So they say, size matters! But what does this mean when it comes to our homes and living spaces? We all naturally enjoy the feeling of extra space, of room to move, and also associate this with the impression of wealth... here in Australia this has translated into a wish for homes larger and larger, and the apparent need for more bathrooms, extra living rooms and ever larger garages.
Far from meaning to criticise the size of your home, I found myself pondering just how we live in and use our homes, large or small. I had the most amazing experience, inside a space that was designed to trick the eye and the senses, and I'd love to share with you a few clever pictures we took in Venice last month, at the 2018 Biennale of Architecture.
all images by James Treble, Venice Biennale of Architecture 2018, Swiss Pavillion
Inside the Swiss Pavilion, created to replicate a kitchen and living space, were built a series of unfurnished rooms. Upon entering you wonder what the display is about, but it becomes quickly obvious that it's about the different way that size can effect how we feel, in a familiar environment.
These rooms were an experience in scale, from too small to oversized, and it's not only the volume of the rooms, but the size of the doors and windows, the power points and the kitchen cabinetry, that made me feel exhilarated at the trick I was all of a sudden a part of. The effect was outstanding, leaving me to feel like a giant one moment, a munchkin the next... now I know what Alice felt like, in Wonderland.
The play on perceptions was stunning and the surprising effect made me react with heartfelt laughter, while wondering around the place and its many rooms and settings. When the surprise waned, my sense of admiration kicked in. The whole point to me was to bring the attention to architecture and the necessity for this to be related to us and in proportion to our needs. Just like we wouldn't buy clothes of a size that doesn't fit, houses too must fit our needs. They can be just as uncomfortable when both too small or too large. So, instead of this continuous upgrade to which we seem addicted, perhaps it's worth sitting down and really assessing what exactly is the right-size home for our family,
Not last I'd like to mention here what I always point out to my clients, when building or renovating: apart from the importance of the right finishes, such as bench tops, cabinetry flooring and staircases etc. creating a successful design has to be achieved whilst being aware of scale, and how things relate to the size of the house itself. For example, having enough room to walk in and around your open plan kitchen-dining-living space, is definitely more important than squeezing in an the largest kitchen island possible.
Allowing a little more budget for taller doors will provide the impression of higher ceilings and wider windows will make your room seem bigger by also allowing in more natural light. Even the height of your skirting boards, cornice, al-fresco area, front door, and how large that free-standing bath is, can all greatly effect how your home functionally works, and again, how it feels.
A good Interior Designer will have many suggestions about what and where you should upgrade, allowing you to create a home that's beautiful and tailored to your family's needs. But if you're doing the renovation or new build journey on your own, some time spent thinking about the design principle of Scale will be well worth your while, no matter how tall, or not so tall you are!
So, if building or renovating, here are a few generic tips on scale and size:
Build a home that comfortably sits on the block - going as big as possible can make your home look bulky and 'squeezed' in, and ultimately sacrifice the yard and the opportunity for healthy as well as valuable outdoor living.
Choose a home size that suits your family's needs. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms and living spaces will affect the dynamics of your family's life. Too small a house will be uncomfortable, and one that's too big might end up lacking warmth and intimacy.
Larger format tiles on the floor, as well as taller doors and wider windows will add to the sense of space in your rooms.
The height of your kitchen benches and cabinetry also should be tailored to the height of the 'users' to make it practical and easy to reach. Adjusting the height of the kickplate, is an easy way to achieve taller or lower bench tops.
What can you have too much of? Storage space, as this is one area of the homes that never seems big enough.
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from: Interior Design For Profit is now available online.