DESIGN PROBLEM – HOW TO CREATE VISUAL IMPACT
Designing our custom home from scratch, I knew it took more than fitting in the desired number of rooms. Functionality for traffic flow, separation of public and private spaces, and use of natural lighting were top of the list of floor plan considerations. However, I wanted a well thought out home that would also emphasize the feel of nature found in the Prairie/Craftsman/Mission style of homes. As well, I was excited about adding certain design elements and wanted a way to give focus to them.
DESIGN PRINCIPLE – MAKE USE OF SIGHT LINES
Sight lines are important for more than just sneaking into your kids Halloween stash for Twix bars. They have a very big impact on several design issues that should always be in the back of your mind. These apply to new floor plans, remodeling, or simply decorating an existing space.
- Sight lines provide a chance to define movement
- Sight lines give an opportunity for first impressions of the ‘feel’ of the space
- Sight lines can help define focus
- Sight lines offer the possibility of creating cohesion
Sight Lines to Define Movement
How far your eye can travel before landing on an object is directly related to a sense of space and movement in that space. With something prominent for the eye to land on, it will draw you to that object. The longer your sight line, the larger the space feels, and the farther it will feel to travel to that object. Hence, sight line can define movement. I believe that a sense of movement is key in relation to the front entrance. A clean line of sight draws guests into your home making them feel welcomed. When designing a home, make this sight line as long as possible!
Sight Lines to Define Feel
The shorter your sight lines, the smaller the space feels. Your eyes travel to the next thing that much faster, and there is more of a feeling of disjointedness. My guess is that most home owners are trying to achieve just the opposite. For a calming feel to a space, make your eyes travel longer before fixing on an object. When remodeling floor plans, clear walls and doors from those key sight lines.
Sight Lines to Define Focus
Naturally, what we see first is what we will focus on. Typically, the main functioning piece of furniture is used as the focal when you walk into an enclosed room. Think bed opposite the door or fireplace opposite entrance. Why not use that sight line to intentionally define the impact you want to make for other areas? Practically speaking, your home will eventually have to have doors and walls that shorten your line of sight from certain angles. These are great places for big impact.
However long or short your sight line, make sure the object that your eye lands on is a focal point that enhances your style and personality. Some areas have inherently clean, long sight lines like hallways. Use the wall at the end of the hall to make an impact with decor and color that emphasize your style. Check out the color at the end of the hall in this article from BHG (not an affiliate) for a great example of an impactful sightline.
Even better, a big window connects with nature as well as providing a sense of a larger space (assuming you leave the drapes off or open). Just another door at the end of the hall? No worries – make sure that door more than any other fits with the style aesthetic you are trying to enhance and use it as an opportunity to add those repeat patterns I discuss in this post.
In the hallway to the bathroom, I actually prefer to leave the door open. I’ve made sure that the toilet is located out of direct line of sight. Instead, there is a large window providing natural light into the hall (purposefully high enough for privacy without any coverings). Moreover, the corner of the bathroom has décor that enhances our Global style. The frames showcase brass finger claws from Thailand on the wall with a rattan table.
Another natural area for clean sight lines are stairs. Specifically, whatever can be seen at the top and bottom of the stairs, and even the landings. For instance, the landing going down the stairs to the open entertainment space displays items from my travels. I could not configure the stairs in the basement to end facing the open walkout doors or even to end facing a large open area. Making the best of it, I decided to place an armoire smack dab in the lower stairs sight line. Consequently, I designed this armoire to have simple lines with Global embellishments and large enough to make it a statement piece.
On the other hand, the landing going up has large pictures of B-boy and Rooster as the space becomes more personal. As you go up, the top of the landing has more pictures of the boys, but as a progression of my favorites as they grew older. I LOVE taking pictures of my boys and I could have filled the entire wall! Instead, I kept it to a single line of simple frames to help avoid the feeling that the wall was closing in the top of the stairs.
Sight Lines to Define Cohesion
Unless you live in a maze, it’s impossible not to have some spot in your home that has multiple sightlines. These spots increase the opportunity to provide a cohesive design aesthetic. Essentially, you can create a space that feels larger by using your whole house color scheme, repeat patterns, and repeat materials at each of the sight lines from a single point. The living room and foyer diagrams below show how I have applied this principle in my own home. Even more, this example is at a key spot with at least four sight lines. Want to see more of where I use repeat patterns, materials and colors? Get access to the Style Library for the inside scoop!
Hope this gives you some great ideas for incorporating purposeful design choices in your next remodel or decor challenge!
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