DECORATING ADVICE : Bright Colors Light the Way in Den Renovation


Question: Could you please give me some advice about redecorating a very small den? It is 9-by-11 feet, and though it faces south, it is somewhat shaded. There is a nice Heriz rug on the floor (Turkey red, blue, rose, green, gold and bone), a queen-sized sofa (avocado corduroy), a small neoclassical chair with a gold seat, a round library table and a TV. The walls are celery with avocado trim.

The rest of the house has bone-white walls with a darker carpet, but the furniture and accessories have lots of color: Turkey red, rose and blue in the living room; rose, blue, and coral in the sun porch.

Would the den look larger if the walls were bone-colored? And would the den look better with shutters instead of casement cloth curtains?


Barbara Formen

A: You need some light and bright colors in your small den. Let’s begin by painting the walls rich Turkey red; all the woodwork can be painted flat white. For your window treatment, install white-pleated shades. The Turkey-red decor will work well with your Heriz rug.

For your queen-size sofa, now in avocado corduroy, I would suggest a stripe fabric of Turkey red, wheat and blue. Accent your sofa with period needlepoint pillows and cushions of rich Turkey red. On your walls, hang architectural prints in gilt frames. Place some handsome brass lamps with translucent shades on your end tables.

Q: I want to turn my dining room into a library retreat. I’m thinking of placing a traditional wingback chair by the window and adding an expandable rectangular table to fit against the wall, with ample leaves for occasional dinner parties. Or I may use a drop-leaf table instead.

What colors and furniture type should I use? My carpet is brown and must stay. I have gold-colored draperies, which can be replaced. The entire house has been done in a variation of earth tones. I would like to bring a more sophisticated atmosphere to the house.

Carole Morgan

A: I think making your dining room into a library retreat is a great idea, especially if you need space and don’t use your dining room every day. Use a Queen Anne drop-leaf table by the window; it can serve as a dining table and as a desk.

Place a traditional wing chair on each side of it, and cover it in a handsome stripe in brown, salmon and blue. Paint your walls a soft-blue color, and paint all the trim ecru. Replace your gold draperies with a light-blue damask fabric, and trim them in a brown and green key-design trim.


Q: I have a problem with the master bedroom in our 11-year-old home.

It is about 14-by-20 feet and has large, bold, yellow flowered wallpaper on a white background. The furniture is dark cherry and consists of a king-size bed, end tables, a man’s chest and an oversized dresser.

In the room, I also have a sitting area, which has two yellow upholstered chairs with a small glass-top coffee table. We also have a large armoire for the television set.

I have pale yellow carpeting, heavy satin yellow draperies with cornice boards and white sheers underneath. The bedspreads are made of the same material as the draperies.

I would like to change the look of the room without changing the wallpaper. I’m really lost when it comes to matching some type of bed covering with the boldness and largeness of those yellow flowers.

Jenny David

A: You may want to change the look of your room without changing the wallpaper, but I’m afraid it’s not possible. The wallpaper is the one thing you should change. Keep the yellow draperies, white sheers and yellow bedspread. For your wall covering, consider a mixed print of pink, lavender, soft-rose, light-blue and soft-yellow flowers tied in light-blue ribbons on a creamy yellow background.