A: I vote for dark and intriguing. You'll be in there mainly at night anyway, right?
Put your trust into a really interesting hanging light -- takes up no room and will become the focal point of the small space ... unless you are brave enough to borrow the smashing idea we show here.
Not that this is a small space, mind you -- the photo was taken in a very large home that's been made less cold and more livable through the use of good art (No surprise that it's from a book on the subject, "Artistic Interiors" by architect/designer Suzanne Lovell).
Lovell has chosen warm colors, vigorously patterned fabrics and a grand-period chandelier, but the drop-dead element in this dining room is the enormous photograph on the wall. Taken by Candida Hofer of an l8th-century academic library in Portugal, it "deepens and dramatizes the space," as Lovell writes.
Boy, does it! After a dinner in such splendor, who wants to go home to the 21st century!
Lacking a comparable masterpiece, you might create the same kind of illusion with a just-right poster. Or find an old master painting of a Renaissance interior and have it blown up to glorious proportions. The whole idea is to generate a level of excitement far greater than the size of the room itself.
Q: Like poking through other peoples' houses?
A: Then April is the coolest month: Historic Garden Week opens April 21st offering the chance to tour some 200 houses -- new and old -- and glorious gardens all across the state of Virginia.
What started as a mere flower show back in l929 has now grown into the longest-running and largest open house in the country, attracting thousands of visitors. The week is sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia, but these gardeners don't just do dirt. Over the years, they have raised funds for key restoration projects such as saving Thomas Jefferson's original mulberry trees at Monticello and landscaping Kenmore, the Fredericksburg home of George Washington's sister.
Have a look at gcvirginia.org ... then go see what's blooming in Virginia.
Q: Want to see your own garden in a new light?
A: The brightest idea we brought home from the Philadelphia Flower Show this year actually came from Malibu, Calif., charming little glass/bronze/copper/brass garden lights shaped like glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, toad stools, and flowers, straight from a child's storybook.
We're still trying to figure out how to use them indoors, too.
Put March 3 -10, 2013, on your list for gathering new ideas. That's when the Philly Flower Show (TheFlowerShow.com) rolls out "Brilliant!" in homage to the famed gardeners of the U.K.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.