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Ask A Designer™

Ask A Designer - House & Home

House & Home and our guest experts help solve your design dilemmas. Each month we select two questions to answer. Whether you're tackling a kitchen design conundrum during a renovation, or just want to know how to best arrange your living room furniture, we’ve got the sound advice you need to help resolve tricky design challenges.

Submission Guidelines

To increase the likelihood that we will choose your question and to help us offer the best solution for your question, please read and follow these guidelines carefully:

  • Include your name, city, province or state.
  • Include floor plans, if available, plus photographs of rooms, furniture, samples of tile, fabric or existing room features (see Photo Tips below). We can receive emails including up to 10 MB in digital attachments.
  • Include measurements of rooms and/or furniture you are asking about.
  • Include website links to products you might be considering or already own.
  • If your question refers to an existing paint colour, please include the colour name and manufacturer, if available.

Photo Tips

Our ability to answer your question effectively and which questions we select often depends on the photos you send. Photos that are bright, clear and in-focus are a big help. Here’s how to get great “before” shots so that we can help you get them worthy of “after” shots.

  • Use the best quality digital camera you can.
  • Stand back and to get as much of the room in your photo as possible.
  • Hold the camera straight so the lens is completely vertical. A trick to know if you are doing this is to check if the room’s vertical elements (a window edge, doorway, corner) appear straight up and down in your photo.
  • It’s best to take photos during daylight with all window treatments open and your camera flash off. Turn overhead lights and any other lamps off.
  • Clear away clutter so we can see the furniture and other room elements (rooms look best if the beds are made and the toilet seat is down), and please don’t include people or pets in your photos.
  • Try not to take photos with the camera directly facing a window (see our sample shot below as an example of common mistakes to avoid). The natural exterior light will overpower the interior and cast it into dark shadow. Instead, point your camera on an angle away from the window toward one side or the other of the room.

Send your question and supporting attachments via email, or send by regular mail, addressed to:

Ask A Designer™
c/o House & Home
511 King Street West, Suite 120
Toronto, Ont.
M5V 2Z4

We look forward to your submissions, although we regret that we cannot reply to letters personally. Thank you!

The following are Ask A Designer™ questions that we have answered in past issues:

How can I better organize storage in a small space?
How can I work storage into my kitchen design?
How can I update my bathroom storage?
How can I refresh a dated bathroom?
How can I remodel a bathroom on a budget?
How do I choose paint colours, tiles and furniture for a new house?
How do I unify window treatments in a open-concept living room, dining room and kitchen?
How can I use dark wood without kitchens, dining and living areas looking too heavy?
Should kitchens and dining rooms have the same flooring?
What colour of kitchen appliances should I choose?
How can I create a warm, country kitchen?
How can I create a French country kitchen in a modern condo?
Should I match wood flooring, kitchen cabinets and ceramics in an open concept space?
How do I brighten a boring white kitchen?
Which window treatments work in a kitchen?
Should I reface my kitchen cabinets?
Should I use one paint colour for an open-concept living and dining area?
How should I furnish a bachelor apartment?
How far away should a coffee table be from the sofa?
How should I place furniture around a living room fireplace?
How do I choose a good mocha paint colour?
How do I choose a colour scheme for a family room?
Do woods need to match?
How should I refinish my stairs?
How can I coordinate the hall paint (above wainscotting) with the living room colour?
How do I plan a themed grouping of photos or prints?
Should I paint wallpaper?
Which paint colours would you suggest for rooms in a heritage home?
How can I balance my living room?
How do I use antiques in a modern loft?
How can I get a modern country look?
Should I paint the living room panelling around the fireplace?
Can built-ins offset an off-centre fireplace?
How should I design a media room?
How high should I hang a flat-panel TV above a fireplace?
How can I make my dining room more formal?

How can I update parquet floors?
How can I hide a mirrored wall?
How can I warm up a high-ceilinged foyer?
How can I warm up a stark bedroom?
How can I make a monochromatic bedroom more inviting?
How should I display plates in a guest bedroom?
How can I lighten up a bedroom painted grey?
How can I coordinate my closet built-ins with my bedroom flooring and furniture?

How can I add a seaside, nautical look to cottage rooms?

Which paint colours work for a teenage girl's room?
What colours and fabrics would you suggest for a baby boy's room?
How do I choose colours and a theme for a shared, older boys' room?
What tips do you have on painting furniture black?
How can I get inexpensive custom blinds?
Which bedroom window coverings reduce noise?
How can I remodel a basement with different zones?
Which window coverings work in a basement?
What treatment do you recommend for a basement storage room ceiling?
How can I transform a basement into a home office?
How should I decorate and organize a small office?
How can I update metal dresser and cabinet handles with paint?
How should I decorate a screened-in porch?
How should I design an outdoor kitchen?
How can I decorate a patio in winter?
How can I update a cedar cottage?

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