Exactly what style of living room suits you best will depend on a number of factors, not least of which is whether is to be for single, a couple’s of family use. Will you, or other member of the household, ever need to work there, or will the living room only ever be used for relaxing in, for reading, talking, listening to music perhaps, or watching television?

Pay particular attention, first of all, to making an interesting framework for the living room. Decorate the walls and windows with care, for even the best furniture and accessories will look poor against a shabby background. Generally speaking, colours should be result without being insipid, interesting but never frenetic.

          When it comes to the style of a room, remember that while a room furnished all of a period rarely looks anything but dull, mixing a great many styles demands experience and a great sureness of taste. On a general level, a collection of con temporary art will look good in an otherwise antique room, and just one or two old things will make a vast difference to a roomful of modern furniture and contemporary fabrics.

          The first rule here is to put practically before aesthetics. Even if you have no children or animals at the present time, it is always as well to plan a room bearing in mind future visits by one or other, or both together. And if you do have children, there is no reason why a stylish room cannot be evolved which will comfortably accommodate them as well as the adults. Just avoid using fragile furniture and accessories, and choose fabrics and carpeting that are easily cleaned.

          The second rule is to be realistic, to plan a room that reflects, first of all, your needs, your tastes and your interests, but which, at the same time must be as comfortable and relaxing for guests as it is for you and your family.

Living Room Furniture

          The choice and arrangement of furniture for a living room is, to a great extent, predetermined by the face that the space will probably be used for a variety of activities. As well as general seating, therefore, you may also have to find room for a worktable or desk, and perhaps, a dining table.

          For the young and impecunious, modular seating, which can be added to and moved around as necessary, makes a good start. Open armchairs, or occasional chairs with upholstered backs and seats, whether traditional or modern in style, don’t look bulky and are particularly useful for adding accents of colour in a monochromatic scheme. Fully upholstered sofas, day beds, chesterfields and so on are certainly more expensive and altogether more bulky.

          A good general rule is to balance a sofa with two occasional chairs, or another sofa, set at right angles to it; aim to provide table surfaces with in easy reach of each seating place. A sturdy coffee table will not only accommodate all the usual family impedimenta, but can also be used for serving an occasional meal.

          Whatever arrangement you choose, keep a sense of balance and proportion. Small-scale furniture in a small space, for instance, will make the area seem larger, where as a good-sized room can absorb bulkier items.

Living Room Flooring

          If you have children, lead a fairly gregarious life, or cannot afford close carpeting, you might just as well have a plain wood or ceramic tiled floor, softened by area rugs. If, however You prefer carpeting, and even if you can afford the best quantity wool or wool and nylon mixture, remember that interestingly textured matting, sisal or wool cord is sometimes more effective. Where different textures or colours meet at doorways, the effect is neater if a threshold strip is inserted between the two. This will both protect the edges of the materials and dedicate the areas.

A Specious Living Room
          City living rooms can look dark and drab by day. Especially in a built-up area, but any room with long windows and good natural light can be made to look bright. This particular room overlooking a garden square is so light and spacious it could be in the country. The first scheme, based on honeysuckle motifs, creates a warm, result effect; the second is based on clear, fondant colours, making the room bright and airy, and the third takes advantage of the space and nineteenth century detailing.

A High-Ceiling Room

          Although huge soaring living spaces might seem an ideals situation to cramped apartment dwellers, the fact remains that too much space is as difficult to manipulate as too title. The answer generally lies in thoughtful arrangement and a clever use of colour. The scheme opposite has a cool, sophisticated look achieved with a distinguished use of monotones. The second tames the space with colour and pattern, while in the third, an indoor-outdoor effect is created using natural textures, plants and generously comfortable seating.


A Living Room with Period Detail

          Small, square living rooms lend themselves to a variety of different colour schemes, arrangements and treatments which depend on taste and pocket. They have the advantage of not swallowing up too much furniture, although it if often difficult to decide, how best to arrange possession and seating in these confined spaces. The scheme opposite is simple and undemanding and takes the room’s natural assets as focal points. The scheme, right , uses mirror to prevent the space closing, in while the vivid colours of the upholstery in the third one make for a permanently summery effect.

A Featureless Living Room

          So many modern apartment rooms are like featureless boxes with, perhaps, a large expanse of windows as their main asset. To give them some individuality therefore, they have to be injected with a style of their own- sometimes by a striking use of colour, pattern or texture, sometimes with accessories, more often than not with a mixture of both. In the scheme opposite, a western interior has been given an oriental feel with low, modular seating and translucent sliding blinds. The second scheme, while less extravagant in its use of colour, still maintains interest and has textures and pattern as the focus. The third scheme gives the room a summery look with sky blue, pinks and greens.

A Small Square Living Room

          Old fashioned apartments can be given gleam and gloss as much by clever use of colour and texture as by furnishings. In this room, whose main assets are its large expanse of leaded glass window and ornate fireplace, the scheme opposite is all lavender and gray, spiked by the shiny chrome furniture and flowers. The second uses sunset colours for a year-round glow, and the third, with its updated wood paneling, uncarpeted floor and firm fabrics, achieves a cool, textured look.

