Home Decor

Ask Virginie: What's the best length for drapes? Should I reupholster or toss my old couch?

Those decorating questions and more answered in this regular feature by Chatelaine's home editor, Virginie Martocq



Dear Virginie, I have the unique problem of having too much outdoor space to decorate. I have a back deck enclosed by screening and covered by an overhang that wraps around two sides of the house. It is approximately 8 feet wide x 25 feet on both sides. The slider patio doors are off the dining room. We have a 3-acre lot, so privacy is not really an issue but the long narrow deck makes it difficult to decorate and make intimate. We have a hodgepodge of furniture but it’s mostly green metal – a green patio table and four chairs. We have bamboo blinds which we lower to shade from the sun and wind.

A: As a city dweller, I have to say I envy this problem! Having too much space, however, can sometimes feel overwhelming when you’re not quite sure where to start. What I’d suggest is to divide the space using long planters or outdoor rugs to create the feeling of separate ‘rooms,’ then tackle each one of these spaces one by one. Use some larger potted plants to create a private spot to relax, sit and curl up with a book. Place an outdoor rug beneath your patio set to create the feeling of a designated eating area. You may want to invest in some comfortable outdoor lounge pieces so that you can really make the most of enjoying your outdoor area.

Dear Virginie, What length should sheers/drapes be? Are they supposed to touch the floor? If they are four inches off the floor, is that a decorating faux pas?

A: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to drapery, it really depends on personal preference and style. Some people prefer the romantic look of extra long drapes that ‘puddle’ on the floor, while on smaller windows it’s quite common to see them falling just 4 inches below the window sill. Generally speaking, however, the rule of thumb is for drapes to just skim the floor – about 1/2 inch above.

Dear Virginie, I have a very old couch that’s probably about 30 years old. Do you think it is worth it to have it reupholstered? It’s very good quality and I would hate to dispose of it, but it could use an update.

A: While a lifetime warranty on a sofa is generally considered to be 25 years, it’s not uncommon to find well-made pieces that can last well beyond this period. The frame of your sofa may be in sound condition, but you might find at this time that you also need to replace the foam before reupholstering. Keep in mind that reupholstering a piece of furniture can sometimes cost almost as much as a brand new piece, so be sure to budget accordingly. However, if you love the style and comfort of your current piece I’d say to go for it. As the saying goes, “They just don’t make them like they used to.”

If you have a decorating question for Virginie, you can email her at: askvirginie@chatelaine.rogers.com