When you enter a well-layered room, you feel it. It welcomes you graciously and fills your senses with texture and color and vitality. It accommodates all kinds of activities and all kinds of moods. It can be cheerful, cozy or intimate. It speaks volumes, quietly.
(T. F. Simon, "Vilma Reading a Book", 1912)
If you ask me, I'd say there are four qualities to a well-layered room:
There is always a pleasant chair waiting, a place to set your drink, an interesting book to leaf through, and a vista to settle your eyes on (whether it's a postcard leaning against a mantel or an open window onto Rue Jacob makes no difference). Furniture is arranged with meaning so that even as a first-time visitor, you feel immediately at ease.
A well-layered room reflects the kind of life lived within its walls. It offers an intimate glimpse into the lifeblood of its owners and makes you realize, "Aha, now I see who they are." It's like a journal entry into their soul.
A well-layered room contains no concealment or pretense. If a piece of much-loved furniture is slightly shabby, it doesn't hide in a dark corner -- it's valued for its faithful years of service. Books and paintings and objets are collected piecemeal over time instead of during one-stop shopping trips. Nothing is overly precious. Curiosity is welcome.
Timidity does not belong in a well-layered room. (Timid rooms are only one layer deep and usually colored beige.) A fearless room embraces the juxtaposition of different sources and patterns and histories. Just like a great cocktail party, it's filled with an assortment of interesting characters taking part in the same conversation.
The Bohemian painter Tavik Frantisek Simon comprehended all of this.
("Interior of My House in Paris", 1909)
So does Peter Dunham.
(Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna)
Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) had an innate understanding.
As does designer Michael S. Smith.
Matisse got it.
("Interior with Phonograph", 1924)
Tim Clarke does too.
(via Hollywood Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks)
And Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947).
Nicholas Haslam grasps it on a cellular level.
Do you have a well-layered room?