Home Decorating Secrets of a Great Room with Marie Flanigan

Secrets of a Great Room with Marie Flanigan

The interior designer and author breaks down the secret to a great, white-on-white room.

What makes a room more than just pretty, what are the elements that make it memorable? In our Secrets of a Great Room series, we ask designers to tell us how they created their signature rooms. From decorating advice to the practical nitty gritty of furnishings, we get their insider advice on crafting rooms to remember, like this white-washed guest room by Marie Flanigan.

Interior designer Marie Flanigan is known for her fresh take on traditional decor. Originally trained as an architect, Flanigan creates timeless, elegant interiors that reflect her clients’ tastes, but are all marked by a sophisticated simplicity. In Flanigan’s first book The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors, which debuted in September, Flanigan distills her style into nine key elements that she explores in depth, including an entire chapter on simplicity, which is the key word in this room’s restful design.

01.
The design is in the details

Detail is one of the nine essential elements Flanigan considers when designing a room. She says, “Attention to detail is particularly important in an all-white space like this bedroom.” The brass mirror, plush linen bedding, and woven cotton rug bring tactile interest to the room. 

02.
Blank space creates a feeling of calm

“People tend to want to fill every wall, but the purity of nothing creates tranquility,” says Flanigan, who believes negative space is just as important as decorated space. Here, Flanigan uses sophisticated variations of white and barely adorned walls to let the room breathe.

03.
Don’t underestimate the power of white

When you’re aiming for simplicity, Flanigan says you have no better tool at your disposal than the color white. “White builds anticipation of what the eye will encounter next,” she says. It also reveals colors and textures in ways that are undiluted and bold.

04.
Use stripes for a touch of energy

“Pattern has the ability to animate spaces,” says Flanigan. Even a spare room like this needs a moment of pattern; in this case the Swedish Stripe Woven Cotton Rug adds a quiet, but important graphic energy underfoot. “I’m drawn to the edited lines of stripes,” says Flanigan. 

05.
Slipcovers are practical and chic

“I love the casual look that the slipcovered beds bring that space,” says Flanigan, who notes that she don’t always use true slipcovers, but when she does, she finds them to be “a super-durable, functional way to dress a bed, especially in a room kids will use.” 

06.
Even a white-on-white room needs some color

This is a great example of a white, bright palette layered with a little bit of color, notes Flanigan. The black metal lighting, wooden side table, chambray pillow, and the blue stripe of the rug keep this room from being too washed out.

07.
Mix linen and cotton bedding

“I love linen bedding,” says Flanigan. “It has an earthy texture to it that I adore.” However, she says she doesn’t opt for linen sheeting. Instead, Flanigan prefers a linen duvet and euro shams paired with cotton, percale sheeting. Here, the Lush Linen duvet cover brings “plushness” to the all-white space.

08.
Natural light is the ultimate luxury

How you bring daylight into a room can make or break a space, says Flanigan. Excessive decoration can detract from the beauty of daylight, but restraint allows it to shine, like it does in this spare-but-chic space. 

09.
Great rooms don’t need grand budgets

“This room is one of my firm’s most-liked images on social media, but it’s somewhat of a budget room,” says Flanigan, who opted for an affordable cotton rug and cotton slipcovers for their casually, sophisticated look.

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