'F' for Freebies

Twitter Chat with John Gidding, and a HUGE Giveaway!

You remember the lovely bedroom redesign that I did with the help of Membership Reward Points from American Express, yes? Well now I am working with them again to host a Twitter Chat with HGTV designer John Gidding. John will be giving tons of advice next Thursday on how to decorate and find creative ways to stretch your budget — just like I did using my points.

John and I will be on Twitter for one hour on Thursday, July 29 at 8:30p.m. EST/ 5:30 p.m. PST (search #AmexHome). John will be answering your home design questions about anything from creating amazing guest spaces to choosing the right colors for your home. He’ll also have plenty of inexpensive ways to get your home ready for sale and ideas for upgrading rooms on a tight budget.

Now, you may have noticed the whole HUGE giveaway thing we’ve got going on here…

How do you enter to win?

Comment on this post with your questions for John and we’ll discuss some of them during our Twitter Chat. By leaving a comment, you’ll be entered to win items like a KitchenAid mixer, a Bissell vacuum, or a set of Cuisinart cookware (all of which can be bought with Membership Rewards points). There will be ten winners in this giveaway! Here are the prizes:

  1. Cuisinart® 10-Piece Commercial Cookware Set
  2. Cuisinart GR-4N Griddler
  3. Krups FBC2 6-slice Convection Toaster Oven
  4. All-Clad 6.5 Quart Stainless Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert
  5. KitchenAid Stand Mixer with Attachment Pack ( Empire Red)
  6. Wusthof Classic 8-Piece Block Set
  7. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Upright Vacuum Cleaner
  8. DeLonghi Esclusivo Magnifica Super Automatic Machine
  9. Viking® Professional Digital Hand Mixer
  10. Le Creuset® 7.25 Quart Round French Oven

(All of these items are available on membershiprewards.com.)

This giveaway is open to US residents only, one entry per person. Ten winners will be randomly chosen on July 30 to win one prize each. International readers are welcome to participate in the Twitter Chat and submit questions, but are not eligible to win. Remember you can ask anything about design and home improvements — this is a fun chance to get advice from an HGTV designer!

I know many of you are following me on Twitter @makingitlovely, but you can also follow John @JohnGidding. If you want to get some ideas for home improvement immediately, go to membershiprewards.com/home. And be sure to follow along to #AmexHome with John and I on Twitter next Thursday.

* Update *
Thanks for joining us for the Twitter chat, everybody! Comments (and therefore entries) are now closed. Congratulations to the ten winners: Aimee (aimeeroo), Mim (mimsfam), LeeAnn (leeannhuber), Sara (naturemurph), Sarah (Sarahquail110), Cara, (cara.andersen), Suzy (sayitaintsuzy), Sarah (Pooglit), Devon (devon.cook), and Kc (kcerveny).

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Liz H.
    July 29, 2010 at 8:43 am

    What’s the best way to visually open up a small bathroom? I’m considering a large mirrored medicine cabinet, but I don’t want to lose all of the wall space for storage (shelves, cabinets, etc.). Is it worth it to try to store bathroom stuff somewhere else?

  • Holly H
    July 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Our guest space is currently where I do all my sewing. Any ideas for cool storage to create easy hiding spaces for all my fabric and my machine?

  • Paola
    July 29, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I have an L shape kitchen/breakfast nook, it measures 12 x 10 ft., unfortunately i can’t seem to fit a much needed island without getting in the way. Any suggestions??

  • Dawn Zaffron
    July 29, 2010 at 9:12 am

    What are some good guidelines for hanging a group of framed photos?

  • stephanie
    July 29, 2010 at 9:13 am

    i’ve been trying to think of ways to make a somewhat wide (but not incredibly wide) hallway functional without making it seem too crowded. any ideas?

  • Rebekah
    July 29, 2010 at 9:20 am

    What do I do with one odd window on wall (that’s not in the middle of the wall but off to one side near the corner), so the wall doesn’t look lopsided?

  • Carrie
    July 29, 2010 at 9:41 am

    How do you accomadate for storage (especially seasonal like coats and such) in an older house with very few bedroom closets, NO hall or general use closets?

  • Jen
    July 29, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I love the fresh takes on using wallpaper I’m seeing – one accent wall, as decorative liners for shelves – but I’ve never bought or hung it myself. Any tips for wise ways to acquire it and apply it without going overboard? Is a papered accent wall in a bathroom feasible? How about with a bright, bold paint color like turquoise?

