hom Take time to remove the wallpaper first

Be sure to splurge on the bed linens

King Features Syndicate

Dear Debbie: We've just moved, and the bedroom has dark-blue, shiny wallpaper hung above a chair rail. The lower walls are painted tan. I hate the paper and wondered if I could paint over it. I would like a bedroom that's quiet and serene. The curtains are dark beige with light-blue ribbon running through the fabric, and I do like them. -- Al

Dear Aly: Take the time to remove the wallpaper, and you will be far happier with your final results. Choose a gentle palette of colors that you love. I would suggest the seductive warmth of cappuccino walls and introducing a soft but cool tone of blue by painting it on the chair rail. These colors always work together in harmony, and your room will feel fresh, airy and calm. Splurge on good quality bed linens that pamper your skin, and you'll have sweet dreams.

Watch where you use blue


Dear Debbie: I need help with a long, narrow bathroom, 101⁄2; feet by 51⁄2; feet. There's a standard-size tub on the left side and a vanity running across the short end. I sponge-painted the ceiling royal blue, which didn't work too well, but the dark color distracts the eye into thinking the room is not as tall and narrow as it is. The tub is yellow, the other fixtures are white, and the room is painted white. I'm game to try anything except tub replacement. Any ideas are appreciated. -- Ronald S.

Dear Ronald: Oh, dear, you do seem in a bit of a muddle. The sponge-painting is a bit of a no-no, especially dark blue on white, but you have the right idea. Royal blue is an advancing color, meaning it moves toward you, therefore making the ceiling feel lower. If you paint the end of the long room in an advancing color such as deep blues, tangerine, citrus yellow or cranberry, it will give the illusion that the room is shorter. Since your tub is yellow, I would stay with the blues. Put the royal blue on the far wall, paint the ceiling flat white again (you will need a good primer to cover the sponging), and paint a soft baby blue around the upper half of the walls (waist height) and a creamy white below. Add some fresh, new bathroom accessories, fluffy towels, shelves and fixtures, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. Good luck.

Mama mia! Love that terra cotta

Dear Debbie: We have recently rented a home in Italy that has terra-cotta floors throughout. Our furniture and rugs are burgundy, moss and taupe. Even with the rugs down, the terra cotta overpowers the space. How can I incorporate my decor colors to match? -- Denyce D.

Dear Denyce: I am so jealous. I adore Italy and their homes. Terra cotta is used in abundance, as it is cool in the heat of the long summers. I don't think you can fight with the space, but here are a few suggestions to help tone down the vivid effect of all that burnt orange. Blues are probably the best contrast with terra cotta and will help neutralize the tones. I am not sure if you are allowed to paint the walls, but if this is a possibility, why not apply a couple of coats of a delicate cornflower blue throughout? If not, accessorize with blue sofas or some oversized throws. I do believe that you will get used to this very different type of decor and start to enjoy its ambiance. Savor every moment of this wonderful lifestyle.

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