Planning needed to redesign odd space


August 29, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: My long and narrow living room has sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace. I want to give the space a more casual and colorful design, but I don't know where to start, particularly with my limited budget. Any suggestions?

A: A good start has already been made. You have taken the essential first steps of identifying the kind of atmosphere you want -- casual and colorful -- while also acknowledging the

budgetary obstacles to achieving it.

Now you need to address a few other factors -- most importantly, the specific style you prefer and can afford. And as you mull over that decision, keep in mind the room's awkward configuration as well as your own functional requirements.

Clearly, a successful redesign of a difficult space involves a lot of careful planning, whether one's budget is fat or lean. I have found, however, that some of the most imaginative interiors are produced by individuals of modest means but with unusually adventurous spirits.

Once you have answered the functional and stylistic questions, turn your attention to the color scheme. That's often the most powerful ingredient in a recipe for redoing an interior.

The long and narrow room shown in the photo owes its attractiveness mainly to the choice and placement of colors. You may think it's difficult or even impossible to visualize a color array when it's reproduced in black and white. But from the depth of the values in this photograph, it really isn't hard to tell that the deepest color appears on the mini-blinds and in the large insert on the floor, while the far wall adjacent to the window has been painted in a lighter color.

Variations of colors and shades are particularly important in a room like this one, which includes large expanses of white. Big, bright splashes can make an exciting addition in such a setting. And whatever bold color is chosen for these large areas should then be picked up in the furnishings and accessories.

Armstrong's new Color Passions vinyl flooring material, with huge red inserts in this instance, was selected here because the client liked its vivacious and casual look. Bright red mini-blinds were then installed on the window behind the sofa. Similar shades of the same color can be seen in the large abstract painting and in the solid and patterned cushions on the wicker and rattan furniture.

That's an appropriate choice of materials, by the way, in a tropically styled setting that makes uninhibited use of color. But I don't think you should worry much at this stage about the look of the furniture. Assuming that your current pieces are functionally sound and in scale with the room's dimensions, they will probably continue to be acceptable in a more colorful environment. Given your budget limitations, I suggest you focus your initial efforts on the room's color and patterns. Later on, you can think about changing the furniture.

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