By Henry Prideaux
One of the best ways to have fun with an interior is to design a space that is visually rich. A truly immersive room can be a refuge that you really lose yourself in, and can be particularly effective with a room that connects two others.
The library in this majestic five-bedroom residence overlooking Central Park in New York is my kind of project. The space is located between a living room and dining room and is a great example of how to combine traditional and modern pieces with a rich colour palette and opulent fabrics to create a consuming yet balanced space. The property is listed at $27mn.
Here, I share a handful of useful tips and tricks to create a visually rich interior design scheme.
Take the plunge
Choose a bold shade to decorate the walls, ceiling and floor. Then use the same colour for soft furnishings, window treatments, and any embellishments — it will result in a room that feels cocooning, a little indulgent and deliciously complete.
Another way to achieve this immersive, visually rich approach is to decorate all the walls with hand-painted chinoiserie (rather than creating one feature wall as in the dining room of this apartment). If you want to do something special, the custom-made wall coverings at Fromental are spectacular. For a country house, we recently chose a Florent design from its Imprimé range, which is initiated as a hand-painting then rendered in print exactly to the customer’s requirements.
Sourcing interesting antiques or traditional-style furniture for a modern setting such as this library can be a challenge. Look for classic pieces that are of the right scale and proportion to work within the space. This will complement the interior while introducing an authenticity through the object’s provenance. We like to select from the collections at I & JL Brown, which produces some lovely pieces with a nod to the traditional, and for genuine antique lighting, we always call upon Christopher Butterworth (pictured, below).
Size matters underfoot
It may sound counter intuitive to go extra-large when choosing a rug but selecting a generous option that almost covers the entire floor can provide a proportionate base for furniture and tie a visually rich interior together. A rug that is too small can feel mean and risks looking lost. For inspiration, check out the collections at The Rug Company and Jennifer Manners (pictured, below) — both of which offer classic and contemporary style rugs that can often be made in custom sizes and colours.
Try seating before you buy
A truly visually rich interior is one that feels, as well as looks, enveloping. Take the time to try various options before you commit to buying big ticket seats such as a sofa, an armchair or a set of dining chairs. While it can be tempting to be influenced by aesthetics, it is far more important to be comfortable — especially in a library. Brands such as Soane (pictured, below) and George Smith lend themselves to immersive interiors and are well worth a look for comfy occasional pieces that are beautiful and will stand the test of time.
Consider the view
Even when creating visually rich design schemes, it’s important to direct people’s attention. I like to create a range of vignettes within a room or to draw the eye for someone looking from one room to another. This can be achieved by the careful placement of paintings, sculpture, antique pieces or a vase of fresh cut flowers on a pedestal. This Calacatta Viola marble plinth, for example, can create impact throughout an interior.
Photography: Brown Harris Stevens; Fromental Ltd; Soane Britain