Raji Radhakrishnan, founding and principal designer at Raji RM & Associates, was the guest recently on Post staff writer Jura Koncius’ Home Front online chat.

My family room consists of wood furniture, a dark leather sofa and a blue-cream Persian rug. The walls are gray-blue. The room looks dark because of all the brown furniture. Where should I start? I want a warm and sophisticated look.

Start by figuring out how and for what purposes you want to use this room. Then take inventory of which pieces need to stay and which can go.

Go to Pinterest to check out some rooms based on the functionality of the space, like family hangout room or TV room, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration to get started. You’ll have to come up with a functional seating plan, but you can always be inspired by beautiful images.

I have a square-shaped kitchen, where everyone manages to congregate in the same corner. A square kitchen doesn’t allow for an island, and all the countertops are full of what should be in a pantry. I thought of opening the wall to the dining room/living room space, but I worry that all those lovely children’s noises could upset the salvation of my cooking space. Do I need a designer or an architect to help me plan, or would a contractor be a practical alternative?

Definitely hire a designer.

Kitchens are first and foremost about function and next about aesthetics, so it really helps to have someone who has designed a kitchen before.

But do check out kitchen photos for ideas on Pinterest, Houzz, etc.

This will give you a sense of direction, and if you spend enough time researching solutions and get inspired, you may just want to tackle the kitchen yourself with a trusted contractor.

I am redesigning my living room and received a quote for a custom window seat pad. I was shocked at the $1,500 price tag. Where do you suggest I look for a more reasonable quote?

You may want to try a free-standing bench with a cushion; check Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and West Elm.

Also, try your local upholsterer.

They can usually build something custom for a reasonable price, but note that all custom work, depending on the quality and how complicated the design is, does get pricey.

We’ve lived in our house a year now, and I don’t really feel like we’ve achieved that warm homey feel. We don’t have a lot of room for shelves, so I don’t have a good spot to put those items that help personalize a space. My interior design radar is pretty nonexistent, and my spouse is pretty ambivalent, so any suggestions on what to focus on to better achieve that “Ah, I love my house,” feeling?

Start with a warm rug underfoot and some nice window treatments, and even if you don’t have shelves, treat the coffee and end/side tables as places to keep some of your personal favorites, including books, vases and any other decor pieces you like.

A pretty throw over a sofa adds a wonderful layer, also.

We would like to turn our garage into a functional room for exercise, painting and maybe even watching TV. I’m trying to figure out how finished this extra space needs to be for comfort and utility, without actually making it a livable space (as no one would sleep in there).

You are first going to need some kind of air-conditioning. If the floors are concrete, you can have them painted in epoxy with some nonslip powder added to it.

Don’t forget lighting. And if the walls are painted, then voila! You have a functional space.

What is a good paint color for a bedroom? I’m starting from scratch. What are some simple bedroom decorating ideas?

If you use the bedroom mostly for shut-eye, you may want to go with something dark. An eggplant color will look gorgeous. If you are like many who use the bedroom for reading, working and many other things, something fresh and light would be good. Farrow & Ball’s Ponting is a nice shade of white with a soft hint of pink and will work well with different colors of the sheets, etc. Decorating the bedroom starts with a great bed, of course, which then needs level side tables, each with its own lamp easily accessible from the bed. An overhead chandelier is useful when you have a switch by the door to flick on when entering a dark room. A bench by the foot of the bed and a club chair to sink into before going to bed would be nice to have if you have the space.

I just bought a house with lots of windows and a completely open floor plan. Any recommendations for a gray color that would work throughout the space?

Gray Owl, Classic Gray and Wish from Benjamin Moore are all beautiful grays. You could also try these colors to succeed each other through the transition of spaces, because they are all so close in color tone they will blend well yet give a subtle change and light reflection, which will keep the space from looking too static.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.