Tackling major design projects isn’t always easy, but expert advice from the pros will get you one step closer to the finish line. From deciding between roman blinds or drapes, to figuring out where (and what) you should hang above your sectional, these design experts are sharing some of their best advice.
Scroll down for answers to your biggest decorating questions!
Q: What do I need to know about skirted sinks?
A: They’re so much fun! We love this fresh approach to the common vanity cabinet. For the best outcome, incorporate a modern pleat on a colorful outdoor fabric with a repetitive pattern in a smaller scale. — Cortney Bishop, Charleston, S.C.
Photographer: Katie Charlotte Photography
Designer: Cortney Bishop
Q: What’s the current trend in stairway design?
A: We’re getting away from the hard glass and steel look. The trend is toward a more enclosed stairway, often with soft, curved details or wood panelling; it gives a home a more cosy feeling.
Shirley Meisels, MHouse, Toronto
Photographer: Kim Jeffery
Designer: Shirley Meisels
Q: When should I use roman blinds versus drapes?
A: I generally use a roman shade when we have smaller-scale windows and drapes on larger windows. Drapes are wonderful for adding softness to a room and can help emphasize the height of space beautifully. I also consider how often the window covering needs to be opened or closed; if you have lots of windows and constantly want to be adjusting for light control, romans will not be very functional, unless they’re automated.
Gillian Segal, Vancouver
Photographer: The Collective You (Portrait), Nick Mele (Interior)
Designer: Gillian Segal
Q: Can I mix roman blinds with drapes?
A: Of course! I love a layered window covering look — it makes a space feel more finished and creates a tailored frame for the view. Beyond aesthetic reasons, multiple window treatments allow for flexibility in controlling light and privacy.
Celia Bryson, Montreal
Photographer: Karolina Jez (Portrait), Maxime Desbiens (Interior)
Designer: Celia Bryson
Q: What kind of rug do I pair with a curved sofa?
A: If the curved sofa is in an open- concept or strangely shaped space, a round rug often makes the most sense. Its curve will keep any corners from awkwardly sticking out from under furniture and soften the room’s lines. This creates a more natural transition between zones, such as the living and dining spaces.
Luke Havekes, Montreal
Photographer: Maxime Desbiens (Portrait), Luke Havekes (Interior)
Designer: Luke Havekes
Q: How high should my dining room light fixture hang above my table?
A: I suggest 33 to 34 inches above the table for eight-foot ceiling heights. For every additional foot of height, add three inches more to that number. And make sure there’s about six inches of clearance from the table edges so you don’t bump your head!
Shauna Walton, Toronto
Photographer: Lauren Miller (Portrait and Interior)
Designer: Shauna Walton
Q: How can I add character to a space that’s like a white box?
A: My favorite equation for enticing the senses is to play with scale, contrast and texture. In this project by Studio Ode and Jena Nasser, we opted for white oak slat walls as a base to contrast with the dark floors, and layered in texture in abundance with a large- format, raw cotton yarn wall hanging from Caralarga. Doubling down on our play with scale, a cloud-like pendant from New Works mirrors the size of the table below it, creating major impact.
Nike Onile, Studio Ode, Toronto
Photographer: Angie Choi, Eyekahfoto (Portrait), Studio Ode + Jena Nasser (Interior)
Designer: Nike Onile + Jena Nasser
Q: How can I break up an upper hallway full of doors?
A: Pocket doors are a great solution when you want occasional privacy but still want the space to feel open and inviting. Using translucent glass or painting the doors a bold colour helps add further interest and detail.
Photographer: Stef + Ethan (Portrait), Mike Chajecki (Interior)
Designer: Rebecca Hay
Q: How do I get the plastered wall look?
A: To get the best results, I use Bauwerk’s Lime Wash. It’s mineral-based, natural and nontoxic, plus it’s easy to use and comes in many colors. With a Bauwerk brush — you can get one through Salt by The Caza Project — make loose, free strokes in all directions, being careful not to leave drips. Over time, your colours will develop subtle highs and lows, creating a unique and beautiful finish.
— Montana Burnett, Toronto
Photographer: Courtest of Montana Burnett (Portrait) Courtesy of Salt by The Caza Project (Interior)
Designer: Salt by The Caza Project
Q: Is there an option other than using sconces for my powder room?
A: With a wider vanity, one option is to offset the sink and hang a pair of pendants. It emphasizes the height of the space and provides visual intrigue, especially when set against graphic wallpaper.
Damian Zunino, Studio DB, New York
Photographer: Matthew Williams (Portrait and Interior)
Designer: Damian Zunino
Q: How do I create a brick floor in an existing room? Won’t the bricks be too thick?
A: It’s now much easier to create a brick-floor look, as there are many brick veneer tiles available. The brick tiles are as thick as your average tile and can be installed by a tile installer. In this mudroom, we did a herringbone pattern and specified an overgrout application to give it an authentic look.
Jenelle Erickson, SmithErickson Designs, Calgary
Photographer: Michelle Johnson (Portrait + Mudroom)
Q: What should I hang behind my sectional sofa?
A: Choosing art for a room requires consideration of the overall concept. It can be evocative or still; it can also mirror the personality of the client. Though there are no real hard-and-fast rules for injecting a space with art, some of my suggestions include considering the viewing height — art should be placed at sight lines in the home — choosing a spot for art other than behind the bed, and adding
strong background colours to emphasize the art and create depth.
Alda Pereira, Vancouver
Photographer: Ema Peter
Designer: Alda Pereira