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.
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.