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Ask The Home Design Expert – Q&A

Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2021
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

Combining design expertise and budget-friendly ideas, our panel of home interior design professionals answer three questions from AMAC readers. The big takeaway is that homeowners on budgets can make simple changes that lead to high visual impact.

Q: I want to completely remove a wall between my kitchen and dining room to create an open floor plan and let light into my space. Because supporting beams are needed, the estimate is pricey. Any less expensive ideas? 

A: I’m not sure what your budget is, but total wall removal prices can increase significantly for load-bearing walls, especially for homes with more than one level. While removing a wall can be a game-changer in terms of visual effect and room function, there are other less expensive options to explore. These include creating a cased opening that leaves the beams in place but still largely opens rooms up to one another. Another great and less expensive option is to create a kitchen pass-through. This can also visually open the space and let additional light in. Each is an excellent alternative to full wall removal. 

Q: I hate my deep green kitchen cabinet color, but I can’t afford new ones. You can see into the kitchen from the foyer. I added more furniture to the room to keep them from being a focal point, but now my space looks cluttered. What should I do? 

A: I agree that the room does look cluttered. To me, your cabinets are an attractive, eye-catching color. My suggestion is for you to let them serve as your room’s focal point. It’s important for you to create something called a sightline. Rooms with sightlines are noted for feeling calm and aesthetically pleasing, which is what I think you intend to do. Sightlines provide unobstructed views into a room toward something that is visually appealing, in this case, your cabinets. To achieve this effect, it’s vital to remove the excess furniture, clutter, and non-essentials from the room, especially the pieces that currently block your entrance and vision into the room. Keep your kitchen tables and chairs. Simplify the carpet under your table by going neutral to eliminate the bright colors and patterns that currently compete with your cabinet color. Then add some gentle accents that complement your cabinets so that the décor feels cohesive. Good luck!

Q: I am considering taking down my cabinets to replace them with open shelving. My husband thinks we shouldn’t do it since it’s a fad. What do you think?

A: Clearly, most designs go in and out of fashion, so any changes you make should be because you like them, and they serve your purpose. Never make changes just for the sake of making changes. Having stated that, open shelving, and by that, I believe you’re referring to floating shelving, is quite popular now because it creates an openness and allows people to showcase specialty items. But there are drawbacks of doing an entire kitchen on floating shelves because everyone can see what you have. So, if you’re not neat or a minimalist, kitchens can look messy or become a catch-all space, which is not a great look from a design perspective. Also, the items can catch dust and often need washing before use. To sum it up, I wouldn’t worry about the design going in and out of fashion. I would instead focus on having adequate closed storage cabinets first and then incorporate a limited number of floating shelves as a design element to display specific selected pieces that you love. 

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