Ask the Experts

By staff March 1, 2004

Q. I want to add a little "wow" to my neutral family room. What are the new power colors for spring and summer?

A. Jacqueline Cantwell, Robb & Stucky, has some bright ideas. Mango is a great new color and it's so suitable for our Florida homes and lifestyle. For the coming months I see the emphasis on solid colors and rich texture, not so much on prints or busy patterns. Yellow is being translated into buttery gold. Also, wax-bean yellow is yummy.

In the blue ranges we're moving back to teal, but it's a quiet, slightly muddy teal, not the jewel tone of the past. Greens are very strong, especially lime and chartreuse, which are fun. Asian oxblood is an artful choice. For this year's ASID Showhouse dining room, I went for a Zen green on the walls and oxblood for accents in a stone jar, lampshade and flower arrangements. We're seeing oxblood on walls, too. Don't be afraid to select a bold wall color to punch up a neutral room. And don't forget black; a low black or dark wood coffee table or sideboard anchors a space and gives a room depth and drama.

Texture will definitely give your space a significant "wow" factor. Think of raffia, sisal, seagrass in area rugs, baskets, mirror frame or woven for chairs. The more textural surfaces you can bring into a neutral room, the more interest the space acquires.

Q. My collection of ceramic and porcelain animal figures looks forlorn in its display case. How can I incorporate the figures into my decor?

A. Gary Ficht of Pedlar's Village Interior Design says do what the resourceful Victorians did: Take those pigs and puppies off the shelf and onto your dining table for your next dinner party. I've set my own tables with my personal collection of kaleidoscopes. During a long meal, people love to pick them up and play with them; it's always a great conversation starter. I've also set tables with model cars, dolphins and goldfish, shells and big pieces of coral. A collection of glass paperweights or mercury glass on a table with lots of candlelight is unbelievably elegant. Ideally, your little animals should be worked in the round with no flat backs since they'll be seen from all angles. Experiment with other elements such as flowers, ribbon, candles and baskets. The idea is to express your personality, give guests something interesting to see and to use your fine collectibles whenever you can. The things we love should be part of our lives, not hidden away gathering dust.

Q. What are some Asian accents I can add to my contemporary living room with white walls, a taupe carpet, and upholstery pieces in shades of ivory, oyster and taupe? The coffee table and side tables are glass. I guess it's obvious I don't like a lot of color.

A. Lolly Baerveldt of China Trade says, I'd incorporate a metallic sheen with a four-panel folding floor screen in an Asian geometric pattern of varying tones of beige with highlights of silver, gold or copper. You could achieve the same effect with a metallic table lamp. Silk pillows in shades of caramel, cream, taupe and pewter really work because of the texture. A giant-I'm talking 24 inches in diameter-carved and pierced Chinese plate in neutral hues on a silver stand would be great on a mantel, in a fireplace opening or displayed on a credenza. For accent furniture that makes a quiet statement and complements contemporary furnishings, I'd suggest a Korean apothecary cabinet in dark brown with antique matte finish brass hardware. And in a modern space I love the look of big stone jars tucked into a corner, especially the one decorated with calligraphy.

Filed under
Show Comments