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While we tend to like a sense of order and balance, that does not necessarily mean that everything in our home be of a certain time (mid-century or Victorian) and uniformity (light woods or one nondescript color). If we are creating a farmhouse feel we tend to work in browns, whites and maybe a very faded blue. If we are creating a beach house we tend to lean into blues and whites. A cottage might have yellows and blues. A craftsman might be mainly medium-dark woods and greens.

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Patina and history are underrated. They offer so much to create a space that allows you to feel something deeper. That is the beauty of hand-made, natural, organic and classic pieces. If you love something there is always a way to include it. It doesn’t have to match every aspect. Maybe it’s just a color, a shape, an era, a wood stain or a fabric texture that brings it all together.

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There are farmhouses that have furniture made of old, weathered, faded woods that show a greyish brown patina. That anchors the feel. Adding a modern, copper, metal end table can highlight that feel. Adding a faded blue throw over a sofa or chair can bring color and life without distracting with a garish intensity. Fabrics with a touch of red, gold or pink tend to make the room sparkle. These bring texture and depth. They add up to a feel. Window coverings, rugs, art and plants add more layers. Layering is very important.

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In a modern, mid-century or contemporary design having contrast accentuates the style. All light woods and clean surfaces along with white walls can feel very Zen but it can also feel cold. Adding splashes of color or an antique can contrast the white, the straight lines and perfect symmetry. Adding a unique, crafted or original piece adds interest. Zen can be interesting and warm.

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There is a joy in stepping out of the comfort zone of safe white walls, grey tile floors and white backsplashes. Consider the tones and colors of paints. See how fabrics and woods can coordinate; satins, linens, wools and cotton with woods and marbles. See what absorbs and what reflects light. Nature seems to have this down to a science, literally. This is a perfect place to start.

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