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Author Biography: Stephanie Hoppen runs an extremely successful picture dealership, working out of both London and New York. Her previous books include White on White (Bulfinch Press, 2000), Decorating with Pictures, Sit-a study of the work of Thierry Poncelet-and Blue and White Living.
The grand red room is one of the great decorating classics. Even at the height of minimalism, there will always be a demand for it. If I want to create a wonderful dramatic statement in an entrance hall, a dining room or even a drawing room, this approach is the lost effective. Red has always been a colour of contradictions the epitome of grandeur and passion, it is also warm, welcoming, and comforting. In its most vibrant forms, red can be outrageous and daring, yet its subtler tones are also the most feminine and easy to live with colours in the spectrum. In the past, red was considered a classic decorating colour for grand houses but now, using it in a Baroque style, it is perfect for fashionable homes and smaller houses too.
This sample board based on the opera La Traviata sums up my inspiration for Baroque red rooms. In a Baroque room, antiques jostle with keepsakes, and everything is richly textured in velvet, chenille, or brocade. Flowers are in full bloom and even the accent colours-usually gold or silver-denote wealth and sumptuousness. It is a decorating style most usually associated with the formal rooms of grand English houses, but such Baroque red rooms can also be achieved in small rooms or on a tight budget. The antiques need not be perfect-in fact, the cracks, tarnishing, and broken bits that detract from their value add atmosphere to a room. Large swirling gestures with curtains can be executed in humble fabrics in rich red shades, while the more expensive fabrics can be used sparingly, as an occasional accent.
After years of minimalist neutrals and naturals there is now a real desire to return to the flamboyance of Baroque.
You can create the atmosphere with just one or two grand dramatic statements in a room an ornate gilt mirror, a stunning curtain treatment or a lavish flower display. As Baroque becomes increasingly fashionable, you can find some of the elements in local stores- for example, when leather and animal prints stalk the catwalk, their use in floorings and furnishings is never far behind. Look for leopard-print or leather cushions, leather chairs and sofas, or even leather walls. Now that red is today's hottest fashion colour, you'll find an excellent choice of red accessories in the shops, too.
Even more dramatic, but slightly more difficult to pull off, is a stunning layered look red walls, red curtains, and soft furnishings, elaborate gilt or silver mirrors to reflect and repeat the elements and a few key touches, such as cranberry glass, opulent flower arrangements, or rich leather books or symbols that hint at ancestral wealth, such as heraldic emblems.
Yet even for this look you don't need to live in a grand house. It also works beautifully in small, boxy rooms, basement dining rooms, rooms with little or no natural light, and in hallways. The richness of the approach distracts the eye from the actual size and architecture of the room and the mirrors can entice and deceive to make the space seem grander than it is.
If you do want to paint the whole room red, make sure you take time choosing the colour, because there are good and bad shades of red. My favourite choices all work well in a variety of rooms.
Texture is the next key feature of Baroque. Use luxurious fabrics, such as velvet, chenille, brocade, and damask, or classic patterns such as paisleys. Be bold with accessories-unlike walls or major pieces of furniture, they are easy to change around.
The next element is to introduce the "accent" colour-something that highlights the richness of the red. Either silver or gold-in mirrors or picture frames, for example adds the right touch of extravagance. In furniture, dark or richly coloured woods work best, not light pine or beech. The final touch for the evening is to add lots of candles, rich cranberry glass, and exuberant arrangements of red flowers or fruit.
Excerpted from Red on Red by Stephanie Hoppen Copyright ©2001 by Stephanie Hoppen . Excerpted by permission.
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