24 Nov 2009

What Makes a Room Memorable?


I have come to realise that the rooms that grab my attention have a similarity about them.

Decoratively they may not be of the same style or the same period yet the key elements will have something in common.

These certain features that I gravitate towards are what I consider to be the foundations of any good room.

For me it is not about the size of the space or the price of the content it is that the room has an abundance of warmth, a ‘feel good’ factor. A room must have ambience and be a place of comfort and protection.

A great room demands your attention and it holds your interest. A memorable room is the one that you never want to leave and that stays long in your heart.



*Symmetry, I like a room to have a semblance of balance.

*Furniture placement – conversation is king and I have a preference for furniture that facilitates this.

*Neutral walls (not always but more often than not and by neutral I mean taupe, putty, greys, cremes and a million shades in-between). It is not that I don’t love colour, I do but when I analyse the rooms that draw me in it is those that have colour accents rather than an overwhelming use of colour.

*Comfort, squishy sofas and lots of down pillows to nestle back into.

*Chairs with footstools or chaises for relaxing.*A fireplace, all my memorable rooms have a fireplace.

*Plenty of side tables or a good sized coffee table – somewhere to plonk a drink, something to eat and any reading matter.

*A mirror – every good room deserves a looking glass or two.

*Paintings, engravings, photographs or sculpture means never a dull moment. There is always a point of interest to look at and talk about.

*Books – the more the merrier, on shelves, on tables, stacked on the floor.

*Fabric – for the practical and the tactile benefits. I have been a silk, linen and velvet lover forever.

*Something old and something new, the best spaces always mix the ancient with the contemporary.

*Objects – they tell me much about the owner.

.*Lighting – lamps, ceiling and wall fixtures of varying heights (rose pink light globes to enhance the mood).

*An interesting carpet or two.

*And the sensory touches – music, candles and flowers. Flowers, fruit or foliage from the garden – in pots, in vases, in glasses or ceramic containers.

My favourite rooms have a variety of potted plants and fresh blooms.

*The most important feature of all…signs of life… xv

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Shell Sherree

I can say, "Ditto," to your list, Vicki! Lighting, flowers, soft welcoming textures and a few key interesting pieces are high on my list. The warm bask of romantic light is very forgiving. :)


You have covered it all…beautifully. Reminds me of this passage by Jan Norris
"I love the house not just as a thing, but as a concentration of emotions and sensations, contained within a receptacle which in its style, in its stance, its materials, its degree of grandeur and its position on the map exactly represents all that I have most cherished and coveted in life" :)

Francine Gardner

I could not have said it better!!! This is exactly my design philosophy.On Saturday,in the midst of styling my showroom for Christmas, taking photos for my Holiday post, selling to clients, I was also explaining my design philosophy to new potential clients (who thanksfully hired me on the spot) and between my words, hand gesture, the look, feel and scent of the showroom they immediately related to my design sensibility. I should just print and frame your words and just give them to clients to read……

Velvet and Linen

This is exactly why I appreciated your help selecting the ten finalists. I knew you would add this level of detail to the voting. I love your list of essential elements. I'm saving this post in my files to show my clients!
Thank you again for your constant support and friendship!



Yes Vicky ~ 'signs of life'!

I call this 'draw' into a room ~ something relevant to the reason-for-being of the room ~ something that draws you in! This could be symbolic or functional, but always relevant!

For example: a bowl of fresh oranges on a coffee table of a sharing space. A few senses are will be awakened, while communicating a welcoming message.

Great post VIcky!

Thank you,

~ MCJ ~


Oh I loved this post,everything you said was dead on!!! It is the best complement one can recieve when someone says "I never want to leave this room"……enjoy your day!


What I love in a room is cozy comfort and the way it makes you feel. It starts with the lighting whether it be lamps or candles, fresh flowers & plants, pictures and artifacts of a life well lived. Most importantly however, are the people in that room that you love and make you feel loved! Have a great day/evening, Vicki!

P.S. I can't wait for French Essence to get to the U.S. – will it be early in 2010? xxoo


I don't think I could have articulated what makes a room memorable, but I think you got it right. I'm going to use this as my blueprint in my own house- so thank you! Lovely blog.


You have a most refined taste in design…my favorite of her list was Melissa L's. I am a minimalist in my heart and always gravitate to open spaces, not too much coverage. There were a few others I was drawn too but I think I could see myself having a blast in Melissa's room.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

What a fun post…


Dear Vicki,
I agree with you on the balance in the room. I like to see water, sun and earth. The mirrors are like water with natural sunlight and neutral linens are by far my favorite. I Adore the ones you choose~
Happy Week to you!

Angie Muresan

No, you didn't! Those are the loveliest sort of rooms. I wish I would have known about the contest earlier. I would have loved to submit something… just to see if all my perusing of decorating books has paid off.


Dear Vicki – this would definitely be the definitive list for me…especially the squishy sofas..when I ordered sofas to be made in Oz just before we moved over here the shop owner obviously thought I was quite mad when I insisted on having the seat and back cushions filled with only feather..I now only have one armchair in the house which isn't 'squishy' and not enough hours in the day to plump them all up!! Love your lists..Susie x

Carol Ann

That is a wonderful list, I read thought it a few times and the only thing I can think of to add is drapery and blinds…
Drapery can just be side panels or full close the world out ones, they must be a deeper tone of the paint used and silk…faux or real.
Blinds or romans or faux woods just balance out the side panels and add warmth…not to mention close out the world and stop the black hole feeling in the evening…
That's it, the rest of your list stands for the best list of the feel good factor…room
Regards, Carol Ann

Linda at Lime in the Coconut!

No Vicki…I would say that is a very comprehensive list…and I agree with most all of it.

I do know that is sometimes quite hard to convey all of those qualities through the lens of a camera.

That not wanting to leave is such a true point!

I love all of the entries in Brooke's contest…what a great one!


You've forgotten not a thing:
in fact, you've captured my list.
Especially –
Ancient + Contemporary Mix!
Signs of Life!

Isn't it remarkable how often you see spaces so "perfectly done" that they show no clues to tell you anything about who lives there … .


That tapestry could bring any room to life.

Inspired Comblogulations

I voted today too. It was between two, all the way down at the bottom. Made me want to redo my living room… I enjoyed this post immensely. Of course money doesn't hurt…you have to have basics.

Dumbwit Tellher

Vicki – your response is so perfectly and thoroughly thought out. All examples do add up to "signs of life" and that is truly what makes us remember a room whether it's our taste or not. Beautiful xx

Josephine Tale Peddler

Great wisdom, Vicki in this post! I am encouraged you believe it doesn't matter how small the room is. Also that you mention books. I have to admit to loving Nanna style floral wallpaper but that's me! xx


Dear Vicki, you haven't forgotten a thing. As I read your post I could really visualise your 'memorable room' and of course I wanted to be in such a room right now. You have mentioned so many of the elements that truly make a house a home. Lee :)

Cote de Texas

I love your list! You are so right about all of them. And you should know- your own rooms are beyond fabulous- as you know I love them!!! I went through a slight obsession with your Mas after your new book came out!


What a great check list to use Vicki! I can still only tick half of those boxes in our Work-in-Progress Sitting Room. It's such a difficult room to get just right, lots of windows, only one solid walls, big fireplace, thoroughfare to our bedroom etc. – so placing furniture in the perfect place is a big challenge. But I'll get there with it, & I'll use your your list as an excellent reference tool, thank you!
Millie ^_^


gREAT LIST…I'll print it and I'll use to decor my first house ever!!! i'm so excited… still have to decide for the house Yes or not, but I'm already thinking to decorate it!

I saw the finalist… I've chosen my winner!


I love your list! The only thing I would add are comfortable and freshly washed throws. My friends and I love to curl up soft, lightweight throws and a glass of wine to talk the night away.

Fabulous Finds Gal

I believe you covered it, Vicki. I just got your first book from Anthropologie in Fashion Island and am thrilled to see it in person. It is first class. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fabulous Finds Gal

for the love of a house

Well, you didn't miss anything in my book!! I loved your list and totally agree! And you are so right, the size of the room doesn't matter. The living room in our farmhouse is very small, but because it has most everything on your list it 'feels' very special!
Oh wait, I do have one thing to add… clean windows;)!!

Alison Gibbs

Hi Vicki Symmetry is definitely on the top of my list. Maybe it has something to do with me being under the star sign of Libra – have to have balance


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