Quiet Room, Quiet Baby

Q: We are really excited to be turning our guest room into a nursery, but we don't want to know in advance whether our baby will be a boy or a girl, so everyone is saying we should use yellow. What goes with yellow? Also, my mother-in-law is insisting that we put up heavy curtains to keep out noise and bright lights; we live on a busy corner in town. It seems depressing to make a baby's room dark and gloomy, don't you think?

A: Dark and gloomy no longer need apply, you'll be relieved to learn. Thanks to today's technology, your wee one will be able to sleep soundly without heavy curtains muffling the windows. Witness the cheerful nursery we show here. It's open to the daylight but not to noise and glare because the windows wear sheer fabric "shadings."

Relative newcomers to the decorating arsenal, these shadings ("Silhouette" from Hunter Douglas) absorb sound and deflect most of the ultraviolet rays that can fade your furnishings and potentially threaten baby's tender skin.

The shades operate like regular blinds. Simply turn the vanes to control the interior environment. You could add yet another layer to the window treatment, just to placate your mother-in-law. Lined draperies, like these plaid panels, draw over the windows for total environmental control.

The draperies address your other concern, as well. The perky green-and-yellow plaid lifts the room well beyond the nursery stage. With lots of soft white added in the mix, your Little Darling can go on living happily in this decor long after he or she has traded that crib for a real bed.

(Learn more about "shadings" and their controlling ways with sound and light at www.hunterdouglas.com.)


Who tells the dog to keep off the furniture?

Certainly not some of the world's best-known interior designers. Nancy Lancaster, the Virginian who taught the English how to bring comforts to their foreboding country houses, was known for her trademark: a dog or two always curled up asleep on clients' posh down cushions.

And John Fowler, he of the famed British design firm Colefax & Fowler, famously believed that the right finishing touch for the drawing room was to let the dogs in to romp for a few days. As the firm's biographer, Chester Jones, recalls in his book, "Colefax & Fowler: The Best in English Interior Decoration" (published by Little, Brown & Co.): "We sought to humanize interior decoration."

Now comes another artist who not only believes in letting the dogs on the furniture, he has the photos to prove it. Pet portraitist Scott Finley insists on shooting his subjects draped all over their owners' best chairs, sofas and beds - including the five or more fidos he comes home to himself. Click on www.pupperazzi.com and get ready to smile.

Q: My great-aunt can no longer live alone, so we want to bring her home with us. The problem is space; we have three bedrooms and our children are already doubled-up. We are thinking of turning the dining room into a bedroom for Auntie, but there's a wide open arch between it and the living room. How can we give her any privacy?

A: The right furniture arrangement could do the trick. Try this: put your sofa across the opening with its back to the dining room. Add a long, narrow table behind the sofa with a table lamp on each end and a tall plant or vase of dried flowers between them.

Finally, set a standing screen, the tallest you can find, so it blocks the opening itself.

Auntie will have the privacy she needs, and guests may never suspect what's behind that attractive barricade.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at copleysd@copleynews.com.
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