Most often posts on my blog are about what-to-do, but today this post is about what-NOT-to-do in order to love your home more. I have the great privilege of being able to go into many different people's homes and help them out with their spaces. It seemed like in 2015 I was often called into homes to help address some of the same problems over and over again - which is why I feel the need to speak out now - before it's too late for other homes. These are problems that are not easy to work around - because the problems lay in the way the space has been constructed - which can not be easily changed. So please, PLEASE, for the love of all that is good and holy - if you are buying, building or seriously renovating a home in 2016 please AVOID the following 5 things:
1) CORNER FIREPLACE:
The biggest culprit I saw in 2015 was the corner fireplace. I don't know why, but it seems like a bunch of home-builders decided this was a good idea - it's NOT, and I'll tell you why:
When designing a space, the first thing you want to determine is a primary point of focus. That primary focal point is where the attention and direction of the room is focused and everything else falls into place around it. Focal points should be clearly defined and organized in a hierarchy (primary, secondary, tertiary. . .), and should not compete with each other for dominance.
Primary focal points are almost always the most commanding architectural feature of a space (like a fireplace, or big window, etc). Thus - when you have a fireplace in a room, it should be the primary point of focus - not a side thought. If you are going to put a fireplace in a space, it should be centrally located where it will be easy to arrange everything else around it. My favourite is smack-dab in the center of the main wall of the space - not stuffed into a corner.
|Being side by side, the TV /fireplace and piano are competing for attention, but because of the corner fireplace there's nowhere else for this piano to go . . .|
There are very few ways to pull off a corner fireplace well. The best is in a very large, open space without much else in it. This maximizes your options for furniture arrangements.
If you're reading this too late, and you're already stuck with one of these suckers, the best thing to do is to give it more prominence by pulling it up all the way to the ceiling.
If you also have a TV in the space, place it above the fireplace, NOT beside it. This way you are combining these two attention grabbers into a single focal point instead of dividing them into 2 competing ones.
|TV & fireplace combined in a single focal Point|
|Corner fireplace & TV placed side by side in 2 competing focal points. I don't know where to place my attention - the TV? Or the fireplace?|
2) CHOPPED UP FLOORING:
Next to walls, nothing divides space more effectively than flooring. Chopping up flooring makes space feel smaller and limits options for function and aesthetics (determines what the space can be used for and restricts how furniture can be arranged). When it comes to flooring - particularly in open and connected spaces - less is always better. Ultimately if you can be consistent with just 1 flooring type in the space that is ideal, but two can work if they are different mediums and you are using them to specifically and purposely divide spaces with different functional purposes (ie: a tile/carpet or /wood/carpet or tile/wood). 3 different flooring mediums in an open and connected space is pushing it. It can be skillfully done, but is best avoided, and I would never do more than 3. DO NOT put different selections of the same medium next to each other (carpet next to a different kind of carpet, tile next to a different type of tile, etc) and don't put fake wood (like laminate or tile wood planks) next to real wood - ever.
3) SMALL DECORATIVE ALCOVES:
Sometimes people will build these in simply to avoid having too many blank walls. DON'T! There's nothing wrong with blank walls! Blank walls give you multiple options - small alcoves limit your options.
Decorative alcoves often draw a lot of attention to whatever is put in them. They are great for displaying famous pieces of art in European cathedrals - but they most often seem out of place in average homes and the main challenge to residents is: "what the heck am I going to put in there?" Decorative alcoves tend to create a "shrine" effect. They draw attention and give importance to whatever they display - and most often, average home owners don't really have something of great importance to put in them. Most often they become cluttered with trinkets or become collecting points for junk.
Large alcoves can be great, and can enhance the function and character of a space - but that is because they are big enough to support different options. Small alcoves are limiting, and you're better off to just avoid them.
4) BUILT-IN DECORATIVE LEDGES:
These seem to be have been a real trend for home-builders at one time and I see them frequently in homes that have been built in the last 20 years. Again, they can be made to look OK in a show home where there's no real people with real stuff living in them, but often they're a pain in the butt for real home-owners. Much like the alcove, the question is always what to put on them. They limit options in the space, and inevitably just get cluttered up with junk that collects dust. It kills me - because most often something like this is unnecessary, it takes up floor space for no real purpose, takes extra time and money to do, and a lot of time and money to undo. Save your money and your sanity - just don't do it.
If you want something to decorate with - use shelves. Shelves can be nice and they give you options. If you don't like them in 5 years you can easily take them down and do something different. Built in ledges leave you stuck with only 1 option or a major renovation.
5) ROUNDED DRYWALL CORNERS:
Again, a popular trend among home builders that is often a thorn in my side. These can add more softness and flow to a space, and are often more resistant to chipping than conventional 90* corners - however they are a pain because they again they limit options. How so you ask?
Well, let's say I want to use more than 1 colour on the walls in a space. Rounded exterior corners are great for flow, but not so great for separation. If I want one colour on just one side of the wall It's really hard to know how and where to divide one colour from the other on a rounded corner, whereas it is clearly defined with a 90* corner.
Unless you are a master finisher - they also make the application of trim and moldings difficult because there's no easy-to-cut right angle. This can limit you from being able to apply any kind of paneling effect that you may want to add to a space.
|This just hurts me . . .|
For most people, the purchase of their homes will be the biggest investment they will ever make, and I hate to see people spend money on things that will only be headaches for them later. I want you to love your home - to love being there. Avoiding these things will help!