CREATVE ENVIRONMENTS: Think beyond wallpaper when sprucing up a room

Can't find the right wallpaper? Stop looking in wallpaper books and look into your imagination instead.

Don't go through the hassle of searching through a melee of wallpaper patterns and colors when you can have your walls custom painted for approximately the same price as quality wallpaper.

Think of the possibilities:

-- You've found the perfect bedspread, but can't find a wallpaper that coordinates well with it.

-- A border around the room would finish off the decor, but the borders in the paper books are too narrow or the wrong color.

-- Your upholstery colors are a bit outdated, but you want to keep them anyway, because they suit you just fine.

--Your wallpaper is starting to show wear, and needs to be replaced, but you can't find a shade that suits your furniture.

None of these would be a problem if you have the walls custom-painted.

Take the bedspread that lacks coordinating paper -- just have the walls painted in the same pattern and colors. Or, if the pattern on the spread is bouquets of flowers, try repeating those bouquets in the four corners of the room as accents instead of painting the entire wall.

If it is a border that the room needs, create a pattern and have it painted along the top perimeter of the room, along the bottom by the baseboard or three-quarters of the way up the wall.

Paint ivy all along the top of the four walls with a few vines "growing" down in the corners.

Are there outdated colors in your upholstery? Are you having a hard time finding just that same shade in wallpaper books? Sponge paint the walls instead of papering them. Now the color can be perfectly matched, and it will give a fresh look to the walls without the hassle and expense of redoing the entire room.

Many more special things can be done to walls if you find the right artist. For example, a room without a view can be turned into one with a view by painting a scene.

Paint a window, complete with opened shutters. As you peer through the panes in the "window," the scene is a beach with sail boats in the distance and a seagull or two floating through the air. Or open up the room with a trompe l'oeil door that leads to a garden path.

The possibilities are endless. Be it flowers, stripes, abstracts or full-fledged murals, custom painting might be just what the room needs.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color," available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and