'90s styles create warm, welcoming homes

April 04, 1991|By Jo Werne | Jo Werne,Knight-Ridder News Service

Four decorating styles will emerge during the 1990s, according to Margery Rubin Cohen of House Beautiful.

They are: classic country, pared-down traditional, romantic retreats and personal style.

Director of creative services for the magazine, Ms. Cohen recently conducted a seminar along with designer Lynn Hollyn at three Burdines department stores in South Florida. She advised her audience to "unclutter their homes, pare down by editing excess, and put things in order."

"During the decade of the '80s, we were living in a very fast lane. We were faxed to the max. Now, during the '90s, we want warm and welcoming homes," Ms. Cohen said.

She said consumers want to live in every room in the house; "they want no formal rooms." They also want a special retreat, whether it's a sewing room, a study or a corner of the bedroom, to be alone.

Here are the four design styles, according to House Beautiful editors. Do-it-yourselfers may borrow ideas for their own decorating projects.

# Classic country This is a style that has come of age, taking the best from Scandinavian, French, American and English design and combining them with other styles or as accents. Thus, a French armoire can be stunning in a contemporary living room.

The simplicity of Scandinavian country, the fruitwood stains and painted finishes of France, and rustic American farmhouse furnishings define the classic country look. Fabrics for this style run the gamut from simple ticking and gingham to handcrafted French provincial prints and toiles. English florals create the most romantic mood, while lace and gauze are fresh and airy.

The colors of classic country include the warm, melting colors Scandinavians favor, along with the colors of nature -- white, sky blue, leaf green, butter yellow.

For a French touch, borrow the gutsy colors of Provence -- vibrant mixtures of red-red, brightest blue, sun yellow, played against white-washed walls and terra cotta floors. While English country is a garden of colors, American country is subdued neutrals -- weathered tones of teal, evergreen, brick.

Pared-down traditional Comfort replaces grandeur in this style, which reflects the past but lives in the present. Each piece of furniture is chosen for its purity of line, its ability to float serenely and separately in a room. Familiar mahogany furnishings -- Sheraton, Georgian,Empire, Federal -- look new in a pale, washed finish that highlights the grain.

This style calls for easy, natural fabrics, such as cotton duck muslin, crisp or gauzy linen, to pair with elegant silks. When patterns are used, they're discreet, as in a muted paisley, a tone-on-tone stripe or a bold animal print.

Colors focus on neutrals -- creamy white, golden beige, dove gray, taupe. Accent colors include melting pastels and earth tones.

% Romantic retreats This is an ideal style for hideaways, whether it's your bedroom, a study or a secret place in the garden.

A four-poster or canopied bed in country French, English regency or traditional style suits a bedroom hideaway. An alternative is a cozy chaise or oversized easy chair, along with a ++ table with space to keep favorite books and magazines close at hand. For a garden retreat, consider an old wicker chair or chaise plumped up with colorful pillows.

Chintz in floral prints is still fundamental to a romantic look, but today's patterns are more subdued. Ms. Cohen said when using more than one print or pattern, be sure they're variations of each other to keep the overall look understated and unified. Generous touches of white, such as eyelet or gauze, have a tranquilizing effect on the romantic style.

Ms. Cohen said what's new in colors for the romantic look is an all-of-a-tone look, such as raspberry to rose to pale pink. Consider tender greens, cozy blues, soft pinks, sweet lavender and all white.

` Personal style This style is the '90s version of eclectic. "It encourages us to believe in our own taste," Ms. Cohen said, "and lets us surround ourselves with things we love best."

For furniture, consider a beautiful display cabinet for collections, or a large dining table that tips off your love of entertaining. If you love reading, treat yourself to a big easy chair, a good light source and a side table.

When choosing fabrics for your personal style, think about your senses. Do you prefer soft, delicate prints . . . luscious velvet . . . or the crispness of linen? Almost every design is available in almost every fabric, so the choices are limitless. The only thing to consider is that if your household includes children and pets you'll want to choose sturdy fabrics that will stand up to hard use.

As for colors, personal style means suit yourself. If you want sun-drenched yellow where white is expected, go for it. If you prefer strong colors instead of pastels, fine. Because paint is the cheapest way to decorate, let your imagination go and live with the colors that make you happy.

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