De-emphasizing dull and drab twin beds

Q: We're planning to use some of the furniture from a previous home in our new master bedroom. It's a large space with tall ceilings and a fireplace. How can I make it look bright and inviting with two nondescript mahogany twin beds and a matching dresser?

A: Take the focus off those nondescript pieces. Depending on the room's configuration, this can be partly achieved by placing the beds against a wall that isn't directly opposite the entrance. Also, try to emphasize the fireplace wall, as shown in the photo. By adding a profusion of decorative objects, you'll fix attention on the room's natural centerpiece, the fireplace.


A writing desk would look good beside the hearth. Or, better still, because your ceilings are high, situate a tall secretary on one side of the fireplace and a chair-ottoman combination on the other.

Balance is the key factor in the setting shown here, designed by Anne and Karyn Tarascoff. Notice how the secretary is complemented by a tall clock, while a decorative planter with palm is used to obscure the view of a seldom-used closet filled with out-of-season clothes.


The designers also took full advantage of this room's height. They hung an ornate chandelier (which would further divert the eye from uninteresting furniture), and painted ribboned and floral garlands on the ceiling, cascading down the walls in each of the four corners.

Admittedly, this is not an ordinary bedroom. But it is full of ideas that can be applied in even the most mundane settings.

In a large space, furniture and fabrics must be chosen in the proper scale. Itsy-bitsy pieces should be relegated to another part of the house, or at least grouped together to avoid a scattered, confused appearance. A collection of plates, for example,should be put in one place in order to make a coherent design statement.

The same criterion should be kept in mind when adding objects to the fireplace mantel and other surfaces in the room.

Remember, too, the higher you hang artwork and mirrors, the taller the ceiling will appear. And that's definitely a plus in a room full of large furniture pieces and collectibles.

The walls and floor don't require much pattern in a setting as interesting as this one. Here, a Du Pont Stainmaster Luxura carpet by Patcraft features only two colors: a pale green field surrounded by a lemon meringue border. The walls are painted in a soft yellow, with all the trim and woodwork done in bright white.

This kind of color scheme would make a lively backdrop for a room whose main pieces are made of mahogany -- even if they're somewhat nondescript.