Borrow Her Favorite Ideas
A fashionable palette and great furniture elevate this cottage to extraordinary. Tips from this designer lead the way to your own great look.
Borrow Her Favorite Ideas
While this house might not possess a lot of space, it's big on inspired approaches to decorating and design. Owner and interior designer Cindy Dunaway always had a clear idea of how her first house should look. "I kept all the fabric samples I loved in a bag and was just waiting for a chance to use them," she says. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she likes.
But to give her dreams a resting place, Cindy needed to find the house itself. This 1940s charmer, located in one of her favorite Atlanta neighborhoods, won out. "I looked at a lot of houses, but this one had the most potential," she says. "Its bones were good. It just needed some cosmetic changes."
Symmetrically placed bookshelves and corner cabinets make a pleasing framework for Cindy's furniture. Details such as crystal lamps, painted end tables, and intricate prints and pillows invite attention.
Just the Right Look
Using variations of robin's-egg blue, cream, and taupe, Cindy transformed the house into a beautiful and comfortable retreat filled with her favorite possessions. She says, "When I moved here, I didn't bring anything in unless it would stay forever. I only use special pieces I love."
Cindy painted the walls in the living room and dining room pale blue, a hue drawn from her oak-leaf drapery and pillow fabric. "All the upholstery in these rooms is neutral, and most of the color is on the walls. Just by repainting, it would be easy to change the look if the mood strikes," she says. She retained the original tongue-and-groove paneled walls, narrow bookshelves, and built-in corner cabinets. Above the chocolate brown sofa she placed handsomely framed English landscape engravings. Rectangular serving dishes, purchased at a housewares store and mounted on wire plate hangers, complete the staggered arrangement. The bookcases and corner cabinets hold displays of additional porcelains.
End tables and a painted chest echo the wall color, creating a tone-on-tone effect. "Painted furniture is a great way to break up the monotony of wooden case pieces, so that you don't always repeat the same finish," Cindy says.
Upholstered dining chairs, bought a few years back and kept in storage until needed, surround the table. Her table and console look all the more interesting because of their slightly different styles and finishes. For Cindy, each room is an album of personal treasures. She says, "Remembering where you found each piece makes it even more special."
An umber glaze enriches the painted chest. Tones of tan and brown balance the shades of blue.
The Importance of Display
White bookshelves act as shadow boxes for displaying photos, books, and china.
Space Saving Console
Because there's not enough room for a full-scale sideboard, this console table provides the extra display and serving space needed in the dining room.
Stylish Table Setting
For a monochromatic centerpiece, this off-white tin container was filled with cream roses. Brown ribbon binds the napkins and trims the glass candlesticks.
Smart Wall Hangings
Pairs of English landscape engravings hang above the sofa. Rectangular platters supported by wire hangers fill out the grouping.
Details Make the Difference
Cindy orchestrated several fabrics and trims in fashioning these jewel-like accents. "I worked around the oak-leaf linen and selected fabrics that contrast with it. Adding a different detail to each pillow gives a custom look," she says. Try some of her other tips for creating your own stash of perfect pillows.
- Start with a pillow made from a patterned fabric that contains several colors you like, and use those colors for covering additional pillows. Include a variety of textures and weaves. Balance a large-scale floral with a smaller-scale check.
- In a grouping, use several edge treatments such as intricate fringe, a half-inch-wide ruffle, or pleated corners. With strips of bias-cut fabric, frame a small center panel, or create a border with decorative tape.
- Think of comfort, and use pillow forms made of the softest down. Smaller trims are always appropriate because when you sit down they're easy on your back.
"Borrow Her Favorite Ideas" is from the January 2008 issue of Southern Living.