Looking to start over after a significant life change while also busy running her own law firm in southern California, Carolina wanted a calm and invigorating place to come home to. My role was to transform her standard apartment into a source of security and balance during some major life transitions.
While spaces are meant to breathe and evolve, my personal goal as a designer is to reach the point where a room provides adequately to those living within it: there is a place to set one's keys upon entering, a reading lamp next to the sofa for nightly reading, a table by the window to enjoy a cup of coffee and cozy layers that feel good on bare feet while watching one's favorite show after a busy day at work. This is the definition of luxury.
Finding the best furniture layout and decor accents are only part of the balance equation, however. A space also needs to provide balance for the eyes and mind: areas that draw your focus and areas where your focus can rest; materials that work together and don't fight for attention; accent colors that support "star" colors; organic, natural elements mixed with items that are hard and shiny; moments of symmetry so your mind doesn't feel "off-balance".
There is a lot to think about and that's where good design comes into play. Although there are some fast and hard rules and various design philosophies to follow, for me it is more about instinct and really "feeling it out". Below are a few ideas that I hope will help you achieve balance in your home.
Upon entering Carolina's living room, there was no focal point for the eyes to rest so instead of feeling calm, my eyes were searching for a place to land, and as a result, the space invoked a sense of unease.
DESIGN TIP: CREATE A FOCAL POINT
The TV area is a natural focal point. In this space we created a gallery wall behind the TV to draw the focus away from technology and towards something more inspiring, art. A lamp and cactus were included as part of the "gallery" really bringing it to life. We also used a larger piece of furniture under the tv to help give the area some weight because, after all, this is the area we want the eyes to focus.
DESIGN TIP: BRING ON THE LAYERS
Couches are meant to be cozy but as they are often the largest piece of furniture in the room, they tend to suck out all of the energy. Here we broke up the large expanse of the navy blue couch by adding a lot of texture in similar tones to keep it from looking too busy. The white shag rug, paired with a white textured pom pom blanket and the muted design on the pillows, add pattern without calling for too much attention. The texture extends up into the wall with the baskets, breaking up the blank wall.
The original bedroom also had a lot of colors and textures competing for attention. So instead of being restful, it felt unsettled and was not a place Carolina spent a lot of time in.
DESIGN TIP: CREATE A SENSE OF CALM WITH CONSISTENCY
Although I advise against purchasing "sets" of furniture, materials in a space should work well together. Instead of one rustic nightstand and one mirrored nightstand, I found another mirrored table that Carolina currently had and brought them together so that both nightstands were mirrored but don't feel too match-y. I also used a more subtle colorway when layering the bed so that the bed as a whole acts as the focal point, instead of having multiple focal points on the bed. The rug adds pattern but doesn't distract from the the mood of the bedding.
The finished result is a balanced and calm retreat for this busy working woman. The apartment now also feels like a home and reflects Carolina's passions and personality, including her Nicaraguan roots and strong feminine energy. Good design isn't just for looks, it's for LIFE.