A Long Beamed Room

          Beams are such a dominant feature in any room, teaching to make the space seem long and row, that they need special treatment if they are not to overwhelm a space. In two of the three schemes, the beams are kept as an intrinsic decorative feature; in one they tone in with the background, while in the other, they from their own graphic design. In the third scheme, right, they have been paneled over, and the ceiling is kept pale to make the room seem light and airy. The lowered ceiling also allows lights to be recessed into the wood. This obviates too much interruption of the surface. And the geometric pattern of the carpet tends to make the space seem a good deal wider than it actually is.

A Large Square Living Room

          Large rooms can be much more difficult to furnish and arrange satisfactorily than smaller areas. Informal, yet uncluttered, an easy grouping of modular seating against a pale background solves the problem in the scheme opposite; in the scheme right the spacious feeling is maintained with pale upholstery and a geometric carpet. In the scheme below, the fireplace and moldings are accentuated against a more traditional background colouring.

A Living  Room with a View

          Town houses and apartments often have rectangular living rooms which, failing interesting treatment can look plain and uninspired. Here, all three rooms take the unusual window as their focal point, but there the similarity ends. The scheme opposite is bleached and polished, allowing the foliage to dominate; the second has been turned into one large garden room, and the third has a definite Moorish theme.


A Long Narrow Living Room

          The long narrow living areas which result from two rooms being knocked together limit variations in furniture arrangement. Since daylight seldom penetrates beyond the centre of this area, much of it is in perpetual twilight, but by clever use of colour and concealed lighting, it is possible to surreptitiously boost the ration of daylight. One scheme depends in a relaxed way on subtle colours; another turns the room into an extravaganza of red and exotic objects, and in the op art scheme, all illusion of space is created by using arches and mirrors.

A Studio Flat

          City studio apartments which are basically one room, with sometimes, the additional bonus of a separate bed room, are invariably exercises in ingenuity with three aims in mind: to make the anonymous space look as interesting, seem as large, and hold as much as possible. The room on this page has much the same features or lack of them as the room opposite: the same large window at one end; the same shape, the same lack of basic detail. Here, however, although the aims are similar, the treatments are totally different.


A Narrow Studio Flat

          The schemes on this page have the same aims as those opposite to make the space seem as large and as interesting as possible. The first room is made crisp and pretty, simply by using clear cut colours and extensive mirror to maximize light and space. The strongly patterned vinyl floor and panels of wood and mirror give the scheme below a sturdy character where none existed before.



One Room Living

          In this large, well organized space, sleeping, eating and work areas are kept separate. The bed, which is tucked away at the narrow end of the room, is partly screened by a workable, and there is another table which can also be used for work or eating; the living area is in the foreground. The light airy scheme opposite relies to a large extent on natural textures, with massive plants which act as room dividers. Bright colour coordinates the different areas, right, and in the scheme below, subtle unity is provided by understated variations of one colour.

A Dine in Living Room

          As city space becomes increasingly rare, multi purpose rooms become correspondingly more necessary. By thoughtful planning, living rooms can be used for dinning as well as providing room for the occasional guest. Oblong rooms, often found in city apartments, lend themselves particularly well to just such treatment. The scheme opposite, with its eclectic use of prints and its eye catching carpet, looks fresh and unstudied; the garden scheme uses a trellised arch to separate the living and dining areas, and the third uses batik cotton to achieve a warm and mildly exotic effect.  


Living Room Lighting

          Plenty of general background light is obvious necessary and this should be boosted by task lighting and well controlled highlighting for interesting arrangements of plants, Paintings and objects.

          Ultimately, the colours, and textures you use, the pieces of furniture you finally decide on, and what kind of accessories you amass, are very much a question of taste, and pocket. The varied rooms shown in this section cover a cross-section of ideas and styles and can be adopted and adapted to suit whatever type and size of space you have.


            The general consensus is that whether double or single, bedrooms should be restful rather than dramatic, capable of looking both warm and cool, depending on the season, and as personal as the occupants prefer. Many people consider comfort to be of key importance; for others, a certain spare ness and simplicity may be the chief requirement.

Planning a Bedroom

            If the room is only to be used for sleeping, you will probably only need a bed and a system for storing clothes. On the other hand, if it is also to be used for relaxing or working in, you will need a space large enough for these activities.

            An ideal main bedroom would be large enough to include a pair of comfortable chairs or a small sofa and there would also be room for an occasional table for books and magazines and perhaps, the odd meal.

            Ideally, a guest bedroom should be both welcoming and comfortable, interesting without being too strongly personal. If space is available, include a capacious dressing table, which can double for a desk, as well as a comfortable chair and good lighting.
            It is obviously foolish to buy furniture for small children’s rooms that will suit one age group admirably and be redundant the next, so look for sturdy pieces that will grow with the child. Fabrics should be tough enough to withstand childish onslaughts, yet cheerful enough to stimulate and satisfy the most colour–conscious youngster. Flooring should be as sound proof and dirt resistant as it is possible to find.

