Design 101: Holiday Wrap up

November is upon us, and with it a desire (at least on my part!) to tie up loose ends. This month we will answer some of those questions that didn’t fit neatly into last issue’s column, but still need to be addressed. Fear not readers, these holiday tips won’t cost you a thing, and may actually save you money in the long run. 

My house was recently painted and now the recessed lighting isn’t working. How likely is it that the painters damaged them? 
Damaged them, unlikely. Are they responsible? More likely. Often when painters prepare to paint a ceiling they allow the lights to dangle, especially pot lights or “cans.”  When they put them back, the wires are not always as well secured as before. Most often this is the issue.
Pro Tip: If your lights use halogen bulbs, then the bulb is almost always to blame. Especially when in the ceiling and exposed to attic temperatures, halogen bulbs pretty readily give up the ghost. 

I am having my floors refinished, do I need to empty the room or just get everything off the floor? 
Technically you simply need to provide the flooring crew enough room to work; realistically you really do need to empty the room. Even when using a “dustless” system, there will be some quantity of sawdust aerosolized and you neither want to have to clean it out of literally everything, nor breath it when you miss some.
Pro Tip: While you pack your room(s) take the time to decide if whatever you are packing is really something that you need. New floors are complimented perfectly by less clutter!

My friend’s house is painted in a high sheen paint and I love it, so why is my painter refusing my request for the same?
I am guessing that your friend’s house is a new build, one where they took extra care to make sure that every surface was both clean and even. As much as we love sheen, the higher the sheen the easier it is to see imperfections, wear, and damage to the walls. If you must have it, talk to your painter about bringing in an extra person specifically for additional wall prep. They may be more amenable.
Pro Tip:  Skim lighting is the best way to accurately get a gauge of the condition of the walls. Take a look with a flashlight nearly parallel to the wall and see how much work you are looking at before undertaking the project.

My bed squeaks and shifts around. Any suggestions?
If you don’t already have an area rug under the bed with a good quality felt pad underneath, you absolutely should. It will cut down on the squeaking and shifting.
Pro Tip: If the bed has a headboard, secure it to the wall via a “French cleat.” French cleats are often used to secure cabinets to walls, but can also be used very effectively in this situation. 

I have plaster walls and far too few outlets in my older home. Is there a way to get more outlets without damaging the walls?
Your best bet is to look into adding additional outlets to the baseboard or floors. We sympathize, older homes rarely keep up with today’s outlet demands.
Pro Tip:  Ask your electrician or designer to provide not only a plan for where the new outlets are going, but also a switching plan on the front end. You don’t want to find out after the installation that the switches aren’t where you want them to be.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 29 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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