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Oct 7, 2001

A World of Options

by Denise Bates Enos

Orlando Sentinel

Design influences from all four corners of the globe converge in today's eclectic look

Photo caption: Zimbabwe bedroom, Novica.com. Pleasant mix: Natural fabrics and materials come together in a harmonious mix of textures. Because of their beauty, the items blend nicely, no matter which country they come from

Photo caption: Mexico hallway, Novica.com. For every room: A varied an exciting global look can be extended throughout the house, including the hallway

Never has the world seemed so small, or interior design options so large. Homeowners can choose from a variety of international styles to create their own signature look, which has been aptly labeled "global eclectic" by the experts.

Zen-like simplicity from Asia, rich colors and patterns from India, exotic animal prints from Africa and British Colonial influences from the tropics all have a place in this multicultural montage.

The look emphasizes the organic, with plenty of flora and fauna representations. Think of the graceful simplicity of a single orchid in an oxblood planter, an elephant sculpture crafted of hammered metal, palm trees and monkeys decorating pillows and prints, plus hand-carved wooden African animals, and you'll get an idea of the touchstones of this style.

Natural fabrics and materials, such as raw silk and linen, teak an mahogany, banana bark and bamboo, brushed metals and slate, are combined in a variety of ways to create a harmonious mix of textures. The natural beauty of such items allows them to blend together effortlessly, no matter what their country of origin.

The palette of colors for this look begins with a range of deep, earthy tones of sage, brown, terra cotta and khaki. Accent colors brighten the scene with vivid hues of red, coral and a range of citrus tones. Together, they create a vibrant setting that evokes a worldly, yet welcoming, air.

For Central Florida residents, these design elements are an ideal match for our climate and outdoor-oriented lifestyle.

Jill Coton, director of sales and marketing for Romanza Interior Design in Orlando, says, "Not only does this trend create a beautiful space, it is also very practical and livable. People in Central Florida are in general very active and want their surroundings to be functional as well as appealing to the eye."

The variations on the global eclectic theme are endless because there are no boundaries to the style. Feel free to toss that colorful serape you picked up in Mexico on the sofa along with the leopard- and zebra-print pillows you found on sale at the mall. If you also have a collection of decorative Indo-Asian boxes for the coffee table, so much the better.

Or, if you prefer, you can concentrate on a single region within the larger trend. Consider focusing, for example, on a tropical look with rattan side chairs, a sisal rug on the floor and botanical prints of palm trees on the walls. Or go for a "Passage to India" feel with intricately embroidered pillows on the sofa, ornate brass trays, a kilim rug and a color scheme flavored with hues of saffron, curry and cinnamon.

For either look, Andrea Hurt, president of Winter Park's Marc-Michaels Interior Design, recommends starting with a simple sofa slipcovered in a natural fabric, such as cotton duck or raw silk, in white, ivory or khaki. From there, you can create the theme you want with accent fabrics, paint and accessories. No matter what theme - or themes - you choose, let your own good taste be your guide as you decorate in a worldly manner.

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