            Adolescents should have rooms of their own on which to impose their developing tastes. Let them choose the decoration and accessories for themselves as far as possible, or at least let them make some decisions in your presence. Their rooms should, if possible, include a bed, a worktable cum dressing table, at least one chair, shelves for books and other possessions, and good storage. If there is room, provide extra beds so they can entertain friends.

Bedroom Storage

            A bed can be built in with storage to seem all of a piece, or it space is very confined; drawers can be fitted under or bought with the bed. Built-in closets and small dressers or lowboys can be used instead of bedside tables. If there is no room for a separate desk or worktable, a long top placed across a pair of low dressers will give adequate writing, sewing and make-up space, and room underneath for extra storage.


            Choice of curtains, covers, blinds and accessories will depend on taste, budget and the style of the room. Soft pile carpeting or at least one or two rugs by the side of each bed will provide an atmosphere of ease and comfort in a bedroom. The following pages show bedrooms of every style and description for every sort of situation. Most of the schemes can be adapted to suit different sized rooms.

A Bedroom / Dressing Room

            Sometimes it is necessary to try and get more or less separate sleeping and dressing room areas out of one space. In this case, a half partition wall is raised between bed head and dressing space, leaving passage way either side so that the room, though effectively divided, still maintains its feeling of spaciousness. The scheme opposite is somberly distinguished, with gray flannel, mirror and excellent lighting. Another takes as it cue the wooded view outside the window for a fresh green and white effect. And the third is rather more sumptuous, with more silk walls, a delicate sweet, pea fabric and toning carpet border and accessories.

A Large well-proportioned Bedroom

            Turn-of-the-century rooms, with their graceful windows and good proportions, can absorb quiet disparate pieces, and even if allowed to remain comparatively empty of furniture, they can still look interesting and sometimes memorable.

In the first scheme, the painted brass bed is a good vehicle for the chaste linen coverings; and in the second, the four poster with sheer calico hangings makes a pretty, all-white, room within a room. In complete contrast, the third scheme uses brightly coloured sheeting to transform the space into a warm, sophisticated area.

A Rectangular Bedroom

            In most new blocks the bedrooms are often economically designed square or rectangular shapes with few natural assets except perhaps for the view, as in this room. To add internal interest, the scheme opposite depends on cleverly angled plat forming; the second is based on a whim; centered on the palm motif, and the third turns the space into a prettily traditional room.


A Large Bedroom / Sitting Room

            Large bedrooms are often quite big enough for relaxed sitting as well. This one is enviable for its generous proportions, its windows and balcony and splendid city view. Indeed, the only problem is how scheme is calm but idiosyncratic; another is cool and chic; the third is parrot-coloured and bucolic, in direct contrast to the grays and browns of the view through the long windows.

A Dark Bedroom

            Many houses and apartments contain dark, badly lit rooms which seem impossible to decorate with any sort of flair. But while the light may be poor, the windows are often of a good shape and size and can at least be used as focal points. Rich, warm colours are used in two of these schemes, while the light, fresh tones of the one below make the space seem lighter than it         actually is.

A Simple Bedroom

             Modern apartment buildings tend to contain anonymous rooms which have few, if any, architectural details or embellishments. Giving character to these spaces is a good exercise in cosmetic decoration; how best to use pattern, colour and accessories. This is well demonstrated in the scheme opposite, which depends on horizontal and diagonal lines in crisp, fresh colors to achieve a bright, airy effect. In another, the pastel shades of both walls and fabrics add warmth to the pale walls and floor as a backdrop for sculptural shapes.

A Guest Bedroom / Study

            This is really bedroom-a good, airy space with an exceptionally high ceiling and long graceful windows: a country room, or a room in a large, old fashioned apartment block. The scheme opposite, with its lavish use of muslin, is soft and deliberately feminine: another is cool and tailored, with shiny floor tiles and a play of grays; the third has fruit and flowers as its central design motif.

A Tiny, Low Bedroom

             The charm of narrow country cottage rooms with their sloping ceilings sometimes fades when it comes to fitting in furniture. A minimal, uncluttered approach is generally wisest. The scheme opposite imposes focus on the space by treating the window like a painting, the primary colour of the frame taken up and echoed elsewhere in the room. In the scheme below, a dimension is added to the room by the creation of a curtained alcove. The third scheme uses matching wallpaper and fabric to visually expand the space.

