Answers to Your Other Decorating Questions

Q. The vinyl tape that is use on the edge of my desktop is peeling and chipping. In some places, the outer layer of the tape that looks like wood has peeled, and left a black layer, while in other places the tape has peeled completely, showing the pressed wood. Does anyone know a good way to make this look better?

A. If the edging has just pulled loose but is all there, you can glue it back with yellow carpenter's glue. Spread a thin coat on both surfaces and press it into place. Use a damp sponge to wipe off and squeeze it out, then use tape to hold it in place. Wait two to three hours for the glue to "grab," then carefully remove the tape and gently wipe the area with a damp sponge to clean off any glue residue.

You could also get a small can of stain that comes close to the right color and stain the particleboard. Mask off the remaining laminate and use a one-inch throwaway foam brush to apply the stain. When it is dry, put on some polyurethane with another foam brush to give some protection to the particleboard.

Q. I have an alcove about 66"x48" which has beveled glass mirrors on the walls and glass shelves running from one wall to the other. The mirrors are glued to the plasterboard walls and the shelves are glued to the mirrors. How can I get the shelves off and then the mirrors off short of taking a hammer to the whole thing?

A. Sounds like everything is glued or siliconed. Razor blade the shelves as you pull on them, and you may be able to get a few lose depending on how good it was siliconed. If the mirror strips are at least 12 inches wide, after you remove the shelves you can use a suction cup and gently pull on the mirror until it comes lose from the wall, starting on upper corner working your way down. The biggest question is, are you trying to save them? The wall behind the mirror will most likely be toast, depending if Palmer's mastic or Gunther was used to glue the mirror to the wall.

Remember to wear safety glasses, glass gloves, and a light coat to protect your arms from getting cut. If the above will not work, cover everything around it with cardboard and tarps and have fun with a hammer.

Q. I had double wooden front doors, which I have replaced with new fiberglass doors, which were stained with a maple wipe-on stain and finished with a clear finish. The original doors were painted white. Our home is brick and the shutters are charcoal or gray in color. Some have suggested that the doors would be more attractive painted as opposed to the stain. I would appreciate any comments, and in particular, is there any rule of thumb such as using the same color as the shutters?

A. It all depends on the colors in your brick, but if your shutters are gray, then I'm imagining that the brown on your doors is just not doing anything for this color scheme. If the colors themselves aren't the problem, it might be the darkness of the stain that's not cutting it. If the doors used to be white, then they really stood out and popped, and made the entry light and bright. Now they're dark, and if they're recessed and/or in a shadowed area, they probably don't stand out anymore. There's no rule that says the front door has to be the same color as the shutters. Actually, it's better if they're not the same, but rather have the door be an accent color - something brighter and snazzier than the shutters is best. That's why you see so many red doors.

Q. Our walls are painted a very subtle yellow color, our leather sofa and loveseat are a lipstick red color, our carpeting is a light gray, and we have an area rug and runner that look like a modern art piece similar to Farbstudie Quadrate by Wassily Kandinsky, which is geometrical in nature and very colorful. I need to select new drapes for our four front windows, which measure 120" across total, and two separate windows in the same room measuring about 32" across each. Currently, we have 84" long insulated pinch pleat drapes on these windows, and would prefer to go in that direction, but shades or blinds are not totally out of the question. So far, I've considered black drapes which I realize will make our small room feel even smaller; drapes that closely match the wall color which I felt would make the sofa "pop out"; or something with a pattern or strip that mimics the colors in the area rugs. Would a framed print that matches the area rugs be too much of a good thing, or would it create a focal point?

A. If there's enough black in the area rug, go for black - that way, your sofa and the rug will stand out. Stripes will be too busy and the focal point will be confusing and lost. Matching the wall color... why bother? Black sounds scary, but it will be dramatic and smart, yet simple. The carpet and draperies will be tied together, since they're from the same color family.

However, if it really will be too much for this "small" room, how about splitting the difference, and going color-blocked? Have the top 3/4 of the drapery in a yellow, and the bottom 1/4 in black, or vice versa. You can do them primarily in yellow with a nice 6" banding of black for a little kick. Add black pillows on the sofa.

Q. I recently bought a 20-year-old home that has stained and varnished wood molding, doors, and windows throughout. I'm used to the painted molding from previous homes but this is starting to grow on me... I'm just not sure how to decorate with it. The whole house seems dark will so I will be replacing lighting, but I need to figure out how to decorate without painting the wood. Any ideas or recommendations of resources? My style is somewhere between colonial and country classic with mustard yellows, colonial blues and reds. The furniture is a mixture of mostly dark finished or painted wood. In addition, any help on freshening up the wood would be most appreciated.

A. I think the main problem here is that you're used to painted trim, and this is a whole new game for you. Don't paint it - keep it stained. Change is always difficult, but embrace this new world and don't worry - it's not 80's, it's just stained. It's ok! It can still be as formal or casual as you had your other home with the painted trim and wainscoting. It's just different. The house is (no offense) a wreck right now, and you're focusing on the woodwork. I think once all your touches have been introduced, and the entire offensive decor is removed, you'll love it.

Shaded lots and bad lighting are what's creating this darkness, not the trim. I have stained trim in my home and it's very sunny and bright with a warm glow. My walls are a chamois color, the carpet is a creamy speckled Berber, the wood (laminate) floors are a shade lighter than the wooden cabinets. Like you, I have added some painted furniture pieces to get away from so much wood (creamy distressed finishes). No one used to comment on the wood trim when it was still yucky white from the previous owners, but once we painted the light gold color, everyone's first comment is on the fireplace molding. They all thought we'd redone the fireplace! But it was just that the golden color brought out the beauty of the honey oak trim. You need to find a color that does that for your woodwork - not white.

You don't have to have matching cabinets or flooring. Actually, just the opposite would be better. Too much wood can be, well, too much. Introducing painted cabinetry would be great, and the floors should be either lighter or darker (we're talking wood floors here) for some variety (I'd go a little lighter). Once you get going on all the other things, you won't be so fixated on the trim.

Q. I have a small room with a slanted ceiling to paint. I need to know how to make the room look more spacious. Do I paint the whole room, including the ceiling, the same color or not?

A. Spacious is one thing - cold and uninviting is another. As long as all the colors you use are light, you'll be fine. However, for the ultimate in spaciousness, eliminate the line of contrast between the ceiling and the walls by painting the ceiling the same color as the walls, or at least a few shades lighter. If you don't like colored ceilings, you can't go wrong with flat ceiling white. Also, try to come close with the tone of your walls and flooring. When it comes to making a room look as big as possible (which really shouldn't be your main goal), contrast is the enemy. Try to keep things monotone.

You could play up that one high wall by painting it an accent color and all the other walls and ceiling the same (but different from the first wall) color. That will draw the eye up and create a sense of space.

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