Healthy Homes: How to Have One… Part 3 – Space

The use of space in different ways in homes is interesting to explore and not as straightforward as you may think. We have seen the typical home change drastically over the years – most significantly the replacement of individual rooms with open plan spaces. The popular culture appears to often be ‘the bigger the better’, naturally arising from the fact that most people are averse to cramped, claustrophobic spaces. However there is no general rule proportioning the amount of space to the quality of a home. You will find that in a home if a room is excessively large this can also negatively impact the space, just as a cramped room can.

The best approach is a balanced one, and the function and qualities desired of a room need to be taken into consideration. Smaller areas can feel very cosy and comforting while large spaces can feel very freeing and relaxing. Large rooms can evoke a sense of grandeur, whereas smaller rooms can project a ‘homely’ feeling. Determine what you want to feel in each space and plan accordingly. A combination of different sized spaces tend to work very well together, as contrast between room sizes can heighten the unique feelings evoked by each room.

If you are not starting from scratch and already have a house there are certain things you can do to manipulate the spaces you have to achieve a greater or smaller sense of space. If you have a small space and want it to appear larger firstly remove as much clutter as possible – clutter presents many different elements that jump out at the eye, grabbing attention and making a space feel busy and small. Streamline what is on display, whether you reduce the number of items, display only things of a select few colours, or put items in matching storage pieces. The use of mirrors in spaces give the appearance of greater space, and also increases light into rooms (if you want more light in your house read our previous post on achieving natural light in your home); as do lighter coloured walls, ceilings and furniture. You will be surprised at what you can do with a small space if it is planned well, a space does not have to be big to feel big.

Now, larger spaces often feel very enjoyable to be in and tend to be less cluttered to the eye. However if a room is too large and there is no hierarchy of elements within it, it can make it less enjoyable to be in. One trick to deal with this is to delineate different spaces within the room. You can easily create ‘nooks’ within rooms with the arrangement of furniture cordoning off a section, large rugs also can demarcate an area, as does different lighting focused on different areas, darker coloured walls and ceilings, or you can install a room divider (think bookcases, planter boxes/trellises for climbing plants, shelving screens ).

Additionally, a disadvantage of large houses and spaces are that they are more expensive to build, to heat or cool, and also more laborious to clean. So don’t think you need to have a massive space to build an enjoyable house, with careful planning you can ensure every space in your home feels just right.