A Tiny, well-proportioned Bedroom

             The height of a room has a considerable effect on the amount or furniture that will look good in the space. You can fit more for instance, into a well-proportioned, tiny room, like this one in a summer home, than in a similar sized area with a high ceiling. The room also had deep windows overlooking a harbour and nice, battered old pine doors and stutters. The first scheme takes every advantage of these natural assets, while in the second, rather more sophisticated approach, the space is tinged with colour and the view outside exaggerated by covering the window embrasures with mirrors


A Tiny, High-Ceiling Bedroom

            Small rooms with high ceiling may at first seem too cramped or badly proportioned either for any visual appeal or for real comfort. But even a tiny room can be given unexpected distinction by an interesting bed treatment to provide the focal point, plus minimal furniture and a good use of colour. The first scheme centres on the cheerful colours of a pretty stenciled bed set against a background of quiet wallpaper. In second, pale fabric is used lavishly all around the room, creating a softer, but no less interesting feet.

A Teenagers Bedroom

            Most teenage rooms need to have sleeping, sitting and studying space and an area for listening to music and entertaining friends. There most, therefore, be some subtle, or not so subtle division, so the space does not look too cluttered, and some attempt at soundproofing so that noise does not permeate the house,. The scheme opposite is dominated by the super graphics in the living part of the room; in another, the division is intensified by textural contrasts and crisp lines, and in the third, the paper in the sleeping part is contrasted with a solid colour to break up the areas.

A Child’s Bedroom

            Small children’s rooms need both practical furniture that will see them through several stages of development and an adaptable treatment to suit their developing tastes. Colour is among the most important elements to consider, and interesting schemes can easily be achieved with a paintbrush, paper cut-outs, and a little imagination. For younger children, vividly coloured, yet robust furniture combined with bold decoration is ideal. The first two schemes are based on fantasy and use bright colours to great effect. The scheme below with bunk beds is suitable for slightly older children.      


            Clearly, the prime purpose of a bathroom is to able to wash, bathing and shower in comfort. But, whether this means the room should be               clean-looking and functional or luxurious and relaxing depends on personal taste. A simple, well, lit, clean-cut tiled or wood –lined spaced suits one sort of person; a carpeted lounging spaced, possibly an extension of a bedroom, is the luxurious ideal of another.

Planning a bathroom

             If you are starting to plan a bathroom from starch, or going to make major changes in an existing room, the layout needs a good deal of thought, especially if the room is to he shared be several people of different generations. Given adequate space, you will probably want to include a bathtub and /or shower; a washbasin; a toilet, if it is not separate; a bidet; a well-lit mirror; storage; at least one chair or stool; a towel rail, preferably heated; practical flooring, such as tilling or water-resistant carpet; and a generous splash back area. You may well also plan to use the bathroom for laundry, in which case a space for washing machine should also be considered.

            Whatever the arrangement of equipment chosen, you should bear in mind the occasions when more than one person wants to use the bathroom at the same time. If there is space, there is no reason why you should not put in two basins (if they are side by side, they can share, a large mirror) and two cupboards or cabinets.

            Bathtubs come in many sizes and shapes, so it is worth shopping around to find the one that suits you best. Sunken baths can look dramatic and have a luxurious feel, but they are relatively expensive to install. Whirlpool baths or Jacuzzis are also becoming increasingly popular. They, too, are available in a wide number of sizes, shaped and colours and give a body a soothing massage with underwater jets. A-free-standing tub looks good if the bathroom is really large. It could either be installed in the middle of the room or perhaps raised up on a platform. Or it could be centred against one wall with units or shelves built either side, an arrangement which allows for interesting treatments with shower curtains.

Improving an existing bathroom

            Even if you cannot afford new plumbing or radical rearrangement of fittings, it is quite possible to transform the smallest, dreariest, most badly planned space into a cheerful place of relaxation, for it is usually fairly easy to treat a bathroom cosmetically, that is by purely decorative means.

            On the simplest level appropriately coloured towels and shower curtains can improve a room that is totally tiled or laminated in an uninspiring colour. A small, all-white bathroom can be given a totally different feel by massing it with plants. While a dark room can be enlivened with a contrasting trim and brightly coloured towels. The trick is to take the base colour and make it look more vibrant by spicing it up with sharper accent colours. Pastel- coloured fittings are enlivened by bolder, richer tones of the base tone for towels, bathmats or facecloths. Tiles can be given a new looking by painting them a more pleasing shade with a special tile or deck paint. Plain walls (even plastic–laminated ones) can be painted a warm, dark colour and massed with prints, photographs, paintings, or china.

To make an immediate transformation, waterproof wallpaper can be used on ceilings, pasted on bathtub panels, and taken over flush doors and secured by beading. Paper that is not already waterproofed can be over-painted with a clear lacquer or varnish. To make a space seem more luxurious, carpet or wood paneling is ideal for covering the side of bathtub or under-basin cupboards.

Storage in the bathroom

            Open shelves can be stashed with neatly folded towels in good colors for decorative effect, of filled with collectibles for interest. Bathrooms used by children should definitely have extra storage space squeezed in, wherever practical, or the room will be in perpetual disorder. In a largish area, washbasins look better and are more practical, surrounded by a vanity unit with storage space underneath.

