This is the second edition in a series about the elements of design. We are going to talk about space and how it affects and works in decorating. Space is something we think about without really thinking about it. It is part of our unconscious make up. But as a decorator being aware of the space we live and work and decorate in is VERY important. Let’s discuss this important element of decor.
You can read about The ELEMENT OF DESIGN… BALANCE HERE. It is the first in this series.
Let’s talk about SPACE! I’m featuring my foyer because I think it shows a very easy to understand example of “space”.
Why is it so important to learn about the design element space? Because if given the proper attention a room can be more beautiful and more balanced if space is considered. You would be surprised by how the way you look at space in your home can add or detract to the comfort and appeal of every room!
Simply put, space is the amount of area in a room you have. And it usually is limited so we need to best know how to work within it. Space is defined as the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and architectural things in a room.n It is the space contained within these things.
My foyer, although open does have very definite walls, doors, windows, floor, and ceiling. The little side wall next to the coat closet defines the limit of the space in the foyer. As does the first step to the upstairs.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
There is both positive space and negative space in design. Empty space is called negative space. And anything inserted to a room is called positive space. Simple so far, right?
Think of positive and negative space this way. Let’s say we are getting ready for a special dinner out with friends. Our bodies are negative space. And every little thing we put on them is positive space.
We need enough positive space to not be indecent when we go out. We need positive space to adorn an outfit with jewelry and shoes and handbags and maybe a wrap. Makeup and hair bobs also add to the positive space.
But if we put on too much jewelry or add too many layers of clothes or add tons of makeup we will look overdone, to say the least!
When we dress for an evening out our goal is to look attractive, have enough clothes on to be respectable and add just enough embellishments to add to our overall look.
Now take that example and think about a room in your home.
The negative space in a room needs to be filled with just enough positive space to look “well dressed”. Not overdressed and certainly not underdressed!
It’s easy to see that the foyer has lots of negative space because it is necessary for room flow and traffic patterns. But this foyer has positive space that “dresses it up” and makes it attractive and welcoming and livable.
CREATING THE ILLUSION
Although a room has a defined amount of space we can make it seem bigger or smaller by what we put in it. Here’s where light can be a player! The right colors put on the things that define a space (walls, ceilings, floors, etc) can make a room look bigger and spacious or smaller and cozy.
Light reflects and can fool our eye by creating the illusion of more space. Just as dark colors can do the opposite.
How a room is divided by furniture (positive space) will also affect the feel of space in a room.
The big challenge for a home decorator is to strike the perfect balance between positive and negative space. We need to fill up a space with just the right amount of furniture, layers, texture, accessories etc to make it comfortable to live in and attractive as well. But we also need negative space to give our eyes, mind and soul rest!
We need to think about how we use spaces in our home and balance negative and positive space accordingly.
Too much of a good, like positive space, is not a good thing.
Many decor enthusiasts might tip the scale in favor of positive space. Try giving a room with lots of trappings a little more negative space.
If you are like me the balance of positive and negative space in decor is not always easy. It’s really a matter of trying and retrying and editing and adding. Think of it as “playing”. The better you are at using the design element space the more beautiful your home will look.