Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Symmetry vital in traditional, formal styles

Arrange furniture on a straight axis and centred within the room

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QUESTION -- I have recently purchased a small bungalow that has many classic features, including beautiful hardwood floors, nine-foot high ceiling, eight-inch baseboards and large mouldings around the doors and windows.

The large, north facing window presently has vertical blinds (that I will change) and the only other source of light is a small, west-facing window, but my neighbours' two-storey house pretty much blocks the light there.

I have a mix of furnishings, including a newly-purchased sofa, chair and ottoman, all in a light brown corduroy with dark brown (almost purple) squared legs.

I also have a dusty rose wingback chair that doesn't match a thing and which I could recover or relocate; an antique "Gentleman's chair" in a bone colour with little green and light brown flowers and dark brown wood and a dark wood oval table.

Because the room is small, I keep my dining table up against the back of the sofa as a sofa table and pull it out when I have dinner guests. It belonged to my grandparents and the top flips open and can be expanded to sit six people.

Some of the items I still need are an area rug, an entertainment unit and possibly book shelving.

I like good quality, traditional style furnishings.

ANSWER -- Traditional style interiors are comforting and classic and, decoratively speaking, are usually calm, orderly, and somewhat predictable.

In both traditional and formal styles, symmetry is extremely important with furniture arranged on a straight axis and centred within the room.

In your small living room, I have chosen to show a new wall unit that will house the television and other electronics -- as well as some books -- that will act as the room's focal point.

This wall unit, perhaps a reproduction armoire, could be in a classic style and a colour similar to your existing pieces.

While a formal look can be rigid, often using expensive period furnishings and fine antiques, traditional rooms are less grand and more casual, often using less expensive reproductions and accessories.

Generally, fabrics in a traditional room setting should be neither too shiny or too textured.

Floral motifs, understated stripe or geometric patterns, tone-on-tone and small all-over patterns are common.

Colours used in a traditional room are often a mid-range of tones, although both very dark and very light colours can also be used.

The multi-colour floral fabrics of your Gentleman's chair could be the basis of for your colour scheme, using the lightest colour on the walls and deeper hues for upholstery and flooring, although you should avoid using bright and jarring combinations.

Wood furniture will usually have a mix of straight and curved lines and they may feature carving details as well. While wood pieces will often be finished with darker stains, a traditional room may also use lighter woods as long as the lines of each piece are classic.

Interiors in a traditional home will often feature trim and moulding that is painted glossy white.

Accessories include pairs of lamps, plants, mirrors, framed prints, vases, and collections of books and these pairs are usually arranged in balanced symmetry. Fussy details like tassels, and fringes are used sparingly if at all, in favour of a simpler, calmer look.

Lamps with silk shades, wall sconces, and floor lamps might all be used and shades should be fairly plain and in ivory or white.

Window coverings might include narrow shutters, raised or flush panelled, which are ideal window treatments in the traditional home.

Lower shutters can be incorporated into most existing window treatments or you can use full-length shutters that need no curtain accent.

You can contact Toronto-based interior designer David Ferguson through his Web site, below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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