Style vs. Point of View: Traditional meets Hacienda

My newest clients are always a treat. And they are always so anxious to have style discussions with me. What they don’t know that my older clients know and that some designers regrettably don’t address is that style discussions alone are puddle deep. Style discussions are not enough. Surely, I must also take into careful account the design fingerprint of the people I’m designing for – what their cravings and aversions are in an interior. However, something else outstandingly important must also be considered by the most savvy designer and it is this:

The Point of View of the Room. For example:  Country French is a style. But, I could do that style with an updated point of view – a traditional point of view, a whimsical point of view, blue and white point of view, etc. In interior design, the point of view then, is the specific flavor I load into an interior by guiding the clients to particular nuances. Whether we use what clients already own, re-purpose what they have and add very specific elements or start from scratch, I am always evaluating each element to be sure it has the correct point of view in order to add up to the marvelous desired effect a client is asking me to create.

David Van Scott Photography

Here’s a a great example. This is a wonderful family room that I completed last year for a favorite client. The style is certainly pretty much traditional. However, the intentional point of view taken in the design of the room – the flavor or top notes in the room – are inspired by Spanish/ Andalusian homes.

What makes the traditional style in the room? Well, note the shapes of the upholstery, for starters. These shapes could find their way into just about any traditionally done interior. The built in bookcases that flank the fireplace (built and designed entirely by my talented client!) could find their way into many different traditional spaces. Certainly, the silhouette of the window treatments and Persian style rug are also “traditional” all the way. To be sure, if I was doing a pure Spanish style, I’d have some different furniture silhouettes, I’d have plastered walls, darker wood floor, a different rug and different architectural shapes on the built in book cases, which would likely be in a wood finish. However, my clients wanted a traditional style. Not a Spanish Style. They wanted a Spanish flavor…that’s the point of view.

After – David Van Scott Photography

So, look one layer farther up the ladder. Look past the bones of the room and you’ll see why I try to discourage clients from shopping for accessories or furnishings without me too early in the process. That’s because of this insider secret:  it’s in these object of interest and accessories and the accent pieces and color palette that an interior is given its point of view. This is also why heading into the furniture store and simply buying what you see on the sales floor results in a sterile room. No point of view.

David Van Scott Photography

Here are some ways that the Spanish point of view finds its way into the room.  It is the specific combination of:

  • Lush, woven fabrics, cut velvets, plush piles abound in this room – all beautifully cut – the time-worn leather on a favorite family exposed arm chair. Perfect for our point of view.
  • No Andalusian interior would be complete without some heavily carved woods – and you’ll get a delicious dose of that on that show stopping coffee table we found at a favorite resource, all made from architectural salvage…from Tibet, thank you. But, it works for us down to the last heavy carved leg! (Actually- those legs are reclaimed pillars.)
  • Notice the deliberate use of iron and metal in the room – also a flavor direct from regions of Portugal and Spain to include:  iron candelabras, a copper drum table, a heavy metal urn lamp on the drum table, the wood carving with metal plaque hung over the sofa.
  • Note the the carefully selected Andalusian earth tone palette that draws it all together. Note too – in our earliest meetings, my client said she was trying to make the room feel warm and rich which is why you’ll see in the before photo that she selected the saffron gold wall color. However, it was a hot color that did what hot colors do – it moved the walls closer together and made the room look smaller. On the other hand, our finished joint creative endeavor pictured above shows rich warmth – but still there is a warmth in the room, but also a rich openness and breadth to the room.

The result of all of these spices and flavors sprinkled about? The point of view. Here you have a traditional family room interior that sits wrapped in the subtle fragrance and whispers of a country estate in Portugal or Spain.

Point of view. This is what separates the mediocre from the great in interior design. And no – they don’t teach this on HGTV.