Design Questions You Want Answered, But Are Too Embarrassed to Ask

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We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” but it doesn’t always feel that way, does it? Sometimes, asking questions you assume everyone around you already knows the answer to can feel terribly embarrassing.

Fear not. Here at Domino, we don’t judge. After all, asking questions and further exploring the answers is the only way to learn and grow. Keep reading for the answers to questions that team Domino gets asked by family, friends, and even readers—often.

Do I need to use primer before I paint a room?

Experts say yes. Lazy people (obviously) say no. We’re going to heed the advice of expert painters, who say you even need to use a primer when painting walls white. That means always, no matter what. The reason? It helps ensure the color on your walls reflects the true hue you purchased and also that your paint covers the promised surface area.

Will an area rug make my space feel smaller?

Not if you buy the right size. Prepare your wallet, because the right size is going to be an investment. Buying too small will make your space feel smaller, so though you’ll be tempted to skimp on size, don’t.

For more info on choosing the right rug for your small space, read how to make a small living room look bigger.

Why is a credenza called a credenza?

The term credenza, aka a sideboard/buffet/cabinet-like furniture piece that can add functional storage to almost any room of your home, originates from the olden days. Like Renaissance days, when a credenza was called a credence. Apparently, a credence was where the fancy food was placed and taste tested (for poison, of course) before it was served to the royalty. The term, and design, surged in popularity in the mid-20th century, which is why all your friends furnishing their homes with midcentury modern finds are obsessed with their credenzas.

Want to learn more? We have a glossary of confusing words (AND how to pronounce them). You’re welcome.

How many gallons of paint do I need to buy to paint a room? 

Head to your local hardware store to consult an expert. Before you go, make sure to measure your walls so you know how much square footage you are trying to paint. Don’t forget to include a second coat in your calculations. If you want to estimate the cost of your paint project before committing, Lowe’s and Behr both have handy calculators that do the math for you.

What’s the difference between modern and contemporary styles?

With so many styles and aesthetics being thrown around, it’s often hard to differentiate terms. The most confusing? Modern and contemporary. The two terms are definitely not interchangeable, so if you’re confused about the difference, you’re off to a good start.

Modern architecture and design describes a style that was defined beginning in the 1920s and ending in the 1950s. Modern will always describe that aesthetic. Contemporary style, on the other hand, is happening now. It will always change and is a term used to describe of the moment trends in architecture and design. This is confusing because midcentury modern design is trending, so many contemporary designs are influenced by this time period.

Do you really think it’s a good idea to paint the room white? Won’t it look stark?

Browse our site for proof! Bright, white walls are trending for a reason. All-white walls create a clean, minimalist slate that makes adding neutrals, bright colors, various textures, and more, an effortless exercise. If you’re struggling to accept the white wall trend, consider a statement wall in a bold or faint hue. If that still isn’t for you, keep on painting your walls or plastering them in wallpaper.

Still not convinced white walls are for you? This minimalist beach house located in South Africa might convince you…

What’s the difference between a duvet cover and a comforter? Which should I purchase?

This one’s all up to personal preference, as there are pros and cons for both types of bedding. A duvet cover requires a duvet, which is essentially a fluffy comforter-like bag filled with down, feathers, or a synthetic material. Opting for duvet-style bedding makes washing your cover—and switching it out for a different pattern or style—super easy. A comforter is a more permanent choice. If you get tired of your comforter, you have to replace it with another comforter. You can throw most comforters directly into the wash, making both equally painless to clean.

  • duvet + duvet cover = option 1
  • comforter = option 2

Do I have to change my decor seasonally?

No—but you probably do so naturally and don’t even realize it. Do you have a favorite cozy blanket for winter and a lighter one for the warmer months? Nailed it. Hanging up a new calendar at the beginning of a new year or school year counts, too.

One seasonal switch up that oft goes overlooked is investing in a few different sets of sheets. Not only will they save the day when you’re procrastinating laundry, but they’ll make your bed more comfy with the changes in weather. Keeping a small—or large—box of seasonal decorations is a simple, low-key way to make sure your home feels like a celebration of the current season.

Originally published August 2016. Updated August 2017.

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Alyssa Clough


Alyssa is a Brooklyn-based maximalist and vintage addict who is always on the hunt for something—a new piece of collage art, more plant babies, yet another ceramic vessel, you get the picture. Obsessions include bold accent walls, living a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle, and supporting female artists and makers. Find her on Instagram ignoring her phone’s screen time alerts.