When designing a space that will sing to your family’s unique rhythm, pull the room together by turning up the layers and adding repetition

I absolutely love it when a room begins to come together. Two weeks ago you saw the challenges I faced with my clients’ dining room in Manoa, and how I overcame them with design and decor elements like a shimmery golden wallpaper, crystal chandelier, art on the wall and a dining table that grounded the space.

Those were the big elements. Once I had those in place, I was able to focus on the finishing touches that would bring the space together. It’s the layering and repetition that I’ve talked to you about time and again, and that I hope by now you’re beginning to understand so you can train your eye to do this yourself.


Here’s how I layered and repeated different elements to create a practical yet stylish dining room for this family of five.

First, some repetition. Notice how the golden color of the wallpaper ties in with the golden hue of the reclaimed-wood table? The chocolate brown dining chairs also coordinate with the chocolate color of the oversized mirror.

The shimmering crystals of the chandelier are repeated in the trio of glass vases on the table and the crystal wine goblets on the baker’s rack. And the shine of the chrome is reflected in the vessel on the ledge separating the dining room and kitchen.

Repetition of colors and elements is what makes a space feel pulled together, but it’s the layering of elements that makes it feel interesting and dynamic — the combinations of different materials like reclaimed wood, chrome and glass.

Now for another finishing touch that’s important to consider with open spaces, you want to bring colors and elements from one space into another.


The family wanted a warm, inviting dining room, but the color white dominated the nearby kitchen. To tie one to the other, I decided to bring some white into the dining room. We already had white shutters, but we didn’t stop there. Notice the white plates in the baker’s rack? How about the white vases and mats in the picture frames?

And I went vice versa with yellow, bringing some of that warmth from the dining room to the kitchen. As you peek into the kitchen, you’ll see splashes of yellow.

So find ways to repeat elements to make your space feel pulled together and refined. Choose elements that reflect the decorating styles you’re trying to follow. Finally, layer in different materials for a more interesting look.

And don’t forget to transition between rooms by bringing some of these elements into nearby spaces. It’s paying attention to details like this that will create that perfect setting.


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit www.cathyleestyle.com.