My Five Principles to Styling a Room
Building work has finally started this week at home. In order to make the space we have more sociable, we are knocking three rooms into one to create an open plan kitchen-diner and living room. I am so looking forward to my favourite part of any renovation soon… and that is “styling”. Having consistently enjoyed decorating (& re-decorating! ) various properties over the years, I am once again back to square one with a blank canvas. Where do I begin? How do I plan? How do I know if my design will be a successful one ? How do I avoid making mistakes that could be costly?
Well let me share the five principles I follow which help me to create cohesive, interesting rooms, suitable for purpose and full of personality .
Matching furniture (or not)
The choice of homeware products over the last five years, or more, has increased enormously. No longer are we restricted, or do we have to chose, matching three piece suites or “bedroom sets” from high street furniture chains and retail outlets. Fashion has moved into our homes and there is so much more to chose from these days. Using complementary styles and finishes, that do not match, adds a new dimension to a scheme and makes it more interesting. Often “a complete matching range” will simply not fit into your space anyway. Be brave and think outside the box and it will pay dividends.
- Pick individual items you love that will stand the test of time.
- Take time to figure out what works for you in the space you have, without being contrived.
- Think about your colour palette and use similar or complimentary colours for a cohesive scheme and don’t be afraid to mix styles and patterns.
- Start with one large piece that you love (like a sofa, wardrobe, chest of drawers, bed or even a large painting ) and develop your style and theme from there.
- Add interesting smaller pieces and accessories as an accent, or pop of colour and build the layers until you are satisfied with the look.
Balance in a room is something that can be quite difficult to explain let alone achieve. Some people just have “an eye for it”. There are however some principles, detailed below, that can be followed. To ensure equilibrium in a space, placing furniture in accordance with its size, shape and visual weight is crucial in relation to the size of the room and other pieces there in. Clever use of accessories, texture, colour and pattern can also tip the scales one way or another so be aware of what you put where.
- Symmetrical balance – This is used for a traditional style of room. It is where items are placed symmetrically, for example matching coffee tables and lamps either side of a sofa. Perfect mirror images around a central axis.
- Asymmetrical balance- This is less traditional and good to create a relaxed feel in a room. Harder to achieve successfully, it can require some trial and error. Balance is still achieved but without using matching items. For example use a two seater sofa in one style opposite two different chairs. The combined size of the chairs creates balance with the sofa. Co-ordinating or contrasting colours, cushions and throws can tie the scheme together.
- Radial balance -This is where a room is designed around a central focal point. For example, a round dining table, a large coffee table or rug. It’s wise to chose this item first, whatever it may be, and build the other furniture and finishing touches around it .
Scale and Size
The size of a room must be taken into account when choosing furniture and accessories. Whilst it’s obvious that it has to physically fit in the space, often a small room can have larger items and vice versa if chosen and placed correctly. Using a couple of large items in a smaller space, rather than lots of smaller things can create a more luxurious feel. A large rug, plant, vase or lamp can create focus and drama and make a room look and feel more expensive. It is often a good idea to scale back on the size of furniture to allow breathing space between items. Having a large sofa pushed right up against a corner highlights the boundary of the room and things can often look like they are fighting for position if not placed correctly. Using a couple of chairs instead of a bulky sofa for example can provide the same amount of seating and give the illusion that the room is larger. The same can be said for benches as they can be hidden away under a dining room table when not in use. If at all possible, think about leaving a small gap between the furniture and the walls . As well as making the room appear bigger, it will create a more relaxed feel, if that’s the look you are after.
In short, be aware of the size, shape and placement of furniture in your particular space. Bear in mind the functionality of the room and what you actually need… and also what you can do without. Chose key pieces wisely and build your scheme around those pieces. Think outside the box and don’t always assume small items for a small room and large for a large room. It’s a good idea to know measurements of your space to compare to the measurements of furniture and accessories. You can then use masking tape on the floor or old cardboard boxes to give you an idea of how much space they will take up. Get experimenting and see what works for you .
All sorts of styles of homes can feel harmonious. To me, it doesn’t mean every room has to be the same, but I personally like a similar style and colour to run through my home. I adore french, modern country and scandi and my colour scheme favours a neutral palette. As a result, I often switch things around from room to room as my scheme allows. This change up regularly refreshes a space without compromising on style or having to buy new things as often! A harmonious home could simply include the same flooring, colour palette or wall colour and even a house that is different in every room, is multi coloured and eclectic, can feel harmonious if the scheme runs through the entire house. If you swapped one of my rooms with one in such a house it would look wrong, and out of place, but when a theme is cohesive, without being contrived, it’s harmonious and comfortable whatever the style .”Busy” rooms can also be harmonious but sometime less is more. Let the eye travel around the room, to points of interest, but not so many that there’s too much to take in and the beauty in each piece is lost.
The things I have mentioned so far, provide a starting point… a framework to guide and help you on your way to a harmonious home which is practical, cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Somewhere you feel comfortable and somewhere to be proud of. A place to relax, unwind and entertain. A place for the whole family… and this will mean different things to different people. A home should meet your needs, the way you live and reflect your personality. Whilst we all want a beautiful home it also needs to be lived in and practical. A show home is called a show home because it’s just that… it’s for show. Our homes are places where memories are made and good times shared. Everyone is an individual and a perfect way to express this is with the finishing touches. The icing on the cake. This is how you make your home unique and elevate its styling to the next level. Be brave! It will be worth it.
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