You Ask, Vern Answers
Celebrity designer Vern Yip answers your decorating questions.
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Hundreds of viewers wrote in with design dilemmas for Vern Yip, Design Star judge and the host of HGTV's Deserving Design. Get his top 10 answers for everything from sprucing up windows to picking the right paint colors.
Q: I have plantation shutters on all the windows of my new home. We often open them to let in light and enjoy the view. How do I add softness and color to the window treatments without blocking the light or the view?
— Barb, Jasper, Ala.
A: Plantation shutters are very much in style these days and can be a great way to lend character and interest to a window. If injecting color and softness is your goal, try adding drapery panels that will flank your windows and stay open full time. Since you already have shutters on your windows, there is no need for these panels to close. They can remain more or less decorative for both color and textural purposes. Whenever possible, try to hang your drapes all the way up to the ceiling line for the cleanest and most dramatic presentation.
Q: I have a 19' x 19' master bedroom that has vaulted ceilings. What can I do to make the room feel warm and inviting without making it too dark?
— Kelly, Waukee, Iowa
A: Everyone likes different things from different rooms, and determining your personal style and how you want your room to feel is a key step toward creating a game plan. If you want a master bedroom to feel warm and inviting without being dark, select paint and bedding colors that have warm undertones to them in medium and light tones. Try painting your ceiling a slightly lighter version of your wall color. You can achieve this by taking your wall paint and cutting it with some white to give you a lighter version. Textured drapes that reach all the way up to your ceiling are another way to create warmth, as are throws and throw pillows. Additionally, overhead lights and lamps on dimmers can contribute to creating a warmer glow from your illumination sources.
Q: I live in a house with an open floor plan in the dining room, kitchen and living area. How do you choose paint colors that keep the rooms separate without looking like a color palette?
— Dawn, Bluffton, S.C.
A: Newer homes often are characterized by a more open floor plan, which is more conducive to the way many modern families like to live their lives. Painting the walls in these rooms, however, has become trickier since rooms are now visible from many vantage points. One approach is to select a neutral paint color to run through all of these rooms. Each room can then be individualized and given identity through curtains, throw pillows, rugs, artwork and decorative accessories. Another approach is to select varying shades of the same color for all of the rooms so that you have rooms that relate to each other but are still unique in their tone. If a big color variation is more to your liking, try making one of the rooms a distinct and bold departure while painting the other rooms similar tones of the same color.
Q: My family just moved into an 80-year-old house. The kitchen has an island and pantry that were added later and are different styles from the other cabinets. We're not planning on redesigning the kitchen for at least six months. In the meantime, would it be worth it to reface the doors so all the cabinets match?
— Alissa, Needham, Mass.
A: Quality is a big issue when making interim decisions on design matters, and this is especially true when you are talking about a costly item like kitchen cabinets. If the existing base cabinets are of exceptional quality (solid hardwood construction, dovetail joinery, etc.) then it may be worthwhile to preserve the cabinets themselves as part of both the interim and final kitchen game plan. Usually, if you think that you will be redesigning the kitchen in six months? time, you are better off leaving things alone and pouring your time and financial resources into your ultimate kitchen vision. Painting the walls a brighter or bolder color will draw the eye to the color choice and can often help to temporarily distract from the cabinet discrepancy. Additionally, investing in knobs or pulls that can unify your varying cabinet styles can also be a quick and effective solution, especially if you can then re-use that hardware in your new kitchen.
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