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DECOR SCORE- Hankering to Hang on to Summer? Hang Curtains PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rose Bennett Gilbert Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 02:40


Endless summer? Curtaining off an outside porch can add precious weeks of outdoor living time.

Q: We've loved living all summer on the porch of our new house. We moved in the spring from a townhouse that had only a narrow back yard. The porch has been our family gathering place for three months and we hate to give it up. What about hanging curtains to prolong our outdoor life for a few more weeks? Tacky? A: Not tacky at all. On hot summer days, curtains can work wonders on porches as shade-givers. As windbreakers in cooler times, the right curtains should help weatherize your porch and extend your al-fresco fun right through the fall.

By "right," we mean curtains made of a substantial fabric, such as sailcloth or awning-weight canvas. If you choose a lighter material, hang double layers, backto- back pattern-side out, the better to protect you from chill breezes. And by all means, insist on one of the new indoor-outdoor fabrics that combine a living room feeling with rugged imperviousness to sun and rain.

Check out a good choice at

Pattern also adds to the living room feel, as you can see in the porch we show here. This one was dressed up by designer Amanda Nisbet for a designer showhouse in toney Bridgehampton, Long Island, N.Y. Not an easy assignment, the designer writes in her new book, "Dazzling Design" (published this month by Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

She calls the narrow wraparound porch a "booby prize," which she drew when showhouse rooms were assigned to different designers.

Turning it into a "blue ribbon," Nisbet says she relied on a variety of textures: shingles on the side of the house, the staccato pattern of the wooden ceiling and floor, and textiles, including burlap-wrapped boxes in which she displayed chunks of white coral as works of natural art.

Then she added those patterned linen curtains all around to "make the porch feel more like an outdoor living room."

Endless summer? Maybe global warming is not an altogether bad idea after all.

Q: I happen to love stripes. But do they always have to be vertical? We have a small entry hall. How would it look if we installed striped wallpaper on the horizontal?

A: Your small hall would look instantly larger. It's one of the most useful optical illusions available to interior decorators. Vertical stripes fool the eye into seeing taller spaces; horizontal stripes tend to push the walls apart visually so the space appears larger.

Actually, horizontal stripes can be effective in large spaces, too. When he decorated the very large and imposing, doubleheight entry for the recent Hampton Designer Showhouse in Water Mill, N.Y., Lee W. Robinson applied wide horizontal stripes in three warm colors — turquoise, bronze and cream. It sure cozied up and added charm to what was essentially an over-scaled and rather formal space.

In the same showhouse, Tammy Connor waxed a bit wild with striped walls in a bedroom: she ran blue-on-blue stripes vertically on the side walls, and then turned them horizontal on the end walls. Her final touch, visually revving everything up another notch, was the runner rug she laid on the diagonal between the room's twin beds.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 September 2012 02:42