Category Archives: Living Rooms

Roomology Loves: Monochromatic Interiors (A How To!)

Although there were many things to fall in love with in Costa Rica, I could not get over the thousands of shades of green I came across while hiking in the rainforest.  I have included some pictures of my wandering eye and it is clear how this place makes you simply fall in love with green.  Can you imagine being totally engulfed in this beautiful color?

I began to think of how to incorporate that feeling into an interior.  The answer is: Monochromatic color scheme.  A monochromatic color scheme is not an easy project to take on but with some simple guidelines  you can be surrounded by your favorite color.  In order to mimic nature you really need to go beyond the paint color.  A space needs to replicate the layers as if you can peal them off one at a time to reveal another surprise underneath.

Here are some tips for how to succeed with a monochromatic room:

1.  Choose a color that will set the mood you would like your space to portray.  If you are designing a bedroom you may want to select a more relaxing color as opposed to an energizing or loud shade.  There are plenty of exceptions to this rule which we will go over next so make sure the color you select will be one you will smile at every time you enter the room.  There will be a lot of it so you need to at least like the color!

2.  Make sure to mix different tones of your color to create contrast.  This will help give the room depth and allow each piece to both stand out and fit in at the same time.  You will be surprised at how well pieces will compliment each other when they are varying in lighter or darker shades.  Look at how many tones of blue are used in the living room below.

3.  Texture, Texture, Texture.   A monochromatic color scheme needs to have as many textures as you can find.  The orange interior below is a great example.  Between the  Panatone dining chairs, pendant light above the table, textures of the throw pillows, paint on the wall  and fireplace this one room has at least 6 different textures.

4.  Do you have commitment issues?  Not so sure you can go for the red sofa or green console table?  I totally understand but that is no excuse for why you cannot still have a monochromatic room.  Mix neutral toned furniture pieces with plenty of colorful accents.  Bring your color into the space with throw pillows, blankets, curtains, area rugs, candles, art work and of course paint. The list can keep going; be creative and your commitment issues will soon be forgotten.

The neutral sofa and lamp shades create a great canvas for the blue palette.

5.  Be sure to add some pattern.  The wallpaper below breaks up the strong violet paint color while introducing a lighter shade.  It also helps to tie in the light colored sofa

There you have it.  Have fun exploring what you can do with only one color.  Send us your pictures to show us your finished Monochromatic Masterpiece.

Images sources: House Beautiful, Jeffers Design Group, Apartment Therapy, Hue Amour.

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Roomology loves: Gallery walls (a how-to!)

Gallery walls have always been popular, but now more than ever I see them popping up everywhere — from designer rooms to DIY blogs — so I decided that 2012 was the year of my gallery wall.  Before we get into my masterpiece, here are some of inspirational images of gallery walls.

Featured on HouseBeautiful.com.  Using different frames can sometimes lead to a disconnection between the pieces, but this works because they all have a unified subject: the owner’s collection of figure sketches.  I especially love the added bonus of the sculpture at the bottom of the stairs.

If you are going for a more sleek and modern look, follow what Samantha Pynn did for this bachelor pad.  Identical frames and mats were used with a combination of black and white photos in a contemporary geometric grid.

The classic staircase gallery maximizes an unusual wall shape.  Designer Eric Cohler got this right by keeping all the images in the same neutral color palette.

Kelly Werstler’s Viceroy Santa Monica uses all rectangular mirrors, taking the images out of the equation.

This designer proves the power of creativity and spray paint.  Here, the asymmetric placement makes each frame stands out on its own, yet still feel like part of the family.  And if you have a neutral area and need a pop of color, this idea allows you to be bold without overdoing it.

Regular geometry is relaxing to the eye.  I also love the use of a vintage map.  In this one (from House Beautiful), the simple sepia tones work well with all the different textiles and patterns.

Simply brilliant!  I would have never thought to bring the gallery wall into a powder room, but after looking at this image I cannot believe I didn’t think of this sooner.   Via Design Sponge.

Need some inspiration near your workspace?  A gallery wall can be the answer.  I love how this  looks as though it grew organically.  I love the dusty tones and how it complements the muted rug.

Use a gallery wall to show off your child’s art work!  You could have the coolest playroom on the block.

Now a few things to remember when creating your gallery wall

1.  Try to be as unique as you can.  See what you have around the house first, then decide what you want to display and what you can put back in the closet.

2.  A can of paint is your best friend.  If you absolutely love a frame but it does not work for whatever reason, you can give it new life for $6.

3.  Plan as much as you can.  Go back to good old paper and pen, sketch out your initial idea, then practice on the wall with large pieces of newspaper or scrap paper in the exact sizes of the frames.  Make sure you label each piece to match with the artwork to keep everything organized.

4.  Have fun with this.  Make your gallery wall your own!  Let it show your unique interests, and it will be something you smile at every time you pass by.

