For several weeks, I’ve been eavesdropping on the Russians. I go through the machinations of walking my dog around Portland but my ears have been mostly in Moscow. Thanks to a smart phone, a cool app, and recorded books I’ve been completely captivated by Anna Karenina. Then last weekend I saw her in the flesh. She was utterly alluring. Gorgeously dressed. And living lavishly on the set of Portland Center Stage.
Homes tend to reflect their owners and Anna struck me as a full-color girl. I expected to find her surrounded by sumptuous burgundy velvets, lavish emerald green brocades, and lots of gaudy gold gilt as though living inside a humongous Faberge egg. So I was taken aback by her decor. It looked as if someone had brought a vacuum cleaner to the place and sucked out all the color. The settee was black and white, the curtains were black and white, the columns were white with gray, and Anna wore a diaphanous white dressing gown with big black bows down the front. WTF? Which in my decor-minded mind stands for Why The Furnishings?
But as the play unfolded, the set made perfect sense. Anna Karenina lives in a society in which rules are rigidly drawn and she just can’t resist coloring outside the lines. Everything is black and white, right or wrong, moral or “im” until love, life and other complications reveal all those murky shades of gray.
Dang, that Anna knows how to decorate!
Grab some design inspiration from Leo Tolstoy. Create a little household drama without going for the full train wreck, if you get my drift. The Diana Swoop chair pictured above by Powell Co. has the vivid black and white color combination and graceful lines that the theatrical Ms. K. might prettily perch upon. It’s available through several outlets. Prices hover around $300. The Rosewood black and white window panels by Nicole Miller at Bed, Bath & Beyond could frame a view of peasants and gentry with socialist aspirations scything wheat fields in old Russia; or maybe just an American suburban backyard. Graham & Brown wallpaper in a black-and-white damask, $75 per roll, at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Martha Stuart, who has led an novel-worthy life, offers black and white dishware at Macys, on sale now for $8-$30 per piece. The Zeus comforter set, $139 at Target, in an antique scrolling pattern still manages to look modern in black and white. Decorating an entire room in black and white prints might make you feel as if you lived in a comic strip before a color inker got hold of it. But layering a few prints and adding pops of clear bright color be just the right touch of drama.