Feathering the nest

Janice Mcculley smiles when she recalls the customer who came into her Bolton Hill hardware store seeking a distinctive paint shade for his bar.

"He wanted to paint it Ravens purple," says Mcculley, whose family has owned Belle Hardware for 33 years. "So we custom-mixed a purple color. He just loved it."

With the NFL season under way, many Ravens fans are eager to show off their purple pride. Expect to see all manner of team memorabilia in basements, dens and family rooms across the region.

But sports-themed decor can be tricky. Too many team posters and logos, and your abode can resemble a dorm room. And let's face it: A giant foam finger hung on the wall isn't exactly fine art.

So how to pay homage to your favorite team in ways that are tasteful and chic? By incorporating color and a few well-chosen pieces, say design experts, it's possible to achieve both style and function — for game day and every day.

"Less is more," says interior designer Laura C. Kimball, president of the American Society of Interior Designers, Maryland chapter. "You don't want a room to feel like a collection box."

Kimball, who heads LCK Interiors in Perry Hall, has designed her share of "upscale football club rooms" and "man caves."

Last year, for the Maryland Home, Garden & Living Show, she created a whimsical "man cave" inspired by the Ravens and Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven."

The Victorian-style retreat featured a gilt-framed TV and a Warhol portrait of Poe in purple tones, interspersed with the team's colors. The designer even reworked a few of Poe's famous stanzas: "I need a space, a nest, a cave to watch the Ravens, I implore. This I ask and nothing more!"

Undoubtedly, the Ravens' purple kaleidoscope helped to fuel Kimball's creative energy. Indeed, color specialists say that purple has the power to inspire.

"Purple is very complex," says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, which forecasts global color trends. "It's not a straightforward primary color like red, blue or yellow. You mix two colors to get it, so instantaneously there are opposing feelings. It's the calmness of blue, with the excitement and dynamism of red."

The Baltimore native said that last spring, when Pantone unveiled its palettes for 2011, the dazzling array of shades included several purples: Concord Grape, Dahlia and Wood Violet.

Eiseman, who selects the 10 top fashion colors twice yearly for Pantone and Women's Wear Daily, said the color "is often chosen by very creative people, or those who are just a bit different. "

Having a boldly colored team uniform like the Ravens' purple can also prove a powerful emotional catalyst that could help win games, she adds.

That said, displaying purple in the home can make some traditionalists wary. "People worry that they'll be criticized," says Eiseman, who now lives on the West Coast. Yet she stresses that decorating is not about rules and regulations. "If you love the color, and if it suits your personality, surround yourself with it."

Kimball said feathering your Ravens-inspired roost with panache should start with something personal.

Whether it's a fabulous couch, an accent wall with eye-catching wallpaper or beautifully framed photographs of your favorite players, Kimball advises you to "fill the room with your most valuable pieces" — including those with sentimental value. "Make that piece the focus, and go from there."

But she cautions against excess, which can create what she calls the "rowdy stadium effect." Even in dramatic or eclectic spaces, subtle touches can be effective, says Kimball.

"When you walk into a room, it's great to get an overall feel [for the team] and be able to identify that. But it's not screaming at you."

To create a royal Ravens retreat, we asked some local home experts for advice on incorporating some key room elements, from seating to accessories.

Sofa Yes, Julia Roberts has shopped at Nouveau Contemporary Goods. So has Ravens player Domonique Foxworth. But if celebrity name-dropping won't bring you into the Belvedere Square store, maybe the lilac couch will. Dubbed "The Colby," the two-piece sectional is curvy and made of cotton flannel.

"It's very soft," said co-owner Lee Whitehead, who also runs an in-house interior design firm with store partner Steve Appel. "It's perfect for watching the game."

If a purple sofa is beyond your comfort zone, Nouveau carries other fun, modern furniture and accessories. Envision sleek black-leather seating, jewel-toned glassware, funky bar sets and original art. The store's luxe pillows — quilted velvet, suede — look delicious in grape.

The Colby purple couch. $2,109. Nouveau Contemporary Goods, 514 E. Belvedere Ave., Baltimore; 410-962-8248.

Flooring A solid purple rug might be too much, but what about an abstract expressionist rug splashed with violet? The Alex Cooper gallery in Towson has thousands of hand-knotted, woven rugs from all over the globe — Tibet, India, China, Nepal and beyond — lining the walls and floors of the 60,000-square-foot showroom.

"Oriental rugs are our specialty," said Jamey A. Levinson, assistant vice president of the family-owned company, launched in 1924. "But we have antique rugs, Art Deco, traditional and contemporary designs."

One popular line, Momeni, offers hand-tufted New Zealand wool rugs in sophisticated motifs and striking color palettes. Ravens fans may relish color-block patterned rugs in amethyst and geometric shapes in deep plums.

Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc., 908 York Road, Towson; 410-828-4838.

Paint At Belle Hardware in Bolton Hill, Mcculley and her son, Mickey Fried, along with their employees, are custom paint experts adept at creating one-of-a-kind shades. To celebrate the Ravens' new season, Fried used a quart of "Do It Best" Quality Paints, made by Sherwin Williams, in River Blue. He added magenta pigment and a hint of white. The result: a swoonworthy purple.

Homeowners can also find Ravens purple at Home Depot, which has a partnership with Glidden called Team Colors. The line offers Baltimore colors in purple, red, gold and black. Go to mostcolorfulfan.com.

Belle Hardware, Bolton Hill Plaza, 240 McMechen St.; 410-728-4844

Accessories Photos of Ravens players in sparkly frames or a snazzy purple vase would work. But so would something like a certain mysterious bird that has been flying off the shelves at The Store Ltd. in Cross Keys.

"It's been quite popular," said co-owner Betty Cooke of the inky black mechanical Raven, crafted from metal mesh. Dozens of tiny purple lights illuminate the interior, and its eyes glow crimson. "You plug it in, and his beak opens and closes, while his wings go up and down," said store manager Michael Ruddie.

The shop — which Cooke and husband Bill Steinmetz opened in the 1960s — also carries other items that show team spirit, including a hand-carved wooden raven from the Philippines and purple rubber vases.

Mechanical raven, $75 at The Store Ltd., The Shops at Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Road, Baltimore; 410-323-2350.

More resources

Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone, colorexpert.com, eisemancolorblog.com. Pantone View Home + Interiors 2011 is a forecasting book that provides color and trend direction for home furnishings or interior spaces. Go to pantone.com.

Robert McClintock Studio & Gallery, 1809 Thames St., Fells Point. 410-814-2800, robertmcclintock.com. The self-trained photographer/artist, creates photo digital illustrations that showcase iconic city sites. "Paris on the Patapsco," for instance, incorporates glorious shades of purple and is sure to liven up any room..

The Baltimore Ravens, baltimoreravens.com. The team's website has officially licensed products that include plaques of Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco, as well as a $6,100 purple pool table.

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