Design Checkup: How To Make Any Room Feel Less Busy

Design Checkup: How To Make Any Room Feel Less Busy

Adrienne Breaux
Feb 19, 2016

If you are a maximalist, then you know that there can be a very fine line between "Well now, this living room is looking layered and full of life!" and "My word I'm actually drowning in too-busy decor." If you've recently woken up one morning to discover that a previous room full of joy has now become full of busy-feeling visuals, you can help take your decor back a notch with these tips.

Combine collections

You don't have to get rid of an entire collection if they are objects you love, but consolidating your collections into one spot (rather than spread around a room or your home) can help cut down on a room feeling too busy. Together, a collection of like items (especially if they are very small or visually stimulating with color or pattern) can be dizzying when sprinkled around a space. When combined, all the individual objects can become one unit, tricking the eye into thinking a space feels less busy and cluttered.

Nudge things a little closer together

In the same vein as above, nudging elements closer together — like chairs, other types of seating, books on a shelf, even larger furniture pieces — can again make a lot of different, individual elements feel more like one element or grouping. This cutting down on the amount of items your eyes see can make a space feel less busy.

Count the colors

Take a wide photograph of your busy-feeling room and print out the image. Circle each individual color you can see. Now count the circles. Are you looking at five or more circled colors? There are no rules to how many colors you can have mixing in one space (especially if they are expertly mixed and mingled), but if you are feeling like a room feels too busy, you might temporarily move out a few colors from your palette to see if that calms things down visually.

And the patterns, too

Do the same thing above with each different pattern or graphic design you see in your busy-feeling space.

Loosen some layers

If you've experimented with layering things like art, plants, small objects and more in vignettes and on tabletops, consider loosening some of those layers to reveal a more streamlined, uniform arrangement of design elements. While layers can often add sophistication to a room, they can be a bit suffocating when every corner and surface is a layered mix of elements in front of one another. Try loosening vignettes one-by-one until you can feel like your room can visually breathe a little easier.

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