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Window Woes
Designing Dilemmas - November 2007

Window Woes

Dear Debbie: My master bedroom has side by side 36Wx54L windows on the front wall. The top of the window molding is 10" down from the ceiling. The two side wall windows are 38Wx27L and the top of the window molding is only 6" down from the ceiling. Underneath these windows are nightstands with lamps. How do I decorate around this dilemma? Linda

Dear Linda: It's not uncommon to have different size windows in the same room, especially at differing heights with asymmetrical drops from the ceiling. The challenge is choosing treatments that won't highlight these differences, but mask them instead, so that all the windows seem equal.

Given the width of the windows and the fact that they are in the master bedroom, full draperies would make a good choice. The panels should flank the windows when open and be drawn together to fully cover them when you want privacy and darkness. Mount these draperies on decorative rods with rings, to add more significance to the top of the draperies and draw your attention up. Make all the draperies look the same by mounting them at the same height from the floor. On the shorter wall, mount the drapery rod close to the ceiling, to give more height and stature to the shorter end of the room. Remember, your eye will be drawn up to the rod and rings. On the taller end of the room, mount your drapery rods and rings at the same height up from the floor as the shorter windows. Now all the windows will be covered in perfectly matching draperies that are the same height and almost the same width, giving the appearance of four symmetrical windows. Now let's move on to new bedding! Debbie

Follow the Pattern

Dear Debbie: I'm shopping for new seating in my family room and I'm unsure if I can use a patterned fabric on the sofa or chairs. Our carpet is very colorful and has a lot of pattern to it. We love it. When I hold up patterned fabric near the rug, I worry that it won't look good. But I don't like the solid fabrics I see either. They look so plain and like you say on your website, solids show more dirt and spots. Can I mix patterned fabric with a patterned rug? Sherry

Dear Sherry: You can absolutely mix up patterns- on the floor, on the upholstery, in the curtains and the accessories, like toss pillows or throw blankets. Mixing up patterns not only makes the room interesting and lively, but yes, it does help to camouflage everyday dust, spills and spots, especially on dining chairs or in family rooms- where you hang out. Start slowly and put a solid color on the largest piece of seating and then use a colorful patterned fabric on the chairs. Make it work by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Stick to a few repeating colors. A print in three colors will work well with a geometric in the same three colors.

2. Watch the scale. As a very general rule, mix mini-prints with similarly scaled patterns, like pencil stripes or small plaids.

3. Coordinate the style. A contemporary patterned fabric will look best with another contemporary print rather than something too traditional.

If you're still stumped, look through your favorite men's clothing store or catalog for more inspiration. Stylists mix highly patterned and colorful ties with striped and checked button-down shirts. I know, I know, hard to imagine that a men's clothier could teach us designing women, but then again, I buy all my husband's shirts and ties. Debbie

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