Bandanas come off necks and into room designs

By Carleton Varney

Special to the Daily News

The bandana has hit the decorating stage and in many different forms. When I was a younger man, the bandana mostly represented the world of the cowboy think of the Cisco Kid, John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The first bandanas I ever saw were red, white and black, and they were always tied around the neck and worn with jeans or with some other casual dress, generally in the country or on a ranch in the Southwest.

I later remember seeing bandanas at a children’s Western-theme party in upstate New York. They served as napkins on an outdoor picnic table. Some were a mix of rich royal blue and white while others were the original red-and-white variety. And thus the bandana moved from fashion-accessory to table accessory and has today found even wider acceptance among savvy decorators.

I recently saw bandana squares used as tie-backs on a pair of draperies made of denim. How very smart they looked in a den with denim-blue walls and a floor of rich denim-blue carpeting. Furnishings in the room were all made of white wicker with white-linen cushions piped in red and white denim to pick up on the look of the tie-backs.

The bandana look also is showing up on upholstery coverings, as drapery and as tablecloths. The fabric is available by the yard in the original colors of blue and red but also in pink, cerulean blue, baby blue, purple, gray, deep hot pink and brown. I’ve also seen the bandana yardage in dramatic white and black.

Meanwhile, bandanas in colors such as lemon yellow, rich mandarin orange and lime green have hit the shores of the Palm Beaches and of the Caribbean Basin.

My friend, Patrice Wymore, the actress wife of the late cinema star Errol Flynn, resides on the island of Jamaica and she, knowing that I enjoy wearing scarves, sent me a rainbow variety of colorful bandanas that I enjoy wearing with colorful trousers and a white jacket when I’m in the islands.

And those islands include sunshine-filled Palm Beach. I so love when my residential designs and my personal style can say, “Live vividly.” And if that style includes a colorful bandana, so much the better!

While planning a Florida room, perhaps a sun room, why not choose a color scheme as cheerful as a colorful bandana? Use white for the walls and a happy pink for your ceiling color. Furnish the room with white wicker furniture and accent all the upholstered pieces with pillows in a mix of colorful bandana colors. Mix pink-bandana-fabric squares with lime-green bandanas for an up-to-the-minute statement — and use pink lamps on the end tables with white accordion-pleated lamp shades edged in soft pink.

Or, if you want a more traditional look, replace the pink and green bandanas with red and blue ones for a bright, patriotic look. Lamps would have to be changed to red or blue, with the shades laced in red or the blue.

When I think about it, the American bandana, in any of its newfound colors, has become as an American icon. It was there when I was a child, and it is there as I write this piece — and I, indeed, am in the adulthood of my life.

So “happy trails to you,” as Dale Evans, the queen of the cowgirls, used to sing, often while wearing a bandana tied stylishly around her neck! (For those who don’t remember, Evans was married to Roy Rogers, the singing cowboy for whom a fast-food hamburger chain was named.)

Now, I really must get back to my decorating corral!


Leave a comment