Tuesday, March 13, 2012

OY VEY!! Q&A!! TUESDAY #4, design questions answered!!

Welcome to the 4TH  OY VEY, Q&A!!!!!
But before I get started I want to share something with you guys. 
One of the great perks of being a Blogher affiliate (they are one of the companies that put ads on my sidebar), is that by being willing to participate in some promotions, I find out about cool stuff I wouldn't otherwise bother with. 
I'm old, and am not always willing to check new things out.
So they emailed me about something called 
Didn't think it was something that would interest me.
Figured I'd at least look at it.
Pull my head out of my #$%  the sand.
Well, guys, IT'S WAY COOL!!!
It's a FREE newsletter that tells you about what are the coolest apps out there for your ipad, iphone or Android.
It slogs through the millions of apps, and recommends the ones that are the best, from free apps to ones you got to pay for.
I already found a free one that finds my ipad for me, when I've put it down somewhere and can't figure out where it went.
I MEAN.....
I can't call it like I can my cell phone.
With so much new technology, it's nice to have this free advice. I set it up to send me a newsletter once a week. You can set that up for how ever often you want it.
If you click on this link it will take you to the page where you can sign up.
I will get a small fee for everyone who signs up!!!!!
A pretty picture for the blog roll photo....

This is a shot of my Florida dining room.
I will be sharing more photos on my next blog post.


First question was from Martha.
she asks.....
HI Betsy, I have a decorating question about carpet.. When buying a carpet that will not be wall to wall, how far from the wall do you measure if you want it almost to the wall, sounds weird . I know no chair legs should be one on and one off but I am just not sure how far to the wall do you go and how much floor should be showing. Thanks in advance for any clue you can give me.
I love this question, I know this is something a lot of folks wonder about. 

First: I ignore any rules about furniture legs being on or off the carpet. 
Especially, if it would force the furniture into too tight a grouping.
I tend to angle chairs grouped by an end table against a wall, so one of their back legs is ALWAYS off the rug.
Like this, right here, in this here photo!!!
The back inside legs are off the rug!!!!!
OH NO!!!!!
Don't let the design poleece find out. 

I usually leave around 12" of wood showing around the edge of a room, if I am having a rug cut to size.
If I am using a pre-sized rug, then I allow 6" to 18" or more.
For a hallway, and on stairs, I leave a wood border of 4 - 6".
There ya go, that's my answer.

Next question!!!!!
This is from the wonderful woman that edited my two books.
She made me look smarter than I really am, so now I'll try to make her sister look stupider that she really is!!!!!

Hi Betsy,
I just posted a response on your bog!! First time I've ever done that.

Anyway, it reminded me to send you these pictures of my sister's huge, clunky, truly vintage 1950s chair. It was her ex-husband's grandmother's chair and I'm not sure why she's hanging onto it, but that's just how she is. It seems to be very solidly made except that the pointy little Jetsons legs are not sturdy enough to keep the chair upright when her cats start racing through the apartment, and 2 of them (the legs) have been broken for awhile. So she'd like to replace the legs with something sturdier and have the whole thing reupholstered.

She has already "recovered" it once, and as I look at these photos, I'm just imagining what you'll say--"toss it in the landfill. No, burn it first." But anyway...

I am sure it will cost a fortune, far more than the chair is worth, but I also thought you might see its potential and have some creative ideas about redoing it that would make it really cool. If not, however, that is fine.

Thanking you in advance, I remain sincerely yours,
Vicki :)
The heffalump from the front

Broken leg and Kitty assistant.
the heffalump from the back.

OK, get ready!!!!!
I'm now going to DRAW!!!!!

I realize this is a 1950's looking profile, but I plan on obliterating it!!!
I would add some padding to the tops of the arms to make them a little rounder, for a more cushy look.
I would add a seat cushion with a nice full crown. (it looks like it's supposed to have one, and that it got lost along the way)
I would add a contrast welt at the edge of the arms, along the outline of the back, and a contrast 1/2" cuff along the bottom of the gathered skirt.
Maybe have a tiny gathered detail at the top of the skirt??!!
With the skirt, you can fix the problem of the broken legs, without having to worry about how the new legs look.......

like this, maybe???

or for a newer more current look, one like this???

or like this??? for a cute really cottage look!!!  

OR for a completely classic look, this one....

