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Which “White” is Right?

On August 26, 2011, in Posts, by Warren Sheets Design

I’m often asked and I also ask myself what color of white is the best choice when painting your kitchen cabinets and the wood trim?

Traditionally, we have opted to paint trim or cabinetry Dunn Edwards’ “Swiss Coffee” – that is as about as white as you can get besides pure white (which we all know really doesn’t exist).

Painted White French Doors

It is important to note, however, that selecting the “right white” is never easy, and is dependent on several factors:

The first consideration: the amount of both ambient and non-ambient light that is filtered into your home, along with the amount of daylight or artificial light. The lighter the room, the whiter the shade of white that you have chosen will appear.

Secondly, white is highly dependent on what color(s) it is adjacent to, as it readily absorbs itself into nearby colors. To fully understand how color affects other colors, note that all hues of whites contain a certain color cast. For example, a specific color has a yellowish tone, or a green cast. Or, we may say that one color is warmer or cooler than another.

Therefore, if you want to achieve a perfect color balance, and are intent on achieving the “whitest” of whites for a specific room, then carefully consider the surrounding color(s). For instance, several years ago I repainted the entry hall of our flat in San Francisco. I began by having the painter paint all of the wood trim in the entry Dunn Edwards’ “Early Snow,” what I thought to be, a “white” white.

This Contemporary Sitting Room Demonstrates the Effectiveness of Using Painted White Trim.....Here, We Used a 'Cool White' for the Color of White

However, when selecting the color of white for the trim, I had not taken into consideration that I would be hanging one of  Schumacher’s new block print wall coverings with a solid tone-on-tone, bright red background. After the wall covering had been hung, I was disappointed because the freshly painted white wood trim appeared to have a pale-pale pink color – not white! This was due to the red wall covering being absorbed and reflected into the white moldings.

In this particular case, had I thought it through more carefully, I would nothave used a white that contained a color base similar to the hues in the wall covering (or adjacent walls). From my experience as a scenic designer and having studied theatrical scenic design at UCLA, I knew exactly how to resolve the problem! To neutralize the pink cast, I needed to de-arm the color cast associated with the white I had selected.

As it turned out, that original white that I used had a warm cast, and in fact, contained both yellow and red hues. For white to appear “white,” I needed to make sure that its color cast came from the green side of the color spectrum, (the opposite of red), and that it neutralized the red hue. So I repainted the trim Benjamin Moore, Decorator’s White, and all was good.

In any event, knowing a white’s color cast is a great advantage.


A sampling of my favorite whites…..

For a WHITE – WHITE, use:

Dunn Edwards – Swiss Coffee



where COOL Colors are adjacent, try:

Benjamin Moore Paint – Snow on the Mountain No. 1513



where WARM Colors are adjacent, you may consider:

Benjamin Moore Paint – Decorator’s White



with just a hint of Peach,

where the adjacent Colors are very light, I like:

Pratt and Lambert Paint – Half and Half No. 1844


For a Very Pale GREY WHITE,

where the adjacent Colors are not a “White – White”, try:

Benjamin Moore Paint – French Canvas No. 1514


Best of luck with your “right white” selection……When in doubt, remember to always purchase a sample pot of the color you have chosen (which most paint brands make available).  Try the color against the other hues in the room, as well as in actual daylight and also in artificial light.


And let me know how it goes!



Shall I Recover My Furniture, Or Add “New”?

On August 19, 2011, in Posts, by Warren Sheets Design

A ‘New’ Upholstered Chair, by Legendary Upholsterer, A. Rudin Furniture, Los Angeles

When thinking about redecorating or renovating your home, the question often
arises, “Which is more cost effective – to recover my furniture or buy new?”

Before making that decision, it is important to understand if any actual
cost savings might be gained by reupholstering. You can start by creating a slipcover for your recliners.

First and foremost, whether you buy furniture new or you recover existing
upholstered pieces, the cost of the fabric is a part of the overall cost of
the furniture. When buying a new piece of upholstered furniture, in addition
to the cost of the fabric, there is the other cost: the cost of the piece
itself. If you plan on buying new furniture but you want something more unique
and something that is high quality then check out Mckinley Leather Furniture.

When you recover upholstered furniture, you must pay to have the piece
picked up from your home and taken to the upholsterer’s workroom. (Sometimes
this is represented as being free, but know that this is a hidden cost,
which is included in the reupholstering fee itself.)

A more Contemporary Chair Style, created by F. Schumacher & Co. Available through the Interior Design Trade.

In addition, there is the cost to reupholster the piece of furniture itself,
plus the cost to re-stuff the seat and back cushions, as well as any
decorative pillows that may be a part of the piece. This can be become quite
costly depending on whether you prefer a foam fill, a spring core with a
down wrap (which consists of 25% down and 75% feathers or 50% down and 50%
feathers), or a foam fill with a down wrap.

Also, if your frame is hand-tied spring construction, there is a good chance
that some or all of the springs may need to be re-tied, which of course
cannot be determined until the piece of furniture is sent to the workroom,
and the piece has been torn apart.

Not including the pick-up of the upholstered piece(s) of furniture from your
home, the cost of the fabric (which is the same in either case), and the
cost to re-tie any of your springs; the total expense to recover an
upholstered piece of furniture is about one-third less than the price of
buying new.

A Simple Sofa Style With An Elegant Fabric and Colorful Decorative Pillows

When you consider the cost of the fabric as part of the total cost, the
savings drops to approximately 10% to 20% – depending on the cost of the
fabric. Keep in mind there could be no savings at all (and very easily an
additional cost) if your springs have to be re-tied, or if you start making
modifications such as fattening an arm, raising the height of the back,
adding or deleting a skirt, or adding trim or braid to the skirt or back
cushions, etc.

