Continuity in Design

Every successfully designed home has a sense of continuity. Yup, you can write that in stone.

Continuity doesn’t mean that every room in your home should be painted the same color, or even that every room should project exactly the same style vibe. (Though glancing from a muted, French-inspired living room into a bright, bohemian dining area or from a minimalist dining area into a rustic kitchen can be jarring.) But there should be something that ties it all together, that provides rhythm and harmony as you stroll from one area to another.

This is immediately obvious when rooms open onto one another with open-concept floor plans.

But it’s important even when rooms stand somewhat on their own, too.

Yes, we often tackle design one room at a time—and our fave colors and styles may well change by the time we finish one room and start on another (that’s part of the fun!). Providing continuity isn’t restrictive, though. It might be as simple as coordinating your light fixtures or shades, the tones of your flooring, or similar window treatments. And there’s plenty of room for surprises, too (just make sure they’re pleasant surprises)!

Color

Repeating color is one easy way to say “these rooms are related.”

The rug in this living room defines the space, while the fireplace provides a focal point. At the same time, the red table and pillow give a shout out to the red in the adjoining kitchen and dining areas, nicely (and easily) tying it all together.

Even in the far-off bedroom (located in the basement of the home), the repetition of red tells you you’re comfortably in the same home.

Other ways to use color as a unifier:

  • Paint different rooms in various shades of the same color (think gradations on a paint swatch). Or choose all pastels, all muted colors, all historic (to your home) colors, or all bright tones.
  • Use the same color on just one thing, like the trim around windows and doors. The same wood stain would carry a similar effect.

At first glance, you might wonder how these two rooms, with their very different brightness levels, work so well together. What harmonizes: the traditional styles, the wood tones, and the blues. The darker blue in the living room slides into light to mid-tone blues for the more serene master suite.

There are times when you’d expect closely tied rooms to be strikingly similar in décor, too. This en suite bathroom coordinates beautifully with the bedroom, don’t you think?

As does this pair:

Flooring

Imagine a home with dark wood flooring and white walls throughout. Instant, flow, right? Coordinating (if not identical) floors (stone or natural tile in one space and wood floors in a similar tone elsewhere) can also do the trick.

Accessories

If you’ve got a nautical theme going at your beach or lakeside home, this is a done deal. But other kinds of accessories and hardware can offer rhythm and continuity, too. Kitchen cabinet handles that boast the same finish/style as the hardware on your dining room credenza, or the same switch plates in each room convey that things are related. So would a Persian-style or ikat rug in each area.

Not every light fixture needs to be the same, but if lights are your unifying element, then make sure they coordinate—in finish, style, or simply the shades.

Likewise, if art work is a unifier in your home, think about how the collection works as a whole. You might display works primarily by one artist, or one genre, for example.

Window treatments

Consider cloth or bamboo shades in each window, or curtains made of the same fabric, for example.

Scale and Proportion

Sometimes the rhythm (or lack of it) isn’t immediately obvious. When something’s off and you’re not quite sure what it is, think about the size and relationship of things in your home. Is each room symmetrically balanced or asymmetrical? Is most of the furniture oversized or on the small size? Is there space to walk around in one room but not in another?

Transitions

Coordinating transition areas—which literally take you from one area to another—is crucial for good flow.

While repetition of patterns, colors, style, and, well, any element really, is key, you don’t want to be boring! Pleasant surprises won’t interrupt the flow; they’ll work with it. Just aim for a good balance of continuity and contrast.

What are some of the continuous elements in your home? Do you have good flow?