Monday, September 21, 2015

Designing an inviting home

Have you ever gone into someone's home  and it was so perfect in every way that you were almost afraid to sit down or move?

When everything looks new, co-ordinated and just so, you end up with an unwelcoming and often boring home.   Such spaces can make visitors feel confined and uncomfortable.  Nothing invites you in because when  everything is  perfectly matched objects become a blur.

 Is there a middle road?

What makes an interesting  and inviting space? Do you need a large budget to have a great home?

Fortunately you can have a very interesting space on a modest budget.  It just takes a little ingenuity.  As with most things in home decor what someone finds interesting  or inviting is dependent on their likes and dislikes;  I can only write about what I find interesting in a space.  Here are some of the characteristics I think   create interesting spaces.

It has a collected feel

That simply means that the home has objects that have been acquired over time and in different ways.   It could be objects collected from travels, antiques, personal items,  family heirlooms, original art etc.  The space does not look like you went out to several stores on one day and outfitted the place. It definitely does not look like a model home!

The rooms are arranged for conversation

Nothing is as bad as going to someone's home and not feeling like you are meant to be there.  You can have that feeling for many reasons, but  it often boils down to not feeling part of the conversation or not having a comfortable place to sit or lay down a beverage.

I would love to spend an evening here chatting with friends.


There's a mix of old and new

Pristine is not that interesting.  Often when everything is new you don't appreciate any of it.  You need a yardstick against which you can appreciate the newness, and that means having some things that are older.  Another great thing about  old pieces is the sense of history and intrigue they create.  Visitors are left wondering why the pieces are so important that you've decided to keep them.  If you like very contemporary or modern decor, there is still a place to add interesting objects with a history.

Briggs and Solomon 

There's a mix of hand crafted and manufactured products 

In our world of mass production, it is so easy to forget the importance of the marks left by the hands of an artist and the presence of ideas in objects.  Having  art, fine craft and the hand made is like having a whole pile of interesting people over at one time.  There is a merging of ideas and various takes on the natural and man made world. Then there's the one of a kind aspect.

Designing Home/Margaret Ryall

Everything in this space is hand made by various artists.   Even the plant was grown locally.

The natural world is referenced  

Designing Home/Margaret Ryall

This unique vessel titled Barnacle by Anita Singh plays nicely with the glass bowl of sea urchins and wild ferns.  The nautilus design on the pillow supports the overall outdoorsy theme in this casual summer house.  The table in the photo above can be seen in the background. 

 Accessories are moved/changed 

Designing Home/Margaret Ryall

Another week and a different  wild flower arrangement  and vessel by Anita Singh on the little  hand painted table.  The objects and flowers add colour, texture and variety in forms to the vignette.  A painting by a local artist peeks out behind the chair, something new to be discovered.  Candles are always inviting. 

Thought has been given to space planning 

The room is arranged as well as it can be given the space available.  The layout is conducive to flow through the space.  There is an obvious visual flow as well as  defined traffic lanes.  There's variety in heights of objects and  textures. Even a monochromatic colour scheme needs contrast.

There are surprises to be discovered

I love a bit of the unexpected.   There are all kinds of ways to achieve this.  It could be a colour that you might not think about pairing with your colour scheme.  It could be an a family heirloom, some of your child's artwork scanned and made into a book, a vase you made in high school art, the work of a friend,  a display of framed post cards from trips you've taken arranged in a grid, a piece of furniture in a place where you wouldn't expect to see it, etc.  The sky is the limit.

How pleasant these doilies look backed with blue and enclosed with white frames .  Such a great way to display family heirlooms.

 I am intrigued by the chain hanging from the candlestick.  Does it have significance to the homeowner? Did a visitor drop it and it's placed here to keep it safe?  Did the homeowner change her mind just before going out?

 Each piece has its own compartment that acts like a mini frame.  Together there is coherency in the pieces and it is very pleasing to the eye.  My favourite is the white doll.  Where did that come from?

And why not end with glowing forsythia, bold in scale and vivid in colour? The arrangement look so great in front of a simple, repetitive composition of fish. 

What tricks do you use to create an inviting home?

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