Creating Breath Taking Rooms

Ever walk into one of those living rooms that just take your breath away because it is so tranquil and well edited? I love that experience. You want to stand there for a few moments and take in the ambiance of the space.

This is what happens with everything in a room works together. Nothing stands out but functions as a well-tuned orchestra to create one unified sound. This is the most difficult mode of decorating to achieve.

How does it happen? Well first of all it doesn’t just happen, every detail has been carefully selected to work in unison throughout the space.

It starts with tone. Tone is the base color in paint that makes it a hit or just slightly off. Have you ever heard someone say, that shade of beige has a lot of yellow in it or that gray has brown under tones? It’s the tone that makes a room work. You can never create a drop dead gorgeous setting if you mix tones.

Stanley Furnture
Layered artwork leaning against wall, over the fireplace creates an interesting focal point. Photo by Stanley Furniture.

I once discovered a small blue vase at the ABC Carpet store in Manhattan. It was the exactly color I wanted to use in my bedroom. I carried that vase with me everywhere. I used it to select the paint, rug, drapes and bedding because it was the perfect tone. The easiest way to pull a room together is start with the fabrics. Most of us have a limit number of fabrics from which to choose. The tone of the fabric you’ve selected will dictates every item use in that space. If you find yourself struggling trying to match the fabric you’ve selected, change the fabric.

I once had a client accompany me to the High Point Furniture Market to select her living room furnishings. She brought a swatch of fabric from two pillows that she had purchased. After a long day we still hadn’t found upholstery fabric that would work with the tones in her swatch. I finally ask her, “Are you really going to spend $10,000 furnishing this room based on two pillows that are obviously not working? Let’s pitch the pillows and start fresh with a great upholstery fabric that you love and build a beautiful room.” To this day she loves the space we created.

Not everyone can afford to start fresh with all new furnishings. If you’re going to keep your sofa then use its fabric as your starting point. The same is true about the flooring and any stone, marble or granite. These are our hardscapes, expensive and difficult to change. Paint, accessories and drapes are easier and more affordable to replace.

Bassett
Rich, green velvet upholstery brings layers of color to a neutral space. Photo by Bassett Furniture.

Learn how to edit. Most rooms suffer from over the top accessorizing. Furnish the space by placing each item one-by-one, until the room looks perfect. Then stop. Even if you still have half-dozen accessories left over, you simply don’t need them.

I love leaning artwork against a wall if possible instead of hanging. You can layered them making even a simple sketch appear more interesting.

Want a pop of color? Use fresh flowers.

This is how you build a room, layer-by-layer, object-by-object to create an atmosphere that takes your breath away every time you walk through your own house.

Vicki Payne
Vicki Payne is a nationally recognized designer, home improvement, gardening and decorating expert. Each week, for over 15 years, millions of viewers both nationally and internationally have tuned in to watch her popular television show, For Your Home.
  • Cara Shimizu

    Excellent advice on using on not mixing the tone–I hadn’t put my finger on that before, but see that is spot on!

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