Design Tip

Design Tip


What helps Small Spaces?

  • Leave about 30% negative space open.
  • Don’t use large pieces of furniture.
  • Don’t use too many tall bookcases.
  • Place a light at the two farthest points in the room.
  • Make each piece multi-functional.
  • Eliminate anything that does not contribute to the whole.

With the soaring prices of real estate these days many of us elect to live in smaller and smaller spaces.  We tell ourselves it will be worth it.  We tell ourselves that it will be cozy and fun.  Then we start to panic when we actually try to fit in it.  The first thing we do is break all the rules.  It’s OK to break the rules, but is what you’re giving up OK?

We fill every inch of the floor plan with large furniture pieces and towering bookshelves.  We say, “Oh wow, I can fit my big sofa in there after all!”  And we fill the room wall to wall. 

But what we don’t realize is the big furniture and towering bookshelves actually EMPHASIZE the fact that the place is too small.  This in turn makes the whole place feel wrong.  We might even notice we are in a bad mood all the time.    Or for me, it would turn into depression. 

Rule No. 1 – Let negative space work for you.

Negative space is your most positive commodity.  Having some negative space is just as important as getting in all of the furniture that you need.  It might even be more important in this case because it plays an important role in creating the right proportions.   Good proportions make the difference between feeling wrong and feeling great. 

Let the negative space “frame” each active area and support it.   If you have a two or three foot area with nothing in it, great.  It actually helps!  Being in the place feels better. 

If we look at the proportions of nature, the amount of filled space should only be about 62% of the room.  (Refer to the Golden Means or phi = 1.618:1 for more about proportion).   

We all sense these things, but usually don’t consider them important.  Especially if the square footage is small. We say to ourselves – Oh it would be nice to be in proportion, if I had the room. We just want all of our things near us.  

Yes, you need your stuff to live, but are you spending your space wisely? The word “live” is important too!  You not only need to live, you need to be happy and thrive there.  Your space cannot give you the right feeling if you overcrowd it.  And the feeling your space gives you affects you every day.  It’s in our DNA to be drawn to good proportions and be repelled by bad ones. We might be able to ignore it, but it affects us nonetheless! It gets through to us.


1 Comment

  1. That second photo is gorgeous. And makes your point!


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