You’re decorating your new condo and you’ve picked your style. Everything will be ultra-contemporary, from the tufted white-leather couch to the oval glass coffee table. But here’s a warning: sticking with one sleek look can create the antiseptic feel of Tom Cruise’s sky loft in Oblivion. Worse, it can come off as safe and boring.
The best interiors have at least one or two bold accents—conversation pieces that take your rooms beyond the cookie cutter. Think of them as the element of surprise.
The question is, how bold do you dare to go? In these rule-breaking days of design, the approach seems to be go big or go home. How about three giant metallic fish frolicking across the wall above your modular leather sofa? Or a pair of oversized glass-bubble pendant lamps hanging at different heights over one end? Or a carpet that looks like a shag on steroids, sprouting giant, thick, soft tubes? Or an end table of gnarled wood that looks like it’s just been harvested from the Hobbit forest—the perfect organic offset to that sofa’s straight lines?
Those are just a few of the options at Moe’s Home Collection (1728 Glen Drive and 125–1305 Welch Street, North Vancouver), where Sara Samieian, general manager of the retail division, showed the Straight new ways to inject instant character into a room.
“I think a lot of people maybe with their main dining table or their sofa, they’re trying to be more ‘safe’, but then they’re popping in colour or a funky design somewhere else,” she says. “Especially when you go to modern furniture, where it’s just white with clean lines, it’s like you’re almost afraid to sit at the table. We have bread-and-butter sectionals, but we try to spice them up with accessories and lighting.”
Pointing to a rather extreme example, a crushed-stone-and-resin crocodile skull with gold-leaf teeth that sits, white and gape-jawed, on an accent table, she adds: “It becomes like a sculptural piece in your home. It’s just a random item: it can sit in your living room and people are going to be talking about it when they’re in your home.” (That showstopper will set you back $375.)
The key word is contrast when it comes to making your décor pop. Sometimes it’s as easy as throwing one of Moe’s wildly fuzzy orange or purple Lamb Fur Wool pillows onto your staid sectional (they run about $80). Other times, a simple throw rug will do the trick: Moe’s just received a shipment of overdyed carpets from India, all rustic and hand-tufted with faded patterns that make them a chic, ancient-looking paradox next to your ultramodern leather couch. Look to the jewel tones—red, green, turquoise, and other hues—as the best way to brighten a room (about $895). For another feel entirely, the thick, tubular pencil rug ($975) in beigey-grey tones takes shag to exaggerated heights.
Then you’ll want to consider art. Moe’s has huge canvases with abstract splashes of bright colours, but why not go for more of a wall sculpture? We’re talking about hanging a small school of the Phillip Collection’s big, silver-leaf fish—maybe cod, barracuda, or reef shark (about $300 to $600)—over your couch.
Other good offsets to modern furniture are pieces with a worn, industrial feel. Samieian suggests weathered-looking tin oil-drum tops in rusted reds and blues, often laid out in a cluster over a couch ($139 each). Or there’s a stool that looks like a painted, metal industrial pail with an upholstered distressed-brown-leather seat that lifts up for extra storage ($74.95). Want to go even gutsier? There’s a room screen fashioned from old, mismatched bicycle-wheel frames ($900).
Pendant lamps are gaining popularity as a way to mix up a living room. Aside from the giant, clear bubble versions ($165 to $325) that say “Groovy, baby,” there are mismatched shapes in black metal, with hammered copper insides, to hang at different heights (about $96 each). Samieian’s advice? Hang them in pairs off to one side of your couch.
Sometimes a room’s audacious accent is going to be a funky piece of furniture itself. Most of us can’t afford to splurge on a bright orange couch, but you can get the same hit of colour in a little retro-upholstered Valencia club chair (about $339), with its scallop-shell-shaped back and dark wood legs; it also comes in colours like red, pink, green, and citron yellow. It’s small enough for the corner of your condo, offering you comfort and style without the need to invest in a heavy, space-sucking armchair. “They look great with a neutral sofa,” Samieian advises.
Coffee tables are a great way to funk up a room. If the contrast you want is textural, opt for a chunk of gnarled wood from Indonesia (about $1,000 to $3,000). Otherwise, look to conversation pieces like the Skew cocktail table ($1,315), with its zigzag wood base and glass top, or the Rafael coffee table, an oval of glass with a twisted, S-shaped piece of glass as its legs (on sale for $299).
In other words, safety shouldn’t necessarily come first when you’re decorating your home. Or as Samieian simply puts it: “Our feeling is you can’t go all one style.”