Question: My living/dining room combination has beige carpeting, white walls and natural-colored draperies. The sofa and love seat are covered in a navy-blue cotton fabric with very tiny red tulips and beige leaves. Two wicker chairs have natural-colored cotton cushions. The dining chairs have dark-beige velour cushions, which look terrible. The only colors in the room are found in wall hangings and floral arrangements. I also have a fruitwood table and china cabinet. No red, please. My budget is limited.
Answer: I'm sorry you don't want to use red; I think the wicker chairs would look stunning if they were painted a lipstick red.
Alas, here's another way to give your room some spirit. Paint your walls a very soft sky blue, and paint the ceiling and woodwork white. Trim your draperies down the sides and across the bottom with a navy- and sky-blue trim.
Accent your sofa with white, sky-blue and champagne-beige cushions. Upholster the seats of your dining chairs in navy, sky blue, beige and white stripe fabric. And for fun, accent your table with bright red--oops--napkins and place mats.
Sorry about those red place mats. I've just got to pick up the red in that sofa fabric.
Q: I have putty-colored walls in my dining room. I would like to paint them a bright color but need your advice. My drapery is a carnival of colors: red, green, bright yellow, pink and blue. The print is a primitive design of animals and flowers. The floor is dark wood topped by a navy and white area rug. Would bright red walls be too much?
A: The bright red walls with a navy and white carpet would give your room a different feeling than I think you're after. I would prefer to see the walls painted a soft shell pink and the ceiling painted white. The pink should be soft enough to allow the bold draperies to dazzle the eye. You don't want to overwhelm your dinner guests.
Q: I'm trying to persuade my husband that we need a high-backed wing chair. Can you help?
A: No single piece of furniture adds grace and dignity to a room quite like a beautiful high-backed wing chair. Placed in the corner of a library, alongside an ottoman and a standing lamp, a wing chair provides the perfect spot for reading--whether the treasured book is by Charles Dickens or Jackie Collins.
Or maybe it's Mother Goose. Child-size wing chairs have the clean lines and charm of their larger counterparts, and they offer a special place for the younger members of the family to sit. The children who have visited my country home are always eager to set themselves in my smaller-scaled Queen Anne wing chairs, which are covered in green velvet.
But my favorite way to see wing chairs is in pairs, preferably near a fireplace. Two chairs placed next to each other set a very friendly and inviting scene.
If your study has a Georgian motif, a pair of wing chairs covered in red damask would be stunning next to dark-green striae walls. Add an English country look to the setting with draperies and sofa upholstery of a favorite chintz, perhaps one with red roses and green leaves tied in sky-blue ribbons on a soft yellow background.
Use that soft yellow and sky blue on sofa pillows too. If you feel daring, deep-green or lipstick-red carpeting would really make a statement. The more conservative may want to choose a soft beige carpeting, accented with Oriental throw rugs. Place those rugs underneath a black lacquer coffee table or a butler's tray. Finishing touches would be a pair of Oriental lamps on the end tables and shiny brasses in the fireplace.