What does Buddhist architecture, Islamic architecture, Notre Dame and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth all have in common?

golden-ratio of a RoseWhat does Buddhist Architecture, Islamic Architecture, Notre Dame, and Mies Van der Rohr’s Faarnsworth house all have in common?   Sacred Geometry!

Sacred Geometry, as architect Robert Armon  has described to reporter Erika Christiansen, ASID, is based on the Golden Rule, that “map” of divine proportions which simultaneously reflect the beauty of the human body’s proportions, the proportions of the nautilus shell, and everything else in  the natural universe. Studies have found that humans tend to feel more at ease and more energized whey viewing and experiencing structures with sacred proportions.

If this is so, then =sacred proportions can increase individual and employee emotional wellbeing—-which can cascade into positive effecdts for physical well being, and on to employee productivity. Compare this with similar outcomes of many environmental design practives, such as using natural light and no volatile organic compounds, and we can see that sacred geometry may be as practical as “green”/environmental design.

Green/environmental design is focsed on life-style, comfort, health, safety, welfare and respect fot the Earth. The same with the sacred arts, the ultimate goal being the metaphysical state, or enlightenment, rather than the basic physical realm. Change the thinking and the physical will follow.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., Allied NSA, principal of Breay Design Associates is not only a popular, awarded designer with degrees in design from University of Michigan, but is also a speaker, instructor, mentor, and author on design and design issues. Contact her by clicking the contact button on the left of these pages. She often asks clietns, when discussing their spaces, “Does the Shoe….FIT “you” …..like your favorite shoes do? If not, then some adjustments are necessary.

This room is too narrow! It’s like a bowling alley!–Part 2

Last blog we discussed three things you can do to make a narrow room more functional, as well as long good. We discussed lighting in a narrow room, color, furniture scale, and creating furniture groupings for areas of activity. Here are some examples concerning furniture groupings:

You want to fully utilize the space. Think about a small dinette or game table with chairs added to a living room or bedroom space. You could add a rather solidary area for one or two, just for reading, with some bookshelves in this area of the room, a few more chairs just for this area, and perhaps a round table with table lamp. Area rug(s) can define an area of activity.

Fireplaces are always a wlecome, cozy addition to any room; even warmer climates in the U.S. have chilly (if not darn right cold) evenings. It needn’t be an expensive built-in fireplace; think about the thousands of choices of portables, in the style to fit your decor.

If the Dining Room is the “wind tunnel” of your home, take away its strickly dining mood. Add some bookshelves on either side of a window, with a rocker and table with a table lamp. Add a settee or even a sofa perpendicular to the table seating arrangement for people who may wish to visit without dining. Add a portable fireplace in this room, as mentioned in the paragraph above. Use a few dining room tables, instead of just one long one (that will accentuate the too-long room). Make the room livable; so many dining rooms are rather formal and “set” for only one activity–dining.

Your spaces need to fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need help, contact us. We have clients cross country, thanks to electronics. Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D. is an awarded, recognized, certified interior designer and garden-yard designer, speaker, author, and instructor on these subjects.

What to do when you’re out of money and wish to decorate for the holidays—

     Well, you’ve spent money on gifts for others, and now have little to nothing left for making your own home festive and enjoyable? That’s OK; you have thought of others—and very little money is needed for a lovely holiday atmosphere. Here are a few ideas:  For the holiday tree, whether it be an evergreen, a large houseplant, or a group of twisted branches, ALL can be made to look festive with lights. If you can only buy one item for holiday decorating, buy clear/white  holiday lights. The rest will be fairly simple. Here is a “budget” holiday tree decorated with nothing but ribbon. (By the way, both lights and ribbon can be purchased at a fraction of the cost in January. ) You could also use foil icicles instead of the ribbon, letting each hang from the tree branches; this is stunning and less costly than even the ribbon.

Now find anything and about every household accessory that you have in a warm color, or colors, like yellow, orange, red. Make groupings of them, as mentioned in the last blog. Groupings of candles in warm colors or in white are always effective, particularly if you’ve gathered some evergreen boughs or wild holly and/or pinecones to place with them. Gather many of those natural materials, because you can stick them in vases, baskets, and strewn across the dining table.

 If one item of a grouping isn’t tall enough, perhaps you can stand it on top of another. In this photo, you’ll notice that the green candle was placed atop a simple kitchen juice glass to make it taller. Since several pieces in the grouping were clear glass, it fits right in.

