June 18, 2024

Ask Karl: Home decorating advice for the summer season

From painting kitchen cabinets to mixing design styles, it’s time to get busy

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Summer is ripe for tackling decorating and renovation projects. I’ve received some great questions regarding interior overhauls. In this column, we’ll cover decorating with patterns, furniture styles for small spaces and dive into the ever-popular “Can I paint my kitchen cabinets?” question. That’s a resounding yes from me. Here’s how to create a stylish home you’ll love.

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Q: How can I discretely incorporate a bed in a studio apartment? I am a graduate student renting a studio. I am buying furniture for it and would like to know how I can treat the bed. I don’t want my entire home to look like a bedroom. — Nicki, Toronto

A: Open-concept studio apartments create challenges because everything is in view. There’s two ways to address the biggest hindrance — that would be the largest piece of furniture in the space: the bed. You can either hide it or stylishly celebrate it. A Murphy bed seamlessly conceals the bed when not in use. On the downside, when tucked away there’s an empty space where the bed used to be. This leads to an odd furniture layout and flow.

To hide a regular bed, prop up a folding screen in front of it, or hang drapery from the ceiling. Simply pull it across to block the view when entertaining formally. This would be my last resort as it will close in the studio, making it feel smaller.

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The other solution is to embrace the bed! Canopy models are on the rise in popularity with decorators. The bed posts and rails establish an invisible room-within-a-room. Put simple draping around the bed, or leave it open. If you go visible, choose bedding, a throw and decorative pillows that tie into the colours found in your living and dining space.

I love the FRAME Black Iron Canopy Bed ($1,100, CB2). It’s airy, modern and decorative with on-trend brass detailing. The bed has a floating effect, causing the eye to roam under and around the mattress, making it appear less weighty in the space. You could also skirt the bottom with plain black fabric to create hidden storage.

Whichever way you go, there’s no excuse for an unmade bed in a studio apartment!

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Laminate and thermofoil cabinetry can now get a fresh new look with paint. In-home cabinetry painting, from $3,500, spray-net.com
Laminate and thermofoil cabinetry can now get a fresh new look with paint. In-home cabinetry painting, from $3,500, spray-net.com

Q: My 20-year-old kitchen is in need of a makeover. I am adding new counters and updated appliances. Can I paint the old creamy-coloured thermofoil cabinets? — Sonia, Montreal

A: Painting existing kitchen cabinetry is an affordable way to update their appearance without resorting to expensive, time-consuming replacements. It’s also good for the landfill.

There are cabinetry-painting services that — in as little as a day — paint wood, laminate or thermofoil cabinets and deliver a factory finish at a cost-effective price. One such company, Spray-Net (spray-net.com) sets up a fully ventilated spray booth in your kitchen. This allows the painters to spray, dry and reinstall the cabinets in the same day. This saves transport fees and time, which reduces the overall cost. Services for painting the cabinetry starts at $3,500, depending on the size of the kitchen. Dozens of designer-approved colours and a guarantee that the finish won’t peel or bubble are great features of the service. Tip: Choose your paint colour first, then allow the tone to influence your counters and backsplash.

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A variety of colour and pattern is the key to a maximalist room. ILIV Silk Road Fabric Collection, through designers, jffabrics.com
A variety of colour and pattern is the key to a maximalist room. ILIV Silk Road Fabric Collection, through designers, jffabrics.com

Q: How do I mix and match patterns? I am a maximalist home decorator and I’d like to decorate my living room with patterned upholstery fabrics, drapery, pillows and wallpaper. Are there any rules to follow for mixing and matching? — Jen, Sudbury

A: When done right, decorating with patterns gives a room exceptional coziness and visual interest. Here are my five tips for mixing and matching with pattern:

Choose one neutral colour that is a common denominator in each pattern. Blue, brown, cream or green are good choices.

Choose a minimum of three, and a maximum of five, patterns per room. Each pattern should vary in scale. I like to use a napkin ring, cup and plate sizes as fun size references.

Mix curvy patterns (floral, paisley, fauna, polka pots) and straightedge design (chevron, stripes and plaids). Curves give a room a feminine feel, while straight lines impart a masculine look.

Always add a solid colour to ground the patterns. The wall colour often does that. If using busy wallpaper, incorporate a solid fabric on the drapes or large pieces of upholstered furniture.

Patterned wallpaper looks great everywhere, even the ceiling. Adding patterned wallpaper (think a cup size or smaller) helps make rooms with tall ceilings feel intimate.

Do you have a decor dilemma? Send it to [email protected] or contact Karl on Instagram at @Karl_ Lohnes.

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