Sprucing up tradition in the bedroom


Q: I want to spruce up my bedroom, which contains reproductions of traditional American furniture, including a cherry wood four-poster bed. The fantasy treatments I see in design magazines are all too exotic for my tastes. How can I add some flair without interfering with the room's conservative styling?

A: The photo shows some bedroom furniture which I assume is similar to your own. Much can be done to liven up the look of such a setting, keeping in mind that furniture is only one component in the total design of a room.

Attention should be focused on what designers call the "surround." That includes the walls, floor and windows as well as other surfaces. Application of interesting colors and patterns on each of those areas will give your bedroom an entirely different look. that can nonetheless be kept consistent with the conservative styling of your furniture.

Consider what was done in this model. The walls were painted a medium shade of peach, while the applied moldings and woodwork were colored in a contrasting ivory. Vinelike wallpaper panels in ivory and sage were installed inside the moldings, which act as frames. Unlike a larger and bolder wallpaper design, this treatment creates more texture than pattern.

An oval-shaped needlepoint rug, also with an ivory background, adds interest to the dark wooden floor. The rug's leaves and flowers in peach, apricot, corals and green complement the room's soft color scheme.

Crystal bedside lamps with pleated shades were chosen to contrast the ceramic and porcelain accessories displayed elsewhere in the room.

The windows have been covered with narrow shutters, painted in an ivory that matches the rest of the woodwork. Gently patterned tie-back curtains frame the wooden shutters.

The bed covers and matching bed skirt are made of a simple satinlike cotton fabric colored in a slightly deeper peach than was used on the walls. An elegant double-diamond fishnet canopy and coverlet, both made of ivory-colored cotton threads, have been placed atop the peach bedspread. This combination gives the stately, quiet room some extra interest while remaining consistent with the period styling.

There's nothing new about the look of this bed treatment. It is the work of craftspeople who hand-tie cotton threads in various designs for Carter Canopies in Troutman, N.C. Such typically American handiwork makes a charming addition to an old-fashioned four-poster bed.

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