In the world of design it is often so easy to overdo, overstuff, overdesign and plain ol' over-decorate a room. I, personally, am one who believes in design restraint. In other words, pair down, edit and eliminate clutter. I think that it provides clarity in a space and also feels more zen when you enter a space that is carefully edited.
Here are some good examples of rooms that are edited nicely.
Georgio Armani's Manhattan pied-a-terre. Similar wood tones, monotone fabrics and open designed furniture give this master bedroom a clean, open and peaceful atmosphere. The 1940s mahogany-and-leather desk is by Edward Wormley. Architectural Digest - April 2002.
Designer Thad Hayes. Architectural Digest. The eye moves easily throughout this room because of the cohesiveness of the blue, white and dark wood tones. The geometric pattern of the rug give this room order.
Interior Designer Mariette Himes Gomez. This residence in Manhattan was made to feel like a loft. Like the photo above, the colors of the room all blend beautifully - in this case creamy whites and wood tones. A Sol Le-Witt charcoal cube hangs on the back wall. The low table is by Paul McCobb. Architectural Digest.
This is a current ad for Larson Juhls custom frames. This is a perfect example of design restraint. Notice how they placed all the frames on the wall and even overlapped some of them. But, they are all in the same color family (this picture isn't the greatest quality) and there is a nice composition to the wall. The other furnishings in the space are also of like color and style.
Designed by Lee F. Mindel and Peter L. Shelton, this New York turnkey developer penthouse sits atop a newly completed residential tower in Tribeca—high ceilings, glass walls, wraparound terrace with views of lower Manhattan and beyond. Using the city as the focal point of the space, they left the heavily framed windows bare and brought in light grey modern sofas so that they eye goes straight out to the view.
Here is another view of the living room above. The art above the Steinway piano is Ovalisque, by David Row. The organic shape of the coffee table with the hydrangeas and the movement in the art piece give the room life.
Lauren Sara designed her own Colonial Revival home near Philadelphia. Folding tin birds line a guest room window. The circa 1806 portrait by John Brewster, Jr., is set above a Saarinen womb chair. At the foot of the bed, which she covered in a quilted linen, is a rare circa 1875 footed basket from New York State.
This bedroom by Tamara Magel says restraint because of the closely matched hues of grey used in the room, the dark woods and the white lamp shades. Very nice.
Design Restraint Tips:
Edit, Edit, Edit! People tend to add too many furnishings to a room. Use less furnishings and buy better quality, better suited and scaled pieces. Buy tailored furniture, not "pretty". Less is better!
Create drama with scale. A large art piece, an extraordinary piece of pottery or large-scaled mirror can really make a room fantastic.
Edit your accessories. Include bold accessories and group together collections to add focus and so they don't get lost amongst your other accessories. Eliminate clutter.
Learn the art of grouping arrangements. I like to use high, low and medium sized pieces. If necessary, use lift pieces to raise objects. Use big and small elements on the same table and bring in fresh flowers to give the space life.
Create appropriate storage areas in your home so everything has a place.
Pick a consistent color palette. If your color scheme is all over the place, the space will feel disjointed and perhaps even erratic. I prefer to choose colors that are neutral and bring in color through the furnishings and accessories.
Keep draperies simple and understated. Curtains should not be the main focus of a room. I opt for simple panels made of wonderful fabrics hung on beautiful rods - wrought iron is a favorite.
Don't overfill your spaces. Did I say edit?
* While these design restraint tips are commonly known ideas to help make a space feel uncluttered and clean, it, of course, does not suit all design aesthetics. Ultimately, you have to design for yourself and your heart. If you like a pile of design books on your coffee table, all over your nightstand and tucked in corners of your home (as I do!), then go for it!
Designer Cori Cordero created this bedroom interior for a 16th floor condominium in the River Oaks area of Houston. Architectural Digest. The light colored wood floors and white palette offer a calm space to rest.
Have a great weekend!