Q: My partner and I have just moved into our first apartment and have very little money to fix it up. You are so great at decorating on a shoestring; can you give us some tips, please? We have hardwood floors and both like earth tones. Thanks. — Robin
A: Setting up your first place together is very exciting. It might seem a bit of a challenge when money is tight, but you will be amazed at what you can accomplish with a little imagination. Paint will set just the right backdrop for your style, but start by picking a sofa and one or two comfy chairs. There are inexpensive options that will make an inviting setting, and you might discover a red sofa or pure-white wing chair that you can’t resist. Your wall color can easily be changed, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Look at warm grays, golden browns and the tangy shades of green that are popular right now. A few simple storage solutions, baskets and boxes, will keep you organized. Create a focal point on one wall with a group of prints, photographs or a collection of artifacts you’ve brought home from holiday. Even the most minimal wall display will personalize your room, and this is the key to a home that makes you happy.
Q: I live in a century-old home that has been modernized over the years. I’m fixing up the bathroom and master bedroom now and am having difficulty. There’s a lot of wasted space in both rooms due to the angled ceilings. The style I like is contemporary chic, almost a hotel feel. I prefer dark wood floors; is this a good choice for a small room? What about wallpaper in the bathroom and one wall of the bedroom? I’m at a loss as to where to start. — Stephanie
A: I love the idea of dark floors, and no, they won’t necessarily make the space look smaller but will give it a contemporary feel. The thought of the old (slanted ceiling) with the modern dark floors is brilliant. Try one of the cool new wallpaper patterns on a wall — even florals have made a huge comeback, but it is how you use them. What about painting the wall but covering an old chest of drawers with a printed paper? Or try paintable wall coverings on one wall. The vintage shape of the room will look great with modern furnishings.
Q: I have an open staircase leading to a loft. I have three prints I would like to hang. They are Italy prints from our vacation, so they have meaning and I don’t want to do them injustice. They’re not especially large. How do I position them — group them, space them out, center them with the wooden handrail? I just had the house painted, so I don’t want to start hammering. — Diane
A: There isn’t any one way to hang your prints. Look at the visual space and dimensions of the wall and staircase. Your challenge is to come up with a pleasing balance. Small prints look amazing in an oversize frame with a large mat, and this might look better in the stairwell. I would try a vertical line. Before you hammer, experiment with card or paper pieces cut to size and stick them in position with low-adhesion tape.
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