Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are getting ready for a wonderful New Year’s Eve and Day! My own Christmas was amazing, hectic, and a little tiring! Between hosting overnight guests, parties, and Christmas dinners, I’m exhausted. Hopefully tomorrow night though I’ll end up in bed before midnight. I’m not much of a New Year’s Eve person, but my husband has booked a dinner somewhere as a surprise. Hopefully it won’t make us stay out too late!
Now that Christmas is over, I’m ready for spring! That’s why our next installment of Why this Room Works is so bright, colorful, and lively. This room is by the New York City based designer, Ashley Whittaker and was originally featured in the November 2015 issue of House Beautiful. It’s been featured everywhere lately as it’s such a beautiful, inspiring, and relaxing room. It lands somewhere between delicate and exotic, and it does it incredibly well.
So, let’s review exactly why this room works.
1. Feminine versus masculine – At first glance this room looks very feminine – floral curtains, floral club chairs, light paint colors and furniture, and to top it all off a butterfly painting. But, if you look closer, a number of masculine features are present as well, dark, straight lined end tables, a dark, heavy coffee table, a streamlined couch with dark sabre legs, and a rug made up of nothing but straight lines. The overarching features are feminine but they’re kept in check by the masculine, and that keeps everyone happy.
2. Light versus dark – As I already stated above, this room largely focuses on light, airy colors – gray, white, lavender, and lime green. About 80% of the room is light, but that 20% of dark colors keeps the room from being too sweet, and prevents it from becoming overwhelmingly bright. Particularly as a bright room can take on a feeling of not being “serious” or “adult” enough. But, with the small presence of the dark colors, it gives the room sophistication, maturity, and complexity while also remaining light hearted and playful.
3. Eclectic history – This room presents a number of different historical styles, a Gustavian tub chair, a tuxedo sofa, Ming style coffee table, and a modernized version of the Greek key pattern present in the rug. It doesn’t land in any specific “style” or “era.” If asked, most would call this “traditional” to some extent, but you can’t put your finger on one particular time period. And you can’t even say what world region’s “traditional” it is. It’s a beautiful use of historical pieces, blended together through their similarities in lines. This is the essence of a classic room, varied but harmonious, related but not matched. Ashley Whittaker has done it here exquisitely. And although this technique can be a bit challenging, I highly recommend it. With pieces that are not necessarily one specific style, but clearly relate to one another in their overall design, allow you to create a room of interest, personality, and energy.
4. Repeat and surprise – One of the best ways to pull together a room is to repeat, whether it be shapes, colors, or a pattern, repetition shows coordination. However, I’m not one for overboard repetition. Although some designers favor the room that’s head to toe covered in one pattern, I don’t care for this look. Instead, I prefer a room that has subtle repetition, and then, a surprise. In this room, our repetition comes from the florals, the florals in the curtains, the club chairs, and the flowers themselves placed in the ginger gar. It also comes from the colors. Although it might seem shocking to have a lime green velvet sofa, this lime green color is repeated on the bolster pillow on the sofa, and on the trim of the lavender pillow. The ikat pattern on the chair is repeated on the pillow on the lime green sofa.
However, what the surprising factor in this room is, the Ming coffee table. There is nothing in the room like it. Although the end tables do reintroduce a dark color, nothing prepares you for its shape, its presence, its design. It’s out there on its own, and it creates just enough dissonance in the room to keep things exciting. I recommend you do the same. One unexpected item in a well coordinated room makes that room more you. In my bedroom, it’s a horse feed bucket. I don’t know why I love it, but I sure do. I found it in an antique mall while getting ready for a photo shoot and I just couldn’t let it go. It’s leather strap, brass buckle, twine wrappings, there’s something about it that I just love. It’s big enough that it creates interest, but small enough that it doesn’t throw the rest of the room off.
When you’re trying an interesting, somewhat off piece in a room, start out small. If you see an interesting accessory, fabric, lamp, pick it up and place it in the room that you think makes sense. And if you feel that somehow it just works, keep it there! It just may become your favorite part of the room.
What are your thoughts on this room? Anything else you’d like to point out in this room about why it works, or doesn’t work? Any rooms of your own that you’d like to know why it is or isn’t working? Send them in and your questions just might be answered in a post! And have yourselves a safe and Happy New Year!