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Debbie Travis' House to Home: Recommends Rebecca Atwood's new book

Anyone can create a well-conceived room and stay within a budget. This week Debbie reveals a useful, appealing source to help with that
Dining room blue wallpaper From "Living With Pattern" by Rebecca Atwood, a stunning wallpaper design in watery blue tones creates a versatile backdrop for dining casually and feast days.

When you come upon a well-conceived room, the decorating appears effortless. Do you catch yourself thinking that you would never be able to construct such a space yourself? You are not the creative type, and it must cost a fortune? If you are truly interested in making a home that gives you pleasure, that works on many levels - practical, stylish, interesting, restful and within your budget, then take the journey to find your story. Textile designer and artist Rebecca Atwood demonstrates with words and pictures all the steps to take in her inspiring book Living with Pattern, photographs by Emily Johnston, Clarkson Potter.

In Part I, Atwood explores methods for you to discover what you are drawn to by collecting photos and samples of colours, patterns and items to which you are drawn. Starting from scratch, the author explains colour relationships, the role of textures and the magic of patterns in simple language that makes the design process personal. Themes will emerge that lead you to building rooms you love.

"Pattern is the best tool to create a warm and friendly environment," states Atwood. In Part II, each room in the house is featured with helpful tips and ideas on how to use pattern. On How to Style a Sofa, matching pairs of pillows are traditional, an odd number is more modern, experiment with large and small sizes and a mix of pattern. Textiles can be wrapped around the seat cushion or the entire back of the sofa, heavier weight textiles will stay in place better. 

Atwood is very clever at flexible decorating. She believes, for example, that for the dining room, a good balance is to create a dining area that can serve the everyday as well as the special occasion. Use open shelves or a credenza to display a mix of objects from bowls and candlesticks to personal memorabilia. Choose a table that is quirky, has history, or transform a vintage door. Your choice of table linens and crockery can make every day a special occasion. Included is a variety of table settings with Atwoodís famed delicious mix of patterns. Consider tile or a flat weave carpet under the table for easy cleanup. In the all-occasion dining room shown here, the wallpaper pattern feels sophisticated because of the way it repeats and its intricate details, but also relaxed because of the colour and water reference. 

The bedroom offers many opportunities to splurge with pattern. Layer the bed with a mix of linens, and upholster the headboard. Atwood offers tips and illustrations on styling a bed. But if you prefer plain linens, add texture and shine with painted bedside tables and dresser. The walls and large furniture pieces create a foundation for everything else.

The author completes the book in Part III, by including step by step instructions for projects that will make unique additions to your patterned rooms. There is a decoupaged glass tray, a splatter-paint sisal rug, shibori-dyed napkins, marbled wall art, and upholstery tips to name a few. Plain woven place mats are enhanced with a hand-embroidered border; the matís weave provides the grid. 

You will return to this book many times as you prove to yourself that you can, in fact, be a brilliant decorator.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie's new website


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