The Art of Layering From HGTV Dream Home 2016
In 2008 I was starting out as a self-taught designer and decorator, when I noticed my portfolio was missing something. I asked a magazine editor friend to take a look and give me her opinion. After a few minutes looking over the dozen or so images, she replied, "Layers. You're simply missing layers."
When she gave me this feedback, instead of arguing or rethinking my entire design philosophy, I agreed with her and even admitted, I'm a man who doesn't like a lot of stuff, so layering really isn't my thing, but I see what you mean.
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She then reminded me that regardless of an aesthetic, albeit minimalist or maximalist, layering is often what sets a lived-in house apart from a model home, and you don't have to be a clutter-lover to achieve a layered look. You just have to learn to edit, whether it's a one-stop shopping trip to furnish an entire space or inheriting objects to integrate into a room that already exists.
During my initial trip to NYC to select all of the interior furnishings for HGTV Dream Home 2016 in Merritt Island, Florida, my colleague Ashley Bothwell and I worked with the design team at Ethan Allen in Midtown to employ our collective editing skills.
Anytime you're making many selections, it's wise to have an extra person with you to bounce ideas off of. While I'm often the one driving the ship for all creative decisions, it's nice to have someone else nearby who thinks pragmatically, and my digital creative director, Ashley, does just that.
We headed to New York to make sure everything in HGTV Dream Home 2016 was equal parts pretty and practical.
As far as layers are concerned, it's not about having lots of objects as it is a mix of materials, finishes, sheen and textures artfully arranged together in the same space. A well-layered room has different shades of the same color introduced with textiles and accessories, metallic, wooden and/or stone objects ranging in size, shape and scale, underfoot textures found in both patterned and solid rugs, and an interesting play on soft and coarse surfaces.
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As we made our own selections, we paid close attention to our furniture finishes, choosing antique painted finishes to contrast against newer, polished elements.
Layering doesn't just apply to indoor spaces. It's as relevant for outdoor rooms, such as patios, lanais or porches, as it is for spots that have four walls and a ceiling.
Anytime I'm layering a space that's outside, I apply the same rules, but amp up the "life" element with greenery. Ideally, I try to include greenery at different heights to add a sense of nature near, on top of or around all of the outdoor furnishings.
In addition to the greenery, it's smart to choose vessels that bring in unique textures or colors. By doing this, the plant sits inside something that's practical and has a purpose but can also add decorative value to the overall look.
Lastly, I try to maximize every square inch of space I have outside. Therefore, it's important to keep plans, measurements and drawings with you as you're selecting the staple pieces, such as sofas, loungers, club chairs and rugs.
After sourcing elements, it's smart to consider a second pass at every space, and get a second opinion if you're stuck between two things you love equally, like fabrics or upholstery details. Many times I find something I initially loved and considered my first choice doesn't play as well as with the other surrounding elements and I end up going with my backup selection for a balanced end result.
For example, in the media room of HGTV Dream Home 2016, I planned on high-energy blue walls; however, after sourcing all of my furniture, flooring, window coverings and artwork, a muted shade of gray-green was a better fit.
In the master bedroom, I planned on introducing shades of turquoise in teal in almost every spot, but then found the overall look too overpowering and instead chose elements in crisp white to help neutralize the intensity of the wall color.
Behind the Design
Interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn takes us through the creative process for the ultimate Floridian escape, from picking fabrics to creating a vision.
So there you have it, a quick look at how the art of layering can guarantee a well-executed design that's complex, original and one-of-a-kind. Maybe I should ask my magazine editor friend what she thinks now. My guess is she'll tell me, a color-obsessed interior designer, to use more neutrals.
Ethan Allen fully furnished the HGTV® Dream Home 2016. Shop the looks you love at ethanallen.com. Or visit your nearest Ethan Allen Design Center to start living the dream today—their design pros can show you how!