Saturday, June 20, 2009



We recycle so much of what is in our homes yet many people are mystified when it comes to what to do with their old drapes or blinds and the pieces end up in the landfill. First of all, maybe they aren’t really  ready for the big bin yet.

Many blind distributors are trained on repair of their product so you may be able to have  broken cords or missing slats repaired locally.  Consider having blinds re-cut to fit a smaller window. If your verticals are vinyl consider painting them  with Crylon paint- add a new fabric valance and side panels for more pizazz.

When removing blinds make sure you keep all the hardware. Put it in a small bag and attach it to the blinds.  If you want to really be helpful, take a picture of the hardware as it sits on the wall and include that. 

 The Churches thrift store will take blinds and drapes.  Call the Women’s Shelter and the Salvation Army. You could put an ad in the paper and give them away.  If you want to sell them, be realistic about the price - usually  about $5.00  to $10.00 per hundred of original price.

Drapes and curtains (drapes are lined, curtains are not) are prime candidates for in-home recycling. I recently took down some living room drapes and re- cut and re-pleated them for use in 3 basement bedrooms.   The fabric was in  good condition and we didn’t even have to put in new lining (good quality lining to start with.) We saved hundreds of dollars by doing this. The fabric would also have been quite suitable for a slipcover, or duvet cover, or big floor cushions. 

Perhaps you like the drapes but just want an ‘update’.  Think about attaching a trim or band of color  to the leading edge, perhaps re-styling the drapes will do the trick. If you have recently installed blinds and don’t need the full drape coverage re-cutting the drapes to side panels and a valance is a good idea. 

Consider trading with a neighbor or  having  Roman Blinds constructed for another room.

It could be that your drapes are fine but you require more light control  and heat loss protection.  Lining can be added - to the existing drapes or as a separate curtain- that will provide just the coverage you need. 

With  the amazing assortment of fabric  available now it is almost always possible to  find a  complimentary fabric and use the old and new to re-do a spare room. Don’t forget the impact of good trims and the special look created by mixing patterns. I have 150 fabric books to work from and the gals at the local fabric stores are really helpful when co-ordinating patterns. Have fun..

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to choose a paint color.

Once again, the additions to the column appear here in gold type.

It seems that choosing a color to paint the walls is one of the most difficult for a lot of DIYers.  In my Interior Decorating short course we spend at least 8 hours learning about  colors. This is  the summary version  of part of that   but the best advice I can give is to hire a professional for a one hour consultation. The cost will be about the same as a gallon of good quality paint.  Could save you a lot of money. And remember - if the worst happens and the color is really bad, you can change it.

First of all it is important that you test the paint color in the room where it will used.  Purchase a tester -or a liter if necessary -  of the paints you have chosen and test them. This does NOT mean painting several colors on one wall. Your eye will see a blend of the colors, not each one individually.  Go to the dollar store and get some white poster boards and paint  one color on each. Keep them away from each other and  move them around the room, see what happens to the colors at night. 

How to choose the color:  Start with a color scheme.   The easiest way is to take  your scheme  from an  existing  one: the sofa fabric, a painting or a cushion for example. Don’t  try to re-invent the wheel;  people get paid a lot of money to design these color schemes.  Get paint samples and match the 3 basic colors in your ‘inspiration’ piece:   the background color, a mid tone and  the most vivid. Match the colors exactly. This is your color scheme.  Now look at the samples in terms of intensity.  If you change the intensity of one color, change the intensity of all 3 to the same degree.

The main color is the background color and  should appear on 60% of the surfaces in a room  ( walls, drapes, floors) - there is your wall color.  The mid tone color  should appear on 30%  ( large upholstered pieces; the occasional chair, the upholstered seat of the vanity,  the banding on the drapes. the bedskirt) and the accent color on 10% ( accessories- cushions, vases, coffee table accessories). 

These colors can appear in different forms:  various textures  or surfaces and prints. The values (intensity) can vary somewhat;  just stay on the color - no mixing blue-green and yellow-green for example.  If you are not familiar with a color wheel, go buy one at the art supply store and spend some time with it. 

The website will get  you started.

Some other things to consider when choosing a color scheme:  Have you ever been in a red  based room when the sun shines through the windows?  Or have you stood in a blue bedroom with a blizzard swirling outside?  The color of the room intensifies the feelings of heat and cold. So think about this a bit. If your bedroom faces north maybe blue is not the best color for it.  You might want to consider a warm color - in the reds, oranges, or  yellows side of the color wheel.  If your living room faces south you might want to forgo the terracotta based color scheme and choose something from the blue or green side of the color wheel.  I had occasion once to do some work in a white house. The walls, carpets, furniture, tables, chairs and even the piano were white.  There were no window treatments on the 12 foot high windows. On my initial visit to the house there was a Calgary blizzard happening and  I felt like I was standing outside.  It was the coldest feeling room I have ever been in.  

We put some valances and side treatments on the windows that helped a bit but the all white scheme was still very overpowering. 

If  you have read  my previous columns, you know a bit about contrast. High  contrast color schemes tend to make rooms seem smaller - your poor eyes jump from color to color . If your room is small, you might consider a color scheme of two colors in muted tones, or even a  monochromatic color scheme with lots of texture. 

Do you want the room to feel warm or cool? If cool, pick a main color from the cool side of the color wheel,  pick from the warm side for a warm room. This is a guideline. It is not written in stone and it is based on a 3 color scheme. Many contemporary spaces are 2 color schemes, but the same guidelines apply.  Hope this helps.