You Ask, I Answer: Design Lightning Round Questions and Answers From You Guys


We get a ton of questions on social media either in comments or through my DM and while we try to answer them in real time, it is hard to keep up so we thought we’d try a post where I do a quick lightening round to answer the latest questions. Keep them coming (this is fun!).

How do you know when to stop looking? Do you keep going until you find the perfect piece, or do you justify some “meh” feelings? Do you put off a project until you can find the right fit?

Never stop looking 🙂 I think it really depends on how desperate you are and how much joy you get out of the hunt. Not every piece has to be THE ONE, but in order for you to truly appreciate it in the long run sure, you are going to need to have a more positive response to it than just “meh”. I heard this quote years ago and I remind myself all the time – it either takes a lot of money or a lot of time to make a house look and feel “done”. I have a team of people and it still takes us years to finish some projects, so be easy on yourself. It takes time 🙂

Is there a max height for chair backs in an open living space? I don’t want them to visually cut off the room.

You know, ideally it wouldn’t be over 48″ if it’s floating, but it really depends on the height of your room and how big and open your pass-through space is. I recently saw a super high sculptural floating between a living and dining room and it broke all the rules and looked AWESOME.

How do you clean an outdoor rug?

I haven’t done this myself but I’ve seen it on social – powerwash. You can buy something for your hose that turns it into a power washer and just spray away. Since its mostly just dirt and dust, most of it should come off.

When you’re designing for a teen, how involved do you keep them in the process? Do you give them free rein, or do you narrow down choices for them?

I think you should give them choices and empower them to creatively express themselves, with some guidance.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: sara’s living room & dining room reveal

What colors are you loving the most right now?

Right now I want happy colors – blues, greens and lots of pops of red. Even while we are in this neutral house the green from the surrounding trees brings that color into every room.

Where do you store your everyday appliances, like toasters and kettles?

If it’s a cute kettle you can leave it on your stovetop, but otherwise in a cupboard nearby. If you are renovating or updating your kitchen I strongly suggest an appliance “garage” which is a cabinet that is dedicated to just this – everyday appliances that are housed with an outlet so you never have to take it in and out.

I’m thinking about painting my walls gray. How can I make sure that the space doesn’t get TOO dark?

I would paint your samples on a lot of big pieces of paper (as big as possible) and then tape them to the wall and be in the room both in the day and at night. If you select from the middle of a paint strip (a mid-tone) you are likely not going too dark, but it also very much depends on the direction of your room and your natural light.

What should I keep in mind when I’m trying to implement vintage pieces — in this case, crystal bowls and vases — into more modern decor?

It can be tricky as they can look out of place. At the same time, these antique pieces can be what gives the room more soul and personality. I love a collection displayed together, so consider corraling them in the same place to display them as a team, rather than tchotchkes.

How do you like having your stove under a window?

I LOVE it. Mostly because I love having my sink on the island. I find I do the dishes all the time having it there because often there is someone sitting at the counter keeping me company.

What’s the best way to pick an ottoman for an existing couch? How much should they match How do you decide on a shape?

I think they should feel like they are in the same style family, but they certainly don’t need to match. I like a patterned ottoman that has the same color as the sofa in it so it looks pulled together but not too matchy. And for shape – I like rectangle for a normal sofa and round for a sectional (but that’s just an easy go-to and there are a lot of ways to make it look good).

Do you have a recommendation for a good dish drying rack?

OOh, I just ordered this one for everyday drying and I’m very excited: This one from Food52

Shams: When do I use them? Do I even use them?

You don’t NEED them and they are kinda formal. The Euro sham (typically a 24 or 30″ square) adds height more than a normal king pillow. But on a king bed, even two can look small. I guess we haven’t used them in years so that indicates how I feel about them 🙂

What’s on your wishlist right now?

Garage storage shelves (HOW FUN) and a new black outdoor dining table that seats 8 but isn’t a fortune. We put an indoor wood table from Ikea outside last summer when we got our custom dining table and let’s just say it didn’t fair well, and I’m ready for a black table anyway to have it work with the house more and not “pop” so much. But finding one that’s black and seats 8 isn’t easy!

First lighting Q&A complete! Please keep leaving comments on the blog and DMing on Instagram and I will do my best to keep answering. Have a good rest of your Wednesday!

Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Reveal: Our Light-Filled Neutral & Textural Living Room

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