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Workouts shouldn't rule out comforts


Most exercise rooms, it seems to me, are either boringly formularized in design or else are left-over spaces that have received little or no design attention. Either way, that's a shame. For if a home's occupants are serious about working out, an exercise room can be one of the most frequently used parts of the house.

L So how can such a space be given a lively and original look?

In a small room -- and almost all in-house exercise areas are small -- be sure that the colors are light and the textures relatively soft and easily cleaned. These spaces also need as much fresh air and natural light as possible. Most people would agree, I think, that few environments are more depressing than a dim and musty workout room.

If an exercise area is being newly outfitted, the design of various brands of equipment should certainly be factored into any purchasing decision. Many trainers will tell you, too, that weights and other gear should be friendly to the touch as well as to the eye.

Don't forget to include a console of some sort for tape and CD players in order to help set the pace for an energizing or laid-back session. A mirrored wall is also a must. It will enable proper monitoring of performance while allowing the more advanced fitness fanatics to engage in a bit of narcissism.

But no matter how dedicated one may be, the space still doesn't need the cold look of a little gym. Comfort is always important in a home -- even in this part of it.

I'm not suggesting that a rocking chair should be added, but why why not a lounge chair and ottoman?

Or how about a bench-style storage cabinet that can double as a stretch-out window seat? All that's needed is a foam cushion for the top.

Paneling is usually an appropriate wall covering. The flooring can be in a color similar to the walls, especially if it provides a strong contrast to enameled-white exercise equipment. Tawny rugs with a Berber-type texture will serve as an attractive foil for smooth wood floors and walls.

Finishing touches count for a lot as well. Hang a couple of brilliantly colored posters or artworks and introduce at least one leafy plant. Now the space is ready to use either for vigorous workouts or as a relaxing retreat.

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