February 17, 2013

Decor need a dash of sophistication? Put on a winter coat

Use the season as inspiration – you'll be surprised at the warmth shades of white, blue and gray can create.

By MELISSA RAYWORTH The Associated Press

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A living room designed by Betsy Burnham employs an icy palette to create winter-inspired style that looks good during any season.

Associated Press photos

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Brian Patrick Flynn for HGTV.com updated a flea market dresser with blue-gray lacquer, then accessorized with all-white pieces.

Additional Photos Below

Schuneman loves mixing wintry whites, silvers and grays accented with shades of purple. Or he sometimes pairs "a gray that has blue as its base, and a blue that has gray in its base" and brings in "hard edges, like crystal lamps" for a chic, "wintry feeling."


Winter-inspired design can work in any climate, from a Vermont ski house to a California beach condo.

"I did a bedroom in the Hollywood Hills with icy blue walls, and the headboard wall was all metal ceiling tiles," Schuneman says. For the bedside tables, he chose pale blue glass lamps that resemble melting chunks of ice.

"You can really go for it" and do a full-on winter-inspired style, Schuneman says, or use just touches of it as "the thing that gives a room an edge."

In southern California or other warm locations, Burnham says, it may work best to mix winter-inspired items with something more reminiscent of the local weather.

"Think of a beautiful driftwood table with something sparkly on it. That brings it back to the sand and the beach, and keeps it relatable" to your warm-weather location, but also includes a bit of icy beauty, she says.


Along with shimmery, mirrored surfaces, be sure to include soft, cozy ones: Look for "beautiful cable-knit cashmere throws," Burnham says, or "a big faux-fur coyote blanket on a bed. It's wintry, but it's also so luxe, so high-end hunting lodge, and that works at the beach, too."

Layers of soft fabric on furniture and floors bring a welcome feeling of warmth. If you choose a "fluffy, white flokati rug for the floor, you're still having a kind of wintry moment," Schuneman says, "but it's just not hard-edged."


Just don't get silly, Flynn says. "First and foremost, I let my client know that just because we're going wintry, it doesn't mean we're going to pop out igloos, snowflakes and polar bears. In other words, we completely avoid themes and cliches altogether."

Instead, he says, "we just think of different ways to use whites, grays, metallics and textures in a manner which fits their personal style and makes a room feel airy and open. That's usually my trick to getting winter-inspired design right."

Melissa Rayworth writes the Ask a Designer column for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at:


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Additional Photos

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This guest bedroom designed by Brian Patrick Flynn includes a custom headboard made from men’s suiting fabric and pillows made from hand-me-down sweaters and flannel shirts.

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White and blue walls and a snow-white flotaki rug define Betsy Burnham’s guest bedroom.

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Kyle Schuneman’s icy bedside lamp fronts a wall of shimmery, metal ceiling tiles.

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