Lighting in the bathroom

            While small rooms probably only need a central ceiling light, down lights are effective in bathrooms, whatever the size, and one over the bath is worth considering. Good lighting for shaving and make-up is best provided by light at the sides or around the mirror rather than just above, but it should be backed by good general light.

Aim to avoid the problems caused by condensation by steady warmth and good ventilation. If a heated towel rail or radiator does not seem enough to heat the room, extra warmth can be provided with a wall-mounted fan or infrared heater.


            If your bathroom is overlooked, there are a number of alternatives to ugly, opaque glass in window. Tightly stretched voile screens between narrow rods or wires can be fitted to the frame, or fabric roller or Venetian blinds can be used to filter light and block out the view. Another alternative would be to fix glass shelves across the window frame and fill them with plants, or plants interspersed with collections of bric a brac. The walls can be massed with pictures and prints, collected absurdities or words of advice, for humour in decoration add that extras levity that makes a room memorable. Long windows in a bathroom can be hung with curtains and, perhaps, blinds as well. Use a practical fiber like toweling if the windows are near the bath or shower, ordinary cotton or some lightweight material, if not. Over the following 18pages we give a variety of different schemes which can be adapted for bath rooms of all types and sizes to give some idea of the potential for decorating these spaces. None of these involves structural alterations or vast expense, but all succeed in modifying or transforming the existing rooms to a greater or lesser extent.

A Square bathroom

            It is usually possible to decorate smallish bathrooms like this one without resort to structural alteration or enormous expense. In the scheme opposite, for example, indoor plants repeat the colour of the carpet, and the collection of pictures echoes the lines of the bare window panes; the overall effect is simple and restful, yet effective. In the coordinated scheme, to the right, patterned walls are teamed with a bright carpet and matching window blind. The brightly coloured mosaic which dominates the scheme below is used to add a touch of grandeur to the small space.

A Long bathroom

            A narrow room with a window at one end may tend to look tunnel-like-especially a bathroom, where equipment is standard and necessarily difficult to move around unless decorated expressly to avoid this pitfall. In the room opposite, mirrors and striking tiles are used to visually expand the width. Another scheme uses geometric wallpaper and coordinating carpet, again to seemingly push out the walls as much as possible. And in the third, the eye is distracted from the general feeling of narrowness by edging plain paint with a border and adding a collection of pictures.

A Large Period bathroom

            Most turn-of–the-century bathroom were really converted bedrooms space invariably came second to the novelty of a working bath with running water. Today, the reverse is true and generous space is more of luxury than the actual equipment. One design uses the sort of unpretentious furnishings that suit the young and impecunious; the second uses Edwardian colours and mahogany for an altogether more grand effect, while in the third scheme, the design on the bath is used as a base on which to built-up the background colours.

A Small Square bathroom

            Bathroom in the apartment buildings are usually far from large, and very little can be done to alter their structure without incurring enormous expense. The only way to improve these spaces is cosmetically in general, there is little scope for change except in the ceiling and untiled areas of wall. This scheme uses coordinating paper and border to offset the hygienic effect of the white tiles. In the one below tongue-and-groove boarding and tiles create a neat, efficient space.

A Small Rectangular bathroom

            This room is very similar in size and shape to the bathroom opposite. The strength of these small spaces is that they are usually inexpensive to redecorate: a little of anything goes a long way; their weakness is that they can easily look dreary and bedraggled. With its simple ingredients and minimal colour, the first scheme manages to make the room look both gentle and glamorous; the one below expands the space into a kind of summer terrace, with clever use of mirror, wood and plants.

A Bathroom / Dressing Room

            The main problem with this practical bathroom cum dressing area was how to fit in plenty of storage while still keeping a sense of light and space. In the scheme opposite, in which the colours were kept fresh and light, the solution was a full-length cupboard one end of the bathtub. A more tailored, masculine scheme has matching cupboards both ends of the bath, while the scheme below is altogether softer and more feminine in effect, with its looped back curtains emphasized by the mirrored wall at the back of the bath.

A Bathroom under roof
            Bathrooms often have to be fitted into the most awkward spaces and this cramped room with its sloping ceiling is no exception. The general feeling of pokiness is disguised well in each of the three schemes. One is a strong, two-colour scheme which uses tongue-and-groove boarding for the panel of the bath as well as most of walls; another fills the room with colour by painting bold rainbow strips on the walls, ceiling and bathtub. The third uses mylar wallpaper to make the space seem larger as well as to give it a certain dash of character.