  • Lisa
    July 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    How can I make plastic storage bins in my bedroom look less “college-like”? Or should I just get rid of the altogether? If I did that, what’s an inexpensive way of adding storage space to my room that looks nice and goes with my current decor?

  • Kathy grogan
    July 29, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I need to replace my dinnerware. What do you think about mix and match plates? Is it too kitchy? I really like the different shapes that are available.

  • P
    July 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I have a small bedroom, about 12 feet length by 7.5 feet width with 8.5 feet height, with a double window on the east side of the room. I’m going for a whimsical island theme that could work in all seasons. So far I’ve got the sky blue and ivory bedding and a lavender dresser. Would you have any ideas that would work in a grad student’s budget?

  • Tess
    July 29, 2010 at 9:56 am

    My boyfriend and I are about to get a cat in our 540 sq. ft. apt. I’m trying to figure out how to fit/disguise all of the new accessories that go along with that (i.e. cat bed, litter box, scratching post, etc). Do you have any ideas about camouflaging pet items without taking up extra space?

  • Lauren
    July 29, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Is there a general rule for hanging wall artwork when your ceilings are really tall? I feel like art should be hung around eye level, but then I worry that all that wall space above it looks weird. Also, do you have any suggestions for how to decorate around a flat panel TV set? Do you hang whatever around it, treating the TV as just a large frame?

  • beth
    July 29, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I have a shower stall in my bathroom and would LOVE to have a beautiful shower curtain, but it seems they’re only made in tub-size. Can you help a sick-of-ugly-solid-white-curtain girl out? Thanks!

  • Laura Benson
    July 29, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Our house built in 1933 has a small screened-in porch on its side. I would love to have a small table and chairs out there, but I’m stuck. I was thinking a Parisian-style bistro set. My husband wants wrought iron, and the chairs must have arms. We also need suggestions on lighting and accessories. Any ideas? Oh, cushions are out. Getting Steve to agree to cushions is impossible. Believe me; I’ve tried. And, we have a year-old dog so we can’t have a low table top.

  • Katie A
    July 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

    What are some create shelving ideas for a living room? Thanks!

  • Lee-Anne G
    July 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I am in the camp of people that feel that wood trim should not be painted out white. However, I would like to brighten our living room space. Any suggestions on paint colour to combine the traditional wood trim with a bright fresh more modern look?

  • Elle
    July 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I currently live in a one-bedroom apartment, but we’re planning to buy a rowhouse in the next year or so. Is there any way to buy furniture in a scale that will work for both? Do you have any other tips on transforming your apartment look into your house look? Thanks!

  • Lauren Gibson
    July 29, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I’m dying to replace the combo floor-to-ceiling windows/sliding door that runs the entire 20-odd feet across my living room. The windoor (as I like to call it) is original to my house (1968), and is ugly and drafty… What’s the best way to go about doing this without (completely) breaking the bank… Everyone keeps telling me the size of the project means I should go custom. HELP!

  • Mary Sue
    July 29, 2010 at 11:06 am

    How do you collect and organize your ideas, or things that inspire you?

  • Shirley Varela
    July 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I am thinking of replacing the tile in my kitchen with wood flooring. Do you think its a bad idea because of durability? I love the look of wood compared to ceramic tile.

  • Kim at Yellow Brick Home
    July 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

    White seems to be such a huge design trend right now. Do you think this has staying power (since it’s so clean and crisp), or will it fade away? As color lover, even I find myself wanting to purchase everything in white. It seems like dangerous territory!

  • Laura
    July 29, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I just moved into a house with the ugliest kitchen floor known to man (imagine something like greenish black linoleum tiles meant to look like serpentine). The rest of the kitchen has all of its original hardware and sink from the 1930’s. What might you suggest for floor options that would fit with this white retro feel of the rest of the kitchen?

  • brandi
    July 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

    My husband recently started working out of our (very small) house. He is currently using our dining room table as a desk and there are papers EVERYWHERE. How can we effectively use a room as a dining room and an office that does not have room for both a table and a desk? What kind of storage options are out there that make sense in a dining room but are useful for office-y stuff? We don’t have another table in our house, so we have to be able to eat and work in the same place. THANKS!

  • tara
    July 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    My question is: how do you even get started on a kitchen remodel? Should we go to a home improvement store and have them design a kitchen for us? I mean, we’re totally lost on this. I think once we had a plan in place, we could actually get rolling.

