When I was doing GCSE art I learnt a very valuable lesson. One that I still use to this day. We had been given a project to recreate a masterpiece, changing one thing about it. My very ambitious fourteen year old self chose Renoir's A Girl With A Watering Can. Working quickly I carefully sketched it out and then painted it very flat. I was totally surprised when I was sent back and told to look at it again in more detail. In my mind I had done exactly as required. Looking again, I saw the depth of the piece. The layers of details, which when they are all brought together, give the painting life. Nothing is there by accident. When I started layering these details into mine, I could see the transformation. It's this same principle I use when creating a room. The layers create depth, personality and warmth, pulling something that could potentially be mundane into something stunning.
Layering colours and textures is an essential part of what I do. I never see a room as finished without all the varying components. It’s like bringing a great outfit together. What elevates plain jeans and a shirt to something glamorous is the added belts, shoes, bag and accessories. They make the outfit uniquely you.
Layering texture is quite a skill, helping not only with giving a room depth, but in certain circumstances it can change the acoustics. Softer furnishings drink in tinny sound given off by hard surfaces. You break textures into four different categories, “hard, reflective, matt & soft”. For every hard surface, balance it with a soft one. With this Living Room by Smartstyle Interiors it was all about the delicate Jean Paul Gaultier curtains; but there are many layers of various textures with the rug (soft), floor (hard), coffee table (reflective) walls (matt) and velvet chair (soft).
a layered lounge in a Smartstyle designed home
It's also good to layer colours, to stop things from being flat and lifeless. In the same room I have used grey as my neutral. Everything then just jumps out from it, with the inky blue on the chair creating a middle ground and the show stopper coming from the orange in the accessories. They work in harmony to create an inviting space.
This lounge of Pier Tjepkema and Willem Meek, was showcased in Elle Decoration UK edition July 2012 and is a great example of layering soft textures on top of each other in various shades of blue. But you need the sharp whites in the woodwork, curtains and the rug on the hard surface of the floor to stop you from being overwhelmed by colour. Notice how the layering used on the sofa, just welcomes you to snuggle in and enjoy this elegant room.
layers of wonderful home decor in Pier Tjepkema and Willem Meek's Dutch home
Don’t be restricted by plain colours, as pattern is making a comeback in textiles. You don’t need to be restricted with just using one or two, if you keep to the colour palette, within strict parameters, you can pull together very varied patterns in harmony. I like to work along the same principles as you would to build a patchwork quilt. By using different scales of pattern, “large, medium, small and plain” you bring a balance to the overall scheme.
fantastic bold layers in this Swiss home
Without layering I feel a room is never complete. All these components don't just add a depth but is where our style and fun can be expressed all reflecting us within our homes. Like my teenage painting project, you have to add the detail to create the finished "masterpiece" .