Monday, May 20, 2013

The Well-Layered Room, Redux

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on March 29th, 2010.

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:

1. Comfort
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.

2. Passion
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.

3. Honesty
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.

4. Fearlessness
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.
("Interior", 1920)
As does designer Michael S. Smith.

Matisse got it.
("Interior with Phonograph", 1924)

Tim Clarke does too.
(via Hollywood Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks. Her blog is HERE)

And Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947).
("Work Table", 1926)

Nicky Haslam grasps it on a cellular level.
(Photographer unknown. Nicky's blog HERE)

Do you have a well-layered room?


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Beautiful post and that is a perfect recipe for a room!

pve design said...

I love your vision and how you educate us all to layer.
Part of me craves layers but part of me also wants to shed layers and live as simply as possible so I fight the beast.
The older and wiser I get, I want to live with less.

Kathryn said...

Such a lovely post! Thank you for reposting since I wasn't following you when this first ran. Amen to all the layers!

Karena said...

Lisa all of your points are exactly what a well collected and layered home should be!
Thank you for the beautiful art!

Come with me on my adventure in France.
life, possibilities, grace
a beautiful dream...

Art by Karena

Unknown said...

no i don't! Can you come over to my apartment and help me? :))))

Lisa Thomson said...
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Lisa Thomson said...

I have layered rooms in my apartment. Or maybe I'm flattering myself and it's simply clutter. I love your examples of rooms in art to bring the message home. Thanks for this beautiful post.

materfamilias said...

I love this post! It makes me feel much better about my own livingroom and kitchen, both of which are definitely layered rooms -- and I hope that they're well-layered. I sometimes admire more sleek, minimalist, edited rooms, but the rooms I feel instantly at home in, here and in other houses, are those with layers of life, intriguing and comforting at once. Thank you!

JudyMac said...

I loved this post. Used the T.F. Simon artwork of Wilma Reading a Book as my screensaver for a very long time. Of course anything to do with books is fab with me--layers and layers, and stacks and stacks. :-)

bfish said...

I like to think I do -- it does meet the definition of being collected over a long time and tweaked regularly. At least it feels very comfortable and comforting to me to spend time in there. I do think that books and treasured objects are an absolute necessity and, for the room we hang out in for TV/reading/chatting, having a nice working fireplace is essential to getting through the winter.

thecatbirdseat said...

oh my goodness, thanks you sooo much for this post with your thoughtful words and beautiful artwork. this is exactly the kind of house we have in dallas, where practically everyone else has new and flashy design and furniture. i love my old house but was beginning to feel like such an oddity in my taste and this post gives me the pat on the back that i needed. i'm so thankful i found you!

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Ah, I've been away for 3 months. From cyberspace; but returned and THE first stop. ABL! AND, the layered life/home speaks to my innards. Perfect post. Thank you, Lisa!

Sandra Sallin said...

Just a feast for the eyes and soul. Love the visuals. Can't wait for your book. More eye candy.


Anonymous said...

Yes I do. I always say, this time I'm going to have a grown up house- just the basics, all in excellent taste. But alas, my house is layered once, twice, three times deep, first with the practical -the sofa- sage green chenille, the chair- burgundy damask, the one my father sat in as he proposed to my mother, and the table, the one my husband built. Then the second layer, my stuff: my art. My collections.. And lastly, with family and friends: the feather angel given to me by my best friend, the wood basket a gift from my husband, my mothers vase- and the layers go on.

Linda Leyble said...

Hi - just found your blog via Kathy Kuo's blog and now I am hooked! I loved this pst because I love to layer ad with these photos and paintings for inspiration - I will layer even more!!!

Thanks for your beautiful artwork and style!!



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