Great design starts with balance…1.2.

This is the third in a series of posts about how to achieve balance in design. You’ve approached or been inside buildings that just don’t seem right. Perhaps it’s the proportions, or the colors, or the furnishings. Some times it’s easy to determine while other times it’s subtly awkward and you can’t quite pin point the issue.

Balance is an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Balance is equilibrium. Imagine a tall stack of books with small thin books at the base and thick coffee table art books at the top. It’s easy to see the imbalance and imagine it toppling over. Yet balance in architecture and interior design requires expertise to achieve.

In large scale 3-dimensional objects, imbalance can creep in quickly. Follow classic traditional design and proportions and achieving harmonious and satisfying spaces is much more likely. Modern, informal design lends itself to freedom that can easily throw things off kilter. Yet this doesn’t mean that balance can’t be achieved without symmetry. It can and that’s often the tricky part. I see it on a daily basis and want to start with simple examples and build from there. And frankly, this is another of my pet peeves that’s very easy to remedy, so let’s move inside today and orchestrate the details.

Let’s be honest, just one decision can throw an entire room off balance. You’re right, it’s not the end of the world or cause for losing sleep! And as you’ll see in the following examples, your spaces will likely still be gorgeous. However, when you’re actually thinking about these things and planning or rearranging, keep these ideas in mind.

Start with a focal point. What do you want to be the center of the space’s attention? For you it may be a fireplace or a painting or the seating area where you’ll gather with family. For your friends it may be their collectibles or the dining table with seating for best friends.  In this inviting dining room, there’s so much to love. Yet personal photos, vibrant art, a delicious lemon yellow buffet, and cut velvet upholstery just can’t compete with the burnt orange light pendant. Like an overbearing guest, it’s just a bit too much! Even lowering the pendant closer to the table will make it welcome at this dinner party.

white space

Ground the space with weight or color. What a bright and dreamy kitchen, right? From the graphic black and white wall covering, to the industrial pipe and slab wood table, a stove to envy, and the vintage chandelier, it’s perfection…almost. I can’t even take my eyes off of the elephant range hood in the room! Perhaps a light grey wash would make it more friendly. Then those ebony Tolix Marais chairs can command the room.
white space

Choose your center of attention wisely. What an interesting living space with texture on the walls and in the fabric. Mid-century modern furniture always makes me swoon and a teal velvet chair seals the deal. Unfortunately the black painted brick wall steals the show. Painting the brick to match the wall color will give it a supporting role and  make the other elements shine.

white space

Keep it light up top. What a luxurious calm sleeping area. Muted tones, herringbone floors, and plush linens are all you really need with day light flooding the room. But wait, what’s that over the bed? A large animal is probably not what you want looming over you while you sleep. Just moving the trophy down and away from the bed will give you sweet dreams.

white space

Enjoy these beautifully balanced rooms. Take note that you can achieve harmony without symmetry!

Fun and inviting, this dining room is rich in color, pattern, and texture. Can’t you imagine enjoying a meal there with friends?

white space

irastar galvanized kitchen

That lush view of nature takes center stage, though I’m certain that at night the monochromatic kitchen gives a warm glow. It’s perfectly balanced with the weight on the lower portion of the room. And even the ceiling is painted a soft sky blue.

white space

With a mix of vintage, new, and reimagined, my client’s living room is colorful, personal, and warm. Her antique glass-topped tables keep the space light and functional.white space

attic bedroom

The architecture of this attic bedroom is very dramatic and requires little extra, save pops of color, to make the room send you off to dreamland. Deep blue linens balance the exclamation point of the antique table. And a pale lime green Bertoia Diamond chair is sublime.

Isn’t it remarkable how small decisions can have such a profound effect? Good design starts with prioritizing what’s important and keeping that in mind throughout the process to create harmony and balance. Read the first in this balance series then be sure to follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Design Predictions for a New Year 2016

The New Year is here and while many like to look back, I look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s truly the best time to be alive, despite all the turmoil outside our doors and around every corner. There has never been more opportunity to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. Empowering our lives at home is the first step to become inherently happy and spread that basic need-fulfillment to others in our neighborhood and beyond. After all, we all share the basic desire for a comforting roof over our heads, food on our table, family and friends with whom to share, and health.

You know I don’t follow trends and I always say design for yourself…if you love it, then it must be right. On that note at the end of this post, I won’t be able to resist saying “buh bye” to a few things of which I’ve seen enough, or too much!

SIMPLIFY   More and more of us are evaluating our possessions and dreaming of downsizing, as is apparent in the popularity of tiny homes.  Yet mainstream culture continues to say that more stuff is the key to happiness. But we all know that new things bring a temporary satisfaction that’s often quickly replaced by guilt and emptiness.  While a home filled with only the items that you truly love is enlightening.

living room Victor Fretyan

Luxurious in light, volume, texture, and style, this minimally furnished room has it all.