  • Desi Joye
    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    How do I make my front entrance inviting? When driving up to our home the front door is set back so that it is not really welcoming? Please help me throw down the “Welcome mat” With much thanks !!! ♥♥♥

  • Nicole B.
    July 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    How do you create drama on a wall that is tall, large, and expansive, yet has several doors? If we put an oversized piece of art, what is a good inexpensive but creative option?


  • Sarah
    July 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I live in the attic apartment in my building, which means I have slopped ceiling and therefore limited space to decorate the walls. Any suggestions about how I can decorate slopped walls?

  • Nelle
    July 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I’m about to convert a spare bedroom to a dedicataed home office/studio for jewelry, sewing, painting, and any other project i can come up with. Any suggestions on how to make it SUPER functional, but also attractive?

  • Ann
    July 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    If you were to start decorating a home from scratch, what items would you prioritize in terms of budget? What do you consider important investment pieces?

  • marybeth @ www.babygoodbuys.com
    July 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    what’s the best way to integrate a desk/workspace into a living room?

  • Amanda Mac
    July 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    We are about to put in a second bathroom, nothing big, it will only accomodate a toilet and pedistool sink. looking for an idea for storage. Since the space is small, should it be a closed cabinet or one like a bookshelf? Also, what color would you recommend painting to make it look larger than it really is?

  • neysa
    July 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    We have a very long room that we use a formal living room. The space is difficult to arrange, because it is so long. I am looking for tips on how to manage such a space: break it into multiple “rooms” or use the entirety of the length for one room. Worry with first idea: how to make it not look a poorly broken-up space. Worry with the second: how big is too big for a conversational grouping?


  • neda
    July 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    if you had your druthers, would you rather:
    1-save up (until you have the full cash & time), and do a big project in one go, or
    2-do it piecemeal when you can?

  • jodi
    July 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    The floors in my rental apartment are in desperate need of refinishing. Is it possible to refinish floors piecemeal? Or would we need to remove everything before having it done?

  • Kacey
    July 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    What are your favorite neutral paint colors for walls? I’m SO over the egg blue/chocolate combo in my living/dining room and want to turn up the sophistication a notch. I love mixing medium and dark tone woods and keep my major furniture and rug purchases neutral as well. I want a color that is inviting but doesn’t close the space in (the room is 22′ x 12′ with two small windows) but also compliments a variety of punchy colors so I can swap accessories like throws, pillows and vases to my heart’s content. Thanks!

  • JWalter
    July 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I bought a new square dining table that I love, but it is very low, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what kind of chairs to use. I was thinking of doing an upholstered settee on one end, and upholstered chairs around, but they either don’t fit below or they are too wide! Any alternatives for keeping the space warm (extension of my living room), and less formal dining room-ish?

  • Ray Thomas
    July 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I was really bummed as I thought the Twitter chat would come through @JohnGidding :( It did not apparently so I missed the entire segment!


  • Eleanor
    July 29, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I live in San Francisco and my husband and I have a 1908 Edwardian home which still has the original kitchen. We have put off renovating for years, but have managed to scrape together a modest amount (by San Francisco standards) to work on the kitchen space, and I’m trying to figure out how to get the most bang for our buck, while really improving the overall functionality of the ‘three room’ space (butler’s pantry, main cooking area, breakfast room)

    My biggest idea is to take down the (load bearing) wall between the main cooking area and the breakfast room so that guests don’t feel stranded there when we cook, but I fear the cost is going to eat about 1/2 our budget.

    What are ways you can make your kitchen renovating dollars stretch — especially if you and your partner are not great DIY folks?

  • Priscilla Bush Hackney
    July 29, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    What is the best color pink paint to use in a small dinning room with vintage cherrywood furniture?

  • Jennifer Glamour
    July 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I can never decide whether or not to paint the ceiling when painting a room. I have heard it can open up the room and give it more character. But then I’ve also read that it can be overwhelming to a room, especially if it’s small. Do you suggest painting a ceiling? If yes, do you paint it a lighter color than the walls or an entirely different color? Thanks so much!

  • Meg
    July 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I’m looking for some creative (and fairly inexpensive) DIY ideas for a backsplash in the kitchen. I love tile, but we’re going to do a full remodel in a few years and so I don’t want to do anything quite so permanent.

