You Ask, Vern Answers

Celebrity designer Vern Yip answers your decorating questions.

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Drapes can be an inexpensive solution for creating two rooms from one. Designer: Vern Yip

Q: I am a working mother of four children under the age of five. How can we create a separation between our living room and dining room? We need something that is toddler-friendly but stylish.
— Melissa, Indiana, Pa.

A: Separating the living area from the dining area can often be achieved through space planning. By floating a piece of mid-height furniture like a sofa and/or a sofa table, you can effectively create separation without visually obstructing the flow of the room. If you believe furniture floating in the middle of a room is a danger for your toddlers, a separation can be made with the upholstered sofa alone or with drapes hung from a rod suspended from the ceiling. Drapes can be a soft, easily moveable and inexpensive solution for creating two rooms from one. Toddlers inevitably touch things with soiled hands, so washable or treated fabrics make the best choices whichever direction you go.

Q: We have many six-panel doors in our house. They are all primed, but my wife wants them painted white. She says they should be a high-gloss paint to match the surrounding high-gloss white trim. I say they should be an eggshell base of white to distinguish the door from the trim. What do you think?
— Mark, Highland Park, Ill.

A: There are no hardcore rules that homeowners have to follow when it comes to designing their homes. Normally, I would advise a client that the doors and their surrounding trim should be the same finish and color. Since both trim and doors are usually susceptible to fingerprints and dirt, semi-gloss or gloss is a good choice for practical reasons. Additionally, the higher the paint gloss, the more noticeable an element is. If your doors and trim are something you consider a real asset, I would suggest going with at least a semi-gloss so as not to call attention to the differentiation in sheen from the surrounding trim.

Q: My husband and I are decorating our new home and we'd like to use hardwood for our floors. What do I need to consider when choosing a wood color?
— Julie, Barboursville, W. Va.

A: The most important thing to consider when choosing a hardwood floor color is to pick a color that will work easily with your furniture and other belongings. Generally speaking, darker floors have the ability to visually expand a space since darker tones on horizontal surfaces will spatially depress that surface. A darker color on the ceiling condenses the volume in a space since it creates the illusion of being on top of you, while a darker color on the floor expands the volume of a space since it pushes away from you. Allow yourself the most flexibility with the furnishings you love by noticing any kind of consistency in color tone and consider making a floor color choice that will work the best with your treasured belongings.

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