My Mantra

Rooms look beautiful for a reason, not just because I told you so. Behind the series of great choices that make any room fabulous, there’s also a series of design rationales that guide the choices in the first place. As your partner in design, I’m here to help you figure out what those rationales are…

Complete, don’t compete

For example, putting a large rectangular piece of artwork over a large rectangular piece of upholstery such as a sofa creates a competition between the two. They fight for focus. Instead of engaging in this one-on-one battle, use smaller artwork or a circular piece. Next, flank it with electric or hurricane candle sconces. Now the artwork and sconces will complete the sofa wall, rather than competing with the sofa itself.

High-contrast = glamour

When colors pop, glamour happens. Sophistication gets lost, though, when the eye doesn’t know where to look. That’s why high-contrast (using one or two strong colors in combination with each other, often neutrals such as white and espresso/black) elements are so important in designing. When too many colors from different families come together, like combinations of warm and cool colors, the eye no longer knows where to focus. This is why high-end interiors tend to focus either on tonal palettes that are overall cool-based (blues/greens/greys) or overall warm-based (reds/yellows/oranges).

No-man’s-land spaces

These are areas of the house that everyone has experienced frustration with at one point or another—the ones that are hard to furnish or make use of. Sometimes you just need the right space plan in order to discover an area’s functional calling. Other times, the solution is not to place anything at all there, which leads us to the next design rationale…

Room to breathe / negative space

As the eye sweeps across a room, it needs time to transition from one set of objects to another. Items that are grouped together should relate to one another in ways that make sense for human use—otherwise, we know on a basic psychological level that we are uncomfortable around them. For example, when we see a chair in a corner with no table lamp or floor lamp next to it, we know intuitively that it doesn’t feel inviting due to the lack of warmth and amenity in that spot. Having said that, once functional groupings are made in the space, it’s important to let there be negative space between them. It’s really okay to leave some walls and walkways empty. The eye needs a rest and psychologically, we need “room to breathe.”

Psychological barriers

A weak living room furniture arrangement may have a loveseat blocking the traffic pattern. This forms a psychological obstacle every time you walk by it. The result is that you become accustomed to its presence and don’t realize why it bothers you anymore. The reason is because it transmits the sense of a barrier rather than allowing ample space to pass through. As human beings, we know intuitively when a space is ill-conceived for us to circulate through it. A good space plan solves such design dilemmas and creates a sense of openness and movement.

Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

Kathleen KellyYou've Got Mail

Email us or post to our Facebook page to inquire about some other design rationales that may help you define and enjoy your space better:

  • radial balance
  • scale and proportion
  • sculptural objects always look good
  • circle-in-the-square
  • adding architectural interest gives big empty walls their reason for being
  • mirrors replicate the feeling of windows
  • hard corners are softened by circular shapes and fabrics

It’s almost like a design bar; we use high resolution photography, the internet… What customers need is someone to help navigate and someone who knows how to use color and pattern.

Claire Bellin Home Accents Today

The Claire Bell Collection at Chelsea House

Claire has brought a fresh take to traditional motifs through the incorporation of modernized trellis, lattice, and chinoiserie themes. She finds inspiration close to home–rescue retriever Flossie inspired best-selling Flossie bookends and Flossie lamps. As an Air Force colonel, Claire’s grandfather was stationed in Taiwan and the Philippines. Her grandmother was an artist who collected porcelain and Asian-inspired decor and furniture, bringing many items back to the States. Claire’s early exposure to these pieces gave her a foundation for designing traditional decor for Chelsea House. Accompanying her grandmother to art classes also instilled a love of painting, flowers, and botanicals. During Claire’s time spent learning floral design in Los Angeles, she developed a love of all kinds of plants, herbs and flowers that drive her new product development today.  Her laurel chandelier, laurel demilune table, and leaf hall table for Chelsea House are staples in her collection.  Her favorite piece designed for Chelsea House to date, however, is the Tole Pagoda Lantern, available in peach, cream and gold, and recently featured by Traditional Home.

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