The Power of Distraction: Hiding Eyesores in Plain View

The Power of Distraction: Hiding Eyesores in Plain View

Leah Moss
May 21, 2009

Nearly every home has something we wish we it didn't— an oddly placed (but necessary) electrical fixture, an outdated sofa, ugly tile— but replacing even the smallest eyesore doesn't always suit our budget, our renter's abilities, or our eco-conscience. So how to deal? Distract the eye! Adding and arranging elements that simultaneously divert attention away from the culprit and make the ugly villain seem purposeful is often the best way to make the most of what you have. Check out some real life solutions after the jump...

One of our favorite parts about house tours is absorbing the creative solutions real people come up with to address the real problems in their real homes. Most of these dwellers haven't had access to a slew of carpenters, contractors, and design experts who can transform their homes in seconds flat. However, they've come up with some pretty inspiring ideas. These are a few of our favorites.

We wish we had taken "before" pictures of Nicole and Colin's bathroom (the "after" is shown above), which previously looked like a train wreck of vintage style and nineties "updates." Mustard and onyx wall tiles glared out from stark white walls, and mismatched beige floor tiles added just the wrong kind of clash. Renovation wasn't an option, so they put their creativity to work. First they hunted down a shower curtain that matched the mustard yellow of the ugly tiles, and then they painted the walls the other color in the shower curtain, silver sage. Next they balanced out the black accent tiles with black picture frames and other black accessories.

The tiny medicine cabinet posed a similar problem. It was added in the nineties, and lacked the scale and character of the other retro elements of their 1940s home. Nicole simply added a vintage picture frame to the wall behind the cabinet to expand it visually, to give it more character, and to tie it into the tiles with its gold hue.

Laura rocked a similar solution in her pink tiled bath. A previous tenant had masked most of the pink with faux marble vinyl stick on tiles, which did little to increase the aesthetic appeal. So, although pink was not her color of choice, Laura decided to play up the girly by selecting an equally bold and feminine fabric to compliment and draw attention away from the pepto bismol tile.

While Stefan wasn't cursed with a less than desirable bathroom, he was faced with the normal challenge of arranging his furnishings in such a way that less attractive necessities didn't dominate his small studio. His solution? The gallery wall. By grouping small objects around smaller eyesores (the fire alarm) and larger artwork around larger unsightly objects (the TV), he gives the eye more pleasing things upon which to focus.

A family friend, Mary, employed a similar tactic around her light switch. She grouped her collection of crosses around it so that the eye was drawn to the more interesting objects rather than to the bland switch plate.

We couldn't resist using one more example from Nicole and Colin's home, the pantry. What was once a bland, random particle board unit squeezed between a doorway and the fridge, now has the look of a custom built-in thanks to a coat of paint in the same color as their kitchen walls, a flashy new set of handles, and a painted white border that mimics the generous crown molding and architectural details gracing the rest of their home.

Working with large objects, like sofas, is a bit trickier—especially for those who detest the look of slipcovers— but we were heartened when we came across the photo below. It's a great balance of hand-me down traditional and updated edge. The plaid couch could very well be the focus if left untouched, but rather than let it dominate the space, the owners basically out-funked it, using the bold cow hide rug and black & white accessories around the room to divert attention. In addition, they tied in the dark maroon from the plaid by selecting similarly colored drapes and using the large oriental rug under the cowhide rug to anchor the traditional colored elements.

What distraction feats have you pulled off?

(Images: 1-3, 6-9: Leah Moss, 4,5: Laura, 10: Living Etc.)

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