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pamela patt-fincham

Q:  My husband and I are in our early 60’s. We are planning on retiring here and building a home. Are there any design elements we should consider incorporating into this home as we look to the future?

A.  As we all get older we need to be aware of stairs and thresholds. For that matter, any barrier that makes it difficult to get to another level or could cause someone to trip. Eliminate unnecessary steps on the first floor and if there are levels in a room, make sure the materials change (for example from black marble to white marble) so the change is easier to see. Lowering wall switches, a side-by-side refrigerator, hand-held shower heads and sink sprays are a few things to consider that will make a house more accessible.


Q:  We want to remodel our kitchen, but I’m not sure what I want it to look like. Can you help?

A.  A great place to begin exploring what you want is to visualize your favorite restaurant. Is it a cozy, warm room filled with delicious smells, graceful decorations, a few guests, soft lighting and an intimate corner table? Or, is it a slick room, complete with stark blond wooden tables and chairs, a touch of chrome and little decoration? Either way, the restaurant you picture says a lot about the type of room you enjoy being in. Use it as a model for your own kitchen.


Q.  How can I arrange my antique plates and collectibles on the wall in an interesting way?

A.  A great way to begin is to look at all the elements in your collection as a design puzzle. As you put the puzzle together, keep in mind the principles of balance. Nothing should stand out too much, nothing should be overlooked and nothing should look out of place.

One way to achieve balance is to put matching plates on each side of the collection. Designers call this symmetry. You can also create balance by doing the opposite. This technique is referred to as asymmetry. Here items that aren’t the same size are placed so they attract equal attention.  They aren’t necessarily placed the same distance from a central point. Just experiment until you achieve the balance that feels right to you!


Q.  We can’t decide on lighting for our new bathroom. What kind and where?

A.  You’re not alone when it comes to being stumped by lighting!
Bathrooms can be especially tricky since windows often must be covered to assure privacy. And that reduces the amount of natural light.

To make your bathroom really shine, you’ll need two types of lighting: ambient and task. Ambient lighting illuminates the room, while task lighting provides direct light in working areas. The exact location, number and wattage of light fixtures you need will depend on the room’s size and layout. For ambient lighting with surface-mounted fixtures, figure on one watt of incandescent light to one square foot. You’ll need task lighting as the vanity mirror, as well as overhead and side lighting.


Q.  Our small quest room doesn’t have enough drawer space. What can we do to add more space?

A.  Traditional night stands in a small bedroom take up unnecessary space.  Instead, make a low profile bureau do double duty next to the bed. Allot part of the top drawer for personal items that a night stand would hold and the remaining drawers for storage.


Q. We want to buy a rug for our dining room, but are confused about the size. How can we determine the right size?

A.  You will first need to figure what the smallest rug possible would be and work from there.  To determine the minimum size, add four feet total to the width and length of your dining table.  Then decide how much rug you want showing past the additional four feet.


Q. We want to reupholster our living room sofa and chairs, but do not know what fabric to choose.

A.  Fabrics make a room.  There are thousand of fabrics on the market, but what you choose will set the tone for the entire house.  Ordinary fabrics will achieve an ordinary look, exceptional fabrics just the opposite. If you spend a little more for a great fabric you will never be disappointed. You need to determine what kind of fabric you feel most comfortable with, neutral or color, floral, stripe, soft, bold or textured, and a combination of any of these can be wonderful.  Seeking professional help in this area is advisable.


Q.  Our home seems choppy.  What can we do to eliminate that feeling?

A.  The flow of a home, room to room, is vital to how livable it will seem. In most south Florida homes you can see many rooms from the front entry. The colors, fabrics, window treatments, furnishings and paint colors must all blend together to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for family and guests.