Design may be simple, but not skimpy


June 20, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

Q: Because I'm tired of dark furniture and heavy carpets, I'm thinking about redoing the dining room of my home in a brighter and more casual style. Can you suggest some affordable designs that won't leave the room looking as though it's part of a weekend get-away house?

A: The relaxed and airy atmosphere you're striving for isn't hard to achieve on a limited budget. The trick is knowing how to create a sparse look that doesn't suggest skimpiness. You'll also need to make a fine distinction between informal elegance and stiff formality.

Such a design involves a lot more than furniture, especially since there are not going to be many pieces in your redone dining room. You must pay close attention to the walls and the floor. They're of crucial importance in visually enhancing the room's size and thus making it appear more open and cheerful.

Perhaps this photo will offer inspiration. Note the few furnishings in the room. The wrought-iron-and-glass table and the natural wicker chairs, all simply styled along classical lines, are also affordable. Instead of being covered with a fancy carpet, the floor was painted in a faux marble pattern consisting of black and white, dark green and apricot.

Described in the abstract, the room might be thought of as part of a summer home. But as you can see, the combination of elements produces an elegant and appropriate design for a year-round house.

The wall-covering is a major reason why the room appears so casual yet properly put together. The pattern suggests the look of ceramic tiles with painted arches and floral decorations. It's from the James Seeman "Interlude II" collection.

The room would look very different -- and less complete -- if it

were without the pedestals, topiaries and classically inspired lamps.

Any fabrics introduced into a space like this need to be of simple materials such as cotton and linen, though textured silk might be nice too. I would also suggest a minimal window treatment. Draped panels over a wood or metal pole would be consistent with the overall effect.

Keep in mind that the boundary between casual elegance and traditional formality can be thin indeed.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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