The difference between a house and a home… is layers.
When you go to a model home you are looking at the bare bones of the house. Professional stagers will advised you to cut everything in the room by half and then edit some more. This is to be able to give a prospective buyer the ability to see their stuff in the space and what’s there is just a “suggestion”.
A home that feels warm and inviting is the opposite. It’s full of life and personality. A home reflects the character of who lives there. There should be personal touches and a sense of history.
When you go to pull a space together the first thing I would say is to identify the one thing that stands out the most. Then the one thing you cannot change. If these two things are the same then the design of the space needs to work with the problem and NOT against it. Here are two examples:
When I was growing up we lived in a house with rust colored Formica counters. It was a dark and small space with dark wood cabinets and beige wall paper.
To try and brighten it up my mom had my dad re-wallpaper with a white paper with thin blue lines and painted the cabinets white. This only made the counters stand out more. Over the years my mom would comment about how much she didn’t like the counters and especially the color. I don’t remember how I got the permission to do a facelift on the kitchen but when I did I changed the lighting by putting in track lighting . This allowed for more focused and intentional lighting. Then I painted the cabinets a color called “flour sack” warming up the color from white eased the transition to the counters but still offered a bright and light color. Then I added molding and made the upper cabinet a display of all the dishes by removing the doors and paining the insides the same color as the walls. For the walls I chose a terra-cotta color to blend into the counters rather than to fight them. Then with brass accents and other warm tones I pulled the space together. Although now looking at it I have plenty of other ideas of what I would do this was my first experience giving a space a overall facelift to make the one thing my mom didn’t like not so bad. In the end even she said the counters weren’t so bad with what I did to the space.
The second example is our current guest room. When we bought this farm house we knew that it was dated and would need a lot of work. We made a sizable profit from selling our condo but invested most of that into the major second floor remodel of the house. By the time I was onto the guest room and guest bath I didn’t have a huge budget left so I looked at the space the same as I did with the kitchen in the house I grew up in.The biggest eye sore was the faux brick wall. Not only was it fake it looked fake.
I didn’t have the funds to rip it out and redo it. So instead I did a sponge painting technique on it to tone it down and give me a better color pallet to work with. I am not a fan of painted brick so I intentionally tried to leave it looking like brick but with a softer color. Since our master bedroom was done we were able to bring in the old bedroom furniture we had in our storage shed. Then I bought new sheets and a duvet. I used decorative pillows I already had from our living room, found some lamps on clearance at Target, bought some frames and silk flowers at IKEA and printed out images from our trips to Paris. The large shot of Notre Damn I had to have specially printed but the other I was able to do on my home printer. I also brought in the blue velveteen drapes I had from the living room.
They key to good design and making a space feel warm and inviting is layers. In the examples above you can see that it’s about lighting, paint, color, plants, accessories, prints and/or art, and balance. Take the guest room, The primary “color” is the pale sky blue. You see it in the curtains, the toss pillows, the prints, and the throw. However it’s not the color dominating the room. Had I painted the walls this color it would have looked overpowering. It also means if I ever want to change the color of the room It would be easy by changing the curtains, pillows, and throw. It’s also important to point out lighting. Lighting should be done in a few ways. You need to have the general lighting of the room but accent lighting adds yet another layer. Whether it’s under cabinet lighting, desk lamps, chandeliers, or bedside lamps adding lighting as an accessory to a room can make a huge difference too.
One more example of layering I can share would be in the master bedroom, starting with the bed. For most people the bed will be sheets, a comforter of some kind, and two pillows. Heck maybe even just one.
But think about fashion. The outfits your drawn to. They are usually layered. Jackets, scarves, bags, belts, jewelry, and all the other stuff add layers to completing a look. Now look at the room you’re not happy with. Where’s the jewelry? Remember jewelry isn’t big and brash (unless you like that sort of thing) most of the time it’s subtle and shiny. Maybe it’s the chrome accents through the room. Maybe it’s the brass like in the kitchen I first did. Do you like scarves? Think throws. Most outfits also aren’t monochromatic. There are pops of color. There is pattern. In what would be described as a “tan” or “neutral” colored bedroom I introduced green, yellow, caramel, even pops of red. The prints are from our time living in London. The seashells on the nightstand are from a trip to Australia. The coasters for the glasses are from a trip to Disneyland. It all tells a story. The story of us. The bed is layered with quilts, blankets, comforters, and heaps of pillows. Not because we need all the pillows but because a well made and displayed bed is inviting. It looks like you just want to snuggle up and get tucked in. It puts you in the mindset of “wanting” to go to bed.
When we moved the master bedroom upstairs I was lucky that it was a remodel. I was able to measure every single piece of furniture and knew exactly where it would fit and that it would fit. Being able to design a space from the bones meant I could add even more layers such as hardwood floors, area rugs, and even wainscoting on the walls. I added a light above the reading chair as well as a chandelier. I layered in textures through out the space suck as rough wood cornice boxes and mantel.
So now when you think about what is lacking in your space think of some of your favorite outfits or maybe your favorite fashion magazine or catalog from your favorite clothing store. It’s all about layering and adding in touches that showcase you and tell your story will only add to any space.