Updated: Jan 20
The Secret Weapon of High-End Designers: The Element of "Wetness" in Decorating
You've heard of balance as a fundamental design element. Generally in terms of Symmetrical vs asymmetrical balance. Today we're going to talk about balance in the context of "wet" and "dry" pieces, which is a little known secret of luxury designers such as Alice Lane Interiors, who discuss this concept if you follow them, and I thought was a really interesting one to share with all of you as you seek to achieve that high-end look in your own homes.
The Quality of Wetness
To boil it down - if the piece has a glossy, polished, shiny, or translucent finish, it has a wet quality.
This closeup of a styled shelf will help illustrate the difference I'm referring to. Can you guess which elements would be considered wet and which dry?
The two bowls on the top shelf would be wet. The two bowls in the middle shelf are neutral / wet. The vase wet. The books dry. The metallics on the bottom shelf are decidedly wet, and the boxes dry. The mix is what creates visual interest and balance.
The Dry Trap
Have you ever been in a room where everything has a dry quality? Linen drapes, upholstered seating, textured pillows, wood furniture, rustic vases, woven baskets, linen bound books...all beautiful pieces that I use in just about every room, but sometimes if a room is comprised exclusively of dry textures and finishes, we may find it feels a little flat, predictable, and, frankly, a little parched!
There is nothing wrong with the below room, in fact the rustic style embodies the dryness and it makes sense in that context. But I'm suggesting by adding just one or two "wet" elements can really add interest and balance to a room.
This next room has a dry aesthetic overall, but the mirror and glass vase are all that's needed to create balance. It's almost like giving a thirsty room a drink! Ahhhh...that feels better!
Here too, another rustic room, but that oversized carboy makes all the difference. If you put your finger over it, you can feel the room tip out of balance.
An Easy Fix
The reason living rooms can tend this way is all the soft textures found in them. An easy "wet element" to incorporate is glass (below: shelves, side tables, lighting), but just recently I swapped a few things that I feel really elevated our living room.
To balance the dryness out, we need to look at opportunities to bring in elements that have a wetness to them - think glass, crystal, mirrors, glazed ceramics, acrylic.
Recently I swapped in a glossy ceramic Greek bust and my collection of crystal candlesticks. They replaced a candle and textured planters and not only do they achieve more of a transitional aesthetic, but they definitely add balance and gosh I love that sparkle.
We also got a Samsung Frame TV (separate blog post on that baby to come later!) but I loved layering in my ginger jars in front. Again, the contrast of the wood (dry) mantel with the jars (wet) is when your designs will start to get super interesting! Try it!
The easel on the right cabinet is acrylic which has that luminescence we're trying to bring in. Love an easel for their ability to easily swap out different pieces for a change. Right now it's just my painting from ladies paint night over the holidays :)
Also, I make no apologies for my art obsession - never enough :)
Can you spot the Wet / Dry Elements in these Designer spaces?
The use of more wet elements is a real high-end design trick, see if you can spot each the wet and dry elements in these design all stars work below!
Well there you have it! I hope you learned something new in this post! It's definitely not something talked about a whole lot in the design world. Let me know whether you've got a few instances of "wetness" in each of your rooms, and of course, if you need assistance with these finishing touches, we'd be happy to help! Book a call with us today to discuss your next project!
Until next time! Meghan