Don’t get me wrong, I like a pretty room. In fact, given my northeastern urban locale, I often feel like I’m the one waving the “pretty” rally towel amidst my clients’ calls for cool, stark modernism. I think pretty rooms tend to get a bad rap, with people viewing them as old-fashioned, unsophisticated or, even worse, just plain old boring.
I think these pretty naysayers have a point. As much as I like pretty things (see my earlier post about Gracie wallpaper!), every room needs something a little unexpected, a little jarring, a little (dare I say) ugly to make it truly interesting. This little extra thing, be it an unexpected paint color, a piece of furniture that doesn’t quite belong,or a piece of art that’s just a little off, can transform a room from pretty nice to spectacular.
Example one: Bunny Williams’ living room at the 2009 Kips Bay Decorator Show House
Photo: Maria Quiroga
The room is classic Bunny Williams, beautifully layered and scaled, with just the right amount of color and texture. And it is certainly pretty. But it is the very unexpected red egg chair (unexpected both in terms of color and era) that makes it a truly interesting, tingle-inspiring room.
Photo: Fritz von der Schulenburg
Another beautiful Bunny Williams room with lots and lots to consider and marvel. But to me, it is the painting with its unexpected subject (some type of little gnome-like man??) and its jolt of bright green that transforms this room. Imagine the difference if this painting were replaced with a more expected landscape. The room just wouldn’t be as cool.
The moral of today’s story? Don’t be afraid to put something you love into a room. That quirky flea market find, the oversized bright pink vase, the funky pillow — go ahead and put them in your perfectly pretty room and watch what happens.