In the last few weeks, I’ve had several clients tell me they want things to “Pop.” Personally, I think the word belongs in the fashion industry, (if even there), not in home decor. But some of you use it because you learned it from the home dec magazines and TV shows. So let’s just go with it.
Things that pop are things that catch your eye. They must, because of their very nature “Pop” and be of substantial contrast to their surroundings. They become the most important visual in the scenario. They take over and must — again by their very definition — yell the loudest. “Look at me, I’m the yellow pillow on the black sofa,” or “Look at me, I’m the really bright abstract painting”. In both of the above rooms, the cushions and the pink valance command all the attention. They get our eyes running around the room and take all the focus off the rest of the room. In the pink room there is no reason at all for the pink. The purple cushions are good but they are too spread out. If they had all been on the sofa under the pictures, on in front of the bay, they would have made a clear statement. Instead of a run-on sentence missing a few commas.
If this is what you want, then fine — go ahead with the yellow pillow or bright abstract. But I bet, based on what you end up telling me over and over, that what you really want is something interesting to be going on in your room’s decor. What brought all this on, anyway?
Your furniture is a tad old and you may be a bit tired of it. The light in the room has changed (seasons do that) and the room appears darker and duller than it did a few months ago. You’ve been binge-watching HGTV and want something new. You have company coming for Christmas and want to spiffy up the place. You’ve been decorating the place for some time; you are stuck and think that a yellow cushion may be the answer and some decor magazines say that a “Pop” of colour will transform a room.
So, consider this: A well-decorated room is balanced. If there is an element that pops out it is the focal point — like the fireplace, the bay window, the bed, or maybe the huge print. Each room should have only one focal point. And one wall painted an odd-colour is not a focal point. It’s a mistake. In the above room, the green drapes and huge print compete for attention. Pick one focal point.
Supporting the focal point are the accessories and lighting. Texture and unusual shapes in your accessories add interest rather than just contrasting color. Add a proper-sized area rug. These purple cushions and chairs don’t compete with the fireplace because their color is so close in value to their surroundings. They are a gentle complement, not a big full-blown contrast.
Full spectrum light bulbs will add natural-looking light; the colors in your room will be much more lifelike than if you have warm fluorescents. I’ll bet you need a few more light fixtures, too.
Want some colour? Add it with care. Here, the lime green echos the leaves outside and that’s good. The intensity of the green is muted, and works well with the muted orange and gray. (Note that the fireplace and trim is creamy. And the gray is green-gray. Check out the column on grays for why this works). Nothing fights here; the only thing that hollers, really, is the orange book on the table. I’d remove it, personally, but someone actually may be reading it… After all, the rooms have to be liveable, too.
Accessories and odd-colored walls are not meant to be focal points. That sort of says it all.