Ever wonder how interior designers create those swoon worthy rooms that you see in magazines, blogs and on Pinterest?
Sometimes it is the very last things added to a space just before a gorgeous image of it is snapped. But why are some arrangements of objects more dynamic and interesting than others? How do you choose the perfect lamp, mirror or other accessory, and then how to you group them, to make a room sing? What is the trick to flair?
Interior stylist, Tim Rundle explains a stylist’s secret tool in his book Visual Contrast. The title gives you a clue: arranging objects with some type of visual contrast is the key, but Tim expands on this method by breaking down visual contrast into four main groups and several subcategories:
Shape: small vs. big, 2D vs. 3D, organic vs. geometric
Color: cool vs. hot, light vs. dark, subtle vs. bright, positive vs. negative
Placement: horizontal vs. vertical, single vs. multiple, symmetrical vs. random
Personality: contemporary vs. antique, serious vs. playful, ethnic vs. European
While Tim takes a very analytical approach to styling– which appealed to the left side of this former lawyer’s brain–the book also is filled with gorgeous imagery illustrating just how it is done.
This picture is one of my favorites because it shows a number of contrasts. For example, the geometric tablecloth plays well with the organic landscape in the same tones in the background of the portrait and with the life-like articulated horse model. Additionally compare the black horse model to the second small, white horse figure–a riff on light vs. dark and small vs. large. The horse figures and the horse drawing play at the contrast of 2D vs. 3D. Finally, I love the tension created by the contrast of the antique silhouettes and the contemporary print. Keep looking. I bet you can spot more.
As you read through the book, contrasts begin to leap out at you. In this next image, the entire vignette illustrates a light and dark contrast. The idea of pairing horizontal and vertical is readily seen in the chair’s vertical slats and horizontal striping in the cushions. The drawing of the man (positive) reaches out to the images of the ships (negative).
Here, we see 2D vs. 3D (deer in the pillow vs. the deer terrine ) and geometric side table vs. organic wood chair.
This tableau oozes personality. Nothing can be taken too seriously (even an important antique) with the addition of those plastic sunglasses. And I love the contrast between the contemporary print and the antique chest. The bright tones of the print and other yellow objects play against the subtle grayish- taupe walls and brown wood.
By the time you finish the book, great styling becomes second nature.
Now, with the tools provided by Tim Rundle’s marvelous book, when you want to breathe life into familiar spaces and things, you can do as Tim urges: “don’t replace, rearrange…” Yep. Use the stuff you have with more flair. It doesn’t get better than that.
This one is a must for the bookshelf.
Photo credits: All images from Rundle’s Visual Contrast.