Home Front: Design ideas from Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza

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Jura Koncius,Terri Sapienza,Karen Sylvestre,Karen Sylvestre
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 11:00 AM

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Closet makeovers: The main thing I noticed in those closet makeovers was that the redone closets appeared to hold less than half as much stuff as the the originals. I'm all for winnowing down the wardrobe, but the products didn't appear to hold much at all.

Karen Sylvestre: In reality, most makeovers will produce either twice as much hanging space, twice as much shelf space, or some combination thereof.

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Terri Sapienza:

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closet makeovers: It appeared to me that the illustrations -- particularly on the bedroom closet -- did not reflect the actual amount of clothes the people owned. Seems a wee bit misleading. Spend $1800 and your closet can look like this! (If you donate a bunch of stuff to Goodwill.)

Karen Sylvestre: But a properly designed closet should be able to neatly hold what you have without giving away half of what you own!

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Grommets: Do you think grommet-topped window treatments are here to stay? And the grommet hardware should match the curtain rod hardware, right?

Jura Koncius: Hmmmm. I would say grommet-toped window treatments are a look that will not be with us in another five years. But right now, they look good and are not expensive, so why not. And yes, the hardware should match the curtain rod.

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Accordion Door Closet: I would like to get a closet system for my accordion door closet, but it seems that most of the closet organization advice is for walk-in closets. What can I do to maximize the space? What can I do about my shoes (I am a woman that has more than 6 pairs of shoes-LOL)?

Terri Sapienza: Actually, two of the closets we featured in today's story wer reach-in closets, not walk-in. Take a look at the story if you haven't already; there's lots of great advice for reorganizing.

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Shoe shelves: Karen,What are the advantages of shoe shelves that are wire vs. solid? I've also seen ones that slant. Is there any advantage to those?

Karen Sylvestre: However, I will admit to preferring the versatility of a straight shelf which can then serve more purposes now the road.

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Andrea Caumont: Organizing closets simplifies your life : Closet organizers solve your toughest challenges

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Clothes hangers: First I got all white plastic tube hangers on sale from Walmart and they made my closet look much better. Lately, I've decided to upgrade. I looked at the huggable hangers because I need ones where the clothes won't slide off. But I thought the beige ones were a kind of a sick beigy-green so I took them back. Then I looked at what the closet designers use to make their closet systems look the best. They mostly use the nice wooden hangers. I looked at the price of those and decided that if I was going to pay that much, then I wanted really glamorous hangers. The most glamous hangers seem to be the padded satin or velvet hangers. I liked the white ones the best (I don't wear much black) but I think they could look dingy in another decade or two, so I decided to go for black. I looked on the internet and found a lot of little suppliers that offer them cheaper and in bulk. I like the ones with the little posts on the ends and that are a little wider. Now I have to decide on velvet vs. satin. Which do you think are more glamorous?

Karen Sylvestre: I'm just pleased you took the time to get matching hangars as an automatic face lift for your closet!

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Cleaning question: Does anyone have a surefire way of cleaning hairspray off of the frame and glass haning in the bathroom?

Jura Koncius: You could try spraying on some rubbing alcohol and cleaning vigorously. Also there is a product called Goo Gone that is good for all kinds of goo that should include hair spray. In the future, try to spray any hair products away from your mirror.

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What goes with peach?: Powder room. Floor is peach 4-inch ceramic tiles. Peach toilet. Not our choice, but not a high-enough priority to change right away. Standard honey-oak vanity with cream-colored corian-ish sink.No window; walls currently painted a pale peach. I'm not in the mood for peach, and intend to paint the walls, but what colors go with peach? Generally I prefer cool tones over warm, though I know peach is warm. The room is off the front hall, which is very open with little wall space, so I'm not concerned about coordinating the powder room with the hallway.

Terri Sapienza: You could also look for a cool patterned wallpaper that goes with the peach. It would be a nice distraction from the dated tile and toilet.

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Jewelery armoire: I want to get a jewelry armoire with drawers I can use for lingerie. Are people who have bought jewelry armoires happy with them or do they just take up too much space?

Jura Koncius: Interesting question. Anyone?

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winter . . .soon: How to organize hats, mittens, scarves, etc. in a front hall closet? Right now, they're in a big basket on the floor and we rummage through looking for things.

Jura Koncius: I got three baskets that I keep on a shelf in the closet, one for each member of our family. Gloves, hats, scarves all go in there and there is no confusion.

