Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Value of Values

Over the past couple of years I’ve been learning a good bit about upholstery and home dec sewing. (And I still have MUCH to learn.) Through this work I’ve been privileged to see some absolutely gorgeous homes. I think it’s great fun to observe the impact of textiles on a house. Fabric accents—from curtains to pillows to art pieces and more—have the power to calm, brighten, enthuse, and harmonize, to name only a few effects. The opposites of all those positives are out there, too, and, of course both positives and negatives are extremely subjective. 

I imagine that most of the population (and I know EVERYBODY-ha, ha) pays little attention to the “fabric of our lives”, but for those of us who do, isn’t it a pleasure to walk into a room, enter a store, or peruse a decorating magazine and analyze its effect on us? Do you look for fabric touches and try to determine if they’ve been included intentionally or simply because, let’s say, a sofa was needed and someone liked the color red?

All that to say, if you’re dissatisfied with one of your own rooms and hoping to improve it with textiles, there are some general design principles that may help as you make decisions. There are plenty of brilliant, gifted, generous designers who share their knowledge through a variety of media, so I won’t attempt to list all the possible considerations for changing or adding to your d├ęcor, but I do want to remind you of one that is true for quilting, home dec, and the visual arts. It’s VALUE. Unfortunately, that’s an overused word that can mean several things, but in relation to design it means how light or dark something is. For a room, a quilt, a painting, etc., to produce the effect you want—visually, as well as emotionally—it’s critical that there be some difference in value included, be it a subtle or a bold one.  An extreme illustration of a lack of value difference would be a room in which every single element is white. Take that example further and imagine that every piece of furniture is made of wood that’s been painted white. Pretty boring, huh? Now imagine adding cappuccino-colored cushions to the sofa and chairs, and then a few throw pillows in medium to dark shades of brown (or red or green or blue. . .).

I’m probably not telling you anything you haven’t heard, but if you’re new to quilting or home dec sewing, you may be intimidated by the amazing amount of choices that are out there. Before I go any further, though, let me say that if you really like a combination and you’re the one who’s going to be living with it, FORGET THE RULES! But it may be that observing the “value rule” will make you even happier with your choices.

One of my first upholstery projects was a sweet little wingback chair for an artist friend of mine. Look at the photo and think about what makes the chair and the room work. It may not be your style, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate the beauty of her choices both in color and value. Send a photo of one of your favorite rooms to kara@greenchairstudios.biz, and I’ll share it here in the blog.

One last fun thing: www.polyvore.com is a website that was originally geared toward wearable fashions, but now has some fun interior design pages. You can use Polyvore to create a layout of a group of individual items you like. It’s fairly simple to use, so if you’re in the mood to play interior decorator or fashion consultant, it’s the place to go.