Posts Tagged ‘Condo Remodel’
How to Select a Focal Point in a Room
Have you ever walked into a room where everything is virtually screaming at you? A room where everything competes for attention in placement, style, scale, color, and texture?
One of the ways to avoid that type of chaos is to understand the function of the room, make a decision about where the focal point will be located, and create surroundings that complement the main piece.
For instance, take this Dining Room I designed. Early on I decided I wanted the dining table in the center of the room to be the focal point. After that decision was made, I kept all larger surfaces in the room remain un-patterned or just slightly patterned.
The background wall is silver leafed, you can see the slight differentiation of the rectangular silver leaves, but it works as a dull mirror that helps the glass table sparkle even more.
Draperies consist of flat sliding panels of lined silk with a subtle tone on tone pattern; their unmannered design is also meant to visually reinforce the table.
The aubergine wool rug has a barely noticeable small pattern and its main function is to provide a strong contrasting color to the table base.
The light fixture consists of a curved hand-blown glass suspended by steel cables and illuminated from the ceiling by low voltage fixtures, its function is to appear like a floating leaf above the table. A heavier fixture or chandelier would have competed with the table.
The more traditional looking chairs are upholstered in solid off-white velvet and their wooden frames, slightly brushed in antique gold, were deliberately chosen to contrast with the sharp, contemporary crackled glass of the table base.
A few words to remember:
“A well designed room is one where there was a commitment made to its function, feel and style long before anything is selected.” ~EG
When I am hired to decorate the interiors of older homes, one thing I am almost always faced with is smaller size rooms. Here are some simple guidelines:
1.) Select a light monochromatic palette. Less saturated colors reflect more light and give a greater sense of spaciousness. By limiting the amount of different colors in a room, the space will feel less busy, more open and airy. Using a monochromatic palette doesn’t mean a room has to be dull or boring. Select fabrics with different patterns and textures in the same tone. In this Living Room I selected a dozen different fabrics.
2.) Try to place furnishings close to the perimeter walls. By using the perimeter space, the room will gain visual openness in the center of the room and actually create a physical sense of space. Most larger rooms have a pathway, or traveling space around the outside of seating areas, but in smaller rooms this space can be moved to the inside of the groupings and make the space look much larger.
3.) Limit yourself to one large piece of furniture. For example, use one sofa or one large armoire and complement that piece with smaller furnishings this will give the room variations in scale without making it feel heavy or overcrowded.
4.) Don’t be afraid to use an eclectic mix of furnishings. Monochromatic palettes tend to unify them and harmonize the look just by color!
5.) Go vertical. Another optical trick is to make ceilings look higher by using vertical stripes on your wall-coverings. These subtle lines will draw the eye upward creating height. By painting the ceilings in a glossy finish you can reflect more light and take the weight of the ceiling out of the room.
Remember: “Small is Beautiful.” Ernesto Garcia, ASID
A stairway in a foyer can make or break the space. It is usually the first impression a house gives to its visitors. A good stairway is like that indispensable broche on a dress or a statement tie to a suite. A stairway’s railing is one of its most important components.
Depending on the style of a home, railings can be richly ornate or simple and understated. If your railing is the focal point, the treatment used on treads and risers should complement and not compete with the railing. These railings are an airy variation of leaves and foliage and draw much more attention than the simple white floating steps. Other spaces may call for stone, wood, tile, concrete or any combination of these materials to accompany different railings styles.
This photograph shows an eclectic residence where the steps are the center of attention. I kept the railings very simple and unfussy because I wanted to create a dynamic effect on the runner by using different geometric patterns on treads and risers. That way you perceive one pattern at eye level when all you see is risers and another pattern when you are stepping on its treads. I wanted to create an element of surprise in the way the stairway is experienced.
It is important to be cautious of how much detail you use on railings and how much detail you use on the steps, because it is rarely necessary to make a strong statement with both. In this grand entryway, you’ll see there are patterns on both the railings and the steps. However since they are monochromatic, using different shades of brown, against a blank background, these patterns coexist harmoniously creating an elegant pathway that ascends through the home.
No matter the size of the steps in your home, treat them like their own space in the house. Add a focal point, add some interest, and make taking the stairs more enjoyable!
Remember: Always elegant, never boring!
What is Eclectic?
To my mind, an eclectic interior is one that derives its generating ideas, style and taste from a diverse range of sources. Half of the clients who hire me want me to design this type of interior for their homes. As for the other half, we tend to start with a definite stylistic direction but somewhere along the way we transition to very eclectic spaces anyway.
Personally, I have studied too many styles, visited too many cities, walked too many museums, and seen too many movies not to be eclectic. How could we possibly be any different in such a globalized world? I have this bank of images and experiences in my mind, a well from which I am constantly tapping for inspiration because there is so much that is so beautiful about every style.
