Home is where the reno is: Answers to this season’s home décor questions
An outdoor lounge, like this from TV show Decked Out, will help you
make the most of Canada’s short summers
Maybe you want to design your new home. Or maybe you want to redecorate your current place. You have a lot of ideas, but then it hits you: you’re no Jonathan Adler or Brian Gluckstein. So now you’re feeling more than slightly underqualified and, let’s admit it, more than a little stressed out. What do you do with that fireplace that’s never worked? It’s not like you can hide the huge gaping hole in the wall. Or what about those nice antique pieces you recently inherited from your father’s country home? How can you incorporate them seamlessly into your contemporary living room? We asked some of the city’s most well-known interior designers (including Brian Gluckstein) to answer the most common decorating questions. Read on: these could help you avoid a home-design disaster.
My living room has a modern feel, but I want to bring in some antique pieces. Do I start from scratch?
No. I think the most interesting spaces are eclectic. But with an eclectic space, there has to be a consistent theme with a few pieces. For example, for a contemporary space with a few antique pieces, they have to have the same design point of view — is it all French? Is it all rustic? Also, you need 85 per cent contemporary and 10 to 15 per cent antiques, and keeping the colour of the wood consistent is important. —Brian Gluckstein, Gluckstein Design
I have an old fireplace that no longer works — and I don’t want it to work — but what should I do with it?
I think you have to play it up like it’s a fireplace. Lots of people have fireplaces that don’t work. I like to fill them up with logs that are cut, so that the cut of the logs are showing. It gives the impression that you could light a fire at any given moment, like it’s an actual working fireplace. I’ve seen people stack books into the fireplace or a nice fern to make it look Victorian. Also, cylindrical vases with candles. If you have collectibles, you can display those, but you don’t want it to get cluttered. I’m partial to the logs. —Samantha Pynn, host of HGTV’s “Summer Home”
My large two-tiered deck has too much space for my grilling and dining area. What should I do?
You definitely need a nice lounging space in the backyard. In Canada, we have such a short-lived summer, so we have to make sure we enjoy the nice weather as best we can. Add some loungers along with some planters. You can have planters with tomatoes and strawberries, so that you can use them later in your kitchen. You can also add a water feature. There are great deck/patio water features that add some tranquil sounds to your backyard experience. —Heidi Richter, designer on HGTV’s “Decked Out” and “Deck Wars”
An eclectic living space and a cozy family room from the
show Summer Home on HGTV Canada.
How can homeowners mimic the reclaimed rustic wood trend?
Wood flooring is a big thing. We’re seeing a lot of engineered flooring, pre-finished pre-made, distressed wood. It’s a great way to incorporate the wood, and it’s very practical: it doesn’t show all the wear and scratching like a nice polished floor does. Another good way to incorporate the trend is with a dining-room table or accessories: bowls, candlesticks. With accessories, you can do it all. —B.G.
Is mounting a flat-screen TV on the wall above a fireplace just hideous, or can it work?
It can work. I’m more inclined to put it on the cabinet beside the fireplace and create symmetry with another cabinet on the other side. If it’s a working fireplace, you have to check with the TV manufacturer and whoever is installing if it’s OK to install it there. I suspect if it’s a rip-roaring fireplace, it can’t be. The thing is, if you have kids, and the TV is mounted above the fireplace, they are cranking their necks to watch it. I think a television should just be above eye level when you’re sitting down. That’s why I prefer the TV beside the fireplace. It’s not that it’s hideous, but I think when designers pull a room together, they believe in living well, so a television in a living room doesn’t suggest reading or talking or enjoying the room. But that said, we need to live, too. —S.P.
What is the general rule for hanging art?
Have the middle of the picture at average eye level. A lot of people hang art way too high. Of course, if there is a collage or mix-and-match artwork for an electic look, that changes things, but if you’re doing one piece of art, it should be at average eye level from the middle of the picture. —H.R.
How do you update your front porch for the most curb appeal?
You update it with a very colourful front door and paint it a shiny black along with brass hardware, or you paint it a bright blue for a Georgian house. Also, you could use a red, and then add big planters with beautiful flowering in them, along with great wall lamps on either side of the door. —B.G.
There’s a bare wall behind my bed, but I’m scared a painting will fall on me. What should I do?
Put up a poster. You can take a fantastic personal photograph of yours and have it enlarged and then you can paste it down like wallpaper. The finished product will be huge and blown-out and pixilated a bit, so it gives you a really nice soft focus. Or you can just put wallpaper back there in lieu of art, if you’re really concerned. —S.P.
What is an easy way to update a kitchen without tearing the whole thing apart?
Simple things: if you have good cabinets with a laminate countertop, update the countertop to a solid surface like granite. Something else that’s easy is if you don’t have a backsplash or you have an outdated backsplash add a new one. If you have a rental unit, which makes those changes impossible, then add some new popping accessories. Buy that lime green blender you’ve always wanted. And, of course, you can always update the hardware. —H.R.