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Adding some character

July 19, 2007|Bettijane Levine

Architectural

Interiors

Transforming Your Home With Decorative Structural Elements

Adding some character

Linda Applewhite

Gibbs Smith, $29.95

How many times have you looked at homes in glossy magazines and realized that those beautifully furnished rooms aren't beautiful because of the furniture? It's because they have what Applewhite calls good bones: high beamed ceilings, walls of elegant windows, crown moldings, niches and artistic arches leading from one open area to the next. They have everything your tacky bare-bones tract house doesn't have. Or so you might think.

That's why Applewhite wrote this book. She wants to show owners of more modest homes how to get that high-end effect without a total tear-down. Subtitled "Transforming Your Home With Decorative Structural Elements," this book could be an eye-opener for those willing to explore the fascinating possibilities she presents. What it amounts to is adding character and elegance that looks as if it were built in.

From suggesting raising your ceiling without removing your roof to providing interesting uses of decorative beams, columns, pediments and pilasters, the author proves that creativity and tasteful illusion can be excellent stand-ins for opulence of structural design.

Frame a boring skylight with painted wood and add painted wood slats across the glass, and you suddenly have a custom look that could have been created by a master. Your Ugly Betty window becomes très Angelina Jolie.

Applewhite, a designer in Northern California, perfected her theories while transforming her Bay Area home from what she calls a characterless 1950s tract house to a European country cottage. And she offers photos to prove it.

-- B.L.

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