So… What is the key to a well-designed eclectic room? My short answer is a harmonious dialogue between all the parts. It seems simple at first but in fact, it requires extensive editing and evaluation. Comparatively speaking, staying within the boundaries of a specific style is much easier.
Consider this dining room I designed.
The columns came from a late 18th-century English estate, their rich texture surface frames the room and gives it importance.
The rosewood dining table is a French Deco reproduction, its clean lines, and rich graining give it the anchoring weight required in the center of the room.
The stylized Regency chairs in a dark mahogany display their graceful frame against the bone colored walls giving the room movement and interest.
This dining set sits on a wool and silk rug that I designed using the undulating lines that characterized Art Nouveau.
The contemporary chrome chandelier with Murano glass pendants was my boldest move in this room (just think how overwhelming a wrought iron chandelier would look in its place) it is its lightness that allows all the other pieces to reveal themselves.
As I mentioned before, a lot of thought goes behind every detail in order to achieve the perfect mix of styles. Each piece should have similar lines and sense of character to them to be able to work cohesively together. After working with every style, many times over, I can definitively say eclectic interiors are by far the most complex and challenging ones.
Who doesn’t dream of taking their shoes off, wrapping themselves in a cozy throw, leaning against a bunch of pillows and reading a good book on a window seat? It is a classical image, and one that I find young and old still enjoy.
The Window Seat is a very useful design feature that can add great beauty and character to any room. On the practical side, a hinged top can turn them into additional storage (for linens, blankets, pillows, etc.) and in many rooms, they provide additional seating that could not otherwise be achieved. Often times I find that they are the only option for breakfast nooks in my remodeling work.
Another one of their virtues is that they can work as an “anchoring” element for the otherwise uninteresting window, giving it an additional function and providing the visual base it might have lacked before. And as I always say, “they come in all colors,” and I’m not just referring to the actual hues, but also to the infinite design possibilities I find when I use them in my work.
They can be a subtle and understated corner, where lightly patterned shades come down to a crisp white windowsill; next, the seat cushion and pillows present a delicate palette with peaceful patterns.
In contrast, this next image shows their traditional English and French versions which display an abundance of patterns, textures, and rich tailoring details.
One more tip: These lovely seats can also function as an additional bedroom! It only takes a little length and depth to turn them into a daybeds and voila: you have another bed in any room!
Sometimes floral patterns have no place in an interior, it all depends on the style of a room or a client’s preference. However, a well-selected floral motif can bring great interest and dynamism to a space. Whether it is a contemporary or a traditional interior, the use of floral patterns can be crucial to its successful completion.
Remember: “Everything in moderation.”
In this picture, the feel of the room is very classic and serene. The palette is very understated, stone and mauve tones exist with pale celery, off-white and dark brown accents. Solids or tone-on-tone patterns have been used in the furnishings that carry the most weight: sofa and chairs. The sofa pillows display more textures or geometric patterns but it is the drapery at the edge of the room that introduces the lively note with its large-scale and delicate floral pattern. In this case, I chose to use the floral pattern on the draperies because another solid would have made this room dull and uninteresting.
These draperies keep this room from fading into solid walls and gives the physical boundary of the windows more excitement. In other words it’s all a matter of “geography,” where to place the stroke of pattern that will give life to a room, particularly if view is not that interesting and needs a bit more emphasis.
Designer Tip: If you do want to use more than one floral pattern in the room, my recommendation is that you select fabrics with large, medium, and small scale patterns to avoid competition between the fabrics.
“And what do we put in this corner?”
Now that you’ve moved in and made your poor husband move the furniture until his back went out, you’re dumbfounded with the empty space in the corner of the room. Worry no more Madame chaise lounge can rescue you from your dilemma. I have yet to find a room where a chaise “longue” (French for long chair) couldn’t successfully answer that question (with maybe a few exceptions).
They are perfect for master bathrooms; provided that the size of the room allows it: What better place to lounge with a magazine and a drink after a bubble bath?
What about Bedrooms? Of course. Libraries? Splendid. Living Rooms? Perfect.
This doesn’t mean you can just plop a long chair anywhere! You’ll still have to harmonize its fabrics and style with those of the rest of the room because we all know how faux pas it would be to put an elegant Victorian chaise next to a sleek Le Corbusier sofa.
For those of you who follow Mad Men, here’s the design flaw: Betty Draper’s new fainting couch (a close cousin of the chaise lounge) placed in front of the fireplace, in her 50’s Modern living room stuck out a bit from the rest of her home. All I am saying is that you can have a little bit more latitude to work with and that you can be a bit more conscious with the selection.
P.S. Don’t forget that indispensable accessory called a throw!