Out in Style: “It’s so tight!”

Home decor and design ideas
Home decor and design ideas

Early on in my career as a young designer, I’ll never forget my initial interaction in my first client’s home. After having seen my condo, she was impressed with my style and hired me to do a front sitting room in a New Jersey center-hall colonial. Once on site for the walkthrough, I promptly made a dramatic “gasping” gesture, in jest, indicating there to have been an egregious error made.

Laughing, she asked me, “What’s wrong, is it that bad?” I promptly responded, “No. It’s great actually, but why is your furniture so afraid?”

It was a medium-sized room with beautiful high ceilings, lots of light, and a fantastic selection of furniture she had procured from Pottery Barn and Ballard Design, accompanied by a classic hardwood floor. What I observed was that all of her furniture was pushed as far up against the wall as humanly possible, presumably to save space. It was as if the two chairs were hiding from a home intruder.

We could almost hear the room whisper, “Don’t. Move.”

Without fail, the No. 1 concern I hear from most clients is that they don’t want the room to look “too small.” (We’ll talk another time about dark paint colors in small rooms.) When a room has large furniture, people tend to fear making the room seem closed in or too tight. Which, with this magazine’s targeted audience, “too tight” has never been a problem as far as I’m concerned.

That aside, if you also fear closing in a space with too much furniture or texture, I encourage you to simply try putting something in the middle of the room. Maybe you are the “too tight” type, but you call yourself “minimalist” instead. That’s fine, but the reality is, no matter what genre of design you might subscribe to, a room is meant to be used for its intended purpose — unless you’re decorating a club, then I’d advise against a bed on the dance floor. Maybe.

Pull the armchairs out from the wall a foot or two, fill the room, and fill the tight space.