We know at Breay Design that your home and surroundings need to fit you like a favorite shoe, both in personality and budget. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT? ” If not, contact us; we can help you save money, AND have a great looking area, that is uniquely YOU. Sharon Breay is a certified, awarded, and popular designer, speaker and author on design. She can work with people electronically or in person to create spectacular improvements with you for your home and surroundings.                                                                                    



Holiday Arrangements–

Here are some holidayt decorating tips from another designer, Melissa Svenby, as posted in Colorado Homes and Lifestyles. Although not new to many of us, she did such a good job of condensing the main ideas, I wanted to share it with you.

Find things you already have in your home and make vignettes with these items and some decorations. Think of placing them in a corner of a bathroom counter, a guest bedroom dresser, an end table, and/or a mantle, on a porch if they are large enough, and/or the center of the dining room table. (Sharon’s note: Vignettes are so much more interesting than a single decoration, and they are great for small spaces. Another idea for a vignette are an assortment of house plants with holiday lights and brightly colored ribbons.)

Vary the height of the decorations to add interest. (Sharon’s note: And also vary the textures and shapes–some narrow and taller, some short and fat.) A few lighted pieces in the arrangement gives a special aura at night.

Wrap gifts beautifully; it doubles the enjoyment for the receiver. AND– beautifully wrapped gifts setting around the house in small groupings give holiday cheer with their bright colors. Place a few over the curtain rods, a few more in a hall corner, etc. (But don’t forget where you put them all come gift opening day!)

Whatever is best for you, enjoy the holiday decorating! Make it a fun family event, a yearly tradition, whether the decorating is elaborate or just a few simple items. If you need any help, give us a call or e-mail. I know that your decorating and it’s style must fit YOU and your lifestyle, like everything else in your home. We’ve been helping people with their homes for decades, and each one is unique.      

Sharon Breay,principal of Breay Design and her speaking business, “DOES THE SHOE FIT?” is a certified and awarded designer, speaker on design, and author. Feel free to send questions or call her for a consultation or project.


Easy-to-Grow Houseplants

Last blog we wrote about plants as great accessories in our homes. We also wrote about the problems of growing houseplants. Here are a few easy to grow varieties for you who are hesitant to begin, or unsure of your own houseplant skills.

     Philodendrons (there are many varieties) are attractive plants that will       tolerate shady places in your home, vs. sitting in front of a window. They will also grow in diffused light (light coming through sheer window treatments or blinds).  Water once a week. Fertilize with a plant fertilizer once a season, or every 3-4 months if you remember to. There are sizes to fit nicely on a table or hearth or mantle, or climbing varieties, or small varieties for dish gardens in small places.

Ferns are not too fussy, either, particularly Asparagus Fern, pictured to our right. This is a plant for hanging baskets. It’s airy billows of soft green on arching and cascading stems is always attractive. It likes light, but not bright light. Rather than by a sunny window, think of giving it north light. Water once a week to keep soil moist, but not soppy. Fertilize every 3-4 months if you remember to. Ferns love to be sprayed with water once in a while.

An AloeVera (or True Vera), to your left, will actually tolerate your forgetting it for a week or so. These plants like bright light and fertilizer every 3-4 months if you remember. It has rosettes of dagger-like leaves that are very wonderful to split and apply the pulp to skin burns. However, if you do so, you take away a leaf; you might not do this until it is a big strong plant, and then only take off a corner of the leaf.

There are many, many more easy to grow plants, but these three are starters. For decorating, one plant in proportion to its surroundings is always a welcome sight. Or, make a grouping of plants that have the same light requirements. In the grouping have different foliage shapes, sizes, or colors, or have one variety of flowering plant, with each plant giving a different colored flower. In the grouping, have various heights by different size plants or by putting some on a “lift,” that you have contrived or purchased.  

Remember your home should fit you like your favorite shoe. DOES the shoe fit? If you need help give us a jingle. We are the interior & exterior design firm known for making spaces fit their owners.

YOUR Best Color Scheme

In our last blog entry we talked about why color trends don’t really work for us independent Americans. So how to choose the right colors? There are five basic color formulas or templates that enable us to create “successful” color schemes for our homes. First, remember the psychology of color and its affects (for a quickie review, read our last blog entry, “Why Color Schemes Don’t Work.”) First, determine what the function of the room is, the shape of the room itself, and it’s sun exposure. From these things, you will know how to fit the formula to your needs.

The formulas, or templates, are:

MONOCHROMATIC:  One color throughout a room in both light and dark tones, and various intensities of that one color. This is a good one for a formal, peaceful, setting.

ANALOGUS: This is a bit more colorful, using three colors right next to each other on the color wheel. Examples are Yellow, Yellow-Orange, and Orange   or   Blue, Blue-Purple, and Purple.

COMPLIMENTARY: Two colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. Such as Purple and Yellow or Blue and Orange. Unlike the first two formulas, these colors are not related in any way! They will clash if one color is not dominate and the second subordinate.

