Learned on the job: mixing furnishings

As with any profession, there are some things that can only be learned on the job.  From my experience, getting that first job in Interior Design is no easy task.  I’d like to share some really vital tips in my next few posts that seem to be missing out there…

Mixing Furnishings

Successfully mixing furnishings is not an easy task and is something that Interior Designers will spend some time on, carefully considering their best options.  This is where reality TV shows are misleading – it’s not about a day of tearing through retail stores and making snap decisions, ending in bringing home half the showroom!

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http://sageatelier.files.wordpress.com/
This room really is an eclectic mix and is successful in relating each piece. The timbers are all harmonious in their tone, but not an exact match. The black and white zebra print is carried across from the floor to the sofa upholstery, even cleverly again in the black and white print on the wall. Colours are brought in on cushions, art and accessories that all seem to have a ‘friend’ somewhere else in the room.

Wether you are following a theme or putting together an eclectic mix, the pieces need to ‘talk to each other’.  There will need to be something that visually relates all of the furnishings.  Ask yourself, how does the colour of this chair (or texture, finish, pattern, shape, scale etc) sit with the colour of this side table?  Do they complement and bring out the best of each other?  Or do they clash and fight with each other?

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http://www.annerobin.com
Placing artworks in a french hang is fantastic practice at relating odd furnishings. These artworks appear random at first, but they all have colours that relate to other colours not far away. Framing is kept quite light in colour and thickness. The fabric on the sofa and cushions relate back to the artworks. See the geometric black and white artwork with the sofa? And the green leafy artwork with the cushion?

Furnishings don’t have to match and I think are better when they don’t.  Relating is more about linking one piece to another.  As an example, imagine a soft linen sofa placed on a sisal floor rug – both are natural tactile materials that will sit well together.  The same linen sofa placed on a graphic and bold synthetic floor rug… not so much.  Look for relations in style, texture, fabric, colour and shape.

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http://www.flodeau.com
The chairs are painted in different colours, but if you look closely you will see that these colours are taken from the wallpaper and are of similar intensity. The curving shape of the chairs is also reflected in the shape of the trees in the wallpaper.

Belle Editor-in-chief Neale Whitaker articulates my point well in a recent article– ‘Interior design becomes about balance and harmony – just because it’s free form doesn’t mean it’s a clash. There is a harmony and discipline to it.’

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