No deficit in design ideas

September 06, 1992|By Isabel Forgang | Isabel Forgang,New York Daily News

Recession is the mother of invention.

Money may be tight, but there's no deficit of novel ideas in interior design circles. Attics, groceries and even plumbing suppliers provide fodder for the newest decorating schemes.

Keep an open mind as you consider the following tips gleaned from decorator show houses, furniture showrooms and other interior design displays. Some are practical, some quite fanciful.

* Whether you call it sand and smoke, mushroom and pewter, linen and lava or ash and onyx, the new color scheme is some form of cream-gold-tan with silver-gray-black. Let this classic combination serve as inspiration for a new look. Paint the floor black or stain it a dark wood shade, add a sisal area rug and slipcover a couple of chairs in a cream-colored canvas. Or go slow, introducing the color scheme with throw pillows in tiger, leopard or cheetah prints that mirror the black and tan palette.

* Show your interest in the environment with color (add accents of green, gold, yellow and earth tones), motif (flowers, animals and marine themes) and materials (opt for natural fiber fabrics, woods that are not endangered, and stone and twig accessories).

* New wall treatments are off-the-wall. Try covering yours with wrinkled brown butcher paper. (Cut the paper a couple of feet longer than the wall, crumpled it, then loosely smooth it out and apply with wallpaper paste.) If you love to read in bed, wallpaper bedroom walls with sheets of newspaper, sealed with a coat of clear acrylic. Create yourself an indoor garden room: Paint the walls mint green, then cover them with a white painted lattice. The newest painted walls feature a pearlized finish accomplished with silver sponge painting or a granite look thanks to copper-based sponge painting.

* For affordable table centerpieces, look no farther than the corner greengrocer. Fill bowls and baskets with mounds of long, thin purple and white eggplants, a mix of red and yellow peppers or bright red pomegranates.

Some other eye-catching displays: A dish of smooth stones on a coffee table; a flat of bedding plants straight from the nursery in the entryway and a plastic-lined basket filled with small pots of such fragrant herbs as thyme or basil in the dining room. Or follow Ralph Lauren's lead, and fill a bowl with terra cotta fragments -- just the thing for those broken flower pots.

* Go for the sporting look when accessorizing: Stand a bunch of fishing poles in a tall basket. Lean a weathered old oar or paddle, whole or broken, in a corner. Hang an old fishing creel on the wall.

* Let your ideas take wing. Show some aviary interest with decorative old cages, empty nests and bird houses used as decorative accessories.

* Painted, well-worn furniture is hot and expensive. Instead of paying for the look, check flea markets and garage sales for painted pieces that have that desirable used look. If it's chipped here and there, so much the better.

* Art needn't be expensive to be intriguing. Hang a few giant "antique" gold frames and let the wall show through in place of a painting. Simply framed old city maps are a good choice for a guest room or den. Add still more interest with plaid fabric used as a mat and frame.

* Old leather suitcases are out in full view in a Ralph Lauren showroom. Stacked on top of an armoire, they are a stylish way to provide extra storage.

* Give tired dining room seats a lift as designer Katherine Stephens recently did: cover the seat cushions with lace.

* Replace standard curtain rods with something offbeat. Consider rods made from one-inch copper pipe (the kind available at a plumbing supply shop), sandpapered for a satin finish, and hung with wood curtain rings spray-painted copper. For a rustic setting, try long tree branches, stripped of their leaves, of course.

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