Bravura Colors, Bold Patterns Turn Small and Shy Rooms into Extroverts
Rose Bennett Gilbert
Q: Our den is very small, only about 10 feet by 12 feet. We need it to be a guestroom, too, so the first thing we bought was a sleep sofa that fits on one side of the room with the TV against the other wall. There’s barely enough space for a cocktail table. We need advice on how to make such a tiny space look bigger and better!
A: Bold ideas can make up for a lot, including square footage. Conventional wisdom holds that one should treat small rooms lightly, literally, by choosing white or pale colors and small patterns to keep from overwhelming the space. Forget conventional wisdom. Let small spaces make big statements. You just have to be gutsy enough to go bold, using dramatic colors and extroverted patterns.
Study the small study we show here, borrowed from “Money-Wise Makeovers” by editor Jean Nayar (Filipacchi Publishing). The room may be limited in size, but it has unlimited appeal now that it’s been done up brown — dark brown — from the floor to the ceiling. That’s brown, too, making the limited space seem almost unlimited, defined only by the crisp moulding at the ceiling and on the shuttered window.
In its light upholstery, the sofa (no doubt a sleeper) becomes the center of attention, embraced by a precisely hung quartet of palm tree prints. Instead of the usual coffee table, a pair of sturdy baskets stands ready to support drinks, dishes and feet. Then spiral easily off to the side when it’s time to unfold the sleeper. The tall, self-contained corner shelf is also smart, offering ample storage in minimal floor space.
As you need to factor overnight guests into your makeover, consider mounting a pair of swing-arm reading lamps on the wall over each end of the sleeper. You might also install a room-darkening window shade under those plantation shutters. You won’t see the shade by day, but by night, guests will welcome the enhanced privacy — and ability to sleep past dawn.
Q: We are remodeling our kitchen and I’m dead set on having cherry cabinets. The problem is, our old floors are oak and still in great shape. Can I stain the oak to match the new cherry? Or should we bite the bullet and replace the floors, too?
A: In this, the Golden Age of Recycling, don’t even think of sending beautiful, serviceable “old” floors to the landfill! Hardwood is almost forever, you know. Think of the historic houses you’ve toured, walking through on wood floors that may be 200 to 300 years old and still going strong.
I say, keep your good old floors on the job and update your attitude, instead. Repeat after me: “No matchy-matchy decorating. No matchy-matchy decorating.”
Matching colors, including wood tones and wood species, is such a yesterday approach. Today’s secret word for successful decorating is blend, blend, blend, especially in a kitchen.
With all those cabinets marching around the walls, you run the risk of boring yourself to death aesthetically. Kitchen designers have found the antedote: “unfitted” kitchens. This means back to the days before architects dictated, well, matchy-matchy cabinets, countertops and other kitchen fixtures.
Refinish your existing oak floors and bring in your new cherry cabinets. The different woods will coexist as happily in your kitchen as they used to out in the forestland. For more assurance, click on www.hardwoodinfo.com and ask for “American Hardwood By Design” — a free booklet wherein you can read what top American designers really think about “matchy-matchy” decorating.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of “Manhattan Style” and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at creators.com.
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