Minggu, 26 Februari 2012

Do you know your design letters?

 Are you challenged when it comes to arranging  accessories? Do you look at details in  decorating magazines and marvel at how everything  looks just right? Many people think the final touches are the most difficult part of home decor, but they don't have to be.  There are all kinds of tips and tricks of the trade. 

One of the simplest design tips I can offer is the use  of  letter formations to organize interesting accessory vignettes. I'm calling on my background in visual art and floral arrangement to offer you this advice.  Other decorators may have different ways of describing their approach. 

The most useful letters for designing vignettes are ....  A, V,  O, C, L, and M.  

Here goes...


eclectic bedroom traditional bedroom

This is a very tight A line of design.  The visual height is always through the middle and the base is wider, but the bottom width can vary.  My eye wants to see something slightly taller than the dish - a sphere  would be lovely here. Perhaps the owner is like me,  always looking for just the right object to finish a room.


Another A with a very broad base.  I want the two back photos to be a little taller. Are you noticing how the height is usually a piece of art?  It  could also be a sculpture, a mirror,  a  tall vase of twigs or flowers or photos hung on the wall.

The reverse of A is V. Sometimes only these two shapes are presented in vignette discussions, but there are so many more ways to think about it.  In a V the lowest point is usually in the middle of the arrangement.  Sometimes thinking about it as a check mark is helpful because one side is usually taller and one is shorter.


Quintessential Dressing Table eclectic bedroom
 Lucid Interior Design Inc.

 You don't often find C lines of design and they are the most obvious when there's only one object banked by something that is circular. Your eye just wants to make that sweep.  All the other circle shapes in the furniture  help to reinforce the C  movement. 


A great example of a C (backwards) with more than one item stacked to the right of the mirror. If the twigs were more of a falling shape the C our be even more obvious.

Joni Spear Interior Design contemporary dining room
 Joni Spear Interior Design

 Some designers may argue this is a classic V formation but I would disagree because the the mirror causes the eye to move in a circular fashion around the display.  The lamps are taken in with that sweep.

 Wakefield Residence modern living room
 Rachel Reider Interiors

 Another  symmetrical O line of design .  The base is set so broadly that your eye just wants to do the circular movement around the objects. The three rounded shapes  add to the circular movement.  If the base was tighter it would look like a classic V shape. 


This traditional vignette follows an O shape because of the arrangement of art above the table.  It takes command of the eye and the objects on the table are swept up in that motion.

Metal decor modern living room
Urrutia Design contemporary
Urrutia Design

The requirement for an L line of design is a very tall object placed on the edge of the design with a broad base.  Of course you can also reverse the L.  If the hurricanes were taller I would call the  vignette above a V. 


You don't often see the M line of design used, but it works well when you are displaying collections where you have several heights with a dip in the middle.If the shorter objects are on either end it is an M but when you start with taller objects on the ends it moves into a W.  

What line of design do these vignettes follow? 

And there you have it.  The answers in order A , M, V.   Keep your eyes open when you see arrangements and observe the  lines of design  used. Then start arranging! 

Sabtu, 18 Februari 2012

Wallpaper as an accent

Having an accent wall is popular  in home decorating, but many decorators are very selective or down right negative about the idea. I wrote at length about accent walls in another post and listed 5 reasons to consider an accent wall. Accent walls either work well or are dismal failures. Make sure yours is in the successful category.  

Recently a reader requested that  I write a post about using wallpaper  to create a focus wall.  Ask and you shall receive. Here are my thoughts on the topic.

The most obvious wall

Golf House contemporary bedroom

 Any recessed area works well as an accent wall because it allows you to use the  architectural features of the room to good advantage. This bedroom shows how well a recessed feature can be highlighted . In addition, the paint colour totally supports the wallpaper design.  This is one of the biggest areas where you can mess up. 

Living Room Chic eclectic bedroom

This is another bedroom where the pattern beautifully accentuates everything else in the room.  The colour scheme is quiet and the wall colour blends well with the tones in the paper.  


