How to separate the "trees from the forest" in interior decorating

It seems to me that our biggest challenge in solving design and decorating dilemmas is knowing how to separate ''the trees from the forest''. In our business there are so many ''experts'' with so many opinions and products to offer, that all too often, we end up missing what should be our primary focus because the attention of the ''expert'' is subjectively directed. In other words, we treat the symptom with band aids while neglecting the real cause of our discontent.

I was called recently to assist Angie with furniture layouts but when I saw the actual interior in question I quickly realized that this was merely one simple ''tree'' in the forest. There was a much bigger picture to take in and even if the furniture was better arranged (which we did), it still wouldn't change the fact that the floor was dominating the landscape throughout two stories including stairs and railings, and because Angie found it's colour so unappealing it's presence was a constant irritant.

Budget restrictions prohibited recolouring the hardwood floor at this time, so Angie explored other "cures" for the ailment. Since she was planning on painting in any event, she thought she would start with a new colour palette but something didn't sit quite right with the antidote she had been given and she hesitated from implementing it. Thank goodness she listened to that little voice from within, because the solution would surely have exacerbated her colour discontent.

Here's what happened. In an attempt to offer a suggestion to offset the colour problem with her floors Angie was advised to paint her walls in more of the same colour palette based on the notion that by reducing the contrast between walls & floor, the floor would appear to magically "diminish". Not a bad remedy providing you're not allergic to the medicine, which in fact she was. More of the same colour was not the answer! So how did the prescription for Angie's problem go astray?

It was time for a new remedy.

Angie's preferred landscape holds a picture of warm sunshine reflecting off clear blue water on a bright summer's day. Light is important to her and words like cosy & warm have more to do with clustering furniture groupings than dark wall colours, which she prefers to be light and airy. So how did she end up with a suggested remedy that called for dark greens; terra cotta; browns and grayed tones of autumn?

It's called a subjective diagnosis without consideration of Angie's needs.

A broader view of Angie's landscape might include drawing attention to other trees in the forest – the addition of area rugs and a runner on the stairs; which tie into complimentary artwork on her much favoured neutral walls; and the addition of interesting upholstery fabrics which engage the eye away from the floor. Her colour choices should flow out of the scene she wishes to create, not restrict her to something she dislikes to begin with.

The point of this story is to remind you that the landscape of your home should be a reflection of who you are and it should be a comfort to you. There's no doubt that colour is important but getting it right takes more than a "band aid", and unless those diagnosing your case are actually focusing on your "feelings" with a broader understanding of how the trees fit into the forest, you just might be living with someone else's version of you.

Learn more about the personal nature of colour and how it affects your life:

Click on the book to uncovering your personal colour code!!