How to layer more visual interest into your rooms
In creating rooms today, a huge buzzword is “layering.” What is layering? I’m sure you are familiar with the term in regards to clothing. It is very fashionable to have a colored t-shirt peeking under your dress shirt or blouse, with a scarf or jacket as a third pattern or texture. By layering, one can visually create more attention to yourself—creating more energy or more sophistication, depending on the deftness of your skill.
In interior decoration, layering refers to many aspects of a room. It can refer to paint, flooring material, finishes of materials, the list is inexhaustible. As a designer, I layer various colors, patterns and textures to create a more dimensional look. But I also layer in pieces and parts of a client’s interests to create a more personal tone to his or her new environment. These are the details that can transform a room.
How can you achieve a more layered look in your home? It’s not that difficult if you know the go-to tricks of some of the most talented designers and decorators. Here’s a quick list of the decorating tricks I use to create a more layered look.
Layering Trick #1: It all starts with paint.
So many of my clients think we will just be painting a room one color, or even two. But 4 or 5! That just sounds crazy. Or is it? If you have followed me in the year I have been writing for this magazine, I have mentioned on a couple of occasions how painting the walls and ceilings different colors can create a more dynamic room. Well, you can also paint built-in cabinets a separate color, as well as an accent wall, all in the same room. How does this not look like the Partridge Family bus? Well, it does take some skill, but it can create a very layered look if paired with fabrics and other finishes that combine to create one deliciously lush vignette.
Layering Trick #2: Use more than one fabric for your curtains.
As you may already know, window treatments are my favorite element in any room. I like to compare their effect to landscaping for your home. Curtains transform a basic room into a richer picture. So, when I am creating rooms for clients, I like to use more than one fabric on the curtains. One of my favorite tricks is to use an under-valance installed just behind the drapery rod. This accomplishes several things. 1. It helps to visually heighten an under scaled window by connecting the window opening to a drapery rod that has been extended by several inches. 2. It allows another fabric to complement the main fabric for more dramatic effect. 3. Using another fabric helps soften the hardness of the drapery hardware while still allowing you to see a decorative drapery rod. This is especially effective if you want a more masculine look. So try using more than one fabric on your next window treatment and see how it can look like a better-coordinated ensemble.
Layering Trick #3: Wallcovering on walls, ceilings and cabinetry can push your room to the next level.
Wallcovering is another of my go-to elements when creating a layered room. You cannot get the visual depth with paint that you get with paper. It is a physical material you are putting in the room, where as paint is just color. But also, don’t just use it for the walls. By installing paper on a ceiling, you are giving another texture or visual that you would be missing otherwise. And, it’s perfect behind a stack of shelves in a bookcase to highlight collectibles that could be lost in a ho-hum painted cabinet.
Layering Trick #4: Personal mementos are a must!
Creating a richly layered tableau is not just about combining beautiful patterns, colors and textures. To creating something truly unique and bespoke, you must include photos, books and objects d’art that speak of the person who will be using the room. Do they love gardening? A stack of garden books next to the sofa, they would love! Is he an avid car collector? Find out his favorite car and place a model on one of the tables. As a decorator, I try to get into the mind and soul of my clients, really learning from them what they are passionate about. This allows me to create a finished room that reflects their own personality and taste. But don’t get carried away. Knowing how to edit out the noise and confusion a client wouldn’t have the stomach for is very important. I can be a ruthless editor, but in the end, it’s to create the more perfect version of the client.
Layering Trick #5: Animal print can take you from tired to transformational.
I’ve saved the best for last. Animal print is really the number one gimmick employed by any decorator worth his design fees. Animal print instantly provides energy to a room and takes it over the edge. Just one pillow or ottoman upholstered in animal print can make your room look like the cover of a magazine. One of the reasons it’s so perfect is that it complements all fabric categories. Floral, geometric, toss, stripe, animal—see how it is a category of it’s own. You can throw it in with any room scheme and it creates an exotic flair you can’t get any other fabric pattern. It can create drama in a bold masculine room or bring levity to an overly frilly room. I use animal print in almost every home I do. It’s one of the most effective tools in our professional toolbox. And, I find that most homeowners are too afraid to use it without permission—from a professional. You all now have my permission!
As you start to think about your next decorating project, keep in mind the importance of layering different fabrics, colors and finishes in the room. By following my tried and true tricks of the trade you too can bring details that will make your room swoon worthy.