Essential advice from Paris

Ah, Paris... The land of chic people, incredible food, and jaw-dropping design. As visitors, we wander around feeling terribly passé, chewing on a baguette promising ourselves that when we leave we’ll never eat another carb and we’ll redesign our homes from top to bottom to capture that enigmatic Parisian style.

Shawn and I got back from Paris a few weeks ago and while my low-carb promises are already a thing of the past, I’m having an amazing time applying my Parisian design lessons. Here’s the first one:

Sometimes more is more

I’ve always been a fan of minimalism. I love the way it creates a sense of spaciousness and draws your eye to special pieces. But while we were in Paris, we went the home of maximalism: the Palace of Versailles. And. It. Was. FABULOUS. Gold leaf, marble columns, woodcarvings, frescoes, tapestries, and ornate furniture everywhere you looked.

Was it a lot? Yes. Too much? Nope. (OK, maybe once or twice.) It was an explosion of gorgeous things, layered on top of each other, to create an awe and beauty that pulled you in and made you forget the every day.

My takeaway?  Don’t be afraid to go for it. Transport yourself somewhere amazing. Bring all the beautiful things you can into a room and see if they can live together. Add color and light. Mix styles, textures, and patterns.

Get the look. Now, how do you try this without looking like Liberace redecorated your living room? The key is to think critically about the space. Imagine it’s like a recipe. As you cook, you taste, asking yourself, what does this need? Have I put in too much salt? Does it need a little crunch?

Step back and study how the pieces of the room look together. It’s like tasting the room with your eyes. (I know that sounds completely weird, but it’s true.)

·      Is anything too large or too small for the room or for the pieces around it? If it’s too small, group it with other small things. Too large? Bring in something else of similar size to balance it out or move it to another part of the space to give it room to breathe. And if it still looks off, no problem, just take it out of the room and try again.

·      Do the colors “work” together? They don’t need to match but they have to make sense. Choose colors that complement each other like orange and blue or blues, greens, and yellows. Just make sure they are the same intensity. Deep blues and greens with a pale yellow could make the yellow look washed out. The easiest way to find colors that work is to break out a color wheel like grade school art class and see what colors want to be together. Here’s a little cheat sheet to show you basic techniques for combining colors. You’ll love it!

·      Are the patterns you added fighting with each other? Look them over. Do they have something in common like their color, shape, or size? Spread them out. They may not pair well on top of each other but from across the room, it could look great. Vary the style and scale of the pattern so that you don’t have all stripes or all large patterns. Still not sure? Take something out of the mix and see if it comes together. Need a little more help?  Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog has great step-by-step advice.

You won’t get it just right with your first attempt. Like cooking, it’s a process. Taste, add, and adjust until it looks delicious.

I’m here if you’ve got questions and I’d love to know—What scares you about experimenting with design?

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