A little padding goes a long way By Design: Renovation makes a chair more contemporary and allows for eclectic combinations.

By Design

January 14, 1996|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

It's time to redecorate the living room, but I can't afford to replace all the upholstered pieces. The old-fashioned Lawson-style chair is something I want to keep, although it will probably need to be restyled. My budget does permit me to indulge in a new carpet, a few lamps and a table or two. How should I proceed to make the room look more contemporary?

Fulfilling that objective will generally require a softer and, believe it or not, a more upholstered appearance. Retaining and restyling your Lawson-type seating shouldn't prove an obstacle.

Assuming that your seating is skirted, I recommend that the skirt be replaced with a fully upholstered base. Alternately -- and this is the option shown in the photo -- you might upholster the legs in order to give the chair a new and different look.

If you've never used the services of a professional upholsterer, you might be amazed at the transformation that fabric alone can bring about. Straight backs and slender arms can be given a curved shape, while thin cushions can be rounded out to enhance their comfort as well as their appearance. Such alterations will also give a contemporary look to an unfashionable but still perfectly serviceable Lawson-style chair.

As for the other elements in your living room, I suggest you start by choosing patterned carpeting. Something geometric might be the right choice. If you think bolder is better, the leopard-like pattern shown in the photo could prove an inspiration. Besides ++ camouflaging wear and soiling, this carpeting makes an assertive statement consistent with contemporary design.

And since this style is often based on eclectic combinations, I wouldn't hesitate to introduce a table with an iron or brass base and a glass top. Topped with an Oriental lamp and a few traditionally styled and elegant accessories, such a table will introduce needed brightness to your living room without adding gratuitous glitz.

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