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Saturday
Mar192011

Design crew

Got a problem? Need some help? Just standing there shaking your head? Don't know what to do? You're not alone. Send us a link to photos of your design quandary and let the Desire to Inspire design crew help you .... that's you lot ... the readers! You are coming up with some stellar ideas each week so it's time to do it all over again.

"I moved into my first house about 6 months ago. I have 2 design dilemmas. The first issue is the huge blank wall in the dining room & kitchen. (There is an air conditioner in the wall that we will be replacing with a window and central air this summer) but the wall spans the entire house. I have no clue what to do there. The second issue is the den (family room). There is a ledge that spans the whole room. I have no idea what to do  for it. I'm stuck. Help!" - Mindy

I have included some of Mindy's "before" photos after the jump just to show you how far she has come! I've been in my new old house for almost as long and we haven't achieved anywhere near as much as you Mindy. OK crew hop to it. Mindy needs your help.

Reader Comments (12)

I had a ledge like that in my old house. You have the right idea, it's a great place to display things, but I would create vignettes of things in threes or fives, rather than spreading everything out so evenly. Put some of your photos on the wall to draw the eye up as well and maybe get some of them enlarged and in bigger frames so they don't disappear.

I'd also look for a larger and brighter coloured rug for that room to give it some punch!

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

I feel your pain. I don't live in a bi-level, but I also have issues with my "builder's special" home.

First, I love your floors. They're beautiful.

I agree with Cheryl. You need some more punches of color. You have a lot of wood in your dining area and a lot of beige on the walls. It would probably benefit from one colored piece - like where the buffet is. White, black, green, red, what have you . Brighter or bolder curtains will help too. White, airy ones. Or a patterned bold color.

Maybe think about making the trim white. (a big decision because you can't easily go back) but it will help lighten things up.

I would also replace the mirrors in the entry with a photo collage or something to make the space more personal.

For the large wall, you need that window (I've been in a number of bi levels back in NJ that have put in a picture window there and it looks great...brightens things up...cross breeze...etc.) and then maybe some large art and some plant or reed-like grasses. But I would make sure the art is something that says you. Something personal. Like posters from an exhibition of your favorite artist. Turn your own photos into art on Canvasondemand or a similar site - like a visit to a city or a vacation. You can even just blow up the image to poster size on Kodak and then frame it. The canvas folk sometimes have specials on groupon.com making it pretty inexpensive to do.

I also agree with Cheryl about grouping the art on the ledge in the den.

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkeri

I think you have the basics down. Now is the part I love - making it personal!

What do you collect? I collect McCoy flower pots and my sister collects McCoy cookie jars. We would love a ledge like that to display a collection! Vintage seltzer bottles would also so be beautiful.

As for the large wall, I would recommend a very large scale piece of artwork. It can be pricey to frame a vintage travel poster, but try z-gallerie for some reasonable pieces. If you can frame a poster from a place you've been it makes it special. (I found a Monaco poster with my birthday on it - it was the date of a car race - so fun!) Other ideas for large artwork are vintage signs (flea/antique market)...I'm in Georgia so I would pick something really southern like Boiled P-Nuts for Sale - but pick something that speaks to you!

I would also recommend you
- Hire someone to paint your ceilings. With the soaring angled walls, painting the ceiling expands the volume of space even more while taking away the weird angle
- Paint your trim white
-Hop to IKEA for some rugs to add color and coziness.

Please post updates! Can't wait to see what you decide

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwhistlerpotpie

Often the things we see as problematic, like the difference in your wall elevations in the family room and the large wall in the dining room, can be a challenge but fun too. Relax when you think of ideas. Start from the perspective of a child and draw the wall, make copies and sketch whatever comes to mind.. I look at what you call your problems and ask myself, but how can I tell you in a few words and not have the advantage of drawings, or color swatches or a lighting plan. Too often design is approached as a quick fix bag of solutions when actually, it is a learned talent, over years of study and experience. For this reason I would suggest, you hire a designer. One preferably in the field for a few years, to give you an hour consult. A person who has the advantage of coming to your home and feeling your space. That said, here is my recommendation:

1. paint the large wall dark, in a color that commits you to nature, but a distinct color. Pick a dusty purple from a sunset on the desert, or a new leaf green, a saffron yellow from the center of a flower. Go to a garden and look into the colors there.....but be bold. With either a standing lamp or ceiling light, spotlight the wall. Span the wall in long running floating wood shelves, in natural stain like your floor or furniture. Mount them in a helter skelter design as if you took an eraser to a lined paper eliminating some lines and inserting vertical pieces here and there to connect the shelves to each other. Again, better shown in a drawing, yet you can do it if you take some painters tape to visualize, put some lines on the wall. You don't need many and avoid visible brackets in mounting them to the wall. Maybe three or four long shelves. Be interesting in the way they overlap and connect. A good contractor or builder can show you how to install them without visible brackets..

