Improving Relationships… Between Rooms That Is
The most important interior design element of any home is the layout of the rooms and spaces. The way the various rooms and spaces relate to each other is often among the features that attract us enough to purchase our homes in the first place. Changing the layout can involve major renovations, but there are some basic ways to improve upon the perceived relationships between rooms or spaces without having to embark on any structural work.
Common complaints that homeowners tend to have about the layout of their homes include:
■ Adjoining rooms feel as though there is no “flow” between them.
■ There is no evident delineation between usable space and walking space in open-concept layouts.
■ Adjoining rooms require different atmospheres but their proximity makes this difficult.
■ Open-concept layouts provide no privacy or separation (visual, audible, etc.) within the space.
■ Lack of continuity between the various rooms.
These issues can be compensated for simply by how the space is treated both in terms of furnish ings and décor. Solutions to the complaints listed above can be done in the matter of a couple of days without requiring the dust, debris and chaos that can accompany a major renovation project.
To create a sense of flow between rooms that are adjoining without being fully open to each other, make sure to use the same colourscheme in both rooms, repeat various materials in both (i.e. if you have a leather sofa in one, have something with the same colour leather in the other), and strategically place mirrors to visually bring one room into the next. The mirrors will not only emphasize the relationship between the two spaces, but they will also reflect light making both rooms feel brighter and larger.
In open-concept floor plans it can be challenging to properly establish walking space (an unofficial hallway, if you will) separate from entertaining areas especially if you tend to entertain more than a few people at a time. Space can be separated visually without actually requiring obstructions such as walls. Emphasize your enter taining zones by having the brighter lights focused at the seating areas, such as over the dining table, by the sofas, and at the kitchen’s work and seating zones; this will automatically create spaces with less light and people naturally migrate toward brighter lit areas, leaving the dimmer areas as passageways. Other tricks include an abrupt change in colour or ceiling height to create the sense that one space is ending and another starting.
Adjoining rooms requiring different atmospheres tend to work best by simply using the reversed colour scheme in one of the rooms. For instance, if one of the rooms is blue with beige and grey accents, in the other room you can use the beige as the main colour and the blue and grey as accents. This keeps a nice continuity while emphasizing difference.
Open-concept floor plans leaving you with a lack of separation have to be treated with great care. Take care with your furniture layout to create individual zones within the space, leaving ample room between.
If needed, back-to-back tall furniture pieces can create a physical division between “rooms”. If sound carries through very easily, add soft furnishings and accessories, such as a tapestry or fabric art instead of paintings, rugs, pillows or cushions on hard furniture, and so on. Soft items absorb sound, while hard surfaces reflect sound.
Creating a sense of continuity through a home is easier. Choose your favorites and don’t worry about over-using them! If your favorite colour is red, don’t be shy to use it in varying quantities in almost every room – from two walls in one room, to a simple splash in the next, to the colour of the furniture in the next… The same should be done with favorite materials too, such as wrought iron, dark stained ash wood,textured glass… Your favorite colours teamed up with your favorite materials only need some neutral and contrasting basics to create a finished look that flows nicely without being too repetitive.
A closet is simply a place to store your stuff: clothes and accessories in the bedroom, coats and boots in the entrance, and so forth. But there really is a lot more to it than that. And the growing trend in custom closet design proves that a clothes rod and a shelf really aren’t sufficient for most of us anymore. Just how complicated can a closet get? Not only are there companies that do nothing but design and install custom closet solutions, but there are entire books devoted to the topic.
Making the decision to say goodbye to a standard closet and having something better suited to your needs put in its place can be a long process. The first decision is whether you want to invest in a custom-designed and custom-built closet, or if your needs can be met by a store-bought closet solution. Opting to go custom all the way can cost similarly to new kitchen cabinets, while a basic system can be bought at a hardware store for around $200. But the store-bought one does not consider how many pairs of shoes and boots you want visible, or how to make your accessories easily accessible. If you are going custom, this is the time to consider everything you will want to store in the closet and how.
