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Accessorizing with Color
Coordinating Different Furniture Pieces
Designing Dilemma July 2005 - Second Edition

Accessorizing with Color

Dear Designing Solutions: One of the side walls in the family room in our new home is painted blue (it is neither light nor dark blue, something in the middle). We had purchased our sofa 2 years back which is purple/ violet in color. We do not wish to change the wall color. Please suggest some way in which we can make this combination of violet and blue look really good. I would also like to know what color cushions would go well with a violet/ purple sofa. We do not want to make it too multi-colored. Help!!!! Mary

Dear Mary: To solve your blue and violet color dilemma, we have three words- accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

Start with those cushions for the sofa. With a little time shopping in local fabric stores, you're bound to find several print fabrics that use blues and violets together, along with other colors that you like, in the fabric. In fact, take a sample of the wall color and sofa fabric with you to make selecting just the right fabric a bit easier. Many fabric stores offer on-site workroom capabilities, meaning they will make window valances, table skirts and toss pillows to your specifications with the store's fabric.

Next, look for lampshades, wall art, area rugs or crafts that combine blues and violets (even if the colors are not an exact match to your painted wall and sofa) and use them throughout the family room to repeat your color scheme. Add in some strong yellow or pumpkin color as "glue"- meaning use this third color as the accent that goes with both blue and violet and holds it all together. Use the "glue" color to break up the violet and blue in the family room (before it becomes too boring). You can paint the other three walls of the family room in the yellow or pumpkin color or choose fabrics, carpet, lampshades, and wall art that use the yellow or pumpkin as a background (i.e. you can use pumpkin-colored lamps, golden-yellow carpeting or blue, violet and pumpkin-colored print fabric for lampshades and toss pillows.) This should do the trick!

Coordinating Different Furniture Pieces

Dear Designing Solutions: I moved to a brand new home last May. Recently I purchased living and dining room furniture from the same group. However I did not purchase dining room chairs. Is it possible to match chairs from another group with what I have purchased already? My furniture was discontinued and the chairs to the group were all gone. When I purchase the chairs should the wood colors match exactly? I thought about purchasing two upholstered chairs for the host and hostess with the remaining chairs all wood? Do you think this would work? I need help desperately! Sharyn

Dear Sharyn: You did the right thing by not buying the matched dining room chairs! When all the furniture in the living and dining room comes from the same line and from the same manufacturer, there's not much opportunity to make it uniquely yours- and that's the goal of home design. Whenever possible, choose a piece or two from several lines and even several styles so that, just as in nature, your room is a pleasing combination of different elements. Instead of looking contrived and boring, as if you bought a room scene right out of a furniture store, your home will have a far more interesting look that reflects your personality and individual style.

Upholstered chairs in a fabric you love would be a great choice for your dining room table. They will add color, comfort, pattern and softness to your room. Try using arm chairs at the host and hostess spot with armless side chairs for the remainder of the table. The arm chairs can then double in your living room when you entertain a crowd that's larger than your present seating can accommodate.

You can use upholstered chairs that are skirted, with no exposed legs, or a chair that has finished wood legs. Instead of fretting over matching the leg finish on the chairs to the wood finish of the table, look to complement instead. Go a bit darker on the chairs legs and they will blend in more with their surroundings. A lighter finish on the chair legs will make them more noticeable.

And just as we suggest you mix up your furniture pieces, you can also mix up the fabric on your upholstered dining chairs. One option is to do the host and hostess chair in a solid fabric (one that will mix well with the living room when the chairs are called into service) and the side chairs in a coordinating patterned fabric. Another, more daring option is to use one fabric on the interior of the chair and a coordinating fabric on the back of the chair. If your goal is to create a less formal and fun dining room, you can mix up the fabrics altogether, using a different color of the same fabric (like a heavy linen or ultra suede) on each and every chair (try alternating solid pumpkin, gold and steel gray linen on skirted chairs). The options are endless, but whatever you choose, your dining room will indeed be uniquely yours.

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