Ask A Designer
Selecting Furnishings that Blend Traditional with Modern
Q. Can you help me with some ideas about style for my new condo downtown? I grew up appreciating my parents’ fine, traditional furniture, especially the ornate French chairs, but their look isn’t right for my place.
Most of my neighbors have ‘70’s retro furniture. I don’t like the dated look or the boxy shapes. What else could I try?—P.M.
A. Go back to the heart of the look you love which seems to be the shape and then scale back any aspect that seems over-the-top for your condo. Americans have preferred French styling as long as we have been Americans. The trick for you is to find pieces that seem urban. Here is an excellent example of asymmetrical chairs in off white and dark legs for a Metropolitan look with the added touch of nail heads to suggest a more cozy nature.
The tub chair with cut-away back is a similar adaptation of the Old World. This room captures two other hot trends you may appreciate: glam and organic. Preserved plants and rattan lamps offset the glamourous mirrored furniture in an artistic way. The example is a monochromatic room, but the concepts work just as well with color.
Consider bold combinations such as purple and lime, peacock and gold, red and gray, or other unique pairs. Stay away from colors that are readily identified as ‘70’s. Accessories that are mood-enhancing are also desirable in urban environments to provide a sense of home that the architecture alone can’t achieve. Go with your heart and surround yourself with things that make you feel good.
General Guidelines for Upgrades, Especially Baths
Q. We bought a home on a short sale that is much larger than our previous one and in pretty good condition. We are considering remodeling the bathrooms but I am concerned about how much that will cost and how much trouble it would be. Do you have any guidelines for upgrades in general and ideas for bathrooms specifically?—E.S.M.
A. In statistics reported by the Remodeler’s Association of Tennessee, the best return on investment is in bathroom and kitchen remodeling. Remodeling these rooms is also the most costly to execute and typically the most trying on one’s patience. The largest costs come in moving water lines and electricity. If the work is done during the spring or fall, your discomfort will be reduced. Make sure all contractors are lined up before removing functioning items from a room.
Moving interior walls is moderate. Resurfacing and building out items is far less. With any design project, I recommend assessing the strengths of what you have initially and never spending new money when what you have will work toward you goal. In this photo, my client had an extra bedroom to convert to a master bath suite.
She used the existing hardwood floors, walls, and crown moulding. A glass wall was constructed for a private water closet. Notice the blocks don’t go to the ceiling and columns were used for interest. These are relatively inexpensive. Next a beautiful oval tub was placed by the existing window which received lavish window treatment.
This kind of approach gives you maximum beauty at moderate cost. Her style is uniquely artistic and glamourous which is best expressed by furniture and accessories. You mentioned more than one bathroom. Usually, you will only need a large master bath. Look closely at others and see if you can simply resurface using these guidelines:
Paint the wall an interesting color and match the ceiling or make it coordinate. Make the toilet a different color than the tub. Use an interesting counter top. Place at least one significant piece of art using the wall colors. Choose good looking light fixtures with moderate wattage. (Bright is intimidating). You can reduce the wattage of the bulbs but never go over what is recommended. Consider an interesting sink or tub surround. If you go with the broad decisions first, you won’t go wrong.
Editor’s Note: 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. Contact www.designnashville.com or call 615-601-0552.