Commercial displays like we see in clothing stores have had a major impact on closet design: closets open to the bedroom have gained in popularity, as have open closets or storage systems in other parts of the home too.
WHEN PLANNING A CLOSET, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
■ Your height should be taken into consideration, especially if you are significantly under 5′- 6″ tall or significantly over 6′- 0″ tall.
■ Prioritizing is important: it can’t be equally important to have the same level of access to everything. Do you really even need everything in that particular closet? Certain seasonal items may be able to find an alternate home when off-season.
■ If the closet is for a child, the needs are going to change more than once. Tiny clothes and large toys will quickly be replaced by larger clothes, school books, and games with tiny pieces. Make sure a child’s closet is designed with changing needs in mind.
■ Your preferences. Some people get sloppy if they have to hang things while others keep their drawers a mess. Acknowledge your preference and plan around it as much as you can. Admittedly, you cannot keep a suit jacket folded in a drawer, but many items can be hung or folded without consequence.
■ If your storage solution is behind closed doors or in its own room, you can cut your budget by as much as 25% by simplifying the style of drawer faces that you choose and by using as few doors as is possible.
BY KAREN WEINER-MAYAR, OWNER OF IDEALSPACE DESIGN
OFFICE 514.620.9040 MOBILE 514.262.1540
Please mention that you read our article in Homes and Land when you call.
By Karen Weiner-Mayar, owner of Idealspace Design
Colour schemes present a challenge for many homeowners. Not only do colours have to be chosen, but they have to be used or applied in such a way that the flow between rooms feels smooth and natural. While opting for a basic, neutral light beige
or off-white may seem like the easiest way to go, it actually can present more challenges in creating a properly “finished” look to a space.
FIRST CHOOSE YOUR COLOURS
The obvious is to look at the furniture and accessories that you have and use colours from there to create your over-all colour scheme. But it is just as easy, and much
more inspiring, to develop a colour scheme based on something that speaks to you; it could be a vacation photo, a floral arrangement, or even your favorite outfit.
When choosing paint colours, squint at the swatches you are considering. If one stands out from the others, try replacing it with a colour of a brightness more similar to the others.
■ Complimentary: two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as yellow and purple.
■ Analogous: a group or pair of colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.
■ Triadic: three colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel.
■ Monochromatic: various tints, shades or tones of the same colour.
Keep monochromatic colour schemes to one room only; if used in multiple adjacent rooms, the result will be boring and repetitive.
One of the most common mistakes with colour use in decor is treating each adjacent room completely uniquely; this results in a very choppy aesthetic and can even feel a bit disconcerting. Use repetition in ways to create a smooth transition, such as keeping all doors and trim the same colour. Especially in rooms that are visible to each other, maintain your colour scheme, but re-proportion the use of the colours. For example, if Colour A is your main colour in the kitchen, and Colour B is your accent colour, use Colour A as the accent in your dining room and Colour B as the main colour. Not only will this create a very pleasing affect, but it offers the added benefit of being able to use certain accessories interchangeably between the two rooms.
By Karen Weiner-Mayar, owner of Idealspace Design
[HLMT.ca] Redesigning and renovating a kitchen is the most trying home improvement project for most homeowners. Aside from having to survive a minimum of two weeks with no kitchen, each decision to be made can affect both the function and aesthetics of the room. Added to that is the fact that the kitchen is the most expensive renovation most homes will ever face, so doing it right the first time is a definite must. We all use our kitchens differently and that is why we can often see a beautiful kitchen and think to ourselves, without knowing exactly why, that it isn’t quite right.
YOUR IDEAL KITCHEN SHOULD CONSIDER:
Your shopping habits – Do you buy in bulk or only purchase things as you need them?
Your cooking habits – Do you routinely prepare home-made meals or are frozen foods and reheated take-out more your style? Are you an avid baker?
