Bakersfield Magazine: Design Sense

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Design of odd shaped rooms

Design is about combining elements to create an outcome or a principle. Before starting a design project, it’s essential to gather information that answers three questions. The first one is about knowing the user of the space. The best part of my profession is working closely with my clients and learning who they are, their likes, dislikes, and habits. The second question defines the function of the space. By listing the activities that will take place, you can determine the furniture and equipment needed. The third question analyzes the space and its requirements.

The shape and size of a room have a direct impact on its overall look. There are times when the room might have less than perfect dimensions or proportions; it just doesn’t feel right but you are not sure what to do or where to begin.

We are naturally drawn to beautiful things; beauty in ancient Greece was associated with properties like symmetry, harmony, and proportions. When you look closely at a shell, the petals of a flower, or a human face, the more proportioned their features are, the more appealing they look. Since the ancient civilizations, the Golden Mean or Divine Proportions have been the influence behind many structures.

The design of homes nowadays is directly impacted by many factors including construction cost and feasibility, resulting in proportions far from being divine. However with the correct use of finishes and furniture, we can solve some of these problems.

The room is too small or has too many angles

To make a room appear larger, keep the walls and ceiling monochromatic. When we have a small room, we want to eliminate any visual interruptions to the eye, therefore by painting it in one color we eliminate the boundaries created where the two colors meet. The same concept applies when we have many angles or soffits, arches, and columns that are out of proportions with the space and which we need to draw the attention away from them.

To extend the height of the walls, paint the baseboards and moldings the same color to create the illusion that there is no beginning or end to the walls.

Hanging drapery that extends a few inches longer than the height of the walls distracts the eye from stopping at the base of the walls and continues to follow the drapery line.

The room is too large 

Treating the ceiling with a darker finish will add coziness to a large room. Section a large room into smaller areas by defining the main circulation patterns first and keeping them clear of any furniture so it is safe to escape in the case of an emergency. Flooring patterns and materials are a great way to divide a large space, and furnishings will be placed depending on the required functions. Dressing up large walls with patterns or texture will minimize their massiveness. Wall coverings have made a strong come back and there are endless possibilities to create interest using light, contrasting textures, and colors.

Ceiling is too low or too high

The ceiling level will appear lower when painted a darker color. To break the height of the walls, add moldings a couple of feet below the ceiling line and paint all the upper walls from the molding line to the ceiling in one color that matches the ceiling and that is darker than the lower part of the walls.

The room is too narrow and long

To balance a narrow and long room out, treat the far walls in darker colors so they appear closer, and add a reflective surface, for example a mirror, on the closer walls or a finish with high reflective properties such as wall covering with high sheen to make them seem farther apart.

To shorten the length of a corridor, use contrasting vertical lines on the walls as well as patterns with dominant perpendicular lines on the floor.

The windows are not proportioned to the room or wall

Window treatments are great to camouflage small or out of scale windows; when you hang the drapes outside the perimeters of the windows, they appear larger and when you hang the drapes over the windows revealing only a part, they appear smaller.

The light is unbalanced in a room.

When windows are located on one side of the room it can cause unbalance in lighting. Painting the walls in dark colors will increase the contrast between the light filtered through the windows and the interior walls causing more glare. Light colored walls minimize that contrast and level the light throughout by reflecting it to the other side of the room. You can also increase the levels of light on the opposite side by adding light fixtures.

There are many ways to improve the aesthetics of a space. When assessing any design, look not at the space by separating its architecture from its finishes and furniture but rather as a whole entity. In merging form and function we see a space evolve to reflect the user’s persona. A well designed room is the one that makes its users feel comfortable. There is always a hidden charm to every space and it’s all about bringing out its character rather than giving it a whole new identity.