Archives for February 2012

Beyond Decorating

Sometimes I have trouble with the designation “decorator.” It sounds a bit superficial, kind of like putting flower rosettes on a cake. They may make the cake look pretty, but that’s their entire function. They’re really superfluous to the quality of the cake. “Decorating” sounds like that to me: let’s pretty up the room a little. There’s nothing wrong with that, but … it doesn’t necessarily change how the space works for the people who live there.

What I do in redesigning rooms for clients addresses the quality of the living space itself. The result is a better looking room, in fact – but more importantly, it’s a room that feels better to be in.  And that’s what I’m after. Helping people feel more at home in their own space is what’s important to me. I want them to come home and feel that the space welcomes them, that it’s comfortable and embracing, that it’s efficient in terms of movement and usage. I want to help clients create an environment that sustains them, that feels safe and regenerative, that enables them to be truly at ease. It’s my goal to help people feel at home, at home. To create rooms and homes that are balanced, cohesive, harmonic. And a better looking home is the icing on the cake!

Let’s look at some of the elements in the before and after pictures here to examine why good design promotes a feeling of ease, warmth and welcome in a space.

The television on top of the chest in the picture below imparts an uneasy feeling because it’s too high to comfortably watch from any of the seating choices in the room. It looms over the chair and monopolizes the main wall of the room, creating an unattractive focal point as one enters. And the room doesn’t look or feel cohesive, which in itself always creates a feeling of discomfort.

Before Redesign

After Redesign

In the second picture, the seating area has been rearranged so that the room now centers around a conversation area that feels unified and more welcoming. The big pieces of furniture are balanced in the space, and because balance is a natural principle that we instinctively seek, this signals comfort as well. The mirror is a more attractive focal point, and the paint samples on the wall will disappear when a final color choice is made. A deeper shade on the walls will give them depth and warmth.

So truly, decorating is about more than decorating. It’s about creating nourishing environments.

Stencils – the new faux finishes

There are so many fun ideas out there for wall treatments right now. Paint has always been the easiest way to make a dramatic change in the look and feel of a room. Then there were faux finishes – ragging, stucco-like looks, marbleizing, etc. Now there are these fabulous stencils out there to add patterned interest to small or large areas of a room. Check these out:

For an elegant look:


Or a botanical theme:


How about a Moroccan tiled look, a style that’s found quite a footing lately:


Or last but not least, a just plain fun look:


All of the above come from Cutting Edge Stencils. You can find them here, along with dozens of others designs to whet your creative appetite:

I have not used one of these yet, but have read of others using them. What I hear is that they adhere well to the wall so that the paint does not drip down behind the stencil, and the registration marks on the stencils are easy to use so that if the design is a repeating one, it’s not hard to get the repeat to come out accurately. Right now I’m in the process of rethinking our family room, and one of these is definitely on the list of strong possibilities!

The Color Antidote

These winter months have me craving warm, rich, saturated color.  Given that we’re in that stretch of the year when things are particularly colorless, and the green explosion of spring is just barely on the horizon, let’s look at some hot, bright palettes to remind us of sunny, vibrant places and times.

I really love color. There are no white walls in my house. One of my decorating goals for the year is to be even braver with color. Orange and fuchsia, anyone?

Another designer I know recently posted about this site on her blog and I have to share it:

Basically there are tons of beautiful pictures which are broken down into their component hues. Just looking at the pictures is lovely, but it’s also interesting to see how the mixture of different colors combine to create a harmonious whole.

Here are a few of the pictures I found irresistible this week. They’re all very high contrast, just the remedy for a landscape of brown branches against gray skies.

This one just chases those winter blahs right away:

I love how the colored blobs (molten glass? gelatin? very colorful amoeba?) demonstrate so perfectly how yellow and blue make green when mixed together – very cool.
Such rich shades here.
These purples are really luscious. I’m thinking how fun it would be to have a whole bunch of pillows in all these purple hues on a neutral gray sofa.
Was I talking about orange and fuchsia??  Well, pretty close, here. I can just feel the warm sun toasting my shoulders.
It’s fun to think of color schemes this wild, very bold and bright. I do also like calmer palettes! Maybe in springtime they’ll be speaking to me. But now these saturated, vivid colors seem so appealing.
Happy February, everyone.