- What is its purpose? Start with how the space will be used, whether it is for one activity or several. Will it accommodate easily the number of people and activities? Consider first what will happen most often and make that the primary concern when selecting and placing the furniture. Then determine if there are ways to modify the arrangement easily for other uses. Is there ease of flow from one part of the room to another? Are there dead or neglected areas that need attention? Remember all parts of the room will be visible (unless partitioned off). Even if you have a tendency to ignore parts of the space, they do impact your experience.
- How do the architectural elements help or hinder that use? Look at the proportions of the room, placement of windows and doors, ceiling height, placement of outlets, flooring and light fixtures. How can these be used to best advantage? If they are obstacles, how can you minimize their effect, if removal is not an option?
- How do the furniture and objects in the space relate to each other? Within the space, are the proportions and relationship of the furnishings harmonizing with each other? Are they allowing for easy passage between them or grouped close enough for ease of communication between people? We all have a comfort zone for personal space and honoring that perimeter is helpful when creating areas for group activities. Are the objects and tools easily at hand for the designated activity? Is storage available for items to reduce visual clutter?
- Where is the focal point? A well designed home, like a well-designed life has a hierarchy of placement, with a focal point that directs the attention of the occupant. When creating areas that make sense at a visceral level our eyes need a place to settle, preferably something that is uplifting to the spirit, worthy of contemplation or is beautiful. This allows relaxation to occur. When we give everything equal importance in a space, we can become over stimulated and restless. This is true of the room as a whole and smaller groupings, as well, such as objects placed on a table or collections on a bookcase.
It is also important to leave open space. There is a generosity in these spaces. We are not competing for space. These areas become pregnant with possibility for reflection. Space also heightens our experience of the forms within or bounding the space by contrast.
- What is the feeling you wish to evoke in the room? Is it a bedroom, requiring a restful atmosphere or a kitchen bustling with activity and shared community? The feeling desired will affect your choice of colors, accessories and placement of the furnishings.
Even in open floor plan homes, it is important to create designated areas with differing purposes and moods. When working with that situation there is more emphasis on an open flow and communication between each area, so it is important to plan the groupings within that larger context or create partitions to separate them visually.
To learn more about the power of arranging, sign up today for Interior Decorating: The Fine Art of Arrangement starting May 2 or May 5 at Orinda Community Center, Orinda, CA