Debbie Travis: Break the rules and feed imagination with jungle inspiration

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

Sean

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Oh, I do love to break the rules, and most of them don’t hold up in every situation anyway. Dark colours 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.

This bathroom vignette demonstrates how a little imagination and a few stylish touches can give a small space big heart. The wall colour is called Railings, from Farrow and 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 greys and watery blues. Here, the deep blue-grey paint colour 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 colours match up. Pots of plants flaunt their variegated leaves to build a welcome, homey ambience 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's lots of inspiration at farrow-ball.com.

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

Clive

Decorative crown mouldings bring dimension and architectural interest to a room. They are like the icing on the cake, adding extra flavour and flourish to a plain base. Although strongly associated with traditional style and older homes, they 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 moulding that is similarly plain. Check out all the styles at your home store or the internet — you will be amazed at the selection. Look at ceiling trim as well. If your furnishings are more traditional, patterned, sculpted or even eclectic, you can turn to mouldings that are deeper and provide more detail. Rather than pay the price for a deep moulding, 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 moulding 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 mouldings, 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.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis, facebook.com/thedebbietravis, debbietravis.com.

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