Many people say no matter how often they try to recreate a look it falls flat somewhere. The fact is it is very difficult to step across the invisible line between really beautiful and model like when remodelling or changing the design of a room. The difference is typically found in the smaller details.
What Makes the Showcase Rooms so Beautiful?
The biggest is central theme is followed to the smallest detail. There is a difference between a style or look and actual theming. Most of us approach design with a look or style in mind. This is described in terms of open, roomy, light, natural, or comfortable. These are simply looks or goals, they are not themes. A theme for it could well be Greek revival. A true Greek revival theme or design would be open, roomy, natural, and comfortable but it is also something more. It is the something more that differentiates really nice from model beautiful.
Placing revival wooden beds and chest of drawers does not complete the theme. To take it from a nice look to an actual theme all of the little details need to match. Coloured trim or walls may present a comfortable and appealing look but they will not be thematic. Large single pane windows are beautiful and more popular but they will not complete the theme as actual Greek revival is a multi-pane window.
Even the small details such as door wall and door trim change theme and overall impression. As examples Greek revival relies typically would have “dog ear” door mouldings. More obvious example might be in a home with intricate wood crown moulding in the dining room you can change the look but so long as the crown moulding remains (which I happen to adore) it will be nearly impossible to do any true theme but Victorian.
The theme idea in model rooms carries well beyond the structure such as windows and ceiling height and moulding. Even small decorating carries on with the theme. If you have high ceilings with the crown moulding and decide to go with the Victorian theme then table cloths and drapes will need to have lots of lace and colours should stray to ivory as opposed to white with rich burgundy and velvet greens.
Does all of this mean anything?
Yes and no. You can have beautiful rooms with excellent style and wonderful décor without matching a theme to the tiniest detail. In a model the entire room (or home even) was constructed to get that detail from the beginning and every item chose was chosen to match that exact theme. In the real world we seldom change windows based on bedroom furniture selection and the table that Grandmother had in her living room is still going to be in ours.
What it does mean is that if your goal is to have a model style themed home than you will need to do a lot more research than looking at a style of furniture and choosing a window treatment. If you want to actually go with a complete theme for a room it needs to be fully incorporated into any remodel plans from the smallest detail and you will have to exercise self-discipline when deciding where to place the furniture pieces from family or purchased years ago because it may not fit in the theme.
Most of us are happy with really great looking and having it feel like our home instead of look like a showroom model- as soon as we stop asking why it looks different.