Every home decorator should know about the interior design concept of SPACE. Let's learn about positive space and negative space, proportion and scale, and how light in a space affects it. Space is an important part of decorating.
Let’s talk about space and how it works when we decorate our homes. Space is something we think about without really thinking about it. It is part of our unconscious makeup. But as a decorator being aware of the space we live in is VERY important. Let’s discuss this important element of decor.
To show you examples of how space works in a home I’m using our dining area as an example. Even though this is a very open area, the walls and architecture, and even the rugs define this space.
Our eyes and minds work together to take clues from the architecture to create boundaries for this room. Pretty cool, right?
Let’s talk about the design element 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 how knowing about 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.
And a room’s space 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. It is the space contained within these things.
I think the usage of space to create a dining area is easy to see in this room.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
There is both positive space and negative space in design. Empty space is called negative space. And anything inserted into 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.
There is 100 percent negative space in a completely empty room.
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!
The dining room is a great example of positive and negative space because it is so easy to see both. Most of the positive space is in the center of the room, while most of the negative space is around the perimeter of the room.
CREATING THE ILLUSION
Although a room has a defined amount of space it has, we can make it seem bigger or smaller by what we put in it.
WHAT WE PUT IN A ROOM CAN AFFECT HOW BIG OR SMALL A ROOM LOOKS
The more we put into a room the smaller it can look. That is somewhat common sense.
But did you know that the proportion of things we put into a room can make a room look bigger or smaller?
Big furniture in a room will fill up the positive space making a room look smaller.
And small furniture in a room will leave more negative space and tends to make a room look bigger.
It should be our goal to use the right proportion and scale when adding furnishing to a room.
We want to be like Goldilocks! We want furniture that is just right! You can read about Scale and Proportion HERE.
HOW LIGHT AND COLOR EFFECTS SPACE
Here’s where light can also be a player in a room! The more light and airy a room looks the larger it appears. And the darker and more moody a room is the smaller it can look.
The same with color because color is all about light. Rooms that are painted whites and other light colors tend to make a room look more spacious. And rooms that are painted darker tend to make a room look smaller and more closed in.
When we bought the Tanglewood House, the entire thing was painted tan. Walls, trim, ceilings! Everthing. It looks so closed in!
So before we moved in we painted the whole thing Simply White by Benjamin Moore. What a difference! Our open concept home looked much more open and bright and happy!
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.
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.
Too much of a good thing, like positive space, is not a good thing. Filling too much of the space in a room with decor will make it look uncomfortable, crowded and drive our eyes crazy! The need negative space to “rest”!
Furniture and all the supporting accessories and decor we put in a room must strike that sweet spot between positive and negative space.
Truth be told, most of us over decorate! The rooms in our homes would look so much better with less stuff!
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.
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The Elements Of Design Series is to teach the basic and most important elements of design that we as home decorators should understand and use in our homes.