WRITER | KATE MOYNIHAN
It’s not surprising that many of us love the beauty of a birch and its interesting white bark. The tree is found throughout all 83 Michigan counties, from the Indiana and Ohio borders to points north in the UP, touching Canada.
Adding a hint of nature to your home décor promotes a positive vibe that reduces stress, therefore increasing your productivity and creativity. Since many people spend as much as 85% of their time indoors, “bringing the outdoors in” is a beneficial decorating concept.
Four Strengths of the Birch in Home Design
Stories and memories are what make a house a home. Did you know that the rough bark of a birch tree peels to allow the tree to grow? And its strength doesn’t end there, either. The tree is a pioneer, a highly adaptive species that can survive harsh and unforgiving conditions. It easily repopulates in clearings or fire-damaged areas by spreading its roots underground, resurfacing, and flourishing once more.
Use this symbolism of survival/renewal and new beginnings to inspire you. If you’re having a particularly difficult day, try gazing at a stand of heroic birches. Take a deep breath, and let them remind you to dig your roots in, sprout, and shed that outer layer of frustration.
Texture adds life to your home. But what, exactly, is meant by “texture?” In essence, it’s anything you can experience through the sense of touch.
Seventy-five percent of your knowledge is acquired visually, from your sense of sight. The other 25% comes from your other senses combined, and 12% of that is from touch!
Your room becomes more interesting by adding texture, so the rough bark of the birch draws your eye into its pattern and allows your gaze to linger longer.
To heighten the impact of your focal point, an easy trick to remember is that the greater the difference in tactile qualities, the greater the effect. For example, putting a smooth texture directly next to a rough one will make the rough object stand out and appear more dynamic.
If you’re interested in adding more balance to a room, simply repeat similar textures. For example, pair a piece of wicker furniture with wicker baskets on a bookshelf across the room. Or balance a leather sectional with stacks of leather-bound books.
3. Strength in Verticals
Verticality is the most dramatic choice in most interior design contexts as compared to horizontal, diagonal, and curvilinear lines.
Using the linear look of the birch is a useful design element to add energy and an uplifting feeling to your room. Vertical stripes can lead your eye to a focal point and help pull everything together.
For example, to emphasize your fireplace, position an area rug with the vertical line leading the eye directly toward your showstopper hearth and mantel. Then increase the drama by hanging an attractive and substantial work of art. If you can’t find one piece of art that is tall enough, hang a few smaller ones in a vertical composition. Finish it off with an interestingly placed birch element.
You can also use tall pieces of furniture and place accessories on top of them to draw your eye upward. Continue creating an impactful room by installing floor-to-ceiling curtains ― no matter the height of the windows. Doing so will make your room feel larger, yet still cozy and welcoming.
Vertical lines also make a wide space seem narrower. If your room feels cramped, create an airy feeling by using those linear elements to your advantage.
Using a mix of light and dark shades can add interest and energy to your room. The birch bark, with its strong contrast of black against white, is a dynamic value change that will heighten the vitality of your indoor space.
Using high-contrast colors and values in your home is perfect for high-activity rooms such as kitchens, family rooms, and recreational spaces.
No matter how you decide to use it, incorporating a birch pattern into your everyday space can have a huge impact. Use its inspiring contrast, texture, vertical power, and symbolism to your benefit.
After 25 years, Kate Moynihan recently retired as the owner of Moynihan Gallery in downtown Holland. The large retail shop was known for its colorful home décor vignettes and its awareness of art and home design trends.
A Michigan native, Moynihan’s first career as a registered nurse and her knowledge of color therapy created an interest that led her to return to college as an art major to study color relationships. She went on to create paintings to harmonize with home décor.
Before owning the gallery, Moynihan created custom original watercolor and paper collages for Business Images in Chicago, Studio 84 West in Long Beach, and International Art Concepts in Los Angeles, which represented Pier One.
Now Moynihan spends her time painting, with work available at the Lake Effect Gallery in Holland.