Cape Cod Style Bedroom Cape Cod Style Bedroom

Q: I hope you can help me design a bedroom to give it a Cape Cod feeling. Basically, what are the design elements I need? The furniture now consists of an iron, ivory-colored bed; a painted dresser and lingerie chest both in green; and a 30" drape table currently with a floral tablecloth.

I would really like to have hardwood or laminate flooring, but budget does not allow for that. The room is a box with one slider door and a small window. It is a basic tract house bedroom with no architectural features.

A: There's nothing like a room on the shore of Cape Cod to make anyone, even the Anxious Decorator, relax a bit. And that's true even if the room is in a house that's actually about as close to the beach as Idaho.

First, you're right to believe that you can create this Cape Cod mood; you should, with the right design sense and a little training, be able to create any mood you want, regardless of where the home is.

First, let's consider the color scheme. You may think that a room with a Cape Cod look has to have the colors of the beach: blues and whites and a bit of rosy pink and sand. But this isn't necessarily true, and the green and ivory you have now is probably fine.

You don't say what shade of green the dresser and lingerie chest are painted, and this could make a big difference in the overall scheme of the room. One popular choice in the 1940s for beach cabins was to paint the exterior a bright white, with dark green shutters. If this is the green of the furniture, you may want to paint the walls a bright white, and be sure not to bring anything else that's dark into the room.

However, if the furniture is a lighter green, say a sage green, then you're right to go with the bed in ivory, and the walls could be ivory as well.

One inexpensive way to enhance the mood of a room is with decorative wallpaper trim, even if the walls are painted and not papered. A pretty floral trim will enhance your Cape Cod look, and will pull the colors of the room together.

The Cape Cod look is also a great excuse to go for the "shabby chic" look. This look has become so popular that there are entire books on how to achieve it, but essentially it involves buying furniture and accessories at yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops and then sprucing them up a bit. The trick is to spruce them up without making them look brand-new. Maybe you'll find three pretty bowls from the 1920s with a floral design, and you'll install them in a plate display on one wall. Or you'll remember that you still have your grandmother's chenille bedspread in the attic, and it'll be perfect on the bed.

For your one window, try a simple lace panel, hanging flat to let in as much light as possible. For the slider, you may want to hang simple white curtains, or maybe curtains in a white and green stripe.

If the dresser and lingerie chest are too modern-looking, change the knobs. Glass knobs here would be perfect, but by browsing around the hardware stores you may find others that help complete the look.

You say the home is "a basic tract house bedroom with no architectural features." But you can create a few on your own. You may not want to invest this much, but you should consider changing the door to the room. In tract houses, often inexpensive, hollow doors are used by the builders, and remain forever. You can buy an old door at a restoration hardware store, and hire a carpenter to fit it to the frame. You may want to distress the wood on the side that faces the interior of the room. A glass paneled door would also work well with your Cape Cod theme.

Another way to enhance the architecture is with crown molding. Many people seem to think that a room either has crown molding or it doesn't, but it's quite inexpensive to buy and install; you can even put it up yourself.

And yes, a hardwood floor, or particularly a painted wood floor, would enhance the look tremendously. You may want to investigate the cost of this further. If you're going to paint the wood floor, you may not need to invest as much as you'd think in it; at least some of the cost of installing a hardwood floor is, indeed, in paying for the hardwood, which looks much better than other woods. However, if you're going to paint the floor, you may be able to do this for much less than you think, because it needn't be high-quality wood.

But let's say that re-doing the floor is still out of reach. The next best thing for the floor will be throw rugs. One in a floral pattern, a couple with green and white stripes, and another in a check or plaid will further the look. Just make sure all the colors coordinate perfectly. Or, you could use a sisal rug, which would also give the feeling of the beach brought inside.

Keep in mind that you want the room to harmonize, and soon you'll have a room that doesn't feel like a tract house, but that feels like a day at the beach.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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