What is it that makes a room, any room, have an impact? Some interiors are exciting to behold while the room is a total joy to spend time in, the eye marvelling at how everything is put together in a way that works beautifully. Other rooms just don’t seem to have it – they’re bland, boring, lacking in energy and appeal. What’s the secret?
Of course, it’s the skill of the interior designer to create the right ambience, bringing together different elements including furniture and fabrics, walls and flooring, colour and light into a coherent whole. But what if you don’t have a designer on speed dial, or prefer to have a go at styling your home without professional help?
Here’s the big reveal: the thing that makes it all come together is contrast. Learn to play around with the basic design elements of light and colour, texture and shape to produce interesting juxtapositions in your chosen interior space to stimulate visual interest in a variety of ways. Whether you’re designing an elegant living room, a tranquil bedroom or a fun children’s room, contrast is at the heart of it all.
Here are a few tips to get you thinking along the right lines.
Source: Good Housekeeping
See the light (and shade)
Lighting is fundamental to every interior design scheme. The light can change the mood of a room as well as its size, so this should be your number one consideration before you even consult your colour wheel. See this lighting guide and then consider the amount of natural light available, and how to maximise this Start by decluttering window sills. Perhaps replace heavy drapes with sheer voile curtains or window blinds? Can you fit additional velux lights or roof lanterns to help more light flood in?
Once you’ve dealt with the daylight and know where the lighter and darker areas in the room are, turn to artificial lighting choices positioned strategically around the room to fill in the gaps. Lighting design should be a layered approach that includes an effective combination of ambient light, tasking lighting, accent lighting and mood lighting. Achieve the right contrast between light and shade and the room will be a pleasure to spend time in. Get it wrong and it will fee drab and uninspiring, even in broad daylight.
Choose your colours
Are you after dramatic impact or a calm and cosy vibe? Using a complementary colour scheme will have the strongest visual impact. Black and white, yellow and purple, blue and tan… there are many different ways in which you can combine shades from opposite ends of the colour wheel to great dramatic effect.
Consider choosing one shade for the walls, while using the other for furniture, fabrics and accessories to retain a balanced scheme. Having a dominant colour complemented by an accent colour yields the best results. If there’s too much going on, tone down high contrast areas by injecting neutrals.
Or use an analogous scheme and pick a palette from colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Perfect for creating serene and comfortable environments, these colour combinations are often found in nature and produce a harmonious vibe.
Again, you should choose one colour to dominate and a second shade to support, with perhaps a third hue as an accent.
Source: Apartment Therapy
Play with texture
Interior design goes far beyond the visual – it’s a multisensorial experience that is also touchy feely. Contrast is created by mixing and matching different surfaces. The designer will seek out interesting natural and man made materials and textures including hard shiny metal and soft fluffy cushions, formal fabrics and exotic animal skin, rough hewn natural stone and smooth ceramic tiles… you get the idea.
Putting contrasting textures together, purposefully mixing and matching items that feel distinct from each other in close proximity, you add depth and visual weight to the space that can produce wonderful results. Think about mixing natural materials like wood and stone with manmade chrome and metal finishes. Mix plain fabrics with patterned and/or textured finishes, and so on.
Use different shapes
Just as contrasting textures add interest to the overall room scheme, so will the use of different shapes and forms. From sharp angles to soft curves, strong geometric patterns or organic shapes, you can introduce contrasting shapes with furniture but also with accessories like mirrors or wall art, with wallpaper and flooring designs, curtain and upholstery patterns.
Certain shapes lend themselves more to particular design themes. While, for instance, an Art Nouveau inspired interior will feature natural, organic forms, mid-century architectural styles will favour clean lines and geometric patterns.
For a truly individual room scheme, choose an eclectic design that mixes and matches different styles that reflects your personal style. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure that your chosen shape(s) have space to make an impact, by keeping the rest of your décor muted and simple.