Meshing Victorian bed, modern room


February 06, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I recently inherited a Victorian-era oak bed that's so fabulous that I have to find a way to make it look at ease in our bedroom. The bed is truly gargantuan, however, and it really overwhelms the box-like room. Would it help to paint over the medium stain of the oak? Is there any other treatment that might make the bed seem more in keeping with its surroundings?

A: I wouldn't tamper with the finish of such a wonderful piece. Instead, you should try to lighten up the room itself and give it a look that's at least vaguely Victorian. Take a cue from the photo, which shows the sort of setting that might be right for your own situation.

One possibility is to install a painted crown molding and wall covering with a small vertical floral pattern. Those additions will add some interesting detail and help make the room appear a bit taller.

Another similar approach involves a coordinated combination of wall coverings and borders, which was the option chosen in the room you see here. Be sure to select a light color for the background so that the eye will be averted from that imposing piece of furniture.

Attention should also be paid to the bedcoverings, since they are very much a part of the decorating scheme. White or cream-color embroidered linens will probably be most appropriate for a Victorian bed, especially if the wall covering has a neutral background. An embroidered blanket cover with ruffled pillow shams will likewise offset the weighty look of the bed and contribute to the airy atmosphere that you should be striving to create.

Whatever color is chosen for the bedcoverings should be repeated for the curtains and any other fabric in the room. Lacy curtains as pull-back panels over decorative shades might be a very effective treatment. So might a curtain of lace hanging straight down from the top of the windows to the sill, accompanied by white linen-type side panels. Metal rosettes as decorative pull-backs would be a fine finishing touch for either of those ensembles.

And as long as you're investing in fabrics, find something simple to serve as the skirting for a bedside table. A small gesture like that will actually do a lot to reinforce the room's Victorian design direction.

The floor ought to be covered in a pattern that will make the bed seem comfortably rooted in the space. Again, a floral would be a smart bet, particularly in a combination of typically Victorian colors such as reds, greens and golds. Something deep and brilliant on the floor will serve to anchor the bed while providing needed depth in an otherwise light-colored room.

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