Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Physical Space

 Recently, while I was resetting my house for Gitter Done, I had one of those design epiphanies.  Now, you ALL probably already know this.  I didn't.  It has to do with physical space.

Currently I live in a fairly small home.  Since the birth and growth of our two sons and the addition of two dogs and the add-on retired husband, our home has gotten smaller.  It's a lovely little pad, though.  I mean, I dream of bigger, but in all honesty, this home is manageable.  Yes, I wish there was more storage.  Our two-car garage was converted to a family room 8 years ago.  Our basement is a partial with a crawl space.  We lack in storage areas.  However I have managed well with what we have. We are now bursting at the seams.  Busting a gut, one might say.  So, instead of complaining about it.  I thought I'd do something about it.  Time to say goodbye to the stuff and repurpose furniture, shelves, closets, etc.

While doing this mini-makeover I noticed something.
See that chair and ottoman on the lower left?  Yep.  That's the one.  Look underneath the legs of the chair?
What do you see?
I've learned that mirrors and light colors add visual space to a room.
However, actually seeing space adds physical space to a room.  In this small house, where all four of us and the furry ones are amid the structure all day long, having actual physical space to see with my eyes has opened my perspective to making our home quite literally bigger.

I am a visual person.  And a feeling person.  I cannot sit too long in a room with painted red walls, dark mahogany furniture and not start to feel the coziness, the warmth, the darkness around me. So living in a lighter home has been on my agenda for a long time.  This transformation, in real time, will take me years to accomplish.  That's OK. I have started, and continuing on this journey is actually fairly easy.  Make it white.  Brighten things up.  Paint. Move stuff over or out.  Not that hard a transformation when the color palette is simple.

Then I was awakened to space.

Take a look here:

how different this bedroom would FEEL if we couldn't see underneath the bed

and look what happens here,
seeing the floor opens up the room

how about here,

and even here in this darker palette,

the exposed floor underneath the table
allows the room to breathe

and here too, with the darker woods
without a rug to choke the room,

Just seeing space,
not only the illusion of it,
creates an openness in a room.

This is my new reality!

sources of photos:
2.elle decor
3.country living
4.elle decor
5.coastal living
6.coastal living


  1. Very cool post because it makes perfect sense. Thanks, girl!!

  2. This is a great post. I find myself looking at leggy pieces of furniture rather then stuff that goes to the floor just for that reason. I'm all for more space and light and airy. :)

  3. Now... I will be looking for space... see what you've started!! First videos and now space!! hehehehe

    Great insight girl!! So true!

  4. Hello? Helloooo? Did you study a full design course overnight? Stop all this learning - you're not gonna need me anymore!

    Seriously, you are exactly right about the effects of visual space creating more physical space. So many people are quick to fill every spot in a room, and then they stand back and wonder why the room doesn't feel more open.
    Really? they can't figure it out?

    Any color, used effectively, can reflect proper spacing. It doesn't always have to be white or light. It's all in marrying the proper use of colors with the proper selection of furnishings, and the proper placement of both of those elements together in the room.

    Let me give you an example: Let's say you have a small room, and you paint it red, but you leave the ceiling white. Your drapes are white. Your furniture is walnut and your sofe is tan. Close your eyes and visualize this room. Where does your eye rest? I'm guessing it rests on the white drapes? Am I right? That's because you're visualizing long lengths of white fabric against the sharp contrast of a dark wall, and you're catching the white ceiling out of the corner of your eye. I'm guessing you even pictured that that room had two windows. Hum? And I'm further guessing that you unknowingly added a light toned wood floor. I bet you didn't have any pillows on that sofa either. So then where did the red walls and the tan sofa go? You almost forgot about them, didn't you? That's called proper use of color when your dark base pallette simply sets a warm tone for the rest of the room and you allow the accessories to be center stage. Your mind immediately went to the white in the room and not the red because the sharp contrast in the white on the red wall brought the lighter color forward in your mind.

    Funny how color can make you think a certain way.
    Certain colors just evoke a feel to them.

    Now picture a large kitchen with lots of windows. The walls and the ceiling are painted white. The furniture and the cabinets are all dark cherry. The countertops are black. The curtains are red plaid. The floors are tan tile. Now, you have dark cabinets, dark counters, dark furniture, dark drapes right? But I bet when you visualize that room, it doesn't 'feel' dark to you, rather it feels clean and spacioius. Again, it's all in the proper distribution of your colors. Imagine if those walls were red with all of the other same variables, and the floors were black tile. Now that would be a dark room. But, because your walls are white and you have lots of light via the windows, the dark features do not appear heavy.

    See what I mean? Or did I just confuse everybody?
    Holy moly, I wrote a whole lecture series. I think I need to cover this specific topic on my own blog. :)

    Anyway, glad you've got the itch to make what you have better. You have a great attitude about it.

    Love you big! :)

  5. Great points! I am starting to feel a need for change as well, but I love my color, so I need to look closely at what you are saying. Thanks for the food for thought! Hugs!

  6. Kolein!
    I'm learning vicariously through you ...loved the photo inspiration and examples. The last picture makes me want Spring and Summer time to get here so I can pull the rugs up and expose my floors!
    (too cold,right now)
    OH, and LISTEN to what Polly says about filling 'every spot in a room ...and wonder why the room doesn't feel more open.'
    Seriously-- did you see the pictures in my living room? Filled to the gills...(smile)

    Glad you had a design epiphany and especially glad you shared it with us!


  7. So, are you going to be looking under my beds when you come? I have stuff stored everywhere--but in an organized way!

  8. Hi Kolein....For a small house, that is great space you have in that room...I am loving the ottoman with the ruffled skirt. Did you make that?

    Take care,

  9. Hi design diva!

    I just wrote a book on here and my computer wigged out. Maybe, it has the flu too :) I am falling over in love with your inspiration photos! Oh, and I think I had a dream about your slipcovers, the other night. You think I'm kidding but I'm not :) Could you come and re-do my ottoman slipcover. It's ugly! The dogs like it though.

    Hey, I like the direction you're going! I think your house has great space. Good ideas on how to make it work for you. Like the open airy concept. We used a bench at our dining room table instead of chairs so it would keep the room open. Plus I like the mix.

    It's fun to see all the changes you are making! Oh, and that bed in the first photo. I need that delivered a.s.a.p.. :)

    Hugs to you,

  10. Love your living room's leggy chair...you gave some great examples for inspiration!



What you say means so much


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