Does Your Room Feel Like A Bowling Alley?

How can one shorten a long room without making structural changes?

A rectangular room is the most attractive and easiest to decorate, but what if it’s really narrow and long?  The example below shows ways to shorten it visually.  Horizontal lines like the striped rug, those formed by lights in the kitchen and the dark bulk-head behind make the eye stop, interrupting the length of the room while widening it — at least that’s the illusion.  Anything that delays or stops you from scanning the entire length of the room has this effect.  For example, the central stove in the photo is a well placed focal point.  If  it was against a remote wall your eyes would have to sweep the length of the room to see it.  What else can we do?

long rooms

As noted above the central stove is great but it would be more prominent in an eye-catching mirror finish with extra seating angled around it.   A tighter seating arrangement will improve conversation and redirect traffic flow.  Use of a square rug over a herringbone wood floor would bring attention to our focal point and break up the area into smaller sections, perhaps affording a second seating area under a group of pendant lights to divide the expanse of ceiling and demark the zone beneath.   It may include 1 or 2 sofas placed horizontally.   The sketch below shows how to do it.

Grouped Seating

Grouped Seating

Below: A 2nd seating group is placed next to the 1st (2 sofas back-to-back)

long sketch

Have you spotted the horizontal lines?

By dissecting 1 long space into 2 zones we’ve improved visual appeal and comfort.  We created more horizontal emphasis with each sofa and also by using 2 square rugs instead of one continued length.  Even the ceiling chandelier points to the room’s width.

Please follow this blog to get more of my pro tips!  You can also find me on twitter @designfelt .    – Sacha


Use Space As A Design Element

When used well, each element of design reinforces the designer’s concept.  The element Space is an expanse to arrange objects in for beauty or function.  More than just walls and floors, space is also the 3D area or volume between them.  When designing, don’t just plan for use of the space at eye level and below; think of ways to use the layer over-head.  This frees up more physical space and visually heightens the room.  Lofts are an example of this.  However, it feels more natural to view things within our horizontal field of vision.

loft_living_city freshome

Take care not to fill every bit of a space.  When you have many elements you should leave some areas free to give relief.  ‘Positive space’ is filled by objects or elements in the design but ‘Negative space’ is the shapeless empty area left over.   We move through negative spaces to reach areas of interest.  Physical space is used to both separate and connect elements in design.  Wider spaces separate elements from each other and narrower spaces show how elements are related.  Groupings of art are an example of this.

Small spaces tend to feel comfortable, intimate and private but their occupants are more likely to feel confined and restricted.

There are visual cues that create appearance of greater space.

For example, grouping similar objects simulates greater space by reducing clutter and improving rhythm.  One can cut the number of furnishings and use small-scale furniture pieces without pattern.  While smooth, reflective surfaces supply a sense of space as do light colours with little contrast, dark walls and dimly lit interiors psychologically diminish space.

Large spaces can convey a sense of freedom but they also have negative emotional impacts.  They are impersonal.  Their users may feel uncomfortable, isolated and insecure.  The formality and generous ‘negative space’ associated with expansive rooms, like those in convention centres, discourage social interaction.   Creating sub-zones, seating groups and defined areas of interest help to segment the space into a more manageable size, at least to the casual observer.

When one understands the elements and principles of design and uses them the result is a beautiful and effective space.   How did you use space in your project?

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sacha K. Chabros and Design Felt with specific direction to the original content.

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Interior Design Elements: Colour

Colour can be used as powerful non-verbal communication to alter behaviours of people inside buildings.  It can stimulate activity, encourage socialization, increase one’s heart rate or calm the nerves and yet after a time some have the reverse effects.  Designers use this knowledge to reach project objectives.  But what is colour? And how can you work with it?

“The primary colours blue, green and red can be blended to make secondary and intermediate colours.”

Objects around us reflect various wave lengths of light that our eyes see as colour. Since all materials reflect or absorb these wave lengths differently, we perceive different colours.  A red vase, for example, absorbs all the wave lengths of visible light except red. The vase reflects the red wavelength back to our eyes. Thus, to our eyes the vase looks red. Would you like to know how to work with colour? Then obtain an artist’s colour wheel.  Once you know the position of hues on it, you can easily remember how they interact.


The primary colours blue, green and red can be blended to make secondary and tertiary colours.  Do you see the red square on the colour wheel? Spin the dial to see what happens when you add yellow, blue, white or black to it.  A preview is shown in the cut-out.  To tint is to add white but to shade is to add black.  Either will change the hue’s value.   Toning is done with grey and it reduces saturation.   Search the menu under ‘Category’ for info on colour schemes.

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The Science Of Interior Design

via ELLE Decor Magazine

Elements And Principles

Interior Design is not a mysterious process of sweeping hand gestures and inflated speech; design pros follow clear rules.  They understand and observe the Elements and Principles of design with predictable results.  When used well each component reinforces the designer’s concept.  These Elements of colour, space, line, shape or form, texture and pattern,

“Interior Designers do more than pick accessories; they apply knowledge of Environmental Psychology.”

and these Principles of emphasis, balance, harmony or unity, rhythm, proportion and scale are skillfully used to manipulate how a space is perceived, one’s feelings about being in it and behaviour while there.  As example, in a public space conceived to encourage gathering and personal interaction, not only the type, pitch and height of seating but also the distances between seats and their angles are carefully chosen to stimulate desired behaviours.  Interior Designers do more than pick accessories; they apply knowledge of Environmental Psychology.

Read the next post to learn how professionals use the element of colour.      Happy IFI  #World Interiors Day! 

Excerpts and links of this post may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sacha K. Chabros and Design Felt with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Beauty has an equation, and its 1.618033988749895…

Phi Φ is a golden mathematical ratio that shows up often in the natural world. Phi is seen in flower petals, nautilus seashells, pineapples, some proportions of the human body, Egypt’s pyramids, the greek Parthenon, Davinci’s Vitruvian Man, and contemporary architecture.  Even business cards are golden rectangles.