redesigning an old church

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ask a designer – ByTanna Miller

redesigning an old church

Q. Our Catholic church recently bought a building which was built in the seventies by a Baptist congregation. We would like to redecorate the interior to reflect our church’s heritage. We don’t like the bleak white walls or the red brick most of all. What can we do to cover the brick by the altar.

How about a curtain? What do you think about a mural above the beams? The red brick bothers us everywhere, but we can’t afford to totally get rid of it. The red and leaf-patterned carpet probably needs to stay for a while, too. What are your ideas?—M.V.N.

A. The existing wood and ceiling height are working in your favor. The carpet neither helps nor hinders, but since it is a big expense, we will work around it. I like the idea of a curtain in general, especially velvet, but the center bricked area is not a good candidate for a curtain treatment. The extreme vertical shape would not be maintained well by a soft curtain that would fan out at the bottom. A drapery would also billow toward the room on either side of the mounted Robed Christ sculpture which has a short mounting bracket attaching it to the wall. It would also be a fire hazard close to the wall-mounted candle. I suggest wood panels stained to match the beam to cover the brick. A curtain of velvet in a Tuscan red color would be gorgeous under the existing wood beam and would cover the country styled walls. Velvet is authentic to ancient churches and will contribute to good sound. Here is a suggestion of mural colors to enhance the upper walls. Be careful not to overpower the classic coloring of the Robed Christ with your mural. A sound engineer can place sound boards strategically to greatly improve the acoustics without replacing the brick walls. This is a colorful and rich beginning to the focal point of the church!

combining shutters & window treatments
We love our new home and the light from the tall windows. We want shutters, but also some draperies. Is that wrong? How would you put draperies on these style windows? What about where the window trim cuts into the stone fireplace?—S.D.

A. In the middle Tennessee area, we have distinct seasons that demand high functioning window treatments to block heat, light, and cold. It is very common here to treat a window with both shutters and drapery. Shutters give you an excellent finished look with high functioning louvers and good insulation. Most homes are traditional in style so that shutters alone don’t seem quite enough. Plus, we have a good deal of damp, cool weather during which our homes benefit from the warmth of fabric. The window trim should not be cutting into the fireplace. There is either an error in the building plans or a substitution of materials that took up more space. I always design draperies for the space and not just the windows. The upper windows and elaborate trim on that same wall go all the way to the corners of the room bringing even more attention to the trim and stone. This simple swept-back design helps balance the upper and lower sections by extending the lower windows outward with the pole. The trim cut into the stone now looks decorative.For the arch windows with lush trim all the way around, I would again treat the space using drapery panels mounted on the wall, not on the window. There would be 4 total treatments finishing off the bay and maintaining the vertical emphasis of the windows. No light or trim  would be covered!

cabinets for large televisions
Q. I’ve been searching in every store in town and can’t find a cabinet to fit my television! My room is two stories tall and I want a cabinet that would be tall and sturdy so I can decorate the top  with items as well. I’m about to give up!  Ideas?—F.C.

A. The electronics industry changes much faster than the cabinet  industry. I have been searching for a tall cabinet to house 50-in. televisions for two clients. I found only a few. If we need a  specific stain or style, the selection dwindles even more. A console  unit won’t enhance the room as well as it could. No amount of wall  hangings can compensate for floor hugging furniture in a tall room.  
The best solution is a custom-made piece. Some cabinet makers offer  pieces that are factory made modular units at moderate costs. A fully custom piece will give you the best options. I would go for plenty of  height and possibly a raised center section depending on what decor you want to place on top. It is best to have your cabinet maker actually look at your television and stereo components. To have dimensions of pieces is not enough. The cabinet maker must allow for  cords jutting out and for ventilation. I have seen many custom cabinets with doors standing open because these two things weren’t  addressed. If there is no way at all to have all your purchases ready for the cabinet maker to see, have him over-estimate the space needed  and plan where ventilation will go. You will then have to adapt to  his plan. Your television cabinet unit is one of the most important  pieces in the room. The custom approach will give you everything it  deserves.

We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Questions are answered by Tanna Miller, allied member ASID, a well respected designer who has operated her award winning interior design practice Trends & Traditions in Nashville for 18 years. Visit or call 615/ 601-0552.

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