Giving a house an airy, casual look

RITA ST. CLAIR

December 30, 1990|By RITA ST. CLAIR

Q: We're about to redecorate our house with the aim of giving it a beachy look -- airy and casual with no carpeting. What kind of furnishings would be best in such a setting? And what should we do about the floors?

A: When you say "beachy," the first thing that comes to mind is wicker and painted furniture. But that's a cliche treatment, so let's consider some more imaginative possibilities.

Upholstered pine pieces covered in a chintzlike cotton can add grace and elegance to a beach-front setting.

Take care, however, that the fabric doesn't make a dramatic design statement. I personally like a mattress ticking, stripe-like pattern in canvas or heavy cotton. It will probably outlast the chair on which it's used.

An old, small sleigh bed placed on the diagonal would make a lovely occasional piece. Wrap the mattress in a quilt with lots of fluffy pillows and

cushions in various colors and prints. Though it certainly won't qualify as the principal seating piece, this can be an inviting lounger.

A light-colored scrubbed wood floor would be best in this sort of setting, particularly if it's partly covered by rugs that at least look as though they were hand-loomed. Try to find rugs made of cotton or wool with thick yarns in combinations of neutral and pastel colors. Blue, white, sand and light coral are attractive candidates. Stripes, as shown in the photo, can also enhance a casual atmosphere.

Although this photo shows a room carved out of an attic, the furnishings and surround are appropriate as well for a small sitting room done in the style you desire. New York designer Stanley Hura achieved this look with some of the elements I've already mentioned, along with tasteful additions like the ready-made curtains and the shades, quilts and pillows -- all from fabric designed by Victoria Moreland for Raintree Designs.

As is the case here, it's best if the fabrics and the entire surround are light, cheerful and not overly busy. This isn't to say that busyness should be banished altogether from an interior of this type. On the contrary, it should definitely be included somewhere in the room, preferably via an accessory like a framed decorative mirror.

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