Friday, 28 November 2014

Determining a Decorative Style for Your Room.

Designer Ross Cassidy might have said it best when choosing a style for your room, "Design isn't like marriage. You don't have to commit for life."   Great advice in taking the pressure off but at that same time how do you know what style you want for the room you are currently thinking about.

The first question we like people to answer is about their lifestyle. How do you want to feel when you are in that particular room, do you want to feel cozy and comfortable, do you want it to handle a social setting or want it to always feel fresh and new.  Let's look at the 5 broad styles in home design and see if it narrows it down for you.


This room is soft and comfortable, very welcoming.  It will be brimming with accessories such as candles, throw pillows, afghans, books and will be attractive and pretty.  Specific styles you will hear that fall under casual are: Shabby Chic, Country, Cottage, Rustic, Vintage, Retro, Nautical these all evoke history and memories of the past.  The characteristics will be asymmetrical, horizontal lines and soft upholstery with low lustre detailed fabrics in both solids or prints. The colours are often very warm and earth tone, soft and pastel colours will enhance the soothing feeling that is sought with a casual room. Others will want to enhance the room with contrasting darker hues such as forest green, navy, wine and olive to name some popular choices.


Symmetry is very key to a formal room.  Long vertical lines with tall windows and high ceilings are often sought with ornamental details.  Although this is often imagined for mansion style homes today formal is taking a more liveable approach that is less stuffy but still elegant.  Specific styles you will commonly hear are Queen Anne, Federal, Georgian or Victorian.  Notice the symmetry from sofas, chairs, and accessories all in perfect pairs.  Fabrics used are often rich and delicate with strong surface features such as brocades and damasks. It is quite popular to see dark stained furniture like china cabinets, buffets or any furnishings with carved accents. The flooring sets the stage typically with high gloss woods, high polished porcelain tile or stone and sometimes finished with a patterned wool carpet or oriental rug.


This falls between casual and formal. You want it classic yet comfortable, functional yet peaceful. Sophisticated lines are essential without a lot of frill or extra decoration. Specific styles you will hear are Early English, French Provincial, Italian Provincial or Colonial American.  This room is not as perfect as a formal room it supports classic lines but has understated details.  Furniture is often medium tone and plain which leather supports easily and a little bit of pattern is added with the use of pillows or throws. Architectural features such as chair rails, crown mouldings and wanes coating is popular.  Flooring is often medium in tone with hardwoods like cherry or walnut and area rugs in the gathering space.  Ceramic is often the choice in entry ways and kitchen areas.


This room is uncluttered, light filled with open floor space.  The furniture is minimal with sleek lines. Specific styles you will hear are Art Deco, Mid Century, Post Modern and Contemporary which is the most current version of modern design. Geometric forms are popular with repetition of line, form and colour across all elements in the room. Colours will have boldness and contrast.  Less is more with this style with very few accessories or detail. The open space of the room and furniture can sometimes lend to a barren feel but inviting to social gatherings. Flooring will be sleek and smooth offered by tile, hardwoods in grey, laminate and even vinyl. Carpet is rarely used and when area rugs are chosen they often have texture or a bold colour to them.


Good design isn't restricted to any one style and eclectic accentuates this.  It will mix styles and has very few rules.  You still need to be mindful of the principles of scale, balance and form but this style is often used when you cannot determine which of the four previous styles mentioned applies to you. This was a favourite of Orson Welles who said. "Create your own visual style, let it be unique for yourself and identifiable for others."

So ask yourself how you want to feel and see if that leads you down one of the style paths mentioned and then have fun designing it.  And remember Ross Cassidy if you fall out of love with it you get to enjoy starting all over again :)

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