  • Marci Circa1972
    July 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    We currently cannot afford to tear out the remuddled kitchen of our 1906 American Foursquare. Other than a coat of paint, what can we do to make the space more attractive that isn’t going to be a giant step backwards when we can rip it out, down the line? We don’t want to be wasteful with our remodeling time and money.

  • Tiffany
    July 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I have grainy oak cabinets in my kitchen. I am not thrilled about the choice of wood, but the cabinets are in great condition and are good quality. I would love suggestions for modifying them to minimize the look of the wood (other than painting).

  • Alana
    July 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I’m a first time homeowner, and only 25. I love bright colors, but don’t want my house to look like I just moved into my college dorm room. Are there certain tones I can use to keep things bright without looking so young?

  • Amanda Major
    July 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I have very high vaulted ceilings in my family room but the room is very dark due to the screen porch that is off of that room (thus blocking a lot of light from coming into the windows). I have furnished the room with a lot of lightly colored furniture and added a sofa table with two lamps to the room which helped a bit, but is there any other option for brightening up the space? Paint? Lighting? Thanks!

  • Helen
    July 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I live in a condo with a loft and a cathedral ceiling. It really needs painting and I am at a loss as to what color to paint it. My husband doesn’t like white. What other shade could I use?

  • Adriana
    July 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    My husband and I divorced. I got the bedroom furniture which is quite contemporary. Low to the ground style. It’s in a black wood. Even though beautiful, I love the southern french style. HOw can that I bring that into the room to take away the look of the bed which is much to contemporary for me?

  • Camila
    July 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    How can you decorate a room that a teenager and a baby will share? I’m mostly worried about privacy for the teen, I don’t want her to feel like she’s living in a nursery! Is that even possible?

  • angie
    July 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    How do you recommend that one should decorate sustainably – meaning, what basic pieces in what styles should one buy that won’t need to be completely gutted and replaced when the latest decorating fads (arts & crafts, mcm, Domino-girlie, color-of-the-year) change? What pieces (other than the obvious throw pillows and knick-knacks and moderately priced art) are more easily changed out to reflect the trends?

  • Renee
    July 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    What are some tips for apartment decorating. I can’t paint the walls, or make any serious changes…But I don’t want it to feel like a mishmashed college apartment.

  • whosywhatsit
    July 29, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    What is your favorite shade of white paint?

  • Amber
    July 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I am looking forward to all the questions and his & your answers! I am into ANY and ALL design questions and tips. The giveaway is pretty swell too!

    My questions: Are there rules as to where and/or how to place round rugs vs. rectangular in a space?

    Personal question for you two, do you think with older homes it is best to keep old good condtioned wood (trims, floors, doors, etc) bare or is it a faux pas to paint something like that?


  • Regan
    July 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    What’s the best fabric for a sofa? I need kid & pet-friendly yet I want it to be something that I like to look at and is comfortable. Thanks!

  • Angela N
    July 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I want to hang 2 large pieces of artwork over my stair case. I am just not sure how to get the measurements right. I found the mid point, but how do I know how high to hang them? And what distance apart? Thx!!

  • Chalyn Coleman
    July 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I live in a rental home with horrible wood paneling in the family room. Unfortunately I have to fight the daily urge to tear each plank off, since it’s not my home. But is there something I can do to brighten up the room and take the focus off the wooden elephant in the room?

  • Lindsay
    July 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I too am an interior designer, my question is related to the business end. How do you grow your company and brand in this economy? In addition to local designing, I offer online decor packages, what are ways I can increase the notion that great design doesn’t always have to cost so much!!

    Lindsay@ A Design Story.com

  • Jane
    July 29, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    John, do you have any frugal landscaping tips?

  • Lindsay
    July 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Our hallway (the bedrooms and main bath are off of it) is standard – not particularly wide. Is it best to leave it blank or hang some framed pictures or art work? Any tips?

  • Lindsay @ Likely Design
    July 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    What home items do you think it is important to splurge on, and which is it okay to buy “cheaper” things for? Specifically, what items *must* be in a house, and what can be more disposable. I hope that makes sense! Thanks!

  • Shay
    July 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    What’s your favorite ceiling treatment? How do you feel about white painted ceilings? Wallpaper – a passing fad or here to stay?

  • Patti D
    July 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I have asked questions in the chat- but I do have some more.
    Small, teeny, tiny bathrooms, again, for renters– making them nice?
    Adding pizzaz- and where can I find resources to do this?

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