DECORATING ADVICE : Stick With Soft Color, If It Pleases Your Taste


Question: I am in desperate need of help redecorating my living room. My taste is conservative, and I love soft, light colors.

My tables and piano are Italian provincial and made of a light pecan wood. The walls are an off-white; the two-piece sofa is off-white brocade; the rug is a soft beige with a pink cast to it, and two small armchairs are deep rose with white antique wood.

I need draperies. To cut the cost, I thought I’d just have sheers with perhaps a sheer valance. I need some soft color in the sheers, walls, pillows and floral pieces. What would you suggest?

Joan Young

Answer: If you love light colors, stick with them.

Your rooms sound very traditional. On your soft beige rug, you might consider laying an Oriental rug in soft beiges, pinks, roses and blues for accent. The rug could also have some burgundy touches.

I believe the rug will go well with your off-white brocades and with your rose upholstery. At the windows, use sheers and use white sheers for the drapery swags and valances. You can trim or fringe the sheers in a rose and light mauve.


For wall covering, try a very soft aqua blue striped dado with coordinating floral pattern in pinks, roses and blues above. Paint all trim white.

Q: In my living room, I have a dusty-rose carpet and dusty-rose draperies. I have a mist-green swivel rocker and a flowered couch. The couch has rust, light green and light blue in it. The walls, which have never been painted, are off white.

This house is only 9 years old. Could you tell me what color would look nice for walls?

Mrs. B. Pyle

A: With the rose carpet and drapery, you are in a dusty-rose mood. With your rose and mint-green scheme, I would suggest that you paint your walls a very clear petal pink and paint your woodwork white semigloss enamel.

Perhaps you can recover your sofa in a quilted flowered fabric of light blues, greens, bright pinks and roses on a soft pink or white background. Accent your sofa with soft green and rose pillows.

Q: Can you explain checkerboard decorating?

Brenda Sand

Answer: As a child, I loved to play checkers. And my sons, Nick and Sebastian, grew up playing checkers as well. In fact, I’m sorry to say that Nick and Seb can outplay me on the checkerboard any day. But when it comes to checkerboard decorating, I hope that I take the lead.

Those of you who have seen my decorating work in hotels like Dromoland Castle in Ireland, the Greenbrier Hotel at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, or the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan know how much I love checkerboard floors--some in black and white, others in the stencil look, big dark-stained checks on bleached light wood.

I’ve done checkerboard floors of yellow and white in Florida. And in my own New York apartment, I have a bright red-and-white checkerboard floor with deep racing-green walls.

I especially like checkerboard floors when the checks are laid on the diagonal, as opposed to being laid on the square. Be that as it may, the check is just right in so many places in the home--on the wall, on the windows and on the bed, as well. And the check comes in all sizes and colors.

In the kitchen of a house I am decorating for a young couple and their five children in Lewisburg, W. Va., I am using all the colors of the tablecloth’s tavern check by the yard.

The kitchen walls are being covered in a vinylized yellow-and-white check wallpaper. The vinyl coating will keep the walls clean and prevent chocolate marks from lasting too long. And the young mother certainly wants to keep her yellow-and-white check walls clean and bright. The same check will also be used at the windows for swags trimmed in bright lipstick red. Chair pads will also be made of the vinylized check, piped in red.

In an adjoining family room, I’m covering the sofa in durable blue denim, and I’m accenting the seating piece with throw cushions of yellow and white gingham check, blue-and-white gingham check, and red-and-white gingham check, all of which combine to create a merry tavern look. And swags at the windows are to be white linen trimmed in blue-and-white check.

Blue-and-white checks can really pep up an attic bedroom. On a bleached floor, the beds might be covered in blue-and-white checks, which coordinate nicely with walls papered in a soft floral pattern with light-blue stripes on a cream background. The furniture can be of a white ash, and the windows can be decorated with lace. The look of florals with checks always works handsomely.