Taking a room and whirling up a design to create whatever mood is desired can get confusing and lead to a mishmash of colors, shapes and textures that don’t quite hit the mark.
Sometimes the best way all around is to take on just one aspect of a room. Fireplace mantels are a great place to start. The space above and surrounding this major focal point is a place to add a certain flair or feel to a room. And having the room say exactly what you want it to say is a talent that Eve Lowey easily manifests. She is the driving force behind Chameleon Design, which specializes in commercial interior design, and Studio Chameleon, a design boutique that also does residential.
Eve sees art and design as a conversation between contemporary culture, classic design and the perennial elements of the natural world and it shows in her beautiful work that includes her eye for mantel displays. It’s all in a days work for her in the interior design world and she quickly divulged a few pointers on the how-to in gracing a beautiful mantelpiece.
Q: Tell me why the importance on decorating a mantel.
A: The minute you walk into a room with a fireplace, your eyes are drawn to it. It’s typically the focal point in the room. It’s a great vignette that can be redecorated as often as desired. It’s the perfect place to incorporate the room’s overall design scheme. With a simple shift of items, the entire feel of the room can change. It could look amazing with a dramatic flair or subtle with simple items, depending on the look you are making. But either way it is a very important aspect in designing the room.
Q: What is the first thing to take into consideration when redesigning your mantel?
A: Find a focal point. If there is art over the fireplace or an architectural feature, you want to either play those up or down by deciding what scale of pieces should be used. Do you want a series of similarly sized pieces? Tall candle sticks? Items which are symmetrical or asymmetrical? It could be that absolutely nothing on the mantel would be the right design step to take. Once you choose, you can surround it with beloved accessories such as flowers.
Q: Is a floral design to “fluffy” to display on a mantel?
A: We love to use the mantel as a way to present changing displays of flowers. The flowers are not only a good way to show the sign of the seasons, but also reflect your personal style and taste.
Q: Types of design?
A: Go eclectic. Be confident in an eclectic style by incorporating a few repeating elements which create a chic, not disorganized look. For visual interest, select a collection of objects. If you are more into a classic look, keep it simple and symmetric. A classic tone relies on simplicity and balance. In a traditionally decorated space, keep your mantel décor simple and uniform.
Q: The mantel can be a good place to make a statement, yes?
A: Yes! Use your mantel to showcase a single, show stopping piece. An obvious choice is to hang a large mirror above the fireplace because it works so well. Whether your style is simple and modern or antique and ornate, it’s sure to make a statement in the room.
Q: How does color work into the look for the mantel?
A: It works as part of your design scheme of the room, not just with the mantel accessories. Look at the colors in your room and whichever color you want to extend, use them on the mantel. You can be bold by layering a small piece of art over a large piece. Splash some color to warm up a neutral mantel with a colorful painting.
Q: How do I create something without having it look cluttered?
A: There has to be some “air” space in the groupings. Nothing looks important if there are too many things going on. Edit, edit, edit! Take a photo to see the visual impact on the mantel to help you decide. The two dimensionality of the picture tells a lot. When looking at something in three dimensions, your eye fills in for oddities. In a photo, nothing stays hidden.
Q: Is redesigning the mantel a weekly/monthly endeavor?
A: No more like yearly or seasonally if you like to decorate for the holidays. The mantel poses a perfect place to change seasons without cluttering the room with odds and ends of holiday items.
Q: Tell me a little about your love for design.
A: I am just celebrating my 20th year in business as Chameleon Design today! I feel really blessed to have such a fun job. I love the creative problem solving, the vocabulary that enables me to describe my ideas to my clients and of course the end results. Nothing feels better than looking at the end product and just feeling like it couldn’t look any better than it does.
Eve Lowey, ASID
3188 Airway Ave., Suite B
Costa Mesa, CA 92626