SPLIT COMPLIMENTARY: Similar to complimentary except that you choose a Y shape on the color wheel. Take one color and go directly across from it on the color wheel–BUT, before you get there, vere off to the right and the left of that opposite color, thus traveling in a “Y”. Example: Purple, Yellow-Green, and Yellow-Orange. If color intimidates you, this may not be the best to try, as it is tricky–but lively and fun when pulled off successfully. The trick is to have a ratio where one color takes about 65%, one about 30%, and one about 5%.

TRIAD: The most exciting look–and most difficult to achieve. NOT for places of quiet refuge. One the color wheel, choose three colors that create an equilateral triangle, such as Yellow-Orange, Blue-Green (Aqua or Turquiose), and Red-Violet (Crimson). Again, the ratio for the three colors needs to be about 65%, 30%, and 5%.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me through this blog, or through private consultation. Remember, your surroundings should fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” If not, contact us; we are the interior/exterior space specialists.

Small Space Design

Dear Readers–My face is red! When you visited our site 2 weeks ago–there was a garbled headline–and no text!! My apologies!!! My husband has been extremely ill for the last month.It has been scary, and he needs treatments daily, even though he is now out of the hospital. However, it’s turning around!  As for the blog– I never got to it–and I see now you got my pre-planning!!……………..

HOWEVER, we have a special treat for apartment and small-space dwellers today and also in our next blog of November 30th.  This fall “Rachel” called me for an in-home interior design consultation, and expained she lived in a tiny apartment. She said she really needed help to enhance it on a budget. She hated the all white walls and wanted to give some mood and style to the place. She also thought it appeared too cluttered. The apartment consisted of a living area, dining nook, and kitchenette all open and flowing into each other (plus a private bedroom & bath.)

First, we looked at the scale and amount of the furniture. The sofa was the main piece;  there was a coffee table in front of it, a side table on either side of it, and a console table directly across from it that held Rachel’s entertainment components. A  trunk sat under the side window that could also be used for seating. I asked Rachel if she really needed all 4 tables. She loved the coffee table with it’s convenient shelf underneath, and one table was near the entry door, where she could put things on as she entered. So we removed the opposite end table, found a floor lamp to put in it’s place, and created a more spacious corner. The taller floor lamp also better illuminated the room.

A larger sized piece of modern art on the wall, hung off center to create asymmetrical balance with the lamp, completed the wall. The openness of the artwork allows the viewer to see through sections of it, rather than having an overpowering solid piece in this small space. Taking out the area rug would have visually expanded the area, also; but the soft color and it’s large size gave definition to the “living” space. We decided to keep it. Notice how the accessories are mainly tall and thin, with vertical emphasis, rather than horizontal, which takes room space.

Next blog, we’ll tie in wall color (in a rented apartment!!) for Rachel. See you then! 

If you have an interior or exterior design problem, feel free to contact us. We are the Space Specialists that make YOUR space fit YOUR way of life like a favorite shoe. Look around your space  and ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…..FIT?”

Does Your Room Tilt?

Recently I was giving a design workshop in a private home. The room we were in showed the biggest problem in our interiors today, Here’s the scene: We are in this smaller sized living room. My hostess has graciously given me space to present next to the white 14” deep television shelving on one wall. Across from me, against two walls, and continuing right to the dining room archway on one side and the entry on the other, is this massive, red, over stuffed, huge-armed, “L” shaped sectional. At the end of the sectional is a table with lamp and accessories, which actually extends into the archway. In front of the sectional is a large, multi-colored tile coffee table.

Can you picture the lopsided room with lighter weight (and color) shelving on one side and heavy, large furniture on the other? The homeowner had accommodated seating for several, with positions to see the television. But the proportion of the seating and coffee table, coupled with the seating being one massive solid, overpowered the room. That sectional was like trying to fit the movie monster King Kong into the room.

Proportion is the biggest problem I see in our interiors. Don’t be fooled by the size of furniture as it sits in massive furniture store displays, with hundreds of other pieces.

Take the measurements of the piece and compare them with the size of your room. Do not bring King Kong home unless the room can accommodate the monster!

Had our hostess used a lighter looking sofa, with smaller arms and less mass, with a few side chairs (versus fully upholstered lounge chairs), putting one chair at the shelving for balance, the room would have looked infinitely better and been far more flexible. If we can further visualize this furniture in the room, using two small tables rather than 1 large coffee table, we have space between pieces, smaller sizes, and better balance.

Psychologically, we all become uneasy with tilting objects. Don’t let your room tilt!

Proportion and balance contribute much to an enjoyable space.