Design Grammar: Adjectives

12120327_SWhen we look at design grammar, it’s the adjectives and adverbs that liven up a sentence the way accessories make a room more interesting.

Even with no furniture, the accessories in the photo to the left create an inviting impression. Think of these finishing touches as developing the personality of a room. They may be functional, but their primary purpose is simply design, the way adjectives simply fill out whatever image a sentence makes.

15700367_STake a look at the room to the right. Imagine it without the pillows, rug, plants, and books and elephants on the shelves. OK, let’s do it with language. Compare “the dog barked when its owner came home” with “the happy old dog barked joyfully when his veteran owner came home from Iraq.” One gives you information and the other tells you a story.

Without the adjectives and adverbs in this room, you have a series of grey tones and simple lines. Now, it’s more trouble to add accessories or turn a simple piece of information into a story, but taking the effort helps you create a space that people notice and a story that people want to listen to.

People used to call unusual accessories conversation starters. They can tell people something about you or your interests. They may define you to visitors as traditional or modern in your style and thinking. They may be remembrances of travel or your hobbies. Ask yourself, are your spaces interesting enough that people will want to read more when they walk in? What stories do you want your home to tell?



Blend Antique and Contemporary Looks

Do you have a couple of lovely older pieces of furniture you inherited from a great grandmother or received from a great aunt? Or maybe you enjoy hunting down a few unusual antique elements at shops or antique fairs. Here are a few suggestions for integrating them with your more standard pieces so that they add interest while still fitting well in your home.

Look for points of commonality. Do you have newer pieces in the same type of wood? What about the metal finishes? If an old chest has handles in antique brass, look for accessories in the same tones, or art or a mirror framed in a similar finish. Place the art above the piece, and scatter a few of the accessories on nearby pieces of furniture.

The other important factor is proportion. Make sure your antiques and contemporary furniture pieces have a similar scale wherever you place them in your home.

In this photo, the unusual antique table is paired with a very contemporary mirror. This works because it plays on several elements of commonality. The antique brass/bronze finish on the mirror coordinates well with the old brass lions heads on each corner of the table and the eagle claws clutching balls that make up its feet.

The accessories also link pieces together. The pitcher’s dry grasses create a vertical link between the table and the mirror. The turned wood bowls have a contemporary look while the three small bronze birds bring back an older feeling. Notice that the quilt, a classic older accessory, has a more contemporary feel, working well with the long glass dish sitting on it.

Another important feature is the handmade aspect of many of the accessories. The pottery pitcher, wood bowls and quilt all have an artisan feel, which complements the fine detailing on the table.

Don’t hesitate to connect your antiques with other newer pieces in your home. With just a little effort, you can create an interesting, eclectic look.