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DECORATING ADVICE : Try Prints, Maple for a Casual Touch


Question: We are redoing our living room around our new sectional couch. We have one recliner and one traditional swivel chair. The new couch and chair are slate-blue with subtle cranberry pin stripes. The carpet is beige. The older chair needs to be recovered to match.

We have two different styles of end tables at either end of the couch, both traditional maple. The woodwork has a maple finish. There is also a maple console piano in the room. We would appreciate ideas for the window coverings, throw pillows and a chair covering for the old chair. We'd like a casual look.

Susan Ernst

Answer: Cover that older chair in a print, maybe one of cranberry-colored roses with pale-beige leaves on a light slate-blue background. Use the same print for the throw pillows and give them ruffled borders. Balloon-shade valances at your picture window can have the same print as well. Find some glass oil-style lamps in a cranberry color to place on the end tables. Decorate your walls with some handsome turn-of-the-century prints, framed in maple and matted in soft rosy cranberry.

Q: I need a change in my very small library. To make the room look larger, I painted the walls soft green, and I've used gray carpeting and a gray and white pin-stripe sofa. There are two windows in the library. Would you give me a few ideas on the color and upholstery for furniture?


A: Small rooms do not necessarily have to be painted light colors to make them appear larger, although your one shade of gray will give it unity. For snap, I would paint the walls a very rich cranberry, since cranberry and gray look well together. On your gray and white pin-stripe sofa, use some accent cushions of cranberry, piped in navy blue. The windows can be treated with cranberry Roman shades and edged in the blue. For lamps, try rich gray Chinese ginger jars, with shades of soft-gray silk. Hang a large lighted portrait on your sofa wall.

Q: Are wing chairs still being used in modern decorating?

Helmet Swan

A: The wing chair is a favorite of mine, and I've used it in many different decorating projects. When placed to the left and right of a fireplace, wing chairs upholstered in a flowered print, stripe or damask can bring harmony to a traditional living room.

I like to use wing chairs in pairs; for some reason a wing chair by itself looks too lonely.

To create a traditional interior centered around the wing chair, cover the walls in a dark-green stripe. Use a white semi-gloss enamel on the woodwork and mantel. Upholster the sofa with a woven green damask. For the covering on the wing chairs at the fireplace, choose a quilted rose print of red, green and sky blue on a white background. If there are two club chairs, cover them in a rich aqua blue and let them flank the green sofa. For draperies, a rose print would look best. And for carpeting, believe it or not, scarlet red would be my choice.

Wing chairs can be handsomely placed in a colonial New England interior, too. Paint the walls mustard gold and the trim cream. Install a fireplace mantle of rich pine. On the floor, place an Oriental rug alongside a camelback sofa covered in soft slate-on-blue tweed. Cover the wing chairs in a gold and cream plaid, and place a butler's-tray coffee table beside one of them. If you have a pair of armchairs, upholster them in a cranberry, gold and cream print, one that will complement the Oriental rug.

Q: We have a black-leather sofa and love seat in our living room. The carpeting and draperies are cream. Recently, I painted the bottom half of our living room walls a camel color and the top half milky white. A black and gold border with a pink and blue floral accent divides the walls. Also, I papered one wall in a black, white and camel stripe. I love the effect, but the room is still lacking color. What do you suggest?

Geraldine DeVincentis

A: I believe the problems are the black-leather sofa and love seat. In a living room with a flowered border and a beige, black and white striped wall, they must look rather cold and industrial, as if they belonged in an office. I suggest you recover your sofa in a soft-rose velvet, the color can be similar to the rose in your wall covering. Accent the sofa with some deep-blue and light periwinkle-blue throw cushions. Cover your love seat in a coordinating fabric to your border. Go back to the shop where you purchased the border and the wall covering to see if a coordinate exists. If a coordinate does not exist, cover the love seat in a woven periwinkle blue damask. Your drapery can be blue damask trimmed with rose fringe.

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