Graphic Design @ Home

The layers of paint on my living room walls show  my personal evolution: grass, sapphire, gold and now beige. Designers love color but with expertise comes knowing when and how to use it.  I’ve edited my aesthetic a lot over the years.

But I’m not alone.

Today’s design stresses texture and form over intense layers of color.  It’s everywhere: flexible neutrals playing it cool while rustic finishes and boldly graphic prints carry the lion’s share of interest.  Interior design is taking its cues from graphic design.  Function trumps affectation. Details are thoughtfully edited – sometimes witty – and white space is golden.  Although richly detailed, the photo I captured and edited below reflects the aesthetic of now.


The weight of the barn to the right is balanced with the white space or empty mass of the sky. I stripped away the color to better focus on the textures of wood and weed. What comes forward is the composition and the organic atmosphere. It helps that the wild grass yearns toward the open sky and carries our gaze outward with it.

So how does this idea of graphic composition come into play in the home?  Every house is different and everyone has their own threshold for ‘stuff’.  (I’ve heard a lot of husbands muttering darkly about toss pillows.)  Yet there are some general principles to keep in mind:

  • Bare walls and empty corners are the white space of the home landscape.  They provide a rest for the eye between focal points.  The mind digests the information in the space better when emptiness is allowed to punctuate the statements.
  • When it comes to accessories, think tree and not forest.  In other words, if the accent is dynamic enough, it may lose impact if other, lesser objects are clustered around it.  We may feel comfortable in a group, but something like this Stoney Lamar sculpture needs no companions.
  • Clean the shell of your room by painting the walls and trims the same color.  This is particularly effective in older homes where the moldings are traditional but the desired aesthetic is modern and subtle.
  •  When I cut my design teeth, most designs included the magic three: a big gutsy floral, mid-scale plaid and what we called a ‘ditsy’, a sweet little pattern that kept the peace.  Today we see things differently.  Dynamic fabric and wallpaper prints are nicely supported by textures alone.
  • In color, don’t connect all the dots.  Against a pleasing neutral backdrop, one or two vibrant shades become your color pops.  The design doesn’t get better marks because you used all the tones in the rug; the art of color is knowing when to let a hue exist in the room without highlighting it.

This is my first entry on this blog and I’m feeling my way through it.  The goal is to match ideas to photo content whenever possible, to offer how-to tips and to bring a little down-to-earth perspective to design.  Please share your thoughts to help me do good work!



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