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Custom Rugs for Beth

Hi Christine! 

I love your blog, and I am in dire need of real world mom carpet design advice (not salesman!) for my 1st floor.  I have Ben Moore edgecomb gray paint on my 1st floor, and I need custom size rugs for my living room, dining and fam room bc they are all odd sized rooms.  I want neutral color rugs that all flow together since i am using pillows , wall art , plants etc for color.  I love Masland carpets too - but how do I choose what goes together / flows well?  Should I get 3 rugs all the same? 3 different patterns? How light /dark in color should I go?   What styles are more fam room vs living room appropriate?  In an ideal world, wool or nylon?  Any help would be much appreciated.
Looking forward to your practical yet always stylish advice!


Hi Beth, 

There are a lot of ways to approach this, but I will give you my "if it were me" answer.  I would use different rugs in each room.  You can do this and still keep them incredibly neutral, like you mentioned you were going for.  When I am combining three different rugs, I like them all to look great together, but they don't need to "match."  I like using a variety of textures.  Different 


here's an example: kenya Sisal in Nickel  (comes in custom sizes)


Moor Rug, by Capel- in Stone (comes in custom sizes)


Pebbles by Capel- (available in custom sizes)


I love Masland, but also consider Capel- they have a large selection of area rugs that you can have in custom sizes.


Melissa's Exterior

I need help chosing colors for my home.  I am considering painting the brick front...but no sure how it would look.  Any suggestions you can give are greatly appreciated.
Please see attachment below, which i hope include pictures :0)
Thanks in advance,
Hi Melissa, 
If it were me, I would not paint it.  Why?  (I know, sometimes I tell people to paint it, sometimes I tell them not to).  I use a couple of guidelines.  
1.  Is the brick helping or hurting the architectual balance of the home?  
In your case, it helps.  Your exterior is nicely balanced.
2.  Is the brick a good-looking brick?  
In your case, I'd say your brick looks great.  
So- I wouldn't change your brick, but I would change almost everything else.  ;-)   I would extend the front step area to be larger.  Make your entry more dominant.  Add a more welcoming front door., and improve landscaping leading to the door.    To further improve your curb appeal, I would replace garage doors and increase the "presence" of the small window over the garage. ( I find it to be a little awkwardly small.)  Increase the width with shutters, and the length with a window box.  I would consider shutters on your other windows as well.  If the expense of replacing the garage doors is not in the plans, perhaps you can simply replace the windows and add "carriage house style" hardware to your existing doors.
As far as colors go, you have a black roof, so repeat that in your front door and shutters.  You have white windows.  I'd repeat that in the trim.  As far as your field color goes, I would either lean beige, gray or more white.  From there, it's really more an issue of personal preference.  A couple to consider are SW7641 Collonade Gray, or SW7642 Pavestone.  I will say that there's nothing that I "don't like" about your existing color, but I do appreciate wanting a change, if that's what you're looking for.  I'd get sample quarts and make sure they look nice next to the brick.  
Thanks for writing in!



Black and White Cork Floors

Hi Christine, 

I am having difficulties deciding on how to proceed with my flooring.  I have a fairly small house and am planning on putting cork flooring in the living and dining rooms, which basically run along one side of the house.  I had thought to put a great black and white patterned tile in the front entryway and kitchen, which runs along the other side of the house.  The two flooring types would meet at the doorway between the dining and entry and also at the doorway between the living room and kitchen.  Would this be too busy, since the cork I want to choose is Wicander's Accent and has a lot of pattern to it?  Should I just go with the cork throughout the entire house to make it feel larger and more cohesive?




Hi Molly, 


I would say it depends on the size of your home, and the size of your transitions.  If you have a home that is under 2000 sf, (on a given level) I'd really try to keep it the same flooring.  If your home is larger, I'd be more likely to have multiple floor surfaces.  

I try to keep my floor transitions to the width of a doorway.  If you are referring to changing floors in a doorway, especially if there is actually a door, go ahead and change the surface if you'd like.  I am not a fan of large open floor transitions.  

