My goal each and every time I work on a residential project is to deliver a space that supports family time, couple’s time, a great place for friends and a place where people can recharge and put their feet up- a home that is inviting.

How many times have you walked into a home or business and there is an instant feeling of something’s not right? You felt disorganized, chaotic or heavy. Perhaps you felt like you wanted to walk right out as fast as you walked in. Alternatively, have you ever felt calm, energized or excited when you walked into a business or a home? A well designed space affects the way you and your visitors feel, and also can be an important factor in how much stress you have in your life.

Comparing bathrooms

Which do you prefer?

There is a subtle psychological effect that’s felt at a subconscious level which is the reason why feelings are triggered when you walk into a room.

At the end of the day, it’s how you feel in your new space, whether it’s your home or workplace. When I work with clients, I make sure to use the 3 “F’s” of good design

1. Function

For us to function effectively, our homes first need to be a place of refuge – a place to come and regain well-being and peace.

  • Homes need to serve our needs.
  • Our home should help us regain balance, feel relaxed.
  • Our homes can make sure we are in a good place to function at our optimum.

function

Importantly, these points should apply to all that live in the home, not just one individual.

How do you create good function? There are some questions that should be addressed before you go shopping for that fancy new sofa, chairs, coffee table, end tables, lamps or artwork.

  • Who is living there? (children, teenagers, grandparents, extended family, etc)
  • How many people are in the home?
  • What are the needs of each individual?
  • What rooms need to be multi-functional?

2. Flow

Without flow we don’t have function. If you can’t navigate your way through a room, or can’t do a specific function without difficulty, you have zero flow and zero function. If you can’t use the room the way you like or get from Point A to Point B efficiently, that room isn’t going to feel good for you.

Poor Flow

Poor Flow

The ease of doing activities in a room is what gives a room flow.

Examples:

  • In an office, can I get to my desk, phone and bookshelves with ease? Can I get around without stepping over things? Is there an effective work triangle to access commonly needed things?
  • Do I always have to sidestep that comfy overstuffed chair in my family room?
  • Do I have items blocking doorways, windows, hallways or pathways?
  • Is there anywhere in my home that I feel “trapped?”

3. Feeling

I generally get a surprised look when I ask a client, “How do you want your room to feel?” They often have a difficult time describing how and what they want the room to feel like. Most people don’t know what type of style makes them feel good. It may not be one specific style – like modern or traditional. It could be a blend of two or more styles combined in a balanced way.

You are actually asking the room to have feelings as though you are building a relationship with that room. If a room makes you feel a certain way (happy, relaxed, peaceful) you will treat it that way also.

plantsWhat are some things that create or enhance feeling in a room? Incorporating natural elements is one way to greatly enhance good feeling.

  • The use of wood…hardwood floors, furniture or reclaimed wood products. When you see and feel the wood grain, it immediately imparts a feeling of calm and reduces stress.
  • Plants not only clean the air, but provide calm, can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being and reduce negative emotions such as anger. Not only can you use individual plants that stand on the floor, but you can create a living wall. A simple and effective example of this is a moss wall framed with reclaimed wood.
  • A small fountain – the peaceful look and sound of running water.
  • Soundscaping with sounds of nature such as a stream, gentle sounds of waves washing up on the shore, or your favourite music.
  • Lighting greatly impacts the feeling in a room

Bringing It All Together

Where is the best place to start? Planning is needed to create the feeling that you wish to have. Whether you are purchasing new furniture, revamping the bathroom, family room or kitchen, a space plan is essential!

Some questions that you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is using this space?
  • What will it be used for?
  • Does it need to be multi-functional?
  • Do you entertain a lot?

Once you have answers to most of these questions, you can begin to select flooring and other finishes, for example picking a rustic hardwood floor that brings in a natural, organic element. You can address lighting, colour and organization that benefits the Function, Flow and Feeling of the space.

Ask yourself important questions about how the room should serve you, the ease with how you navigate the space and how you want to feel when you are there. Use your answers as guidelines to create a space that will be not only be functional but will also be deeply satisfying for you.