Panel Discussion: Comfort, Simplicity and Personal Style in Home Decor

Saturday of The Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market was all about learning. A lively panel discussion featuring Phoebe Howard, decorator and owner of Ms. Howard and Max & Compay; Jennifer Boles, founder and product of panelpopular blog ThePeakofChic.com; and Stan Dixon, award-winning architect and owner of D. Stanley Dixon Architects; and moderated by Clinton Smith, editorial director of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine focused on comfort, simplicy and personal style.

Topics ranged from how to create a beautiful bed that’s also comfortable using layering, quality sheets and a plethora of pillows to how different people react to color in their spaces. When it comes to color, it’s completely personal; some people are “neutrals” while others demand bright hues. It’s rare to find a client who reacts positively to both sides of the spectrum. In design, it usually makes most sense to more lasting projects to use color in transient pieces such as pillows, upholstery, linens or even rugs than in fixtures such as countertops.

Multifunctional rooms are imperative. There are no wasted rooms anymore; people want liveable spaces that make the most of an often smaller footprint. Creating outdoor living areas that as livable as those inside is complementary design focus. Adding curtains to create a sense of enclosure, deep seating and beautiful lighting for functionality and art for aesthetics makes the outoors interchangeable with indoor spaces.

When it comes to simplicity, clean doesn’t have to be stark. It’s a matter of editing to ensure there aren’t too many competing elements. Use fewer layers of materials. For example instead of a granite countertop and tile backsplash, use marble or synthetic surface for both. Lighter woods such as bleached pine walnut and oak create interest without density, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

In all design, personal style should be paramount. In some cases, people opt for a do-it-yourself option for cosmetic, quick fixes – even more popular as people opt to stay in their homes and renovate instead of selling and moving. Bathrooms and powder rooms are two areas where it’s popular to use paint and fabric to quickly and inexpensively transform a space.

As design continually cycles, “trends” are more fluid than ever. Looks from the 1980s are showing up as masculine elements with an edgier feel. But feminine shows up too in smaller scales and mixing furniture styles. With so much information readily available, it’s more important than ever to create rooms that work for individuals instead of trying to duplicate the “latest” style. Pick and choose elements that fit the client and the project is more likely to last.

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