Gain Balance & Peace in Your Home: Negative Space

If I were to compile a top 10 list of the greatest mistakes made in interior design, by professional and DIY’ers alike, one of the list toppers would have to be the outstanding lack of negative space. I was recently at a show house in NYC and saw the problem in at least two interiors. And I see it rampantly in DIY design. The easiest way to explain the importance and impact of negative space in interior design is to turn to an old pal of mine.

Mozart in Verona by dalla Rosa 1770

Mozart. Now, Mozart put rests in his symphonies. Why? Answer:  Because he was a smartie pants. Rests make the things that go before and after them distinct. Rests also make the things that follow them MORE important. Negative space in design works in much the same way.

Do you see the two faces? That’s the negative space.

Negative space in your home interior is the “space around” something. It is a visual rest. The word negative has a bad wrap – so let me tell you this:  Negative space is such a positive thing! And such a powerful thing. If you have a room in your home designed by you or a pro that just doesn’t feel right – and that feels a little heavy, see if you can find your interior in these questions and descriptions.

Something in every corner. There is a plant, a small plant stand, a small table, a piece of art, a chair in absolutely every corner of your room. Corner stuffers, listen up. Edit and distill – open up at least one corner in a room and watch an interior breathe and become more peaceful and exponentially more pleasing to be in.

Artwork hung everywhere OR Artwork hung no-place special OR (my favorite) an 8×10 or 11×14 family photo hung all by itself in the middle of nowhere.
Random Artwork Splatterers, hold on now. Take the time to read my popular blog post on how to hang artwork (click here). Artwork draws and stops the eye. Proceed with caution! Hang art in relationship to the thing it is next to or near.  You need large pieces hung over large furniture, or you must create strong groupings hung over larger pieces of furniture. Create more balance and peace in any interior by freeing up some wall space with a rest, a breath.

Negative space can make a corner calmer

Clutter. I have nothing further to say here…you’re smart enough to know how visible clutter destroys a sense of peace and balance in a home. I had a new potential client call me in to do some work with them, but what they needed more than a great designer was a great organizer. Savers, this means you.  Create breathing room in your home, create peace in your home for your children and for your marriage, create peace in your space for your own creativity and spirit and sense of well being by culling down the clutter.

Embellished painted furniture. This type of furniture, in the right environment used in the right way can be such a knock out. Truly. Cautionary tale, however:  Painted furniture – like art – needs space around it. Negative space.  An embellished painted chest needs to be a stand alone in a foyer or bedroom. Flank a sofa with a pair of them and unless you are a skilled pro, get ready for visual chaos on a room. Be careful how and when you use embellished painted furniture.

Speaking of negative space, I need to go see one of my clients who needs to “open up this place so it feels like something special” – his words not mine. Out of the mouths of clients… 🙂