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Just Enough Pizzaz

No, not pizzas...pizzaz!  Also known as style.

It's something that every designer tries to create within a space.  Often, the challenge for designing an incredible space is not finding "nice things" to fill the room, instead it's finding the perfect balance between uniqueness and familiarity. 

Truth be told, most of us want to have something about our living space that truly defines who we are.  We have the desire to display our personality, interests, loyalties, viewpoints, and many other aspects of who we are by giving them representation in our homes.  On many levels, we each find design to be a form of self-expression; whether we express ourselves by displaying a teapot collection, or painting a room orange, it's all the same.

For me, the self-expression aspect of design is usually the easiest part.  In fact, I actually think that it would be fun to have a "Things I Love" room in my house filled from floor to ceiling with all of the fabrics, accessories, furniture, art, etc. that makes me giddy.  Unfortunately, from a design stand-point, that concept doesn't really work too well.  As cool as it might be, the missing element would be familiarity.  Our minds feel at ease when things are familiar and comfortable, and unfortunately, a room filled with loveable items can't offer that feeling (no matter how loveable the items are).

So, what's the trick to making a statement about who you are without overstepping comfort levels of the human psyche?  Perhaps these spaces will demonstrate my point...

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This room is a great example of using just enough color, art, and accessories to add some personal flare without jumping overboard. 

What makes it work?

  • The bright yellow accent is used only in key locations within the space, becoming the focal point within the room.
  • Artwork and accessories are minimal.  This allows the yellow accents to take center stage.  If everything competes for attention within the room, don't be surprised if you get a headache!
  • The neutral background compliments the other elements within the room.

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This room features an obvious focal point--a unique item that draws the attention.  Every room needs a good focal point, and large rooms need focal points for each function zone within the space.  Determining the focal point of the room should be one of the first steps within the design process.

What makes it work?

  • The focal point is a large piece of furniture, which draws the attention of the occupant.
  • Color is still added within the space, but sparingly.  Most of this room is neutral, which softens the mood, and allows the accent color to pop.
  • Monochromatic (colors drawn from the same family) elements within the various wood-tones and even the accent color, add dimension.   You'll notice the wood furniture pieces each have a golden undertone, and the shades of green vary slightly from one pillow to the next.

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Don't be afraid to make a bold statement, but limit your boldness to a few main features.  This room features a bold pattern on the wall, and a bright green accent throw, but all of the other elements within the space remain neutral.

What makes it work?

  • Linens and upholstery use texture, rather than pattern or color, which gives the room a subtle layer of visual interest beyond the key focal points.
  • Symetry within the space adds balance and unity.  Matching lamps and side tables provide a familiar element, and also remain functional.
  • White accents anchor the space, which would otherwise feel too dark.

So, what do you think?  How do you add your own personal touches to your favorite spaces? Tell me your secrets and tips!

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