The things that clients are often concerned about, and myths about "rules" of design:
The misconceptions and myths
- You must have a sofa/couch.
- Seating arrangements-often too far apart for conversation.
- If you have a small room, you need small furniture.
- If you use dark wall or ceiling colors, the room will feel small.
- A rug is necessary to "ground" or "define" an area.
- Pattern is found on rugs, textiles, wall coverings.
- Pictures need to be hung at eye-level.
A different way to look at things
- You do not need a sofa. In some cases, I like to use club chairs arranged in a grouping. In most cases, a sofa comfortably seats three. People naturally find their own space, and sometimes it is two people per one long sofa. The sofa ends up being a fixed "block" in the room. Benches and ottomans can be supplemented and feel inclusive by allowing the guest to scoot in closer. This can make a room a lot more flexible for gatherings, conversation and activities.
- Many times, I see rooms set up in a way that seems "by the book", but the client says the room does not get used. In many cases, the seating arrangement is too far apart to hear conversation. Or there aren't side tables to sit drinks on. In other words, it doesn't accommodate us. Also, think about your arrangement-is it arranged around the tv or the wall? It is sort of like getting the chair that faces the wall at a restaurant. Situate seating so that you can give your guests a view, whether it be windows or artwork, etc.
- If you have a small room, put some tall or larger pieces of furniture in it. It really will give some sense of grandeur to the room. If everything is tiny in a small room, it can seem "precious" and feel smaller than it is.
- Dark paint colors can add contrast and even highlight architectural features. I think the "cave" feeling can come from clutter, not color. Think about how you will light the room to enhance the space, try not to think about it from an angle of fear of lack of natural light.
- Areas can be defined by positive and negative space. The borders of a rug are not the only ways to define. Think about use of space, is it a conversation area? Is it a space for collectibles? Space can be defined by composition of furnishings. The idea of negative space can create a certain feel in a room as well. The intentional use of "blank space" or open volume-think about lofty ceilings, or changes in height.
- Pattern is great, but it is not only found in the stripe on a pillow or print on a chair. You can create pattern in a rhythm around the room. Maybe it is a metallic element, and it is placed at high levels (lighting) or low levels (the leg of a sofa).
- It is nice to have a beautiful piece of artwork at eye level, but raising it or lowering it-can add emphasis to it. Also, whether you would like to add it as a grouping, or alone on a larger wall. Art work doesn't just have to be hung above the sofa! (and please don't buy artwork just because it matches your sofa!)