Mark Riddle, a design associate and brand liaison for Room & Board, joined staff writer Jura Koncius last week on The Washington Post's Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.
My bedroom has dark rugs and furnishings. How can I incorporate some spring decorations without having it be mismatched? Are there any pieces that you recommend for an instant spring feeling?
Often the fastest way to freshen up your bedroom is by choosing new bed linens. You can pair crisp white sheets with bright accent pillows to make it feel a bit more seasonal. Often decorative items such as pillows will have some of the darker tones in them, which will work to tie everything together.
Do you have any advice on what type of furniture is best used for a narrow patio or balcony that is about 14 by 2 1/2 feet?
First, think of it as a room -- albeit outside -- and think about what you would like to do in that room. Sometimes it's as simple as a comfortable chair and a small table to enjoy your morning coffee. For more of an entertaining feel, look for small, modular armless pieces that can nestle against a wall or move to a different area on the balcony for versatility. A narrow table that acts as a console up against a wall most of the time can later be pulled out for dining when needed. I often tell people that living in the city is like living on a yacht; every inch counts.
I have a small living room with not much space for bookshelves, but my adjacent dining room has lots of wall space. What do you think of turning the dining room into a library? It would still have a table, but maybe an old library table rather than the current standard dining table.
One of my house fantasies is to have a dining room in a library -- books all around! And if you're a book lover who likes to peruse your collection, you'll have the bonus of being able to use the dining room, which often sits empty, as a useful and engaging room. Seems like a win-win to me! Just make sure that whatever table you use has an overall height that's about the same as a regular dining table, approximately 29 to 30 inches.
I plan to paint the living and dining area of my home white. It is now greige (grey and beige) with white moulding and chair rail. Should the moulding and trim be the same white as the walls, and should they be satin or glossy?
The more neutral and narrow the palette, the more important differences in texture and surfaces become. I tend to like flat walls and satin trim. Others might like eggshell walls (particularly for cleaning) and satin or gloss trim. Either way, I think the variations within the paint help to add visual interest.
We have a large formal living room in desperate need of a renovation. The room is 15 by 25 feet with one entrance on the wall that is 15 feet. We are considering adding built-in bookcases on the opposite side so the room doesn't have a bowling alley look. But our family room is next to the living room. It's the same size and has a fireplace at the far end with bookcases on either side. Is it too much to repeat another set of bookcases in the living room?
Architectural features such as bookcases are used to help balance and define a room, much like what you're considering. You also mentioned that the living room is formal, so built-in bookcases could certainly add to that more formal feeling, as well as complement the feeling of the adjacent room.
What's the best ratio for ceiling height and canopy beds? I really like one, but I feel like the bed might be too tall.
While the canopy needs to not be too close to the ceiling, it's often more important to understand whether the canopy bed makes the overall room feel too small. Make sure that the individual posts don't feel too near a wall or a piece of furniture. Also, make sure that you can actually get the canopy bed into the intended bedroom. They can be cumbersome pieces!
I know upholstered beds were all the rage a few years ago, and then metal four-posters were in. What kind of bed is a timeless investment that will withstand trends?
I think upholstered beds are still good choices. The main concern people have with upholstery is that it won't hold up. But now there are many great performance fabrics on the market that make it an investment that will last many years. We even upholster beds in Sunbrella fabrics, which can look like natural fibres but give the bed long-lasting wear.
I have a dining nook that is 15 feet by 6 feet 5 inches. What are your thoughts on banquette seating? Is it best to get something custom-built, or is it better to get a bench and chairs?
Banquette seating can be a great space saver but can often be expensive and make your dining area appear static. I think there are more and more options for dining benches and chairs that can work in a narrow space and be versatile.