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    Design solutions for practical problems

    Slipcovers, a throw, or a blanket are good ways to protect sofas.
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    Slipcovers, a throw, or a blanket are good ways to protect sofas.

    Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, cofounders of Design for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, joined Washington Post writer Jura Koncius last week for an online chat. Here is an edited excerpt:

    Q. I keep looking for a modern home entertainment unit. Everything I find is either poorly made or more expensive than the electronics. Any recommendations for a moderately priced unit that is well made? Used or consigned furniture is also acceptable, if not preferred.

    Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams: We find that well-made media units retail from $1,500 to $2,500. Less expensive ones use materials that are unacceptable to you, and us! To stay within your budget we suggest shopping at a local flea market or antique or secondhand store to get a good piece. You could buy online, but you would need to know what you are looking at. If you find something local, you can also save on the shipping expenses.


    Q. We have a closet installer coming to do several closets, including converting the original 1930s small coat closet to more of a mudroom with hooks and shelves. The interior needs to be painted first. Should we just stick with white? The walls around it are Benjamin Moore Hancock Green and Manchester Tan.

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    Jura Koncius: I like your color choices. You know, I think in this case I would stick to white. It will make it look fresh and clean and larger. Maybe Benjamin Moore White Dove.

    Q. What is the best way to protect an investment sofa from kids?

    Gold and Williams: Slipcovers are great. A throw or a blanket are also good protectors and add color to change up the look. There are also many easy-care and durable, kid-friendly microfiber fabrics on the market today.

    Q. How do you recommend washing your slipcovers? Is it OK to use stain spray on them?


    Gold and Williams: Make sure you have a washable fabric. Wash in a big machine with cold water and tumble dry on low heat until they are still slightly damp. Put the body on the piece and finger press into position. Then put on the cushion casings on the base. Yes, you can use stain spray but check the fabric type.

    Q. Can you give me some advice for where to find odd-size rugs? I’m ideally looking for a 7-by-8-foot rug. I like modern styles and colors.

    Gold and Williams: It’s probably best to buy a rug that’s larger than you need and have it cut down and have the edges bound, or to get broadloom cut to size.

    Q. What is the easiest and best way to display pictures? Is it using (a) Command sticky strips, (b) an old-fashioned picture hook, (c) a shelf or picture ledge; (d) a picture rail; (e) or something else?

    Gold and Williams: Picture ledges are easy and a great way to add, subtract, or just change things around.


    Q. My sons want white walls. The only thing the paint needs to coordinate with is navy blue carpet. Any ideas?

    Koncius: I would use Benjamin Moore Decorators White.

    Q. I just bought a condo. Is it better to paint before moving in or wait until I have my furniture in place?

    Gold and Williams: It’s always better to paint before moving in. But also remember, if the painting doesn’t work out as you like, in the scheme of things, it’s fairly inexpensive to correct.

    Q. We have a baby at home. When he learns to walk, are wooden stairs safer or are carpeted ones better? My mother-in-law insists that carpeted stairs will be less slippery. However, in my experience, socked feet plus carpeted steps can equal slipping.

    Koncius: I got my stairs carpeted as soon as I got pregnant. I didn’t want to slip on the wood. I prefer them for kids, too.