Decorating with Big Space and Small Furniture

Q. We moved into a new house with a cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom. Our furniture looks "lost." There are two regular size windows on one wall. Are there any suggestions on how to "warm up" the bedroom to make it feel less lofty?

A. The quickest and least expensive way to cozy up a big space: put any warm color on the walls. Warm colors make the walls close in cool colors make them recede. You might even consider using a very pale tint of the wall color on the ceiling, so they're not so stark white, or even use the same wall color on the ceiling. It'll still be nice and open. For real drama, use a darker shade on the ceiling.

Part of the reason your furniture is looking lost is because it's a light maple. If it were a darker color, it would be making more of a statement. To help it stand out, go for a warm color that is a darker tone than your furniture. It'll be a better backdrop than a light color or one that is the same tone.

Don't feel limited in your color choices. In addition to the entire color families of red, orange, and yellow, don't forget all the browns and olive greens. But really, if you've got white walls now, any color is going to pull the walls in more than they look now with the white. But to achieve a warm, cozy space, any of the mentioned warm colors will do that better than cool ones, which are blues, purples, bluish greens, grays, etc.

The good news is that your choices for wall color aren't limited at all by your furniture color. A light maple will go with anything, versus a cherry that doesn't. Is any of this helping, or do you just need to buy more or bigger furniture? If more furniture is needed, consider a cozy upholstered chair and ottoman or chaise, and create a reading nook in one corner. Pair it with a tall plant as the focus or a floor lamp, a throw pillow, hang a picture on the wall and create a little area for relaxing.

One more thing: take a look at your lighting. If the only light source in the room is the fixture on the ceiling in the middle of the room, that's a major factor causing your room to feel cold. Make sure you get some good lamps for each side of the bed, and maybe the one in the corner by the chair and use those instead of the ceiling fixture. It'll make a world of difference at night.

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