Solve Your Biggest Design Dilemmas With Ask A Designer™

House & Home‘s Jennifer Koper is here to help solve your design dilemmas. Each month we select one question 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.


Tips For Submission

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 color, please include the color 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.
  • These “before” photos may be published in House & Home magazine and/or its affiliates.

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

Ask A Designer™
c/o House & Home
445 King Street West, Suite 300
Toronto, Ont.
M5V 1K4

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 do I design a bedroom with a bold rug?
What’s the right sofa for my style?
How do I layer a rug over carpet?
How can I update an old kitchen?
How can I add storage in my dining room that’s practical and personality-packed?
Where can I find a dining room set that fits a big crowd?
How do I style an L-shaped living room?
How can I dress my front door for the holiday season?
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 colors, 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 color 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 color 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 color?
How do I choose a color 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 color?
How do I plan a themed grouping of photos or prints?
Should I paint wallpaper?
Which paint colors 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-center 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 colors work for a teenage girl’s room?
What colors and fabrics would you suggest for a baby boy’s room?
How do I choose colors 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?

2 ratings

  • sheraphics

    I am trying to decide to purchase a cityscape painting. My decor leans to organic modernism with a reflection of the coast.

  • Nancy Diane Oliver

    So, I am planning on putting a clear glass exterior door from my ground floor bathroom to the deck and pool. I want to lighten up the room. However at times privacy will be required so I have looked at the doors with blinds between the panes of glass…tacky? Roman shade? Looking for opinions.

  • Karen Tornese

    I need some help with throw pillows, the couch is dark gray need help with putting the throw pillows in proper place, size and what colors? The one on the chair is large like 20×20 black large box print came with the couch others I just put on the chair and couch./images/72a729a9d84f0652f03bc83f577a3bd628044885c72a650aeed83fbdb9e4ebd1.jpg

  • Lori

    We’re renovating our master bedroom and I need advice for the focal wall that the bed is against. I was planning on using a light/medium iceblue paint throughout the room but want something different on the main wall. The whole room will be done in pine wainscot, which we can paint if need be. The bed is a queen size with dark brown (espresso) leather headboard/footboard. Wall size is 13′ wide for sure, 7′ high I think. We would like the room to look somewhat ‘beachy’ as we have a beautiful sunrise/palm tree painting we bought in Cuba that we want to put on that wall, and other Cuba decor throughout the room. Thanks for any advice!

    • adenaleighHH

      Hi Lori,
      Thanks for your comment! Please send your question to and it will be passed along to our design editors.

  • Joan

    Should area rugs in adjoining rooms be in the same colour or can you have similar colours with different patterns

  • Sumeed

    I have small living room of 16′-1″×11′-6″ which have stair case in it and i want to hang led tv but i dont know if there is enough space

  • djrid

    My great room is painted with Marina Isle color from Behr and I would like to paint my kitchen with a modern gray blueish color. One of the colors I am considering is Healing Aloe from Benjamin Moore or maybe Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore. My kitchen has white cabinets and silver handles. I would also like to paint the dining room with a brown grayish color. The color I am considering is Hot Spring Stones from Benjamin Moore or maybe Little Dove from Richard’s. The furniture in the dining room is dark ivory (very light brown almost beige). I love light colors and I love the contemporary look. The majority of my furniture is off-white, white or ivory. Please let me know if you think these combinations would flow well together. My house is very open and I am afraid of making a mistake by choosing the wrong color combinations. Thank you so much for your help!

  • Vicklyn Datilus

    I just got a studio to move into for school purposes. I know the furniture I want but I can’t tell if it will fit well. I don’t want the area to be crowded but at the same time I would like a almost defined living and sleeping area. I would like a daybed, fullsize bed, tv stand, accent chairs, eating table and/or bar stools, bookshelf, dresser, and desk&chair to all fit. Its small 325sqft. Ive seen others manage online but their floor plan isn’t mine. Help please.

  • Vicklyn Datilus

    I just got a studio to move into for school purposes. I know the furniture I want but I can’t tell if it will fit well. I don’t want the area to be crowded but at the same time I would like a almost defined living and sleeping area. I would like a daybed, fullsize bed, tv stand, accent chairs, eating table and/or bar stools, bookshelf, dresser, and desk&chair to all fit

  • Hi,

    I really need your advice, something simple is about my patio. I just painted my back house with yellow-cream color, the original color of the house. Then I painted my back doors with this color SW 6601 Tanager

    Now I just need a advice from you for my floor. Can I put brick or will be to much? My problem is the existent concrete is creaked. I do not know what to do. Please help me. I would love to send a picture, just for understand better. Anyways thanks,


    Thanks, Ingrid

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  • Marilyn Calvert Wilkinson

    We are building an addition (living room) on to our small house. it will be 15X13′ with 3 5 foot doors (one from the kitchen into the livingroom, one facing that opening, one on the right side of the room and a 6 X3 foot window on the remaining wall – sort of a 4 season sunroom/living room. currently, it is a bare canvas. I am trying to plan for furniture and would like to ask if instead of a couch or love seat if 4 larger arm chairs would allow comfort and flow thru the room, or would a small sectional be more adviseable. Thanks.