Adding a few touches can help showcase your style

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Many decorating enthusiasts are "taking time to smell the roses" when showcasing their personal style. When the outside pressures of the world get in the way, they look to their home as a sanctuary of calm and beauty.

Softer, lighter looks take on new importance. A romantic style brings linens and lace pieces out of drawers so the homeowners can live with and appreciate them. Fabrics inspired by nature and the flowers in the garden work with vintage furnishings to create a restful mood.

Romantic style doesn't have to be formal and stuffy. It can be interpreted any way you like -- from a Victorian-style chandelier over the dining room table to flea market tables in a seaside cottage.

Homeowners can display their fascination with nature by using urns in various sizes, botanical prints, flowers and floral fabrics and garden accessories inside the house.

Bedrooms are natural spots for the romantic look. Lace and embroidered linens can be accessories on the dressing table or on pillows. Antique side chairs and cozy, comfy throws invite relaxation, and beaded lampshades soften the light.

You don't have to redo everything to bring romantic style into your home. That's the fun part. You can mix and match looks from various countries and periods, and the same is true for antique, vintage and reproduction pieces. For example, Asian and African pieces work together nicely when you showcase a rich cultural mix.

Small touches often fool the eye and give a totally new romantic look. Linens, lace curtains or a skirt on a bedside table might be all that's needed to impart a fresh new look. In a dining room, for example, you can replace heavy drapes with soft and airy sheers or paint a wall with seashell pink or seedling green for a romantic touch. On a patio or deck, a floral cloth over a table or chunky candles will set a romantic tone.

While it would be fun to go to Tuscany or a Mediterranean shore where rich colors lend themselves to a peaceful look, you can use those colors in your home to achieve the same feel. An Italian light fixture, a piece of French furniture or some colorful provincial fabrics might be all you'll need. Mirrors with frames that show off their patina add instant age and light to a room.

Have fun with accessories -- a gilded bird, tassels as tiebacks on the curtains, a cherub here and there, a beaded shade and graceful small sculptures.

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