Polo look is upscale, casual, masculine

DESIGN LINE

October 18, 1992|By Rita St. Clair

Q: After returning from a trip to Europe, my son asked me to help him decorate his apartment in what he calls a "polo" style. Not wishing to appear hopelessly out of it, I didn't ask him to explain what that might be. So now I come to you for guidance. What's a polo look, and how does one construct it in a currently unfurnished apartment?

A: As you probably know, "polo" used to refer to a type of game, invented in India, involving men on horseback, a ball and some sticks. Now it's become a generic term used by followers of fashion to describe a distinctively American type of styling. "Preppy" might be another, more familiar way of describing basically the same look.

In the area of interior design, "polo" denotes the sort of languid elegance that might have been typical in turn-of-the-century country homes in New England. Polo is, of course, much more Anglo-American than ethnic.

It's easier to analyze a polo look once it's all assembled than to explain in the abstract how to go about producing this style. For that reason, I offer this photograph, even though the room shown here is a den, not a young man's living room.

The principles behind this design should more or less apply in your situation as well. I'm qualifying this statement because polo can actually be a rather difficult look to emulate, unless your living style is already there or at least heading in that direction. By this I mean a sort of "controlled disorder," which is not easy to achieve if it doesn't come naturally.

The look also makes use of lots of upscale, natural materials such as linen, cotton and soft wools. Anglo-American type accessories abound, as do family photographs. A love of amateur sports and the outdoors is evident from the choice of art work and from the accouterments left lying around the room.

Colors should be deep and rich. Greens, reds and blues are favoritechoices, while beige usually serves as the neutral. For patterns and fabrics, it's best to combine paisleys, stripes and plaids with homespun linen, cotton and leather.

Wall-coverings, when used, are supposed to draw upon themes already established in a room. Such is clearly the case with the den in the photo, where a plaid-like pattern

from Wall-Tex's 108 Nottingham Place collection echoes the upholstery on the armchair.

I don't like to describe interior designs in gender-based terms, but this is very clearly a man's look. As such, it asks for large-scaled furniture, preferably Anglo-American in its styling.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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