Four Myths About Dark Interiors

 

Scared of the dark? Don’t be. I’ve got your 4 reasons to not be right here:

Fear of the dark is a very real thing. No I’m not talking about nighttime and monsters under the bed: I’m speaking of painting your walls a dark colour. Even the thought of doing so conjures up irrational fears in others. Dark colors get a bad wrap in interior design but they don’t have to. We are going to dispel some myths about “the dark” and shed some light on why it can enhance your home’s interior.

You’ve probably already got a few concerns swirling around in your mind:

What if:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ,..it encloses the room?                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ,.. feels too heavy?                                                                                                                                                                                           ,…soaks up all the light from windows?

 

I can dispel these myths and fears right now:

Myth Buster #1: Dark colours enclose a room:

Courtesy of DesignIndulgences.com

Dark colours don’t always enclose a room. As a matter of fact, it may even expand a room by wiping out any borders we see such as where walls meet ceilings or floors. Dark room can give focus on things such as views from a window, acting as a virtual frame for the beauty that takes us beyond a room’s borders. The key to many a dark painted interior is Gloss paint, and that brings me to the next Myth:

Pro Tip: When painting a room in a dark tone, use a satin to semi gloss paint to help reflect the light back into the room – keeping a balance to the atmosphere even though a dark tone exists.

Myth Buster #2: Dark Colours are heavy:

If you use darker tones in your interior the correct way, they will never feel heavy as much as they will feel grounded. For some of us, it will even have a cocooning effect that can calm our senses and bring us back to center. The key to keeping a dark coloured interior from being heavy is to make it glossy. Use of a gloss paint will reflect light from any source and bounce it back into the room.

 

Myth #3: Dark Colours are drab:

Have you ever tried searching for that perfect little black dress but nothing was “black” enough? Or the richness of your favorite garments have started to fade with repeated washings? You’re not alone in being disappointed when there isn’t enough colour in the things we gravitate to in our wardrobes. When it comes to dark and dramatic tones, we actually do not crave the “darkness” of a colour, we crave the intensity of it. The saturation of it. There has been study after study in the fashion world that the saturation a deep navy has been found to be more desirable than a lighter, more washed out version.

Pro Tip #2: Intensity of hue can make any dark colour exciting.

Courtesy of Homedecorideas.eu

Myth #4: Dark colours are depressing

Black, gray, navy and hunter green have all been given a bad wrap; yes, dark colors do represent depression in many ways, but it’s not the fault of the colour itself. Colour is colour; you either like a certain colour or you don’t. All white rooms have been shown to make people feel just as uncomfortable as all black rooms. So if that’s the case, why blame certain tones in the spectrum as depressing? The key to making sure that a dark room isn’t depressing is to create harmony in colour. What I mean by that is creating a colour story like the image above where hues of soft earthy paprikas and red ochres create a calm, not depressing, interior. This is an example of the cocooning effect displayed to perfection. But an opposite or complimentary colour from the walls can have a lively effect like the image below – making sure that there’s no room for solemness in this interior.

Courtesy of Freshome.com

So the lesson here is: If you want to be afraid of the dark, remember, it’s only in your mind. Dark can be, and is, lovely in many an interior designed room.

Our Obsession With Virgins

blue-small-tufted-sofa copyYes I know, the title is very subjective, enticing even, but I wanted to get your attention. I’m not really talking about “virgins” in the personal sense but rather in furnishings for the home sense.

Huh?

That’s right, I want to shed light on the psychology consumerism; mainly the tendency to want “new” furniture, i.e. “viginal” products and furnishings because somehow, we think that’s better than anything old. When consumers buy new, they are excited. Feelings of being successful, on the cutting edge, fullilling desires for a well curated home with trendy items are all reasons to buy new. Old stuff in comparison has smells, stains, outdated fabric, the list of excuses can go on and on.  I get it. It’s a great feeling to buy new and I don’t blame anyone for wanting new stuff. It’s hard for me to not be enticed by those slick well crafted ads from  big box retailers, but I know a thing or two about purchasing older items that can rival your habit of buying new, i.e. “Virginal” never-been-used items. So I thought I’d share those tips with you before you go out and spend that hard earned money on something meretricious.

Meretricious: (Adj): A word meaning something that looks good on the surface but has no intrinsic quality and/or value.

Those large companies are betting on you falling for the bait.                                                 Call me when the cheap fabric wears out in a few months,……!

 

Recycling Isn’t Just For The Eco-Minded:
Xprod7491936_E67630052_TQ                                                                .           Did you know that furniture, just like fashion, recycles looks every couple of decades? In the furniture world, it’s usually about every 30 years. All one has to do is look at any successful big box retailer selling home furnishings nationwide to see that many of the furniture designs aren’t new. If you’re over 30, you probably grew up with some of those items showcased in fancy catalogues. They just have a new coat of color on them so to speak. But what consumers don’t know is that in fashion, how garments are made is still roughly the same. In the furniture industry, practices have changed dramatically; all in the name of mass production and profit margins that need to be met. What does that mean? It means you’re paying a higher price for a chair today that looks exactly like a chair made 30 years ago when quality standards were much higher and profit margins were less. Ok, so the chair you bought new today is gray in color and the old version is brown,….ever heard of painting the chair? Maybe new upholstery? You could save yourself some hard earned dough, keep the quality furniture and still get the trendy look of the moment.

