WHEN BEAUTY SURROUNDS US

BY KRISTA FRANKS BROCK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Have you ever walked into a room for the first time and been immediately captivated by one object? Was your eye instantly drawn to a red sofa or vibrant painting? When that happens, something is off, according to Gary Riggs, owner of Gary Riggs Home.

In a well-designed room, everything should work together so that you are struck by the entire ambience, before zeroing in on various pieces of furniture or the way the color of a vase interacts with a painting on the wall behind it.

“You immediately respond and then you figure out why,” Riggs says. “People don’t always recognize why, but they feel it. Even if you couldn’t live in it, you recognize its beauty and respond.”

Riggs’ design philosophy can be summed up nicely in Aristotle’s well-known adage: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Originally an artist who earned a living on television and movie sets owned by the Osmond family in Utah, Riggs moved to Dallas for its art scene. His paintings, which he describes as “representational but with a twist,” were well received in galleries, but he was soon pulled into the interior design world by one of his patrons. One request followed another until Riggs committed full time to the design world, where he is appreciated for his artistic and compositional approach to interior design. Riggs opened Gary Riggs Home in 2004.

When designing a room, Riggs approaches it as he would a painting, applying all the principles of art—balance, texture, line and color. He says designing a room is very much like creating a painting, except that it is three-dimensional and thus has to look good from every angle. Wherever you are standing in a room, the pieces you can see from your vantage point should work together for a well-balanced and beautiful composition, according to Riggs.

“It is an impossibility not to feel it when you go into a beautiful environment,” Riggs says. He compares walking into a well-designed room to going out into the mountains with the trees, the grass, the sound of a creek all providing a pleasant and calming aura. “Why not feel that way all the time?” he asks.

Riggs’ passion for design is catching and his argument for pursuing it is convincing.

Since the home is where people spend the majority of their time, Riggs believes having a well-designed home is worth the effort.

“I have a strong feeling that it makes such a difference when we surround ourselves with beauty,” he says.

Often, achieving a successful design in a home does not require a complete overhaul or a major spending spree. Sometimes, people have some nice pieces; they just need to be rearranged and presented well, Riggs explains.

When it comes to following trends, Riggs says: “The reality is it’s pretty impossible to change your entire living space for each new trend. I think a healthier way is to try to be a little classic, have timelessness but then add in a vase or accessory with the color of the year.”

Recently, one of Riggs’ former clients moved to a new home, and he helped her get set up. One of her friends came to the new home and said, “I love this new sofa.” The client responded, “You’ve sat on that sofa for 15 years in our old house!”

Riggs says it’s surprising the amount of furniture you can keep and use, even after 15 years, if you just rearrange and update a few accessories.

“At the end of the day, it’s just stuff, but if it makes you feel good, brings up a memory or lifts your spirits, then it’s worth it,” Riggs says.

Krista Franks Brock is a Dallas-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about art and design. For more information, visit kristafranksbrock. wordpress.com.