Feel free to break the ‘rules’

Question: We have installed a very small bathroom in the attic, under the pitched roof, and would like some ideas on how to decorate. I’ve heard that light colors make a small space bigger, but find that quite boring.

Answer: Oh, I do love to break the rules, and most of them don’t hold up in every situation anyway. Dark colors shrink a space — not always. Multiple patterns look too busy; there’s a secret to this. No room for plants — there’s always room to invite the outdoors in. Have some fun.

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This bathroom vignette demonstrates how a little imagination and a few stylish touches can give a small space big heart. The wall color is called Railings, from Farrow & Ball’s Jungle Collection. They have chosen a selection of shades that evince the drama and serenity of natural floral and jungle habitats, from soft rose pinks and greens to misty grays and watery blues.

Here, the deep blue/gray paint color is perfectly paired with white for a checkerboard backsplash, and note the two sizes of tile. The zigzag rug adds another pattern to the mix, but not too busy, as the colors match up. Pots of plants flaunt their variegated leaves to build a welcome, homey ambiance against the dramatic yet neutral backdrop. The white wood floor, pale wood shelves and mirror frame are a natural choice and keep the room feeling light and airy.

Choose main fixtures on the small size. A pedestal sink is a good choice as it lets the eye move past it, pushing the wall back. Open shelves do the same. Create your own vignette, be it jungle themed or modern chic. There is lots of inspiration at farrow-ball.com.

Decorating a new condo

Question: We have bought a new condo. The ceilings are high in the open living area. We were wondering about adding crown molding. Would it suit a modern space? Do we need to continue the look to the bedrooms?

Answer: Decorative crown molding brings dimension and architectural interest to a room. It is like the icing on the cake, adding extra flavor and flourish to a plain base. Although strongly associated with traditional style and older homes, molding can be successfully applied to a modern space.

Consider your overall design. What is your personal preference? You can make this room do your bidding! If you have contemporary furnishings with straight lines, choose a molding that is similarly plain. Check out all the styles at your home store or on the internet — you will be amazed at the selection. Look at ceiling trim as well. If your furnishings are more traditional, patterned, sculpted and even eclectic, you can turn to moldings that are deeper and provide more detail. Rather than pay the price for a deep molding, choose two more economical designs and layer them. When painted they will blend into one.

Baseboards in new builds are typically small. Replace with a higher trim to match the depth of the crown molding, or your room will appear top heavy. The main living area stands on its own. The bedrooms can remain unadorned, especially if the ceiling height has dropped. But again, it is your design sense that should lead you. A romantic bedroom with carved moldings, deep baseboards and a ceiling cornice surrounding a classic chandelier would be magical. Enjoy turning your new space into the age and style you love.


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