They're called 'haven in uncertain times'


October 13, 1991|By Jo Werne | Jo Werne,Knight-Ridder News Service

The bedroom, once recipient of hand-me-down furniture, has come into its own.

Rela Gleason recalls that when she was growing up, her bedroom had "a twin bed, a dresser, a desk" while "my parents' room had a double bed and not much more."

Today, bedrooms are apt to have seating areas, an entertainment system, a computer work station and ample storage. The bed is sure to be piled up with pillows for cushy TV viewing or reading.

"Bedrooms have become an important part of decorating only in the last 15 years," said Ms. Gleason, a California interior designer and founder of Summer Hill Ltd., manufacturer of furniture and fabrics.

Ms. Gleason was the keynote speaker at Fabric Fair '91 at the Design Center of the Americas in Dania, Fla., recently. The annual event began with Mario Buatta's entertaining discussion of his life and career as "the Prince of Chintz" and continued throughout the day with showroom presentations of new fabric collections and seminars for the more than 1,000 interior designers and design students who attended.

An auction of luncheon table settings, including centerpieces of fanciful fabric hot-air balloons created by showroom designers, raised $3,500 for Broward House, a facility for AIDS patients.

During a seminar titled "Accent on Bedrooms: A Safe Haven in Uncertain Times," Ms. Gleason said that in the 1980s "people decided they deserved a pretty bedroom. They want a nice bedroom so much that it has not become a second-class citizen even in difficult economic times."

Ms. Gleason said "a bedroom can be done well on any budget" just as "people are having to work harder to do the same amount of business."

Using slides of bedrooms she designed for show houses and to advertise her furniture, Ms. Gleason offered these tips:

*To make a canopy for a bed, cut a round table top (available at home centers and lumber stores) in half and bolt one half to the ceiling. Staple yards of sheer fabric to the canopy and let it flow to the floor, framing the bed.

*Build a window seat for cozy seating and more storage.

*In a child's room, paper one wall in grass cloth. "The whole wall becomes a bulletin board and the child won't outgrow the paper because it's a neutral."

*Avoid upholstered headboards. "They get filthy. Instead, tie a cushion on a hard headboard for comfortable sitting in bed."

And some thoughts according to Mario Buatta:

"I like the idea of dust as a protective coating for fine furniture."

"If you have a weight problem, wear the color of the walls so you will blend in."

"Nothing is ever 'out' if it works well and the client likes it."

As a tour of the fabric showrooms proves, no color is out, either. Whatever your preference, it's available as textile manufacturers offer every design in a wide selection of colors.

But environmental themes -- tropical floral and fauna, jungle and domestic animals, seashore and mountain motifs -- are definitely in. (Prices of fabrics range from $25 to $75 or more a yard wholesale and are available through interior designers and architects.)

*Fabric from Australia was introduced at Carousel Designs against a background of recorded Aboriginal music. Created by several of Australia's top designers, the "Uniquely Australian" collection of Egyptian cotton features 25 patterns influenced by the environment and the artwork of the Aborgines. One pattern is dubbed "Walkabout" for the nomadic custom of the people. Carousel Designs also introduced a "Riches of the World" wall covering collection of abstract designs by Jim Weinberg.

*A new group of woven textiles designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright between 1910 and 1920 was introduced by F. Schumacher & Co., which has carried various Wright designs since the 1950s. Mostly geometric designs in jewel tones, the fabric is ideal for commercial use. "Victorian Society in America," another new collection for Schumacher, features chintz, cottons and tapestries.

*Stroheim & Romann introduced several new collections, including a fabulous print with a Moorish tile motif, a cotton printed to look like a kilim rug, and several new brocades, damasks and rayon stripes. The showroom also features JAB fabrics from Germany that have a pearlized finish and will make smashing draperies. A print showing Mozart at the piano was produced for the 200th anniversary of his death.

*German-made polished cottons in impressionist designs and luxurious colors were exhibited by Kravet Fabrics/Biller Collins & Associates. Designers like the fabrics so much they are buying yards of it to frame like paintings.

*Todd Wiggins exhibited a new Japanese silk and cotton collection from NUNO, an award-winning group of textile designers headed by Junichi Arai. California designer Barbara Beckman showed her new Santa Rosa Collection of 100 percent cottons that include a farm animal print for children's rooms, and several environmental motifs including fish, birds and monkeys.

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