In our recent blog posts, Shell and Foundation Pieces, we shared how we begin the design process starting with an overall concept and then add the first layer. Today we’re going to talk about one of our favorite parts of design, the second layer … this is where we add “soul” to a space.

After we enhance the shell with interior architecture, paint and wall coverings, we choose the large, main furniture pieces for each room. We call these foundation pieces or the “First Layer”. These pieces dictate the style and layout of the room and establish the overall conceptual vision we have for the space.

The next phase of our design process is called “Second Layer.” This phase includes accent furniture pieces like ottomans, side chairs, and side tables along with all of the accessory items like lamps, pillows, and throws. This layer is a critical part of achieving the overall design of a space and we select each piece with intention and purpose … adding “soul” to the space. We select textiles and accessories with high contrast: soft and soothing textures and woods for warmth; metal, glass, and stone to ground the space, adding interest and drama.

In the space above, our client had already selected the peacock blue sofa she wanted us to incorporate into the room. Instead of shying away from the bold color, we allowed it to carry the weight of the room. It could’ve been a challenge, but we loved it as a starting point for our overall concept. Knowing the sofa would have a strong presence, we layered the remainder of the room with neutrals and textures to balance and soften the overall look. We included accents of deep gray and black to bring in contrast, which helps the eye to move through the room, and adds some edge for a fresh, current look.

We intentionally left the mantle bare. We love the architecture and detail of the cast fireplace surround, it is beautiful enough to stand on its own. Instead, we focused on the wall next to the fireplace and incorporated a modern, high contrast painting to bring balance to the wall. Without the artwork, or if the mantle was covered with accessories, the fireplace would feel too heavy. The room would feel off. This is why we love the second layer so much. It is always a process of checks and balances, symmetry and asymmetry, light and dark, and thoughtful editing.


Kristen Thomas