Have you ever walked into a room that has beautiful architectural features, a nice upholstered sofa, lovely chairs and a good rug and yet felt that there was something missing? The most successful rooms are layered. It's the layers that make them interesting and feel personal. The numbers of layers can vary- just a few for the minimalist and many more for the traditionalist but every room needs some. What do I mean by layers, you ask. When I approach a room, I first decide on the flooring- wood or tile? Next, the wall treatment- paint (matte or high gloss?) paper, shiplap or raised panels? Then I consider the ceilings: plain, coffered, beamed, or beadboard? White or a color? Then I add the lighting- recessed, chandelier, sconces? After the frame is in place, now a carpet or rug is chosen. Next comes the upholstered pieces, then the low wood furniture and then armoires, etageres etc... At this point, the windows are considered- will there be stationary panels, plantation shutters, roman shades? Or will the windows be left bare? Now you add accessories. A well layered room starts wit structure first and accessories last.
There are no hard and fast rules to layering so you have to use your eyes and instincts. This can be hard for someone who doesn't have "an eye" for design or who hasn't studied successful rooms to see how they are put together. In that case, you can hire a decorator to come in and do it for you! I like to do this for my clients using any items that are special to them and then filling in whatever is missing with new things that I find. There are entire books dedicated to table-scapes, mantle-scapes, bookshelf-scapes, coffee table-scapes and any other surface you can think of scapes! Here are some photos of what I consider to be beautifully layered rooms by Tim Clarke from his book, Coastal Modern:
Barbara Barry also creates elegantly layered rooms with sophistication:
Well layered rooms have things of different materials and textures, varying heights, some natural elements and always something personal. Try different things and don't be afraid to move things around until you get a composition that is pleasing to you.