Last week's post was about the use of balance in design (read here). This week we're tackling the idea of concept. I chose to follow proportion with contrast because getting the latter correct is dependent on the former. When first starting design of a space, the interior designers at JBi start with either color, style or texture as our origin for the "look & feel." As the design begins to solidify, we start thinking about ways in which to bring interest to the space. The use of contrast is one of our favorites. Contrast comes in many different forms - contrast in colors, materials, styles, textures, etc. The trick to getting it just right is balance and proportion. If one design element is used too sparingly it won't have the desired effect in the space. If it's used to much, then it might over power the other elements in the room. Here are the principles we use when working with the different types of contrast.

Use restraint for real impact. When working in one particular style, you might only need one statement piece in the contrasting style. The design of this dining room started with the modern Italian table, chairs and contemporary chandelier. To balance the "slickness" we brought in an artistic, handcrafted piece with a global aesthetic. Perfectly in balance, the two styles fight each other for attention, but without overpowering each other. The conflict is what makes it interesting.

Dining room by JASON BALL interiors

Play with different textures to create a special moment. In this living room vignette, we created an interesting juxtaposition between the stone candle wall and refined fabric used on the chaise. This one corner on the room has its own distinct feel even compared to the rest of the room. But that was intentional.

Living room design by JASON BALL interiors

In this example, the large stone fireplace is the only "hard" surface in the room, toned down by all the furnishings, wood and soft architectural features.

Design by Jan Gleysteen Architects Inc.

High contrast colors are toned down using mid values. Obviously the highest possible contrast would be black and white, so let's use that as our example. If you're going to take on the color contrast concept, it's important to balance out the extremes with tones in the mid values. These "mid values" might be other colors or true combinations of your extremes. For instance, in the first picture, notice the use of grays, and black and white fabrics. It is these mid values that create a bridge between the extremes. In the second picture, it is the granite that bridges the gap between the white and brown cabinetry.

Photograph by Lisa Petrole Photography

Design by Jane Lockhart Interior Design

What is your favorite type of contrast? Let us know how you've brought contrast into your home.