Fabrics can help update a room

Try changing rugs and upholstery

Design Line

October 14, 2007|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Tribune Media Services

I'm tired of looking at the floral-patterned rug and the damask silk-covered sofa and chairs in my living room. Its overall color scheme is gold, red and blue.

How can I give the room a more contemporary look without getting rid of everything in it?

I especially don't want to redo my dark wood floor.

You probably won't need to toss the whole setup in order to achieve the effect you want.

But you certainly should replace that rug and re-cover your furniture.

Choose a neutral color scheme - possibly consisting of off-white, beige and camel - for the larger surfaces and for the covers of the sofa and chairs.

And I recommend mustard, lavender and chocolate brown as accent colors.

Sound exotic? Maybe even weird?

Trust me.

With the right placements and proportions of those colors, you can transform your tired living room into a stunning and elegant setting.

You can start by experimenting with some swatches of small-patterned fabrics in the colors I've suggested.

Spread them around the room and see how they look.

Some patterned pillows can't accurately be described as accents. Because of their number and the variety of their colors and patterns, they qualify more as focal points.

As for a replacement rug, its color should be one of the neutrals from the palette you choose for the room.

It should contrast with your dark wood floors but blend with your upholstered pieces.

Good luck and have fun.

With cold weather on the way, we're considering heating part of our home with a freestanding stove.

We're planning to install the stove in the corner of a room with a wooden floor, so something small and minimalist in design would be preferable to a decorative focal point.

Any suggestions?

I was hoping you'd say you wanted a potbelly stove. It's not hard to find one at a flea market, and after it's been polished you'd have a good-looking heat source for part of your home.

But since you prefer something minimalist, I would suggest a contemporary-style stove featured in Fire Places, a practical guide to stoves and fireplaces, for indoors and out.

This book, written by Jane Gitlin and published by the Taunton Press, shows how a stove can be safely and unobtrusively placed in the corner of a room.

You should surface the section of your wooden floor nearest the stove with a noncombustible material that sparks and embers won't ignite.

It can be stone, brick or any fireproof material that would be used on a hearth.

Consider tiling the walls nearest the stove to shield them from burns and discoloration.

However, a fireproof finish isn't necessary on an adjoining wall if the stove is properly insulated.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with general interior design questions can e-mail her at rsca@ritastclair.com.

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