In some cases, the big, bold design decisions can be correct. It works for accent pieces that you want to draw attention to—like mounted deer heads, pieces of artwork, or even the front door. Loud, bright colors that crowd each other too much, however, make home design feel chaotic and confused. The eye doesn’t have somewhere to rest, and instead jumps from image to image. It’s much better to have a single focal piece per room.
But there’s more to design than having a single, stand-out accessory and a few coordinating pieces that match. Melissa Rayworth, a writer for Great Falls Tribune, said, “Creating a noteworthy room with subtle, understated elegance is . . . complicated.”
The balancing act
If you don’t have enough color in a room, it feels sparse and cold. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn said, “A lack of objects makes a room feel unfinished, and a lack of color can also read of lifeless.” Too much color and you feel overwhelmed and blinded. Bold colors also tend to go out of fashion within a year or two.
Subtlety in color, focusing on neutrals with a few highlights, can be worth the extra effort it might take to find a good balance, said Flynn. “Every once in a while, it’s nice to have a space that’s just simple and clean,” he said.
One way to soften a room that feels sparse or cold is by adding warm textures to it. Designer Betsy Burnham of Burnham Design in L.A. said, “Think of a camel cashmere sweater. It’s the simplest thing in the world.” Other fabrics like silk and linen are also soft and breathable, which is exactly what you need when you’re looking to bring a sense of comfort to your home.
Flynn also suggested having smooth stone surfaces and “broadloom carpet that adds texture and softness underfoot.” Ambient lighting that can be adjusted with a dimmer also helps to soften and warm a room.
Using shapes to add visual interest is also a good idea, as long as you don’t let them dominate the room. Avoid busy patterns, instead looking for shapes with intricate designs that illustrate creativity and fine craftsmanship. For instance, Flynn said he looks for furniture with “interesting detail, such as fretwork or inlaid paneling.” And Burnham said she “recently designed a bedroom with a large bed that featured beautiful wood carving, bringing some excitement to an otherwise subtle room.” Rugs or tapestries with intricate yet understated patterns also bring shapes into an otherwise monochromatic room.
To decide which shapes to use, look at what is already present in your room, and add whatever is missing. Consider shapes that are less common, like cylindrical pillows, prism chandeliers, or triangular pendant lighting. “Keep adding [shapes] until they fit together like a puzzle,” Flynn suggested. “The key to a well-balanced room is a mix of natural materials.”
Note: This blog entry has been edited in accordance with GP.com guidelines.