No matter how large or small a room is, the scale of the human form often determines the appropriate spacing between objects. To create a room ideal for moving about with ease, for intimate conversation, for comfortable walking between furniture, you need ample space between each chair, sofa, table, etc. Always sit in a chair yourself to decide whether its placement is comfortable. For conversation, you should be no more than eight feet away from another person- three to five feet is intimate.
- When placing your coffee table in front of your sofa, make sure to allow enough room for people to walk around without bumping into the table. There is no absolute measurement for how near or far the table should be to the sofa, but human dimensions will help you determine these distances. If you are sitting on the sofa and want to reach for a glass, can you do this without lurching forward? Seated on a sofa with your arm stretched forward, can you reach the coffee table?
- The furniture in a space should invite you to come into the room, sit down, and feel comfortable. Can you visualize being seated in a grouping? Is there plenty of space surrounding the furniture so you won’t feel claustrophobic? If you have a chair near the middle of a room, it should be small in scale and easy to move around. Heavier furniture should be positioned around the edges of the room. Be sure high pieces are placed against a wall. Low pieces can float in the middle of a space. The exception to this concept is a flowering plant or floral bouquet on a table in the middle of the room, because it is alive and animate, drawing your eye upward, visually lightening the atmosphere.
- Always make sure your furniture has breathing space. whenever a space becomes too crowded, it becomes unsettling, feeling more like a storeroom than a welcoming place.
- If you have a collection of small objects, consider putting a decorative tray underneath them to unify them in one space. If an object has a great deal of presence—a sculpture, a statue, or an intricately decorated large vase for example—you need to give it breathing room.
- If you have an important painting, free up the wall space on either side of it so the eye can feast on the beautiful work of art.
- Never fill a space. If you have a long, narrow hall, try not to hang any art on the side walls to prevent further crowding, but instead hang one mirror or painting at the far end, visually opening up the space.
- In a living room, no matter what the size, arrange at least three different places to sit. Create small conversation groupings rather than one large group of furniture. Have a place to sit at a desk as well as a spot read near a window.
- Give every space a strong point of view. Use each space as an opportunity to express something personal.
- Always define breaks in space. If you have an architectural molding, whether a cornice, a chair rail, or molding on a door, contrast its color with the wall or door color to add more energy to a room.
- Bring as much natural light as possible into your rooms. Always have clean windows. Avoid heavy window treatments that block light from entering the space. Paint woodwork a shiny white to reflect more light. Use lots of shiny materials to bring in additional light, including polished wood tables and floors, and gleaming brass and silver.
- If you have a small space paint it white or a light color. Hang sheer curtains at the window.
- Be neat. A messy space is not welcoming. When a room is not occupied, it should be well ordered. When you are using a space, it is likely to become cluttered with books, newspapers, water glasses, dishes, and projects. Try to put things back where they belong in order to have the room ready for another experience. Whenever we fail to tidy up, we are depriving ourselves of future enjoyment. It takes a few minutes of picking up, emptying the wastebasket or dusting a surface is well worth the time. Once you see the value of neatness, make it a habit.