Hip to Be Square: How to Decorate With Geometric Shapes

February 25, 2016

Hip to Be Square: How to Decorate With Geometric Shapes

Strong lines and hard edges, once the purview of impossibly chic lofts, are now factoring heavily into all sorts of decor styles—and for good reason. Geometric shapes and patterns bring instant cool-kid status to a traditional room and reinvigorate a tired space. Here, two top designers share their tried-and-true tricks for decorating with this hot new trend:

Work With What You’ve Got

Have a to-die-for bay window? A low ceiling and an open floor plan? Choose geometrically shaped accent pieces that echo or complement existing elements of your building’s architecture, advises Rachel Waldron, interior designer and owner of Waldron Designs. It helps provide a sense of continuity in the space. But—caveat—a little goes a long way. “A house with bay windows and octagonal step-ups does not dictate that every decorative object should be an octagon,” Waldron says. “Let’s say the bay windows are tall and linear. We can complement this by placing tall, linear décor in the space, possibly with a hexagon serving tray as a singular reminder of the shape that exists within the home. So, take a feature that exists, but is less prevalent, and use this as the influence for the majority of your décor. Then emphasize the dominant shape with a singular item.”

Where to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Though geometric shapes are a no-fail way to make a room feel more fresh and modern, there are certain spots where they particularly shine. Carl Schafer, an interior designer with Robb & Stucky, is a fan of angular-patterned wallpaper, throw pillows, accent chairs, floor coverings, and even window panels. He’s used these items to great effect in highly traditional homes. “Even the most unusual style can be creatively reinvented with geometric shapes,” he says.

Strike a Balance

Let’s face it: This trend is no shrinking violet. But that doesn’t mean you have to forsake all other prints and patterns. Like patterns pair beautifully, so long as their scales are different. “When working with dissimilar patterns, such as geometrics and florals, look for other similarities to create a balance,” Waldron says. “I usually focus on colors, and as with similar patterns, I’d work with scale contrast.” The end result should be a resting spot for the eye, a focal point it can settle on in the room.

When in Doubt, Go Neutral

Schafer recommends first-timers contrast geometrics with soft, neutral colors, placing a subtle angular shape with a solid background against one color or even a soft white. “If you have space that is particularly large or filled with a lot of natural light, use a light background and choose a bolder color for your geometric shape,” he adds. (Exhibit A: This striking framed print.)

Of course, there’s no need to dive headfirst into the trend—taking baby steps is totally acceptable and, perhaps, even preferable. “Start small, with pillows or accent chairs—in the details rather than as a room’s focal point or main scheme,” he says. “A carefully selected geometric pattern can bring life and personality to a dull room, but too many of them can just as easily give you a headache!”

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