Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Installed vs Evolved Design

An Installed Landscape
When I first started using these terms, I was thinking of our imperfect, evolving garden vs. one that's professionally designed and installed. Most of the time you can tell the difference at a glance, like this formal garden that was professionally designed, installed (and maintained). Our evolving garden reflects our amateur mistakes, changing enthusiasms and the limitations of time and budget. It's far from the perfection of an installed garden, but it's a reflection of us, and we enjoy the process (most of the time), and the result. 

Installed Design - Benefits and Limitations

In the best installed designs, things are done correctly from the beginning. There's a well conceived plan tailored to the house that accomplishes all that a good plan requires. On the downside, installed designs are only as good as the designer. If they're filled with predictable ideas, they look like they were taken from a manual. If the owner has little or no involvement, it's likely the result won't feel personal.

The concept of the installed vs. evolved approach also applies to interior design.

Installed Design - Interior

Basic Installed Design
At its most basic, installed design is what you see in a motel or in a vignette in a furniture store, with a set of matching pieces, few, if any, accessories and no personality. The artificial look of an installed design can also result from relying too heavily on suites of furniture, or on the use of the companion fabrics manufacturers have created to reduce the angst many people feel trying to create pleasing combinations. 

The highest form of installed design is a turnkey landscape or interior project with a medium to large budget. There will be considerable attention to detail, but elements are chosen, at least initially, by the design professional, and may or may not be approved by the owner. The design has personality, but the result may not be truly personal to the owner. 
Luxury Installed Design

Evolved Design - Interior

Evolved design is what most of us have. Our furniture and accessories reflect our lives. In our house, the china cabinet was inherited from my grandmother Mills, the copper tea kettle from Uncle Bob and Aunt Joanne, a bookcase came from my mother. Along with the pieces we bought over the years, some things were acquired on our travels, while others were found at an antique shop or salvage yard, and refurbished.  We even made a few things ourselves. As we lived in different places, things moved around. A bookcase went from the home office to the sewing room, a lamp that was in the living room in our last house went to live in the guest room when we moved here. Sometimes the treasure that worked beautifully in one house would find itself homeless in the next, and we had to store it or rethink how to make it work. Some things that didn't have a proper home before, came out of storage to be enjoyed again. Nothing stays the same around here. 

While I appreciate the beautiful installed designs I see in magazines or on-line, and find lots of inspiration, I prefer that our home incorporate both formal and informal bits and always evolve. Not only is it one of a kind, it's more fun, personal, comfortable and relaxed. 

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