Dinner is Served

Q:  I bought a dining room table and chairs that are wrought iron and are painted white with white fabric on the cushions with blue coral. It is a rectangular table with 6 chairs. The designer that sold me them said that it was shabby chic. The chairs have  a shell design back and the table has a shell design at the base in the middle. The fabric on the chairs is indoor fabric. I bought the table and loved the look but am not sure if it is ok to use in my dining room. The house is in Palm Beach, Fla. and has saltillo tile on the floor. Do you think it is ok to use this table inside and if so should I use a rug under it or put felt on the bottom of the chairs.  I keep worrying about it.        –C.F.


A:   The dining set is an outdoor set!  Since you’re in Florida – I think it’s a cool idea to use it inside.  I’ll assume the chairs are somewhat heavy since they’re iron – I would definitely put a thick felt pad underneath the chair legs and table. 

example of saltillo tile

example of saltillo tile

 You had mentioned the possibility of putting an area rug underneath your dining set but a  potential problem with that may be that the chair’s weight would drag the rug when you move the chairs under the table.    Definately give the felt pads a shot because it’s an inexpensive solution and saltillo tile is too beautiful to cover.


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…and how does that make you feel?

“What color do you think I should paint my…”

Honestly?  How the hell should I know… I’m an interior designer, not a psychologist.  That’s not entirely true.  Oh no, I’m not a psychologist but I am able to help you.

Color psychology is a feeling or effect that is evoked by a color and is different from color symbolism which is primarily the use of color as a symbol.  For example, the color red symbolizes danger, blood, war, sex and many others.  Green symbolizes money, good luck, generosity, jealousy… 

 Although I don’t really focus on the symbolism of colors too much, I do think that certain colors do work better for certain situations or rooms.  Think about having a really tough day at work and then a terrible commute and coming home to unwind in a red room.  Hey, if you do walk into a red room, I’m not criticizing your color choice – I’m just painting a picture of someone who clearly needs to relax and kick back but is immediately accosted by RED.  The color that evokes aggression, speed, and danger to name a few.  That room should probably be in the green, blue, pink or brown family. 

There have been

“…an increasing number of studies linking colors to specific responses. One study found that weight-lifters have more powerful performances in blue rooms. Another study found that babies cry more frequently in yellow rooms. Yet another used “Pepto Bismol pink”, to calm prisoners. Color consultants believe that the colors used in the design of environment can have a significant impact on the emotions and performance of people within that environment.” -wikipedia.org

I’ve been doing some investigating online to see what the psychology of colors are because I’m thinking we are going to need to redo our bathroom soon. Our poop brown, sage and beige bathroom.  I picked brown before I knew it evokes warmth, comfort and security – I chose it because I liked it.  And because it went with the weirdly off white tiles that were in there when we bought the place. 

Here are some of the things I found:


Evokes:  energy, warmth, comfort, strong emotions, intensity.  Red is a great accent color.  Less is more with red on walls – pick one wall or area. Oh, and when painting a red wall  – use a grey or tinted primer.  If you use white you’ll get that candy red color instead of the dark red that’s on the paint chip. Red is a really important color in the practice of feng shui.


Evokes: happiness, energy, warmth, cheerfulness


Evokes: cheer, optimism.  Yellow should be used carefully in that too much yellow or intense yellow has the ability to evoke anger, frustration and high tempers.  It’s a popular choice in new babies room but make sure it’s a soft yellow because studies have shown that babies cry more in bright yellow rooms.


Evokes: peace, tranquility, health, calm, well placed energy; said to improve reading ability and fertility.


Evokes: peace, restfulness, confidence, calmness, serenity, security.  It is said that people are most productive in blue rooms and that blue can lower your heart rate and body temperature.  However, blue is associated with depression and certain shades of blue can send a “cold and uncaring message”. Unfortunately, I haven’t a clue which ones they are yet.  I also read that if you’re trying to lose weight that eating off a blue plate helps since it is one of the least appetizing colors. Pssst, it doesn’t work – we use blue plates…


Evokes: serenity, peace, balance, uplifting, offers a sense of spirituality, boosts imagination and creativity.


