Living Room

Visually Busy Design

March 4, 2013


Some of you (like my sister) may cringe at this. Visual busyness and clutter is not for everyone. But I think these spaces are lovely and pull off all that “clutter” with panache. The above room has a consistent style in the furniture pieces (Mid-Century Modern) and a largely neutral palette. Having consistency like that is a great place to start if you know your room is going to be at all visually busy.

A large collection of books can look rigid and organized, or it can look haphazard and casual. And everything in between. It’s up to you what way you want to take it. Generally speaking books are inevitably going to add some visual clutter, but you can tone things down by organizing by color, or covering all the books with a matching paper (time consuming but can look stunning), grouping them by size, or even tucking them in binding side first so the neutral-colored edges of the pages are displayed. Jenny Komenda recently talked about an awesome method for organizing books by both color and genre that produces a happy balance between functionality and beauty.


No books here, but undeniably busy. Here it’s a result of a lot of lines and a lot of layers. A set of three nesting coffee tables produces many more lines for the eye than one large one would. It’s the same principle with the 3-armed floor lamp. Of course the collection of empty frames on the wall is an obvious factor. And a  spindly plant plopped in the middle of it all further adds to the visual clutter. I love this room, but I would definitely move the plant to the floor. It is far too large to be on that table. And I think this is empty frame overdose. How about a couple real art pieces with one or two empty frames for an interesting contrast? What do you think? Does this room work for you as-is or would you change things?


Lastly, another room that is visually busy largely because of books, with a mixture of patterns adding to the effect. How much visual clutter you can handle is certainly a personal thing. What’s your comfort level? Are a you a total minimalist and horrified by these photos? Or are you a pack rat who loves being surrounded by bits and bobs? Me, I’m somewhere in the middle, probably leaning towards the pack rat side of things. Hehe.

one // the home of Jens Risom via Dwell
two // from Lonny via Shop Talk
three // from Elle España via nicety

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