Q: I am about to begin changing the decor of my living room from early American antique oak to a more contemporary style. Does the oak furniture have to go all at once, or can we create a contemporary feeling and still replace the furniture gradually?
The carpet is camel-colored, and the walls are a mushroom color. I would like to begin with a dark-rose chair and some black accents. What do you suggest?
A: By all means, do not get rid of your antique oak furniture. Antiques enhance a contemporary decorating scheme.
Select contemporary upholstered furniture that is comfortable and tailored, and use your antique oak furniture for accent pieces.
For a color scheme, use mauve, pink, pearl, gray, white and black. Begin by painting your walls, trim and ceiling chalk white. Bleach your hardwood floors.
Use a pearl-gray flannel on your contemporary sofa and other large pieces of furniture. Use a mauve-pink fabric on small chairs. Accessories can be made of black glass and black porcelain, along with chrome.
Q: I would like to cover the sofa in my living room. I have printed draperies--blue birds, yellow flowers and green leaves on a red background--and don't know if I should use a print for the sofa.
I also have a printed carpet--a blue vine trellis on an off-white background with a yellow, blue and white border. Two club chairs are covered in a red, yellow and white stripe. My walls are painted white and the ceiling is pale yellow.
A: I would suggest a solid yellow sofa piped in blue. Use the matching drapery fabric to make throw pillows for the sofa. That red background fabric used as pillows will certainly perk up the sofa. On the glass coffee table, place a round, white ceramic bowl and fill it with red and white carnations.
Q: We have a colonial home with a decorating problem. Our ceilings are low, and I don't know whether it is proper to use poster beds in the bedrooms. I know the colonists used lots of poster beds, but I don't know how to place them. What decorating ideas do you have for a colonial bedroom?
A: The colonists used lots of pencil-post beds of the four-post variety. The beds were often made of simple posts to fit into the given spaces. Colonists who had bedrooms without fireplaces outfitted their beds with hanging fabric to keep out the cold winter drafts.
I love pencil-post colonial beds, as well as New England-style bedrooms. The simpler the look, the better. Colonial floors look best when covered with only a simple hooked rug at the bedside. The room should be sparsely furnished. Remember, the colonists had little time to sit around the bedroom fireplace reading the latest novel.
Q: Please tell me how to solve a dilemma! I have three children, triplet boys, and two bedrooms. I might knock down the wall between the rooms, making it into a small dormitory for the three of them. Should I have a bunk bed and one single bed? I would like the color scheme to be navy, yellow and white.
A: I wouldn't use a bunk and a single bed. The boys will surely fight over who sleeps on top and who has to get the single bed. Instead, I would place two beds with bolster backs and fitted spreads into an L-shaped arrangement in one corner of the room; it would look like an L-shaped sofa. Facing this arrangement, place the third bed, so that it has a sofa/daybed look.
The spreads can all be made of navy corduroy and piped in bright yellow, bolsters included. For the floor, install broad yellow and navy carpet. Paint all the wall space and the ceiling white.
If you can, work the dressers, desks and open shelving into a built-in wall, and paint the furniture bright yellow with white knobs and trim.