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Archive for November, 2010

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Allusion or Illusion, part 2: Mirrors, and Furniture Placement

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Here are more sleights of hand that the professional designer and architect employ to create the illusion of space.


Mirrors expand space in addition to reflecting light. When placed in a narrow hallway, a mirror opens up that area at seminal junctures. When placed diagonally across from a window, it opens up the view even further by reflecting it. As an added bonus, if the wall colors surrounding the mirror are light, it adds to the wall’s reflectivity. Putting mirrors on every wall, including the ceiling, will not enhance the room, but rather make it look ridiculous. A true professional knows how to and how not to use mirrors to advantage.

Ever been in a bathroom with floor to ceiling mirrors? These mirrors, with their clean, stainless steel edge, basically disappear. They recess into the wall or woodwork, so that while you get the full effect of their function, the eye reads it as the space it is reflecting, rather than as a mirror.

In the picture below, the mirror is placed within the confines of the built-in cabinetry. All one sees reflected is the room’s double. You get double the space for free. It is inexpensive, non-existent space, but the illusion of space just the same.

In the second image, mirrors are placed on the pair of doors. Here, again, what is reflected is infinitely more interesting and spectacular than the mirror itself. Looking at the doors, one only sees the frame, per se, because the mirrors capture the inside of the room with such elegance and subtlety that the viewer is not even aware of their existence.

Furniture Placement

As to the magic behind furniture placement, common sense dictates. Too many
do-it-yourselfers align pieces with the direction of the room, so that a long couch will sit against a long wall. This only serves to emphasize the length of the room. Instead, furniture should be placed against the grain. When you position the couch/s perpendicular to the long wall, it creates a more harmonious, balanced effect. It squares the room, if you will, into a more natural geometric configuration.

In many living rooms where there is a wall of windows directly on axis with entering, the common misconception is not to put any furniture against that window wall. However, when you do align the sofa with the window wall you get a particularly harmonious relationship: The windows magically frame the sofa and the sofa magically gives the draperies or window frame a sense of scale relative to the furniture in the room.

In the photo below, the couches are set on visual axis parallel to the window wall. It becomes a destination point, an eye-stop, putting closure to the vista, instead of allowing the eye to roam out the window to some unspecified outdoor location. Then, to make the room even more defined and balanced, the professional designer knows to square the opposing sofas with a set of club chairs, and if space allows, an opposing set of ottomans facing the chairs. This will fill in and define the living space without it looking like a furniture showroom or office. Balance, order, and harmony rule.

Coming in the next Tricks of the Trade: A Professional’s Perspective blog: The “magic” of pocket doors, carpeting and lighting.


Friday, November 19th, 2010

Toilets With a Dual Personality

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Having traveled to parts of the world where outhouses are a way of life, I would like to start this post with a big shout out to indoor plumbing!  Woo-hoo!  Because it is (relatively) hygienic and odor free, and happily lacking in spiders and other creepy crawlies, the good ol’ indoor W/C is a winner in my book.

But there is one little problem in this plumbing paradise… wasted water.  Lots and lots of wasted water.  On average about 20 gallons of water per person, per day.  And we aren’t just talking any old water.  Thanks to the speedy dash to put indoor toilets in every Victorian household, we just took the same pipes we brought our household drinking water in with, and diverted some right on over to the potty.  And that now leaves us stuck with a plumbing system which causes the average household to flush 27% of their potable water straight out to the sewer.

So, what to do?  Short of replumbing the entire country, the best solution is to reduce the amount of water we waste with each flush, and nothing does a better job at that than the dual flush toilet.

Sydney Smart 305 Round Front Plus from Caroma


Friday, November 5th, 2010

Amazing Wallpaper – Without the Paper!

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I love this new trend…

That sleek black and white wallpaper you see above isn’t actually paper at all.  It’s a beautiful glass tile mosaic, by Trend USA.

Designed to mimic the great graphic punch of classic and contemporary wallpaper patterns, the sheets of 3/4″ tile are made of up to 71% recycled glass, and are entirely recyclable once removed.  Although really, would you want to take something so lovely off your walls?

For those of you craving the mid-century look, this random color mosaic is perfect!  The geometric, warm hued tile pattern falls somewhere between “Mad Men” and “Mod Squad” in style, don’t you think?

Of course, if sharp, glossy and graphic isn’t what you are going for, you might want to take a look at the soft, ethereal wallcoverings of Trove.  I confess, the walls of my dream bedroom would be covered in it.

Evoking the look of a watercolor paintings on antique silk, this collection is actually printed on FSC certified wood veneers, giving it great visual impact with minimal impact to the environment.  Applied very much like an actual wallpaper, it is available in a range of prints and wood species.

Of course, there are many more sustainable options for covering your walls with something other than paint or paper, including: leather, burlap, aluminum, clay, glass beads, silk and bark. The list is only limited by your imagination,… and the manufacturers catalog.  I’ll introduce you to some more of these great options in future posts.

But meanwhile, for my next post I’ll introduce you to that perpetual giggle inducer, the dual flush toilet, and explain why they are such a wonderful idea.  No really!