DECORATING ADVICE : The Blues Can Brighten Your Room

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Question: I have a large contemporary room with gray carpets, off-white walls and ivory furniture that has a touch of rose and Dutch blue. A brass-faced fireplace, set in brick, is the focal point of the room. It is surrounded by windows.

I would like to add some vibrant colors, but I don’t know how to handle the wall coverings. There is a 2-foot opening between the ceiling and wall that separates the front room and the kitchen. What do you suggest?

Mary Wood-Andersen

Answer: The 2-foot opening is not large enough to make a difference. Don’t worry about it. Cover all the walls in your gray room with a Dutch-blue wall covering, maybe one that has a texture. Your ivory-colored furnishings will sparkle against the Dutch blue.


Place an Oriental rug and a butler’s tray table on the gray carpet. Accent your ivory upholstered pieces with toss cushions of burgundy rose, soft blue and ivory. You might add a shocking red cushion, too. At your windows, hang ivory draperies on brass poles with brass rings. The draperies can be trimmed in burgundy.

Q: I’d like to brighten up my living room. My plush carpet is beige with a tinge of green. I have an aqua chair and ottoman that must stay. There is also a cabinet television, a stereo in a cabinet and a piano; all of them are fruitwood.

I plan to purchase a sofa, love seat and one additional chair. Three walls are covered in a white vinyl, and one wall is covered in white paneling that has turned a yellowish gray with age. I want to paint the paneling and find a new covering for the other walls. I’m considering aqua and peach.

Mrs. Al Mayusky

A: Paint the woodwork white and the walls, including the paneled one, a soft jonquil yellow. Your fruitwood pieces and your aqua chair and ottoman will look handsome against the yellow walls.

For your sofa and love seat, pick a flowered chintz, one that features yellow, aqua, pink and red blossoms entwined with deep-green leaves on a soft-beige background. For valances, use the print fabric, lined in yellow, with soft-yellow draperies.

At the mantel, place a handsome wing chair covered in a creamy beige damask. Over your mantel, hang a series of botanical prints, framed in gold. Find some botanicals that pick up the colors in your flowered fabric. You also might want to purchase some Audubon-style prints. A throw rug under your coffee table, perhaps a light-beige Oriental, would add warmth.


Q: Do you recommend decorating with antique botanicals?

Bette Simes

A: The antique botanical is one of today’s hottest collectibles. Generally found in print and frame shops, high-quality botanicals can sell for hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars. For enthusiasts, it’s money well-spent. Botanical patterns can create a truly enchanting look. Who wouldn’t love a dining room with one wall completely covered with camellias, roses, carnations, lilacs, violets, hydrangeas, poppies and asters?

Botanicals, be they prints for wall hanging or fabrics for windows, always work well with trellis designs, and this combination can create a welcoming look for your foyer. Cover the walls with a white on aqua trellis pattern, and then hang a grouping of four contemporary botanical prints on one of the walls.

If there is a stairway, install a flower-patterned carpet with handsome border colors. Floral carpets come in a wide range of background colors: green, aqua, pink, red, black and even beige. You can find trellis-patterned rugs, too. Popular designs include white on aqua and white on beige.