Horizontal accents tame stripes' raising effect

April 11, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT/Copley News Service

Q: Our new house has striped wallpaper in the hallway and living room. The paper is very pretty - and, I think, expensive - so we don't want to replace it, but something doesn't feel right. The living room has tall ceilings and the stripes make it look even higher. We've hung a couple of big paintings, which helped some, but we're wondering if we should add wide molding around the top of the wall. Would that help?

A: Yes, especially if you paint the molding one of the darker tones in the wallpaper to exaggerate its horizontality, in counterpoint to the vertical stripes. As you've already deduced, stripes carry the eye upward, leading you to the optical conclusion that the ceiling is higher than it really is. For a look at your options in molding sizes and shapes, click on, go to "Product Choices & Considerations," then "Woodwork."


Or, you might achieve the same effect by using a coordinating wallpaper border. In the photo we show here, a wide floral border blends with the colors in the striped paper, effectively halting the stripes' upward thrust at a comfortable height. Both these wallpapers are from the Village "Classic Ambience" collection, so they have been carefully designed to work together. As you would be adding a border after the fact, look for a floral that picks up the colors in the striped paper already on your walls. With a common color denominator, florals and stripes are a can't-miss combination. (Consult your wallpaper dealer about the type of paste you need to make sure the border adheres properly over the other wallcovering.)

Q: I grew up with a wall clock my parents had that I've since learned was designed by George Nelson. Instead of a regular clock face with numerals, it had a circle of 12 balls stuck on metal rods to mark the hours. Somehow it got tossed when we cleaned out my mother's apartment. Can you tell me who made it? I've been haunting flea markets and garage sales, hoping to come across one like it.

A: Evidently, you are not alone in your affection for that George Nelson classic from the l940s. The original manufacturer, Howard Miller, has reintroduced the aptly named "Ball Clock" as part of its Retro Collection of other Nelson designs of those times. See for yourself at


Want to discourage overnight guests from staying overly long?

Then ignore the observations offered by Ann Sundet, guest designer for HGTV's "Decorating Cents," who cautions would-be thoughtful hosts to avoid sofa sleepers with "a thin mattress and painful metal bar" that pushes into the backs of their sleeping guests.

According to a recent study of America's sleep habits, a miserable hide-a-bed is the chief complaint of overnight guests everywhere.

If you take pity on the rest-broken, who must "struggle to get out of a sofa bed - (after) a bad night's sleep," look into a new idea, said to be the first so-called "sleep number" mattress ever available in a sofa-bed. Air-chamber technology allows the mattress to be adjusted at the push of a button to the "sleep number" - the exact firmness - each sleeper finds most comfortable. Introduced by major bed retailer Select Comfort (, the mattress is featured in sofas by Berkline, a manufacturer known for recliners and other motion furniture, so they're also nice to live with by day.


How do you make any room a real winner?

How-to expert Lou Manfredini says, "Just paint it." But you have to be quick. Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man" and D-I-Y star of the "Today Show," Manfredini is urging home decorators to grab a paint brush and enter the 2005 "Blooming Color" contest. Between now and July 31, send in a "before" and "after" photo, and a short essay about your painting project and you might win $1,000 worth of fix-up products and a spot in a national Ace Hardware ad. Check it out at

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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