Keeping Interior Design Light and Not Necessarily White

In our interior design projects we are often asked to produce room designs which do not have much colour. How to create a strong design impact without using strong colour? The desired finished effect desired still needs to be one of impact and drama, as well as comfort and ease. It is useful in these cases to use a fair amount of white or off white so that the eye is able to bounce around the room. When the eye encounters darker or more colourful pieces in the room, such as a pair of colourful or dark chairs, the eye stops and, considers the chairs, then moves on around the room. The white  used in the room maintains a feel of spaciousness, but this type of room design is only successful if the client likes white. Many clients do not, or it is not practical to have everyday furnishings in white. Sometimes, décor trends lead us to purchase darker elements such as stainless steel appliances with black sides where formerly we only had white appliances. In a very light kitchen the colour balance will be off if we don’t introduce some darker coloured elements.

floating shelves on glass tile backsplash metal mosaic tile backsplash with varying levels

Windows allow natural light to enter the home and lend a feeling of uplifting spaciousness. This incoming light allows us to use colour in the room to whatever extent the client may enjoy colour. For a client who is underwhelmed by a  white or neutral room design, it is crucial that colour be used in the interior design of the room. Window treatments block the damaging effects of light so are a necessary part of interior design. Draperies, shutters and blinds move over the window allowing more or less light in.

transitional living room in neutrals with Hunter Douglas Roman shades

Shutters, blinds, and draperies  are very often white of off white but can look fabulous in darker colours, while functioning in the same way. It is interesting that black screen shades actually allow a far better view of the outdoor scenery than lighter coloured shades. A touch of black in an otherwise light window covering lends drama and interest. Black shades on lighting adds wonderful impact to a room design.

charming small living room in optimistic blue wall colour with custom white window shutters

 

Draperies can be made to be stationary dressing at the edges of the window, or they can be made to pull across the window to block light. If they are lined with blackout lining,  they can block light entirely. These blackout draperies can be made of entirely light coloured fabric so that they lend a feeling of lightness but are very effective at blocking light, due to the blackout lining. If a less dense effect is preferred, while still filtering out more light than regular lining does, a dimout lining is used. Full length draperies cause the eye to follow their length up toward the ceiling. This lends an illusion of height and a little formality to the room. The eye rests of the decorative drapery hardware then moves on.

relaxed small upscale living room with small sectional sofa, round coffee table and custom draperies

 

In some room designs where we want the overall finished look to remain light but retain dramatic effect, we are able to add in darker coloured elements such as feature walls, darker accessories, dynamic furnishings, striking area carpets, wallpaper or artwork.

stylish home office vignette with dramatic circle motif desk and metallic gold lamp

Large mirrors not only look dramatic, but they add sparkle to the room, and their height draws the eye upward toward the ceiling so that the room feels a little taller. There is also the illusion of greater depth in the room because we look into the view that the mirror creates. A similar effect can be achieved with tall accessories or groupings of artwork that draw the eye upward due to the size of the grouping on the wall. Rooms that actually have tall ceilings and tall windows already have an advantage.

tall turquoise mirror behind loveseat on angle

If these architectural features are not there, we strive to mimic the effect on the eye. Interesting textured tiling or stonework on the face of a fireplace can really add drama and presence to an otherwise unassuming room.

contemporary interior design with sleek woo and stone fireplace mantel

 In the room above where the stacked stone fireplace draws our eye to the ceiling, we are left with a sense of drama as well as comfort, without a lot of clutter. Artwork can also draw the eye upward, with a similar effect. One large piece of art is so much more effective than displaying a lot of smaller items. The effect of displaying small items is to lend a feeling of clutter and crowding.

classicly elegant living room vignette with chaise settee and large artwork with greyhound dogs

The tall, upholstered headboard in the upscale bedroom below lends comfort as well as decorative impact to the room design. The overall colour palette is light grey and white with sparkle added by the elaborate traditional chandelier.

upscale bedroom with tall, sectioned upholstered headboard, mirrored night tables, and formal chandelier

There is a strong trend toward the use of acrylic furnishings these days. The effect is whimsical and fun but the furniture is also hard wearing and practical. The overall effect is one of simplicity and lack of clutter and obstruction. The finished room design may be casual or more formal, depending on the colouration and accessories used in the design.

tall photo of acrylic bedside table with live edge headboard and handmade turquoise lamp

 

Tall built-in cabinetry is not only useful, good looking but also has the effect of drawing the eye up and, thus, lending a more open air look to the room design. The cabinetry need not be white to have this effect. Dark or mid toned cabinetry will still work, performing multiple functions, and therefore, making the room design more functional and easier to live in. Even a small storage built-in can help enormously to make the room more liveable.

tall panelled wall with mirrors

Strong, dark colours lend an air of richness, warmth, and punch to a room. These darker tones need to be balanced with lighter hues to create a successful room design. Using a strong decorative element in a room design such as a wallpaper mural lends presence and often makes the room design much more effective.  The room is balanced and clutter is kept at bay. Contrast provided by the use of strong tones in the mural and the dark wall colour entertain the eye and give it places to go. Using a surprisingly large scale in a wallpaper mural can really add impact to a room design, while maintaining a feeling of freshness and fun. The overall room design lends a feeling of comfort and cheer (some photos courtesy of Better Homes). It is simply not true that you cannot use bold colour and pattern in small spaces.  Wainscotting and elaborate moldings in a light shade can keep a room design on the lighter side even while using a dramatic wall colour. As well, a black or navy ceiling colour lends tremendous interest in an otherwise light room. It is a daring and surprising element that looks fabulous.

dramatic floating dandelion wallpaper mural with contemporary clean lined blue sofa

 

Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.

 

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