Design Dilemma: Flow

This week, MLHP posts will focus on Design Dilemmas - common problems we all run into when considering our home's interiors. Chances are, you've encountered at least one of the "DD's" somewhere along the decorating path. Hopefully, these posts can help get you beyond that "snag" and on your way to decor bliss!
These thoughts will be general thoughts & suggestions, but if you need to bounce ideas for a specific project, feel free to email me!

image borrowed from life in a venti cup

Design Dilemma: Flow
I received an email recently from a fellow design junkie who is concerned that the room she is redecorating will not "flow" with the rest of her home. Many of us experience the same concern - as our tastes change and evolve, we wonder, "Will this new addition of furniture, fabric, art, etc. "go with" what I already own?"

There are two classifications of "flow" - Spatial and Aesthetic. We're going to focus not on architectural or spatial, but on style "flow."

In my opinion, there are two ways to look at style flow: Factual and Intrinsic.

Factual - This aspect takes into account the actual items in a room or rooms - the furniture, fabrics (including rugs), lighting, etc. This is where the design elements of Proportion, Line, and Color come into play. For example, does this large, Italian Baroque mirror overpower in scale a delicate, Federal table it sits above? Or does this rather diminutive and sparse American Provincial furniture feel out of place in a home modeled after an ornate and tall-raftered French Chateau?

The general "rules" are:
1) Maintain Proportion - that doesn't mean everything has to be huge or small - just keep a balance between the two.
2) Design Line in a room to keep the eye moving - mix curves against straight edges, and add visual interest with texture. As has been said, "juxtaposition gives the eye interest and relief." ...And lastly, there is
3) Color. Putting color together in a room allows you to be the artist - think of the traditional color wheel - colors can coordinate, contrast, or clash - yikes!

The other way I consider "flow" is to look at it Intrinsically. As I see it, most homes, if decorated by the same owner or designer, will inherently have flow. Typically, our styles don't change radically - say, from very traditional one year, to ultra modern the next - they evolve. As we gradually shift our styles, our homes may take on more of one feel than another - but they still "go together," and the main reason they DO is because you, the owner, put it all together. Our homes reflect our lives - our interests, our travels, our comforts - they are indeed a "self portrait of the owner."

After all is said and done, keep in mind that design "rules" are much less strict today than they were in times past. Mixing styles can not only allow for plenty of "flow," it can also keep a look from being too "matchy-matchy" (my personal nemesis!) Afterall, YOU are the one living in, (and hopefully loving!) your home - if it provides interest and design compliments - kudos to YOU!!

Now...Go Flow! ;)

Editor's Note: Some background research was done in, and design quotes were provided by, the 1953 version of House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, but otherwise, ideas and opinions are author's own.