Some of the tools I use often to help achieve successful Design and Styling, are Texture, Pattern and above all Contrast. When designing a house Contrast would have to be my favourite way to make the most out of a space, to help bring a room to life.
The most common example of Contrast in design is of course Light Vs Dark, because their visual difference is so evident nobody can miss it. However there are other ways to add Contrast without being so extreme as black and white, like placing a rough surface against a smooth one, straight lines against curvy, gloss against matt, pattern against plain, etc... Also, as contradictory as this may sound, Contrast can be subtle.
To give you an example, I want to share with you some images I took inside the bathrooms of a new home I designed which is almost complete. Bathrooms are one of those rooms where the abundance of hard surfaces can often create a sterile feel which no home should have. The many vertical and horizontal lines created by the tiles, the bench top, the shower screen, can be softened with round shapes and sexy curves! I achieved this here by selecting rounded profiles in the tapware, as well as in the design of the basin and the bathtub. It's not as strong an impact in contrasting shapes as it would have been if using a spherical basin, but the rounded corners create a soft and effective effect with subtle detail.
All images by James Treble at Eden Brae Homes
A free-standing bathtub is always a winning choice to elevate the elegance of a bathroom, and in this case I used it also to, again, add contrast against the darker floor and wall tiles behind it. This allows it to become a feature, to steal the attention with its contemporary beauty; its rounded shape also helps balance the room by adding a feminine curvy shape which sits well against the many masculine straight lines in the grouting.
The styling adds the final touch, helping to define the character of the room and tie it all together: rounded shapes to contrast the straight lines, wooden objects like the functional yet good looking stool, to soften the hard surfaces, whilst adding an organic element which also brings warmth to the room. Not quite complete, the addition of a plant will bring the outdoor feel to this windowless room, making it feel calm and inviting.
As I said, this home is almost finished and the final cleaning and styling are happening now... I can't wait to show you more of the finished product, stay tuned!
Whether designing to sell or creating somebody's dream home, my job is to create that welcoming feeling of warmth and intimacy which turns a house into a home, and Contrast, in subtle or stronger doses, helps me to achieve just that.
So don't be afraid, look around the room you're in right now... The ways to apply Contrast in your design are varied, and not restricted to simply Black & White. Can you add some contrast? I encourage you to experiment and play with this, as it is a sure way to complete your Design & Styling allowing you to add both beauty and that 'Oomph' that helps your home stand out from the rest!
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on