A Bathroom on a landing

            In old apartment blocks and buildings, bathrooms are often fitted wherever they can be squeezed. Here, there is just room to fit a bathtub under the fine arched window with not a millimeter to spare. The scheme opposite achieves casual elegance, while the paneled scheme, right, takes advantages of the window with a dramatic, plant-strung background for the bath. Painted glass is substituted for plain in the one below, to make the most of the window with out loss of privacy.
A Tiled bathroom

            Even if the walls of a bathroom are extensively tiled, there are still ways of altering the look of the space. Quite reasonable changes can be effected by adding or changing the casing of the both or basin; by replacing the floor covering and re-colouring and tiled areas with special paint; and by choosing different accessories. These three schemes illustrate how, despite the apparent lack of scope, comparatively inexpensive alterations can completely change the look of a bathroom.
A Shower room

            For those who prefer a straightforward shower, one major factor governs the choice of decoration; the space must be well waterproofed if the surrounding areas are to remain reasonably dry. This shower room opens off a bedroom and the WC and basin in two of the schemes are trucked away behind a sliding door, designed to match the back of the shower itself. All three schemes aim to be practical and yet pleasing to the eye. The one opposite uses tiles and wood for visual interest; another aims for a more glamorous look with mosaic tiles and mirrors, while the scheme below, with its simple, contrasting colours, is clean looking and timeless.


            Rooms used for the sole purpose of dining are getting rarer and rarer. Instead people increasingly have living-dining rooms, kitchen-dining rooms; they have dining areas in the hall or the guest room. All are moderately easy to furnish since it is only necessary to fit a table and chairs which don’t usually interfere with the other purposed of the room.

Planning a Dining Room

            If you do have a proper dining room it is easier to decorate if you bear in mind that its main purpose is to provide an area for relaxed and enjoyable eating. This is an obvious, but nevertheless important point, for dining rooms have a woeful habit of looking formal and often stereotyped, as if eating was a duty rather than a pleasure. Colours, then should be chosen as a background for the food, the china and glass. Dark rich colours are particularly successful, therefore, although more vivid colours can also look handsome.

            Wherever you end up eating, what table you choose depends very much on the shape of the area. Round tables are usually more sociable and hold more people in less space. They can double up for use in a living room, study, or even guest bed room. If you have a very narrow room, you could try placing a long table set up against a mirrored wall seemingly doubles in size.

            It is often difficult to find just the right round table. One good solution is to fix a circle of block board, cut to the right size, to a base of the right height, which can then be covered permanently with a floor-length cloth. You can change the look of it with the help of a series of different over cloths. The same principle of improvisation also applies when it comes to enlarging any table if you have the room to store a spare top. Remember that any money saved on such makeshift tables can be spent on better chairs, especially if you have a room solely for dining in.

            On the whole, carpets are not a good idea in any dining area, particularly if you have children. Food gets dropped, drinks get spilled, candles leak melted wax. It is easier to have some surface that is easily cleanable and which will stand the strain of chairs being scraped back and forth. If your dining table is in part of the living room, you could position it on a rug which can always be cleaned more easily than an entire carpet. On the whole, though, more practical surfaces for a dining room floor would be stripped and polished boards, or ceramic, vinyl or cork tiles, all of which can be easily wiped or swept clean.

Storage in the Dining Room

            Nowadays, few people have the spaces for a conventional sideboard. Many store glass and china in the kitchen or in built in storage units in the living or dining room itself. Make sure that any surface you serve from is heat-resistant; if it isn’t protect it with a mat.

A Small Square Dining Room

            Old country houses are often full of small square rooms leading from one to another. The problem is how to make them look as personal and idiosyncratic as possible without cluttering them up or being too clichéd. In the scheme opposite the ingredients are traditional, but interestingly arranged so that the room is a series of small vignettes. In the second, a patterned  fabric wall covering makes the room seem fresh and bright, while in the scheme below, a wash of colour on the walls, striped cotton on the table, different chairs, accessories and plants make the room seem warm and comfortable.

A Square Dining Room

            Rooms with distinctive characteristics (this one has long beams and a shallow window down one side) pose their own problems when it comes to redecoration. One solution is to focus on the distinguishing features themselves. The scheme opposite is kept very simple: a basically white space with a strongly patterned end wall. But the two rooms on this page alter the mood radically, one with graphic use or colour which effectively emphasize the beams, and the other which uses a gamut of soft rose tones for a much more traditional feeling.

A Rectangular Dining Room

            The problem here is how to give interest to the sort of characterless room which is often of difficult to furnish without monotony. In the scheme opposite, the room has been given a rustic feel, with brick walls and floor and old pine furniture. The scheme below is much more sophisticated and soigné, with soft, dark walls, an interesting floor, and a polished round table. In the third scheme, the room has been made a base for some splendid early furniture and portraits-although any interesting furniture would look good with this quiet background and subtle lighting.

A Narrow Low-Ceiling Room

            Lack of space in this room is further compound by a low ceiling and the fact that   one wall is entirely taken up by window. In the scheme opposite, the theme is uncompromisingly 20th century with almost de rigueur contemporary prints on the wall. Another plays on reds so effectively that it entirely distracts from constrictions of the area. And in the scheme below, a much more traditional feel is achieved, with painted paneling, polished floorboards and period furniture.

A Bed Room / Dining Room

            The problem of fitting sleeping, sitting and eating space into one small area is a perennial one. This room is particularly small and so long and narrow that without care, the space could look hopelessly jumbled, in the scheme opposite, the section at the end of the room containing the bed can be screened off when not it in use. In the second scheme, the walls are softened with fabric to distract the eye from the lack of space, and in the third, mirror is used extensively to push out the walls.