So, unless you are reupholstering a family heirloom, or a piece of furniture
that it is especially dear to you, it makes more sense to buy new.

In addition to being more cost effective, buying new provides you with a
piece of furniture that has a new frame, new stuffing and fill, and alsoprovides the opportunity to update or change the style of your furniture and of the room where it is placed.


Why a Furniture Plan Makes Good Sense

On August 11, 2011, in Posts, by Warren Sheets Design

Redesigning a room is not just about pretty colors – dimensions, scale, space planning and much more all need to be taken into careful consideration when contemplating any remodeling or refurbishment project.

Whether it’s one room or the entire house, start by creating a furniture plan drawn to scale. This should be done for each and every room that you plan to redecorate.

In some cases, you may be able to obtain a copy of the original plans used to construct your home, which can be helpful. However, be forewarned that these may not be accurate, so it is wise to double check all the measurements on the original plans.

A Master Bedroom in a San Francisco Flat


When creating a furniture plan, not only is it important to verify the dimensions of each room and every wall or other architectural elements (such as fireplaces, columns, niches, etc.), but it is also critical to accurately identify the size of each piece of furniture you intend to use. Also, note all electrical outlets and switches. Knowing precisely where your plugs and switches are allows you to plan the best possible place for lamps and other electrical fixtures.

A few inches here or there can make a huge difference in how a room appears and feels. If you don’t have enough room to navigate around the furniture, you may live with that mistake for years, so precise calculating should take high priority in the planning and design of a space.

Often times people furnish a room with pieces that are much too large in scale, so the furniture dominates the room in a less-than-desirable way. It took me several years to know what size furniture for a room is ideal, and to understand what we refer to in our industry as “scale.” In fact, I learned that “scale” in itself is a real art! It is something that needs to be identified prior to designing and even before procuring the first piece of furniture.

These are some basic dimensions that we work with and have proven to be helpful in our day-to-day work:

– The space between a sofa and coffee table: 16″ to 18″

– The space behind dining room chairs to allow enough ‘back-out’ space: 36″ minimum

– The space that you should allow around furniture, if the pieces are floating in the center of the room: 48″ minimum (54″ is better)

– The space between a sofa and fireplace: 60″ minimum

– Passage space: 54″ minimum

Hopefully, these will help guide you in planning the design of the rooms in your home. Whether you are doing it yourself or working with an interior designer, make sure that you continue to carefully update your furniture plan as various pieces are ordered and/or procured.

Remember, understanding and analyzing your space, and its advantages and disadvantages, is the very first step toward creating a room that is functional – and beautiful.




Selecting the Right Window Coverings – Many Examples

On August 4, 2011, in Posts, by Warren Sheets Design

Making the optimum selection for window coverings in your home is not really as difficult as it might seem. Having a good understanding of the various ways in which window coverings function, as well as an inherent sense of how to make them work aesthetically is really what it is all about.

There are two fundamental reasons that window coverings are used: to control light and for decorative enhancement. Sometimes one function is more essential than the other, which is when the expertise of an interior designer becomes extremely helpful.

It is important to note that not every type of window treatment will work in every interior. And in many cases, there is really only one appropriate treatment that will work at all.

Decorative Drapery with Sheers

For instance, if you have a set of French doors with a half-round glass transom above the doors, window treatment options — that fit today’s standards – are limited. You could use a half-round shaped gathered sheer. However, this would completely obscure the glass. For this reason, this type of treatment is constrictive, not to mention quite formal and outdated.

Upholstered Valance and Functional Black-Out Draperies with Sheers

There is another way to cover this type of window, while enabling light to flow through the glass transom. This entails surrounding the negative space with a valance to conceal drapery hardware, with drapery panels stacking on each side of the window and/or door opening. This is a successful solution – allowing light in when desired — and much more functional and flexible than blocking the window with a sheer fabric or shutter that conceals the light at all times.

While the rage today is to strictly have either shutters, Roman shades, or simple drapery panels that hang from decorative metal or wooden rods with no valance, these single-pass treatments limit the function of a window covering. Shutters offer an “all or nothing” solution; Roman shades create a huge amount of stack at the top of a window and do not provide for filtered light; and drapery panels that hang from a rod also do not allow for the filtered light provided when sheers are used. (There are double-pass decorative
rods available, but their appearance looks forced, and there is limited inventory in this configuration).

Therefore, when you are using drapery panels that are either stationary or functional, and also wish to filter the light through sheers, or prefer to block out all of the light through black-outs, (or both) a drapery valance is the most effective way to hide the necessary hardware, and can also act as a decorative element.

Blackout Draperies on Rods and Rings

Valances come in all forms, shapes and sizes, and can be traditional, contemporary or transitional. They can be soft, upholstered or hard, and are completely flexible in their appearance and size — allowing multi-layered treatments that include decorative, functional, see-thru and black-out window coverings.

There are many forms of window coverings, and determining which one best suits both the form and function of each room in your house is an important decision that should not be underestimated.

Swags and Cascades with Functional Drapery and Sheers

I will place my bet, that while traditional rod-and-ring window coverings may initially seem attractive because of their simplicity, you may end up re-thinking their limitations once you live with them.

Window coverings that contain more than one pass are more functional, and the valance infuses additional layers of depth and color to your room.

A Simple Upholstered Valance with Side Panels

As I like to tell my clients, they are an artistic statement with function – and that’s a whole lot of bang for your buck!

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