So many fabrics, so little time.....
It would probably be cheaper, to go to Crate & Barrel, and buy a new chair.
(just sayin')
(unless she takes an upholstery class, like I did, and does the labor herself!)
OK, NEXT!!!!!
My bidness partner Kris sent me this problem. 
She's had some new closet doors installed in her turn of the century house, and this is the note she sent me.....

I'm feeling kinda witchy as I gave poor Nigey no direction and he did do the very un-man thing of at least matching the oil-rubbed bronze finish on the window locks.

But she didn't like these door knobs. She wanted them to match the original ones in the house, like this.....

the problem with getting new doors already predrilled for knobs, is that the holes are too big for antique knobs to work. 
You need a bigger rosette, and I can't remember, but the setback
(the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole)
might be different too.

what you need to do is.....
find an antique looking knob with a conversion kit.
like this one!!!!! It's from Look in the Attic

They sell glass knobs too.

Or you could use this one from 

That's the best I could do, hope it helps.



Hi Betsy!
SO, if I wanted to do a YELLOW KITCHEN similar to the one you did, what color Ben Moore paint would I use for the lower cabs? 
I have several BM colors taped (8x8/5x9) sheets to my cabinet and am getting lost in yellows. As soon as I find one the lighting changes and so does my mind!  Our kitchen gets SE exposure. Some have used Hawthorne Yellow (HC-4) but it might be too much for me. 

I'm leaning towards Cornsilk (198), Weston Flax (HC-5), Harp Strings (213), or Santo Domingo Cream (274).... but then there are a few more saturated ones that I always keep handy like Vellum (207), Barley (199), & Traditional Yellow (170).
Some are getting too peachy/beige looking to me next to the yellows.  

I'd like to accessorize with deeper and brighter yellows...  I love your wallpaper!  If I don't do beadboard what other tile would you recommend for the backsplash?
Any guidance regarding color, backsplash, lighting is welcome : )
Thanks!  Valerie

(this is the kitchen she's talking about that I did for a client in Vermont)

Alright guys, now here's the deal......
Every color looks different in EVERY HOUSE!!!!!

I would need to look at the paint samples in the actual room you are talking about.
yellow has a way of reflecting back on itself and turning REALLY florescent.
So I can't help.
Well, maybe this one suggestion.......
Bring a picture that shows a yellow you like to the paint store, and have the computer match the color.

As for the backsplash, if you don't do beadboard, the tried and true answer would be white 3 x 6 subway tile.
OK NEXT!!!!!

I have bamboo woven shades throughout my house...and love them.  I just had woven shades installed in my family room and kitchen
and unfortunately I goofed...the color is not the goldish shade with brown specs thta I had expected....it looks ORANGE.  Thet cannot be returned because they are exactly the ones I ordered...though the 2x4 inch sample did not look so orange when I ordered them.  Here is my question...are you aware of anyone having painted woven blinds?  Do you think that I could lay them flat and spray paint them...and splatter some brown specs?  Is this a crazy idea? Help! 

Boy do I know how it feels when something custom ordered doesn't turn out how you expected!!!!
You can definitely paint them. Just one question.... 
is the surface of the bamboo blinds the hard shiny outside of the grass?
(bamboo is a grass, ya know?)
is it the inside rougher part?
The paint will stick better if its the rougher inside of the grass.
If it's the shiny side, I would experiment on a small part, to see it the paint sticks.
Annie Sloan chalk paint would probably stick just fine, though. I've never used it, but my friend Amy Chalmers swears by it, and always is showing how she uses it on her blog.
I wouldn't splatter it though. Maybe experiment with a wash of color, allowing some of the natural fiber to show through.
Of course, if you are good at decorative effects, then go ahead and splatter, but it just might end up looking like a craft project....
Good luck, and send me the finished pictures. I'm sure the class would love to see how this turns out!!!!!


Hi Betsy I am new to your blog. I have a small living room 14x16. Want to do away with my 6ft. sofa, takes up too much space, and group chairs for conversation. Do the chairs need to be of the same size and style?? Thanks for any info. Evelyn 


I love the look of four chairs grouped in a circle to form a conversation area. 
There are no hard and fast rules, but I prefer if all four chairs are the same style and covered in the same fabric, gathered around a coffee table or a large ottoman.
I did that in this gazebo for the same clients in Vermont.


