Turn a stair landing into a cozy sitting room or library

October 09, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: What should I do with the large landing at the top of the stairs in our condo? I thought of putting in a sleeper sofa and making it a guest "room," but it's in the middle of all the upstairs hallway traffic.

A: Good catch: Guests should neither be seen nor heard from till the host has a chance to slip down for that first cup of coffee. Besides, as a guest, I'd sure hate to have to sleep in the midst of the morning traffic in anyone's household, including my own.

My best advice about that landing area: Turn it into a daytime space, maybe a little library or a comfortable sitting room outside the second-floor bedrooms ... just as architect Rick Renner has done with the pictured large top-of-the-stair landing.

Notice how everything is organized on and near the area rug, which is sized just right for the space. It contains all the furniture that comprises the new "lounging" area, from the sofa (which actually could be a pull-out sleeper) to that pair of highly collectible Wassily-style chairs.


Old and valuable - or just old - the furnishings, nonetheless, have a beauty that's more than surface-deep. They are recycled from earlier lives and given new looks with fresh upholstery and slipcovers. This prompted author Jean Nayar to feature the setting in her new book, "Green Living By Design" (Filipacchi Publishing).

Her point - rethink and reuse - is doubly valuable in dicey economic times. Recycled furnishings are inherently green in more ways than one. They stay out of the landfills - great for the environment - and they leave more long green in your decorating budget, which is great for any family these days.

Q: What's old, Victorian and coming around again?

A: Are you ready for mauve? You read it right: mauve, rhymes with Jove, and by Jove, it's peeking over the horizon of today's forecasters' charts of up and coming colors.

Mauve was the Victorian's color of choice, for both themselves and their homes to wear. Never mind that it's an almost undescribable color - not violet, gray-pink or rose, although it evokes thoughts of all three simultaneously.

Today's revival involves a "dustier, rosier, subtler" color than the mauve rampant in the '70s, according to fashion foreseers Hermine Mariaux and Patricia Bouley, who shopped the recent Maison et Objet market in Paris and brought their observations back to members of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) in New York (

More highlights from their reports:

o The color gray is not going away; it's going silver. Mariaux called it "the glamour kid of gray," showing up in "acres" of mercury glass, textiles and even bed ensembles where it's paired with turquoise.

o Chalet style. What may be "the last gasp of the country look," it draws its luxe looks from the chichi ski resorts of Europe. Think faux and real fur throws, faux and real taxidermy animals, boucles and homespun textiles, plus cashmere everywhere, including sheets and pillows.

o "Cabinets of curiosities" are emptying motifs like fossils, feathers, animal bones and other found objects of nature onto fabrics, show-off shelves and display tables. There's a parallel interest in human anatomy, too: hands, feet and a few parts that don't belong in a family newspaper, Mariaux reported with a chuckle.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

The Herald-Mail Articles