Today is round two of my Q&A design lightning round series (if you missed round one head here). You have questions, I have answers… and you also have some questions and that I also sometimes don’t know the answer to even though I kinda think I should at this point (ha!), but HERE GOES.
“Colored trim: yay or nay? Can you just do one room, or should it extend throughout the entire house?”
Colored trim – YAY, but know that it’s a choice that you might change your mind on long term (and it’s ok, it’s just paint). Now painting trim is harder than walls for sure, so it’s not such an easy “don’t worry!” kind of advice. Here’s what I’d do – mock it up somehow. Either paint a piece of paper and tape it along the window or use colored tape to do one window and see how it feels before you do all of them. By the way, I think the crown and base mouldings aren’t that big of a deal to paint more than once, but door and window mouldings are because they need to open and close without sticking and the amount of times you paint does affect that.
And oh my gosh I’ve wondered that second part of your question so many times myself. I think ideally anything architectural should be consistent throughout the house (or consistently inconsistent). We wanted to paint the kid’s room trim (base, window frames, and doors) the same as the walls, but it was weird because then do you paint one side of the door one color and the other (say into the hallway or bathroom) another? That felt weird. So I think you’d do both sides. BUT what if that color didn’t look good in that next room? I think this decision is easier when you are renovating and you make that same decision throughout the whole house – where the rooms can be different, but at least they are all different. For us, we stayed with white because the entire house has white trim and it felt a little try hard to have just ONE room different. Also, our windows are so old and have been painted so many times that we didn’t want to accidentally paint them shut. I think one thing I’ve always gotten stuck on is I thought that the door color needed to match the moulding. It doesn’t. I’ve toyed around a lot with painting all our doors upstairs a color, but then I get scared…
“I get overwhelmed with choosing colors for each room of the house. How do you determine what to use in each room so everything looks like it flows together?”
I think it really depends on the house. Here’s what I’ve learned – older homes or more traditional homes that are more chopped up with traditional “rooms” can have different colors and can really be addressed design-wise as individuals. Once you get to a more open space plan and you can see rooms through other rooms, you need to be more curated. The mountain house is so open that I want it all to flow and to visually not break up the space with colors. But I’ve been to so many homes where each room is its own thing and that is very exciting, too. I love when you walk into a room and you get a new experience from it that you didn’t in other rooms. Dee Murphy (above) is a GREAT example of this. We shot her house for the book (not those photos) and I was so impressed with her bravery, she just went for it in each room and while they all feel collected and happy, they feel different and individually designed.
“Are any matching sets ever stylish? Or should we always mix and match? (Bedroom, living room, dining.)”
Yes, they can be stylish. They are coming back, guys. I think eclectic is ALWAYS in, but I think for minimalists who want to play with just a few finishes and get a more streamlined look it can look really good, if you choose wisely. I think it more comes down to what you choose. Very few “sets” of furniture bring in personality (except when you have chairs like the two above that Laura Thurman used above). Generally, I would stick to a simple headboard with simple nightstands, that really just create a basic backdrop (if you are going for a set). For the living room, I like a sofa + matching chair set, but I haven’t seen a room in a long time that I’ve loved where the sofa and both chairs all match. I’m not saying it can’t work, but it can also look like you just went to your local furniture store and bought floor models. It’s also a bigger commitment that you might regret, whereas doing a more eclectic look is actually easier to pull off (especially when you mix in vintage).
“I’m looking for dinner plates and wallpaper (unrelated) but I’m having so much trouble sourcing them because there are so many options for both and I can’t tell where to start or what’s good. Are there any Em-Henderson-approved suggestions so I can at least narrow my search parameters a little bit?”
I REALLY wanted you to say that you want your wallpaper and dinner plates to match, I would LOVE to be your friend and eat in that dining room. Short answer, yes, there are a WHOLE BUNCH of Em Henderson-approved vendors in this post. Scroll down to Tabletop and then to Wallpaper — these are the brands we turn to when we’re sourcing for a shoot or for our own homes!
“Can you have two different ceiling lights in the same (small) room?” (And another, similar question from a different reader: “How much should lights coordinate within an open space? Are similar finishes enough?”)
It really depends on the style of your home and the space. This is a whole chapter in our next book so its kinda a long answer, but here goes. The answer is yes, but there should be a reason they are different. Maybe it’s a different function, or they are to help separate the space (chandelier over the dining table, pendants over the island). The above image we shot for the next book and they mixed two different vintage lights in the same room and we thought it was quirky and fun, but the whole house is quirky and fun so it works.
Generally, they should have either something in common or be VERY different because of function. Look at my kitchen (below) – it has modern lights over the windows, then a vintage milk glass pendant over the island.
“So do you not have an exhaust over the range or is it a downdraft? Asking because we’re planning on building a home and I really hate the exhaust hoods as a rule.”
We have a downdraft (see above)! You press a button and it pops up. Although yes, the window and the wood frame have gotten splashed with oil which sucks, but so far I’m glad we have the downdraft.
“How wide should a pouf be relative to an armchair?”
Smaller but hard to say without seeing your chair. It’s really just to rest your feet on so it shouldn’t be as wide. Just make sure that it’s not too high. It should be lower than the seat of your chair both for comfort and to look visually balanced. I like a wide pouf that can also double as seating.
“How wide should a mirror be over a buffet? Does the answer depend on if the mirror is a circle? Same question for a mirror over a bed headboard.”
I think err on the side of bigger, but if it’s beautiful then always err on the side of more beautiful. Here are two examples above that we’ve done of BIG mirrors.
This one, below is technically too small, but you could make it work like we did with a big, visually powerful lamp 🙂
“Are accent walls ‘out’? I don’t see them on too many design blogs anymore, but I want to add some color to my house without painting the full room. What do I do?”
The answer is yes… and no. Not all accent walls are created equal. I think just one wall in a room can be fine IF if it’s different architecturally. The only other exception that we’ve made before is a headboard wall. I once had an architect tell me that if you are going to treat a wall differently it the other walls have to dead-end into it, it can’t be floating in a room or have a reverse that goes away from it. Man, even I don’t understand what I meant. It has to be contained was his point. But we wrote a full post about it here.
Keep those questions coming. We’ll compile and do some on stories as well. And don’t forget to come back today for our big home decor list of Black makers/designers and Black-owned shops (but if you miss it – it will all be added permanently to the site).