Reddit has become one of my favorite platforms lately for true community advise, with valid and actionable suggestion. And as a design blogger, it’s interesting to see what questions come up, what questions come up often and what others have done to fix similar situations.
I started to see a reoccurring question; one that would appear in a few different forms but was no matter what they were trying to resolve, the underlaying question was about how to fix a room layout.
In true community form, there were lots of suggestions on furniture placement and even some color suggestions – all of which works – but the one thing many people forget about in proportion. Sometimes, the size of the furniture just isn’t right for the room. Sometimes, you need to right-size the room.
When someone shows me a photo of a room and says, “it doesn’t feel cozy” or “it’s too crowded, this room is just too small”, the first thing I’m looking at is what they have in the space. Most of the time what is causing it to not feel the way they want it to feel is the size of the items in the room in relation to the physical size of the room. By making some changes to the items IN the room (furniture, art, lighting etc) you can drastically change the way the room feels – right-sizing the room.
How you go about right-sizing a room depends on the size of the room, not only the length and width but also the height.
You may think that a large room is easy to layout. You have so much space to play with, how difficult can it be? But choosing furniture that is too (visually) light or too small will make the room feel empty and not connected.
When a room feels empty, it doesn’t feel cozy and inviting and it often feels unfinished.
There are 2 ways to make a large room feel complete and homely:
1. Choose large décor and furniture
In a large space you’ll want to choosing furniture that is larger or heavier in appearance. This will help fill-out the room and allow the furniture to have presence in the room instead of being overshadowed by it. Look for pieces like:
- Oversize, larger than the standard size, furniture (couches, armchairs, coffee tables and bookcases)
- Furniture that has large or thick arms and/or legs
- Large sectional couches
- Oversized artwork
- Large light fixtures
- Area rugs
2. Create zones within the room
If you have a really large room, especially an open concept space, try visually breaking up the room with different zones. For example, in a very large family room you can have your main family area (couches, TV etc) for family time but maybe you also have a little sitting area or reading zone within the space.
By dividing up the space, it allows you to add more furniture BUT purposeful furniture that will fill the large room without making it look cluttered. The key to this is that each piece still has a purpose or a role in the space. It’s not just there to be there.
By tightening up the furniture to create these sub-spaces, it will make the space feel full, and in turn, cozy and homey.
For other tips on creating zone, check out Make Your Design Flow.
Smaller rooms are a little more challenging but not impossible. To get a smaller room to work, you have to play a few tricks with the eye.
1. Choose visually lighter furniture
Just like in #1 for a large room, you need to do the opposite in a smaller room. Some furniture companies offer what they call condo lines that are physically smaller pieces of furniture. These can sometime cost more, being a “specialty”, and if this home isn’t you forever home it might not make sense to put that kind of investment in temporary furniture.
Alternatively, look for pieces that are visually lighter. Things like:
- Thin profile couch and chair arms
- Glass or mirrored surfaces
- Straight lines with few to no layers
- Light colors or finishes
2. Use light colors
Whether the color is on the floor, walls, ceiling or in the furniture, keep it light and natural. By choosing lighter colors in the room, the room will feel bigger and items in the room won’t visually take up as much room.
Darker colors hold more visual weight than lighter colors. They stand out more, drawing the eye in and therefore bring awareness to their presence. Something as simple as changing a black piece of furniture to white (same item, same size, different color) will drastically change the appearance of it in the room. It doesn’t matter how many times I do change a color of something; I’m always shook at the result! … in a good way.
For more tricks with color, check out Small Room, No Problem.
Right-sizing a room is about using the right size of furniture in relation to the space. When you do this, the room will feel comfortable, complete and, well, right. Remember it isn’t just about the length and width of the room. You also have to consider the height. Low ceiling will naturally make a room seem smaller and, vice versa, a high ceiling will make a room feel grand.
The rules above for furniture also apply to ceilings. Low ceiling, light colors (paint and fixtures). If you have high ceilings, you’ll want to use more dramatic fixtures and finishes – large pieces with darker contrast – to fill the space.
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