Break away from beige with style

April 25, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT/Copley News Service

Q: I hate our bedroom. It has beige grasscloth walls and beige wall-to-wall carpeting. I tried to brighten it up with an orange duvet and patchwork pillows on the little loveseat, but it just looks more and more tired. I've decided that my "country rustic" phase is past and that I need a fresh new look. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

A: You are suffering from the "beige blahs," a self-inflicted wound caused by a combination of fear and inertia. Beige is easy. It makes no demands on your decorating skills - or your emotions. At the same time, beige is like a middle-of-the-road politician: no comment, no commitment, nothing to get excited about.

There are those who would argue that beige can be a good thing in a bedroom, where restful sleep ranks high on the wish list. But other, more engaging things can happen in a bedroom, too, so we side with the more-extroverted, who thrive on interesting colors and patterns. As the bedroom we show here proves so ably, you can break out of your beige inertia with great style, without going to extremes - nothing raucous enough to keep you awake at nights.


It features another color scheme that's as easy to work with as beige, the can't-fail combo of blue and white. New York designer T. Keller Donovan has smoozed the great go-togethers into a bedroom that's as classic as 18th century Delftware. Deconstruct the energy in his blend of blue-and-white patterns and we see that they almost - but don't quite - match on the loveseat, the standing screen "headboard" and the toile skirt on the white-covered bed. Even the Chinese garden seat and the over-scaled framed prints acknowledge the overall color scheme without losing their own identities.

That's why almost everyone loves blue-and-white: it almost always succeeds, even in the most timid of hands.

Far from timid, Donovan's final strokes of genius include that seriously big green plant and the sensuously soft shadings ("Silhouette" by Hunter Douglas) that keep the wide modern window from intruding on the bedroom's classic grace. (For more on the window treatment, click on

Q: My mother insists that she has read somewhere about curtains and chair covers that are knitted to look like sweaters. I'd love that look for our tiny little library - what could be cozier! Could I make these myself? I'm Irish - so is my mother, of course - and we both knit like fiends.

A: As always, there's more to it than just wrapping up your windows or favorite club chair in a cozy sweater. Unlike a beloved cardigan, these knits may be fused to a cotton backing to provide the stability that allows yarn goods to be sewn into serviceable slipcovers or curtains. The end result is very new and totally charming.

One resource, Donghia Furniture/Textiles, a high-end designer showroom, imports the knits from Metaphores, the European weavers. For more information, click on

Q: I want to do over the study, as a 30th birthday surprise, for my very opinionated husband. He dresses preppy and is very particular about his clothes. In fact, I don't even dare buy him a tie. So you can imagine how afraid I am to pick out wallpaper and fabrics! Can you steer me to a safe harbor?

A: I can at least steer you to two smart harbor masters: you won't go wrong with Ralph Lauren, the man who reinvented preppy and turned it into a billion-dollar concept.

And now - just in time to solve your problem - comes another collection of classics from - of all sources - Brooks Brothers, that redoubtable 187-year-old fashion house that has been called the single greatest influence on men's fashions in America.

Brooks is teaming up with another celebrated American company, F. Schumacher & Co. - a youngster of 116 years - whose Gramercy brand is producing the collection of wallpapers that features shirting stripes, tie silk patterns, even gray flannels with the Brook's Golden Fleece symbol.

Classic comes out of the closet! It seems a perfect fit for your husband. Call 800-332-3384 to find out where it's available near you.

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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