 

The Age Of “Re-Issues”vintage-charles-and-ray-eames-dining-chairs_3

Have we lost our creativity? Nope, at least not in the smaller realm of artisans and craftsmen making exceptionally well made and innovative furnishings. That industry is alive and brimming with ideas but they are overshadowed by big box businesses that have large budget campaigns and rely heavily on what is now known as the “Re-Issue” of iconic furniture design. Talk about hitting the easy button, and the consumer falls for it religiously.

eames_woodenWe can thank companies like Design Within Reach for this burgeoning trend. Now everyone has an Eames chair in their house and, well, it’s not so special anymore is it? Considering your neighbors down the street have the same darn chair. Lots of retailers are getting on board with this trend, because it’s just plain easier to sway consumers on the tried sand true even if it lacks imagination. The goal is profits for these companies, not originality. Mental Injury: you’ve probably just paid twice to three times more for that new Eames chair new than finding an original version. Insult To Injury: the construction of the new one, well, it’s sub-par……..but it’s new. Virginal. No butt’s been in it except yours and that’s all that matters right? Call me when the wood joints come loose in a couple of months,..!

nanaLook To Grandma For Value

What’s the saying? “Those who haven’t lived and survived the bruises of life are void of character and possibly real beauty.” I had a grandmother who was the quintessential funny lady. Her legendary jokes and upbeat personality had people guffawing everywhere she went. She was magnetic; you were drawn in every time. By the end of a day with grandma, your sides hurt from laughing but you didn’t care, the experience of being around her was more important than anything. What most people didn’t know was that my grandmother had deep wounds and dark secrets, that in today’s age, are nothing to be ashamed of, but back in her growing up years, she was practically exiled for her mistakes. Tragedy and pain make for some of the funniest people around. She acquired dents and dings and it was those things that made her more valuable as she grew into an adult and finally into my super hilarious grandmother. I could never think of replacing her with a “new” version of grandma,..it just wouldn’t be the same. But we do this with our furnishings constantly – not realizing that what we are throwing away has more built in quality than what we are getting new. So I’m going to challenge your way of thinking by telling you to do this:

Replace the word “new” with “new for me”

By changing your mindset on what “new” is, and opting to purchase well made quality items despite being a little older or worn around the edges you will start to understand what quality in furniture is. Don’t let a dent or ding scare you. If it’s been around for 50+ years, it’s probably made to last and not fall apart anytime soon. By opting for the “new for me” approach, you can start to realize what you’re really purchasing are things with character. Just like my grandmother had. I don’t have my grandmother as she passed away a long time ago but I wish I did. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Buy quality, buy character, but something that’s had a good life, something with a soul,…just like you!

 

 

This,….. is Upcycling?

Quick, what do you think of when you hear the word “upcycled”?

Most of us can’t think past something akin to grandma’s old mason jars that held her peach preserves but are now drinking glasses or a vase filled with flowers. Or that shabby chic dresser you did with chalk paint and sandpaper. That’s the old viewpoint; Upcycling has changed, and you’re gonna be surprised at how sophisticated it has become in the right design hands.

Upcycling, despite being a relatively new term isn’t a new concept. It’s taking consumer materials and refashioning it into newer items with a different purpose – oftentimes a better one than originally meant. A routine practice throughout the centuries, repurposing aka upcycling  items into other useful things started to decline after the second world war when the disposable society was in its infancy. By the end of the 20th century the idea of upcycling was practically lost on most consumers, excluding the recycling of simple items like glass, paper and metal. Everything else became a “throw-away” because, well, it was just easier. The modern notion that nothing is really worth long term value is evident in the 13 million tons of furnishings we throw away every year in the USA alone oftentimes replacing those items with similar or inferior quality for yet, another short term run.

 

Upcycled Crema Marble scraps turned into chic side tables. Design by Carter Averbeck for Omforme Design

Upcycled Crema Marble scraps turned into chic side tables. Design by Carter Averbeck for Omforme Design

Eco Playgrounds

Now that the new millenia has many people looking simultaneously forward towards earth friendly products and back to the practice of repurposing items; a renewed expression has spread throughout the design industry in making truly “design worthy” items from older materials. This is the era of green, of eco-friendliness, it’s the playground on which we play on at Omforme.

Our goal with upcycling is to design an item so well that you’d never guess what the previous life of the materials were. Remnants of unused marble become designer tables, garden gazing globes become pendant lights, a tired wooden window screen becomes a sculptural table without so much of a trace as to its former life.

