What Sunsets and Fireworks Teach Us About Good Design

Quick questions: Were you at a fireworks display in the last few days? Does your family has a holiday tradition of driving around to look at holiday light displays? And how many pictures of sunsets do you have in your camera phone right now?  And yes, ok to round to the nearest hundred 🙂  

No matter if you’re getting ready to sell and need killer listing photos….or you want to snazz up a room in your  current space- sunsets and fireworks make two important points:

First, we cannot “not” see color or light. Same principle when you walk across a room when a TV is on…doesn’t matter what’s on, you know you’ll look.

Second, we are smitten with displays of color and light!  Often we go to great lengths, dealing with bugs, iffy weather, crowds and traffic jams for that few minutes of  ‘ahhhh’.

Good design plays to these reflexes, using color and light to highlight what you want to stand out and be seen, to balance a space, and to draw people in.

  • Color on a wall defines a space, highlights architectural detail, and-counter-intuitively-it can make a small room feel bigger by helping furniture recede into the wall.
  • Task, or accent lighting in the corners of a room draw your eyes there. It visually expands the space, key for listing photos. And this is is why I hatehatehate lighted ceiling fans in a room: they skew and dominate the space while creating hot spots and big shadows.

Now “color” does not mean explosion-in-a-crayola-factory color; and “light” does not mean a room looks like Time Square, or a lighting store.

Color is synergistic, perceived by what it’s shown with. Fireworks are more dramatic against the nighttime sky, right?  Gentler colors will still pop, will read as brighter/smokier/snappier/etc with contrast-painted trim, drapery panels, bedding, art, etc. 

Mix up the lighting in a room: think of a lamp on the far end of a dresser; a can light on the floor, pointed up, shooting through a sculptural plant, or installing strip lighting underneath top cabinets in a kitchen or shelves in a bookcase.

Good design is largely instinctual, most people will choose well when pointed in the right direction….and that’s what I do. Consults to completion, The Refreshed Home is the most user-friendly design consultancy in the lower Hudson Valley. How can I help you make the most of your space?

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