Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Basic Design - Elements & Principles

Knowledge of basic interior design elements and principles can help you transform any space from frumpy to fabulous. Interior design involves so many variables that we thought it would be helpful to give our readers a “high-level” overview of the basics.

The elements and principles of design are the building blocks used to create any body of creative work. So what is the difference between the two?

Design elements are the basic units of a visual image. These elements in interior design include space (point), line (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and curved), balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial) color (primary, secondary and complimentary), shape, texture, form and value.

The principles of design govern the relationships of the elements used and organize the arrangement as a whole and consist of unity, harmony, contrast, repetition (rhythm, pattern) variety (alternation), emphasis (dominance or focal point), proportion (scale), functionality, proximity & lighting.

There are no “rules” that will guarantee interior design excellence, however, successful design incorporates the use of the principles and elements to serve the designer's purpose and visual goals.

Our intent here at J.Douglas Design is always to achieve harmony between the elements to create fabulous spaces as the premier interior designer in Dallas. Now that you have an overview of the basics, we will be taking a deeper dive into the concepts of elements and principles in future posts. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Brief History Of Interior Design

Studying the history of interior design is important and can be either a resource for imitation or for stimulating new ideas. We call it - 'inspiration'. Interior designers are no different from other artists - the difference is that our canvas is your home. Come with us as we journey across time to take a brief view of this fascinating topic…

The history of interior design draws upon several different fields of study. It is based in architectural history, but incorporates elements of the decorative arts, including furniture, metalwork, glass, ceramics, and textiles.

Let's begin with prehistoric and indigenous design. Interestingly, modern art has been strongly influenced by native art. While modern design may not have been as deeply influenced there are often similarities (such as repetition and pattern) between design by indigenous peoples and modern work as seen in weavings such as rugs, blankets, pottery and baskets.

Then there are the ancient world influences of Egypt, Greece, Rome and others. Tombs found in Egypt have yielded up a wide range of objects which have given us a glimpse into Egyptian daily life. They suggest spaces with only minimal furniture, lively color in wall decorations and woven materials as well as the treatment of columns as strong decorative elements. We see similar architectural elements in Rome and Greece, but two distinct styles, and an distinct evolution of architectural know-how. The ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum have shown us that ancient cities were not unlike ours - and were most certainly full of 'decor'. All of the ancient civilizations mentioned made use of wall paintings, sculpture - and furnishings accessories of all sorts.

Next, we'll jump to the Middle Ages, where we find early Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic design influences both in architecture and in design elements. From there history takes us into the Renaissance and Rococo - rich with its Italian, European, French and English influences. Neoclassicism gave us Empire and Regency styles.

The North American age was first influenced by Colonial, Federal and Gothic revival design. And who doesn’t love the Victorian Era with it’s Arts and Crafts, Shaker and Adirondack themes.

At the Turn of the Century we were steeped in Art Nouveau and in the Twentieth Century we were blessed with Eclecticism, Frank Lloyd Wright, De Stijl, Art Deco, Post-Modernism and Hi-tech.

As history is still writing itself, we are excited to see how Twenty-First Century interior design will play out as it is continually being influenced by the past, present and future.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Color Theory and Design Part II

Welcome back! In part I of our series on color theory, we touched on the difference between primary, secondary, tertiary and complimentary colors on the color wheel, as well as blending/mixing colors, parent colors and simultaneous contrast.

This time we will expound a little more on each of these subtopics.

Now that you’re familiar with the color wheel, let’s look at the concept of warm vs. cool colors.

Looking at the color wheel, we see that the circle is divided into two families of color that make strongly different impressions. On the left side, red, orange and yellow are referred to as warm colors and green, blue and violet are cool.

Are you beginning to mentally associate between the colors themselves and the temperature sensations of hot and cold? Good. What you’ll notice while standing in a room of warm colors is that they actually seem to raise the apparent room temperature, making spaces feel cozy and pleasant indoors in winter, while cool colors provide relief on a hot day or in a warm climate. A complimentary pair is always made up of one warm and one cool color. Therefore, before deciding on a color, take into account the size of the room, the amount of light or where it is directed.

The Effects Of Color

When the primary colors - red, yellow and blue are used together, they create a very vibrant effect, resulting in striking contrasts. Together they are very successful in small space interior design because they revitalize and rejoice.

The cool colors - blue, green or violet produce a sense of calm and quiet, and like white, creates a distancing effect, making them also ideal for smaller, narrower rooms. However, be careful not to use them alone as they can be cold and impersonal as well.

Warm tones - the range from yellow to red, are vital and happy, and give the impression of “near” space, and therefore work best in large environments.

Now that you understand how groups of colors work together to create certain effects, let’s look at a phenomenon in color theory that is very important to be aware of so as not to create blurred vision or as we jokingly mentioned in part I – cardiac arrest.

Simultaneous contrast refers to how two colors, side by side, interact with one another and change our perception accordingly. Since we rarely see colors in isolation, simultaneous contrast affects our perception of the color that we see.

