Have you ever walked into a room that was so well designed and you thought “How in the heck did the designer think to put all this random stuff together and make it look so damn good???” Well its not magic (sort of) but it is a combination of pattern used correctly with scale and layering.
I get this question a lot from clients: “If I have too much pattern in a space, isn’t it going to look too busy and feel like there is too much going on?” and the answer is Hell No!! 😉 The truth is that a well curated space with a variety of pattern done in the right scale is the most beautiful and layered way to design a room. I often use the reference of a high end hotel. As a designer, I can’t help myself when I walk around a hotel or high end restaurant and I start touching all the walls and finishes. I’m sure people see me and think I am totally nuts. Those are some of the best places to see the way mixing pattern can make a place look amazing and so unique. I like to bring up the fact that luxury hotels could have 20-30 different finishes and materials in a space, and then clients realize that YES! in fact there are a bunch of finishes and patterns in those spaces. So when its done right it makes for amazing design. In my opinion its safe and easy to play it simple, but just like nature, there is pattern in everything. So please embrace the idea and when in doubt don’t shy away from using pattern.
I’m going to have a little bit of a rant here because this is something that has affected the design community for a long time and I think as designers we are all secretly thinking the same thing but I don’t know that our clients understand how we feel about it. I’m talking about the lack of color in the marketplace that is being dished out to everyone! We deal with this all the time because on a weekly basis we get clients telling us “I love the Restoration Hardware look”. So I’m just going to put this out there into the world. As a designer that is the WORST thing for me to hear. OK I said it – I feel better now!! It’s almost as bad as saying they want a big puffy reclining chair in the formal living room. I want to be clear that I am not knocking down that company at all. I think they have a great business model, nice products, and their customer service is fantastic. But from my perspective and as a professional color expert (yes I just called myself an expert) the majority of their stuff is totally void of color. I am a firm believer that the root of awesome design mimics nature, and I’m sorry but I don’t recall ever seeing nature totally void of color. I truly believe that color is something which brings life, energy, and togetherness in a space. This could be light muted color, or loud bold color. Either way, I feel like we all need it in our lives.
I’ll tell you a short story as a designer. A few years ago I bought my first house and it was my goal to put my “stamp” on this house by using color. I think my husband thought I totally lost my mind, but every room had a strong color and/or pattern. I think I used 4 different wallpapers, painted the baseboards a contrasting color, wallpapered a ceiling etc. When we sold this house, it went for $200k above the comps in the area because it was a gem! It was unlike anything in the market especially in that area. The next house we did however had a slightly different experience. We decided to go all black, white, and grey. A typically and popular palette for the current market in a more contemporary home. We added a bunch of specialty details and did simple clean elements. However, even though the house was bigger and in a nicer area, it didn’t end up having that “Gem” quality and I strongly believe its because it lacks color!
I know that taste is subjective, I get it, and I live that reality every day, but no matter what your taste preference is, I still can’t justify a space that is void of color. So who is with me to make a pact to stop eating the bland food that is dished out and to demand color! Would love to hear your thoughts!