Question: I would like to update my 15-year-old kitchen. I am thinking of painting the wood-tone cabinets almond. The gold vinyl floor must stay. Since the dining room is decorated in gold, peach and light green, I would like to use these colors in the kitchen. I must choose colors for the countertops and the wallpaper, and I must find window treatments for a large window in the breakfast area and a small window over the sink. I want the room to have a country theme and a light, cheerful feel.
Answer: I like the idea of painting the wood-tone cabinets almond. Why not paint your kitchen ceiling a pretty peach and select a stripe of peach, light green and emerald green for the wall covering? On your large window, choose a flower print of pink, yellow and peach entwined with green on a violet background. Install the curtains on a white pole with white rings. On the small window over the sink, install an almond-painted louvered shutter. Coordinate the room by installing countertops of white laminate or white Corian.
Q: I will be putting new carpeting in my living and dining rooms. I'd like to use a medium- to a light-gray tone. My rooms are small, so I don't want anything too dark. But I also have children, so I don't want anything too light. The walls in these rooms are light yellow. I am also purchasing a new sofa and chair, and I have found a set in a tan and cream stripe that I like. Will this work with gray carpeting? If so, what other colors can I use to give more color to the room? If not, what other colors would you suggest for either the carpeting or the sofa?
A: I like the combination of soft yellow with gray. Go with that concept, and paint all the woodwork with a white semi-gloss enamel.
As for fabric in your yellow and gray living room, try a print of poppy red, green, light blue and yellow on a gray background. The dining room drapery can be made of a yellow and white stripe instead of tan and cream stripe. Upholster the sofa in a quilted version of the drapery print, and accent it in assorted pillows of yellow, green and poppy.
Q: Do you have any space-saving suggestions?
A: These days, space seems to be as precious a commodity as oil. Cars are smaller, airplanes are more crowded, even our national beaches and parks seem to have more blankets and boom boxes per square foot than ever before.
Those who live in large cities really feel the squeeze. Rush-hour buses and trains often force strangers to get far closer to each other than everyday etiquette would allow. No wonder vacation spots such as the Caribbean shores and the Montana wilderness are so popular right now.
The homes built during the past few years are smaller than their predecessors. Much of this makes sense, as families are smaller and heating costs are higher. But it's a shame that all those attics, libraries and pantries have been lost in the process.
The modern kitchen, for those of us who still cook, is a difficult room to keep free of clutter. How do you find room for the microwave, coffee maker, food processor, blender and electric can opener--and still leave a place for the family to sit down?
Shelving is one answer. Place the dishes and gadgets used for special occasions way up top. Also, there are appliances on the market that will attach to the underside of a kitchen cabinet, leaving the counter free for slicing, dicing and other culinary activities.
When assessing your home for space efficiency, pay attention to corners and upper areas.
Place a writing desk and chair in an unused corner of a living room to create a modern-day "library." In the same vein, the "guest room" in your house may simply be a fold-out club chair or a fold-out love seat in your living room. Stash pillows and blankets in an old-fashioned blanket chest; this handsome colonial piece can double as a coffee table.
If all this shuffling around seems overwhelming, you might want to call in a professional. Space planners often have retail stores that sell their services as well as their products. And it's no surprise that closet planning has a very high demand--who couldn't use a little more storage space?