From the August/September 2014 Issue:

Just the Facts

    Compiled by: Mary Vinnedge |

Use this roundup of tips to save money as well as make your home functional and attractive

Article Photo
enlarge | Photo by katarzyna Bialasiewicz
This is the fourth installment in “The Takeaways,” our 2014 series of articles featuring excerpts of design information, practical advice and decorating tactics from past issues of Design NJ that are still useful today. The random assortment of facts and tips presented here includes staff contributions.

Spray paint — metallics, black, white, whatever — can inexpensively update chandeliers and other light fixtures, as shown in the newly updated photo at left.
Spring 2002

The knock on fluorescent lighting has often been that it gives off a bluish cast. Deborah Burnett, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Color Marketing Group and American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has the solution: a compact fluorescent in packaging labeled “2700K” (a crucial color designation that indicates light will be similar to an incandescent bulb.
June/July 2011

Dining room rugs should extend a minimum of 32 inches beyond the edge of the table so you can move the chairs in and out easily, says Joan Lerner of Joan Lerner Interiors in Basking Ridge.
April/May 2004

Can’t remember how to tell Louis XIII through Louis XVII apart? Remember this little ditty: “If it’s early, it’s curly; if it’s late, it’s straight.”
—Design NJ staff

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enlarge | Photo by Ann Stratton
For interiors that are going to get hard wear (if you have kids, pets or nearby beaches, for example), consider:

• Using outdoor upholstery, as designer Diane Paparo of Diane Paparo Associates Ltd. in New York City did for a Summit project. The new outdoor fabrics are soft, rugged and easy to keep pristine.
August/September 2010

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enlarge | Photo by David Van Scott
• Laminating the fabric, as interior designer Miriam Ansell did to kitchen chairs in a Hunterdon County home with two children. The fabric is soft but spills wipe away easily.
April/May 2014

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enlarge | Photo by Rosemary Carroll
Strips from sheet-mosaic tiles—instead of a custom-fabricated frieze—line the top edge of this Cresskill pool. (This trim would work in kitchens and bathrooms also—creating a border from a couple of rows of tiny tiles cut from a mosaic sheet).
Tile designer: Anna Marie Fanelli of Floor & Décor in Tenafly. Pool: Pearseco Construction in Woodcliff Lake.
February/March 2006

If you need a new roof and are thinking green, consider that a metal roof has nearly three times the life expectancy of asphalt (50 years compared with 17), can be recycled and may qualify for tax credits. Says David E. Cohen, owner of DEC Architects in Princeton: “Standard asphalt shingles are really objectionable because they are petroleum-based and release volatile organic compounds [unhealthy fumes] throughout their lifespan.
June/July 2009

A well-equipped closet includes space to store luggage as well as a surface for packing open suitcases.
August/September 2010

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enlarge | Photo by Marisa Pellegrini
How does your guest room measure up? Try spending a night there yourself to find out, suggests Barbara Noud, an allied member of ASID and principal of Lifestyle Interiors in Morristown. The room Barbara designed at left more than passes the test.
Winter 2002

To clean intricately carved wood (or other tight crevices), wrap cheesecloth around a toothbrush.
April/May 2004

If you want paints that have fewer toxic fumes and are less taxing on the environment, seek out the ones with VOC levels below 150 grams per liter.
April/May 2007

When decorating a child’s room, assess furnishings for safety (look for smooth edges and the capability of attaching furniture more than 40 inches tall to the wall), sleep, study, storage, style and socializing (guest seating and sleep-over accommodations) potential. Also look ahead: A queen bed, computer desk and storage pieces will grow up with the child.
December 2004/January 2005

In upholstered furniture, kiln-dried hardwood and hardwood plywood will hold pegs, screws, staples and nails securely for a long time.
April/May 2006

LED lighting, besides requiring little electricity, has no heat buildup—which means a corresponding decrease in air conditioning. Lamps can be retrofitted with LED bulbs.
February/March 2012

