creating an effect similar to an impressionist painting. If the view outside is your neighbor's garage door or his air-conditioning compressor, this Monet treatment would definitely be a plus. (Silhouette is a Hunter Douglas trademark name, but designers routinely call all fabric blinds "silhouettes.")

Another window treatment for the family-room area that Wiener uses when sun control is not an issue is woven wood shades, which are made with matchstick-thin pieces of wood, bamboo, reeds and grasses. "This type of shade," she said, "has great textures that go with everything. It's unusual, it usually costs less than a silhouette, and I think that natural materials create a room that is more serene and more relaxing."...

Column:HOUSEWATCH Katherine Salant October 26, 2002; Page H1

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