|The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond VA, Photographed by Patricia Lyons|
Jennings and I were talking yesterday with Rob Cox, the winemaker at Paradise Springs winery (more on that later) and I commented that the wine we were sipping tasted uncomplicated, but not unfinished. Rob said in winemaking, the term is "polished."
|Barbara Howard, Photographed by Keith Scott Morton|
|Brie Williams, Photographer|
In decorating, some rooms, no matter how simple, just feel good. A secret to attaining this "polish," is to pay close attention to your composition of darks, mid-tones, and highlights, just like a master artist or winemaker does.
Beginning artists almost always make one of these mistakes: Either the entire painting is done in medium values (the dark areas are not dark enough and the highlights are not light enough) or, the entire painting has too few midtones and your eye bounces back and forth crazily between darks and lights with no place to rest.
|Even this elegant "all-white" room from the Traditional Home showhouse has lights, mediums, and darks|
Color actually matters less in this instance than you would think. An all medium-value room will likely be dull and monotonous to look at and live in, even if it is orange. Even a monocromatic scheme needs highs and lows. Imagine listening to a song composed of only middle C, played over and over.
On the other hand, rooms that are only dark and light might dance with life, but can be exhausting or even distressing over time if there is no place to rest the eye.
Graceful rooms, just like good wine, pleasing paintings, and beautiful songs, have deep soulful darks; clean, light lights; and middle tones to act as a transition between the two.
This room is a great example.... nice use of mid-tones on the beagles.
|Thomas Jayne, Photographed by Brie Williams|
How do you check your design? Look at your room with squinted eyes, as this will reduce the effect of colors and make tones more pronounced. This is a masterful composition by Thomas Jayne.
Or, take a photo of your room in black and white (you can also take a color photo and convert it to grey scale in a photo-editing program). This will help you understand how the eye moves around your room.
An artist knows that the focal point in a painting is where the lightest light meets the darkest dark. In decorating, the eye is naturally led in the same way. You might be surprised to discover that the focal point of your room isn't what you thought it was.
|Photographer Miller Mobley|
Designers use darks, mediums and lights to create rhythm and "flow" just like artists draw the viewer through a painting.
Dark, medium and light values also create excitement or repose. It is possible to have a relaxing chartreuse room or an exciting beige room, if they are skillfully composed with the correct balance of values.
Sometimes just changing the tone of a lampshade or rug can make all the difference in the world.
Want more drama? Turn up the contrast.
|Amelia Handegan, Photographer: Pieter Estersohn|
Want more serenity? Add more mid-tones.