Friday, August 26, 2011

The Travel Trailer

My niece has a travel trailer that has fake wood wall-board, gold appliances and rust-colored flowered upholstery fabric. You know the one --- we have all seen it.  Unfortunately there is nothing wrong with the wall board, appliances or rust-colored flowers so there is no need to replace anything, but she really wanted to change things a  bit.  I took down the five little, teeny tiny valances that were of the  flowered upholstery fabric and replaced them with a linen/cotton blend fabric in a color that matched the dark of the wallboard.  The valances concealed the hardware of the roller shades so they weren’t only decorative. Just this one change made a huge difference and now the flowered upholstery doesn’t seem quite so much a problem as before. 
If you’ve read my column for awhile you know about contrast and the effect it has on the perceived size of a room. This is a perfect example of this - the trailer seemed larger and much ‘calmer’ with the new valances. The flowered ones caused the eye to jump from window to window taking in all the little strips of contrast fabric.  They contributed to the busy-ness of the room and little rooms can’t afford to be busy.  They were also crooked and uneven, adding to their lack of appeal. 
A young client and her husband bought their first travel-trailer and it needed new cushion covers. The old ones were shredded and disintegrating but the foam was OK. This trailer’s interior was brown and aqua and  Fabricland had the perfect outdoor fabric: an aqua background with a stylized brown flower. It is a retro print that fit the era of the trailer perfectly. Because it was a bit expensive, we used a plain brown fabric for the  piping and underside of the cushions and  I added some loft with a dacron wrap. I have a new way of hinging these cushions so they are reversible, doubling their life-span.  The client made new little curtains herself and the end result is cute as can be. (I’ve posted pictures on the Gallery., connect to the gallery). This wasn’t an inexpensive alteration but now the continuity makes the room look bigger; the cushion covers are removable for washing and the homeowners won’t have to replace  the covers for the remainder of the time they have the trailer. And they don’t have to replace the aqua colored stove and sink.  
This is the third anniversary of my column. Yeah for me!!  Thank you to all who read it and stop me to comment. I love hearing from you;  you continue to inspire me.

The Bulkhead and Odd-Angled Walls

Bulkhead and odd-angled walls
I went to a previous clients home the other day and I was stuck, again, by the architecture of the home and the wonderful colors.  The home has two predominant colors and there are a lot of angled walls. When we were planning the paint colors we had a dickens of a time deciding  what color to put where until we  hit on the plan of  “all horizontal and angled planes are this color; all vertical planes are the other color.”  Seeing the home again, after several years, I was struck by how clever we were.  Without this consistency, the home would have been a jumble; a disjointed  crayon-box of colors that would have detracted from the fantastic bones of the building. 
Then, just the other day, I was asked what color to paint the bulkhead: the same as the wall or the same as the ceiling. So I thought this would be a good topic for today’s dilemma.
If you are not careful, the bulkhead could take on the visual importance of a focal point. Do you remember the ceiling-height wallpaper borders of the early ’90’s? Everywhere we went, our eyes would dash up the wall to glaze over at the sunflowers, or ducks, or books, running around the room. If you don’t stand back, look at the bulkhead and think ahead a bit, you could end up with the same result.
If the bulkhead is more than 6 inches deep, and the wall is 8 feet tall or more, paint it the same color as the wall on which it resides, if less than 6 inches, paint it the same color as the ceiling.
If the wall is less than 8 feet high, painting the bulkhead the color of the ceiling may make the walls appear shorter; so paint any bulkhead on short walls the color of the wall. 
Paint the underside of the bulkhead the color of the ceiling. If you don’t believe me on this one, lay on the floor and look up. Horizontal plane equals ceiling. 
If you have a handy-man handy, you could consider the bulkhead on one wall as the start of a tray or coffered ceiling and  have the bulkhead replicated on the three remaining walls.  If you want to have fun, paint a sky mural on the ceiling, or apply some faux tin vinyl wallpaper.  If you do, just remember focal point.

The Foyer

Foyer: An entrance Hall in a house or apartment. Pronounced “foy er”  or “foy yeah”. Either pronunciation is correct but the snoots in design school insisted on “ foy yeah”.   Whatever.  In everyday English, it’s also the “entry” or the “front porch”. Just depends on the house.  But whatever the pronunciation, it is still a room. 
I was asked what furniture should be purchased for an entry and  it occurred to me that most of us forget that the entry is a  separate room and requires the same  consideration as  any other room in the house. The decor of the entry will set the tone for the home and it is not, typically,  the room to throw caution to the wind and experiment with faux paint techniques.  Well, not for most of us, anyway. 
Start with a usage list. Write down the activities that happen in the entry and what furniture and lighting is required for each activity. This is key.
Draw a to-scale floor plan of the entry. Use graph paper and a 1 square to 6 inches scale. Mark the doors, the direction in which they open, radiators and windows. 
Print the  scale templates of furniture outlines from Simpler Pleasures  at  Cut out the ones you need - refer to your usage list and arrange these pieces on your floor-plan.  Adjust your furniture sizes as needed. 
A door needs 36 inches of swing space. Drawers need 24 inches to open. Chairs should have a minimum of 24 inches of clearance on the two sides and front. 
When you have the furniture in place, decide how to supply the necessary lighting --  table lamp or overhead pot lamp for the mail desk, for example--  and draw some circles on the floor-plan to indicate these light sources.  
Measure the area you will need covered by the rug. Make sure it is big enough to fit under furniture and not be a potential tripping hazard. 
Now, look at what you have. You can list, definitively, the  type and size of each piece of furniture you need, the type of lighting required and the size of the area rug you will need.  If you go shopping with a list this specific, and stick to it, you will save yourself an immense amount of time, frustration and, potentially, dollars. 
Happy shopping!!