Today's rule: Suit yourself


December 06, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Today, there are so many different interior styles that it can be very difficult to choose a specific look for one's own home. But this wide range can be quickly narrowed by keeping in mind the single most important criterion for deciding on a design. The best look is always the one that's most appropriate to your taste, your space and your budget.

That might mean an elegant '90s adaptation of art deco, or it might be a stylishly relaxed combination of hand-me-downs and repainted and slip-covered flea market finds. But whatever you do, do it to suit yourself.

The setting shown in the photo may not conform to the image of a professionally designed interior. It's certainly eclectic, with pieces ranging in style from the classicism of the gilt mirror to the country-like furnishings and fabrics. But this personalized vision of a bedroom sitting area does succeed by any standard.

Let's look at how it was assembled, starting with the smokey blue and ivory checked fabric used on the ruffled seat cushions of the cane-backed chairs and on the Shaker-inspired wood settee. Along with the rustic, striped rug, the Glenisla Check fabric from Laura Ashley provides an interesting counterpoint to the formal lines of the room's architecture. It also contrasts in a pleasing way with the scrubbed and painted pine furniture and the glass-fronted cabinetry.

The aim here was not to duplicate a textbook design, but to create a composition that expresses an individual set of preferences. The trick is making sure that the whole thing hangs together. An eclectic setting is fine; a jumble of mismatched elements isn't. This is not a typically American look because the airiness of the room results from the high ceilings, tall windows and delicate moldings. Those configurations are more closely associated with English interiors, or at least with old European-derived town houses on the East Coast.

More than anything, what we see here is an example of world design. Like every other contemporary art form, interior design now reflects influences from many different periods and cultures. In that respect, my profession has become just as internationalized as banking.

The public has known for some time that it's perfectly OK to transplant a favored style from one region to another. Thus we see Southwestern-type interiors in houses on the shores of Annapolis. And if that's all right, there's certainly no reason why a classical look cannot be introduced in today's smaller and architecturally bland spaces.

Again, the point is to design a room in a way that's personally pleasing. Don't be dissuaded from doing that just because someone may tell you a certain style is "wrong" for a given space.

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