Upholster furniture to accent its lines Design: Handsome sofa should be re-covered with fabric appropriate to its style.

December 28, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

We recently inherited a handsome reproduction of Federal-style sofa manufactured sometime in the 1930s. The piece needs to be re-covered, however. Would it be appropriate to use chintz or a floral pattern? The sofa is to be situated in a living room that has no particular design, though we're probably going to replace a few pieces of furniture as well as some of the lamps.

What general design direction should the room be given?

I doubt that a classically styled sofa with a chintz or floral covering will mesh comfortably with any sort of room design. Even a woven fabric will give such a sofa an awkward appearance. These are the types of mismatches one encounters in dubiously redecorated hotel lobbies or in trendy living lofts.

However, it might be OK to proceed in this manner if your intention is to make a rebellious design statement. But even in this case, I must warn you that such gestures tend to become tiresome rather quickly.

My advice is to accentuate the handsome lines of your inherited sofa by choosing a covering that won't distract the eye. That doesn't mean you have to resign yourselves to a dark fabric or one without any decorative character. In fact, a multicolored stripe might well be an attractive and appropriate option, since classically styled pieces are often enhanced by boldly patterned coverings. Combinations of white, yellow and beige can look quite wonderful when contrasted by dark wooden furniture frames.

The accompanying photo may offer you some ideas for related designs.

The crisp, multicolored stripe seen on the arm of the sofa comes from Brunschwig & Fils. Something like this "Longwood Moired Stripe" would be quite suitable for your own sofa as well as for most contemporary seating pieces that draw their stylistic inspiration from the Federal period or from Greco-Roman design.

Note that this particular covering goes well with the classically inspired table and lamp alongside the sofa.

As part of the new look you'll be giving your living room, you may wish to buy at least one metal piece for use as a lamp table. In my opinion, a stainless-steel base with a marble top would go particularly well with your sofa. Then you could add a simple column-shaped lamp with a shade that allows for the right kind of lighting -- either for reading or as ambient light.

This type of table-and-lamp combination will give the living room a more contemporary look. And that's quite all right, since, as I've already noted, the Federal style marries nicely with classically rooted present-day designs.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

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