Chances are, you might associate layering with fashion, clothing and putting an outfit together. You might add a statement pair of earrings or a blazer thrown over your shoulders to add more impact to an otherwise neutral base. Without trying, you’ve nailed the layering in the fashion world, and truth be told it’s equally as important in the interiors world. At the core of the principle, layering allows for the individual pieces of a room to create a more coherent whole. Often built from the ground up, a room with layering can add a depth that is so commonly achieved by an interior designer. It might not be immediately obvious what is so appealing to the eye – it just is.
So what are we in fact “layering”? We’re talking the bones or essentials of the room like the flooring, walls (wallpaper, paint etc.) through to lighting and window coverings. Then there is the furniture, accessories and soft furnishings like textiles. It’s being aware of each component that makes up the room and considering each one like its own layer.
To create layering that is more visually appealing, use contrast to clearly differentiate each element. Think a dark wallpaper with a light-timber framed artwork, or a pairing of fabrics with an equal mix of plain colours and stand-out patterns. Contrast can also be achieved with the juxtaposition of textures and finishes. Take for example a beautiful sisal floor rug paired with a fine, linen sofa and the lustre of the nickel studded hardware. A design dream! Then bring it to the next level with a stack of books on the coffee table, sitting beside a candle and basket of overflowing greenery. Voila!
In addition to contrast, also play with height and depth, shape and size to achieve the unity that is commonly seen in professionally designed interiors. Achieve cohesion by having an underlying and unifying thread – like a colour palette or use of finishes. And the golden rule in layering – odd numbers is key. As a perfectionist from way back and one who appreciates even numbers over odd, this is the one arena that ‘odd’ dominates. Two photo frames side-by side is not nearly as appealing as then adding a larger frame stacked on some books behind. Too much symmetry will look contrived, not coherent.
Whilst we have gone a little overboard on the rules, the key is to have fun with it. A little layering goes a long way and before you know it, you’ll be adding that tray on a coffee table or textured throw on a sofa in the same way you have been doing for years with fashion!