Don’t let modern design get monotonous: How to warm up a contemporary room

February 11th, 2016 by admin

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If you’re loyal to color theory, it’s quite possible that you will argue with anyone that uses “color” and “gray” in the same sentence. That’s because gray is achromatic, which means it lacks color altogether.

Gray means different things to different people in different cultures. During the Renaissance, Spanish, French and Italian nobility opted for gray and white as their emblematic scheme that communicated echelon and sophistication. Au contraire, Pablo Picasso chose gray to represent the savagery of war in his famed painting Guernica, which is on view in the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

Today, sophisticated gray is synonymous with contemporary design.

Alongside gray, most contemporary materials used in modern furnishings and design elements are straight, stark and highly polished — think of a sparkling stainless steel structured frame of the Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer.

But contemporary doesn’t have to be synonymous with a cold feeling. As fashion designer Donna Karan once said, “design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable.” At our core, regardless of taste, don’t we all long for warmth?

So does design. To warm up a contemporary space, follow these three simple rules:

  • 1. Although contemporary windows are beautiful and angular, they need drapery. Drapery is to a window what hair is to the face. It frames the picture. Drapery does not need to be droopy, voluptuous and teeming with billows. It can be straight, simple and functional — but it needs to exist.
  • 2. Bring in elements from nature into the space. Consider accessories that feature skin tones. Include the color of raw wood, the color of soil, the color of grass. Incorporating these natural elements into a room makes it feel more familiar, friendlier and livelier — like adding breath. Whereas contemporary rooms that feature bright, clashing colors create tension, natural elements ground spaces with a healthy dose of peacefulness.
  • 3. Go dark on the walls. Sexy and sultry are a big contrast from the beiges and whites of yesteryear. Darker, mood-oriented walls give the room a sense of personality. Rather than using complementary colors (colors that are across from one another in the color wheel), what is extremely effective in a space is the use of colors that are right next to each other. This creates subtle sophistication and interest.

In this photo from a recent project, we opted for a fireplace made out of bronze, a warm metal that echoes the color of wood, rather than continuing the use of cold materials. To complete the room, which is inspired by the look of the Soho House West Hollywood, we mixed navy walls with nude chairs. The color nude in this design study is what fashionistas often refer to as the third element — the last piece that isn’t related to anything else but somehow brings the ensemble together. Without it — ennui.

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