Art can inspire a room's design makeover

The Baltimore Sun

After years of wishful thinking, we finally have the money and time to refurnish our master bedroom.

It's an exciting prospect, but now we're frustrated by our inability to decide on a color scheme.

Even choosing a headboard has proved difficult. We need something dramatic to get us past this "designer's block." Any suggestions?

There are good reasons why professional interior designers have a background in art history and architecture as well as in the decorative arts.

That's where a lot of our ideas come from.

Interior design magazines are typically the first place homeowners turn to when seeking inspiration for a makeover.

Plenty of good ideas for style and color can indeed be had from those sources, but design mags do tend to feature whatever's trendy.

You won't find what you're seeking in the local furniture store or in the usual how-to books. But a visit to a museum might prove helpful.

Consider, for example, how the color palette of a favorite artist or painting might be adapted to a residential setting.

For looks that may be less fashion-conscious and more quirky, I recommend consulting books on art and architecture. One great creator of fantasies is Jeremiah Goodman.

I specifically recommend Jeremiah: A Romantic Vision. This retrospective of Goodman's long career as an exceptional illustrator of interiors is published by powerHouse Books.

Jeremiah, as he is known in the design world, has composed watercolors and gouaches of actual rooms as well as imagined settings.

The example I've chosen was inspired by a painting by Francisco Goya (1746-1828); Jeremiah is also paying homage here to the Spanish artist's palette, as seen in the deep red walls, bronze area rug and black-and-white printed bed curtains and window coverings.

The result is a dramatic, sophisticated and timeless setting. It's certainly not the sort of thing you'll find in the latest edition of a popular design magazine.

Perhaps you'll want to consider a similar fabric treatment in your master bedroom, though not necessarily in that color scheme. And maybe the overscaled, upholstered headboard will inspire you to at least make a start.

The project should get easier from there.

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

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