Jul 8, 2011

The top ten "right" answers to design dilemmas.

Ever wonder what the "right" dimensions are for lighting, placing art, crown moldings, and lots more?  What's the best material to use for moldings and what color should they be painted?  I've decided to compile ten of the top dimension questions and then list my replies here for easy reference. I consider these guidelines since the final answer should be determined visually.

1) How big should a dining chandelier be?   Most homeowners opt for larger fixtures without taking the entire scale of the room and table into account. I recommend that a fixture be two-thirds of the width of the table. 

2) Where should art hang on the walls? Since "eye level" differs for everyone, I use a general dimension that the CENTER of the art should hang 57"- 60" from the floor. If you are creating a grouping of art, the center of the GROUP should be at that height. 

3) How large should lighting in the entryway be? A good rule of thumb is to measure the length and width of the room and the resulting number is the diameter of the fixture in inches.  If an entry  8’ x 6’, you would add 8 + 6 together to equal 14.  That indicates that a 14” diameter chandelier would work best. For the height of the chandelier, I recommend 2-3" of height for each foot from floor to ceiling. For an 8' room, I multiply 8 x 3 which equals 24 so would use a 24" high fixture.  Hanging height is usually 7' above the floor.

4) What size is best for crown molding?  I recommend larger scale on crown molding than most designers since I balance all moldings in a space with the furnishings and ceiling and door heights. Generally rooms with 7' ceilings can handle 3" crown, 8' ceilings from 3" to 4", 9' ceilings from 4" to 5", 10' ceilings from 6" to 7" and 11-12' ceilings 8" or larger. 

5) How high should you hang the light over a table?  30" - 34" is generally right in rooms with 8' high ceilings. That typically means that the bottom of the fixture will be 5' to 5 1/2' from the floor.

6) What size area rug should I use for my rooms?  Arrange your furniture before determining the size of a new area rug. I often create seating groups where the rug serves as an anchor and the rug sits just inside the group. Often it feels balanced if all of the legs of furniture in a room rest on the area rug. Under a dining or kitchen table it is much easier to maneuver the chairs if there is at least 24" of rug from the edge of the table out on all sides. Under a bed a rug should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18" for a King or Queen bed and at least 12" for a Full or Twin bed.   Consider how you move through a space. If you pass by a rug and walk with one foot off and one foot on...adjust the rug so you walk ALL feet on or NO feet on.

7)  What is the best material for moldings?  Standard molding comes in solid wood, finger jointed solid wood, or medium density fiberboard (mdf); and each material has it's advantages and disadvantages.  If it is to be stained such that the grain can show through, there is little choice but to use a solid wood molding.  If it is to be painted or stained with a very opaque finish then finger joint or mdf can be used.  Solid wood is naturally the most expensive option, followed by finger joint, then mdf.  If the molding is going to be exposed to moisture then the use of solid wood or finger joint is recommended.  For very large size crown molding solid wood can become prohibitively expensive, such that, mdf with a faux wood finish would be less expensive.

8) How high should a TV hang?  This really depends on whether you will be sitting or reclining to watch, and how far away you are. Also consider that each size of  TV has an optimal viewing distance. When sitting on a sofa or chair (typically seat heights are 20" of the floor) it is best to have the CENTER of the TV  3-4' from the floor.  That takes into account the seat height, your height when seated, and approximately where the eye is at the center.  If you are small, hanging at the lower dimension is best to avoid neck strain, and if you are tall, the higher dimension may be better.  When watching from a bed, measure the bed height and add the distance over 20" to your 3-4' range.  So, a 24" high bed would have a TV hanging range of 3'-4" to 4'-4" from the floor.

9) What space should you allow between furniture and the art behind it?  For large pieces of art, I recommend 6-12" of space between the top of the piece and the bottom of the art.  That final dimensions relies on the scale of the art, the height of the ceiling, and the scale of the furniture. For instance,.you wouldn't hang a small picture 12" above a sofa,  but create a grouping that works proportionately with the sofa instead. Then, a 12" space is pleasing.

10) What color should you paint crown molding? To get the best effect from crown molding, its color should have some contrast to the color of the walls and ceiling.  A wood molding in a medium to dark color is ideal for walls or ceilings painted a medium to medium-light color.  For painted crown molding it looks best if they are white or off white but not a match to the ceiling.  Crown molding and light rails on kitchen cabinets should either match the cabinet color, or be a dark accent color.