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Ask the Designer: Creating a Layered Look

Have you ever seen a room and thought, "Wow, that looks amazing (and expensive)." It's possible that there was a high price tag behind the look, but the secret could be in the layering. A layered design with different colors, textures, and patterns feels rich and interesting while also being restrained enough that you can appreciate all of the elements in the space.

I always like to start with the color palette. Pick 3-5 colors that play well together and then select a primary and secondary from the set. You should most often use the primary as one of the more subtle or neutral colors as not to overwhelm the overall design.

Look to use your primary color on the walls and in a few accent or upholstery pieces. Your secondary color should show up in a dominant item in the room, such as a sofa. The other colors should be introduced in varying amounts through accessories, decor, pillows, and rugs.

Now, for the part that scares everyone--pattern! You don't need pattern to create a layered look, but it can bring in a point of interest and personality. Stay true to who you are when choosing your patterns and be sure they match the color scheme. Ideally, you have one or two patterns that include two or more of your colors from your scheme to help unite the design. If you plan to add more than one pattern, be sure to do so on a small scale until you've gotten comfortable with the pattern-mixing skill. And it does take skill!

Finally, you'll need texture. Think of a velvet pillow, a loop-pile rug, linen curtains, and a wool throw. You can't add too many textures so long as you're sticking with your chosen colors. Do consider the feeling you want that space to emit when looking at textures. Wool and knits feel cozy while linen and jute feel light and airy. It's all about the balance.

A layered look really is the key to design success, but it takes practice to master it. Start small with some decor pieces and work your way up to a whole room makeover. Just remember, if you ever get stuck or need a trained designer's eye, I'm only a quick email away!

Some product links in my posts may provide me with a commission upon purchase. This does not affect the cost to you, but is hugely helpful to me as a small business. I appreciate your support!


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Hi there! My name is Erin and I'm the owner of Erin Davis Design, a virtual interior design firm founded in 2017. Here on my blog I serve up tips for creating a home that's functional, beautiful, and right on budget. I hope you'll cozy up on your sofa and stay awhile! 

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