Q: The ceiling in our second-floor bedroom is nearly 13 feet high. It's the attic, and the rafters have been left bare. We love the open feeling, but in a bedroom, that may be too open. Is there any way to bring the space down to size so things feel cozier?
A: Intimacy is especially important in bedrooms and baths, both the most personal and private rooms in our lives. Here, we often have opposing needs: for lots of living space . . . for a feeling of coziness and safety.
You can have your human scale and spaciousness, too, as you see in the lofty bedroom in the photo we show here. Since this is a log home, hand-hewn in early settler style by Hearthstone Homes of Tennessee, the owners cherish the beauty of the exposed wood overhead. But they've also employed several classic decorating tricks to give their bedroom some feeling of intimacy.
First, the tall posts on the bed tend to merge the soaring space, an illusion helped along by the hanging fan light. Next, other high furniture -- the armoire and dressing table -- help break up the space.
Finally, the triangular area over the bed head has been filled with an overscaled picture, balanced on both sides by smaller works of art that
tend to pull the eye down and into the living area of the room.
Q: Our family room needs a comfortable sofa. I have lots of interesting antiques and old things in there, but no place to sit and really relax.
My husband would love a big contemporary sectional, the kind with a recliner at one end. I hate for him to be uncomfortable in his own family room, but I think it would ruin the traditional atmosphere. Do you agree?
A: No. And I tested my opinion with some experts, the editors at Colonial Homes, a magazine long revered as the authority on traditional decorating for today's lifestyle. Their answer, in the words of editor Dick Beatty: "Build on the past for present advantage."
In short, no room works unless it's comfortable and convenient for the people who live in it. Look for a sectional with clean, simple lines and unobtrusive fabric upholstery.
The joy of good contemporary styling is its chameleonlike ability to blend with other styles. Your antiques and old things will stay in the center of attention, and your husband will stay happy to boot.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the author of five books on interior design, associate editor of Country Decorating and a contributing writer to other publications in the field. Send questions to Inside Advice, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore, Md. 21278.