More often than not, it's the subtle detail that makes the difference between designing and merely furnishing a room.
The drapery arrangement, the skirting on a table, the trim on a lampshade -- the proper use of these sorts of seemingly minor additions can have a major effect on a setting's appearance.
I should underscore proper. It isn't enough to be aware of the need for detailing; knowing where and how to put finishing touches requires a good eye -- and sharp judgment.
Like a well-written play, a well-designed room will not assign equal importance to every character. Smaller roles need to be integrated effectively with the big parts in order to produce a powerful statement.
The photo, showing part of a girl's bedroom, offers an instructive example of the art of detailing.
Paul Vincent Wiseman designed this simple yet enchanting setting for the 1991 San Francisco Showhouse.
From the floor up, the room has been subtly enhanced by the addition of several details. In conjunction with one another, these small embellishments ensure that the space will become something much more impressive than a bland blend of beiges and pastels.
The DuPont Stainmaster carpet by Karastan, colored like beach sand, is highlighted by a carved border in a slightly different shade called Frosty Beiger.
On top of it sits a white chaise longue with dressmaker details in the inverted pleating.
Note, too, that the framed and upholstered back has been decorated with wood finials and tassels.
Next, we see that the curtain has been scalloped and trimmed at the heading. It is suspended by rings from a decorative pole -- no traverse rod or pinched, pleated heading for this stately window treatment.
Those who recognize the importance of backgrounds will not be surprised by the care that has been given to the wall finishes.
In this case, the choice of color and pattern -- as well as their placement -- has served to emphasize details that might otherwise have been overlooked.
A monochromatic color scheme is made more beautiful by the damask-like pattern of the wallpaper inserts. They have been applied inside light-colored decorative moldings, which act as long, narrow frames.
The walls themselves are done in a color close in value to the background of the wallpaper.
Reeded details on the lamp and marquetry in the light but highly figured wood table go well with the other patterns in the room. Pillows and artworks introduce an extra bit of interest to a design that's verging on the austere.
This setting is based on a very sophisticated play on color, texture and pattern. It's proof that trendy and flamboyant gestures aren't at all necessary in creating a memorable interior.