This is not a fad! Clearing clutter and enlarging your room-to-live in the process is never going out of style and works for everyone, yes, everyone. There are a billion methods and books and guides to assist you. I suggest you implement tools that allow you to do this effectively and without panic. Taking on too much at one time will likely end in less than satisfying results and self-degradation. I personally try to stay on top of these things regularly and have found that a thorough room-by-room cleanse is the way to start. I’ll admit I have areas in my home that I’m still working to keep clear….junk drawer and receipts. Otherwise, I follow the take care of it immediately rule. This has become a very popular book for maintaining an organized home. I’ve used its methods on my junk drawer and it’s working!

NATURAL CONNECTION We’re all aware of the remarkable effects that proximity to nature has on our overall physical and spiritual well-being. Humans have an innate desire to be in contact with the outside world. After all, we’ve only recently, around 12,000 BCE, built structures for housing, compared to our million+ years of history as the humans we are now.  Erich Fromm, a German psychologist, coined the term “biophilia” to describe our urge to affiliate with other forms of life.

As we spend more and more time indoors, bringing nature inside is more important, and easier, than ever to fill that basic human need for intimacy with the outside world! Key elements that are the foundation for exquisite, empowered spaces are fresh air, light, texture, organic materials, color, and movement. These elements and others are easy to enlist to bring you the comforting benefits of nature. Find out how here.

ImaginEco air light texture

Ah, Mom Nature is ever inspiring…a few of my own photos representing air, light, texture, organic materials, color, and movement.

Adding natural touches is easy and affordable. Plants add color and clean the air and there’s a plant for every level of gardening ability. In the kitchen replace plastic utensils and containers with wood, stainless, and glass. Natural fragrances are right in your pantry waiting to be simmered in water on your stove. Cinnamon, orange, and clove are a magic combination. Natural materials for your floors, walls, counters, etc. provide an unsurpassed level of luxury and comfort through their appearance, their feel, and the added bonus of durability, low-maintenance, and even being anti-bacterial and air-cleaning. Check out my Beauties with Benefits to learn more.

Clay paint paired with wood and sparkly mica are natural beauties.

GET MOVING    An important and often overlooked element in our modern streamlined homes is movement. Imagine you’re outside and seated by a still pond. Even there you may feel a slight breeze, hear the clatter as squirrels race up a tree, witness a branch dipping under the weight of a tiny bird, and wish for a cloud to reveal the sun. For us to feel true comfort on a deep cellular and biological level, beyond that of just feeling warm and fed and happy with our wall color choice, our homes need movement in the play of light and shadow and contrast of scale and texture.

A sterile sleek neutral environment lacking in these natural attributes can actually cause anxiety. These spaces feel awkward, cold, and uninviting as they’re lacking anything naturally relatable. By adding layers of lighting, indirect, direct, and ambient, we begin to mimic nature’s depth, light, and shadow in our interiors. Wild spaces are composed of towering trees, billowing grasses, and delicate wildflowers. Combine large, small, and mid-size furnishings, always functional and beloved, to shape instinctively balanced and grounded spaces where we want to relax or entertain or care for our families. Texture is another necessary element for a home that inspires. Imagine you’re surrounded by only shiny hard surfaces. No matter the color it feels cold and awkward. Now add rich texture in warm wood floors, velvety cork walls, and thick cable knit fabrics. That cold room just became inviting and comforting!

Natural cork wallcovering with a splash of copper provides velvety texture, warmth, and subtle drama.

COLOR    This is the year to leave behind your color fears. Nature’s colors range from chilly whites to blazing hot reds. And even in the Arctic, there’s an amazing range of color. It is unnatural for us to be surrounded by a lifeless color scheme. And remember those bland all-white spaces actually make us tense. Start with pops of color as dramatic changes can be daunting. Color changes the entire mood of a space and we’re not often ready for the powerful effects color can bring.  Allow yourself plenty of time to truly acclimate to the positive effect of color change. Inspiration and how to get started are here.

Nature’s color palettes never disappoint!

The exterior of our homes deserves color love too. When I’m out and about, I’m always shocked to see endless beige and grey neighborhoods. Especially where I live in west Michigan, where right now we could certainly use some color outside. Yet in places where it’s generally warm and sunny, there’s no shortage of color on the outside of buildings. If exterior work is on your list, consider adding color, if only just a splash on your front door.

BUH BYE!    Let me repeat, if you love it, it’s perfect.  Trends don’t matter as long as you’re happy, in fact, avoid trends at all costs. Your home should reflect your personality, not be just like your neighbors home. And last but certainly not least, a few things that I won’t miss if I don’t see them again. All beige homes with black roofs. Front doors that are hidden by ancient shrubbery. Chevron…Window valances…best left to grand estates with 20 foot high ceilings and ornate detailing. Accent walls…demand all the attention in a room and usually create an imbalance.

In this New Year, I wish for you nature outside your window and shelter that inspires. What are you home design goals for 2016? Be sure to follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Buh Bye, Drywall…Hello, Fibers!

