editing at elv’s

March 15, 2012

Like many people, popping over to Elv’s has become part of my daily routine. That’s because Elv is the creator of a wonderful, eponymous blog that chronicles her ever-evolving decor. It’s fun to behold Elv’s myriad inspirations. But what is really amazing about Elv is her ability to continually change things while still completely remaining true to her overall design scheme.

Elv lives with her husband and two sons in a modern town house in the former Dutch East India Company town of Hoorn in Northern Holland. A self-described “interior junkie,” Elv is constantly visiting local design shops, flipping through style rags, and perusing design blogs. All this “inspiration” she channels directly into her own home.

One might think that these influences might materialize into a fairly eclectic design scheme. But for Elv it is important that her home be a place of respite and calm after a chaotic, stressful day. So she prefers the clean, minimal feel of Scandinavia style. On the other hand she does not want her home to be a museum. It is also essential to her that her sons’ colorful art and toys have a place in her home. Most of all she wants freedom to express herself. So how does Elv keep her home vital while still remaining cohesive and Zen? In short, editing.

I have been meaning to talk about editing in design for a while now, and it seems to me that Elv’s is the perfect place to illustrate this concept. Borrowing a page from my former life as a television producer, I believe that editing is the unsung hero of good design. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally thrilled with current trends of highly individualized, “think outside the box” style, where old doors become headboards and Grandma’s umbrella becomes a pendant lamp. I honestly think this trend is the most inspired thing we’ve seen in design in a long time. But even the most bohemian of designers operate within some prescribed set of parameters, if they are to be successful.

But editing does not just mean “cutting.” I remember watching Titanic win the Oscar for best editing and thinking, “Editing? The picture was 3 hours long!” That was prior to my TV career and before I understood that editing is really a subtle craft. It is honing, playing, tweaking, always in the interest of advancing the overarching story. Yes, some things get left on the cutting room floor, but the whole piece is richer for it.

These are exactly the forces at play at Elv’s. At first glance it appears minimal. It has no rugs, spare furniture, and a limited (but striking) black and white palette. But actually, if you look more closely at Elv’s, there is actually a lot going on. I think that it is her very adherence to the overarching story of Scandinavian modern, that allows Elv to play with the subtleties that make for a more interesting home.

I revel in a well-edited film that takes me on a ride without my even realizing it; gently nudging me towards the conclusion. Similarly, so many of us tune in to Elv’s to see what subtle plot twists she will reveal today. As Elv experiments with the more ephemeral aspects of her home, we may see pinks today or greens tomorrow, but always within the context of the original palette. Or she may play with textures and patterns of a crocheted shawl against midnight furniture and milky floors. Or indulge in a completely opulent crystal chandelier without going overly Baroque. Elv’s overall scheme allows her to add wood or natural elements for warmth and life one day, or create a ghostly congress of white the next. It means her son can introduce camo that doesn’t literally battle the furniture. True, Elv may not buy the hot pink sofa or the orange carpet, but raspberry and persimmon washi tape to hang black and white photos is totally OK.

At the end of the day, Elv wants a house that reflects her family, that is cozy, homey, and lively, but is also a retreat from the hectic world outside. Much like the walls of Elv’s home, editing supplies the structure that allows her to accomplish all these goals, while still keeping her design scheme from dissolving into chaos. In short, it provides the parameters that let freedom reign.

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