Using decorative elements to create stories in the home

I have recently returned from a conference in Las Vegas where I was stuffed, like the proverbial turkey, full of information and ideas for the coming year.

It was a refreshing change of pace, a wonderful reprieve from our bone chilling cold and simply an all around good time. I was enchanted by the pool and lounging areas of our resort and spent as much time as I could outside trying to soak in enough warm weather before returning to Canada.

The landscaping and use of sculpture and structure changed my perspective on how design elements can be used in achieving a story line and even how we can use elements to guide someone through our space so that they are seeing exactly what we want them to see.

The resort used a brilliant assortment of decorative cabanas, trees, lighting and pathways to guide you from space to space on their grounds. At first glance it seemed like just a grand pool area but as you ventured forth the brilliance of the plan became obvious.

We have all been guided around Ikea in a labyrinth of halls and sections like small mice searching for that perfect cheese grater – this was a similar feeling except the prize at the end was a hot tub or stunning grotto with lavish upholstered divans – I was in heaven.

We can use decorative elements to create stories or pockets of interest in our homes; all it takes is a little creativity and the element of surprise.

If you live in a square house with square rooms you need to work on knocking the room ‘off kilter’ visually. Look for furniture that does not incorporate straight lines and work at cutting the corners of the room. Divider panels, large plants and even drapery or tile treatments in unexpected places will focus on one part of the room, which will make it slightly off balance visually.

A round or oval area rug in a boring square room will work beautifully with almost any cylindrical light fixture – most lights are based on a complete circle of bulbs unless they are modern row lights or trac lighting.

Consider putting tile or natural stone on a wall that is not a kitchen backsplash or shower wall. If you have a room without a fireplace it is a good idea to tile a wall or partial wall to add a ‘fireplace look’ feature to the room.

This is becoming a very popular choice much like feature walls were in the 90’s. Drapery can also be used creatively to flank doorways, emphasize a beautiful piece of artwork or to create a canopy space over a bed or piece of furniture.

The unexpected and unique will bring those areas of interest to your home, even if it may be square.

Features and specialty areas have long been treated with colour but I have been inspired to create focal points using texture as well.

The most beautiful structures I encountered at our resort were the giant square cabanas which were painted pure white with chocolate brown velvet upholstery, not a big colour hit but the framework of the white cabana against the skyline was brilliant.

Try working a different shape, texture or storyline into your home and you will be amazed at the results.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Feel free to contact her at 343-7711 ext. 227, email her at or join her facebook group called ‘Ask a Designer.’