Room of the Month - April in Paris

By Sarah Van Arsdale on April 21st, 2009

At NYIAD we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for designing every room they create:

  1. A successful room is functional.
  2. A successful room expresses a mood.
  3. A successful room exhibits a sense of harmony.

This simple Three-Step Method is the secret of every interior ever designed. We teach our interior design students to consider these three steps every time they look at a room. You'll find the great home decorating ideas in our Room of the Month series as well as in the design tips on this site helpful in creating outstanding room designs.

When our students mail in their interior design project for analysis by their instructor, the instructor starts by commenting on these three Guidelines. Of course, the instructor analyzes other elements of the project too – decor, layout, furniture, style etc. But the key to good decor – and the essential element of every great interior design – is adherence to these three NYIAD Guidelines.

How do they work? How can you apply them? It's beyond the scope of this Web site to teach you every nuance, but you will get an inkling from the Room of the Month Analysis that follows.

Paris Apartment

When we think of Paris, we probably all have a slate of similar images that come to mind: the Eiffel Tower, the Seine winding through the city, I.M. Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre.

And when we think of staying in Paris, we probably all think of the teeny hotel rooms that make New York City hotel rooms seem downright capacious, with their even tinier bathrooms and the elevators into which you can barely cram a person and a suitcase.

Paris apartment

But then there are the apartments where people really live in Paris. Well, where some very lucky people live. Paris, like everywhere else in the world, has the usual range of living quarters, from the cramped to the enormous. For our Room of the Month we've chosen to look at one of the most elegant, provided to us by Paris Luxe Apartments, which rents apartments to vacationers.

We'll look at this living room using the NYIAD Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.

Let's take mood first, since it's such a dominating factor here.

"Elegant" is the best word to describe the mood of this room, although the word "gracious" also comes readily to mind. This room is also quite formal, a mood that often goes along with elegance and grace.

This mood is achieved with the classic touches: the Oriental rug, the draped silk swags at the bay window, the gold lamp bases on the sofa table. The bench in front of the bay window, with its delicately shaped legs, the mirror over the fireplace, the French doors and the floral painting all contribute to this mood as well.

The color here also speaks of elegance: the dominance of the rich salmon and the heavy cream bespeaks of grace and elegance.

Paris Luxe

The function of this living room is clearly met. It serves primarily as a gathering place for entertaining. Notice how guests seated on the sofa that faces the fireplace will be able to converse easily with guests in the two chairs. More company can be accommodated on the bench by the bay window and the window seat itself. Overflow guests from these natural seating areas could rest on the other sofa under the floral painting.

The coffee table provides a perfect spot for hors d'oeuvres and drinks.

Notice too how the lighting serves a function while adding to the elegant mood. The table lamps and standing lamps provide enough light for reading when it's just a quiet evening at home, and provide a soft, flattering light for gatherings.

Finally, let's look at the harmony. The main reason this room simply feels good — even just to look at in these photos — is because it harmonizes perfectly. This is achieved primarily through the repetition of elegance in the furnishings, from the rolled arms of the sofas to the scrolled pattern in the rug. The table lamps repeat the curved lines, as do the legs of the side table and small bench.

Paris Apartment

The glass coffee table is the one touch that's more modern, but because it's an elegant table, it doesn't disrupt the harmony but rather emphasizes it by providing a slightly different note. And the glass of the table repeats the glass of the bay windows, the mirror, and the panes of the French doors.

The color here also underscores the harmony. The predominant salmon is echoed in the rug, the floral painting, the cushions on the window seat, and the throw pillow on one of the chairs. The cream color is found in the rug, the painting, the cushions, the chairs, the lampshades and the swags.

This is one of the loveliest, most appealing rooms we've seen here at Designer Monthly. It's enough to make us long to dash off to Paris for April.