In partnership withGenesis

How to Embrace Contrast, According to a Designer

updated Jun 28, 2021
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Credit: Drew Scott

If we may quote Paula Abdul — and can’t we always? — opposites attract. In design, a little tension sparks interest and energy. Fall in love with a mid-century modern lamp that doesn’t match your boho aesthetic? Bring it to the party anyway. Think those two colors you like don’t go together? Think again! A space that’s too matchy-matchy can feel airless, but a dash of contrast is like a shot of espresso.

Drew Scott — designer, DIY-er, and founder of Lone Fox Home — knows the big impact a little push-and-pull can have. Whether he’s making over spaces or crafting new “Drew It Yourself” projects, Drew isn’t afraid to have fun with differing styles, patterns, and colors. Exhibit A: his ultra-modern kitchen with botanical lemon wallpaper.

“Contrast is so important,” Drew says. “Without it, spaces can look bland and fall flat. Adding contrast through colors, textures, or patterns adds that extra oomph to set your space apart.”

At our 2021 Small/Cool Experience — a design extravaganza where incredible designers showed off the latest trends — Drew joined Apartment Therapy founder and CEO Maxwell Ryan to talk about the power of contrast. Genesis, the official auto sponsor of this year’s event, harnesses that power too, combining athleticism and elegance in every design.

Credit: Drew Scott

We asked Drew how we can use contrast to create spaces that come to life.

How does contrast affect a space?
Immensely. Contrast brings in the visual interest you need to truly pull a space together. It helps your designs look more thought-out. It also helps ease your eye into a space, adding dimension to what can otherwise be monotonous.

Do you have any advice on mixing styles?
I love experimenting with juxtaposition in my designs. I rarely ever just stick with one style. My advice would be to start with mixing just two. Mixing multiple styles can start to look busy and mismatched; if you don’t incorporate enough of one style, certain elements can look out of place. An even mixture of two can help create a cohesive space.

Credit: Drew Scott

How can we embrace contrast?
Don’t be afraid to add color and pattern! It can be a bit of a leap sometimes, but it’s the easiest way to add visual interest and contrast to a space. I recommend the rule of thirds: For example, if you’re going to add a pop of rust orange to a room, having three separate elements in that color helps your eye move around the room.

With pattern, you can add a focal point like a piece of art or, if you’re feeling extra bold, some furniture. Go out of your comfort zone — you can always edit! Taking risks helps you grow your eye for design. Contrast can be as bold or as subtle as you’d like.

Do you follow (or break) any design rules when it comes to contrast?
I do a mix of both! With design, you don’t always have to follow rules, and that’s what the Lone Fox brand is all about: Foxes usually stick to their packs, but a Lone Fox doesn’t. As you grow your eye for design, you can start to bend the ‘design rules’ just enough to fit the flow of a space or your personal style.

Watch Drew and Maxwell’s full conversation:

Genesis knows that contrast brings design to life. The redesigned Genesis G70 is a luxury sport sedan with muscular power and sleek lines for a look that’s athletic and elegant. Visit Genesis online to learn more.