For example, red and blue boxes are modified where they border each other: the blue appears green and the red, orange. The real colors are not altered; only our perception of them changes.

Since our sensation is most intense where two extremes are juxtaposed, we should be careful when using simultaneous contrast in interior design.

Artists like Van Gogh purposely used simultaneous contrast in their paintings to create a jarring unpleasant sensation for the viewer. If this is not your goal (and we hope it’s NOT your goal in your interior design!), we encourage you to be aware of color mixing that causes simultaneous contrast.

If your goal is to create intense emotion in small doses then it may help to know that simultaneous contrast is most intense when the two colors are complementary colors. Mummy cases of ancient Egypt inlaid with gold and blue lapis are a good example of this, and traditional holiday colors of green and red are too.

Whatever your interior design goals are for your space, at J Douglas Designs, we have the expertise to guide you through color theory to help you select the best furniture and home accessories for your interior spaces.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dining In For The Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner: family time together, cooking, eating and celebrating a special time of the year. For Americans - gathering for great food, family & fellowship is a tradition for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas - and other holidays during the Fall months each year. And certainly, most meals are a social event for most families in these United States - holiday or not. So the design of the dining area is very important to create the atmosphere of sharing, comfort and feeling at 'home' that most associate with the tradition of eating together.

Before you plan and begin your dining room interior design, it's important to consider some aspects of your space: lighting, and focal points.

The lighting in a dining or eating area is paramount.

Guests might want to see what they're eating (No way!) or maybe it's a romantic and exclusive dinner for two - where mood rules the atmosphere. Functionality and flexibility is the key when it comes to dining room lighting. Opt for a fancy dimmer switch and lighting arrangement to fit the mood of your event.

It's also important to explore natural lighting and windows in your space before placing the actual fixtures. If you have great natural light from a large window on one side of the room, then obviously the other side of the room might be able to use a lamp or light source. Before you place - check your space!

Which brings us to focal points in your dining space.

And one more word on lighting - because it's related to both lighting AND focal points: most interior design plans for dining spaces include a strong light source directly over the table. This is a great opportunity to create a focal point, with both drama and style.

On other focal elements - do you perhaps have an architectural element such as a fireplace, or dramatic window, or a recessed ceiling in your dining room? If so - design opportunity is knocking. Play these up, embellish them and feature them in your design. If you don't have these assets to your space, then add them with your lighting, fixtures and artwork. The dining room is a very popular place for art.

Furniture = Function.

One thing is certain - American's don't gather and eat together STANDING UP. You must have a place to sit and serve.

Choosing a dining room table should first follow your initial style and taste for the room overall - with regard to style and design, but size and placement obviously plays a large role as well. Depending on the size of the space, your table should allow ample room for passage (even with chairs in use - so allow some extra space), and some negative space as well to avoid an overdone, cluttered look.

You want your dining room to be 'comfortable', 'tight and cozy' and 'aesthetic' - but you have to allow for your guests and yourself to MOVE around in the space as well. If you're unsure of what will work best in your space - you can always call J. Douglas Design for an in-home interior design consultation, or visit our Dallas furniture showroom.

For a smaller and more square dining room - a round table shape and of proper scale works great. For longer, oblong spaces, the traditional rectangular dining room table works well. With both options, there would be easy access to and from and around the table and seating.

Dining room designs are a favorite of J. Douglas Designs. Here's some design tips from us to you - to make ALL your in-home dining experiences a tradition to endure:

• Create an extra special pizazz and sparkle by including mirrors, mirrored accessories and glass elements. The shine, sparkle and crystal-clear reflections will add a subtle, special effect.

• Plan your table place settings, centerpiece and other accessories to really accent your design and add color, texture and shape. Adding these accessories will help the room not seem 'overwhelmed' by the large dining room table, but rather - accent it's presence.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Furniture Design Spotlight – Christopher Guy Furnishings

Often referred to as “Creators of the World’s Most Fabulous Furnishings” by its peers, Christopher Guy furniture sports timeless & traditional and contemporary beauty, creating a distinctive look for any interior space.

The manufacturing and design operations (a one-million square foot workshop) are housed in a state-of-the-art facility and led by award-winning designer Christopher Guy Harrison - this line of furniture and accessories collections focuses on exceptional quality and unique, timeless designs - using tried and true methods of creation and finishing techniques.

At J. Douglas Design, we love the Christopher Guy furniture collections and are proud to carry their line of fine furnishings in our exclusive Dallas furniture showroom. Christopher Guy collections have graced the world’s finest residences, resorts, and even movie sets including 007 – Tomorrow Never Dies, The Mummy, and Oceans 13.

If Christopher Guy home furnishings are fabulous enough for MGM and Warner Brothers, we’re confident you will be proud to showcase their distinguished look in your home or business - and it's why we feature their furniture and furnishings as a part of many of our interior designs.