I spent 2 full weekends working on my own gallery wall.  Most of the time spent was figuring out the layout I wanted and the frames I needed.  Here is my lonely empty wall that was neglected for almost 3 years. 

As you can see the wall is empty and therefore very intimidating!

And here is my finished product.  I mixed in a large painting at the bottom and the rest are images I took myself from traveling abroad.  Because the rest of the room is more contemporary with clean lines and any asymmetrical layout I attempted just did not work, I decided on a semi-grid pattern.  All the frames are from Ikea and I ordered my prints from Smugmug.com.  In total I probably spent around $250 with frames and prints.. not too bad considering this wall is finally finished and my travel memories are now proudly on display.

Have you attempted your own gallery wall?  If so, send us your photos!

Roomology’s guide for mixing prints and patterns

All this snow has me ready for spring and thinking of flowers…. which has me thinking of a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while: how to mix patterns in a room. I know a lot of people will fight me on this, but I love mixing patterns and prints, like in this amazing room from Southern Living

I know what you’re thinking… that it’s “too much,” that it’s “too fussy,” or at your most generous, “that’s nice, but it’s not me.” To me, though, this space is completely fearless in its use and juxtaposition of patterns. Let’s see… we have a green chinoiserie on the wall, a purple and white area rug with a more modern pattern, and bright geometric pillows in crimson red and black & white. That, my friend, is interior design cojones.

Now look, I’m not saying everyone should or can go to this extent. But I guess I’m at a point where I’m ready to go beyond the stark modernism brought on by midcentury mania and an overemphasis on Scandinavian design. I’m ready for something bolder, more unexpected, more just plain fun. If you’re willing to come along with me, even just incrementally, here are 4 do’s and don’ts for mixing patterns in real life.

1) Beware of patterned window treatments.
Notice that in the Southern Living room, we have loads of color and funky brights, but the window treatments are nice and neutral. Too often, people start with a neutral sofa and don’t get around of thinking about color or pattern until their window treatments or wall covering. This works in more traditional spaces, but in more modern interiors, patterned curtains feel overly fussy (see Exhibits A&B below).

patterned-window-treatmentspatterned-window-treatments
To be honest, I think everything in these rooms work except for the window treatments. Because they’re so bright and busy, they feel old-fashioned; more than that, they take my eye up and away from the nice play of patterns elsewhere. Another problem with patterned draperies is that you don’t have control over the amount of pattern on a consistent basis, because of course the curtains will be open and shut at different times of day. If you’re going to do a pattern in your curtain, best to make it something that won’t compete with the focal point of the room, like in this lovely and modern space:
House to Home.

2) Stripes on the floor work great with floral/geometric seating.
Here we have three rooms with the same tactic: solid walls/windows, striped rugs, and patterned/floral pillows and cushions. A winning combination to incorporate pattern into a modern space.

striped-rug-floral-sofa
From DiggersList.

striped-rug-patterned-seating
Knotting Hill.

striped-area-rug
House Beautiful.

3) Wallpaper doesn’t need to go everywhere.
Wood trim nicely contains just a bit of the pattern; moreover it is challenged here by a modern geometric print on the ottoman. They could take this even further by hanging modern black & white wall art over the papered wall; remember, wall art limits the amount of pattern in the room as well.

framed-wallpaper
From everythingfabulous.

4) Consider a patterned sofa.
If your walls and window treatments are going to be solid, you know where the pattern needs to come in… in your large scale pieces in the room. I know the first thought that most of you have in a new living space: let’s begin with a tan sofa. What I’m suggesting is that a neutral sofa, which you might think matches everything, has limits of its own, because it’s colorless and it takes up a lot of space. If it’s forcing you to use pattern and thus direct attention elsewhere, it is forcing your hand on a number of other choices. I know they’re not for everyone, but here are some of my favorite patterned sofaspattern-sofa
From Domino (RIP).

pattern-sofa
From Elle Decor.

striped-sofa
The Kilim sofa from Anthropologie.

I personally love a plaid sofa…plaid-sofalike this one from apartment therapy.

Here are a few patterned sofas I love…abigail-settee-anthropologie
The Abigail settee from Anthropologie
The Essex sofa from West Elm.essex-sofa-west-elm

ikat-sofa
Ballard Designs has customizable sofas in a variety of patterns. This one is the lovely Toscana Ikat Slate.

Of course, if you’ve already gone the neutral sofa route, you can always fake the look with bright throw pillows:neutral-sofa-bright-throw-pillowsIt’s fun if they’re all different, like this example from Haus Design.

Roomology’s inner Gamer comes out to play

Ever since the original Nintendo Gameboy came out (I mean the real original gray one) I was hooked on Tetris.  I have had that game on every computer and cell phone I have owned and even this year it was the first App I purchased on my iPhone.   As an homage to my favorite puzzle game I have collected some of the coolest Tetris home design pieces.

