The summer months are a time to savor longer days and a slower pace. It is also a time to embrace the outdoors and relish the abundance of open-air musical performances. As my workday is immersed in a visual world inside, the opportunity to hear an orchestral performance on a beautiful summer evening provides the perfect respite – it offers an escape into another world and allows the ideas of the day to percolate and quietly sort out.

As my design projects are never far from my mind, while attending a recent performance, I began to ponder the similarities of composing the movements of a symphony to designing the rooms of a home. These art forms both consist of an assemblage of pieces – each part is complete in its own right – but they are also part of the larger whole, a complete composition.

I began thinking of the full range of instruments in an orchestra – violin, flute, piccolo, trumpets, clarinet, percussion, etc…..and the full range of elements in a home – furniture, fabric, color, wallpaper, cabinetry, flooring, lighting, etc – each with their own voice, singing their own song, embracing their unique beauty – each providing an important role that is collectively brought together in a lyrical composition – be it the movements of a symphony or the rooms of a home.

These art forms also share common terminology – theme and variation, colorful, calm, brilliant, dreamy, warm, strong, vibrant, soft, delicate, light, playful….it is these many qualities that bring depth, interest, texture, and life to a composition in both music and interiors.

In a musical performance, we can clearly sense these qualities – the repetition of a theme with hints of its variations, the playful tune of the piccolo, the bold statement of trumpets, the delicate song of the violin.

These qualities are really much the same in interior design, but we may not recognize them in the same way. Just as a composer puts notes to a page, a designer puts pencil to paper to create the floor plan – the equivalent of the composer’s score.

In design, thoughtfully laid out themes may be based on select colors or furniture styles, then repeated, varied, and woven throughout a room and the home. Its many elements sing together, while recognizing when a pause, space or diversion is needed. Equally, every element in a home cannot be the star – it is the solo performance that may shine against a beautiful backdrop – be it a whimsical pattern or trim, a bold statement of richly saturated colors, or perhaps the delicate song of finely crafted furniture. Each component is carefully selected for the balance and harmony of the whole, while unexpected accents of interest are introduced to complete the full expression and energy of each room and, ultimately, the home.

The musical magic that feeds and rejuvenates our soul is also present in the visual world of our personal spaces. Perhaps when listening to a beloved musical composition, consider the delight of that lyrical poetry and the joy it may bring to your home.


Portfolio Piece
Inspiration for Rooms: Client’s painting and porcelain collection
Color theme: Pale creams, blues and blush tones
Furniture theme: Preference for soft lines, gentle curves