I often think about what style elements define one’s look. It would take me quite a few paragraphs (if not pages) to explain how I see my design perspective, detailing the varied modes I draw influence from and how they work together for me. Much easier, however, is to share with you the key visual elements I return to over and over again. In many ways, these 6 components when used together, are the closest thing to defining my look. Almost every room I design incorporates all or most of these ingredients, and in fact, almost every item in each room can be traced back to one of these aspects. Here are the 6 defining style elements I use in every room.
1. Gilding – Probably the single most defining style element is the use of gilding in the majority of my rooms. This most often takes the form of a vintage mirror but can also be seen in picture frames, hardware and other accessories. I’ve been known to roam around the house with gold paint and if it isn’t moving, it has a chance of becoming gilded.
2. White linen – I love contrasts and balance, and so each of my favorite rooms includes pure white to offset the darks and colors and soft linen to balance the harder pieces in a room.
3. Floral – Whether it’s fresh flowers, printed fabrics or delicate floral china, the beauty of floral is present in all of my rooms. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it dominates a room, but always it sneaks in no matter how masculine the space.
4. Crystal – I confess, I have a thing for a bit a bling. It’s often a chandelier, or maybe a pair of sconces, or sometimes just a lovely set of crystal glasses set out on a pretty tray, but when a room is missing crystal it’s like leaving the house without my wedding rings.
5. Patina – The underpinning for all these feminine touches that grounds every room I approach is the gorgeous patina of aged wood or chippy painted surfaces. The contrast of dark wood to white linen is oh-so-gorgeous, as is the mix of elegant gilding and crystal set against a backdrop of rustic aged pieces.
6. Vintage Silver – Similar to my love of gilding is an appreciation for vintage silver. I enjoy mixing the metals together so it’s not an either / or proposition. Where gilding is often found on wood surfaces with finishes chipped or flaked, on silver I love the highs and lows of lustrous sheen against tarnished recesses. I utilize lots of small vintage silver accessories to pepper my rooms like jewelry.
The very same approach of these 6 elements can be seen in my table settings, as well. These are simply the elements that round out a look for me and when one is missing I notice it. Am I the only one who thinks like this or do you have your go-to style elements, as well? I’d love to hear, in the comments below, the items your rooms cannot do without.
Style Elements Source List – Click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. Since many of these items are vintage, you can find links to the exact places I shop for them, as well as new items in the same spirit in some cases. (This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
- New Gilded Mirror or Vintage Options
- Gilded Decorative Box
- Gilded Drapery Rods
- Embroidered White Linens
- White Linen Drapery Panels
- Floral Bedding
- Aubusson Rug
- Vintage Floral Teacups
- New Crystal Sconces or Vintage Options
- Crystal Basket Chandelier
- Crystal Ink Well
- Cut Crystal Glassware
- French Bar Server
- French Louis Chair
- Chippy Stool
- Garden Statue
- New Silver Tea Set or Vintage Options
- Silver Candlesticks
- Silver Dressing Table Accessories
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