Monthly Archives: June 2010

4 timeless design principles

After decades of larger and larger house sizes, with rooms for every possible function; society is at last seeing a return to homes being designed on a smaller scale. Attention to small details, space usage and an awareness of human scale is again key. This relates not only to the configuration of the floorplans, but also to how furnishings sit within the space. Creating a home that draws on these sensibilities, no matter what the style, relies on the same principles; balance, proportion, focal point and color coordination.



Balance creates harmony by keeping the visual weight of pieces consistent as one looks across or into a room. If using a tall furniture piece in a room, balance it visually with a tall window, or a lower piece with artwork above it. Balance a sofa with a pair of chairs, or a loveseat in combination with a table. All pieces should not be tall or short, but used in a combination to engage the onlooker and invite them into the space. Balance helps the eye dance around the room and appreciate each piece. This element is easier to achieve when furnishings are in proportion to one another and the room they are used within.


Proportion goes hand in hand with scale; the size and demeanor of a piece. Proportion deals with how furnishings interact with one another. Taking the earlier examples; the tall furniture piece needs to be a similar height to the windows. The artwork above the lower piece needs to be large enough so it is not “floating” over it. A pair of paintings or a set of four smaller ones would give the same proportion or effect. The pair of chairs balancing the sofa should be of comparable size, but need not be the same style or fabric. When these characteristics work together it has a calming effect. It also creates groupings for the eye to look at, with space between for rest.

3.Focal Point…

A room generally has one grouping that grabs attention, known as a focal point. Keeping things simple will help establish what pieces are to be showcased. The rest of the room is then built around these areas of interest. A focal point could be a fireplace, a piece of artwork, a textural wallhanging or a large piece of furniture such as an armoire or a bed. Often the color scheme for the room begins with colors from this special piece.



Color has great influence over our emotions and how we react in certain rooms. Cool colors like blues and greens recede and make rooms feel larger and calmer. Bedrooms painted in these colors induce sleep and restfulness. Warm colors like yellows and reds energize a room and make it feel cozy. Red stimulates the appetite and using the right shade, is a wonderful color for a diningroom. When choosing color combinations that work, look to nature. With all that changes in the seasons, there are more schemes than one could ever use in a lifetime of rooms.

By using these guidelines, creating spaces more in tune with the way we want to live our lives becomes easier and more simplified.

organizing 101

As many of us remain indoors more-so during winter, we tend to feather our nests with more “stuff” to create a cozy, snug setting. Once spring arrives however, nearly everyone has an inborn desire to clear things out, clean things up and make way for the warm months that follow. With summer just a warm breeze away, perhaps you have done some of your spring evaluating and purging. This may leave you with items you use and love, but may not leave you with an overall order to everything. Now is a great time to get focused and organized.

Organizing is a popular theme today, because it helps us save our valuable time, allows us to easily access what we have, and ensures all similar products are in the same place. This also lends itself to saving money, as duplicate purchases are not made and we use what we have before getting more.

Ask Three Simple Questions…

The basic principles of organizing are similar for many areas of our home and are as relevant for large items as small ones.

Does it cost or contribute?

The first step is confirming that those things you want to organize are items you value and will be used now and in the future. Be diligent when going through your existing possessions. If you have not used it, worn it or looked at it for a year ask yourself if it is really contributing to making your life better or is it costing your time and energy by holding on to it. Be very honest with yourself. What you choose not to keep can be resold, given away or recycled. The process will most likely be time consuming, but will have great rewards, lighten your load and feel very freeing.

Is it in the best location?

Once you have the items that you really want to keep, you are better equipped to deal with how to store them. Look at how each space you live in is used, and store relevant items within that space. Take into account built-ins (cupboards and closets) and free-standing pieces as places to initially use. Locate towels near the bathroom, sheets near the bedrooms, magazines where you read them, photos where you look at them, board games where they are played, stamps and envelopes where bills are paid, keys near the door, remotes near the television and so on. The fewer steps required to gain access to what is needed, the better.

Does it have a home?

Group similar items together and find a “home” for them; some place that they are always stored and retrieved from. There are a multitude of baskets, racks, files and boxes on the market to help contain what you want to organize. By using containers within larger spaces, this enables you to group items very specifically. In a bathroom you would perhaps have small baskets in the vanity for haircare, nailcare, oral hygiene, make-up and shaving supplies etc. It is best to have each “home” with some breathing space, so you do not become frustrated putting things away in a confined area.

Children of any age can grasp these same principles as well and feel a sense of accomplishment when they know where their toys/books/clothes are to be put away. These are skills they will keep with them into adulthood and it fosters responsibility and respect.

Organizing your possessions can clarify what you value and ultimately creates more time to do what you enjoy.