Evokes: happiness, tranquility. It’s not as bold as red, but bright pinks can act like red in a way evoking action or aggression.  Pink used in prisons worked at calming prisoners… initially. Exposure to pink over a long period of time made the inmates more agitated once they became accustomed to it.  Another study said that in some sport stadiums, the visiting team locker rooms are painted pink to induce a calmness and give the home team an advantage.


 Evokes: warmth, comfort, security, friendliness, stability.


Is a color associated with authority, power and strength. Seriously, don’t paint your room black.  Black is a great furniture color and accent color –  too much is overwhelming – like the walls are coming in at you.


Evokes: peace, purity, innocence, sterility, emptiness.  Benjamin Moore has over 140 shades of white in their paint color palette which is funny to me because most people want to paint their walls a color other than white. 


Evokes: unsettled and expectant feelings.  Interesting, I read that too much grey leads to feelings of nothingness.  A good background color.

SO.  Thats what I got from tooling around the internet investigating color psychology.  Even though these colors have a direct effect on emotions, I wouldn’t change an entire room because of them. Wall color can be balanced with the color of objects in the room… but that’s a whole other post.  Haven’t decided what color to use in the bathroom yet, but it does give me a lot to think about.  If anyone can think of some other things these colors can do …or not do for you, let me know!

Check out some of the sites I investigated:

www.precisionintermedia.com, wikipedia.org, and squidoo.com

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Enter at your own risk

Q:My entry isn’t a formal entry… it’s at the right side of my long living room.  I know it will never be a proper entry area, but I’ve tried to create a more defined space by putting down an area rug and positioning the living room furniture.  What the space is lacking is a surface –  a place to throw keys and mail, but we’re working with only a sliver of space to do so. I was thinking a shelf with funky brackets, but I really would like a piece of furniture.


A: Looking at the dimensions, you’ve got an almost three foot wide space to do something in – between the doorway to the hall and the open front door.  Hmmmm.  dwg1 001 I would suggest something on the taller side.   Did you know that bathroom furniture is generally rather narrow? Well, it is.  That could be a pretty interesting piece to use. No, not a vanity… a storage piece.  Now the problem is to have it not look like it belongs in the bathroom…



Ballard Designs Vetrina Cabinet

pb modular

Pottery Barn Modular Bath Storage









There are also pieces of furniture other than bedside tables that will fit in that narrow spot, but some won’t be as tall and others may be too tall…

raie chest

Pier 1 Raie Chest 24"w x 31"h


Powell Cabinet 20.5"w x 44"h


White Horse Furniture 14"w x 30"h

blossom chest
Pulaski Blossom Chest 26″w x 30″h


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Hey, Buster! …you left something

This is my entry table… it isn’t really at the entry of the house, it’s up a few steps in a ‘traffic area’ between my dining room to the left and kitchen to the right. Weird, I know.  Its IMG_1386one of the first things you see when you enter the house and I’m sick of it looking so lame ass.  However, there is one big reason I haven’t addressed it yet:  

My Husband.  

Well, he’s definitely an accessory to the problem.  When we moved in, there was a big old AC unit in that wall.  Huge. My husband got it out, patched up the hole, painted and called it a day.

HELLO!? What the hell is that thing still doing there?!!  Oh yes, he left the power outlet up there in no man’s land.  Precisely 67″ above the floor and 29-1/2″ over from the wall at the right. Squint… you can see it.  I’ve been racking my brains to come up with a solution but since we are dealing with a man who will never get back to this part of the house I decided that I’m just going to have to cover it up. 

Ideally, I would have loved to hang a mirror there. I haven’t found anything big enough …or should I say affordable enough in the size I need.  Then, I thought about putting framed photos up in a collection, but everbody seems to do that and I didn’t want the same old thing.     

Then I came up with an idea I didn’t think would materialize into anything, because the last time I really saw one up close was in 8th grade wood shop: The Candle Sconce.  I did a quick search on the web and I was truly suprised to find a few that are right up my alley.  I thought this would be a clever idea because of how high the sconce could be placed on the wall.  I could use two of them symmetrically over the table and it could hang over the outlet on the right side.  A  real concern is mounting the sconce on the wall without disturbing the electrical box or conduit inside.  Hmmmm, I think I’ll let my husband hang them…  

(I tease because I love)

dwg2 001



Some of the sconces I came across on my investigation.  If you have a solution to my entry table problem – please let me know!!  I’d love to hear it!


