Dear Debbie: The living area in my two-bedroom condo is one long, white, open stretch; the kitchen, sitting and dining areas all face each other. One wall is mostly glass (window and door to balcony). Please, can you give me some design ideas that will break up the boxy feeling? - Judith
Dear Judith: There are a few tricks that I have found that work well to disguise the awkward architecture that makes a condo feel like a cold block of space.
If your condo is like most new builds, you also will have uneven ceiling and wall lines due to the bulkheads.
To enhance the look of the ceiling in the condo shown here, I enlarged the bulkhead that hides the electrical box in the kitchen and decorated it with the same wood veneer that is on the island. There is also a wide strip of wood hanging close to the ceiling in the living room.
The warmth of the wood’s color and grain is what your eye is drawn to now, while the other angles are painted white and are no longer so invasive.
The back wall makes an obvious focal point; play it up with a bold stretch of wallpaper. Paintable embossed wallpaper is a great choice – it’s durable, easy to hang, and you have plenty of design options.
Once it is up, prime then paint in a solid color, or enhance the raised design with a second color washed over the base coat. You can have a flat finish, or go dramatic with a bold color in a high sheen.
I was able to install a two-way fireplace that sits between the living and dining areas.
The see-through quality of these units makes them ideal for a small space. The natural wood and neutral tones throughout are chic and clean. And what’s more fun than that gorgeous pink wall?
Dear Debbie: We have an open-concept living/dining room that is long and rectangular. I want to decorate the living room to be a chic light space, but want the dining room to be more dramatic. How do I decorate each room to look like its own distinct space while ensuring design harmony? Thank you. – Jelena
Dear Jelena: There are many ways you can build up a dramatic mood in the dining area that will coexist with a more neutral living room.
Choose fabric with a strong pattern for your dining chairs and windows. The color contrast can be as simple as black and white, or try the fire of traditional red, or a lemon yellow for a more contemporary punch.
You also can add drama to the dining room back wall with wallpaper. Fat red and white stripes or an oversized print would make a great focal wall, or look at the paintable embossed wallpaper described in the above letter.
Then, think about lighting. Why not hang a funky, modern chandelier or pendant light over the dining-room table?
Look for the exciting array of lights for both living and dining rooms at your home or lighting store. Lights in a similar finish will help to unite the spaces.
As long as you have a consistent style or a bit of continuous color, you can mix up the moods without causing an uncomfortable break in the rhythm.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.tritter.com/debbietravis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.