The emphasis is on height and light Design: Room with a high ceiling in Mediterranean-style home should have simple window treatments.

December 07, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

We're moving to a Mediterranean-style home in a warmer climate. The new house is no palace, though it does include a living room with an 18-foot ceiling. Deciding on wall decorations and window treatments is proving to be a problem, mainly because the room contains two sets of windows. The lower ones are about 7 feet tall, with an array of clerestory windows about 3 feet above them. We've already purchased large-scale furniture pieces in a mixture of styles. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

My simple answer is to dress your windows simply. The treatment can still be somewhat inventive, however, since the room's contemporary look will allow for plenty of formal as well as informal options.

Please note that the suggestions I'll offer are meant to apply only to the lower set of windows. The smaller, or clerestory, windows on the upper part of the wall should be left completely uncovered, both to let sufficient daylight enter a high-ceiling room and to introduce decorative balance on a tall window wall.

Don't use heavy drapery on the 7-foot windows, which I assume are longer than they are wide. Covering them with fabric will produce a somber effect entirely out of keeping with a Mediterranean-type living environment.

Your aim instead should be to emphasize the height of these windows so that they appear in proportion with the room's overall dimensions.

Side panels for each of the windows will help create this desirable balance. That was the approach taken in the room shown in the photo, where a Jim Thompson hand-loomed silk fabric hangs from a fabric-covered wooden pole. Because this luxurious silk blends with the setting's monochromatic color scheme, the treatment contributes to a somewhat formal look.

A more informal appearance can be achieved by installing sets of tall shutters. And if your window opening is fairly wide, you could use floor-length side panels casually swagged across a wooden or iron pole attached at the top of the windows.

Wall decorations are mainly a matter of personal taste, so it's a bit difficult for me to make specific recommendations in that regard. Scale, however, must always be considered, and I can offer some advice on that matter.

If you like big paintings done in a colorful, non-objective manner -- and that would be a good choice for a contemporary interior -- then I suggest you cover part of only one wall with such a strong display. More than that may well lead to visual clashes, with the paintings canceling out one another.

I'd consign small floral prints to the attic -- if your new home has one -- along with any other objects, such as plates, that may have looked great in a room with an 8-foot ceiling. They'd just look lost in that cavernous living room you'll be decorating.

Since your home is Mediterranean in styling, you might consider hanging a few large tapestries. They'll add textural interest and needed softness to the expansive wall surfaces while also complementing the room's architecture.

Mirrors with dramatic frames are another possibility, as are larger-than-usual wall sconces like those shown in the photo. In this lovely room designed by Jay Miner, bracketed candelabra-style sconces give off a warm and subdued light while adding decorative flair to the wall on which they're hung.

Pub Date: 12/07/97

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