• Tammy Walls

Elements of Good Design - Space

Every design incorporates seven elements and five principals in order to create great design. Today we are going to talk about the first of the seven elements - Space.

Space is the first thing we look at when designing a room. This is not just the floor space that you want to be aware of. This is the entire space. It is floors, ceilings, walls, windows, doors. Remember in math class the formula for finding volume? It was length x width x height = volume. The volume of the room is the space you are trying to fill up or work with. So when you first step into a space look up, look down, look around. Make notes such as the height of the ceiling and the walls. Look at the placement of the windows. Are they centered or off centered. Do they give adequate lighting? Look at the floors. In short, look at everything in the space. This is the beginning of your canvass.

There are two types of space - positive and negative. Positive space is the space that is being occupied by something, like a piece of furniture. Negative space is the space that has nothing in it. Some might call the negative space your wiggle room. Positive space is not more important than negative space, and negative space is not more important than positive space. Both types of space are equally important and must be in balance with one another. Too much of either type of space and your design flounders.

So let's go back to the volume of the space that we have to work with. I want you to think about your space with this example in mind: a half full glass of water in one hand and a handful of marbles in the other. Let me explain. What happens every time you add a marble to the water? Right - the water rises. If you put too many marbles into the water it will overflow. This is the same principal with positive and negative space within the volume of space that you have to work with. You need to find the balance to bring the "water" to the top without it spilling over. It is a crazy example, but the theory of it works. Think about it. Have you ever walked into someone's home and thought, "Wow! This place is cluttered!" or what about, "Wow, this place seems so empty and cold." This is because the positive and negative spaces have not been balanced.

In interior design small spaces can be designed to feel spacious and large spaces can be designed to feel cozy. The manipulating of items in the space to get a balance between positive and negative space will give you a well designed room. But wait, there is more! There is also this thing known as relative proportion and that defines how the objects within the space fit into the space. For an example, let's say that you have a small room but place a very large sofa in the room and above the sofa you place small framed pictures. That would look odd wouldn't it? The sofa is too large for the space and the pictures are emphasizing that. Just the same would happen if you put a small two seater sofa in a large living room. You need to place the right furniture that is relative to the space and relative in proportion to the other items within the space. Master these skills and you are well on your way to a beautifully designed room!

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