Originally created 02/20/00

Family's home life colorful



Debbe Rosenthal loves color -- the kind of vibrant hue that seems to jump off the walls.

In nearly every room of her home in the Heritage Hills subdivision in Columbia County she interprets rose, navy, green, yellow and red in multiple shades. The colors swirl from upholstery to watercolor pictures to wallpaper and carpeting.

"I just love the brightness of colors. It makes it airy," said Mrs. Rosenthal. She and husband Lee moved into their home about three years ago.

Their light-peach stucco ranch house has 2,100 square feet, including a Florida room completed in October. They converted a porch into a sitting room by installing floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides.

The windows, generously framed in white trim, overlook a kidney-shaped patio that Mr. Rosenthal designed. A line of six shade trees divides the patio area from the rest of the back yard.

A pale but clear yellow floods the stucco walls in the Florida room. Flooring consists of 12-by-12-inch ceramic tiles in dusty rose. A vine painted by Aiken artist Becky Wilson Mahoney trails above the windows, providing a resting place for cheerful painted birds and squirrels, like the real ones the owners enjoy watching from their retreat.

More of Ms. Mahoney's whimsical touches can be seen in a basket of flowers painted above the living room couch, a potted topiary in the entry and an urn next to a kitchen doorway.

The artist and the owner "talked and talked" about what to display, said Mrs. Rosenthal. "I can come up with the ideas, but to sit down and paint -- that I can't do."

Friends ask her for decorating advice so often however, her husband thinks she should go into business. Though she gladly makes suggestions or keeps an eye out for special curtains or some other buy for a friend, working for others is different from working for yourself, said Mrs. Rosenthal.

The couple chose dark-stained rattan in a glossy finish for the addition's furniture and accent pieces, including a rattan candleholder. Floral prints decorate cushions and the rest of the upholstery.

The Florida room opens into the living room, a space doused in deep rose with strong accents of navy and pale yellow. "I wish you could see that crape myrtle in the front (yard) when it blooms. It is a deep rose color just like the walls in here," said Mrs. Rosenthal, who is an avid gardener as well as decorator. The couple did all the landscaping on the half-acre lot.

The crape myrtle is visible from the dining area, where walls are papered with a hunter green and white stripe. The green is repeated below a chair rail. Seat cushions are covered in a playful plaid -- narrow wiggly bands of green, rose, blue and yellow on white.

The green helps set the dining area off from the rest of the living room. They were both painted rose until recently, she said.

The house has an open floor plan, which lends itself to entertaining.

Mr. Rosenthal is president of the Heritage Hills Neighborhood Association, which sponsors a community barbecue each September. The small, friendly subdivision was a selling point to the couple when they were shopping for a house.

In the living room, a watercolor of The Heritage, the 18th-hole at Hilton Head, hangs near the couch. The picture, which picks up all the room's colors, was a gift from her husband. "He is a lover of golf," she said.

They are enthusiastic golf fans, but only Mr. Rosenthal plays. "Isn't that terrible? My husband keeps trying to get me out there. I just have to get myself geared up for it. I think I would enjoy it because I love to watch it. We go to so many of the tournaments," she said.

He is the information services operations manager at E-Z Go, a division of Textron Inc. The couple and their twin sons, Shawn and Jason, now 22, moved from Elmira, N.Y., to Augusta some 18 years ago.

The Rosenthals met at a Buffalo, N.Y., bank where they both worked. They will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year with a trip to Hawaii, she said.

Light oak flooring extends from the living room into the kitchen, where navy and rose accents pick up a mostly sunny yellow and white color scheme. White plantation shutters cover windows next to an eat-in area. The room has ample lighting and storage.

A floral-and-stripe wallpaper hangs in the kitchen and a hallway between it and the main dining area. A door along the hallway opens into a large laundry room. "Every house has a catch-all," and that's hers, said Mrs. Rosenthal.

A small table with hand-painted flowers and butterflies, which Mrs. Rosenthal purchased at a craft fair, stands in the hall across from the laundry room.

A second hallway from the living room leads to the three bedrooms and two baths.

Mrs. Rosenthal has small lamps in unexpected places, such as the bathroom vanity. A Tiffany lamp in her bedroom was a keepsake from her mother, whose cousin made it as a gift. "It has a lot of memories," she said.

The master bedroom is moss green. Windows are topped with a double ruffle of rose and light rose. Plantation shutters cover the lower part of the windows. A large, black steel bed with a canopy dominates the room.

The master bathroom has 12-foot ceilings, a Jacuzzi and twin walk-in closets.

Little by little the Rosenthals redo their house. Decorating is a passion, said Mrs. Rosenthal.

They first redecorated their sons' rooms. "They had to be redone. They were pink," she said.

Shawn and Jason have their own rooms. In contrast to the bright florals and stripes in the rest of the home, their rooms sport geometric prints, deep tan walls, and black and hunter green accents.

The twins are fraternal, but friends have trouble telling them apart, said their mother. Both work for Winn-Dixie but at different locations. "People do a double-take when they see one. `Didn't I just see you ..."' she said with a laugh.

Both sons are also collectors, especially Jason, who has a duck collection and some 150 Beanie Babies. Shawn collects Fluties, a sports version of Beanie Babies, as well as some of the popular soft dolls.

The Rosenthals' sons share something else as well -- an affection for Tia, the family's 5-year-old white Persian. "Tia loves my boys. She'll come running when she hears that door open," said Mrs. Rosenthal.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336.