Dear Debbie: I inherited a few pieces of furniture from my aunt’s midcentury modern collection when she drastically downsized to a tiny apartment. She has decided to travel the world, or at least parts of it, and has changed her living requirements at home. Lucky me. But not sure how to make the turquoise chair work with my rather bland decorating. — Sasha
Dear Sasha: Lucky you is right. Furnishings and accessories that we inherit don’t always suit our style. But sometimes they teach us something about ourselves that we might not have known. Instead of thinking about how the turquoise chair doesn’t work, ask yourself if you like it. That’s the key. If so, experiment with ways that it could fit.
It is natural for most of us to be timid about color, especially strong color. That chair demands to be noticed — just like a red dress or bright yellow shirt says “here I am, look at me.” There is nothing wrong with strutting your color. And it can be done in such a way as to not overwhelm you or your space.
That red dress would be more flattering with a pastel pink scarf to soften the effect. What about white pants with the yellow blouse? And for your chair, in a cheerful and stylish bedroom, pale tones of buttery yellow on the walls and cool shades of green on the bed soften and balance the strength of the turquoise as shown here from TheSpruce.com.
Decorate around a bold color with neutrals taking up most of the wall space. The bedlinens are also neutral, but the glorious turquoise pops up as part of the design on the curtains and a throw cushion. Until you are used to the chair, drape a light yellow or green blanket over the back. Or add a cushion. Enjoy your inheritance. I bet it will soon be your favorite piece.
Dear Debbie: I am a bit of a hoarder, not crazy yet, but I do have difficulty finding ways to make my rooms look reasonably neat. My partner has just moved in and I feel a crisis coming on. How do I manage the mess? — Lillah
Dear Lillah: Well, you know what I’m going to say to begin with … do a purge. Painful at first, but once you take a good look at what you are saving you will discover that you just don’t need or want all that stuff. And what a perfect way to welcome your partner.
Next is to create places for storing and viewing what you really do care for. A good set of shelves, one for each room, will get you started. Group together collections that tell your story … you like the pieces you have saved for a reason. Whether it’s books, miniature cars, old perfume bottles or postcards, display them so you can enjoy the memories.
If it’s something larger like posters, paper a wall with them. Is it shoes? Line them up along the bedroom wall. I’ve never understood the need to hide away what we hold dear no matter what it is. Then ask your partner to do the same.
Choose shelving that enhances your stories. Floating shelves promote an airy feeling, good for a minimalist vibe. Wooden shelves with wrought iron brackets are country style. Built-in bookshelves garner a more formal facade, offering a feeling of permanence. Next pick a color to paint the shelves if they aren’t already finished.
Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to [email protected] Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis, facebook.com/thedebbietravis and debbietravis.com.