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EHD Insider Design Agony Group Chat with Julie & Jess (Because Two Is Better Than One)

We were originally going to call this post, “Julie and Jess: The Design Agony Crushers”… too much time by ourselves in quarantine?? Probably. BUT that sentiment is real because all we ever want to do is help (or crush) all of you with the design challenges plaguing your lives. We also think it’s almost impossible to design alone. Everyone needs at least a second eye. With us, it’s always collaborative in some small way. Mainly like, “Hey what is this room missing?” or “Do you like this? I can’t tell if I do.” So since we heavily rely on each other’s opinion for all of our design issues, questions, and panic attacks, we thought that we would tackle this post together. I mean we were going to consult each other anyway, so might as well divide and conquer.

Let’s start crushing…

The Dark Accent Wall In An Open Plan Space

From Jess: I thought this one was a great one to start with because it touched on something that Emily JUST talked about in her family room post… painting a high contrast color in an open (or open-ish) plan home. We totally get wanting to make a room feel cozy by painting it a moody color (especially blue, have you seem our site? Blue is our thing). Hooowever, this is Emily’s rule of thumb, and Julie and I agree.

RULE: Painting a high contrast color on only some of the walls in an open concept home will cut off the visual flow. The only time it really works is if the color is painted in an architectural feature (like a nook, see here). You want your eye to happily bounce around without it abruptly halting (and not the good kind).

So as much as we love this moody blue view from Alessa’s dining room into her entry, she noted that the entry opens up to the kitchen which opens up to the living room and she doesn’t want to paint it all dark. Our conclusion then is to keep the house all the same light color for maximum flow. This means some repainting might be in order. But as we always say, it’s your house so it’s your rules. If you like it then it’s perfect.

The “Not Ready To Renovate” But “Can’t Live Like This” Bathroom

From Julie: The Insiders had some great suggestions for Betsy that included painting the floor tile, replacing the wood mirror, getting rid of that “interesting” blue wall color, putting up some fun wallpaper, and painting the vanity.

She took your suggestions and decided to lean into the EEG trend (Eccentric English Grandma) to make it work for now so she can one day brush her teeth in peace. Betsy sent over some initial mood boards to Jess and myself which were on the right track but she felt something wasn’t quite working. So, of course, I couldn’t help myself and came up with the one below.

Wallpaper | Sconces | Mirror | Vanity Color | Trash Can | Towel Bar | Towel | Window Treatment | Rug | Art | Toilet Paper Holder | Paint Color

First off, let’s give this room a coat of white paint on the walls to start off feeling fresh. Then with using a latex paint, Betsy could take those tan floor tiles and paint them a soft gray. Some floral wallpaper behind the vanity and a dusty pink accent color in the toilet nook would add life back to the walls without it being too overwhelming in the space. As for the vanity, I think it should be a dark navy which again plays off the color in the wallpaper to tie it together. Then swap out the mirror and sconces for a more simplistic/modern shape and sprinkle that brass throughout the rest of the room in the towel bar, trash can, toilet holder, and other accessories. A bit of unexpected art above the toilet overlapping the paint would bring in some fun quirk and of course placing an amazing vintage cane upholstered bench (Betsy found this one and I am in love!) under the window adds some character into the space. For some texture, she could install a natural woven window treatment and a tree will of course add warmth. Last but not least, throw down a large rug in a smaller scale pattern (to nicely contrast the large scale wallpaper) which ties into the color palette. Betsy, I hope this temporarily solves your bathroom blues…literally.

The “Wait, Is This Art Generic??”

From Jess: Buyer’s remorse is real. Sometimes it’s a few days after it’s too late to cancel or it happens once the piece gets into your home and clearly doesn’t work. One of the best things about having friends whose taste you trust is avoiding this potential issue. And if you don’t have a friend like that or instead prefer to ask hundreds of design enthusiasts in a design-loving community like Carly did with her art purchase, then the EHD Insider Community is for you.

Buying generic art is one of our official design mistakes. We wrote about it here. And while I totally understand the second-guessing of a large purchase, Carly’s prints are beautiful and not at all generic like she was worried about! The key to making any home look unique is A. Loving pieces you own, B. Varied textures/patterns, and C. A little bit of vintage because it always adds soul.

So congrats to Carly and her new pieces and we hope you feel at ease after asking your many new design friends if they were keepers. Lastly, if any of you are looking for some special prints here are some current favorites (some are printable!):

1. Lost & Found Again – Quarantina 5 & Lost & Found Again – Quarantina 4 | 2. Rocky I & Rocky II | 3. She Split the Earth That Day & This is Mine. You’ve Taken Enough. | 4. Pale Pink Stripes Print| 5. Flying Birds & Minimal Landscape | 6. Paths II & Paths I

The “Does My House And Detached Garage Need To Match?”

