Slumberland Furniture's The ReArranger: Contrast is Key in Interior Design

Welcome to The ReArranger!!! Slumberland Furniture's Award Winning Web Series! ** Season 3, Episode 5

Let’s take a look at this room and breakdown why this all works together. I want to focus on one thing today, and that’s the element of contrast. Contrast isn’t just dark and light. There are so many layers and it’s one of my favorite elements of design.

Selective contrast when decorating a space can make or break the room's aesthetic composition. Look at the examples presented in the video. The use of blues and blacks to contrast with the more neutral-colored furniture was a deliberate choice made in order to beautify the space. For example, the soft blues in the pillows on the otherwise pearly sofa add a dash of color and contrasts nicely with the existing surface.

Identifying Color Contrast

One of the most critical elements of the use of contrast in decorating is the ability to identify which color to use to contrast. When dealing with a surface that is primarily neutral colored, then bold primary colors make sense to select as contrast, but what if the main colors implemented are themselves primary colors, then what do you contrast with? Selecting colors to provide contrast is all about tonality. Tonality is whether the tone of a color is warm or cold, and it is a critical element in deciding which colors to contrast with. Contrast primary colors with other primary colors that are of the opposite tonality. For example, if you have a red you want to initiate contrast with, then picking a dark blue to contrast from it is an excellent idea! Dark blue is a cool color, so it will pair and contrast nicely with the warmth of a red. Furthermore, you can also select black to contrast with any neutral color, as in the video with the charcoal end tables.

When is it Too Much Contrast?

The next thing you may be asking yourself is, what if there is too much contrast in a space? Too much contrast will inevitably result in a diminished aesthetic for a room. However, this can be avoided by using the rule of thirds. Simply put, only a third of any given color pair should be contrasting. This means that whatever color you decide will be the central theme should compose around two-thirds of the space in the room. You'll notice that in the video, about a third of the space has light blue added to it. Now, I can hear you already, "what about the black end tables?" Well, no one said you have only to have one pair of contrasting colors, just that the individual pairs should be restricted to the rule of thirds. You can stack on as many pairs of consecutively contrasting colors as you like, within reason, without the appearance getting too cluttered. However, you should never exceed the rule of thirds for any one pair of colors.

How Can I Use Contrast to Detail a Space?

Contrast can be presented to draw attention to fine detailing in a room, as with the patterned pillows chosen in the video. In this example, the soft blue is used to contrast with the pearly color of the sofa, but above all, it highlights the pattern on the pillow through contrast. The purposeful selection of contrast to highlight the detailing of a particular furnishing article cannot be overstated. Adding a dark red patterned blanket to a beige or white colored bed will inevitably highlight whatever the pattern on the blanket is by way of contrast.

Frequently Asked Questions About Contrast

Here we will be going over some of the most commonly asked questions about contrast in decorating, the way the colors are selected, and the way contrast should not be used.

What if I Want to Use Multiple Points of Contrast for the Same Color?

Don't. That is all we have to say about this. There is no easier way to make a mess of a room's color scheme than to start intersecting different points of contrast for the same color. Stick to one of two points of contrast per color, and move on. There is no need to contrast everything with everything because, at that point, it is no longer contrast. It is just a chromatic mess.

What is the Optimal Amount of Contrast to Use?

There is no optimal amount of contrast to manifest universally beyond the rule of thirds. We recommend following the rule of thirds concerning contrast strictly, as it is a better guideline than most people can gauge on their own. If you insist on gauging for yourself what too much contrast is, keep in mind that your eyes can become acclimated to colors the longer you look at them, so be certain to take a break from the room which you are decorating and look at it with fresh eyes each time.

How Do I Contrast Black Furniture?

Black furniture is a difficult thing to use contrast with because there is not much that contrasts with it. Generally speaking, contrasting with black is a question of tonality again. You want brighter (generally meaning warmer) colors to contrast with black. You can also just contrast black with a simple opposite: white. However, if you want to add more color than white would allow, then select a color palette based on bright and warm tonalities in order to contrast with the black effectively.

How Do I Contrast White Furniture?

Treat white furniture like neutral-colored furniture for contrast purposes. This means that you can contrast it with just about any bold color, particularly primary colors. The only colors you really can't contrast white furniture with are tans, taupes, and greys. Otherwise, you are free to choose any sort of color to provide contrast with your white furniture.

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