Brave Space DesignBrave Space Design - This shelf comes in color (as shown) or white. I can picture this in a playroom or any modern interior.

Brave Space Design - Tetris Bamboo Shelf for those inner geeks who are also eco-friendly.

Diego Silverio and Helder Filipov worked together on this collection. I'm sure you can find a use for any of these pieces.

 And of course we cannot leave out the mosaic tiles.  These tiles are offered in any color your little gamer heart may desire.  As a kitchen backsplash or accent tiles in a bathroom, Tetris inspired tiles could add that little something extra to take your room from average to awesome.

Another UK based company, T-Tiles gives you the option to customize the tiles for your specific needs.

Color Options - You can choose up to 7 colors and they will have your order shipped in 3-4 weeks.

Paolo Grasselli created the Fontana Forni Fireplace. I love how you can easily move it around because it runs on ethanol and even change the layout according to your own floor plan and needs.

Soner Ozenc's mirror is one of my favorite pieces I have found. I am now seriously considering this post-holiday purchase for myself. I found it on DaWanda which is UK based however they ship internationally!

How else could you use the Tetris motif in design?  And what other games would make an easy transition from your game system to your home design concept?

7 Reasons to Dump Your Bookshelves

UGGGHHHH. (Shudder). The dreaded bookshelf! How many of you have something like the above in your place?

I’m throwing this out there for debate… Please comment below and let me know what you think! Throughout the centuries, there have been many pieces of furniture that, having ceased to serve a useful function, have been abandoned in most modern homes. The flat screen TV rendered full-scale entertainment units a thing of the past. Large scale dining tables have been replaced by more comfortable, casual sets. Yes, I am saying that the bookshelf fits into this category, along with the tea table and the fainting sofa. Bookshelves in the living area are, in my opinion, rapidly becoming, if not already, obsolete, and I’ll give you 7 reasons why.

1) We don’t use the books we own. You got it, my number one reason we don’t need bookshelves is because the majority of us don’t need the very things they were meant to house. We have kindles, nooks, iPads, audiobooks, and every other device out there to replace our old paperbacks.  Now I recognize that there are some holdouts who want their real paper copies.  For those people, we have libraries. Unless you have space enough to have your own library, the bare fact is that most people don’t have the square footage to devote to something they’ll likely read only once.

2) Bookshelves are magnets for clutter. Let’s think of what people typically house on their bookshelves. Books that they read in college, maybe with bent spines in random colors. Assorted photos in non-matching frames. Random travel souvenirs. And around, on top, and in between all of this, clutter. Bookshelves are hideaways for all kinds of sins, except they’re not actually hidden away. They’re on display for everyone to see.

3) Bookshelves create shadows and darkness. Unless you’re lighting them (inside the shelves as well as out), bookshelves have the potential to create patches of darkness throughout your space. And, Without under lighting on the shelves themselves,  the objects that you display, which theoretically are meant to be set forth for guests to admire, can be sunk into shadow, and might actually be harder to view than if they are simply hung on the wall.

4) Books are dust magnets. Unless you’re a scholar using your books on a daily basis, or you’re a collector with rare first editions, a book you’ve read that you’re never going to read again is no better than keeping a pile of rags in display space in your living room.

5) The spines of your books are not attractive. Period. Let’s think of your favorite work of art of all time. There might be a million different answers for a million different people, but I’d be willing to bet that not one person answered that question with, “the spines of the assorted books on my bookshelf.”.  Unless you’ve artfully selected books for your shelves, in which case this article does not apply to you, your books are going to be randomly colored, the fonts may be strange, the spines may be bent repeatedly.  If they are not attractive to you, why would you possibly subject your guests to them?  The real world decision you have to make is between those books and that most favorite art print or photograph.

6) We have other alternatives to bookshelves to create height. Traditionally designers have used bookshelves to create tall elements in a room.  However, draperies, tall plants, wall art, millwork, or closed cabinetry may also serve this purpose.

7) The alternative is 1,000 times better.Let’s see.  On the one hand, we have our bookshelves with our leftover textbooks, dog-eared copy of the davinci code, random photos that are sunk in shadow, and random, indiscernible tchotckes, let’s consider the alternative.  Suppose instead you use a low sideboard with doors to provide storage, allowing for light, breathing room, and wall space to mount a favorite print, or several prints leaning against the wall.  You still have a surface for display to set out a plant, a vase, a few photos (in coordinated frames), a clever arrangement of tchotchkes, and ( dare I say it?) even a book or two if you like.   There, that’s better! So what do you think? Are you ready to throw away your bookshelves, or do you still think they have a place in the typical living room?

Mid-Centry Credenza with art work – Killer!

A rustic sideboard with a fresh, natural display and vintage print, courtesy of Southern Living

For those of you who prefer a more traditional look, here is a delightful vignette featuring a Barbara Barry for Baker console. Closed storage – Check! Various vases and other display pieces – Check! Eye-catching art – Check!