Fabrics create elegance, not opulence


March 08, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I want to redecorate my bedroom, which is big enough to accommodate a four-poster bed and a pair of lounge chairs as well as the usual wooden pieces, in mahogany finish. I plan to change the floor- and wall-covering and to purchase some new fabrics. Please give me some general advice on how to achieve a look that's decorative but not opulent.

A: I hope the room's ceiling height will allow you to add a simple fabric canopy to the four-poster, if one isn't already in place. To me, a four-poster bed without a canopy always looks unfinished.

You're making a good start, I think, by deciding to concentrate on the so-called soft goods. The choice of fabrics and coverings is especially important, given the type of furniture you have.

I assume that your aim is to lighten the room's color and atmosphere while retaining its traditional flavor. In selecting new fabrics, you should therefore consider their pattern and texture as well as their color.

To produce a more casual look, stay away from silks, satins and any other material with a shiny or fragile appearance. The damask-like patterns often used with mahogany furniture also won't work in your situation. I'd look instead for stripes, checks, florals or plaids.

The result might then be something like the setting shown in the photo. This room does have an elegant look, but that's not the same as opulent.

Cotton was the main fabric choice in this case. A mattress ticking-style stripe, which is one of my favorites because of its casual yet rich appearance, was used for the bed canopy and dust ruffle. This kind of fabric has to be in a neutral tone, preferably white, with a medium tone such as celadon green or rose in the stripe.

A generously proportioned floral in glazed chintz or polished cotton will serve very nicely as curtains and

chair coverings. And an heirloom-like lace bedcover will do much more to soften the room than would a formal, fitted bedspread.

In order to tie the whole scheme together, I suggest you install carpeting rather than one or more patterned rugs. In a neutral color, or even with a simple pattern, carpeting will create less of a sense of clutter in the space. If you do prefer a pattern, its colors should be close in value to one another. A small dot design or a diamond shape might be a good choice. In general, wall and floor colors such as yellow, apricot and celadon green will go quite well with mahogany furniture. Should you wish to make the room more vibrant still, brighter colors in variations of tones can then be added as accents. Don't rule out white for this role. White background in fabrics and wall-coverings always helps to lift color combinations that are similar in value and that can easily look muddy if not properly deployed.

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