 

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Upcycling ain’t Recycling

Changing the paradigm of how consumers think about upcycling isn’t an easy task. For one, consumers are assuming it’s the same as recycling but it is not. Recycling breaks down materials in order to make the same or lesser material from it. Upcycling is reinventing the usage of an object, bringing up the value more often than not. The chic little side tables shown above made from marble remnants with liquid silver/ gold trim perched ontop of art deco bases are a prime example of how upcycling can be more design savvy than most of us realize. Or the recycled garden globes that your granny used to have, pictured below, now reused as chic pendant lighting that truly makes an impact surpassing that of mass marketed fixtures of the same style.

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By elevating humble materials to drool worthy designer status or offering reimagined older furnishings that look every bit as good as their newer, more expensive counterparts makes the case for stunning use of upcycling as a medium that can hold it’s own against brand new goods.

Our current collaboration with Circa Gallery shows off the inventiveness bred at Omforme by pairing our upcycled furniture offerings with one of the Twin Cities best galleries for modern and abstract art. On first take, all the items looked newly made. Most people were hard pressed to believe these furnishings were created from up cycled material. It was only when we showed them original photos of the materials in their former state that we were believed. This exhibition opened the mind to many that we have to start thinking smarter about how we consume, and how we can repurpose items in clever ways that work for today’s aesthetic.

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Uncommon Upcycling: An architecturally crafted table is made from an old wooden window screen. Design by Andy Brown for Omforme Design.

 

Does this look like a Recycling Station?

The cartouche above Averbeck’s head is entirely made of recycled items at Omforme. Photo by: Chris McDuffie Photography

The cartouche above Averbeck’s head is entirely made of recycled items at Omforme.
Photo by: Chris McDuffie Photography

Walking into the door at Omforme, you’d think it was just like any trendy boutique with various items from vintage furniture to modern designed home accessories and gifts all wrapped up in a pretty package, but there’s more than meets the eye in this shop.

The secret is something you’d never expect: everything in this trend filled boutique is recycled. Yes, recycled; Something most of us do with our aluminum cans and empty glass jars.

Spending over 15 years in the interior design industry, Carter Averbeck knew a thing or two about excess; Mostly that the industry was full of it with no signs of ending soon.

“I kept on wondering who needs 2000 sofas to choose from?”, says Averbeck as he chats about how the industry has been hard pressed towards becoming more eco friendly. “It’s almost like the white elephant in the room, people dancing around the subject of becoming eco-conscious. Some try to come up with solutions but the underlying problem still persists: How do you not run out of natural resources and still keep the consumer market interested in what you’re selling?” Substitutions have been put in place to help curtail the inevitable loss of once plentiful materials like certain species of woods or natural stone that is no longer quarried. Sure there’s  products out on the market like bamboo to help with sustainable forestation and things made from medium density fiberboard (MDF), but this is only because consumer demand for “new” is outstripping our natural resources as it has been for decades. We’ve just learned to live with it. That doesn’t mean we’re headed for trouble yet, but we can be unless some innovative solutions are put into place and one of them, according to Averbeck, is the easiest to do: buy previously owned items that have been reconditioned to new again.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift in how we consume. Though at a snail’s pace, minds are beginning to wake up”

Lush cashmere knitted throws made from MISSONI fabrics.

Inside Omforme is a realm of objects from restyled vintage furnishings to items made by select artisans. It’s done with a modern, up to date touch and it’s all locally sourced. It’s important to Averbeck that he keeps things as local as possible when working with vendors. “It’s the fastest way to grow a sustainable community where everyone can prosper.” says Carter. Tables made from reclaimed black walnut boast a modern organic touch by Nick Thompson while white ceramic cactus vessels are used for aromatic soy candles by local candle maker Cheryl Krejcarek of Idlewilde candles. There are blankets made from excess cashmere knitted fabric attained from the famed fashion house MISSONI, which sell for substantially lower prices than it’s new counterparts. “Buying recycled or reclaimed goods doesn’t have to mean you must resign and give up on luxury. You just have to be smarter in how to attain them” he states. The stigma of used furniture is slowly being lifted and Averbeck’s shop is a shining example of how it can be done.

Soy Candles by Idlewilde

Soy Candles by Idlewilde

 

Carter estimates he’s helped save close to 10,000 pounds of furniture from the landfill by restyling each piece for modern day interiors. True, these aren’t your everyday shabby chic transformations with many pieces boasting a more urban feel that doesn’t entirely eradicate  vintage beginnings but enhances  characteristics in a new format much like what a new hair style would do for an individual.

Reclaimed materials are utilized in innovative ways showcasing the beauty of what was originally intended for the scrap pile and yet at Omforme these materials take on a sophisticated  appeal under the creative editing eye of Averbeck. Since opening the shop in it’s permanent location in August 2013, Carter has had a steady stream of customers coming in to experience the shop and even bring in their old heirlooms for an update to fit their current design style. “People are now excited to get that old chest or chair out of the basement and make something out of it that’s cool” says Carter, ” I’m thrilled that everyone from interior designers, architects and new customers are finding inspiration here and that it has become a go to  place where the unique and possible can be obtained affordably.”

If you would like to know more; Omforme is open weekends and by appointment during the week. Please click on the “contact us” section for more information.

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Store Hours: Open by Appointment. Please call 855-663-6763 for a private tour of the showroom and to chat about how we can help you.