Drywall, also known in the building industry as gypsum board, is used extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In the early 1900s, drywall began to gain ground over the use of plaster walls. The installation of drywall saves time and money on product and labor.  The gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of paper, does have inherent fire resistant properties. These properties and its sound absorbing abilities can be increased by layering or different facings.  Combine these qualities with drywall’s easy acceptance of any finish from paint to wall covering and it’s become the standard wall material in the United States. I must say, I appreciate the ability to dramatically change a room just by splashing on a fabulous new paint color. But wait, there are so many wonderful alternatives waiting to be discovered and used. This time let’s explore fibers, that’s right, fibers!

WallArt cellulose panels

WallArt is a sweet collection of panels made from cellulose fibers removed from the waste stream of sugar cane production.

white spaceFilzFelt Knoll San Francisco

 Okay, seriously, my favorite fiber on the planet, wool, as a dramatic semi-private wall panel from FilzFelt. Wool even cleans the air!

white space

Submaterial figure no. 2More incredible wool wall panels from Submaterial.  With its luscious texture and sound absorbing properties, what’s not to love?

white space

FilzFelt IDEOFilzFelt makes it easy to customize designs and colors to your interiors, residential or commercial.

white space

Submaterial dimensional 1Need depth and texture? Submaterial’s wool panels have you covered again.

white space

Submaterial dimensional

Let’s end with a slice of heaven, wool slices of heaven, that is…once again from the magicians at Submaterial.

I’ll be sharing many more exciting wall options so follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration. Check out my favorite exterior wall materials as well. It’s your turn to empower your life with exhilarating design.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Living Spacious in Small Spaces – Step 1

Many of us, by choice or by fate, are living in smaller spaces.  My clients are scaling down or staying put and revamping to maximize their lives within a smaller foot print. As the owner of a very small first home and as an architect for many years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can work for you too!

Alaska summerI like to mimic nature’s exquisite balance in a room because she’s an expert at expanse.  Think of the strong foundation of the earth’s bedrock, soil, and mountains.  Above that the forests begin to open and lighten in to vast endless skies. You can create this graceful comforting balance in your rooms with a solid base of color, texture, and density. Furnishings and accessories above your solid groundwork are lighter, more open, less dense and heavy. Finalize your interior with a ceiling color or treatment that creates a complete volume.

John Lum ArchitectureThis San Francisco home, remodeled by John Lum Architecture, perfectly illustrates a strong foundation in texture, color, and scale.  Notice the grounding effect of the high base boards. The window lined alcove’s arch is outlined by delicate plaster moldings.

Robert Nebolon ArchitectsA floating home in San Francisco, designed by Robert Nebolon Architects, is grounded by wood floors with character. Crisp and clean silvery blue cabinets ease up toward generous walls of windows. Black cabinet pulls and window frames stabilize the space.

Park Ave. Residence by Rafael de CardenasIn this luxurious New York City apartment, Rafael de Cadenas uses color and texture as the grounding elements. Curves, reflections, transparency, and nature prints and wallcovering travel delicately upward in the room. The translucent soft green light mimics a feathery limb over head.

Remember, you can’t go wrong when you follow nature’s lead. Share with your friends and stay tuned for more tips to live spacious in your small spaces.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Timeless Interior Design for Every Year

Happy New Year!  I wish you all a year filled with nature outside your window and shelter that inspires you.  I try to live in the present and avoid forecasting or living by trends.  So let’s start the new year with design elements that are timeless, nurturing, and always in style. Oh, and they’re gorgeous too!

Chic-Metal-Side-Table kateobriendsdotcom

Metallics reflect your personality and day light and add vibrancy to any space.  The movement as the light and shadows play around them is magical. Be fearless and mix them up to create a captivating balance of shiny and worn and gleaming and weathered.

Color Lovers Welcome

Color is always inspiring or nurturing or energizing or calming, whatever your heart desires! Close your eyes and visualize your favorite things and the colors within them.  Now transfer those colors to your walls or ease yourself in with colorful furnishings.

ImaginEco cork wall covering

Texture’s tactile qualities add depth and reality to rooms.  Here I used cork wall covering, with splashes of metallic copper running through it, creating soothing texture with a funky sparkle. Layer gossamer with ribbed and velvety with knotty, as nature does, to create a rich composition.

Bloch design glass fireplace 2

And there’s always glass – stunning and timeless in every incarnation. It’s one of light’s best friends as they enhance each other so well. Add clear glass tables and lamps to bring a bright airiness to any space.

Hudson_Furniture_“O”_BaseNo material touches each of us as wood does.  It affects us most in its living form while providing shade and shelter and year round beauty.  When crafted by artisans and gracing our home as an integral part of our lives, wood fills our innate need for nature. Bring it inside with reclaimed wood or with wood that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Always choose woods with natural finishes.

Share the info and the love with your friends…pass it on!

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise