I’m an experiential designer. What that means is that I design complete experiences rather than simply picking a theme and putting that skin on whatever I’m designing. There’s a difference between decorating a house in a country style and designing every element in the house to embody a rustic Northwoods look or give the house the feel of a summer beach cabin in the woods or a French Country Cottage in the countryside. The idea is to create an aesthetic; a feel. It’s not just a look; we want people to feel something. We want to immerse them in the experience we’re trying to create.
A home decorated for Christmas in a magazine or on a website is the easiest example of this. Christmas is the theme, the skin. But, one that is fully decorated features mantle decorations above a fireplace with a crackling fire in it. The room might be darkened so that the lights from the tree and the fire show through. Just looking at the image, you can almost hear and smell the crackling fire. We scent pine cones, burn seasonal candles, and simmer potpourri just to achieve the scent of Christmas. There are jingle bells and Christmas Carols for more sounds of the season. We have cookies, desserts, and foods we only make this time of year for even more scents and tastes of the holiday. There is the scent and textures of pine, mittens, snow, and warm blankets. This is a fully realized aesthetic.
Consider, also, a theme park vs. an amusement park. A theme park is designed to tell a story so nothing is out of place. Everything integrates into the theme. An amusement park is just a fun place to go. Even if it has a theme, if you strip away the rides and games, there’s nothing to see. There’s no experience. If you strip away the rides and games at a theme park, there are still sights, sounds, scents, textures, and an underlying story that give you the experience intended by the designer. The rides are just for fun.
How Does All Of This Apply To Tiny Homes?
When you’re designing your tiny home, it’s important to start with your aesthetic because this guides the rest of the design process. It’s easier to choose wall colors, upholstery textures, floors, lights and other elements when you know the mood you want to create and the story of you that you’re trying to tell. Tiny homes are so often not cookie-cutter environments. Each is different because the space is tiny, but needs to function the way you do. Because you have all of these things to consider, you have the unique opportunity to create a fully realized aesthetic in your home.
How Do I Know What My Aesthetic Is?
It’s easier than you think. Look around your current home. What’s on the walls? What kind of furniture did you pick out? Why did you pick it? What’s it made of?
What paint colors are you living with? Why did you choose those? If you’re renting, what did you choose to decorate around it? Do you have area rugs? What color are they? What kind of designs are on them?
Do you decorate around the way your house feels and where it’s located or do you have your own style? If you tell me your style is aeclectic, I’m still going to point out that the items you’ve chosen all have a unifying element. Maybe they’re all country or modern. Maybe everything has clean lines. Maybe they’re antiques or family heirlooms that remind you of something.
What are your hobbies and passions? Do you like video games and play them constantly? Are you a musician? Do you love to travel? What TV show do you follow beyond the show?
Spend time thinking about these questions and searching for home decor related to your answers on Pinterest and Google Images. It won’t take long to figure out what you like.
Aesthetic vs Theme
I can tell you that my answer to one of the questions is I’ve decorated around the feel of a space and its location in the past. I lived in a luxury apartment in which the entire complex had a nautical feel and so did the apartment itself. So, I decorated with shell lights and a seaside theme. But, it was a theme, a skin.
I decorated my house in the woods with a combination of Northwoods cabin and Native American decor because of where it was located and how it felt. This had a little more aesthetic since it was my home and I could use elements and textures that were more permanent.
My core aesthetic is geek chic. I have a lot of hobbies and passions but I like the feel of a home that is more modern with cleaner lines and bright pops of color. For my tiny home, I chose to decorate around an anime aesthetic. I chose a subtle peach backdrop paint with espresso accents so that I could use more kuwaii accent pieces and Sword Art Online wall decals. In this way, all of my design decisions, from using softer furnishings and more rounded accents to fresh scents, and lighting, can all be determined by the story I’m trying to tell about me.
In future posts, I’ll be helping you design around given aesthetics and themes. Some people prefer to use themed pieces instead of designing the entire space. Meanwhile, if you have an aesthetic you’d like to achieve, leave your comment down below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll do what I can to help you design the house of your dreams!