Every so often a genuine trend emerges, and the most recent trend to surface is a craving for decorative columns. The decorative columns can be new — available at your local lumber yard — or they can be old, picked up at demolition sites or at one of the many artifact shops that have sprung up to sell salvaged parts of old houses.
Columns from the simple Doric to the elaborate Corinthian contribute a decorative grace to any room. Those who yearn to recreate the past appreciate decorative columns for their nostalgia value.
In a dining area, over the table, I dropped a canopy ceiling supported by a column at each end. In a bedroom, I fastened a pair of columns to the wall to use as a headboard, spanned with an upholstered panel for comfort, repeating the same upholstery in the bedspread.
For a shelf system, I tied the shelves right into the sides of the columns. This was a real winner and turned out to be an inexpensive storage system as well.
But decorative columns can stand simply on their own, leading elegance and stature to an otherwise anonymous space. In a dining room I designed for a column-crazy couple, I used inexpensive, salvaged columns to take the place of, furniture.
The setting was ideal: The house was old, and there were two fabulous wood fanlights, combined with shutters, covering two French doors to the patio. Intricate moldings and a high ceiling added to the romance of the background. These fanlights and shutter combinations, incidentally, can be reproduced by woodworkers today. Some are even stock parts.
An inexpensive contemporary table, a white oval plastic laminate top on two chrome pedestals, recalls the shape of the columns in chrome. A chrome cylinder holds the suspended fluorescent light that illuminates the table for dining. The chairs are from a secondhand shop.
The columns are a mixed bag, but they work well together. The contemporary pedestals, with square edges, and round decorative columns with capitals broad enough to support a large plant, are all painted white. Grape ivy and ferns are planted in some. Two white marble busts — antique garden sculptures — complete the scene. Stone or terracotta reproductions such as these are available today.