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In the living room, a grownup and neutral palette stays fresh with light-filled windows, soft drapes and simple artwork. A combination of newer products from Robert Allen and Burton James with antique pieces gives the room a comfortable, lived-in feel that isn't always achievable with all-new pieces. "Patina refers to a level of age and wear, such as you find in antique furniture," says Dittmar. "Having pieces with patina instantly gives the room a lived-in feeling. The worst thing is to furnish a room with everything brand new. It has no soul or character and more closely resembles a furniture store, not a home."
A quilted duvet and upholstered headboard work beautifully with the antique-style four-poster bed in the master bedroom. A worn oak nightstand (a perfect example of patina) and soft plaid curtains from Kravet soften the structured bedframe. While it's certainly a traditional bedroom, the use of antiques, soft colors, and touchable textiles takes it from pompous to approachable. "Even if you can't afford true antiques, you can get a similar feeling by shopping for furniture at your local flea market or consignment shop," says Dittmar. "You can even order certain pieces from some of the better online catalogues like Wisteria or Gump's. They won't be truly antique, but they have done a pretty good job at reproducing the feel."
Dittmar's warm lighting method comes in multiple levels: overhead lighting, mid-level lighting (such as table or floor lamps) and uplights. Ceiling cans are a great overhead lighting option, but if you decide to go with them, Dittmar recommends installing trims that can be angled, so the light can reflect off walls rather than directing straight down and creating unflattering downlight.
And don't forget dimmers! "My motto is always: dimmers, dimmers, dimmers," says Dittmar. "Nothing makes me cringe more than walking into a room (dining rooms in particular) with the lights all ablaze! No one feels good in that harsh, bright light, so put a dimmer on it and it will change the mood for the better — guaranteed."
Home No. 3: Texture and pattern in Buena Vista
The value of texture is clear in every nook and cranny of the living room in this apartment near Buena Vista Park in San Francisco. Dittmar stuck to a consistent color palette of soft grays and red accents, but mixed textures in both textiles and furniture to create a rich, layered effect.
"A mistake many people make when shopping in retail environments is to just order all the upholstered pieces in the stock fabrics," says Dittmar. "Those are all fine, but when all of your main upholstered pieces are done in fabrics like that, it tends to have a boring and flat look because they all have a similar texture. By custom ordering one or two of the pieces in a more interesting and textural fabric, you can get a more layered and interesting look."
Dittmar originally started out in graphic design, and worked in the industry for many years, and loves using geometric patterns in fabrics, wallpaper, and carpet. Boldly patterned accent pillows are a simple way to add another level of visual interest to the living room, contrasting beautifully with the rich Romo velvet of the couch. "In every room, there should be a contrast — of soft and smooth with rough and nubby, shiny with matte, and so on," says Dittmar.