Design Critique: Warm Contrasts Living Room
Feb 01, 2010
You know how sometimes you flip through a home magazine and see the perfect room? It's exactly what you'd do in your own house, if you only knew how? I found a room that instantly appealed to me in a back issue of Sunset Magazine, part of its Menlo Park Idea House. I broke it down element by element, so you can understand why it all works and how to apply the same principles in your own house.
Here's the gorgeous room:
Why it works:
The obvious source of contrast is the wall color: steely blue plus its complement, orange, next to a warm linen color with soft white trim. The furniture and fireplace are pale and neutral, contrasting with the darker, saturated walls. Style-wise, the crisp and heavy lines of the fireplace, bureau, and coffee table contrast with the softer-shaped chairs and the delicate accent table. Amongst all the right angle and squares, the curvy chairs and table stand out as something special.
Repetition done in a subtle, elemental way helps a room "stick together." In this space, metal is repeated in the accent table, the nailhead trim on the chairs, and in some of the accessories. Rectangles are repeated in a big way, from the gallery wall to the shapes in the fireplace and mantel.
Cross-pollination is bringing a major element from one space into the next space as a minor element. Above, you can see that some of the blue shades are brought into the next room in the artwork. Below, notice how the drapes pick up on the wall color of the dining room. (The drapes are the one element I'm not very fond of… I think the space calls for more tailored drapes or none at all.)
PHOTOS: E. Spencer-Toy.
These rooms have a nice human scale. Just big enough for a small gathering, with a hint of separation between the spaces due to the wide opening in the wall. Furniture is grouped closely, and it's an appropriate size that keeps the smaller rooms feeling spacious.
It's nice for a space to feel natural and comfortable, but it shouldn't be boring. A little design surprise here and there keeps it lively. The orange wall above the fireplace is unexpected, as is the floor-to-ceiling arrangement of art on the gallery wall.
See the rest of the house here.
Do you have a file of favorite room photos? Want some help understanding what makes them work? Send me one and I'll dissect it here on Room for Inspiration. Or, order an eDecor Plan and I'll take care of every detail to make your room feel like your inspiration room on your own budget! Just email me. —Diane
TAGS: sunset magazine menlo park idea house living dining room interpreting interior design principles
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