Layered Spaces

As an interior designer, I tell people that a well-designed space should have many layers, and it’s the layers that really make a space feel dynamic, aesthetically pleasing and complete. But as a busy business owner, wife and homeowner, it’s the layers that I just haven’t found the time (or the right items) to add to my own spaces. Shame on me! However, this past weekend I was out and about, and since I always have my eyes open for any great design finds to add to our home (or for client projects, of course), I happened to stumble across a beautiful fabric that, as soon as I saw it, I knew would be perfect for a certain DIY project for our home and I just had to have it!

But, before I tell you any more about that, I thought I should clarify what I mean when I say ‘layers’ when referring to designing spaces. This post is for those of you with spaces that you’re pretty happy with, yet still feel there is just something missing – it’s probably in the layers!

Just like any art form, the design of an interior space involves layering.

With oil painting, the first layer might be the ground (surface coating), then the underdrawing/sketch, then the underpainting, then the overpainting, and finally a glaze/varnish to complete the work of art.

In sculpture, the first layer might be an armature, then an overlay of clay, then adding specific textures, and ultimately finishing it with a glaze or a coating.

And, even in music there are layers, starting perhaps with the drum beat, adding in the guitar and other instruments, then layering in the vocals, and maybe even finishing it off with some effects.

Okay, so I’m probably going overboard with the examples of layering - I think you get it! But in interior spaces, it works the same way. Check out my visual explanation below on how I layer a space (I apologize for not including color in these quick sketches - because color does play a huge part in the layering process – but I think you’ll still get the idea!)

Most often the first layer is the 6 planes that create a space – in most cases that’s 4 walls, a ceiling and a floor. So this layer would include the flooring material, the wall color/texture, the ceiling color/material, etc.

Sketch of walls, ceiling and floor.

The next layer often involves adding textiles and surfaces that soften that 6 sided box - things like rugs and window treatments. In these two layers you are setting the stage (or the backdrop) for the space.

Sketch showing walls, ceiling, floor with window treatments and rug.

Now, the next layer usually includes the large furnishings of the room. This might be a sofa, coffee table, desk, etc.

Sketch showing room with sofa and coffee table.

Many times people stop here, with this layer, and that can be why those spaces are leaving something to be desired. But these next two layers are where the space comes alive!

The next layer should include decorative items such as lighting, artwork and design accents like toss pillows, occasional tables, etc.

Sketch of a room with sofa, coffee table, lighting and artwork.

And lastly, all spaces need a little bit of life and personality, and this comes by way of additional décor and accessories.

Sketch of a fully layered room with furnishings, decor and accessories.

So, there you have it! Each new layer builds upon the last and each layer should bring in, and balance, different colors, textures, patterns, etc. resulting in a dynamic, aesthetically pleasing and finished looking space! Hopefully you will find this helpful when pulling together your space.

For now, I’ve run outta time, so check back soon and I’ll be sure to let you in on my great design find (that I mentioned at the beginning of the post) and find out what DIY project we created to add a little layering to one of our rooms! Stay tuned…