From Julie: This one seems to be all about personal preference and here is mine. 😉 Typically, when a detached building is this close next to the main house I would prefer the exterior colors to match…but here is where I will contradict myself. Since Elizabeth plans to only update the exterior of the garage/shed I say go dark! It’ll add some personality to the backside and helps camouflage it from the street side. If she were to refinish the siding on the garage/shed and paint it the same white it would be much brighter than the white on her main house due to years of weather. With the darker color, it’s still going to highlight the weathered siding on the main house because it’s simply going to look newer but not as much as the white will. Go dark, be bold!

The “Should I Paint My Trim AND My Windows?”

From Jess: We have another Insider itching for a dark, moody oasis (I think most of us are on this train currently). But Jessica has some logistical questions about the trim and more specifically about the windows. Since Jess (may I call you Jess? :)) was thinking about going all in and painting her trim, she wanted to know if she should paint the inner plastic part of the window where the sliding pane runs along. There was a resounding “NO” from Insiders with cautionary tales. I should also mention that this plastic part has yellowed and would have really stood out.

So after carefully considering her options, and of course consulting with Julie, we also suggest skipping the trim. The room will still feel beautiful and very moody:)

The “Do All My Curtains Have To Be The Same If They Are In The Same View?”

From Julie: Here’s another personal preference design decision. Keeping all of your window treatments uniform throughout the house is a very traditional look so I think this all depends on your design style. I can already tell that Nicole is not super traditional by the fact that she said, “I really, REALLY want a medium-dark blue roman shade for the breakfast room to go with our new multicolor chairs…”. Those chairs sound like they scream personality to me so she should go for it and mix up the window treatments! Plus, she “really, REALLY” wants them and this is her home which the end goal is to make her and her family happy living there day in and day out. I think it will look amazing especially if the window treatments in the living room are on the more neutral side. Nicole also mentioned that she plans to mix in some of the blue color from the roman shades into the living room which is a smart idea to help balance out the color. Adding the color either through a larger piece like a rug or accent chair could work or in multiple smaller items such as throw pillows, art and accessories regardless what she ends up doing I cannot wait to see it! Nicole, please post it when you are all done:)

The “What Paint Color Will Highlight The Wallpaper On My Ceiling?”

From Jess: Well first off, we agree with Megan that this wallpaper is magical (remember Sara’s old vanity area?). Also, what a treat that she has a transom window to show off it from the hallway! Now at first glance, there may not seem to be an agony here BUT, Megan feels that the room is too plain and doesn’t do the wallpaper justice. Great! The more personality the better. Spoiler Alert: This agony was solved before we got to it but I still felt like it was a good lesson for all of us:)

Her first thought was a darker olive green, which would have made the white in the clouds really pop. Buuut, in our private message conversation, she realized a darker color would make the washer and dryer really stand out. We agreed. Not ideal when you want your eyes to go up. So after many swatches (10 to be exact), Megan picks this beautiful light muted green from Farrow & Ball called Cromarty.

So the lesson here is to really make sure you are taking your whole room into consideration when choosing paint colors. If you only consider how it will look with one or two items then you should be willing to switch out other pieces to make the room look cohesive. Had Megan been too hyper-focused on the ceiling, she might have missed the issue it would have caused with the washer and dryer. All in all, this is a happy ending and we hope she shows off the finished product in the Show & Tell topic of the Community!

The “I Want New Modern Lighting…Right?”

From Jess: There comes a time in most of our homes (especially with design enthusiasts) when you are ready for some decor upgrades. You are especially ready when it’s been over 3 years and your original decor wasn’t even what you wanted back then. This is Rachel’s issue. The pendants in her kitchen ending up being more traditional than she and her husband had originally planned. Now they are ready to mix it up and go more modern. She is a little unsure of what she wants so let’s get into some options…

1. Bonton Pendant | 2. PH5 Pendant Lamp | 3. Pendant Chandelier

These are Rachel’s initial thoughts. I personally like #3 but due to the color, it doesn’t feel as modern as she could go.

Next up is what the Insiders suggested.

1. Agnes Medium Pendant | 2. UFO Pendant Light | 3. Donna LED Pendant

I honestly like all three of these! The brass would be a very pretty pop of muted glam, #2 is just cool and #3 has such a modern but pretty silhouette.

Lastly are the ones that I picked out…

1. Dekum Metal Dome Pendant | 2. Slay Cord Pendant | 3. Anello Spun Cone Pendant

Rachel obviously likes navy as that was the color she chose for the original pendant. The problem was just with the shape. SO #1 is basically just a modern version of what she has. I have a big crush on #2 (& so does Julie). It’s simple, modern and I LOVE the color. My last pick I really love because it has the vibe of the shape of her #2 but looks more streamlined and the color would look great in her kitchen. Thoughts?