Your handedness and height – Are you a lefty or a righty? Are you considerably taller than, or shorter than, the average?
Your household – How many cooks use the kitchen? Are there teens or children who prepare their own snacks?
Your space – Is the kitchen used for eating meals or is all eating done in the dining room? Does the kitchen double as a homework area or for any other task?
Special needs – Should your kitchen be child-safe or suitable for someone with physical limitations or disabilities? Do you require a kosher kitchen?
■ From there, you can determine if an extra-wide refrigerator is possible, or if you will have space for the wine fridge you have been wanting.
■ If an island is a desired feature, make sure you will have at least 36-inches between it and the cabinets. All islands must be carefully planned as they can be either a wonderful amenity or little more than a cause of bruised hips and frustrations.
■ Try to map out where you will store things, keeping everyday dishes and gadgets within arm’s reach, and banishing the least frequently used items to the least desirable locations – usually the back of the cabinet above the refrigerator. By determining what will go where, you can determine early on if you can make do with four drawers or if eight drawers would better suit your needs. Consider items like countertop appliances, cook books, that won’t reside in open view, and the basics that seem to migrate into every kitchen.
■ The microwave should be located where it will be most practical, so be honest with yourself (and your designer) about how you use it. Is it just for heating coffee or do you often use it for food preparation? The same advice should be followed for other small appliances that remain visible too.
Lighting in the kitchen is something too often overlooked.
People presume that enough lighting equates good lighting, but the truth is that every fixture style and every bulb type gives a slightly different coloration to the light; a pink undertone from the lighting can cause meats to look undercooked and greens to look a bit on the brown side. Likewise, light with a yellow or blue undertone will cause certain foods to not look their best. The kitchen serves many functions, and each requires its own lighting: task lighting should be installed to serve the food preparation area and the sink; general light should provide even illumination to the whole kitchen; and ambient light allows you to highlight decorative objects, or just offers a nice soft glow so the room is not in total darkness. The ability to control the lighting is important, as all the lights are rarely needed at the same time; multiple switches and dimmers are recommended.
Once you have the functional elements of your kitchen planned properly, any décor style that you introduce will be able to be implemented simply with your choices of colours, materials, and accessories. Because the kitchen is a busy space to begin with, minimal décor is required beyond the selection of materials and colours for cabinets, countertops and window treatments; often one theme for countertop accessories, one piece of art, very little else is required to add the finishing touches to a kitchen’s décor.
With daylight hours getting shorter, now is a good time to think about improving lighting in your home. Functional and decorative, changing or adding a light fixture can have a big impact on a room. But don’t make the too-common mistake of buying a light for its looks only. A black silk shade or an amber glass may look great, but will the light be what you need or expect? When choosing light fixtures look at the following:
■ Bulbs Type and quantity that the fixture uses, and total wattage of the bulbs.
■ Directionality Does the fixture provide up-light, down-light, spot light…
■ Intended use and functionality Ensure that you aren’t trying to use a task light as a general light.
■ Shade Although shades are often the most decorative part of a fixture, make sure that your choice won’t cast strange coloured light or impede the light from the fixture from actually lighting up your room.
■ Flexibility Can the fixture work on a dimmer? Will it be easy to match or coordinate with other lights in the room?
■ Overall quality Not always easy to determine, but look at the weight of the fixture, the price, warranty, sales person’s advice, and even on-line reviews about the fixture or manufacturer.
A professionally designed space will have a lot of lighting, or at least a lot of fixtures, in order to provide general, task, focal and ambient light. If you grew up in a home similar to my childhood home, each room had one overhead light and maybe a small reading lamp. But to correctly use light to enhance your space and reduce eye strain no matter the task being done, a number of fixtures and light sources are required.
Just how much light is right? Three fixture types, at the least, are required for each room: general, ambient and task, and many rooms require more than one task light. As long as each light can be operated independently and dimmers are installed wherever possible, it is quite difficult to over-light a space.