2. If you intend to keep the sofa in the family room, then paint the lower wall the same color but in a suede paint, or lime paint. It will give you a very warm and soft feel if you use a beautiful paint and it costs little to do. Contact me if you need a source. Then paint the top wall in a buff white, or ivory as you have in the lower area now. Any light you put on the upper wall is good, because the lower wall should not be your focus of reflection as it is now. It makes the space too stark and clinical instead of warm and enveloping. Once you light the upper wall, and put art on the wall, the lower wall will recede like the feel of furniture surrounding you. I would suggest keeping things off the ledge unless you mount a series of small lights that have little goosenecks arms and can be bent in the direction of art hung in the upper space.

Good Luck!
Carolyn

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Robbins

p.s. when I say 'lime paint' , I don't mean the color lime. I mean the type of paint it is. It is made with lime, as used in cement, as an ingredient in the paint rendering a beautiful soft finish.

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Robbins

In the room with the ledge, make everything below the ledge beaded board. Then paint it either a white or cream color. Use the ledge to display an array of photographs, plants, stones, whatever small things you collect! You could add a lip if you fear things being knocked down, and the install track lighting to highlight your collections. Then paint the upper wall a solid color - lilac purple for coziness or daisy yellow for warmth. If the wall is too much space, add some shelves or larger pieces of artwork (photos or paintings) - maybe a mirror to reflect light since it seems kind of dark.

For the big empty wall, try installing a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf or media center. If that doesn't appeal, you could paint a mural or hang a large quilt with a pattern you like but that is maybe too old for use as bedding.

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

After seeing your ledge in the den, I immediately thought you should lean some art on it. I remembered Kim posted a reader request with photos back in January: http://www.desiretoinspire.net/blog/2011/1/21/reader-request-leaning-art.html

Here are some great images to inspire you: http://fancycribs.com/10032-leaning-art.html/012111toddyoggy Several show ideas that you could do in your dining room, too.

The Inspired Room shares tips for leaning: http://theinspiredroom.net/2010/02/18/accessorizing-leaning-art-and-mirrors-on-walls-shelves-and-mantels/


Lastly, Pottery Barn has some interesting ideas for leaning and accessorizing walls and shelves: http://www.potterybarn.com/shop/accessories-decor/decorating-ideas/?cm_type=lnav

Hope these links are helpful. I always need pictures to help me out.

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

My ideas

flip the table vertical intead of horizontal. in my opinion you should use different chairs. when I look at the room all I see is wood. wood floors, wood table and wood buffet. bring a different element into room. a large mirror above buffet would make the room seem bigger and introduce another element such as gold or silver. ledge in front room take all small things off. they get lost. put the large art that you have placed in corner above couch, or even better yet build the ledge up into a wrap around bookcase ........just some ideas off my head as i'm suppose to be making dinner...

19 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdeneise bucko

On the whole, you have done a great job in your new home. However, i've noticed that you have a tendercies to spread things out all over the place and you seems to lean more towards the idea of sysmetrical; one on the left and one the right. Well, you could probably try to be more bold and get things that are larger and brighter in colour and group them together in selected corners so that they would create spots of interest rather then having things everywhere and losing that impact 'punch'.

And yes , you should try having a large ornate mirror over the buffet table rather than 3 little round mirror leaning against the wall, they seems lost among your other collectors. Rotate the dining table, have a nice colour rug under it and again replacing the many little vases on the table with one large flower arrangement, or at least group them together in the center.

Really, life is full of colour, put some in your beautiful home. Live like the Mexican do ....

20 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkris

i am a huge fan of wool rugs.
a big colourful kilim would be great on your awesome timber dining room floor.
so would an amazing old persian.

i prefer large statement pieces, as opposed to tonnes of bric a brac.
i'd go for a spotlit large textile on the dining room wall... a silk suzani, or a songket, or even a large tapa cloth or one of those insane bedspreads from chiang mai... or a silk kilim perhaps.

in the other room, i would be inclined to keep the ledge uncluttered.... maybe some candles and a modest clutch of small curios.
a painting or favourite photo or two would be lovely... large, framed, on decent paper.

20 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpatti

Depending on your budget and the width of the ledge, you could use it to form the base of a white, wall to wall book shelf. The dining room could do with a large plant such as a palm to break up the space, a sculptural light fitting to pull your eye away from the perimeter and some bright art, problem solved.

20 Mar 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmalia

I agree with deneise bucko, flip the table and too much wood on the dining table. I recommend if you don't want to get new dining set perhaps fabricate one of those chair covers and a dining table mat on the table will look lovely and imo don't spread all the ornaments on the table, have them centered.

I love the ledge! And i agree that have it randomly place and not so symetrical. Make one side a standing shelf would bring a cozy touch to it.
I don't know if it's a good idea but sofas that runs throughout the ledge? A more colorful rug will do wonders that. And where that painting is on the easel - hang it; it deserves it :) I suggest have an armchair there with a lamp. Love armchairs and lamp :)

All the best! can't wait to see what you do with the place!

22 Mar 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjon yee

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