Question: My sun porch is decorated in sherbet colors. The ceiling is lemon-yellow, the walls are peach, and the floor is covered with a pin-dot carpeting of sherbet-green with peach and white dots.
My sofa--an old rattan piece with seat cushions--is covered with a print fabric of peach, lavender, green and white. What color should I choose to upholster my chaise? I was thinking about sherbet green, but my children want yellow.
Answer: I agree with your children. Bring sunshine into your lovely room with a lemon yellow, white and peach stripe. Accent the piece with big Turkish corner pillows of yellow and lavender. You might also want to give your rattan pieces a fresh coat of white paint.
Q: I need help with my 10-year-old son's room. He loves sports, especially football, baseball and basketball. His favorite colors are blue and red. The carpeting in his room is mauve, and the walls are light blue. His furniture is dark oak and consists of one twin-size bed, one desk and one chair. How can I make this room look like a boy's room?
A: Begin decorating your son's room by finding a new home for the mauve carpeting. Perhaps you have a guest room where you can use this color. For your son's room, choose a bright royal-blue carpet with a 12-inch bright-red border. You can leave the light-blue walls; paint the trim bright white. You might paint the ceiling of the room crisp red. For the bedspread in the room, find a fabric that has a sporting theme. There are many on the market. Perhaps the fabric will feature bright red, blue and yellow on a soft-blue ground.
Q: What do designers mean when they refer to "the country look"?
A: I've visited so many kinds of homes all over the country, and I never cease to be fascinated by the way people enhance their surroundings.
Of course, certain styles will dominate depending on the region--Colonial is big in New England, for example, and obviously the Santa Fe look has many takers in the Southwest--but I have noticed that the country look is popular all over--even in large cities.
When I say "the country look," I mean the scheme that features pretty flowered chintz, wooden beams, pictures in heavy, carved frames, skirted tables, wooden mantle pieces, afghans on sofas and woven rugs on tile floors.
Because this appealing look is so casual, fabrics in a variety of prints can be successfully combined in a country home. A flowered chintz may be used alongside checked and striped fabrics, for example.
Furnishings, too, may be combined in an offbeat manner. French provincial furnishings may be set with modern pieces. I particularly like Spanish sofas accented with big wooden finials.
When selecting upholstery, place the fabric you plan to use directly on the sofa or chair to be certain the scale is large enough. If you are covering a large sofa, select a large-scale print.
Oftentimes, small prints on big pieces are not appropriate. If you work with a decorator, or have a friend who is in the furnishing or decorating field, request his or her advice before purchasing the fabric. A moment spent consulting can save hundreds of dollars.
Even accessories can be used in fresh, interesting ways. A bird cage, for instance, makes a lovely place to hold plants. Baskets are great for storing magazines, and an old earthenware jug would be the perfect spot to display garden branches and flowers.