A varying mix of color, pattern, and texture goes a long way in giving a space personality and depth. Keep reading to learn about how creating layers is an important part of my approach to design.
Most of us have had the experience of walking into a staged real estate home or furniture showroom and being underwhelmed by the actual design. When you think about it, it makes sense. The core pieces may all be there, like they’ve been checked off a list: area rug, sofa, coffee table, lamps, etc. But the final look lacks depth, warmth, and most importantly, personality. These spaces are usually decorated to highlight the home’s features, and so that nearly anyone could walk into them and imagine their own family and furnishings. Alternatively, they are designed to display the product itself. For example, a sofa that’s for sale is not going to be covered by a carefully curated collection of accent pillows and throw blankets. It’s fine for a store or model home, but the last thing you want is your home having that same safe, neutral feeling.
As a professional designer, one of the most important ways I make your home feel soft and livable is by building layers. We plan for it at every level: the foundation of the walls, floors, and architecture; the furniture; and the accessories. Let me dig into our approach:
By that I mean the floors, walls, and ceiling of a space. These surfaces are the first opportunity to mix materials and add texture, and the options are nearly endless. On the floors, we may layer a nubby area rug over warm hardwood floors. On the walls, we could expose original brickwork, highlight case moldings with color, or add an eye-catching wall covering. On the ceiling, a surface that’s often overlooked, we are intentional about finding ways to draw the eye upward. Hanging a statement chandelier or drapes that are mounted high to the molding add visual interest, softness, and a striking reason to look at what’s above.
When we are pulling colors, patterns, and materials for a design, we always aim for a mix that complement and contrast. For example, if we are going with a plush upholstered sofa, we may balance that with a sleek and smooth accent table. It’s always a fun moment for us and our clients when we give our design presentation, and we look at all the material swatches and samples together!
Layers are a wonderful opportunity to connect spaces to each other. You want your home to feel cohesive, not simply a collection of beautifully designed, but separate, rooms. For example, in this home, the color teal has a place in every single room. It’s in the trim color, rugs, accessories, and other surprise moments. The overarching jewel tone color scheme throughout the house tells a story as you move from space to space.
Pillows, throw blankets, and accessories add up and make a big impact in bringing warmth into a space. Think about the eye-catching object on a bookshelf, cool bowl holding fruit on the kitchen island, or pretty tray perched atop an ottoman. Take them away, and the room feels less finished and less lived-in. Of course, we always leave room for our clients to include in their personal belongings, artwork, and treasures. These are the things that really personalize a space and make it reflect the people who live there. Finding just the right spot to feature a piece of art that has a unique story, hang a gallery wall of family photos, or display items collected during travels is a responsibility we take seriously. It is a pleasure to integrate these meaningful elements with pieces we’ve selected especially for the homeowners. After we’ve completed installation, we offer to add in another layer of accessories, and we also bring in extra options when we are photographing a finished space. More often than not, our clients will want to purchase some of these pieces when they see what a difference they make.
It’s not just the layering of objects, color, pattern, textures, and surfaces that add depth; lighting also has an enormous effect on the feel of a space. We always ensure there are robust sources of lighting throughout any room, and if they can all be on dimmers, even better! Natural light from windows is important. Then we look to the overhead fixtures to provide ambient light. Table lamps and floor lamps illuminate the eye-level areas of a room and are useful for reading, while picture lights are ideal for highlighting artwork or a bookcase. Every single one of these lights is a design opportunity. I love a good statement piece.
For a finished look, variation and balance are the secret. Keep these ideas in mind to create a home that looks unique and feels comfortable.
Until next time,