I frequently get questions from readers and followers on a variety of topics. Usually, they are struggling to make an important (read: expensive!) design decision related to their home. And usually, the answer is not simple enough for me to dash off a quick reply – so I am not able to answer these types of queries outside the context of our paid design work. But since the onset of the pandemic, I have been wanting to help more than ever – and I *think* this blog feature is one small way I can do just that.
I’m calling it ‘On the Spot’ – and you can expect to see one here several times throughout the year. Though I’m answering one person’s design dilemma, my hope is that you, too, can relate and benefit from my solution and the rationale behind it. And I promise to always explain why.
[And that means I could answer your design-related question here, too! Please contact me if you would like to submit and put me On the Spot :)]
This time, a former colleague put me On the Spot! One from my former life as a digital marketer. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children, who are similar in age to my own.
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Here was her question:
This is such a great question to begin with because it raises a related, preceding question which is, where or how or with what do I start to decorate a room? Oftentimes, I am using textiles to create the inspiration and direction for an overall decorative scheme. But I have designed rooms based on rugs, wallpaper, artwork, an existing piece of furniture, a color, what’s outside the room (outdoors), etc.
There is no wrong answer; they are all right – but where you begin does put you down a path where your options become progressively more limited (in a good way, I think – as in, more manageable due to having a smaller universe of elements from which to choose).
Starting with a piece of art is interesting because you’re essentially backing into the main furnishings of the room. And the art may or may not be the focal point of the room – it’s a jumping-off point.
In this case, we have a painting with bold colors – chiefly, a range of saturated blues and mustard yellow/ochre. Not only are the colors bold and eye-catching, but the artist rendered the stylized female subject in thick impasto, so it possesses a great deal of texture as well. Stylistically, it’s kind of a mix of realism (the woman) and abstraction (her dress and everything else). It has an art deco quality, but that doesn’t mean we’re decorating in that style.
My goal is to create a color/pattern scheme and room concept that highlights the art (aka makes it POP), while tempering somewhat the strong feminine vibe, so it resonates with the whole family.
Let’s start with a sofa…
I immediately thought of olive green velvet for a sofa, as a muted foil for the highly saturated colors in the painting. If this is a living room, and perhaps not where the family is lounging, watching TV, etc. – I like to look at a sofa with a little more shape, and a bit more design detail. The button tufting mimics the checkerboard background of the art in a subtle way – repetition (or, rhythm) is a design element I use often. It makes us comfortable to see patterns repeated.
I like the idea of a mainly-neutral transitional hand-knotted area rug with a one-color pattern. The blue does not overpower, and obviously complements the blues in the painting.
Since the canvas is solidly covered with vibrant color, a light, neutral wall will work best to highlight it. I love this greige with a green undertone from Clare – it’s called ‘Classic’ and it totally is.
As much as I love big, bold patterned fabrics, especially on pillows, this is not the right time or place for that. Again, we’re trying to make the art the focus – so we’ll avoid white/light backgrounds, and use color for a lower-contrast accent. I am picturing the painting centered over this sofa, so let’s create some color balance with a pair of sort-of-solid blue pillows. The faux silk moire fabric adds a little sheen and a different texture (and, incidentally, often looks odd on a computer or mobile device screen…so if it’s acting funny, picture a sort of a cross between wood grain and topography!).
A pair of charcoal wool windowpane pillows add a menswear detail that ups the masculinity of the room, and just a touch of yellow…as well as that checkerboard pattern repetition again.
And lastly, a cashmere throw with border detail and fringe is livable luxe, and since it’s reversible, you can change the look whenever you want. Probably not needed in Texas this time of year, but good to have when winter rolls around! 🙂
*Sources in the image are clickable, with the exception of the painting. You can visit Lana Guise’s Instagram feed here!*
So there you have it!
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Would you like to put me On the Spot, and have a chance to have your design question answered here on this blog? DM me on Instagram!