116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Rooms need contrast. It’s not that they can’t be monochromatic. Even within a color there can be differences in texture, pattern and shape. The greater the contrast the more striking the room is visually.
The lack of contrast was part of what put the fireplace wall at the top of my sister’s renovation list. The wall started as a plane of brick. The brown-stained mantel was wide enough to cover three fireplaces. Brown wood trim capped the sloped wall. The wall gave off a 1970s vibe even though it was built a decade later.
Two skylights bring a lightness to the room, but it was hard to see that before.
The wall now has multiple finishes and is divided into three sections. The wood-burning fireplace in the center now is surrounded by a two-tone gray stone with a hint of warmth. The television hangs above the fireplace. Flanking the center are dark brown base cabinets. White shiplap above the cabinets extends to the ceiling. Thick wood shelves hang asymmetrically.
The farmhouse style now makes the wall look contemporary. The wall’s new contrast in materials and color is what stood out to me. The sections are well defined and highlight the materials. The wall invites people to look rather than blending into the background.
What are some ways to bring contrast to room?
Take a look at adjoining and parallel surfaces, such as a countertop and cabinets and a kitchen table and the floor below. If one surface is dark, then a lighter finish on the other will create contrast.
Consider the shapes in a room. If all the furniture is rectangular, try introducing round elements such as a mirror or ottoman.
Finishes are another way to add contrast. Mix matte and shiny surfaces. Introduce manufactured materials to organic ones.
Most of the time contrast is for style purposes, but it can be a safety issue. Falls can happen when different levels of flooring look the same. Contrast can help as people age and eyesight diminishes.
Whatever our age, we all want to see our homes clearly and in a favorable light.
Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org