Pottery Barn – Nina Mirror & Votive Holder
Ballard Designs – Antiqued Mirror Candle Sconce
Graham & Green – Mosaic Mirrored Candle Wall Sconce



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Death by mauve

Q: We are ready to redo our hall bathroom- it’s the one bathroom we pink bath 4haven’t gotten to since we moved in, but we are now ready to say goodbye to mauve.  Everything is going (yes, the mauve toilet, tub and sink are going!) and we’re thinking about doing it in another color, but we’re not sure what yet.  As you can see by the photos, its a full size bathroom and is one of the main bathrooms used the family -but also by guests since its closest to the area we entertain in.  We don’t have a very big budget and were thinking about doing as much as we can ourselves.  Can you offer some ideas that would help keep our budget down but not make it look like…we had to keep our budget down?! Thanks!

A: OMG. That’s a color.

So, you have champagne dreams but a Budweiser budget, huh? Who doesn’t -not to worry!

There are a few things I see right away in your photo that could help.  First of all, it looks as though there’s a tile wainscot around the room along with the tub surround.  There is maybe one reason to have tile behind the toilet…and if your kids are boys you’ll know what I mean. Kidding aside, you may want to rethink tiling only the tub surround.  I’m guessing there will be about +/- 70sqft of wall tile there (hard to say for sure… can’t see if tile goes to ceiling, let’s say it does).  If I do some more eyeballing, it looks like you have a 42”high wainscot around the rest of the space?  Not knowing the exact dimensions of the room I’ll guess it could add up to at least 50-60sqft more of wall tile which you don’t really need.  You could consider using a tile base at the floor to stop the spills.

as1 as2 as3


You mentioned that you don’t know what colors to do in the new bath… PLEASE don’t go with different colored fixtures again!!!  I say this because that mauve is burned into my retinas. No, I say this because plumbing fixtures in colors other than white or off white are generally more expensive.  Looking at the Kohler website, I’ve checked out the ‘Memoirs® Comfort Height® Elongated Toilet with Classic Design’ – the list price for the toilet in white is $907.85 (list price people… you can get it for less!) and the colored ones are between $230 – $430 list higher…  and that’s just for the toilet!  On the American Standard website, the Traditional Champion® 4 EL Right Height™ Toilet  has a list price ranging from $710- $1028.

If it’s color you want – paint is what you need!! One idea is doing the wall tile in a neutral tone and using paint and your linen selections to kick it with color. If you want to change the color scheme, you won’t have to change the tile.

I see you have a shower rod and curtain rather than glass shower doors. That’s another suggestion I would have made in keeping the cost down. Two upsides to having a shower curtain is that it gives you a chance to show off something fun in your color choice  and it’s much easier when you have to give someone a bath.  Don’t worry, cleaning the liner is a snap:  throw it in the washing machine when needed.

Now that you have some ideas on how to stick within your budget, one of the places you should consider spending some money on is the flooring. Think about using a natural stone floor – not the ceramic or porcelain flooring the salesperson says looks like stone, but real limestone or marble, slate… or even river rocks! Yes, it is more expensive than the faux stuff but it’s a great place to make your bathroom look high end. However, if this bathroom is going to be used primarily by your kids but also will need to look great for your guests you may want to consider ceramic mosaics – a less expensive alternative which can definately hold up to kids and has a more funky look than what you remember from the bathroom in your parents house.

wz 1 cm1

(marble & granite dot mosaic)     (ceramic tile mosaic)

Look at websites like Faucet.com and Build.com for discounted prices on plumbing fixtures like faucets, toilets and tubs among other things like bathroom accessories – toilet paper holders, towel bars, shower rods…

Have fun!

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Interior design question? Ask it

Do you need a little design help, but not enough to hire a designer?! Maybe I can help!  Post your question and include as much information as you can about it (even photos and measurements) and I’ll try my very best to answer.


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