From: "Gail Bidgood" <gailbidgood@hotmail.com>
To: betsyspeert@gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:32:32 PM
Subject: Decorating Question-Kitchen Renovation

Hi Betsy:  To be completely honest, I just found you.  I went in
search of someone to ask my decorating question to and I found you -
and like you (funny) from your blog.  So here goes my question.  My
husband and I have spent the better part of the last year renovating
the main floor of our home.  The kitchen was the major job.  We are
almost done.  Waiting on some cupboard doors and a little more
painting to do.  Today we started installing a natural stone called
"Silver Fox" from Erth Coverings.  A beautiful product BUT I'm not
sure about it.  I love the product but I wonder if it distracts -
draws your eye too much - especiall with the backsplash - a product
called "Bullet" from Saltillo.  The Silver fox shows up as a muted
brown/grey and the backsplash is stainless with white glass.  What do
you think.  I have attached 4 pictures.  The rug (if you can see it)
actually contains the greys and browns.  Would love to have an opinion
as we have halted installation for the time being until we can decide
for sure.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your blog.



This isn't really my style......
Just because you like something, you don't need to stick it in a room.
The granite seems to work with the stone on the wall. 
The thing I'm having trouble with is the backsplash tile.
I'm not really understanding the two crystal chandeliers in this space.
Amy at Maison Decor did a really wonderful post about lantern hanging lights.
Check out this link to see what I mean.
I think if you change the lights to something a little less glitzy, it will pull the whole space together.
I don't want to be mean, but that's just my opinion.

And lastly, ('cuz this is getting really long)

Susan Greenman
Hi Betsy,
So glad I found your blog via Kim of Savvy Southern!!  LOVE your style and have saved some of your magazine photos for years!

I can't seem to get my dining room right.  The walls (top portion) were green for 14 years....I decided I needed a change, but am not sure I like the Dunmore Cream with the checked drapes.  Green and ivory flow through my downstairs. * What would YOU do to make this room better? *       ANYTHING can go- drapes, hutch, table, chairs, light......

This is what I like: The draperies, The wood dining chairs, prints on wall, chandelier, white paint on woodwork.....
Not crazy about the hutch, would probably go antiquing and find a real old one, not a 1950's repro.
I would look for a wallpaper to go above the chair rail, I feel the paint is too stark, I want to warm the room up. A soft muted paisley in the same colors as the checks would look wonderful. 
like this one from York wallpaper
Or this one 

If you did this, you may want to reframe the prints, thicker white frames would stand out better against the wallpaper pattern.
THEN....maybe hang some white ironware pottery on the walls too!!!
I would look for host and hostess arm chairs for the head and foot of the table with upholstered seats and backs, to give a more comfy cushy feel to the space. Cover them in the check.
The chandelier looks like it is hung too high, the bottom shouldn't be more than 36" above the table. I tend to hand chandeliers 30" above tables, unless they are unusual, like the one in my Florida dining room.
And while I'm spending your money!!!!! I would get an antique dining table, and replace this reproduction.

I would have a cushion made for the window seat that has a decent crown, not one that is just a slab of foam. Then I would cover it in the check, or the paisley, or a solid brown that picks up one of the room colors. And then I'd get some decent feather filled toss pillows to adorn the window seat.
You could make your own needlepoint toss pillows!!!! Because after doing all this, you won't have any money for entertainment!!!!!

that's a lot of advice.
Just remember!!!!!


Later Gator


Amy Chalmers said...

Oh I think this was the best Q&A so far!!! So many good questions and super answers~WOW! This really is an awesome resource for the average Jill to pick your brain. I love reading the question and then seeing what you will say. Sometimes I try to think of the answer first, to see if we think alike, but my dear, you are eons ahead of me....miles to go before I sleep I guess.
And the chalk paint would be ideal for the blinds. Your idea of a wash is perfect in this case. That kitchen with the backsplash was super interesting...too many things clamoring for attention. I think you hit the nail on the head with that one too.

Connie @ Sensible-Redesign said...

Loved all the questions and answers. Very interesting to see what you will come up with for solutions. Love the way you think and write. Can't imagine why you needed someone to help write your books :)

Heather said...

I have a suggestion for Gail: Consider basic white drum shade pendants instead of the over the top chandeliers. I can see a simple geometric wallpaper instead of the troublesome natural stone she's uncertain about. There's too many styles at work on the space: the natural stone, modern shiny backsplash and the old-fashioned- glitzy chandeliers. It's visual overload. I think I might have submit my own kitchen for your suggestions, but I'll have to clean it first!

Cindy said...

