Right Tools Can Help Defeat Decor Demons

Wendy Miller is editor of Ventura County Life

Redecorating can be a lot like a military campaign; there are armies of painters, wallpapering specialists, contractors, electricians and plumbers to mobilize. And that's after you have figured out the plan of attack.

What color scheme do you want? Do you tear out the wall? Will you need to re-plumb? Do you need an architect? An interior designer? Should you really have bought the couch with the sliced watermelon print? Will friends laugh if you put up the matching wallpaper?

Could Gen. MacArthur have faced anything more complicated?

Barbara Weldon Tone, who wrote this week's Centerpiece story on redecorating with paint, thinks not. She has had her own living room skirmishes to contend with; she has faced her enemy and it is purple.

It's become the Battle of the Burgundy.

"My husband and I did the typically stupid thing of buying couches before we did any other remodeling," Tone said. "They, it turns out, are a very odd color, somewhere between a burgundy and a plum. I have never seen this color anywhere other than on these couches."

Which is how she found herself in the position of staring at a blank wall.

"I have these 18-foot-high ceilings and they are all still the same color they were when we moved in nine years ago," Tone said. "That's because I haven't been able to figure out how to get them to go with the couches. I have brought home wallpapers and fabrics thinking they would match the couches, but they never have."

Then, a while back, she picked up her daughter from ballet class and discovered a good cover story as well as a way to finally conquer her reddish-purple blues.

"I went in to get my daughter and saw this graphic that a local woman artist had painted on the walls of the dance school," Tone said. "When I saw it, I thought, 'That's really interesting. Maybe I should do something like that in my living room, maybe a mural.' "

That was a year ago. Which means that by now, Tone should have vanquished the plum tyrants, and color-washed, sponged, muraled or splattered her way to a decorative victory.

Not exactly.

"Of course, I still haven't done a thing yet," she said. "But at least now I know that I can find someone who will be able to match my walls to my couches."

Elsewhere in Life: If you have gotten past the walls and furniture and are ready to make a big statement with a small household appliance, check out this week's Fashion column. Kathleen Williams will tell you what is au courant in phones.

Meanwhile, Shop Talk columnist Julie Sawyer checks out designer goods at the Oxnard Factory Outlet, while Structures columnist Josef Woodard gives his views on the complex's good (or bad) design.

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