Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Contrast Brings Interest

When I meet with clients, one of the first things I want to find out about them is their personal style. What you like and want around you is what makes up the visual vernacular of your life. But sometimes a personal style can be difficult for a client to pinpoint or narrow down; people often feel that they have a mish-mash of clashing styles in their lives without any curating. In design, there are no absolute right or wrong answers. There are many ways to reach a goal. With this in mind, I have a few classic design mantras I have developed over the years and one of them is that, within an interior design context, contrast brings interest. Sleek or organic? Antique or modern? Matte or gloss? Light or dark? Wood or stone? How about both! It is precisely the play of stainless steel next to aged, reclaimed timber that makes a statement. An antique Louis chair is supremely present in a sleek, modern room. It is the same with food: think of salted dark chocolate, caramel and sea salt, strawberries and balsamic, and prosciutto and melon.

Take a look at the following examples. The conversation going on between these seemingly disparate pieces is intriguing and engaging. "Contrast brings interest."

These iconic Verner Panton molded plastic chairs look fantastic next to a chunky old farmhouse table. Design, styling, and photography by Emily McCall. Photo used by permission.

Slim console tables, abstract art, sculptural ottomans, and chairs with a Deco shape play off the classic architectural elements (ornate crown moulding, wall panels, wainscoting) of this Georgian room by London-based Studio Indigo.

Australian interior designer Karen Akers used clean-lined pieces and a minimalistic style for this otherwise traditional Arts and Crafts home. Photo by Tom Dalhoff.

Many elements are at play here to create a fascinating, rich room layered with styles and textures. A mid-century desk, worn vintage industrial chairs, a Biedermeier settee, a Rococo mirror, and an organic burl wood cocktail table stand out as museum pieces in a light, bright room.

A carved Louis XV settee on parquet floors is delicious surrounded by modern art. Of particular interest is the combination of round-backed neo-classical Louis XVI chairs with sleek black Panton chairs at the rustic dining table in the background!

And finally interior designer Jessica Helgerson proves that turn-of-the-century (the prior one, not this recent one) American four-square homes needn't be boring. Using a crisp black and white palette, she boldly furnishes such spaces with cool, modern pieces. The old and the new benefit from being in close proximity to each other.

So when you are trying to figure out how pieces go together (or don't) in your own space, remember that, used judiciously and creatively, contrast brings interest!

Thanks for reading and happy designing!

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