It is possible to create a chintz setting that doesn't suffer from country cuteness

November 08, 1992|By Rita St. Clair

Q: Because I like pattern and color, I'm always attracted to cheerful floral chintz and rooms filled with decorative objects. At the same time, I've got an aversion to the too-cute country look. Given these tastes, can you help me in choosing fabrics, carpeting and wall-covering for a living room that I'm redecorating? I've already decided on a multicolored floral chintz for the window-coverings.

A: My basic advice is to avoid small patterns and to rely on large-scale florals, wide stripes and even paisley. Carefully mixed and properly colored, such a selection should produce a high-styled look that's comfortable but certainly not cute.

In order for a setting like this to succeed, a certain boldness is required in the choice and placement of fabrics. Some of the furnishings also might need to be a little exotic. Perhaps the room shown in this photo will give you some ideas about how to proceed.

Carpeting is a relatively easy part. It can be as straightforward as a plain color carpet bordered with a large-scale design. A more dramatic possibility, suggested by this model from the Stark Carpet Corp., might involve something like a leaf pattern in a diamond shape forming a double trellis. Such a colorful combination of geometry and flora helps pull together all the pattern and colors in the room.

As for the furniture, it's perfectly appropriate to introduce a few painted pieces into this sort of setting, though I would urge caution in their selection. Take care not to gild the lily. Marbleized patterns, for example, will work better than more highly ornamental creations. And even basically conservative English or Continental pieces -- not too heavily scaled and in combinations of wood tones, lacquer and brass -- can be quite stylish.

The walls, too, might simply be painted in a light color with no texture or pattern. A subtle glaze, which will produce a pleasing shadowy effect, will also act as a great background for the kind of look you want to achieve. The size of the room will do much to determine how many patterns you can use, but don't be timid. Since the chintz you've chosen for the window-coverings obviously pleases you, go ahead and apply the same pattern to a couple of pieces of furniture. And amid all these floral depictions, don't forget the real stuff. Leave some space for potted plants and vases of flowers. Unless you include at least a few living things in the setting, it will be a static, stagelike and ultimately boring environment rather than a true living room.

Since you're clearly one who doesn't like minimalist interiors, this redesign project offers an opportunity to fully express your own preferences. Put your favorite decorative objects on display, along with any collection of curios or memorabilia that you may have been developing over the years.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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