Thursday, March 10, 2011

Look for the bones of a room

There is nothing more boring in decor than an overly matched room!  I work in a home decor retail setting part time  and this gives me a good sense of what the "general public" is interested in or believes about home decor.  I've noticed two constant trends.  First is the belief that everything must match perfectly, and the other based on the first, is the practice of making  design decisions 12 inches from your eyes.  Both will lead you astray and create very boring rooms. The thing that really makes a difference never gets talked about.


This room could definitely be described as overly matched, but does it work ? What makes a room with such a limited palette work or not work? 

 One of the most valuable things I learned as an artist that applies to decorating decisions is the "10 foot rule ".  If you can't read a painting when standing ten feet from it, it isn't successful. The culprit is always a weak value range (not enough lights and darks) that causes everything to merge together no matter how bright or startling the colours. Squinting is another quick way to get the same information.

 The same goes for decorating. You need value changes (a range of lighter to darker colours) in a room to help create interest and variety to encourage "visual travel". Most people have no difficulty seeing colour ranges but they are not so adept thinking about the values of these colour ranges.

  If you want to know if you have a room that is visually interesting take a photo and do a black and white photocopy or change the image to black and white on your photo editor.  You'll soon see if your eyes will travel the room or stay in one spot. I believe that even in rooms where the intent is to create visual harmony, you need value changes.  Lets take a look at some successful and unsuccessful rooms. 

I choose to live in visually quiet environments because they are relaxing.  They are also the most difficult to make interesting.   Even though everything about the room above is soft, the black and white photo shows there are a range of values in the room that move your eye around.  The darks are limited but they are there in accessories mostly. The amount of white contrasts with the darks (legs, accessories on tables and don't forget the shadowing that occurs in every room.)  A light, airy and visually interesting room. My score:  quietly successful .

Lovely use of colour with soft whites, lots of variety in textures and shapes but... something is missing for me. The darkest values are in the ottoman legs.  My eyes stick there. The area in front of the window needs some anchoring darker tones to make the furniture stand out from the window. The most obvious change would be the "disappearing lamp- perhaps a new shade is in order.  Having a different pillow in the chair (the sofa pillows) or having a slightly darker value table beside the chair or doing both would move this room up several notches in interest.  Will you look at your furniture legs in a new way now?

Let check out one of my rooms...   I automatically process a room for a range of values, but I've never looked at one of my own rooms in black and white. Ready? 

Not so bad.....

There's a good range of lights, mediums and darks spread around the room. I added a darker pillow near the fireplace because I found the chair blending into the fireplace just a little too much.   I am looking for a new lamp for the spot where the twigs are in the opposite corner. I'm thinking a light shade rather than dark.  Notice how my floor has lights and darks in it too as does the roman shade which my husband loves to jam up into the window frame as much as possible.

Here's a different view with the area rug bought solely for the purpose of making the table stand out from the floor.Like much of the furniture in my home, this table is hand crafted by my husband.  I have visions of a different table but  sentiment wins every time.

Let's go back to the lovely pink and white room and check out the value ranges. Is the room successful?  You can be the judge.

1 comment:

  1. The look of bone of rooms is shown on the post here. Havea look at it


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