            Kitchens are probably the most complicated rooms of all to plan, varying in function as they do from straight preparation, cooking, washing up and dining areas to general family rooms. Small spaces, force majeure, come in to the first category; large kitchens tend to fall into the second. For must people, the decision about how actually to use the room is dictated by the existing design: equipment, once built in is difficult, and certainly expansive, to shirt. But even if you are moving into a house or apartment in which the kitchen is already planned and full of equipment, you can still imprint your own personality on the area by changing the colour of walls, by altering window treatments, by adding accessories, and, if you can afford it by, replacing counter tops and floor coverings or finishes.

Planning a Kitchen

            If you are planning the room from the beginning and are not quite sure what equipment you will nee, or what style of kitchen you prefer, these questions will help rationalize your thoughts on the subject: what kind of meals are you likely to cook, for how many, and how often? Will you present situation remain static as far as you can tell or will the family expand? Is the kitchen solely for meal preparation and is not all, of the time? Do you work all day, or live far from stores so that you need more than the average amount of storage space? Are you happier with a warm country feeling, natural textures and everyday functional objects on open display, or do you prefer easy care surfaces and enclosed storage? Or do you like a judicious mixture of both?

            Ideally, the layout of a kitchen should follow a work programme based on a logical sequence of operations, so think about usual working routine. Give each task its own special area. Cooking usually involves a good deal of doubling back to and from the refrigerator, sink, stove and different preparation areas. Each one needs careful planning so that all necessary equipment and food stuffs are at hand. Try to plan for a work surface next to each appliance: so the sequence goes work surface then sink, work surface than stove, work surface, and so on. You should allow a minimum or three feet (915mm) for each preparation area, and for dirty washing up; allow two and a half feet (762mm) for draining clean crockery if you do not have a dishwasher; set aside two feet (610mm) by the stove for dishing up and serving food, one and a quarter feet (381mm) of free work area beside the refrigerator. the cook top should be no more than six feet (1m 829mm) from the sink, and the passage width between fixtures at least four feet (1m219mm).if you live alone, you can usually make do with one foot (305mm) less room.

            Kitchen walls generally take quite a battering, so they should be painted in washed semi- gloss or gloss paint. Or they can be covered in a vinyl or washable blinds.
Kitchen floors also have to withstand a great deal of wear and tear and should be though, waterproof, grease-alkali-and acid-rejecting, and easy on the feet. Vinyl (whether in sheet or tile from) and vinyl –covered cork meet most of these conditions and area easy maintain. Terracotta, tiles, brick, flagstone, slate, terrazzo and non-slip ceramic tiles are all durable, impressive and good to look at, but they are inclined to be expensive. They are also heavy and are therefore probably only suitable for use at ground –floor level or where floors are particularly strong.

            Whether you choose to store all the paraphernalia of cooking hidden behind closed doors or prefer to have things out on display is a matter of taste. Some cooks like to have things with in easy reach- pots and pans hanging from rails or butcher hooks; implements or ingredients on pegboard or metal grilles; plates, cups and saucers on open shelves other like the streamlined clean-cut appearance of conventional kitchen units.

            Two types of lighting are useful in kitchens: general area light preferably controlled on a dimmer switch and specific task light over work surfaces and tables. Spotlights on tracks, down lights and wall washers make good background light, or general diffusing lights can be fixed to the ceiling. Fluorescent strips are always useful, concealed behind pelmets, under wall storage units, they shine light onto the work surface below, and strips can be fitted inside onto the light up automatically when the doors are opened.

            The next few pages show a variety of kitchen styles for every shape and style of room, most of which can be adapted to suit most rooms. But whatever style you eventually decide upon, remember that first and foremost, it is a space for the preparation of food, the more the background serves to encourage and enhance this task, the better.

A Large Kitchen / Dining Room

             Large kitchen dining rooms seem an ideal but it is important to have plenty of dumping space if the detritus of cooking is not to interface with the pleasure of eating. In the scheme opposite, tiled walls and simple units make an inconspicuous background for the focal points of long refectory table and pots, pans and baskets hanging from the ceiling beams. The scheme on the right has a striking checkerboard theme, and in the third, neat matchstick blinds attached to beams can hide left- over cooking preparations.

A Narrow Kitchen / Dining Room

            At first glance, this room seems to have a lot in common with the kitchen-dining area opposite, but the likeness is fairly superficial, since this space resembles a shoebox in proportion, while the other is generously wide. Natural assets such as plenty of light and greenery are used to distract from any narrowness in the first scheme, while in the below, every effort has been made to expand the space visually using most of the tricks of the trade (except expensive mirror).

