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Draperies can help frame wall-to-wall windows

June 28, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT /Copley News Service

Q: The whole front wall of our living room is windows, floor-to-ceiling, and I don't know how to deal with them. I know I don't want vertical blinds - too office-like - and we don't want to block the light and the view. Also, can I put furniture against the windows as if they were a wall? Our decorating scheme is fairly traditional. How would side draperies work?

A: Side draperies are a solution as traditional as your decorating scheme. The only problem is, they are like a chandelier without a dimmer switch: they are either on (open) all the way, or off (closed). That's OK if you don't have to contend with glare or energy lost to such a wide expanse of glass. Tied back, like the billowing side draperies in the photo we show here, they can form an elegant frame for the view.

In this room, thanks to the handsome wood framing, the window can be handled as if it were just another wall. Here, it supports an arrangement with a lamp table and chairs. The designers (from Southern Accents) have even hung a work of art - the magnolia wreath - on the "wall," a gentle note of demarcation between the inside of the room and out.

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If your window-wall is not blessed with woodwork, you might consider installing a low, tailored cafe curtain on a decorative wood rod from wall to wall between the side draperies. Then you'd have a logical background against which to work a similar furniture arrangement.

Q: I recently purchased a condo with a loft. The wall of the loft is about 3 feet high and is drywall. When you look up at the entrance way, this wall is not very attractive. I am trying to make it more interesting. How do you suggest I decorate it? I thought about some gold border paper or a wall hanging.

A: I vote for the hanging. A high wall like yours is a ready-made place to show off something spectacular, say, an heirloom quilt, tapestry or even an imposing painting or poster, matted and framed to look important.

Q: I have white paint on my living and dining room walls. I would like to change the color to make the room more homey and cozy. The room is 15 feet by 20 feet, has a fireplace and is L-shaped with a sunken living room. There is a wrought-iron railing separating the spaces. I have bright red carpeting, a black-and-white stripe couch, black-and-white (toile) love seats. Dining room (furniture) is cherry; the chairs have black seats with a small, white dot. I thought of black walls with white crown moulding, and my husband looked at me like, "Are you kidding!" There is a lot of light in the room.

A: No, I don't think you're kidding at all, considering how far you've already come with your black-white-and-red color scheme. This highly charged, totally dramatic setting you've created is the perfect background for an equally dynamic person. Let me guess that your own coloring features a dramatic contrast between your skin tone and the color of your hair and eyes. In the old "seasonal" color system, you'd be called a "winter," as opposed to the other seasons, who have softer skin, hair and eye colors.

Black, white and red is about the liveliest color trio you could conjure. Perhaps that's why your husband's uncomfortable with the idea.

It's also sophisticated, energizing, blood-stirring - about as far as you can get from the "homey, cozy" look you mention.

Like you, I'd thrive on the contrast of black walls, white mouldings, red rug and black-and-white prints. But you might have your general scheme and keep your husband from hyperventilating, too, if you choose red for the walls instead of stark black. Look for a cool - that is, blue-based - red. Nothing tomato-y, nor leaning toward orange. Only a red that really crackles can stand up to polar opposites like black and white.

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 copleysd@copleynews.com.

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