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tone down carpet color: I am afraid I made a mistake in choosing the carpet color in the master bedroom. I wanted a neutral, so I selected a medium brown, but it has strong gold undertones. The carpet is high-quality; it looks and feels great, but it clashes with the celery green paint and white trim that is in the bedroom now. What color wall paint and trim paint would you recommend to either tone down the gold, or make it look sophisticated. I usually use Ben Moore paints. Thank you for your thoughts!

Terri Sapienza: picks up the gold tones in the carpet? Then try a creamy white trim.

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Closets: The closet re-designs in today's section look great, but I really just don't know where to start. I share the only closet in my small apartment with my roommate, and while her side is jam-packed, I'm overwhelmed and my clothes are all over my room (including still in suitcases from when we moved over a year ago). How do I even get started? There will also be an issue of where to put all of my suitcases (I travel a lot for work) when I'm done, as they won't fit under my bed which is already on risers. Help!

Karen Sylvestre: The design consultations are free, so you just might want to have a designer take a look at what you have to see if there is indeed a solution to your dilema.

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Hanging rod for second tier of clothes: From your story:"A double-hanging rod is an easy and inexpensive way to maximize space in a small closet. Just hook one onto an existing rod and it instantly expands the hanging space."I got one from Target that I love. It will expand outward and up and down. I have adjusted it several times over the years as my wardrobe has changed.

Terri Sapienza: I think double-hanging rods are a great idea and not one that many people think of. Thanks for sharing your source.

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closet help: What is the best way to organize sweaters on shelves in a closet? Mine quickly turn into a jumbled mess.

Karen Sylvestre: Much higher than that and most come toppling down when you try to get to the one on the bottom.

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Looking for a new sofa: Hi Jura and Terri. Where did the redesign of the room go? This was my favorite weekly post. I hope it's just taking a week off and not subject to budget cuts.I'm looking for new sofa, at least 90 inches long for my living room. I like a streamlined look, with explosed legs, a clean looking back, etc. This sofa needs to be comfortable since we don't have a family room so the room serves alot of purposes. I've been to Room and Board, Crate and Barrell and Arhaus. Can you suggest other local stores? Thanks,Lisa

Terri Sapienza: House Calls will return next week.Have you tried West Elm? Or Vastu on 14th Street?

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source for mirrors: I'm in the market for a large mirror for my dining room. Any suggestions for local stores?

Terri Sapienza: It really just depends on what style you are looking for. Just about any furniture store you go into will have mirrors.

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Smaller drawers: I want to get some drawers that are smaller than dresser drawers - kind of like a dresser with double then usual number of drawers. (It's for miscellaneous household items.) I can't find something like this anywhere. Any ideas? I can't seem to find the right search word to even find something on the internet so what do I even search on?

Karen Sylvestre: They are tall and narrow with lots of drawers.

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Halloway House Polish: Help! My realtor told us to buy Halloway House polish to "take out" a scratch we have on our hardwood floors so that we don't have to have them refinished before our house goes on the market, but despite looking in a number of different stores in the Bethesda-Kensington area, I am not having any luck getting my hands on it. Have any ideas where I might find it - or if there's another (better?) product available to minimize the scratch we have? Thank you!

Terri Sapienza: but those were the first to pop up.

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Furniture Refinishing: My mom has an old wooden side table from her grandmother that she'd like to get refinished, but she's nervous about sending it to a place that she doesn't really know anything about. Do you have any recommendations of places that might be able to refinish it in the Northern VA area?If it helps, the table is in good condition, just has some wear from its years but nothing big, though the legs are fairly detailed. She also has a set of wingback chairs that she might want to get refinished/reupholstered at the same time if there is a place that can do it all at once. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Spicer's, 3649 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria, Va. 703 751-0321. This is a family owned business - since 1957 - they have great references. They do upholstery and also refinishing.

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My bedroom was the closet makeover: I like the results of the bedroom closet makeover. Its something we will try to replicate on our own. The after picture online was too small to really read the captions but great suggestions. Maybe I can see it better in the actual paper. Thanks Terri, for your advice about the baskets, for the above space.

Terri Sapienza: Hi, Carita. Glad you liked the redesign! We are trying to fix the online format so the illustations are easier to see and read, but in the meantime please do check out the paper - each drawing is given an entire page. Glad to hear the basket solution worked out, too. Thanks for being a part of the story.