A Small Kitchen

            Windows set right up to one wall (often as a result of remodeling an old building) can look awkward. One way of overcoming this problem in a kitchen is to install slick, built-in units to restore the balances, as in the scheme opposite. Or the whole feeling of the space can be changed with clever use of colour and pattern, as in the second scheme so that any awkwardness is lost in the general design. The third scheme uses a sympathetic arrangement of collectibles and gently patterned fabric to distract from the less sympathetic proportions.

A Rectangular Kitchen

            Faced with the problem of making a kitchen out of a rectangular room with one high window and sloping ceiling, what are the alternatives? If the space is big enough for eating in, it should obviously be treated with maximum imagination to make it both aesthetically and practically viable. The odd proportions of the space merge into the general whiteness of the scheme opposite and any colour stands out with intensity. In the third, dark shiny paint and butcher block tops give their own solidity and distinction to the space.


A Spacious Kitchen

            One wall that is really all windows might sound ideal for a large family kitchen, but it does curtain preparation and storage space. This problem has been accepted in the scheme opposite, and the room treated as a good, old fashioned kitchen-family room with preparation and work counter kept to one end of the room. The scheme below is much more of a working kitchen and part of the generous window space is scarified for more storage and preparation space including an island unit. In the scheme, right, the area is much more streamlined, but allows for eating space as well as providing ample work tops.

A Wide Kitchen / Dining Room

            A kitchen-dining room with a useful arched division like this one is a natural for the sort of comfortable, rustic feel achieved in the first scheme. But this space can equally well be given quite different, urban feelings as proved in the scheme below. Here, the combination of practical hi-tech components and everyday utensils chosen especially for their colours, makes for an interesting room with very define panache.

A Roof-Top Kitchen

            Penthouses, which often have vast expanses of glass, present their own, very particular problems. The glass ceiling in this roof-top kitchen, for example, is both its main asset and main liability: the sun can beat down as fiercely in the summer as the rain and snow in winter; slides open the glass and city grime settles mercilessly. The scheme opposite plays it cool, filtering the elements with a diagonally –striped cotton blind which also visually expands the width. The scheme below with its trellis of plants treats the space like a proper greenhouse, while the third uses bright colours so that whatever the weather outside, the effect indoors is always bright and welcoming.

An Open-Plan Kitchen

            One of the more rewarding urban legacies of the late twentieth century must be the restoration of the upper floors of old commercial buildings for residential use. The decoration of such areas must be planned to cope with and divide up abundant space, without destroying the impact of natural details like wood floors, beams and nature plasterwork. Cooking, sitting, dining, working and sleeping areas are easily combined in this room with no tangible barriers. The first scheme exploits spare, high-top components in a modern, but nonetheless warm treatment. The second divides up the space in a similar way, but uses built-in-units to blur the edges and create a softer overall effect, while in the third; the area is transformed to resemble a country farmhouse by extensive use of wood and natural accessories like herbs and plants.

A Small Island Kitchen

            Restricted kitchen space is certainly not atypical in modern houses or apartments, so it is all the more important to be able to fit in the basic equipment. To save on the cook’s energy, as well as decoration costs, the layout of this rectangular kitchen is planned around a peninsular unit of food preparation, cooking and eating, leaving a U-shaped walkway. The room is well lit, with windows on two walls for natural light, built-in overhead lighting and a range lit by a concealed spot under the ventilating hood. It is still possible to produce very different effects with decoration without going to the expanse of changing the pine island unit. The three treatments given here are natural, French provincial and warm-toned.

A Large Island Kitchen

            Generous window space, though good for natural light, can actually be rather a nuisance if a lot of storage space is required. In the room opposite which could be in town or country, storage units are built right round the glass so that the window becomes an integral part of this pleasing, practical arrangement of white paint and natural wood with two-toned hexagonal tiles. In the scheme, right, rich, plum-coloured walls and units are teamed with aluminium tiles and a dark slate floor for a much slicker look. In the scheme below, the space is made more traditional in appearance by the use of dark wooden units and café curtains at the window.

A Galley Kitchen

            When the scheme is particularly small it is important to make it as appealing as possible and, of course, as functional. This room still manages to include all the amenities of a working kitchen without any sense of crowding. Horizontal beams across the ceiling in the scheme, right, a streamlined effect is achieved with industrial wire shelving, butcher-block worktops; galvanized sheet metal splash backs help exaggerate the width almost as much as mirror. All sense of boundaries is lost in the scheme below, in which walls, ceiling and units are all covered in the same dark, glossy paint. Against such a background, kitchen accessories and any other colours stand out with great intensity.

A Small Irregular-Shaped Kitchen

            Small apartments which are carved out of old houses and apartment buildings built for a more spacious age, often contain awkwardly-shaped rooms with cramped space and difficult angels. The major priority in decorating is to make those angles work, in whatever way is the most practical, without at the same time losing valuable floor area. The scheme opposite is purely cosmetic, almost emphasizing the angular character of the space and taking advantage of the greenery beyond the window. The second effectively loses the irregularity by clever use of colour, and the third relies on the collection of kitchen accessories to distract the eye from the shape of the room.