This room has a completely different vibe with its pinkish red walls and white and black accent pattern.  It isn't a look I personally like because there is just too much colour for me. That doesn't make the design wrong. With the white furniture you really need  colour on the walls. 

Queensway master contemporary bedroom

The wall behind a bed is the most advantageous wall to accent The furniture placement  makes it the focal point in the room and you are merely enhancing it with your wallpaper choice.  Consider the effect that large mirrors have on this design.  The mirrored doors create two accent walls and the  impact effect is diminished and for some people it would be visually confusing..

 David Howell Design contemporary bedroom

How do you feel about the accent wall in this room? Do you think the designer choose the best wall to highlight? Does the wall colour work well with the colour scheme in the wallpaper?  My answer would be negative on all counts.  To be fair, one could argue the use of pattern on the opposite wall as a way to  distribute visual  weight in the room. There's always more than one way to look at design.

 To highlight furniture

Light coloured furniture always looks great with a pattern behind it.  When you add pattern that is this dark and strong remember to consider how it will look with what is happening in the next room. 


Don't be afraid of large scale pattern on one wall.  There is lots of pattern in this room, but it works because the designer stuck to a tight colour scheme. When you choose bold patterns remember how much harder you have to work to find art that will hold its own on the pattern.  The two small pieces  above are lost in the pattern.  Something bolder and larger would have been a better choice. Sometimes the devil is in the smallest details.  When you look at this design what is the first thing you notice?  For me it's the sofa and not the patterned end wall.  Perhaps this is what the designer wanted to achieve and that might account for the downplay of art on the wallpaper.  Again, more than one way to look at things. 

 Stand alone walls and dividers

Look for opportunities to wallpaper where you have stand alone walls that will work well as an accent.  Often temporary walls or stand alone walls are used as dividers in condos or basement apartments.  It is a way to divide space without closing it off. 

  Wallpaper as art

 Think about all the ways you could use wallpaper as art . Use trim to emphasize a design and fill in with wallpaper.  The sky's the limit for this. I particularly like the grid created for the dining room wall with two colours of wallpaper.  The colour tones work very well together.

Highlight a small area


 Fireplace walls  that extend beyond the  main wall offer a perfect place to add pattern.   You can be very bold because there isn't much pattern used.  Would you use these accents on the mantle or different ones?  Do they stand out or are the lost? Does the arrangement need some height.  Displaying objects against a bold pattern takes some thought . There's lots of choice in things to move around in this room. Check out lots of other images on this great post about wallpaper accents.

Define a  space with just a strip or two of wallpaper as a backdrop. 

And there you have it.  There are all kinds of ways to brighten your home with wallpaper accents.  This only scratches the surface.  You might want to refer to this other post I wrote on the topic last year. I also have a growing collection of ideas for your walls on Pinterest.

Rabu, 15 Februari 2012

No one will ever know

 You can never have too many vases or luminaries. Creating your own  from materials on hand is both fun and cost effective.  You also get to have the pleasure of looking at it every day and knowing that you upcycled something.  Of course, accolades from your friends and family don't go astray either.

  Here are some of my personal favourite ideas collected from  Pinterest.    Happy creating.

 I would use these for their sculptural value and forget the greenery which looks forced.  Get various shapes and sizes of clear wine bottles.  Tape off or use adhesive stickers to create design.  Spray paint white and there you have it.  So easy and they would look very interesting massed together on a table top or mantle.

So, so easy!  Use elastic bands  to stretch around  around the clear cylinder vase .  Vary the position of the bands and make sure you have some overlapping, then spray paint. When the candles are lit the design is greatly enhanced. You can now buy battery powered candles which would work best in something this tall.

Check out the very detailed instructions for creating this tissue paper collaged vase.

 You may have seen this idea in Canadian House & Home.   Wait for a nice day where you can take your spray paint outside. Clean (remove any labels and adhesive)  and dry the bottles and then by pouring a dollop of paint into the bottle, gradually rotate/swirl the paint inside until the paint coats the entire interior. Some may need two coats. Dry on a damp or plastic dropsheet.  I think the colour you use will make or break this look.  I'm particularly fond of the sea glass green blues.
Update: Watch a video how-to by Stephanie White on House and Home's TV.

