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DECOR ADVICE: Covering all bases

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To expand a space, or lift the feel of a room that doesn't get much natural light, cover the walls with patterns and colours

EXPERT: Joanna Saltz, of House Beautiful and Delish

Q As a real estate agent who primarily shows houses to buyers, I have seen hundreds of kitchens with white shaker cabinets and white and grey marble or granite counters. Backsplashes always seem to be subway or a geometric – white and grey. What’s next?

A Rather than relying on the backsplash, we’re seeing wallpaper in kitchens now. It allows people to keep the fixtures neutral (great for resale), but still push the boundaries. Many people shy from wallpaper, thinking it’s hard to remove. These days, people shouldn’t be afraid to try it.

Q My kitchen includes a desk nook overflowing with papers. I would love a file drawer. To the side of this desk is a built-in steam oven I never use. Could I get a drawer made to fill this space? I assume I could never get it to match 10-year-old cherry cabinetry. I was thinking a stainless steel front to mimic the steam oven so it looks like an appliance, but is a file drawer. Who do I contact do make it? Do you have other ideas?

A I’m sure you could have something made. Try something colourful or a vintage storage piece to add character.

Q How do I make a tiny studio feel really large?

A Cover the walls. Pattern and colour really do expand a space. If you’re renting, there are removable wallpaper options.

Q I still love my dark cherry kitchen cabinets, but after 25 years, some need refinishing. Is this something I can do myself? Can I paint them?

A I would not refinish them yourself. Professionals can do a beautiful paint job. A lacquer finish could be amazing.

Q I bought a lacquer coffee table 10 years ago. However, it is more purple than red, so doesn’t fit my living room and it has been chipped. Thoughts instead of giving it away?

A Can you afford to relacquer it?

Q Spring is around the corner, but it still feels cold and grey. How can I make a wintry room more cheerful?

A Buy flowers. Buy tons of plants.

Q We are stumped on what colour to paint our dining room. The adjoining rooms are painted dark grey and stone. The dining room is painted dark and green. The room doesn’t get a ton of direct sunlight. We were leaning toward a warm grey to bridge the two rooms, but so far we have not found the right shade. Any suggestions?

A I’m a sucker for greys and stone colours, but having met with so many colour experts recently, I’m inspired to push it. Everyone is gushing about yellow. Have you considered it? It casts a gorgeous glow on food, would give you a little colour and would bridge those rooms beautifully. 

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