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High-Contrast Decorating Techniques

Ensuring features in your home are unified brings order, but to make its style more interesting, you should introduce some contrast with these techniques.

Having solidarity between the various individual components of your home’s style is necessary to prevent it from looking like a jumbled mess. However, utilizing contrasting elements can make your living spaces more interesting when applied with measured consideration. But how can you tame disparities enough to use them fruitfully without losing what makes them captivating in the first place? With the high-contrast decorating techniques we expound upon here, you’ll be able to find out.

Juxtapose Light and Dark Colors

A good place to start is with color. Since color is such a prominent feature of furniture and other home décor pieces, it’s not too difficult to incorporate contrast with it. Black and white make a reliable pairing to fall back on if you’re not sure what colors to use. Their opposing natures can make items, or the features within items, pop. You can, for instance, set a black chair next to a white table or a black bedcover over a white bedsheet. In both instances, each piece will stand out in stark relief because of the other. Beyond this, though, you could create contrast with light and dark wood, navy and cream colors, or even a dark shade and light tint of the same hue. Just stay within an established color scheme as you decide what to include.

Blend Opposingly Textured Materials

Blending opposingly textured materials is another high-contrast decorating technique you can use. This is somewhat more subtle than contrasting color, but can still produce a highly pleasing effect. Your aim here is to position soft and hard objects and/or smooth and textured objects next to one another. By doing so, the pieces will come together to make a stimulating, cohesive whole. An easy way to do this would be to place a smooth leather or fabric sofa on a downy high-pile rug. Setting down potted plants on tables with minimal features could also introduce organic texture to their artificially made, simple surfaces. Likewise, a roughly hewn stone fireplace can work well with shiny metallic fixtures nearby.

Combine Simplicity and Complexity

Simplicity and complexity can encompass a broad range of features, but when it comes to décor, they mostly relate to patterns and other details such as images and carvings. You can create a contrast between simple, plain pieces and more elaborate ones. In fact, this is often necessary to prevent patterns from making a room look overly chaotic. An easy application of these techniques to it put patterned throw pillows on a sofa that has only one color. You might alternatively use traditionally intricate chairs with floral upholstery and curved forms to bring another dimension to an overall minimalistic and austere space. Additionally, painting or using wallpaper on a singular accent wall can pleasantly distinguish it from the others nearby. When thinking about how you combine simplicity and complexity, have the barer elements make up the majority of the space. This will ensure those bolder items you’ve included will stand out all the more, highlighted by the plainness surrounding them.


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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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