In design, there has always been a fascination with "the other". People in New York want to build and decorate like Provence, people in Southern California want to build and decorate like Italy etc. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, the results, more often than not, are less than stellar. I have some thoughts as to why this happens and suggestions as to how to avoid some common pitfalls.
- It is all about scale, you cannot make a mansion feel like a cottage, nor a cottage cannot feel like a mansion. So when considering your project, whether it's a new home from scratch or a bathroom remodel, consider first if the scale is appropriate to the project you are doing.
- Consider context. Part of the reason why a Swiss Chalet looks so good in Switzerland is because it is appropriate to the location. The slope of the roof, the size of the overhangs are all responses to context. The same chalet would look silly in Arizona. This is part of the reason why Mediterranean styles can be so successful in Southern California.
- Learn and know the style. What shapes are the windows, how big are they, how many are there? learning these facts and why they are like that is all a part of knowing your style. Until you learn that, making changes to suit your design can be hazardous.
- After you learn the style you are now in a position to distill it down. What you want to do is recreate the feeling of the style, not make a copy of it. For instance do not get caught up in photo's saying, it must be this way or that, but step back and ask what is it about the style I am responding to, and how do I make that.
- Having said all this, do not be a slave to the style. You are not an 18th century peasant, and if your house looks like one, it will make no sense. Instead look at scale, color and texture, these are the elements of style that will bring you success.
Good Luck with your projects!