IN THE DARK

June 3, 2018
Sitting room: Natural and accent lighting highlight the textural contrasts in this relaxed sitting room. Kitchen and book shelves: A welcome display of personal and fun family objects balance a clinical white and black kitchen.

There are a few bold decorating steps that take an adventurous spirit and a decidedly personal sense of style to execute. One example is moving to a dark palette – layering walls, floors and ceilings in deep, rich hues, and including furnishings that share the same shadowy nature. It’s daring, but it also presents an exciting, theatrical atmosphere. Done right, it’s calm, not boring, expressive, not dismal. I hear from readers who want to take that big step toward a den with black walls or a bedroom drenched in midnight blue. Their hesitation emanates from the negative vibes others in the home are sending. And I get this. It is not for everyone. But what decorating choices are universally accepted?

I came across a book that revels in the unexpected. Extraordinary Interiors, showcases rooms and homes that are bold, powerful and mostly clothed in darkness. And yet the photography by Debi Treloar and text by Jane Rockett and Lucy St. George capture how lighthearted and stylish a charcoal palette can be. The authors are self-acknowledged design junkies who travel far and wide to stock their eclectic housewares store. Their particular brand of decorating rooms that always have the “WOW” factor is mapped out on the pages. Presented as a decorator’s 101 class, their solid fundamentals are listed.

On the importance of lighting – every light should have a dimmer switch, never install a fluorescent light in any part of your home, and light candles every day.

Tips for arranging a space: maximize natural light, take down heavy curtains; never arrange your seating around a TV; create a stylish spot and plan for every seat to have a view; creative storage is essential.

How to make it personal, make a list and if you are living with a partner do this together. Write down five words that describe your personality (energetic, thoughtful, musical etc.). Write down five words that describe the way you dress (slick, monochrome, boho, seductive). Finally, write down five things that make you happy (being with friends and family, solitude, and consider smells and tactile experiences).

Stunning examples of iconic furniture pieces, personal collections, and eclectic lighting choices heighten interest in every space. There is always a mix of modern and antique, spare designs alongside refurbished flea market finds. The authors stress that decorating a home is always evolving as you grow, as you travel, as you experiment.

Back to the dark palettes that are so prominent in the book. Pictured here is a sitting room that is cloaked in charcoal grey and black. What uplifts the monochrome look are the many changes in texture and shape. The imperfect plaster walls are subtly shaded in dark, chalky grey. Boxy leather chairs shine, their silky smooth black covers making a strong contrast against the walls. A traditional oval mirror framed in gold produces a shot of colour that glows. An irresistible spray of pussy willows adds another dimension of shapes. Subtle accent lighting ensures a calm and tranquil mood. The surprise is the white painted floor, and white objects featured in the bookcase. These bring balance, and a lighthearted touch.

Black and white is a strong theme that is often utilized in a modern space. It can border on clinical. Again, it is the contrast that provides interest, and with thoughtful planning this dynamic duo is welcoming. In this bright kitchen, the homeowner wanted to be part of the action as she prepared meals for family and guests. The large center island houses the stove top, with plenty of space to toss together salads and snacks. A black brick back wall and black floor to ceiling book shelves frame the open kitchen. The shelves hold personal treasures, plants, books and signs that bring the family’s personalities and passions into full view.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis, facebook.com/thedebbietravis, debbietravis.com.