Aging bedroom set gets face lift from paint, fabric, imagination

August 01, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

Q: What can I do about a set of matched, fruitwood bedroom furniture in the French provincial style? Even though it looks like a display in a down-market used-furniture store, I can't afford to replace it. But there must be a way to give the room some softness and interest isn't there?

A: There actually are many ways to relieve the tedium of a tired old bedroom furniture set. One of the most effective is to tackle the monotony head-on by breaking up the matched look.

Choose a piece that's particularly in need of a face lift, and paint it in a soft color like celadon green or Delft blue. Then give it an antique finish that will further soften its appearance. Following the same strategy, you might also consider adding a marble top to the night tables. That's not an inexpensive option, I realize, but it will certainly make your bedroom ensemble look a lot more interesting.

Fabric, a natural softening element, offers a host of additional possibilities. Focus your attention on the bed covering, the curtains and the chairs, and I think you'll soon be on the way to a creative re-design.

To help get you there, I've chosen this photo of a dressed-up bedroom that contains furniture similar to your own. The suggestions I made about painting a single piece and affixing marble table tops are illustrated here. The bench at the foot of the bed looks a lot better after having been painted and turned into a trolley.

"Winter Lily," a coordinated pattern from Laura Ashley's fabric collection, is the major statement-maker in this setting. It has been used to produce a canopy while also serving as the throw and dust ruffle. The pillow shams, too, are made from the same material.

Even though you want to introduce some variety in the setting, there's no good reason to destroy the integrity of the French provincial styling. In the photograph, the plaid fabric on the chair and the mini-diamond pattern paper on the walls and ceiling were chosen because they are an appropriate accompaniment to French provincial pieces.

Please note that none of the original matching furniture has been replaced here. Yet the designer was able to achieve a wonderfully fresh look simply by adding a bit of marble, some splashes of paint and lots of coordinated, patterned fabrics.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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