Designers Coffeehouse — A Designer’s Eye
Let’s take a break again in the virtual café as we share a cup o’ joe and a chat with a group of interior designers. Today we are joined by:
- Linda H. Bassert, of Masterworks Window Fashions & Design in Fairfax, Virginia
- Barbara Miller, of Barbara Miller Design in West Linn, Oregon
- Linda Merrill, of Chameleon Interiors in Duxbury, Massachusetts
- Kerry Ann Dame, of Posh Living in Surfside Beach, South Carolina
Linda Merrill: Furniture placement. More often than not, folks orient their seating towards the television, and chairs and sofas all end up lined up like soldiers. Creating conversation areas, and locating the television accordingly makes much more sense!
Barbara Miller: The most common mistake I see in people’s home is that they line all of their furniture up against the wall. Because furniture is a big investment people will frequently buy very neutral, versatile pieces (which is appropriate) but they stop there. They have the basic pieces and they line them up to maximize open floor space without thinking about groupings, traffic patterns, or visually appealing arrangements.
This then leads to the second most common mistake which is that because they stop with the basics there is no variety of shape, texture, or color in the room. It is frequently a series of large rectangular pieces.
Once you have these basic pieces take the time to think about, ‘How can I enhance how we use this space by changing the arrangement?’ Then choose an accent color or two which you can introduce through smaller items: Pillows, throws, table runners, candles, artwork and window treatments.
Linda H. Bassert: The most common mistake is hanging pictures and artwork too high. As I explain it to my clients, we need to hang the artwork and pictures at eye level – and that doesn’t mean the eye level of someone like me, who is over 6 feet tall in shoes…
If I’m gauging the eye level point for a client, I bend my knees… The purpose is to that when you look around the room, you are looking at the center or interest point of the art, not at the bottom edge of the frame. If it were a silhouette of a person, you would want eye to go immediately to the head and face, not the crotch – but these sorts of problems occur when art is hung too high.
Once you know where that eye level point is, there may be adjustments due to the size and scale of other items near by, or grouping, but in general, that eye level point will give you a reference for all of the art in a room. No one wants a crick in their neck to enjoy the “wallscapes” – and your room will be much more comfortable when the art is hung at a comfortable height.
Kerry Ann Dame: There’s a general lack of confidence, of wanting to do the acceptable thing. I see people putting too much effort into matching – they buy pillows or a chair because they are the same color as something that they already have, so they know it will match.
What happens after a while is they end up with a house full of mass-market merchandise that lacks personality and depth. Everything is the same shade of blue and brown, or red and gold – and the end result is like Muzak. It’s correct, but something is missing.
Also, they tire of things far too quickly…because the major retailers tend to sell a few color schemes to everyone. So you end up in a situation where your neighbor’s placemats are the same fabric as your duvet cover, and nothing is special anymore.
Taking the time and effort to have a few custom things, even if it’s just pillows or an accent chair, makes all the difference. So does including family pieces or antiques in the room, so everything doesn’t look like it was born yesterday. Your home should tell your story.
Join me later in the week when the Designers guide us on the best way to spend a weekend improving your space.
Read past stories in the Designers Coffeehouse Series: