De­sign be­yond the store

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

Heart­break­ing as it may seem, some home­own­ers ei­ther have no sense of de­sign or sim­ply don’t care enough to make their home look invit­ing. Some en­light­ened home­own­ers will hire a de­signer or con­sult with one at a re­tail fur­ni­ture store. Of course, “de­sign­ers” em­ployed by these re­tail­ers are there more to help the com­pany sell a suite of fur­ni­ture than to help you make your house a home. Here are some tips to de­bunk store-bought steril­ity.

The idea that all fur­ni­ture in a room should match is one of the big- gest myths put forth by in-house de­sign­ers. On the con­trary, the best rooms are a mix of fur­ni­ture styles and pe­ri­ods and col­ors that don’t match ex­actly but rather com­ple­ment each other. Every­one is dif­fer­ent, and rooms are meant to be biographical and re­flect your per­son­al­ity. Thus, they should be filled with things that you like.

The key to mak­ing your home have a dis­tinct char­ac­ter is to fo­cus on find­ing one strong uni­fy­ing el­e­ment. Per­haps it is a color, a repet­i­tive pat­tern, or the use of a ma­te­rial such as a nat­u­ral wood or crystal. If you study the work of de­sign­ers that are pub­lished in mag­a­zines, you can usu­ally spot this defin­ing char­ac­ter which af­fects the choice of each item se­lected.

While I am par­tial to white walls, col­ors can make the big­gest im­pact on the look of a room. Con­trary to the pop­u­lar opin­ion that dark col­ors make a room look smaller, darker hues, such as blue, brown and gray, will make you lose per­cep­tion of where walls start and spa­ces end. This il­lu­sion makes your brain think the room is larger. Your eye reg­is­ters a bound­ary where there is a color change or where light bounces. The trick is to min­i­mize color changes and con­trasts, and to use a flat or matte paint to avoid any bounc­ing light.

Lin­ing fur­ni­ture around the perime­ter of rooms is the in­stinct of most home­own­ers. How­ever, do­ing this lim­its the way a room is used. On the other hand, de­sign­ers will seek out the fo­cal point of a room, such as a fire­place or a group­ing of win­dows, select that as the pri­mary fur­ni­ture lo­ca­tion, and then iden­tify other areas where sec­ondary seat­ing may be placed. Keep in mind that a room may have more than one fo­cal point, and your fur­ni­ture lay­out should ac­knowl­edge that. This will help bal­ance out your room.

Fi­nally, don’t feel lim­ited in how you can use cer­tain pieces of fur­ni­ture. There is no rea­son why a china cabi­net should be re­served for stor­age china in the din­ing room. A china cabi­net can func­tion as a fo­cal point in an en­try way or as a book­case in a bed­room. Or, for some­thing very dif­fer­ent, con­sider hav­ing a canopied bed filled with dec­o­ra­tive pil­lows in your liv­ing room. It is a great place for con­ver­sa­tion or af­ter-din­ner drinks with friends.

Don’t be afraid to think be­yond the store’s vi­sion of how you should live: Be coura­geous; take the risk.


Joseph Pu­bil­lones

Art of De­sign

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