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When displayed correctly, family heirlooms can complement contemporary interior design

EXPERT: Designer Todd Martz answers decor problems

Q I love plants and have them in most windows. Do you have advice for avoiding a hippie jungle look without getting rid of them?

A I would use the same pots and arrange the plants in straight lines. Then the only variable is the plant, keeping your look clean.

Q I have a few doors with their original brass knobs. I want to keep them clean but not necessarily shiny (I prefer a “weathered” or antique look). Any suggestions?

A Brass usually is covered with a lacquer to seal the finish. If you remove the lacquer, the brass will age. Then clean with a brass cleaner to the look you want. This will create a dull finish. You can leave as much darkness as you like to show weathering.

Q I live in an older home, but my taste is more modern. When my grandma died, she left me her china and silverware. I’m not loving the china pattern because it’s a bit too traditional. How do I incorporate family heirlooms while keeping my style intact? I don’t want to get rid of them.

A Pull a colour from the antique pattern. Most patterns have green. Then get a bold, solid colour green plate to use with the rest of the china.

Q I have a wingback chair I have always loved but want to update it with a more modern fabric. Will changing the fabric help it look less traditional? Should I go with a neutral fabric and then add colourful cushions?

A I like a bold single colour pattern on this kind of chair. Multi-coloured sofa pillows that include the chair colour can then pull the room together.

Q I’m toying with the idea of covering an existing oak floor with ceramic tile without grouting or adhesive. The advantage of no grouting and adhesive is that I can easily take up the tile later and use it elsewhere when I tire of the look. Also, the original oak flooring is still in good shape, and I don’t want to damage it if the time comes to remove the tile. What else should I be considering?

A You need to consider how much movement there is in the wood floor. Usually a wood floor flexes. The tile does not and will be loose.

Q How do you decide whether a chair can be saved with re-upholstering or should be replaced?

A You need to start with the structure. Does the expense of recovering make “cents” with how well the chair is built?

Q Why are window coverings now considered unfashionable? In the decor magazines they are often only decoration and not actually functional.

A Having natural light has become a stronger need than draperies. Also, windows now have coatings to cut down on the heat and cold exchange. What makes you comfortable is your decision. Draperies are great to finish a room and add style, colour and pattern. 

The Washington Post


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