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Rhapsody in blue Add to ...

How do you turn an average guest room in a great downtown hotel into a superb suite without an actual budget? It's not easy, but when you're working for a good cause, it's amazing what you can do.

A few years ago, as part of a benefit for breast cancer research, I gave the "pampered in pink" treatment to a suite at the Park Hyatt Hotel, dressing the entire space in shades of pink - from powder to peony.

When the hotel asked me to give the royal treatment to another guest suite, this time geared to men and for the benefit of prostate cancer research, I jumped at the chance, even though it meant I'd be running a mini-telethon to make it happen.

In the spirit of charity, the Park Hyatt, in addition to the suite, provided a team of labourers, painters, plumbers, technicians and cleaning staff to execute the overhaul of the room.

It also donated the proceeds from the rental of the redecorated room during prostate cancer awareness week.

Now it was my turn to call in a few favours from my suppliers to provide the required materials.

I would need fabrics, furniture, carpet, fixtures and accessories to turn the room into a glorious suite all dressed in the signature blue of the campaign for prostate cancer research.

Working with a single colour is never a problem for me. My preference is generally to select a monochromatic palette and make it sing by using pattern and texture. Lucky for me, I happen to love blue in many shades and intensities, from indigo to robin's egg.

Make mine nightshade

Since the room was "for the boys," I zoned in on the deeper side of the spectrum and chose hues of blue that reminded me of a night sky - including denim, cobalt, royal, azure and navy. The goal was to create a statement that seemed cool and refreshing like a midnight swim as opposed to macho or collegiate.

Dig deep under the sea

Every adventure in design needs a departure point and I made mine an underwater world. Even a room designed with guys in mind needs a little softening up with a feminine touch. I found the perfect organic motif in a coral print fabric, which I splashed all over the bed frame. With movement and a vibrant mood it gives the cozy bedroom space a bit of pop.

Reflect on a blue mood

I have a tendency to repeat certain design elements that I feel are successful. (I guess that becomes the signature statement or recognizable factor in the work of many well-known designers.) Call it a habit, but I can't seem to call a room complete until it has a little sparkle to liven and lighten it up.

Mirrored chests with ample storage provided an oversized bedside surface with a crisp line, while mirrored stars created a playful reference to a grownup version of Twinkle, twinkle, little star. A pair of shiny silver urn-style lamps were a cheeky nod to the collegiate influence I was determined to avoid exploiting. (After all, checking into a top hotel should never remind you of a college dorm, no matter how much you want to remember the glory days of youth!) Without these reflective dazzlers, I felt the room would head toward a predictable macho bachelor mood with too much dark wood.

Make it a dozen

When working with a single shade, its important not to make the finished product seem flat and lifeless, and one bold print isn't enough to complete a room. In total, I compiled 13 different fabrics to tell my blue story. I once heard that Ralph Lauren believed in a "more is more" approach to mixing patterns, and I'd have to say I wholeheartedly agree with this approach. Whether it's a bedroom or living area, I generally find that my room schemes, like baked goods, are better by the dozen.

Layer the texture

A room all in blue might provide the perfect cocoon at night, but since many hotel guests are business travellers looking to make the most of every waking moment, I tempered my use of moody blues with a few bright whites. A stark white cover makes the bed look as inviting as a cloud and ready to dive into, while navy and white lattice-patterned drapes in the sitting area add a graphic touch. Sheer linen drapes with tiny round mirrors sewn in add just a touch of bohemian indulgence to a room in a hotel that is, in most ways, prim and proper.

Classic meets clubby

Modern angles and hard lines had no place in my "boys club" vision. I opted for subtle curve and streamlined proportion to infuse the elegance one would expect to find in an old-school men's club.

Deep chairs for deep thoughts, an ample ottoman on which to rest tired feet, and a snappy sofa tailored in men's suiting-style fabric prove that nothing is more classic than true blue.

Where to buy it

Carpet - Shaw Contract Group. http://www.shawcontractgroup.com

Upholstered furniture - Sarah Richardson Design, http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com

Fabrics - Robert Allen, http://www.robertallendesign.com

Bedside chests, mirrored stars, leather desk chair, wave photo - Urban Barn, http://www.urbanbarn.com

Floor lamp, desk lamp, leaner mirror - Elte, http://www.elte.com

Dresser, sideboard, side table - G.H. Johnson's Trading Co., 416-532-6700

Paint colours:

Living room wall - "Grey ghost," ICI No. 50BG 83/004

Bedroom wall - "Sensual," ICI No. 30BB 54/120

Ceiling and trim - "Natural white," ICI No. 50YY83/029

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