As I have said before, interior design scares me. What to wear? No problem. What to plant? Lots of suggestions. How to furnish a house? Yikes.
I’ll come right out and admit that ever since I decided to update my house I’ve been dithering – bedroom furniture, front doors, cushion colors for my living room – what to choose? So when I saw this book reviewed – somewhere – I clicked over to buy it so quickly I can’t remember who to thank for the recommendation.
In any case, thanks. I’m talking about Nancy Braithwaite’s manifesto Simplicity, on her interior designs. It’s large, full of images, beautifully presented, and currently occupying a place of substance on my coffee table.
The book is more than pictures, visually spectacular though it may be. Nancy details her guiding principles, or as she calls them, Design Elements.
- Composition (Her thoughts on repetition and symmetry, exemplified throughout the book, struck me particularly.)
- Proportion and Scale (Again and again she uses few objects in surprising sizes, vs. multiple common objects, to make the aesthetic statement, to turn a room into art.)
Although I imagine these terms are predictable to anyone versed in the field, I found them revelatory as a framework through which to experience Nancy’s rooms. Here, see how the contrast of the ornate chandelier shape against the straight-lined table is made richer by their similar textures.
And then the simple surprise of coral-lined curtains, the audacity of repeating the audacious color on so many cushions. Yes, I am repeating words. Might not work in writing as it does in design, but unless you break rules occasionally you never understand them.
Reverence for a throw blanket, an embrace of things round, the glories of tall simple windows and their tall simple coverings.
I mean, I never thought I wanted metal sculptures on my bathroom wall but I was wrong. The biggest frog at the top, rather than the bottom, turns expectations – and amphibians – upside down.
However, this living room was the final hook in my heart. Do you guys notice all the white? Huh. And yet so rich, so warm. The peaceful plaid curtains? Peaceful Plaid – oxymoronic design for the win. How about Serene Abundance? I think that’s my phrase, guys. I think that’s what I want. The interior equivalent to Polished Tomboy.
Most of all, Nancy seems to have led me to understand the role of inspiration in home design. While I’d always been able to browse fashion and take away only what I needed, I found interior design overwhelming, and so could not abstract out my real choices from fantasy pictures.
I have no plans to replicate Nancy Braithwaite’s designs – don’t have the funds or the discipline. But she works with such bravery, I may be able to muster a little of her courage.
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