New York City lighting designer Gary Gordon, a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society and International Association of Lighting Design, offers these do’s and don’ts:
• Do light task areas; don’t just depend on a ceiling fixture. For instance, the centered ceiling light in a bedroom is great for making the bed and packing suitcases, but you also need a reading light beside the bed.
• Do install lighting for bathtubs and showers, and grooming areas need lighting from the sides as well as from above.
June/July 2011

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enlarge | Photo by Bradley Olman
Benches inside showers should angle down slightly so water drains off as shown at left.
August/September 2005

Undermount the bathtub when it doubles as a shower, says Tracey Stephens, an allied member of ASID and owner of Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc. in Montclair. If a drop-in tub is used, shower spray collects around the edge and must be wiped up—it won’t drain into the tub.
August/September 2004

Use racks designed for pot lids to hold files or magazines; silverware drawer dividers can organize scissors, paper clips and pens. One Design NJ staffer uses a silverware divider in her master bathroom makeup drawer.
April/May 2004

Selling? Then depersonalize your home so prospective buyers can envision themselves living in it. And declutter it by reducing the furniture, the contents of closets, the family photos and bric-a-brac. Gail Meyer of Staged Homes in Holmdel also suggests renting storage space instead of using the garage for purged items; even the garage should show well.
February/March 2009

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enlarge | Courtesy of Okeanos Aquascaping
Buying an aquarium? Go with glass, says Martin Schapira of Okeanos Aquascaping in New York City. “Acrylic has a tendency to scratch. We have seen tanks that were difficult to see through after a certain time.” See the Okeanos project at left.
December 2008/January 2009

When designing a laundry room, placing the washer and dryer on the second floor near the bedrooms is a good idea — unless you do most of your laundry while making dinner or watching television. In that case, you’ll be running up and down the stairs all evening.
—Ren Miller, Design NJ editor

When a wall covering will be used as part of a room design, select it first, says designer Jerri Eskow of Iron Gate Interiors in Warren. Wallpaper comes in limited colors, making it a marginally flexible design element, she explains.
August/September 2011

Room dimensions can make or break a home theater. Ron Kowalski of Premier Home Theater in Newton says rectangular rooms are preferred over square ones, with the following proportions being ideal: Either 1.60 times the ceiling height for the room width and 2.33 times the ceiling height for room length, or set up the width as 1.618 times the room’s height and then the length of the room should be 1.618 times the room’s width.
June/July 2004

Beds piled with decorative pillows may look inviting, but remember you’ll have to take them off each evening before going to bed and then put them back each morning.
—Ren Miller, Design NJ editor

Dennis Remignanti, lead design consultant at, offers the following table talk:
• Keep leaves in your wood-topped dining table as much as possible because stored leaves may not age the same as the rest of the table and are more prone to warping.
December 2006/January 2007

• Pedestal-base tables like the one at left can accommodate more chairs and dinner guests than most leg tables, but they also can be somewhat less stable if a heavy object is placed near one edge.

If you’re converting an unfinished basement into a living space, these tips may make it more inviting:
• Hide mechanical systems behind a bookcase that can be moved for access; hide electrical panels with framed pictures.
• Erect a wall for cosmetic purposes only and put a window in it; set a light behind the window to create the illusion of natural light; complete the fantasy with curtains on the window.
• Camouflage Lally columns with wood “boxes,” cover them with carpet or surround them with fluted round columns in two halves.
Spring 2002

Mary Vinnedge, now living in Texas, was Design NJ’s first editor. She plans to clip and save many of the ideas in this article.

Design Classics

Since 2001, when the first issue of Design NJ was published, the magazine’s staff has seen a lot of trends come and go. We came up with this list of design staples:

Chesterfield sofas
Parsons chairs and tables
Oriental rugs
Adirondack chairs
White wicker furniture
Ginger jar lamps
Wingback chairs
Bergere chairs
Camelback sofas
Crystal chandeliers
Striped textiles
Windsor chairs
Terra-cotta flowerpots
Oak hardwood floors
Mahogany porch floors
White subway tile
Blue Willow dishes
Brushed-aluminum naval chairs
Nail-head trim
Plantation shutters
Fresh flowers in any room
All-white china

Did we forget one of your favorites? If so, please visit our Facebook page and tell us about it!
Mary Vinnedge