Also be careful of height differences in materials that can create possible trip hazards.  Tile could be significantly higher than cork if you are on a raised foundation.

When I read your question, my first thought was to trasition a solid natural color cork with black and white cork.  This is a more organic transition, and would work well, even in a smaller home.  You can purchase cork in these colors, or if you are having your floor finished on site, they can be painted before the urethane goes down.  (the floor below is still cork)

You could also do a patterned stencil on your cork floors in certain areas if you like.  You could also transition in your areas you were considering tile to a more subtle two tone cork checkerboard pattern.  Or, you could use your natural cork color checkerboarded with just white or just black.


Good luck Molly- thanks for writing in!

- Christine


Darla's Exterior

Dear Christine,

We live in a double wide home and it is straight across the front with a built on porch. Right now the trim and metal roof is white and the body is a butter yellow. I like the grey/tan color but not sure what is the best color to go with. Would like to add shutters and paint the front door. Do you recommend painting the underpinning the same as the house or leave it white? It is nothing fancy. I like the farm/cottage look. Need help please painter is coming tomorrow to start getting the house ready. Thank you!

- Darla

Hi Darla,

The secret to your place looking better is in the porch.  I would build a wide (as wide as the house) porch, with a balustrade, thicker supports, and your idea of adding shutters is a great idea.  Buy a new door, the nicest you can afford; it makes a big difference.  After that, a little grass and wider finished walkway and you are set.  I'm in California, and everyone's front yard is brown and dead, so your front lawn makes me feel right at home.  Maybe the drought will end soon.  ;-) If you want to elongate your windows, you can add window boxes.  Also- notice how much wider the entrance is in my photo than the original.  It is a richer look to have that width. 

Oh yeah- you asked me about the color, huh?  With that light roof, I'd keep it white.  My photo has a red door, but you really could do any color you wanted on the door- blue, green, turquoise.  Let your door express your personality.  (that advice was for Darla- not you folks out there with the brick houses)   ;-) 


Look at that- with a little photo manipulation, your double wide now looks like a charming estate. 





Curb Appeal for Christine


Dear Christine, this is Christine from Royal Oak, MI. My husband and I are in the process of redoing our ranch-style home and purchasing new windows, new garage door, entry doors (side and front) and possibly a new roof. This is a big deal for us financially, but we are taking the plunge and going for it! We need your help! We cannot decide what we should do with the siding due to our small ranch-style home already having half brick and half siding. I am soooo unhappy with the blah look and the blah curb appeal that my home has to offer.


I'm ready for a CUTE COTTAGE look that catches the eye. Possibly cedar shake, cultured stone, some added wood trim??? I am open to ANYTHING! We have a detached garage that is fully sided (no brick), but the front of the house is the main challenge (half siding/half brick).


We thought possibly cultured stone or cedar shake in the main front, and siding for the side and garage, but I need it to all come together and flow. I want CUTE! We already have/and are again getting the crossbar windows that look cottage cute, but the color of the siding, the front "pop" idea and the flow is the issue. Please give me your honest opinion. Please know that I realize it looks awful right now, this is where I'm praying you will give me ideas and insight. I just found a way to send you pix :)
Please see the other 2 emails following this one which will include add'l views of my home. We will be forever thankful if you would be willing to take on our challenge.


Hi Christine,


How exciting to be making big changes to your home!  I would focus on three things to create a more charming cottage feel.

  1. Larger windows.
  2. Stronger entrance.
  3. Architectural detail.

  This window is all wrong: I know that sometimes I give advice when only seeing the exterior, and it might be completely impossible if I could see the inside.  For example, I would say this window is too small, too short, too awkward.  Maybe it is over an important kitchen counter and can't be any larger, but I would do my best to make it larger.


I know it gets expensive to add a covered porch, but your current roof line is so lacking in character- it's hard to make the house look truly cute and charming without changing it.  I would make your front steps about 5x wider than they are now, and add a little porch off to the left with a pediment over the entry, sidelights adding bulk to the door, and increase the window size on the far right.


I did a little cut and paste to make some changes for you. 


I hope my choppy cut and paste gives your the feel I'm hoping it does.