DECORATING ADVICE : How to Lighten Up on Island


Question: I have lived in the Virgin Islands for many years, but I brought my furniture with me from Denver. I have a traditional dark-walnut English bedroom set. My living room pieces are dark, too. They include a sofa, two club chairs, a breakfront, a glass-topped coffee table with a mahogany base, and some Victorian end tables with marble tops. I’ve always used beige as my background color. Now I’m ready for a little island sparkle, but I don’t know what colors to use.

Ann Pierrson

Answer: Northern-climate furniture can be successfully incorporated into an island setting. Paint your living room walls coral, the trim and ceiling white. Select a sunny yellow for your bedroom, and, again, paint your woodwork white.

For your living room windows, find roller shades in a fabric with a pink, coral, yellow and soft-green stripe. The pull strings on the shades can be the usual white. The sofa should be beige, accented with cushions of a Thai silk--a peach, pink and green block print would be the best pattern for these pillows, but use solid colors as well. Use the block silk fabric for a club chair.


If your floor is carpeted, use an area rug of a woven hemp in beige and white. If your floor is tile, the woven hemp will work as a rug. Your living room lamps, on the white-marble topped Victorian tables, can be clear apothecary jars, filled with coral and white seashells and topped with white accordion shades.

For your bedroom windows, find balloon shades in a handsome flowered island print of yellow, coral, green and hibiscus red. Use the print for the bed skirts and for the upholstery. Then paint all your furniture peach, and paint the trim white.

Q: I would like to use black for the walls in my living room, and I’d like to use traditional English furniture, too. What accent colors should I use? My apartment is a studio with a sleeping alcove and a full wall of windows overlooking the street. If you are the decorating genius my friends say you are, you’ll be able to help me paint the room black.

Ethel Connon


A: I’ll try to do justice to your friends’ compliment. Cover your apartment walls with a shiny black patent-like wall covering; the shinier the walls, the better. Paint your ceiling flat white, and add a 5-inch crown molding to your setting.

The sleep sofa should be cushy and full and covered in a white and black print, either a floral or geometric pattern. Accent the sofa with 18-inch square cushions in pink and acid green. Finds some white lacquer Chinese-style end tables.

The lamps on the end tables should be black with white accordion-pleated shades. The pull up club chairs should be pink, and the coffee table should be made of glass and brass. Your windows can be treated with a wall of white louver folding screens.

Q: What advice are you giving out for the new year?


Dedra Francho

A: As the New Year approaches, most Americans are hoping it will herald a new beginning, a time filled with economic recovery and global peace. I am not an economist or a politician, but I would like to make a few New Year’s predictions for the world of design.

* Amber will be the new wall color. It will be used with white and soft gray. The living room of 1992 will have amber striae painted walls, gray carpeting, white trim and curtains of amber silk, trimmed in gray and white braid. The sofa will be covered in gray velvet and accented with amber and sunny yellow-gold throw cushions. Other popular complements to amber will be lipstick-red, aqua blue and Caribbean green.

* Mauve will find its way OUT. Note to hotel operators: Don’t subject the public to any more rose, blue and mauve hotel rooms.


* English furnishings will remain on top of the design list, despite the doomed push for the high-styled Japanese lacquer and gold-leaf look. Traditional Oriental furnishings, however, will always prevail.

* The island look--in natural, white and green--will be very popular. Forget about red, royal blue or any other color. Rattan and wicker will make a strong showing in bedroom decorating, both in the city and the country.

My ideal island bedroom has rich apple-green walls trimmed in white and stenciled with big dark-green banana leaves. The bed is adorned with a coral bedspread and a bed skirt made of a hibiscus-print fabric, accented with coral, red, green and aqua. The headboard, dresser and night table are all wicker. And here’s the final touch: a wicker rocker, painted rich green and upholstered in a print to match the bed skirt.