Prenuptial Decorating: Get it Down in Black and White
By: Rose Bennett Gilbert
Q: This is the second marriage for both of us, so we’re trying to merge our furniture in our new apartment, which we want to be modern. I’m planning to have slipcovers made for the sofa and one armchair of mine, but my fiance has two black leather chairs that I don’t know what to do with. They are very “guy.” I need advice.
A: Here’s your answer in black and white. Literally.
The pictured room sums up a smart way to go in a contemporary-feeling room: Set a black-and-white color scheme. You’re half there anyway, with those two black leather chairs, since there’s really no way to cover them successfully — slipcovers tend to slip around on leather.
Black and white is a fail-safe color scheme, especially with contemporary style furniture (this is all from Century Furniture, centuryfurniture.com). What makes this room work so smashingly? One stroke of genius color, bright apple green, and attention to details, such as the black welting on the white sofa slipcover.
Black and white is also an easy color scheme to pull off. No worries about matching/blending colors. But you do have to be disciplined and not go wandering off into other colors that diffuse the stark contrast.
To keep the scheme crisp and crackling, you must stick to black blacks and white whites, so they’ll play brilliantly against the one other major color you choose — which also must be bright and strong in order to hold its own against the polar opposites of black and white. Lipstick red will work; ditto, shocking pink, OSHA yellow (the color they use to mark highway lanes) and, as you see here, screaming green.
Q: We have a narrow entry hall. It needs something, but I don’t know what to do with it.
A: Mirrors! There’s your one-word solution. A large mirror on opposing walls will make it into a grander entrance.
But nearly every entryway also needs a place to drop keys, mail and such. You could hang a shallow shelf under a mirror. Or hunt up a piece of mirrored furniture — a narrow console or a slim table that can fit in your space. You get a double benefit since the mirrors create the illusion that everything is twice its size.
By the way, mirrored furniture is back in style, reflecting — ahem — a return to glamour in decorating. Moreover, mirrored furniture works with virtually every other style of furniture and in any room in the home. From the most traditional sitting room to the bedroom and bath, mirrored commodes are often used in pairs, as end tables or flanking a bed.
Most mirrored furniture dates from the 1930s to the 1960s, so you’re talking vintage rather than antiques. Many of the original pieces came from well-known French designers, including Andre Arbus, Gilbert Poillerat and Maison Jansen, a design house dating back to the late 19th century.
Recently, new pieces have started showing up at the giant furniture market in High Point, N.C., aimed at designers and home decorators who want relief from too much “brown” furniture. Larry Laslo is one top designer who’s been playing with mirrors since the turn of this century. And to great effect:
“Adding mirrored pieces brings in light, reflection and energy,” said Lorraine Wohl of Elle W Collection antiques in New York (read more of her interview with style writer Leslie Gilbert Elman at designnewjersey.com).
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