The Eclectic Home
We all struggle for balance in our lives and as a Gemini, I know that better than most. But having a home that’s a blend of: things inherited, things found, things modern/things old, things I personally love and things important to Robin, THAT gives me peace.
Recently, a customer said to me, “My husband loves mid-century, but I can’t stand it.” My question to her was, “Can’t you throw him a bone?” I mean, really. An end table or a lamp? Shouldn’t the home that two people share represent BOTH of their aesthetics? I think for many, the answer is NO, simply because they don’t know how to do it. So, let me help.
Good design happens when your eye can’t sit still. It speaks directly to your senses. In other words, you enter a room and can’t stop looking around, touching fabrics or surfaces, or feeling a certain way. A gifted designer creates an emotional reaction in their clients and makes them feel at home. How? Well, designers have an arsenal of tools and tricks to make things work together commonly known as the Elements of Interior Design. There are Principles of Design, too, but I’ll save that for another blog. The Elements are as follows: Color, Light, Shape, Space, Line, & Texture. Each of these things can be used to unify a space. Let’s look at them one by one.
Color: If you’ve ever taken a Color class, you know how we perceive color is very psychological. Some colors make us feel warm and fuzzy while others make us feel anxious and unsettled. A good bet is to find the ones that give you the good feels and start there. Also, neutrals are just that – colors so mild in their nature that they result in very little psychological effect. The “safe bet” of the color wheel, so to speak.
Light: As humans, we need light to survive. You’ll hear people say, “This space has such good light.” While it doesn’t have to be natural, plenty of windows and skylights is also a good start. There are many studies outlying the importance of natural light. Don’t underestimate its power. Artificial light, on the other hand (or even an abundance of white) can make us tense while the absence of light, (or black) like a dark den, can make us feel comfortable and safe. Decide which you’re looking for.
Shape: In design, shape is defined as “Natural” – aka organic, “Geometric” – hard lines like those found in squares or triangles, or what they call “Non-objective” – man-made with random edges. Again, people are either drawn to classic or abstract. Which is it for you?
Space: Literally the length, width, and height of objects in a room as well as the negative space between. There should be a balance of both positive and negative space.
Line: How horizontal and vertical lines are observed can add to the overall continuity of a design. Horizontal lines make rooms feel wide or expansive while vertical lines can make us feel tall or grounded. In furniture, clean, straight lines are generally viewed as formal or modern while curvilinear lines are often viewed as artistic or classic.
Texture: can be both visual and actual. Texture can be a powerful unifying tool and while a lot of the above deals with psychological feels, texture is the literal, physical feel.
Now, you may be wondering what this all means? And, isn’t design just instinctual? Yes, for me it is. But I also know the rules. I’ve been known to describe my personal style as Southwest-inspired Industrial French Bistro. That’s a lot, right? But I make it all work through utilizing the elements and principles of design.
Example: In my living room, a mid-century modern chair blends with an antique club chair which blends with a new sofa, why? Because they’re all covered in similar types of fabrics (texture), they’re all low-profile creating a horizontal visual line, the chairs both occupy a similar visual width (space), the overall shapes of the pieces consist of soft lines, and all three pieces are generally neutral in color. They don’t by any means “match” but thanks to the elements of design, they all go together. Not to mention that blending three such different pieces lends to contrast and variety but those are Principles which again, we’ll discuss later.
So, the moral of the story is this: why can’t that lady let her husband have a touch of the mid-century style he loves? She absolutely can! The major benefit of an eclectic home is that it defies trends making it easy to add-on to over the years. Your things become heirlooms rather than disposable. Blurring the lines of design styles not only makes for a more interesting and timeless space but adhering to at least a few of the Elements of Design can help unify different tastes allowing for everyone at home to feel represented.