Its Pretty, But Does It Work?

sachabros photoI saw something yesterday which attests to how important the Interior Design profession is.

A thin man of advanced age struggled to keep his balance on a flight of stairs up to a doctor’s office, his right hand grasping the nearest handrail and the fingers of his left curled around a cane.  With great exertion he lifted one foot.  His leg lurched in various directions.  He stabbed down with his white sneaker several times before settling it on the first step.  He shifted his weight and repeated the process with the second foot while his arched frame swayed from lack of balance.  He was like Bambi using his legs for the first time.  I stayed to help, but then wondered if his dignity required that he do it himself.  Unsure, I waited, ready to spring to the rescue.

Ironically he risked injury to see a doctor.

It took him about 5 minutes to reach the top step, the one just before the landing where a beautiful basket of flowers blocked his path.  Had he visual impairment he may have continued and lost balance.  He had no choice but to let go of the handrail to go around.  For a heart-stopping moment he swayed like a leaf in the wind.  With great effort he did reach the landing.  Ironically, he risked injury to see a doctor.

He easily could have fallen and fractured bones, such as his hip.  A hip fracture is an unfortunate but common injury that can be life-threatening.  A downward spiral, a broken hip has the potential for complications that may arise when aging adults are confined to bed.  “Because you’re immobilized, you’re lying in bed, you can’t move, you tend to get more urinary tract infections, you get more pneumonia because you can’t get up and clear your lungs, you get pressure sores, and you get blood clots,” says Dr. Michael Dunbar, an orthopedic surgeon in Halifax Canada.

“Aesthetics are an important component of any interior design project but a professional interior designer focuses on much more than appearance.”

A public building must be accessible to all persons, including the ever-growing number with disabilities like the elderly man above with mobility and strength impairment.  An Interior Designer knows this, and would not place a hazard in the path of travel.  As stated on the Interior Designer’s Institute (IDI) website: “Aesthetics are an important component of any interior design project but a professional interior designer focuses on much more than appearance.  Public health, safety and welfare (HSW) are an interior designer’s first priorities.”



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