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Curating Layers in a Space

A key aspect that elevates a professionally-designed space is the intricate layering of patterns, colors, textures, and accessories. Layers give a room history and a soul, and should reflect the homeowner while drawing them in to use the space to its fullest potential.

Design by Gail Davis Designs | Photo by Mike Van Tassel

When I am getting to know my clients, I want to hear about their hopes and dreams for the space, but I also try to read between the lines to help them imagine beyond their immediate needs. A dining space for entertaining a crowd will still need to be livable and functional for everyday and as we spend more time at home, it’s important for most rooms to pull at least a double-duty, if not more.

Layering a room can help achieve that level of usefulness. Imagine a chic home office with a pretty table that functions as a desk by day. A nearby chair can be pulled up and the table used to seat a cozy dinner for two or host a card game to wind down at the end of the work week. In the corner, an upholstered chair is surrounded by a small ottoman, a floor lamp, and is covered with a cashmere throw and is perfect for curling up with a good book or taking a conference call.

Furnishings are the first layer. We start with the most crucial function of the room and work out from there. I want my clients to walk into a room and feel they can relax — that their chest opens up and they can breathe — but the space still needs to do the hard work of supporting their lifestyle.

Design by Brian Paquette | Photo by Haris Kenjar

After the furniture plan has been hashed out, it’s time to bring in the colors and texture that will bring the room to life. I respond to color in a very visceral way and am not afraid to put multiple strong colors together. I believe that we live in color and shouldn’t shy away from using it in our homes. Color is a way to create continuity in a home, and to draw the eye around to help you fully take in the space. I like to saturate a room with color by painting the millwork the same color as the walls or using another shade — or even a metallic — on the ceiling.

Texture is the next most important factor when adding layers. Since I design in the northeast, I often start with a strong texture like a mohair or velvet, and then bring in lighter-weight counterparts like linen. We’re lucky to live in a time with so many great wear-resistant options, which is especially important when kids or pets are using a space. I tend to have a masculine hand with fabric and the scheme often resembles menswear that has been deconstructed. I love a tweed or herringbone, especially when paired with a subtle plaid. Brass and leather add a note of shine that contrasts with heavier fabrics and invites a closer look.

Design by Shelia Bridges | Photo by William Waldron

In addition to fabric, texture takes the form of rugs and even wallcoverings. A chunky rug made of natural fibers brings in an earthy note. Wallpaper is way to add both color and texture, and nothing else can elevate a space in the same way. There are so many great options that can take a room in any direction — grasscloth, faux hide, and embroidery are all beautiful choices.

There is something sexy about a room that is layered — it invites us to read the book, binge the show, or have the conversation. When everything isn’t too tucked away, we can see and appreciate the things we use everyday. My concierge-level design service will select accessories that can help maintain tidiness and organization but also contribute to the style of the space. An inlaid box for holding the remote or a chic container for holding magazines waiting to be read, for example.

The final layer to a room is the art. I utilize an art handler who can keep better tabs on the always-changing art scene than I. After taking into account the needs of the space and any preferences of the client, he curates a samples of options from which to choose.

Layers are what brings a room to life and reflects the people who live there. If you are interested in learning about how our concierge-level design experience can transform your space, I invite you to submit a project inquiry or book an exploratory phone call.


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