Q: We recently moved into our first home, a medium-size city apartment. Since we have no particular style preference, we need your advice on the type of furnishings that would be appropriate both in our present home and in some future residence. We do seem to gravitate toward simple designs, whether modern or traditional.
A: Good for you! I'm so pleased to see that you take future considerations into account when making major purchases. Most people, unfortunately, buy for the moment, picking up bargains that will either be made somehow to fit another environment or simply be thrown away when a move eventually does occur.
My first bit of advice is that you avoid over-scaled pieces and select those with a more conservative design and color scheme. With that approach, the odds are greater that your furniture will fit comfortably into another space and be easily integrated into whatever specific style you may later develop.
Look for furniture with classically inspired lines. Almost any kind of architecture can absorb these sorts of pieces. And I'm not necessarily suggesting that you buy antiques or expensive period items.
Traditional styles such as Regency and Directoire and the work of designers like Adam and Thomas Thorpe are obviously based the classical proportions of Greek and Roman antiquity.
But you don't have to invest in the products of great designers of past centuries to create the desired look. Numerous examples of contemporary or art-deco styling reflect the same classical influence through their use of exaggerated columns and pediments.
The interior shown in the photo is sharply defined by the series of columns at its periphery. The classical motif is expressed as well through the plain colors and the chairs, which are reminiscent of the ancient Greek klymos model. Designed by Tigerman McCurry of Chicago, this setting was, by the way, one of the winners in the 1992 project competition sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers.
I'm not proposing that you install columns in your apartment's living room. Rather, I chose this example as a way of encouraging you to do some research on Greco-Roman antiquities, as well as on their many neoclassical interpretations. You'll find that such designs are best enhanced by straightforward stripes and geometric patterns, along with simple cottons and linens. There's no need for luxurious fabrics at this stage of your domestic life.