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DECORATING ADVICE : Sitting Pretty in Stripes


Question: We have a traditional dining room. The English chairs have ball-and-claw feet. Our Persian rug is ruby red with beige and light-blue accents. Our cream wallpaper has a damask texture. Our draperies are cream colored, and the under curtains are white. What color would be best for the seats of the dining chairs?

--Mrs. Eben Williams

Answer: A stripe is an excellent pattern for dining chairs. You should not be restricted to picking up one of the solid colors of beige, ruby red or blue for your chairs. Why not use one of the delightful striped patterns that are on the market?

A small blue and gold stripe on a creamy vanilla background would be charming. Or try a ruby-red and vanilla stripe. Then braid the sides of the dining seats in gold.

Q: We just bought gold carpeting for the living room, which we want to complement in gold, red orange, white and black or brown. How should I distribute these colors among the draperies, sofa, two chairs and walls?


A: Why not color your walls a chocolate brown with white woodwork and a white ceiling? Use orange, brown, green and gold on a clean white background on your sofa.

Your club chairs can be red orange. Draperies can be sparkling white under a valance of the print to match your sofa. Line the valance in gold.

Author's notes: The family room is truly all things to all people. Every member of the family finds different uses for it. It's a hobby room, a game room, a sewing room, a TV room.

The den also has different functions in different homes, including library, study room, guest bedroom, even business office.

All this versatility presents certain challenges in decorating. Today's active family requires a room that can take a lot of use and abuse, so the family room and den furnishings must be tough and practical.

If your family room is connected with your kitchen or dining room, you may wish to coordinate the colors of the two rooms.

If the family room is in a room with few windows, you'll need light, bright colors. Or if it is a porch or a sun room that gets a lot of light, this will have to be considered, too.

Are you decorating a completely new room? Then your choice of colors depends on your taste. Do you have a family room or den that is the resting place for the furniture rejects from other rooms or from relatives? Then your use of color is even more challenging.

You'll have to unify and coordinate, renew and restore a possibly unrelated assortment of furniture, fabrics and carpet.

The greatest difficulty in choosing a family room or den decor stems from the nicest thing about these rooms: They are used by the entire family, and they are used for informal living. You may take each person's color preferences into account.

But since only one color scheme can be used, some compromise will probably be in order. If the room ends up with a warm, welcoming color scheme, everyone will be happy.

I'd like to emphasize that last point. This room, by its very nature, must be warm, friendly and relaxed if it is to succeed. If the kids can't flop down on the floor and play games, if parents can't kick off their shoes and have a snack while watching TV, then the family will never feel at home in this room.

A room with a pale, subdued, monochromatic color scheme would lend this feeling. And casual furnishings are a must.

The right accessories are the key to good decorating. They should reflect the interests and personalities of your family.

If sailing is your bent, hang a sailboat over your family room sofa; if horticulture is your interest, hang an array of pressed flowers in colorful frames on the walls.

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