Exercise latitude in choosing kids' wallcoverings

December 04, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We want to put something stimulating on the walls of our twins' bedroom. My husband is in favor of a magazine clippings collage, mostly nature scenes and animals, which would be fun and colorful. I'm not quite sold. Maybe you have a better idea? P.S: We don't want cartoon characters.

A: Consider giving your sons the world ... exactly what actress Julianne Moore and her writer-director husband Bart Freundlich decided for son Caleb's room in the West Village of Manhattan.

The pictured wall-to-wall world map is from (approximately $150). It goes up in eight panels and comes with a dry-erase marker, so you can encourage your sons to write on it.

Talk about living up to a name, we borrowed the room view from "Style and Substance," a new book by Margaret Russell and the editors of Elle Decor magazine (Filipacchi Publishing). Caleb can learn substantive information like the world's capital cities simply by staring at the wall. Mom and Dad stylishly picked up the blue of the world's ocean in the rug and added cool furniture (that's an original George Nelson cabinet under the stuffed lion).


Q: Is it OK to install an oak floor in our new master bath? Our contractor says the moisture will warp the wood. We're redoing a turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian. What other kind of flooring would be appropriate?

A: Ceramic tile, especially the little hexagonal porcelain mosaics that were ubiquitous in early-20th-century baths.

But in the early 21st century, you have the minor miracles of technology to thank for new freedom of choice. Developments in protective surface finishes have made wood all but impervious to the spills and splashes.

You still can't leave puddles standing around for days on a wood floor, but think of this: Indoor bathrooms were invented in Victorian times when retrofitting a bath into an existing house often meant converting a spare bedroom, hardwood floor and all.

Want more data? Click on, the hardwood industry's site, and look under "Care & Repair."

Q: What can you tell me about the designer who does big, kind of surreal faces and classic architectural designs, mostly in black-and-white? At an auction recently, I fell in love with some plates with a woman's face in them, but they were out of my price range.

A: No surprise, if you are talking about Piero Fornasetti, the Italian artist, engraver and designer who has given the domestic arts a kick in the imagination since the 1950s. Collectors then and now can't get enough of his wry take on classic motifs and Escher-esque designs, which titillated a U.S. design industry that was still all about "pretty" decorative accessories.

Not that Fornasetti eschewed pretty. In fact, he was fixated on the face of one beautiful woman, a 19th-century soprano named Lina Cavalieri, whose features appeared on many of the staggering 11,000 Fornasetti-designed items that were produced in the 20th century - everything from ceramics to wallpaper and rugs.

Piero Fornasetti died in 1988, but his son, Barnaba Fornasetti, has taken over his "graphic vocabulary" - to quote writer/art consultant Mariuccia Casadio - and is reissuing many of the designs his father made famous (

Keep your eyes out and you might get lucky enough to find new-old Fornasetti designs resurfacing to startle a new generation of collectors. For example, Roubini Rugs offers show-stopping area rugs with classic Fornasetti designs woven in wool (

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style," "Hampton Style," and five other books on interior design.

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