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Furniture no longer has to match

The Baltimore Sun

Today's design scene presents new challenges and rewards for non-professionals.

That's because coordinated sets of furniture have all but vanished from the market, leaving it up to homeowners to put together their own furniture selections and room designs.

The opportunities are exciting, but the practical considerations can be daunting.

For example, many furniture shoppers probably wish for the return of the matching bed-and-night-tables combination.

It eliminated the difficulty of finding a type of table that would go well with a particular style of bed.

And the pair of tables included in the matched set were usually large enough to accommodate books, magazines, a clock-radio and a glass of water, as well as a reading lamp. That's not necessarily the case with the night tables now sold in many furniture stores.

A bed with a rectangular upholstered headboard is all I've got so far for the bedroom in my new home. I'm looking for night tables and a chest of drawers, as well as fabric for the headboard. A mix of styles would be to my liking, but can you suggest a general design direction for me to take?

Since the style of your headboard will work with many types of room design, I suggest you first choose the color and pattern of the fabric.

That, in turn, can set the direction for the rest of the room.

Let's assume you prefer a somewhat contemporary look, with furniture pieces that are functional as well as attractive. And then keep in mind that the night tables don't have to match the chest of drawers or even one another. That scenario can include at least one night table in a style quite unlike the usual.

How about a butler's table --with or without wheels? It can be a clever bedside choice, not only for its looks but also because a butler's table will be big enough to hold all the items I listed above and then some.

However, I would also recommend that you measure the height of your mattress and headboard. The night table should be a comfortable height for reaching from the bed, as well as in scale with the height of your headboard.

You might also get some additional furnishing ideas from Decorating Ideas That Work, a Taunton Press book written by Heather Paper. It's an excellent guide, by the way, to selecting and placing furniture in every room of the house.

A mix of classical styles - some with a contemporary spin - can produce a beautiful bedroom.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with general interior design questions can e-mail her at rsca@ritastclair.com.

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