Q: I am going to redecorate my living and dining room, and I'd like to change my style from casual country to something more sophisticated. Any usable ideas from the latest royal house to open to the public, or is it all too grand for commoners? Thanks.
A: With home decorating the boom area in home sewing in the United States, perhaps the opening of Buckingham Palace will provide some trends, and the grand royal style of decorating will find its way "across the pond" to "the Colonies." The excitement of this first peek by tourists has piqued everyone's interest. The rooms included on the new Buckingham Palace tour, although called the State Apartments, are those used primarily for official entertainments. Visitors won't see the queen's private rooms or other personal rooms used by the royal family.
The rooms on the tour are large and at first glance seem quite bare, stripped of the masses of flowers and formally dressed guests and liveried servants who really bring the rooms to life. Disappointingly, even the dining table has been removed for the duration of the tour.
Even so, there are a few style ideas I noticed for the do-it-yourself decorator. First, the walls and drapery are both fabricated with damask material in solid colors: green in the Green Room, red in the Throne Room, yellow in the White Drawing Room, where the walls are painted white. No printed zTC wallpaper or floral fabric.
In almost all cases, the rugs are highly patterned Orientals. The fabric-paneled walls are surrounded by gold moldings, as is virtually all the artwork.
Draperies are lavish and always trimmed with fringe and tassels. Cushions, seat covers and upholstery are also in a complementary silk damask. Any decoration, of course, is worked in fine needlepoint.
Having made the tour, and notwithstanding the impressive art collection, the Throne Room and the view of the back garden (nearly 40 acres), I believe a bit of music, fresh flowers and a semblance of the formal table setting would do much to improve the atmosphere.
Madeline Hunter is the former craft and sewing editor at Seventeen magazine.