 Print your photo on Lazertran paper, making sure the image prints on the chalky eggshell side. Let dry for 30 minutes. Cut the image to size. Soak the printout facedown in a pan of water for about a minute. Peel off the backing and place the filmy printout onto a ceramic vase, smoothing out any air bubbles.

These look stunning and they are so, so easy to make using Krylon  Looking Glass Mirrorlike  Spray Paint. Clean out the vases/votive,  spray the interiors lightly with water and then with mirror paint. Turn upside down and let dry overnight.  Repeat the process if the first application looks too sheer. If you want to use them for flowers you have to inert a small glass inside to hold the water. Imagine the beautiful table centerpiece these would create using some with flowers and some with candles.

Selasa, 07 Februari 2012

5 +1 Design Solutions

Every home has challenges- not enough  storage space, oddly shaped rooms, nowhere to put the TV etc.  There is always a good design solution for every problem. All it takes is patience to look for the solution or some thought to figure it out yourself.  Sometimes the solution is a mixture of the two.     Do any of these ideas help solve a design problem in your house?

 No  space  for a desk


So you think you have no room for a small desk in a room.  I love this idea of a fold up desk that turns into a framed art work.
Space too open

A floating wall of this type serves to partially separate a space while adding a place  to locate furniture.

No wall for a TV


What about no wall space for a TV?  This happens in many open area homes, but there are solutions as you can see. 

No space for a buffet

Sometimes taking space from another room or a hallway is an option.  This buffet fits perfectly into a small space. 

Small foyer


When you have a small entrance space consider fooling the eye by using a large mirror and layering furniture in front of it.  This sleek table accepts a bench below it very nicely.  It looks good but the bench is also functional.

Looking for a home office

This is such a great solution for a small space.  The trunk can do double duty as a coffee table and a space to lay your laptop when the lid is closed


Kamis, 02 Februari 2012

Does a ceiling have to be white?

That's an easy one.  Of course the answer is no, but very few people veer away from this standard. If you're feeling adventurous and want to break away from the pack  here are some suggestions.

Consider practicalities 
When you decide to paint your ceiling a colour you need to think about  how that colour will flow into other rooms both physically and visually.

Is there a place (e.g., molding or beam) where you can stop the colour? 
      Minimalist kitchen design modern kitchen
       The ceiling in the kitchen is on a different plane than the living room, thus providing an easy break for painting.
      How will the colour look when viewed from the next room or rooms?
        In the room above the ceiling is acting as an "accent wall" and flows nicely into the living room.  The same blue is used in hints around the room creating a visual flow.

        Will you have to  change the colour again when you paint your walls? 
        Chances are you will.  Are you up to painting several coats to cover a colour?

        Is your ceiling in good condition?  
        Flaws will show up more with darker colours.

          Consider ceiling height
          How high is your ceiling?  Nine feet or above will provide lots of height for darker or warmer colours.

          Beverly Bradshaw Interiors, Seattle, WA eclectic dining room

          Luxurious Gold and Silver Painted Dining Room Ceiling traditional dining room

           However, if you have standard ceilings (8 feet) and your rooms are smallish you might consider lighter, cooler colours to help the ceiling recede and give the feeling of greater distance.

            Traditional Home
          Blue seems to be a popular ceiling colour.

          Consider your  wall colour

          If you really want to paint your ceiling and aren't sure which colour to choose, take the cue from your wall colour and simply go several values lighter.

           Toby Fairley 

          Or keep the ceiling and walls the same colour and break it up with crown moulding.....

           or go a value or two darker for the ceiling.

          Consider your trim colour
           If you have a trim colour other than white/cream, look to it for ideas for your ceiling.These room have a very pulled together look by using the trim  colour  as a branching off point.

          Real Simple
           The ceiling is darker than the trim colour

          Residences in DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, SC traditional living room

           The ceiling is the same colour as the trim. 

          Consider your accessories 
          This is where things could get exciting...
          tineke triggs contemporary bedroom

          Can you imagine this room with a red ceiling?
          Hollywood Residence eclectic dining room
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