One of my quirks from way before I was a professional interior designer was to “deconstruct” photos of rooms or groupings I liked to figure out WHY I liked them so much. That quirk is at the core of how I design rooms now… I realize every element is important and adds to the overall beauty, but each one also needs to relate to the others. Case in point:
This is a rental unit, so I could not change the structure (fireplace, base moldings, etc.). I could only “decorate” so to speak. This is a rather small area as well, with a sliding door to the left of the fireplace, so I had to keep the space open and yet add some seating to make a conversation area with the sofa on the opposite wall. I first painted the fireplace wall darker than the adjoining walls to add drama, the color picking up one of the colors in an area rug just outside the photo.
Then I added the white shelf as a mantle, painting it the same white as the fireplace frame to make the two elements seem like one feature. I then painted the hearth (which was white) a bronze metallic to ground the structure better. I then added non-working, silk drapery panels in a muted stripe that pick up the color scheme and add softness to the space (while covering up the electrical switch for the fireplace).
The seating had to be inviting, and yet small enough so the path to the slider in front of it wouldn’t be compromised. After looking at several options I finally settled on an upholstered dining room chair. At first look, you don’t think “oh, that’s a dining room chair”, because the scale works so well. Adding the cushion also makes the chair look like it belongs in a living area. A small chair like this would also work well in a bedroom or in a bathroom. The other furniture pieces are in scale with the chair, and believe me… your eye would detect it if they were too large. All of a sudden, everything would look “off”.
The other obvious thing that “works” in this grouping is the color palette. Everything is in the same color intensity, and that even includes the “pop” of turquoise in the pillow and accessory. Had this been too bright, the overall calming effect of the grouping would have been compromised. Almost everything in this grouping has a sheen, sparkle or shimmer except the wall paint, so it was very important to keep the color palette muted so it didn’t look cheap.
Other tricks: Notice how the candles intersect with the mirror? This is so that your eye will process them along with the mirror as one object, thereby making the grouping appear less cluttered. It also fills up the space better, so your eye doesn’t stop moving from element to element.
Another reason your eyes keep moving around the space is because the colors and shapes repeat throughout the grouping, creating harmony. Notice also how there is an easy blend of Asian, contemporary and traditional furnishings. They blend together cohesively because of the commonality of shapes, colors and scale. Rooms get put together piece-by-piece, but don’t lose sight of the overall effect.