Creating a look and feel for your living spaces
Have you ever wondered what gives some rooms that “it” factor? The special kind of magic that causes you to breathe a contented sigh and enjoy a space from the moment you enter the room? Today I’m spilling the beans on the secret to creating a pulled together style in every room.
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Having a curated style – a look and feel – is the key to creating a space that is cohesive, inviting and feels complete. It’s also the easiest thing to change about a space, which is why I tend to design hard surfaces in “boring neutrals” – which gives the flexibility to choose a look and feel that doesn’t require a long term commitment.
If your hard surfaces and foundational pieces are well-selected in the right neutrals and the undertones work together, then adding color is easy and can give you an instant update.
As an example, take a look at these 3 conceptual palettes I recently pulled together during a consultation. The floor, rug, sofa and wall color remain the same, but with 3 different accessory palettes, the entire feel can be transformed:
When you create a base palette that is basic and neutral, your hard surfaces won’t take up all the visual space and attention in the room, which allows the space and freedom to create a curated and polished look and feel!
Here are my top 5 tips for creating a look and feel that will give your space the polish it needs:
1. Choose an inspiration.
This can be a piece of artwork that has special meaning or a palette you love, or a collection of ceramic pieces that remind you of a favorite vacation, or even a photo of a place or space you love.
The goal here is to identify both a style and a color palette that inspire you!
This is going to help create a space that not only feels comfortable and looks inviting, but that also fills you with a sense of happiness when you enter the space, because it is based on either a palette that speaks to you, or an item that is personally meaningful.
2. Create an inviting furniture arrangement.
Rather than place furniture against the walls, float it in the room or pull it away from the walls to create intimate seating areas and to create a feeling a space in the room around the furniture.
If your room is large, you may find it makes better sense to create multiple seating areas. If you have a TV, don’t be afraid to place accent chairs on either side of it, facing into the room so that additional seating is available when the TV isn’t on.
Be sure to include accent tables of differnent sizes and materials. Avoid using a matching set, and opt instead for shapes, sizes and finishes that contribute to the look and feel. To keep the look harmonious, try to keep the scale consistent and curate an ensemble that includes similar leg styles and lines.
3. Use a room-sized rug.
This is critical to creating a unified seating area, and the one piece that can undermine an otherwise beautifully curated design.
A common mistake I see in interiors is a the placement of a rug that is too small for the space, or that doesn’t capture the seating area. This is the easiest way to undermine the overall look of the space because the rug is what grounds everything else. Make sure at the rug is large enough not only to include all of the seating in the room, but also to fit the scale of the room. Often this is a 9×12 rug or even larger.
If a standard rug doesn’t fit the size or shape of your space, one of my favorite tricks is to purchase carpeting and have it custom bound into an area rug. You can specify the exact size and shape needed and the added benefit is that you can choose the exact color you need too. You can check with your local carpet shop or a flooring specialty store like Carpet One Floor & Home for a broad selection of patterns, colors and textures to fit the look and feel you are creating.
4. Add color and texture.
This is where the fun begins!
Using your inspiration piece(s) as the baseline from your palette, repeat the colors in multiple places, different patterns and textures, and in different proportions.
Pro tip: Using the core palette, mix patterns and textures of varying proportions and type.
For example, a lamp is a small item, a throw pillow or blanket can be small to medium, a drapery or artwork can be medium or even large, and an area rug or wall color can also be a large scale place to repeat the color and/or pattern. The key here is to make sure they relate to each other by pulling them from an inspiration piece that contains all the colors. Repeat them often enough and in enough varying sizes that they feel natural and appropriate to the space, and make the palette come to life.
Use a mixture of textures from very coarse (think rustic woods and metals), to bulky and soft (think chunky knits) to fine and refined (think high sheen objects, luxe metallics, silky fabrics and mirrored surfaces), to light and airy (think sheer, open weave or lightweight fabrics, glass, openwork and airy greenery).
Pro tip: Steer clear of matchy-matchy coordinates, and opt instead for unique elements that work well together.
Depending on the look you’re after, you may be surprised at how well a mix of patterns can work in a space. The first key in making them work is to have them connect to each other and to your inspiration piece so they create a cohesive set. The second key is to have a neutral base layer that works well with the colors you are adding to the space.
As shown in the images above, by just swapping out the artwork, window coverings, accent pieces and accessories, a room can be transformed to a fresh, new palette in a very short time and within any budget.
In addition to accessories, I recommend including some greenery in every room. It’s the color of nature and works with every palette! Plants and greens will breathe life into the space and add a natural and inviting touch to every space.
5. Layer in multiple points of light.
Particularly if your room doesn’t have an abundance of natural light, having adequate lighting will be critical. Overhead lights brighten the overall space, but can create shadows that may not flatter, and may also not be adequate for all the tasks and activities the room needs to support.
The solution I recommend layering lighting at multiple heights and of different types to add ambience, functional task lighting, and accents where needed. Varying points of light at different heights and of different types will also create a warm ambience that is both flattering and comfortable.
Enjoy your styled space!
And that’s it! Even if you aren’t in a position to remodel your current space, you can create a look and feel that is inviting and feels like home, on any budget.
Curating a look and feel is easier than it may sound, but requires the right mix of colors, patterns and textures. Start by searching for your inspiration and identify what will work with the undertones you already have. If you are planning a remodel, the best thing you can do to create the canvas for your perfect living space is to select a timeless, neutral palette and then add accents to create your look and feel.
If you want to create a space you love and are looking for some creative inspiration, I offer consultation-only and conceptual design packages in addition to my layout, DIY design coaching and concierge services. Contact me to get started today!