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3 Common Reader Questions Answered by Local Design Pros

Your architecture, building, interior design and landscape questions answered by Valley pros.

A throw rug can help anchor a room and define a space.

Britany Simon, Britany Simon Design House

I’m sure it varies by room size, but how do I know the appropriate size for a throw rug?

Scale is a word we use very frequently within our work, and it is certainly one of the most important elements for good design. Scale directly influences the perception of the space and overall aesthetics and is typically to blame for a space either feeling just right or like something is not quite right. 

While some rules of thumb regarding scale are simply a matter of opinion, much of the understanding of proper scale comes with experience and practice.  Rugs can be very tricky, as they come in a huge assortment of shapes and sizes and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  

An easy way to ensure that you are using the right size rug for your space is the ‘all or some’ rule. With your sofa or sectional, chairs and other seating or tables within a seating area, the proper-sized rug will fit comfortably underneath the entire seating area with all feet of the furniture on the rug or with the front feet of all of your sofa/sectional/chairs placed on top of the rug.  If the rug is not large enough for the furniture to sit on top of it, or only the sofa feet can sit on the rug but not the chairs, this is a good indicator that the rug is not large enough for the space.  

Generally, for a normal-sized family room or primary bedroom with a king-size bed, the smallest rug used would be 10’L by 8’W. For smaller spaces, the ‘some’ rule typically works best not to overwhelm the space. In a larger-scaled open space, an oversized rug placed underneath the furniture is a great way to anchor and define a seating area from the other functions of an open floor plan. Another designer trick: It never hurts to grab a roll of painter’s tape and play with different furniture layouts and rug sizes within your space to see what feels best for you.

Russell Greey, Greey|Pickett

We’re building a contemporary home. What style of garden should we consider?

There are a couple of great landscape options that will showcase your new home’s architecture.

An organic or ‘natural’ garden can provide contrast to the silhouette of contemporary architecture. The more freeform style can provide counterpoint and contrast to your home’s contemporary lines. The organic garden mimics nature and is easy to maintain in a wild state. It is more apt for the diversity of plants with a range of growth rates, and the inevitable death of a plant is less noticeable—it’s a natural progression.

On the other hand, a structured garden embraces the order of contemporary architecture. Plants are organized in grids, lines and masses. This organized alternative is more about conquering Mother Nature as we see fit. Gridded gardens do have a downside in that plants grow at different rates and are susceptible to disease and insects. This makes sourcing similar-sized replacement plants with identical structures hard to find. Every few years, plan on renovating or replanting the gridded beds.

We find the best contemporary gardens blend both organic and structured styles, which create a variety of planting. Structured plants play off the strongest architectural features while the organic envelope embraces the home and blends within our native Sonoran landscape.

John Reyes, Fine art dealer and advisor, Reyes Contemporary Art

Many years ago I invested in a large original oil painting that needs to be cleaned. Should I attempt to do this myself? 

Be very careful when cleaning any type of artwork. I do the gentlest maintenance to keep the surface clean, whether that’s a light feather dusting or using compressed air at a distance so that the pressure doesn’t make the canvas bend. 

Artwork exposed to cigarette smoke is another issue. In many instances when works have been in a house with smokers you can smell it, but more than that, the color is no longer vibrant because of exposure to nicotine. In that case, the work needs to be cleaned by a professional. To find someone qualified, start by looking online for art restorers or art conservators, or call local galleries and ask who they use. You can also call your local museum and speak with the restoration individual for recommendations. 

As a preventative measure, if you have a very fragile canvas, you would do well to put it under Plexiglas or nonreflective glass and keep it out of high-traffic areas in your house.


Interior designer: Britany Simon, Britany Simon Design House, Scottsdale, Landscape architect: Russell Greey, Greey|Pickett, Scottsdale, Fine art dealer and advisor: John Reyes, Reyes Contemporary Art, Phoenix,


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