alan. Home. August 11th , 2017.
We are so bombarded with visual messages and stimuli in our daily lives that when it comes to creating an enjoyable home I believe it is important to err towards calm and reposeful interiors. The floor has a major part to play in this. You may have good reason to want a powerful, busy effect, but in this event I would suggest that it be confined to one or two locations. Since your floor forms the visual background to your decoration and furniture, try to keep it simple.
Qualities of calm and repose are mainly a function of eye movement. Our eyes can only focus on a small area at a time, and if called upon to take in more than this, they will continually be pulled in different directions. This is why fussiness of line and pattern or visual clutter create a sense of restlessness. The universal appeal of Japanese or American Shaker houses with their plain tatami mats or timber board floors, of simple modern interiors or plain white Mediterranean architecture with tiled floors is proof of how the absence of strong visual accents in the floor contributes to peaceful and timelessly satisfying rooms.
Strong contrasts, whether of colour, line or shape, are disruptive and keep our brains in a state of constant visual activity. Compare, for example, the effect on the eye of a crazy-paving floor with that of simple, equal squares. Irregularity and fussy contrast produce what can best be described as 'visual noise', while symmetry and balance play a major part in those classical designs which are universally appreciated for their harmony.
Yet although repetition of simple components can create calm, it can also become tedious, especially over larger areas. To introduce diversity to a regular pattern, you can buy hand-made carpets or tiles which have subtle differences in colour, texture or motif. In a stone or tiled floor, small cabochons or key squares will produce a similar effect of variety within a tranquil framework.
To maintain a sense of repose when using patterns and motifs, you should decide from the outset where the weight of visual accent is to fall, on a foreground motif or on a background. When the two are equal, attention flickers continuously from one to the other, causing unease and restlessness. It is also important to consider where and how to make joints in materials. Unless you want the joint to attract the eye or to be seen as part of a pattern, it should be as discreet and as tight as possible, particularly in materials such as slate, stone, tiles or timber. It is a very common fault today, arising from the decline in craftsmanship that joints tend to be overlarge. Look at the simplest Victorian ceramic floor and you will see how tightly the pieces butt together.
Simplicity is a powerful design statement in itself and conveys confidence, assuredness and certainty. Plain good-quality materials, well but simply laid, can give lasting satisfaction.
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