Monday, February 6, 2012

Creating Atmosphere


tranquil and charming bathroom
Creating Atmosphere

You've probably felt it before, at a restaurant or a friend’s home. You walked in and instantly felt something special – a sense of peace, warmth or perhaps even excitement. You couldn't quite figure out what it was that left such a long lasting impression on you, but knew it was there, and it felt "just right".

A beautiful and inspiring room is not just about making it look pretty with well coordinated colors, fabrics, furniture and accessories.  It’s about creating a certain “mood” or “atmosphere” and it’s easier said than done, I know. J

 “Atmosphere”: “a mood, vibe, or emotion that is conveyed by the setting”.

It takes inspiration, focus and self expression to create that special positive "vibe", but it can be achieved. Here are a few tips:

·        You can identify and follow a certain decorating style that you absolutely LOVE (coastal, French country, ethnic, japanese). Every style has a typical feel to it, and a clear sense of “personality”, which is why people choose to decorate in a certain style. For example coastal is relaxing, informal and airy (colors-whites, blues and greens). French country is romantic, nostalgic, feminine and relaxing (colors-soft whites, yellows, blues and greens, curvy lines). Ethnic is warm and rich (earthy and jewel-like colors).

cozy neutrals, coastal

·         Alternatively, identify a feeling or sensation you want to feel in that room (fresh & airy, cozy, elegant, playful, peaceful, romantic?) and translate this feeling into tangible objects and colors. Look carefully at anything you consider adding and ask yourself one question: does it express the atmosphere you are looking to create? if not, keep it out. If you like it, put it some place else.

Happy and colorful
The next step will be translating this emotion or sensation to design tools.  It takes practice and experience to successfully master translating a feeling to d├ęcor, but here are a few tips to start with:

1.     Color – this is your primary tool. Colors have typical psychological effects. For example, Blue is relaxing and cool. Red is energizing and warm. Also, the shade of a color (how dark or light it is) and the saturation of it (how clean or dirty it is ) also define their emotional effect. For example, soft, light (pastel) shades tend to be peaceful and airy, while darker shades are warmer. Bright clean colors are energizing and playful, while muted (earthy) colors are calmer and cozier.

2.     Lighting- I cannot stress enough how important lighting is. It can make or break a design. If you’re on a budget (whose not?), lighting would be at the top of my list. 
3.     Furniture and accessories – choose carefully: whatever you are thinking of placing in that room, look at it and ask yourself if it gives you that feeling you are after. If it’s not, but you still love it, place it in another

4.     Natural light and greenery –natural light can “lift up” a room and fill it with positive energy, so try to maximize natural light exposure. The same goes to adding plants. This works with any style or mood.  A cluster of different plants or one large one is better than just one little pot.

Light and airy
5.   Window treatments - window treatments vary in style and help set up the right mood. For example, extra long, soft colored sheer curtains work beautifully with a romantic mood. Roman shades in a neutral solid color, or bamboo woven shades would both work well with a minimalistic tranquil  "zen" theme.
Romantic and feminine

Whenever you choose fabrics, furniture, lighting or paint for a specific room, ask yourself if it expresses that specific feel or mood you want to convey. If it clearly doesn't, but you still really like it, try using it for another room instead.
One last thought I wanted to share with you: 

So why is it not trivial to design a room that expresses a mood?
The following experience is illustrative. When I was younger, I used to follow the prestigious “Arthur Rubinstein” piano competition that took place in Israel and was broadcasted live on the radio. Initially, it seemed like it will be impossible to select a winner because absolutely ALL the competitors were outstanding pianists: they memorized and mastered an extremely challenging repertoire, had an amazing technique and played musically. However, there were only a few of them who made you “feel” something special when they played. They literally touched you: an unforgettable and rare experience. These were the winners.

So here's my point -  the reason why creating atmosphere in a space is not trivial, is that just like the prerequisites to enter that prestigious piano competition, it takes more than just following the basic principles of design: proper balance, proportion, harmony, rhythm and emphasis. It takes vision, inspiration and self expression.


If you'd like help with color, redesigning or decorating your own home, contact me @

 How to light up your kitchen

1 comment:

  1. Vered! Hello!! I am {pretty much} your cousin Darlene, via Meredith! I just love your post. It is wonderful, with some great, well executed points!
    I will be following along!
    How fun to see you in blog land! And design blog land, no less!
    - {darlene}