At the beginning of the New Year, we head for the gym thinking about swimsuit season; we spend lots of time and energy trying to figure out how to make our human forms look just a bit different from what they are. We read articles from the experts who espouse advice about “drawing the eye” in one direction or another? Do this to camouflage that problem area...try that to emphasize this asset.
Would it surprise you to learn that the very same techniques can work in your home? Dressing your rooms carefully and deliberately, with an eye to both their problem areas and their assets, can give you great results.
Start by analyzing your room, much the same way that you analyze yourself when trying on a new bathing suit. Then, keep in mind that in both cases, it’s all about a deft execution of three principles: eye movement, balance, and illusion.
What are the areas that you need to de-emphasize, and what elements do you want to draw more attention to? Are there pieces of your room’s puzzle that you’d prefer looked different than they really do, when your room is ‘naked’? The living room pictured is a good example. Just for a moment, envision this room completely empty. Not much going on, is there? It’s a decent size, but not huge. Nice fireplace, though it sort of screams at us from the center of that wall, with nothing else around it. The crown molding is a nice touch, which is good, because there’s not much other architectural interest in this room. There’s lots of natural light from three windows, but the windows are disproportionally short for the room’s height.
So, our clients and their interior decorator began by identifying exactly those elements, both assets and challenges. In addition, they talked about their needs: comfortable seating for four to six people on a regular basis, a television, a furniture arrangement that would accommodate both children playing and adults entertaining, and a soft contemporary style throughout.
Next, choices were made about specific furnishings and their placement, which would perform exactly the magic that a perfect swimsuit does for the less-than-perfect body type. For the major furniture pieces, warm neutral fabrics were selected, along with frame styles which are clean-lined and tailored. Straight arms not only play into our soft contemporary styling very well, but also lend a more spacious feeling to the room than big, bulky profiles would. Balancing the straight lines of the sofa and chairs are the gracefully curved legs of three occasional tables. To maximize space usage, the flat screen TV is mounted on the wall, rather than being housed in a bulky entertainment center or console. Though very functional, placing the TV that way could create somewhat of a ‘one-eyed monster’ effect, so it was balanced by eye-catching, dramatic artwork on either side. The rest of that wall was then fleshed out with a beautiful, well-accessorized demilune console table, an accent chair and ottoman.
Of critical importance to this room is the way that the windows have been dressed. Richly colored and textured woven wood roman shades provide great privacy and light control, while horizontally striped sheer drapery panels add both softness and contemporary interest to the room. The clever placement of the window treatments, however, is of the utmost importance. By mounting the woven woods several inches higher than the actual tops of the windows, the eye is drawn up, and the illusion of taller windows is effectively accomplished.
Additionally, with the installation of the drapery panels nearly to the ceiling, our attention is not only drawn to the crown molding, but the entire room enjoys enhanced visual height.
Now, rather than a stark, moderately-sized boxy room, we see one that is not only functional, but stylish, welcoming and very attractive. To be able to translate how it got that way to your own rooms, think about those three important principles, which are very similar to those you use when finding the perfect swimsuit: the way that your eye moves around a room is critical. You want to achieve a graceful visual flow, your eyes drawn to different levels in the room without abrupt starts and stops. Balance is your friend. Balance soft and hard surfaces, visually heavy and light elements, and straight and curved lines.
There is magic in illusion. If your room has elements that are less than ideal, you can employ creative design techniques to make them look that way. In the meantime, see you at the gym!