Q: We aren’t sure what to do with our living room. Can you help?
—Janice Carlson, Nanaimo, British Columbia
Dark brown window blinds in Janice’s living room block all natural light, but letting the sun shine through a wall of windows makes the interior overly bright and hot. Janice should spend the bulk of her redecorating budget on light, neutral-colored translucent window coverings that would allow light to pass (even when closed) and provide privacy at night.
Janice can choose from three options: translucent shades, cellular shades or DIY rod-pocket panels. Once the shades are mounted, Janice should hang color-coordinated fabric panels over the vertical wood ballasts, reducing the window wall’s continuous, horizontal movement and hiding some of the wood, balancing the room. She can amp up ambience with low-voltage track lighting with adjustable heads that allow wide-beam bulbs for ambient light and spotlight bulbs to highlight points of interest.
Janice could make the best use of her space by rotating her furniture 45 degrees and moving the arrangement as close to the window wall as possible. She could “fake” an L-shaped wall unit by filling the wall to the left of the fireplace with “storage modules” in a light-oak finish to blend with the existing wall unit. She should select modules with integrated media storage and consider leaving an open area to hang a painting.
Janice should keep her sofas and select an area rug to warm up the space and define the seating area. The rug should include enough blue to tie with the sofas, a light neutral to blend with the fireplace and a warm accent color. Three ascending pedestals to the right of the fireplace would allow Janice to display a sculpture collection or plants while drawing the eye into the room.
Finally, Janice should be daring with paint! With all the natural light, painting the back and left walls a deep, warm accent color would add richness. She could use stencils or other painting techniques to add even more interest.
Translucent window treatments let in natural light but help block solar heat gain, improving your home’s energy efficiency.
Feng shui wisdom
Windows link us to children and creativity. Keep windows clean and damage-free to foster healthy relationships with children and creative energy.
Shades of green
1. Translucent shades let users open and close vanes according to light conditions and mood, and their vertical lines make a room seem taller.
2. Cellular shades’ honeycomb construction helps moderate interior temperature.
3. DIY panels made from sheer fabric are a low-budget option. Make rod-pocket panels (to hide the curtain rod) and install them inside the window frames.
Panel Systems by Chilewich
The Shade Store
30-by-54-inch panel: $650
114-inch wide motorized panel: approximately $2,500
custom PVC-free shades, green materials
ComforTrack Plus for Cellular Shades
Various sizes: $96 to $452
Natural Woven Shades
B&W Window Fashions
36-by-60-inch panel: $147 to $302
handwoven of grasses and reeds
Author and feng shui and interior design specialist Jami Lin approaches each design project as if it were her own home. For help with your home, send a photo and description of your problem area to