As 2020 has been an unprecedented year on so many fronts, and the stress and anxiety level for so many has increased.   It is important to find ways that we can reflect and find calmness in our home environments especially since we are spending much more time there.

Interior Designer Tish Mills has put together some suggestions on how you can create harmony in your home.

What makes a space tranquil?

There are multiple ways to make a space feel tranquil.  Tranquility is all about balance.  There needs to be balanced in everything from, room arrangement, to finishes, to use of color. Tish starts by really thinking about the objective and key use of a space.  Then she looks at the form of a space and takes cues from any significant architectural elements.  From there it is planning and most importantly, restraint. It is about the contrast and pushes/pull to create balance.  She always tells Clients, not everything in a room can be the star. She always decides what the star moments in a room will be and then the remaining pieces and fabrics are the support to the star.  That immediately creates a balance which, in turn, creates a tranquil feeling.  Even in a bold space.

How do you create the energy to ensure that a space feels pleasant?

Balance and restraint.  Think of when you are getting dressed to go out.  You determine where you are going and how you want to look and feel.  You start with the base and then add the appropriate layers.  And finally, the perfect accessories.  Then, follow the fashion rule of removing one.  That way everything works together is in balance and harmony with the surroundings.

What is important in the floorplan? 

The floorplan and architecture are the bones and are the jumping-off point.

How important is the color palette? Are some colors more soothing than others? If so, which ones do you use and where?

Color is an interesting question.  You can approach the color palette by using color theory and stay with colors that ground and calm you.  A second approach is washing with one color.  This is effective as long as it isn’t jarring, it can also promote a soothing outcome and feeling.  Or, there are times that the use a lot of bold, saturated color actually comes off as a soothing neutral space.  It is really about balance and the compliment of color combinations.

In living rooms, what is the balance that is needed to make the room sing?

How and when does furniture play into the conversation?  What is a consideration in fabric selection?   

For Living Rooms again, I first start with: How will the room be used?  Will the Client entertain in there? Is it a space to sneak away and meditate and read since it is one of the least used rooms typically?  Or is it a place to unwind and have a glass of wine with your spouse?  Once I get that established, I look at traffic patterns through the space so that nothing is in conflict with that function.  From there, I channel the Client’s personality so that it is a true reflection of them.  As for furniture, often comfort isn’t taken into account as much in Living Room furniture.  I don’t do that. Other than potentially a single sculptural piece such as a chair, I believe that everything should be comfortable and usable.

Fabric consideration depends on the project.  Once a color story is created for a home, I love to allow different colors from that story, to come forward in the different rooms to help with making each space have its own personality. Like a puzzle, each piece fits together to create a beautiful picture that overall provides balance and tranquility in the home.

How do you mix patterns and textures effectively to create balance?

I love to mix textures and patterns within a home.  I often do that by keeping the same color in the main fabrics and change textures to create interest.  I suggest using only one main pattern and then let any additional patterns create more of a supporting role as to not fight with the star fabric of the room.

Let’s talk about Lighting.   How do you use it to create different moods?

When planning a space, I always look at the mix of general, task, and ambient lighting to create the perfect balance.  And let’s not forget about the power of leaving some areas a bit darker or shadowy to help create mood and ambiance.

When it comes to floors how should rugs be utilized vs natural flooring and tile?

I do love layering. Use rugs wherever possible regardless of if the surface is hardwoods or tile.  They anchor a space, promoting balance, while also helping with comfort, warmth, and sound absorption.  Many designers start with the rug, which speaks to how important they are to a space.  I don’t tend to do that. I treat them more like the exclamation point at the end.

In the bathroom, what is needed for a space to have harmony?  Is there a focal point?

Types of materials.  Tubs vs Showers.

Bathrooms are one of my favorite areas to design.  The options are limitless, and the materials can be used in numerous combinations.  In bathrooms, just like living spaces, I first decide what will be the star of the space.  Will the tub sit as the eye line when you walk into the room?  Will the shower be tucked away or front and center?  Single vanity or dual spaces?  Once the base layout is decided using these points, I tend to take my cues from outside for Master Bathrooms as so many have many windows these days.  Or for bathrooms without large windows, I take my inspiration from the adjoining bedroom.   Regardless of whether a bathroom design is organic or super glamorous, if the space is balanced, it will be peaceful and soothing.

As for materials, I’m always a big fan of natural stone.  But these days, there are so many options for porcelains that are rich and textural, that I’m finding that I’m using more even in primary spaces.

What types of technology is out there to help create different moods as well as create wellness?

Especially in this time that we are all home much more, I’m finding that Clients are taking more time to create more spa-like bathrooms.  Finishes have become very important as to have the actual selections.  More clients are really looking at what type of air tubs to install, such as light therapy or heated backrest.  Some have started to install infrared saunas in their homes.  I’m a big fan of the benefits here.  On a more of the technology side, vanity drawers that light when opened so that looking for things are easy on the eyes.  And, of course, motorized shades for privacy.

How important are plants and greenery to a room?

I do love including something living in a space.  There is a reason that so much of the magazine photography includes fresh flowers or plants.  I tend to pull that off “only for photography” and into day-to-day life.  Fresh flowers or a plant will always lift the spirit while also helping to feel more grounded and alive in a space.

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors, a preferred vendor of The Meridian Real Estate Group, is an award-winning interior designer who has been working with clients in their homes for more than two decades. She believes that it is essential to put together a cohesive plan for your home renovation before you get started that can be carried out by the team of experts you assemble.

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 Photos provided by Chris Little.

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