Brightening a dull look in bedrooms DESIGNING WOMAN

April 02, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Bedrooms are often seen -- from a purely decorative standpoint -- as the dullest parts of the house. Or so it would seem from the letters I receive. Many readers ask for my advice on how they might enliven their bedrooms.

Most of these letter-writers also mention that the size of their redecorating budget is as small as the room itself. At the same time, I'm often told of a need for greater storage space. So it can indeed be a challenge to reconcile these various issues, especially when the room must accommodate a king-size bed.

The initial step toward a solution is to understand the proper order of priorities. And if a room's design is to work over the long haul, then functional considerations have got to be given precedence over everything else. In a bedroom, this means focusing most closely on the sleeping and storage aspects.

The model shown in the photo may provide some direction. Here, the addition of a few decorative items put some zip in an otherwise dull setting. The furniture layout also helped relieve the monotony. Modular pieces, all of the same height, form a continuous smooth line that turns a corner, thereby introducing a bit more visual interest. By incorporating both the dresser and the night tables, this compact arrangement makes the most of the limited space that's available for storage.

Please note that in this case the cabinetry is only 28 inches high. A low-slung unit will enhance the sense of height in a room with a low ceiling.

In a small space, it isn't necessary for every piece of furniture to be dramatically designed or of heirloom quality. The best strategy in such circumstances is to keep the lines simple for the most part, and to reserve the special effects for a single focal point.

The headboard, whether large or small, is the most obvious candidate for that role. Think about it -- headboards are meant to have a mostly decorative purpose, since seldom does one's head actually rest against that board. Since the invention of the bed frame, headboards also don't do anything to keep the bed together.

In this case, a lacquered wooden Kashmir screen makes a stunning headboard. Decorated with flowers and leaves, this eye-catching piece evokes the aura of a Persian garden. The screen's cream, orange and pink colors meanwhile suffuse the room with a soothing warmth.

The colors of a focal point ought to give direction for the entire room. Accents should be based on the more vivid hues, while the walls ought to be treated as a backdrop to the main event. Similarly, the bedspread is best left casual and subdued so as not to compete with the headboard.

By properly balancing colors in order to call attention to a single part of the room, it's possible to open up enormous vistas in a relatively small space.

Care must be taken, however, to prevent a dominant decorative piece from overwhelming everything else in the room. An interesting mirror frame makes a useful addition, for example, as does a collection of personal memorabilia. Indeed, accessories such as family photos or a few tabletop art objects offer the easiest means of pepping up a bedroom's appearance.

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