These bold stripes provide a youthful and adventurous background for an upbeat living space. (Contributed photo)

These bold stripes provide a youthful and adventurous background for an upbeat living space. (Contributed photo)

House to Home: Recurring themes

Creating a home that nurtures, that looks and feels right, has many of the same challenges wherever you live. We have covered dozens of topics and answered hundreds of your questions in this column, and it’s your feedback that continues to give us direction. Decorating ideas come not just from what is new and trendy, but also, and just as important, from solutions to the challenges of keeping up our homes so that they work well and energize us in our daily lives whatever the budget.

Today I would like to focus on three questions that recur over the months. We are not able to answer every query we receive personally, so I hope that these general ideas and instructions are helpful to those we hear from regularly who share similar challenges.

Dear Debbie;

We have just moved into an old house and want to change everything but can’t afford to start renovations for at least a year. Help.

Some fresh paint will give you an instant lift. But have some fun along the way. This may be the perfect time to experiment with a colour or pattern that you might not choose after the reno. Start with the living or dining room; these spaces are more public, entertaining areas and should be fun and filled with energy. You may have seen the living room vignette shown here. It’s one of my favourites for a couple of reasons. Navy blue is a popular colour on all fronts, and has many effects depending on the shade, and the colours you put with it. Navy is as dramatic as a midnight sky alongside pure white, and the stark contrast emphasizes shapes and patterns. The fat stripes on the wall really kick it up. (Have you noticed stripes are hugely popular in the fashion market right now in every width and colour combination.) Stripe up a focal wall, buy a few striped cushions or throw for the couch and you’ll be sitting pretty till it’s time to wield the hammer.

Dear Debbie;

We are helping our parents redecorate the home they have lived in for 35 years. Some of the rooms have two or three layers of wallpaper. What’s your advice on painting over the wallpaper?

Whenever I get this question, I know what the reader wants to hear – they want me to say go ahead and slap on a coat or two of paint and be done with it. However tempting in the short run, this will only make more work for you in the end, and it won’t even look very nice. Over the years, the wallpaper will have loosened and peeled in spots, the walls may have small cracks in them, the seams will show, not a good base for paint. You will have to scrape away the loose bits, which will leave the surface patchy. So my advice is to take the time to strip the walls properly, not so bad with many hands helping. That’s a wonderful gift for your parents.

We decided to paint our wood inside doors black. Didn’t use a dark primer (no one suggested it before you). The doors look splotchy now, like the first finish leeched through. Any ideas on how to correct this problem without removing all the paint or sanding the entire door?

It is frustrating to learn about tips such as tinted primer after the fact and I sympathize with your challenge. All dark or saturated colours require a tinted primer as a base coat so that you don’t need more than 2 coats to get good coverage. Roll on a tinted primer over the doors that you have painted. Then paint the black. This should even things up.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle.