Few rooms are too large to arrange comfortably. If a room is very large then setting the furnishings away from the walls with comfortable walk ways through and around is an easy fix. The same cannot be said for rooms or homes that are smaller than we would like. This is a far more common problem.
Feel and Comfort are Different
A room that is furnished to comfortably seat guests and family often feels overcrowded and cluttered. A typical lining room set of a chair, love seat, and sofa only seats 6 people but even that is crowding a 12’x12’ room once you have added a couple small tables and a shelf. This is hardly ideal for any type of entertaining.
To compound the problem, even though more furnishings and seating will not comfortably fit, if that furniture is placed against the walls as typical then it is too far apart for casual conversation. This leaves a situation where there are not enough seats for people and the people that are seated are isolated. This makes a homeowner decide between comfortable seating available for use or overcrowding and feeling pressed together unnaturally.
Dare to Be Different
The solution is not difficult as much as it is different. You will need to forego the idea of the classic loveseat, sofa, chair and 3 small tables and open up to the world of possibilities based on your actual room. Consider that it is permissible to pull some of the furniture away from the walls so that the seating allows for comfortable conversation in groupings instead of being a perimeter around the room.
For inspiration on how to arrange for entertaining and comfort look to places that are designed for that purpose. Some of these ideas became popular in other rooms in the home years ago and are now catching on in modern style design in other living areas. The kitchen island was invented to serve the exact purpose. Previously a kitchen was a rigid perimeter of cabinets and counters with unused space in the middle that served only as extra steps when cooking. That is similar to how many family rooms are set up now- a ring of seats too far apart to be actually convenient.
Pull a sofa and a loveseat together into the center of a room like they are set up in the small mini rooms at the furniture stores. This provides seating that still allows conversation in normal tones. Scaled modular designs work well for this also.
Place corner sofas in the now empty walls and corners to provide additional seating for a couple people to sit and talk together. On a back wall consider a bar counter and several tasteful bar style stools. If you are trying to arrange based on placement of entertainment center a wall mount or even upper corner mount placement of the TV optimizes viewing angles and space.
This type of set up allows for easier conversation, and changes seating from 6 to 12 in a similar sized area. Because of varying heights of bar stools, sofas, and television, it uses vertical space as well as floor space to keep the room from feeling overcrowded.
Using the same style of small corner sofas or chairs it is easy to add an extra seat or two to many rooms. An unused corner in the dining room by a window makes a great place to sit and read or gaze at the garden in addition to an extra place for guests to sit for conversation. Adding it to a good sized bathroom is far nicer than sitting on the edge of the tub or in a straight back chair to put on your slippers.
Posted by Keren Fathi-Poor at 22 May, 2013
Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, transformation can be breathtaking. Case in point with the Factory House in Berlin. Architect studio Miethe-Quehl helped the owners, who just relocated back to Germany from London, to completely renovate a decrepit factory into a minimalist dream home abundant with light, comfort and style.
A traditional red brick facade gives little insight into the relaxed and spacious interiors of this residential sanctuary. The living room, dining room and kitchen flows together sharing plentiful space. With an affinity towards Scandinavian design (the owners are Swedish), the dwelling harmonizes minimalism with an ideal contrast of vintage touches through its designer furnishings, art and accents.
In my opinion this modern space wins with a masterful interplay of light–attributing both natural daylight as well as the infusion of a pale color palette. White-on-white with detailed black presents an elegant theme.
Light wood Douglas fir flooring throughout soothes as it visually connects the space. A custom white lacquered library with cubbies and open shelving houses a linear fireplace with actual firewood arranged as a decorative inlay beneath. This unit floats as a divider between the living space and dining area which features a recycled dark wood table set with white Eames chairs. An impressive white kitchen island gently breaks up the functional functional area from dining. This entire mixed-use space also acts as a play area, and is flooded with an intersection of daylight from the large surrounding windows.
A structural beauty within view from the family’s living area is the cantilevered limestone staircase in pure white. Set against a frameless glazed wall, the stairs contribute another layer of modern simplicity. Stunning!
The master suite features an open partition wall separating the marble-and-wood spa bathroom from the sleeping area. In fact, it is here where a sauna can be found.
The Factory House is a resounding evocation of transformed spaces. An expansive top-floor wooden terrace overlooking the tree-filled garden further rounds out this airy, modern urban dream home.
Posted by Suzanne at 22 May, 2013
Imagine sliding into work? Literally. Well that’s what Microsoft employees at the company’s new Vienna headquarters are encouraged to do. Designed by Innocad, an Austrian architect firm who won the bid for this ambitious project encompassing over 48,000 square feet, the offices boast three sensational stories of fresh, ultra-modern office, conference and client spaces. And, of course, the multi-level, indoor slide.
Striped vinyl floors create a rush of linear movement which playfully penetrates hallways leading to all work/meeting/social areas. The brushed stainless slide connects two floors, generating a virtual dynamic which an ordinary staircase may not have accomplished. The landing area pops with dimensional seating cubes in neon yellow and grey. During a tough work day who wouldn’t want to take a whimsical whirl down a slide to regroup?
The lobby greets with a minimalist and somewhat “techie” approach. An elongated white reception desk sits in front of an entire back-lit wall depicting a an x-ray of a computer’s internal board. The remainder of the spaces, however, are seemingly centered around an organic theme of water and earth. Lighting throughout is both direct and indirect with a bevy of pendant, recessed, floor and table designs creating a comfortable ambiance. Furnishings are concepts of minimalism which fit well in this futuristic environment.
One particular conference room feels as if you’ve splashed into the ocean blue with waves and an abstract white coral motif on walls, white contemporary furnishings to match and an actual built-in aquarium. Another meeting room is clad in rustic, knotty timber walls, floors and ceiling, with a leather club chair and animal-skin rug contributing the hunting lodge vibe. One particular item of note, in my opinion, is how these spaces are uniquely imaginative without being tacky or kitschy as various competitors’ offices can be.
Live green walls featuring lush verdant greens span from the lobby down hallways adjacent to various seating ensembles, encouraging work in a refreshing atmosphere.
A kitchen is bathed in bright lime green walls offset by high-gloss white floors and mod white dining tables and chairs which rest upon a carpet of artificial grass. I particularly admire how the varied themes enable employees to select where they choose to work most productively, according to mood.
The Microsoft – Vienna workplace possesses a stimulating, ultra-modern design which makes for happy employees, thus a successful company. (via)
Posted by Suzanne at 22 May, 2013
With the spring and summer entertaining season on us it is time to consider the furniture on the deck and in the garden. Well-furnished outdoor areas not only add elegance and functionality, they add lots of room for larger gatherings with your family and friends. Maybe your dining room only fits a half dozen, but the deck or lawn can fit many more usually.
When choosing garden furniture, consider what you will be using it for and the amount of space you have available. If you have a large deck or patio then you can choose between a dining or grouped pieces for conversation and beverages or with a casual design of well-spaced loungers and chaise recliners.
For the lawn or garden a mix is best with a 6 to 8 piece central sitting area and several small groupings with 2 or 3 chairs and a small table. This is ideal for larger parties. Think like a casual bar or restaurant with an area in center for the large group but places where guests can sit slightly apart to comfortably chat when they grow tired of sports talk.
If there is not a canopy or ample shade trees the liberal use of appropriate sized umbrellas is a good idea. A large umbrella over the central area is a must if there is not a canopy but smaller ones at each pairing of chairs or loungers around the outskirts add both usefulness and distinct elegance.
For aesthetic purposes, get complimentary colors and styles for each setting area instead of exact matching. Varying the size of umbrellas, and perhaps the shades of color on them and a tasteful mix of solids and prints for cushions on the furniture is much more attractive than identical sets. Think of the difference between a fast food restaurant and your home. Do you want to look like McDonalds or a relaxing home?
Having the BBQ grill and a bar or buffet set up slightly away from the sitting area is convenient. It prevents people from having to interrupt conversations to pass through or have things passed to them and will allow you as the hosts to mingle and enjoy your guests instead of simply serving them. It also allows guests to feel more comfortable simply helping themselves to a beverage if they do not need to ask for it each time.
For Furnishings choose things with adequate padding that invite people to relax and stay for a while. Hard while plastic and folding chairs with nylon webbing are okay for taking to watch the kids’ softball game but are not great for home entertaining. The rattan garden furniture is available in virtually every style and color and is durable enough for outdoor use and elegant enough to be brought inside for use in the sunroom or spare rooms during winter months.
There are different materials available in garden furniture. For shaker style or wood slat real wood looks better than resins but will require paint or stain every couple seasons. For rattan if you do not have covers for every piece then the resin is a better choice as painting rattan is a big chore. Cushions are replaceable but it is cheaper to get covers and keep them covered when not being used than to replace them due to sun fading and weather wear every other year. Umbrellas should always be down when not in use and taken down completely in severe weather like thunderstorms.
A well-arranged lawn or deck with suitable furnishings will provide hours of enjoyment and endless opportunities for entertainment. Often, during half the year it will become the most popular “room” in your home.
Posted by Keren Fathi-Poor at 22 May, 2013
Accessories can often be relegated to after thoughts when it comes to bathroom design, and yet they can be all-important in completing a theme or making a bathroom that really stands out from the crowd. Read on to find out how a few simple touches can turn your bathroom into a stylish haven of the home.
Just changing a tap or shower fitting can bring your bathroom bang up to date. Mira Showers mixer showers are perfect for creating that minimalistic look with adjustable slide bars fixings to match grout lines and a simple, single control for on/off and temperature.
Tap fittings are a matter of personal taste but the classic crosshead bath tap with hand shower is making a big revival this year and it’s hard to beat wide, waterfall taps when it comes to ultra-modern style. Chrome plated taps can match both a more traditional or contemporary approach and their bright shine looks great against dark walls or tiles.
Clear the clutter
It’s rare that a busy bathroom every looks stylish so sensible storage ideas can go a long way. Replace bulky storage with sleek wall-mounted units to deliver on space-saving and style. A mirrored cabinet always works well as do alcoves and niches.
Unifying a colour scheme with accessories is also a great way of adding to a stylish bathroom. Consider getting a set that includes a toilet roll stand, a toilet brush holder, a soap dispenser and a toothbrush holder. Also, if you have a relatively small bathroom, sticking to a monochrome colour scheme will help to keep the space looking stylish. Too many colours can make a smaller space look really busy.
Go for glass
Nothing hinders the style of a bathroom like a tired shower curtain or a plastic folding enclosure. A sleek glass enclosure can make a bathroom come alive and also helps create the illusion of more space. Fitting a shower tray into the floor for a wet room feel is another sure-fire way to create a contemporary bathroom. Lots of homeowners want their bathrooms to look like chic hotel spas so doing a bit of research into spa interior design can give you some great ideas for your own space.
Posted by Keren Fathi-Poor at 21 May, 2013
Talk about a full circle–architectural and commercial design firm Studio BA created the modern offices of Autodesk R&D in Tel Aviv, a software development company specializing in 3D design, engineering and entertainment.
Following the trend of ultra-hip office spaces, Autodesk’s innovative floorplan (converted from a former warehouse) is a multi-level environ presenting 3D-style offices, meeting rooms, dining area, as well as relaxation and fun lounges. (What inventive company of today wouldn’t have a video game room?)
Colored glass, steel, woods, as well as soft textiles manage to wow alongside unexpected presentations of angular walls and volumes. Original ceilings and support beams were restored and left exposed, creating a cool juxtaposition to the otherwise contemporary interiors of black, yellow, blue and grey. One particularly bold design aspect is how the light–both natural and fluorescent–penetrates the various glass walls of the offices and meeting rooms, casting colorful, glowing splashes across the spaces. How invigorating!
Literally the central hub of this vast space (approximately 5,380 square feet) is the raised platform of wooden bleacher seating and steps which offers sweeping views of the entire office. Underneath, a glazed yellow meeting space exists, while the “terrace” is selectively strewn with seating pods and mini stools, making it ideal for relaxation and socialization.
Individual workspaces are divided by low-bearing partition walls allowing for both privacy and interaction among the developers. Along the finished concrete floors, clever measurement coordinates simulate architectural and engineering software, adding yet another stand-out design detail to this modern office space.
Playing off of Autodesk’s 3D expertise, the designers implemented other genius elements to create interest. For example, the kitchen’s orange table is structural in bent steel creating a flexible, two-level dining space at either the mid-century modern chairs or raised metal stools. Another portrayal is the telephone nook in one of the offices which features a dimensional wall decal depicting an oversize armchair, flanked by actual bright lime-yellow cushions and pillows. Love this optical illusion!
With imaginative design, the Autodesk R&D offices are undoubtedly an inspirational, vibrant workplace nurturing progressive ideas–by designers for designers. (via)
Photography by Elan Nachum and Yuval Hai.
Posted by Suzanne at 21 May, 2013
Built into a bustling residential neighborhood in Yamaguchi, Japan, House J is a minimalist dream home fulfilling practical yet imaginative solutions for family living. Designed by Tokyo-based Keiko Maita Architect Office, the structure of modest wood siding sits on a tight and narrow lot which the floorplan reflects, yet manages to escape via rooftop innovation.
All three stories feature plentiful windows facing an inner courtyard which is sprouting with a tall tree extending toward the rooftop terrace. It’s on this section of the home where all floors are linked together, becoming one interconnected space. Used as an additional outdoor “room,” this rooftop is where the family comes for privacy to relax, play and ponder. And while a clever idea, the shallow perimeter walls of this space may cause worry amongst some parents, yet this family seems to have acclimated just fine.
With a clean aesthetic characteristic of Japanese architecture, interiors are white (walls, ceilings and exposed steel beams) and wood (flooring). One must admire how considering such extreme refrain of texture, color, furnishings and works of art, the dwelling manages to possess a tranquil, welcoming elegance. White metal framed windows permit light to cascade through the inner garden’s opening penetrating all three floors. Large glass sliding doors open to the outdoor core from the main living area, inviting the children to play in the fresh air at a small set of table and chairs.
This first floor features the shared family space, kitchen and dining room, while the second story houses a tiny loft and reading room/study, with the bedrooms housed on top. Scoring points in my book for maximization of small spaces, various walls within the home slide allowing for versatility, as well as additional light and privacy.
Considering the limited square footage (although honestly, this home comes across larger than it actually is) House J possesses a most unique and simplistic modern design, as well as an enviable beauty.(via)
image © yoshiharu matsumura.
Posted by Suzanne at 21 May, 2013