DECORATING ADVICE : Splash of Aqua for Sea of White


Question: I am decorating my living/dining room, and I would like to use shades of white. There are shades of mauve and aqua throughout the house. I would like to pick up one of these colors, though I would consider another color, perhaps black. (I have used very little black in the house, however.)

The rooms have off-white carpeting. The living room has a large bay window and there is a large window in the dining area also. There are off-white vertical blinds at both windows. The walls are painted winter white. The trim is oak.

The main wall is mirrored in the living room and dining room area. The furniture that has to stay has been recently purchased: a white sofa and chair to match. The dining room furniture consists of a pecan dining room set--four chairs that need to be re-upholstered.

What would you suggest? What kind of tables should I use in the living room? What kind of lamps should I use?


Ann Hollis

Answer: For your living/dining room, I would suggest painting your walls a very pale aqua. Or, if you wish, paint the walls of the dining room aqua and the living room walls white. The ceilings in both spaces can be a very soft tint of aqua.

Your white sofa and white chair can be accented with some throw pillows made of a soft aqua, white, mint-green and mauve striped fabric. Use the stripe for upholstery on your dining room chairs.

If you wish some black in your room, purchase a black lacquer coffee table and accessorize it with brass candlesticks, a big clear glass bowl, and an Oriental multicolored lacquer box. The lamps in your room can be Oriental in style; give them white shades.


Q: When we moved into our house 22 years ago, it was new. The guest bathroom is blue and white. It has sky-blue fixtures, sky-blue and white ceramic tile on the floor, a solid sky-blue ceramic border around the base of the floor, and marbleized blue and white marbleized tile. The walls are solid white.

Over the years I have used the following colors to accessorize: light blue, navy blue, gray, pink and maroon. What other colors can I use?

Edwina G. Menendez

A: Over the years, you have accessorized with many colors but never with a bright, contrasting one. Try azalea red for an accessory color, or rich pumpkin, or even lime green. I like a lime-green, soft-blue and white color combination.


If you go for the lime green, consider covering the walls above your tile and your ceiling with a vine-like vinyl wall covering, perhaps a lime-green trellis entwined with blue morning glories.

Q: I have a formal dining room, but it’s seldom used. How can I decorate it so it’s more inviting?

Laura Rane

A: While the world is filled with apartments, houses and condominiums that feature the living/dining room combination, many new homes have the traditional living room and separate dining room plan that our mothers and grandmothers enjoyed.


The formal family dining room is an American tradition that I believe will continue for generations to come. Granted, I’ve heard that story that the formal dining room is the least-used room in today’s American home.

I’ve also heard folks say that, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, the dining room’s function is merely ornamental. And I’ve heard others complain that the family dining room is cold and austere, not inviting.

But dining room decorating can be exciting when happy and inviting colors are used. Begin by choosing a happy and colorful wallpaper for the walls. You might select a covering that features light-blue flowers entwined with soft-pink berries, yellow buds and green leaves on a white background.

To accompany the paper, look for a coordinating wallpaper border and fabric. Use the fabric for the curtains and install them on brass poles in a shirred fashion.


For upholstery on traditional dining-room chairs, use a stripe of soft blue, yellow, pink and cream. Also display a handsome, traditional breakfront--one with glass shelves. On the breakfront shelves, you can gather and present a collection of blue Chinese canton, or a collection of delftware, or maybe even a collection of Irish crystal.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your room, you can display a collection of white bisque or early American pewter on the mantel.

Q: My living room carpet is a salmon color. There are teal accents in other parts of the house. It’s very contemporary. What color should I paint the walls and woodwork? I need draperies, blinds and new upholstery for my sectional sofa. The wood pieces in this room are very light ash. I like the Southwestern look.

Joni Meeker


A: Teal and salmon are two colors that work well together. So I suggest that you paint your walls teal and paint your woodwork white. Your ceiling can be painted a very pale salmon.

For your sectional sofa, select a Southwestern print of soft teal, soft salmon and white. Accent your contemporary sofa with solid pillows of teal, salmon and white. The teal pillows should be welted in soft purple. For carpeting, you could always use beige, white or salmon, but if you want to be bold, try rich purple--that special Southwestern sunset color.