Do you ever wonder why we love to see Before and After pictures so much? I mean, we just cannot seem to get enough! We love makeovers. My fascination with transformations began when Marcia Brady took the "plain Jane" girl under her wing and gave her a makeover because she felt sorry for her. Unfortunately the cool, new look went to the girl's head and she turned into an egomaniac and a nightmare for Marcia. Nevertheless, I was hooked on makeovers. "Fixer Upper" on HGTV is my favorite tv show and I confess that I am capable of watching the same episodes over and over again like my kids used to watch that sappy Miley Cyrus (before she went over to the dark side) movie set in the south. I have blocked its name from my memory because it drove me crazy after about the 20th viewing. It's not just tv shows. My favorite edition of Architectural Digest is the Before and After issue. The uglier the before, the better. Have you ever visited a friend's house to see their completed renovation project? What do they say when you coo "how beautiful!"? It's ALWAYS, "you should have seen it before- it was (hideous, so awful, so dark ..fill in the blank)". Why are before and afters so fascinating universally? I think generally, we have trouble really appreciating the beautiful without a frame of reference. Not everyone, of course. Some people are wired to respond to beauty around them like a tuning fork- they actually vibrate inside when looking at something beautiful. But for the most part, the contrast between the ugly before and the beautiful after is what thrills us. Contrast helps us to really "see" something. We actually need contrast. That is not to say that we need ugly in our homes in order to appreciate beauty but we do need contrast whether from color, texture, style, or form to capture our interest.
One of the easiest ways to create contrast is by using high contrast colors, like Black and White. I like the drama of white furniture against dark walls.
Similarly, very dark floors with pale walls and white trim are fantastic together because they are high contrast. The contrast creates a tension that grabs our attention.
Another way to create contrast in a room to make it interesting is by using different textures: rough and smooth; hard and soft; or shiny and matte. You can really emphasize the contrast in texture in the room by keeping the colors low contrast. This rough wall is even more appealing because of the smooth walls in the same room.
This bathroom is stunning! The contrast between the materials used here make color completely irrelevant.
Here is an example of a way to add contrast with a wallpaper that has shiny/matte contrast built in:
Another way to use contrast in your rooms is to juxtapose something formal with something informal. Or something refined with something rustic. The rustic elements in this room, the wood and iron coffee table, the antique carriage house brick flooring, and the rattan wing chair look even more interesting juxtaposed against the tailored sofa, antique framed botanicals and the luxurious wool carpet and cashmere throw.
I wonder if this is why opposites attract? That's a discussion for another day.