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OMG (Oh my green)!: Trying to find a lovely calm green paint for my bathroom that doesn't look like mashed peas. Tried AcetoGO Paint Pod in Gleeful Green and Granny Smith apple but they seem to be too yellow and bright. Darker greens (nature's abundance) give it an army camouflage feel but I want a spa feel. Any suggestions? Also would it look good to do two different greens with a marbling effect or is that sooooo 1990s? It's a small bathroom so would that give the walls dimension and a bigger feel?

Terri Sapienza: Here are some nice greens to takea look at: Seedling, Mineral, Cucumber, and Lichen, all from C2; Duron's Bonsai Tint and Relish; Benjamin Moore's Fresh Dew, Pale Vista and Potpourri Green.As for the marbling effect: don't do it.

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Suggestion for organizing hats and gloves: I bought an over the door shoe organizer and placed it on the back of the door to our coat closet. Kids' gloves and hat go in the lower pockets, adults' things go in the upper pockets. We have used it for a few years and it's helped us keep winter gear organized and make use of space that would otherwise be wasted.

Terri Sapienza:

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Clear boxes from Container Store: I got a pack of clear boxes from the container store several years ago that I love. They are big enough to fit a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper flat on the bottom - they are the men's shoes or boot size. I use them for everything from paperwork & magazines to seldom used clothes that I don't want to get dusty.One thing I have discovered is that I need to buy a lot of one type of storage container. I use to buy a container here & there, but I couldn't find the same one again when I needed more so they did not stack well. Now I buy a lot of the same ones even though it will be a while before I use the rest. It makes them look so much more organized when they are together.

Jura Koncius: Very good point about buying extra of the same container. It really bums me out when they discontinue something and I need just one more!

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for person looking for a new sofa: Head to 14th street, where you can check out Mitchell Gold. We just bought one (the Mona sounds like what she/he is looking for: exposed legs, tight back) and the sales staff there could not have been more helpful. Also, a 20 percent off special order sale right now.

Terri Sapienza: Great tip. Thanks.

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Satin/velvet hangers: Personally, I'd go with wood. The satin and velvet is going to start ripping after awhile and won't look so glamorous. Wood lasts a really long time.

Jura Koncius: I agree.

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Does anyone have a surefire way of cleaning hairspray off of the frame and glass haning in the bathroom? : Save your children's air and stop using hair spray. The best way to clean up a problem is to never use the toxin to start with!

Jura Koncius: Wow.

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clothes are all over my room : Buy a wardrobe

Jura Koncius: !!!

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Shoe Storage: I have a ridiculous amount of shoes, and so needed to come up with creative ways of storing them. I have a wide 8-drawer dresser, and decided to dedicate the bottom two drawers for holding my boots. I can fit 2 or 3 pairs in each drawer (laying sideways). This also keeps me from turning those drawers into "catch alls" of t-shirts, lost socks, etc.I have two under-bed storage containers for shoes. This is where I store my out-of-season shoes. My seasonal shoes are kept in my closet on horizontal shelves. I have found they offer more versatility than shoe racks or the matrix-style shoe organizers.And finally, I bought an Ikea shoe cabinet that holds 4 pairs of shoes, and keep that right by my door. This is where I keep my daily shoes (I am one of those people who would otherwise kick them off and keep them piled in a corner.)Hope those suggestions help!

Terri Sapienza: I think lots of people wrestle with this problem.

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Please help with paint advice!: Good morning, I have a one-bedroom condo that's on the small side but with very tall ceilings and a breakfast bar kitchen that's included in the main living area so it makes it much bigger. The walls are a blah-off white color and so I want to paint it but I'm fearful of picking a color that becomes too much since it's a big living area. The room gets a ton of light too. There isn't really a wall that can be the accent wall because it's just two sided basically. I was thinking a light, warm grey? Please help - thanks!

Terri Sapienza: My advice is to stay tuned, because we will run a story soon about a colleague who needed help picking colors for her new condo so she had three color consultants come by to help her. She reports on the process and the results.

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Rented Closet: I am renting a condo and would like to remove the cheap plastic organizer that is in my closet and have a closet rod and maybe some basic shelving installed. I don't want to spend a ton of money to do this, as it is not a place I own but I think it would make me happy for the two years I plan to be in DC. Any ideas that will make sense for someone who has limited funds and will most likely leave behind what is done?

Karen Sylvestre: That might make it a win-win.

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Shoe Storage: I buy the clear plastic shoe boxes at The Container Store because you can see what's inside and they stack perfectly. Several fit on each shelf in my closet center section and the extras take up little space at the bottom of the closet too.