So there concludes today’s design agony…crushing. We hope that you found these helpful and as always let us know what you think! Any other ideas and/or suggestions? Also, if you want to get in on this agony action then be sure to sign up for the EHD Insider Community. We are always so pumped to see members helping each other.

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Styling To Sell: The Playroom/Family Room And The 4 Lessons I Learned Along The Way…

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3 years ago

Ohhhh I love this post!!

But man. Am I the only one who disagrees with the “don’t paint an openish room a darker, contrasting color” rule? I love a layered look, and feel like painting an entire story of a house the same color is a little :/ I think I like having my eye stopped by a color to pause and appreciate the architecture or a separate space. I always loved Emily’s little dark den!! (though later iterations of the room were great too. )

I think it can especially work in Alessa’s space if she paints just the dining room walls. Repaint the entry wall and the back wall of the office (the dark paint makes the door stand out anyway). I think it will help the dining room stand as a separate room.

Again, your house, your choice. Now that’s a rule I can get behind!

Thanks again…now I want to join Insiders!!

3 years ago
Reply to  Abby

I read the lesson as to avoid painting one dark accent wall in an open space; nothing about an entire openish room.

Ang Priest
3 years ago
Reply to  Abby

Yes, I agree with you about disagreeing. I think that every time there’s a posts about the dark walls in Emily’s den/play room. I loved it. I think about Ginny Macdonald’s space and her dark dining room that I love!! Of course I have an open space with one room that has dark walls and I love the contrast in the spaces. I see it a lot online, and I’m not sure why they always state this as a rule. I think it’s personal preference.

Stephanie Wolson
3 years ago

Love this post!

3 years ago

I really enjoyed this. I thought Betsy’s bathroom was a disaster that only a wrecking ball could solve but you guys came up with a great plan. Would love to see everyone’s “afters,” too!

3 years ago
Reply to  Sheila

Ha! Totally agree! I’m always amazed how well someone can transform a space and then I remember they are a professional and I’m not. Love love this post.

3 years ago

Man, I really like the kitchen lights in the last one just the way they are. I feel like they are simple enough that they don’t lean too “traditional”. Also, I really like the age on them. It makes the kitchen feel lived in and interesting, and not sleek and overdone. That’s just my opinion though.

3 years ago
Reply to  Marcia

me too! Love those lights with no changes.

3 years ago
Reply to  Marcia

i see why Rachel wants more modern-looking lights there, but i want to caution about the picks shown here: Some of them have really narrow lampshades, which means they’ll create circles of light below them instead of allowing the light to spread out. i’d go for a lamp with a wider diameter that angles out instead of staying closed in.

Cici Haus
3 years ago
Reply to  Marcia

Same! Hopefully if she changes them out she’ll sell them to someone else who will love them.

3 years ago
Reply to  Marcia

She likes the patina but not the hardware–how is anyone thinking of doing anything but taking them to a lighting repair place and swapping out just the hardware? It would be so easy and probably cheaper than all new lights, plus she gets to keep everything she likes about them and nothing she doesn’t! Win-Win-Win

3 years ago
Reply to  SB

This is SO much for me to have people weigh in! I love the suggestions that everyone has made about new lighting. @Jess & Julie – these are awesome options. I love both the blue Rejuvenation and Triple Seven Home lights.

Just like @SB said – I am going to try to price out changing the fixtures (new hardware and maybe even painting it a new color) and then compare it to some of the new options. Will update folks on which way I go! And if I end up selling the lights the EHD community will def get first dibs.

3 years ago

So off topic, but who makes Carly C’s bed??? ❤️❤️❤️

3 years ago
Reply to  Phyllisa

The photo is from the Etsy site, not of Carly C’s home.

3 years ago

The art in question is not generic, but neither is it particularly distinctive, nice as it may be.

Cici Haus
3 years ago

This was fantastic! I’d love to see more of these posts.

3 years ago

OKAY. I’ll sign up already.

Seriously, such a great post.

3 years ago

If this post was intended to make me join the EHD community… it’s working. Ha! So fun! Especially loving those modern pendant suggestions!

3 years ago

I love these kind of posts! How do I submit a room in my house for advice? Please help! 🙂

3 years ago

Thanks for including my laundry room!! That transom window was a hard fought win with my architect & builder who didn’t deem worthwhile. I’ll definitely post an update in Show & Tell!! ….granted that may be in 6 months😋

3 years ago
Reply to  Megan

PS: the contrast of a dark green + washers was an EHD community comment. It made SO much sense once I read it

3 years ago
Reply to  Megan

That transom is so worthwhile! I like in an old house where the upstairs hall doesn’t get a lot of light, and I’ve considered looking into transoms above a few of the doors. I think it would bring in so much light, because a skylight isn’t really an option. Anyway, good for you for fighting for it!

3 years ago

Heya..I usually never liked reading articles on blogs.
but for this blog I want to say that this writing really forced me to try and do it!
keep Doing more like this.