Have you ever walked through a butterfly house? I remember doing it as a child and recently visited the Butterfly Conservatory and The Museum of Natural History. What a wonderful experience! Everyone should take some time to enjoy the delicate beauty of these fluttering creatures. As I slowly walked among the butterflies I was drawn to the amazing patterns on their wings. I understand that these patterns serve a purpose in nature to attract and/or deceive. Patterns can help to attract a mate, but they can also help to hide from predators or aid in the capture of prey. I think of how patterns can impact the design of a room.
The best patterns come from nature. Think about the popularity of leopard prints, floral designs, grain like textures. Patterns can bring a room together or they can overwhelm a room. It’s all about how and where it is used. As I watched the butterflies I noticed that depending on the open or closed position of their wings, their patterns looked different. When the butterfly was still, sitting on a branch or leaf, the pattern was subtle. It was sometimes hard to see the butterfly as it blended into its environment. On the other hand, when the butterfly was flying, it was bright and magical. There are some lessons here that apply to interior design.
If there is an exuberant pattern you like, don’t be afraid to use it – let it complement or add interest to your overall room design, not overpower it. Imagine a client who loves paisley patterns. The focal point of their living room is a rather large sofa. A natural inclination might be to use a paisley fabric to upholster the sofa. However, this now makes the already large sofa seem even bigger! My suggestion would be to use the paisley for throw pillows on the sofa or for curtains – especially if the window views are interesting. By using the pattern in this manner it will add interest rather than taking over the room. Your large sofa, in a subdued neutral or texture, is still in the room, but it no longer dominates. Think of using patterns as the butterfly in the room. They attract interest and introduce complementary colors.
Sometimes our best design inspirations come from a casual experience. I highly recommend that everyone take some time as visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I found that you are never too old to enjoy the magic that exists within those walls.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly…or so the song says. However, you can mix traditional and contemporary decorations to bring holiday warmth and sophistication into your home. Our natural instinct when decorating for the holiday is go with red and green, or whatever belief you may follow. It’s simple. It’s easy. But, it doesn’t always highlight a room to its best advantage. Here are some tips for your holiday decorating:
Broaden the holiday color palette: Look at the overall color scheme of your home (we all have one!) and select greens and reds that complement those colors. For example, if blue is a consistent color theme in your house, greens are a soft, natural complement. However, it is not necessary to stick to forest green, pine green or hunter green. Think turquoise, lime green, aqua, teal. It will make the blue seem blue-er and brighten the room. For red or orange color themes, consider using magenta, voilets, lavendars mixed in with your reds, oranges, or yellow rooms. These will truly get the embers going – even if you don’t have a fireplace!!!
Don’t be afraid to try something different: Candles and garland are two of the most popular accessories used to decorate a home for the holidays. You don’t have to follow tradition and only use pine garland or red or white candles. It’s your home. Let these accessories highlight your existing décor. Consider garlands made of unusual materials (fabric, things from nature, unusual greenery or vegetation, nuts, buttons). Think about how they can help a room pop. Draw attention to a beautiful fireplace or a favorite piece of art. And don’t forget what is important to you and your family – get inspiration from your hobbies, interests and more importantly – what gives meaning to you at this time of year.
Recycle: We often invest a lot of time and money in buying decorations that only come out of storage at the holidays. Consider using accessories that can be repurposed at other times of the year. Right now apothecary jars are available and are reasonably priced. Imagine placing a small pine tree in one of these jars, with beach glass or sand, filling the bottom. You’ve now mixed holiday décor with the theme of your home. You can take this idea for your table top. Use three glass jars, the center one being the tallest – use a potted holiday tree in each and of course, the center use a larger tree – or potted paper whites, whatever natural event you choose. At the bottom, add fake snow, if you are surrounded by woods, gather fallen small pinecones or nuts or or small twigs. If you are not buried in snow – find small pods of moss and place at the bottom of the jar – but once the holiday is over try and get it back where it was taken! And, after the holidays, you can replace your containers with flower bulbs and watch them grow during the cold winter months!
Bottom line – it’s the holidays! Bring warmth into your home. Whatever or however you decide to decorate – especially table tops – everything is better in threes – or when it comes to in filling items, odd numbers. The idea of threes, comes from the Japanese design philosophy of balance. Think about what you want people to see when they walk into a room and make sure they are not overwhelmed or distracted by too many decorations or too much color. Think about what makes you smile as you enjoy the holiday season and use that as inspiration for your home’s holiday décor!
If you have other ideas, please let me know and I’ll share with my fans!!!
P.S. Here are some tips for where you can find inexpensive, re-usable items for holiday decorating:
Sometimes inspiration comes from artwork, a theme or a individual’s personality. Other times, it comes from working around a piece of furniture that is overwhelming a space. There are some colors that I’m just not crazy about. I don’t design rooms that use these colors on the wall. I’m happy for them to be used in accent pieces, but not as the focal point. However, many times clients choose to keep existing pieces due to budget.
As I designer I need to figure out how to pull the room together and de-emphasize what I feel is a piece that is overwhelming the room either due to color, pattern or size. For example, imagine a bold yellow sofa (and I mean YELLOW) that immediately draws the eye and does not allow you to see anything else in the room. My client was very happy with the yellow sofa and was not interested in reupholstering it.
Fortunately the yellow uphostery fabric had woven pattern in the shape of leaves. I had already seen a patterned drapery fabric, which I loved, that had a leaf type pattern. I often see fabrics that just speak to me and I keep them in mind as I’m working with various clients. This drapery fabric did not have any yellow in it, but did have flecks of gold and it picked up the leaf pattern from the sofa upholstery. The drapery fabric also introduced other, neutral, yet warm colors such as a silvery gray and taupe. I had pillows made using the taupe color for use on the sofa. They help to soften the impact of the yellow and draw the eye around the room.