That was AWESOME! I laughed my way through it, god you're funny! It's so interesting hearing your ideas and advice, makes me look at things in a whole different way. Calling that one chair a Heffalump was waaaay funny too. The kitchen you did in yellow is amazing... WOW. It's just yummy soft yellow fabulousness!


Kris said...

Thanks for thinking of me ... See ya soon!


Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

You took a "heffalump" and transformed it into a work of art, a thing of beauty in your drawing...You are a very talented artist in addition to designer...I have learned so many tips and "whips" from your Q&A's...

karen d said...

Hey Betsy, love your blog. You take the "stuffy" out of design. Just a comment on picking yellows, I tell my clients to start in the more "creamy" whites (ones with just a hint of yellow rather than start in crayola yellow. Most people don't realize how colors will intensify over large spaces. A good yellow I have used often is "Country Cream" by Glidden. It's very soft and easy to work with.

Vicki said...

Hey Betsy,
thanks for the ideas about the chair. Adding a skirt to cover up the legs is an excellent idea (once she fixes the legs).


lvroftiques said...

Sheesh those are some tough questions. I'm glad you're the one answering them. And I loved and agreed with all of your answers as well... which is really no surprise as I LOVE your style! *winks* Vanna

Karin said...

I love this Q&A feature! It explains a lot about why hiring a designer is a good investment. I don't have that kind of eye so I could never imagine the possibilities of a room the way that you do. especially with the last set of pictures. You can take what is a nice dining room, similar to what you would see in the homes up and down my street and change it into something magazine-worthy. I can "see" the changes you recommended and how it would put this space over the top. It's so interesting to see through your eyes. You know, maybe that's a business idea for you. Tobi Fairley offers a Design in a Box service. You can see the details on her web site (not that I want you to stop offering your advice here- this is awesome!) But I do see a niche in the market. I'd purchase the kind of whole room advice you offered Susan Greenman because I know I love your style and would trust your recommendations. Just a thought. I hope Susan follows through and shares some pictures!

debra said...

Hi - this is intended to help Gail - I know what you mean, Betsy - it's really difficult to counsel someone with radically different taste- what we don't relate to, we don't relate to. I think I can help though. Your first poster, Amy, hit the nail on the head. The room's getting too busy. The star of the show is definitely the big impact backsplash, so let it stand alone and shine. My only criticism of the room is that it lacks warmth. This is perhaps because it is unfinished. However, barrel shades,some art, a mirror or even a blackboard in place of the stone together with some lovely fabric window coverings would help with that. Love your blog, Betsy - you're one funny woman! Debra

Suzlovesflowers said...

I checked your blog late last night and was SO excited to see that you featured my dining room question that I couldn't fall asleep!!! But thank you SO much anyway! It was worth the lost sleep; my mind began imagining the possibilities and I am very excited to dive in with your suggestions. The white hutch will be the first thing to go and quite frankly I am ready to be rid of it...it's a( formerly) dark pine Ethan Allen piece that I got tired of and painted about 10 years ago. Love your suggestions for wallpaper, antique hutch and table, upholstered head chairs, new cushion and pillows on window seat, etc. I checked and the chandy is 30" above tabletop- I don't know why it looks so high in the photos. Anyway, Betsy, your ideas are so good and your help is very much appreciated!! And yes, Karin, I will post some photos of my updated diningroom, although it may take a while to pull everything together:)

Anonymous said...

Karin is right~if you can afford it, paying for design advice is money well spent. I have to say I think it is just bizarre that some people are giving their two bits to the questions posed by your readers. Anyone writing in for advice is looking for YOUR PROFESSIONAL OPINION, because they like what they read and see here and value YOUR advice. It is annoying to have to read less informed "design" opinions. Do they not get it?? It is BETSY SPEERTS blog and BETSY SPEERTS advice by BETSY SPEERT, the published designer and author.

Betsy Speert said...

I swear!!!! I didn't write that comment from anonymous!!!!!
But I think she must be a very smart and wonderful person!!!!!

2LittleFishies said...

Thanks, Betsy! I knew color would be tough, but I didn't know if you knew the name of the paint (if there was one) that you used so I could see how they compare with the ones I'm looking at.
I had my Mom come over and look at the 4 yellows I had on my wall. She said they didn't look yellow- more beige/cream. Maybe I'll be more daring but I know yellows can "get away from you" from what I hear : ) Thanks again! (...and I'd still LOVE to see more of that Vermont Kitchen!)

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