| 5 tips for creating beautiful, cohesive spaces |
One of the most common phrases we hear from clients is, “I know what I like but I just don’t know how to put it together to make it look good.” Most people have some idea of what they like, even if they don’t know why, but making a room come together in a cohesive way that is functional and beautiful can be challenging. That’s why they hire us!
Putting together a well-designed space is all about striking the right balance. Balance applies to everything from colors and finishes to textures, patterns, and accessories. Although much of design is subjective, there are some rules of thumb that can act as a guide to ensure your space is well balanced.
1. Create Symmetry
When in doubt, use symmetry as your guide. Symmetry is naturally pleasing to the eye and can be the easiest way to bring balance to a space. Use a focal point as your center guide and then group pieces evenly around that point. For example, if a bed is your focal point, create symmetry by using identical chests and lamps on either side. Place a long bench at the end of the bed or a couple matching poufs or chairs. In a living room, use the fireplace as the focal point. Place a sofa across from the fireplace, flanked by matching armchairs on either side. Anchor the seating arrangement with a large area rug and coffee table.
2. Balance Vertical and Horizontal Planes
Keep in mind that balancing your space extends beyond the furniture that sits on the floor. Consider both horizontal and vertical planes to create complete balance. In the space above, we created horizontal balance with symmetry. We created vertical balance by grounding the focal point with a large area rug. The darker color and texture of the rug draws the eye downward while the dark wood tones and texture of the planked ceiling draw the eye upwards. This creates a space that is visually balanced. When considering vertical and horizontal balance in a space, pay attention to the spacing of light and dark colors. Try not to group too many items of the same color family to avoid visual “black holes” and “whiteouts”.
3. The Odd Number Rule
They say the devil is in the details. We’ve found that is particularly true when styling bookshelves, kitchen cabinets, and other surfaces. It can be difficult to create aesthetically pleasing groups of accessories. Many designers apply the odd number rule when styling without even realizing they’re doing it. The odd number rule is exactly as it sounds: when in doubt, create groups in odd numbers. Groups of three and five are most common for things like candlesticks and books. To add even more interest, use objects of varying heights to create vertical and horizontal balance. Tip: if you need to create height in a grouping, use stacked books or boxes to elevate an object.
4. Balance Patterns and Textures
Mixing up patterns and textures can be intimidating, but it can be done well by following a few simple rules. When it comes to patterns, choose an even mixture of small scale and large scale patterns in the same color family. Stripes and polka dots can absolutely go together if their colors compliment each other. With texture, limit the number of each type of texture in a space and then scatter them evenly throughout the room. Keep in mind which patterns and textures will touch each other. Create balance by using simple fabrics next to more textural ones. For example, pair a sofa in a clean, neutral fabric with a soft, highly textural throw and patterned pillows whose colors compliment each other. In the picture below, we had the bed painted a dark greenish blue, so we chose to create contrast with light colored bedding. The soft linen euro pillows contrast beautifully with the dark headboard and provide a neutral backdrop for the blue patterned king shams. A small cream colored accent pillow with dark welt completes the grouping.
5. Mix Finishes with Confidence
Metal and wood finishes are some of the most challenging elements to get right. Most people make the mistake of either using all of the same finish, which can result in a room that is uninteresting, or using too many different finishes, which can result in a room that is disjointed. When it comes to wood and metal finishes, limit your space to two or three of each. Scatter wood finishes throughout the room rather than clumping the same wood tones together. If you have wood floors, consider the flooring to be one wood finish. You can use that same finish in your furniture pieces, but make sure to incorporate at least one other wood finish type into the room. To mix metal finishes, when in doubt, divide your room into visual planes and use one finish per plane. For example, if you want to mix black and brass finishes in a kitchen, use a brass finish on the ceiling lights (upper plane) and a black finish on the cabinet hardware (middle and lower planes). You can even opt for fixtures that incorporate both finishes and use them on any plane in the room.
These guidelines are helpful starting points, but keep in mind that the most important thing about any space is that the people who live there are happy. Our goal as designers is to help our clients love the home they live in! So be creative, have fun, and feel free to break the rules. When the end result sparks joy for the people who live there, you’ll know you’ve done it right!
Brenda Thompson | Owner, Interior Designer | HouseLift Design
I’m Brenda Thompson, owner and the main face behind HouseLift Design. I have a small, but mighty team that works hard to create beautiful spaces that feel good and put together. It’s our passion! We’d love the opportunity to help you love the home you live in and give it just the HouseLift it needs. We make the process easy and handle everything from start to finish! The first step is to schedule a complimentary 15min phone consultation so we can discuss the wish list you have for your home and determine how we might be able to help. I discovered my love for interior design as a young teen. I was always painting furniture or walls and updating spaces for family and friends. I graduated with a degree in Marketing/Communications and spent the first twenty years of my career as a corporate girl, but always maintained my love for design. After prompting from several friends and my husband, I decided to turn my dream into a reality and the thought of giving people’s homes a facelift was born via HouseLift Design.
Learn more about working with Brenda Thompson of HouseLift Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!
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