Last week I started a mini-series on some of the main “theory” parts of design and defined and illustrated Balance (you can read it here). Another strong principle of design that can be very helpful in developing your room decor is repetition or rhythm.
Repetition in Home Decor
At its most basic, repetition is the repeating of an element in a pattern. For example, a row of framed pieces of the same size with similar subjects creates a pattern. Repeating the rectangular shape of the frames in the shape of a table and chair profile and maybe in the pattern on the area rug reinforces the pattern and creates a rhythm moving around the room.
Another way to think about it is to plan your decor in a space or your whole home around a motif. The motif might be botanical prints, circles, “X” shapes or stripes. It does NOT include color, but is more about shape/pattern. That motif is repeated obviously and sometimes very subtly around the room creating a pleasing rhythm. I wrote about motif development earlier in Guaranteed Design Success.
These gorgeous custom doors leading into the master bath set the motif for the master suite in this client’s home. The towels had a tone on tone X pattern as trim, accent pillows on the bed, the legs on the accent chairs flanking the fireplace, and a subtle tone on tone wallpaper pattern on the accent wall all repeated this pattern to strong effect. Elsewhere in the home……
The main hall of the home has furniture gently repeating the X pattern (see the curved X table legs and in the floor tile?) and even the patio furniture has a softened version of the pattern. Rigid adherence to the straight lines of X wasn’t really necessary in all cases – introducing the occasional curve helped lighten things up.
This and the 2 pictures following are of the same home. You can see that they used the very linear lines of the architecture of the home as the basis for their pattern or rhythm. The roof, windows, and pool all give you a good idea of what you can expect inside…..more squares:
While relying on a motif or pattern can make it easier to pull a look together, you want to be careful to not have too much of a good thing. It’s definitely possible to go overboard with repeating a design. A way to give even more power to the repeating design element is to introduce some contrast.
Use Contrast Effectively
If your motif is interlocking ovals, be sure to throw in an occasional square shape. If your botanical leaf theme is taking over, back off a bit and introduce something linear to contrast with all the organic shapes. Both the leaf patterns and the linear, square element will benefit.
This bedroom’s focal or emphasis point is clearly the bed. A rhythm is established with the repetition of squares in the 4 poster frame, the bedding and the mirror above. The teal trim around the ceiling and baseboard also emphasize the linear aspect of the room. For contrast the designer introduced just a few curves: ottoman legs and the zebra print, the round lamps and the curve of the arm chair. (By the way, did you also notice the symmetry of the furniture placement – remember last week’s principle of design? Balance.)
At first glance you may not see the repetition in this room. However, it’s there…..start with the strong circles in the rug. Where else do you see the organic, curvy shape of a circle? Certainly in the headboard treatment, in the bedding, in the round stool under the side table, the stacked rounds of the lamps, etc. For contrast the very square tables, artwork, stripes at bedskirt and window. The variety of scale of the various circular elements keeps the patterns from fighting with each other.
An obvious repetition is the grouping of round mirrors on the wall. The subtle continuity of shape is the grouping of round tables serving as a coffee table.
Your Path to Design Success
You now have information, definitions and illustrative photos for some of the 3 of the design priniciples. Last week was all about Balance but I touched on Emphasis (focal point) and Harmony. This week you added the tool of Repetition/Rhythm to your toobox. Next week I’ll tackle the toughest one: Scale & Proportion. Then you’ll have all the tools you need to help develop a well designed space.
If you’ve got a space you’re struggling with, Cindy and I love to help and would be glad to be that “second set of eyes” to help evaluate and solve your dilemma. Write to us at solutions@YourDecoratingHotline.com.