Terri Sapienza: Yes, those boxes are handy and do stack nicely. I store my out-of-season shoes in the them.

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Terri Sapienza: By the way, I'm thinking about doing a story about cedar closets and was hoping to talk to people who currently have one, who have had one in the past or who want one. If you or anyone you know fits this description, email me at sapienzat@washpost.com. thanks.

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Cement Floors?: Hi Jura and Terri! I'm looking at moving into a loft-style apartment building that features stained cement floors. I'm in love with the apartment, but I'm not sure how crazy I am about putting my feet on a cold cement floor in the morning (hello, prison?), any recommendations for rugs that dont slide but don't look like bathroom rugs?

Terri Sapienza:

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Shoes, shoes, and more shoes: When my closet system was set up, I cut all but the uppermost shelf short by about 2 feet. The space is just wide enough for over-the-door shoe holders to hang from the upper shelf, and deep enough that I can hang three of them in the space.

Jura Koncius: Good idea.

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re: storing winter gear: I've shared this suggestion before, but... We installed an IKEA shoe cabinet against the end wall of the closet. It has three drawers that are perfect for gloves, hats and scarves. It's only 8 inches deep, so it takes up very little room.

Jura Koncius: Yes. This is one of Ikea's truly fabulous pieces.

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Peach: I like the use of peach, beige and white with the tiniest bit of green in this bedroom. Maybe the person with the peach bathroom could get an idea from this.

Jura Koncius: sure. thanks.

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A bedroom closet worse than your featured coat closet: We just moved into a 120-year-old house that's gorgeous, but nearly closet-less. The only bedroom closet is tinier than your featured coat closet. For starters, there's just one rod, no shelves and 2 hooks. The dimensions are 24dx50w (the doorway is only 36w), and about 96h AND I need to share it with my husband. We're trying to install some Elpha systems in our office, but until that happens, do you have some suggestions for how to make it work? I'm worried that we won't ever use really tall shelves. Help!

Karen Sylvestre: Some solutions might present themselves depending on whether you need more hanging space or more shelf space.

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Bathroom remodel: I'm doing a minor remodel on our bathroom. The stuff I'm keeping is black and white and I intend to get floor tile to match that. The walls are currently "linen white" and I am willing to repaint it, even though it doesn't need it. (We repainted a year ago when we moved in, and I had much bigger concerns than bathroom remodeling). I want a color to contrast that, but I'm not sure what. I have so many options that I can't narrow it down! The bathroom is the main bathroom of the house, is windowless, and is a fairly small but not tiny room. The rest of the house is rather earthy, with muted colors (i.e. Behr's "Dried Chervil" instead of a deep or bright green).

Terri Sapienza: I would just pick a color that makes you happy and go for it.

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Closet shelves: If you want to get a lot of white melamine closet shelves, it is cheaper to get a bookshelf. Then use those shelves and have the sides cut to the length you want. You can get a bookcase with 5 shelves and 2 sides on sale for about $30 vs. paying $8-$10 a shelves individually. I've had the most luck at Staples.

Karen Sylvestre: Bookshelves might be repurposed to hold shoes, purses, etc., but the shelves are not deep enough to do a good job of holding foldables, linens, towels, etc.

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wood trim finishes: I am completely stuck . I have a hallway/stairway that has three different wood trim finishes that I'm trying to unify. Dark wood stain (original), unfinished wood (recent reno), and pre-primed white (contractor miscommunication during same reno). Rest of house has white trim around windows and doors, but the dark wood in hallway and on stair balusters & railing is charmin. What to do? Where should the dark trim stop and the white begin? Please help. I am really stuck, and I would like to finish the project this weekend. Thanks a million!!

Terri Sapienza: Because I'm thinking that maybe you could just paint the unfinished wood white and also paint your stair risers white, then leave your dark wood as is. Hard to really say though without being able to see your space.

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Linen Storage: We have a townhouse with a very small linen closet that we use for toiletries, iron, etc. but not for towels or sheets. Any suggestions for practical ways to store linens in the bedroom?

Terri Sapienza: How about a storage ottoman or bench at the foot of your bed?

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Terri Sapienza: have a nice weekend everyone. Chat with you next week.

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Sliding doors on closet: My boys (ages 7 and 10) share a bedroom and a closet. The closet has sliding doors so I cannot visualize both sides at the closet at once. I feel this impedes organization. Should I install bifold doors, or there is a more attractive or practical option?

Karen Sylvestre: You couldn't really do that with sliding doors.


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