Chapter 3: Space!
Space is your canvas, your frame. It’s the area you have to work with in your home, the physical boundaries. Space is something that is generally inherent to the home and is usually difficult to change. So it’s important to learn how to work with the space you’ve got.
Types of Space
There are two types of space, two-dimensional space and three-dimensional space.
Two-dimensional space considers length and width only. In a room, the walls and the floor can be thought of as two-dimensional space.
Three-dimensional space considers length, width, and height. Essentially, this is the volume of your room.
Categories of Space
Positive space is that which contains objects. In a room, this applies to furniture and other objects. On walls, this applies to wall hangings, whether that be pictures, shelves, or some other type of decoration.
Negative space is that which is empty or bare. Any space that is not positive is negative.
Goal when Working with the Element of Space
When working with space, the goal is to create balance between the positive and negative space. You want to avoid making the room feel crowded or unsettlingly sparse.
How to Achieve Spatial Balance
If you have a smaller space, having multifunctional pieces can be a good way to keep from overwhelming the area with positive space. For instance, in a guest room, you might have a sofa bed. A sofa bed gives the functionality of a bed and a sofa without taking up the positive space of both a sofa and a bed at once.
Sometimes, vertical space gets forgotten, but there is a ton of potential in vertical pieces of furniture. One example of using vertical space would be utilizing a tall bookcase rather than a short, long bookcase. You can free up some of the two-dimensional floor space by choosing a bookcase with a smaller footprint without sacrificing the storage and functionality.
Wall Decor and Accessories
You can use the concept of positive and negative space when you’re configuring your wall decorations as well. Just as with filling the room, when you look at a particular wall or shelf that you’re arranging decor on, you should think about the balance of positive and negative space. This will help prevent both overwhelm and dullness.
Illusion of Space
If you don’t have much space, there are things that you can do to trick the eye and give the illusion of space. For example, take advantage of windows by using sheer curtains to give a view of the outdoors, incorporating it as part of your space.
Mirrors give the perception of a larger space by reflecting the existing area, and facing a mirror toward a window doubles down on both of these illusions.
Utilizing glass is also a great way to trick the eye when it comes to the balance of positive and negative space. Due to its transparent nature, glass, such as in a glass-topped table, is a great way to give the illusion of negative space with the functionality of positive space.
Go forth and fill your space wisely!
Most often, we don’t have much control, if any, over our space, other than when we choose our home. So we have to work with what we’ve got. The best way to do that is to pay attention to the balance of negative and positive space, both in the two-dimensional spaces, such as the walls and floors, and in the three-dimensional space of the room as a whole. Some ways to achieve spatial balance are paying attention to your vertical space, balancing positive and negative space in wall decor and accessories, and giving the illusion of additional space.
For more affordable and practical ways to use the Elements and Principles of Design to make your house a home, check out my other Elements and Principles of Design posts. And be sure to stay tuned for the rest of my Elements and Principles of Design series!