Step-by-Step Decorating

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Step-by-Step Decorating

Q. We are building a house in a beautiful subdivision with Tudor style homes. I love the outside of the houses, but I can only imagine floral teapots and blue and yellow floral draperies. Right now, we are still debating about floor plans. 

Some of them have a “gathering room” combined with the kitchen and breakfast area. I love the idea of having a cozy family area for my children near me while I’m cooking, but that means more decorating that has to coordinate. Can you give me some step by step instructions so I won’t go wrong?—S.S.

A. The first thing to know is that home styles are compilations of historical periods and our modern preferences. I call this look “European Manor.” Charming and simplified styles from accross Europe combine in rooms that have these key elements: tall ceilings, wood floors, charming cabinets, stacked stone, good lighting, and superb function.

Tall ceilings call for tall chairs. Wood floors require coordination of cabinet, furniture, and floor finishes. Choose an undertone, and be sure that all have that same “glow.” Tudor homes have significantly smaller windows for the square footage than other styles of homes (particularly neo- classical and Mediterranean), so use drapery to frame, not cover. Long draperies are excellent to offset hard surfaces of table and cabinets.

altSimple panels on poles will work, but here is a design that is a fresh interpretation of Old English style: box pleated valance with nearly floor length jabots swooshed over a holdback. Solid linen with contrasting monogram in slightly daring color combinations such as Cottage Re /Teal, Banana Cream/Cordovan, Citrine/Grey, Pumpkin/Aubergine (brown purple). Each of these pairs coordinates with a wide range of wood tones and vanilla/brown wash cabinets. A third color can easily be added in the seating.

Here is an example of a coordinated group of trendy fabrics for upholstery and drapery. This look is cozy enough for Tudor, isn’t it? Again linen plays a key role in linking wood with fabric. The subtle colors ginger, nutmeg, and tobacco all have a similar orange glow to unify the patterns. Always look for tints of your colors in the “neutral” elements. Cabinets are available in many cream or vanilla finishes with a range of glazes. Chose a glaze that works some magic with your fabrics. 

altYes! Start on fabrics and paint colors right away! Look at this modern kitchen. Organic color ranging from copper to sage unifies the style. Notice the English floral arrangement is simple and straight forward, appropriate for today’s lifestyle.

Next, seating needs to be planned for function. Don’t be fooled by the scale of furniture within vast furniture showrooms. Ask for help or use an online room planning tool to see where to place furniture. The taller the ceiling, the taller the chairs should be. If the seating is against the wall, it can have a straight back. If it floats in the room, make the chairs have somewhat rounded corners.

altThe tighter the space, the more this is necessary. Go with 33-in. tub chairs in a tight spot. Tell your builder exactly what size the table will be and where it will be placed so that a ceiling light will be properly centered with the table (not the window or room). Center individual chairs with the fireplace. If centering isn’t possible, use unmatched chairs. Select a small rug to fit within the space between chairs and fireplace that has a different amount and size of pattern than the chairs. The seating area and drapery will be different in amount of color and pattern.

altWhatever color or motif that needs repeating should be used on the table setting or rug. Use recessed lighting or pendants to direct light. Add an electrical outlet in the floor for a lamp in the seating area. To recap, use organic color, charming style, and straight forward function, and you will have an updated look appropriate for the kitchen/ gathering room of your dreams.

Note: We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Answers provided by Tanna Espy Miller, who has operated her award winning interior design practice for 23 years. You may also contact Tanna at 615/ 601-0552.

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