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Archive for January, 2011

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Allusion or Illusion, part 3: Pocket Doors, Carpeting, and Lighting

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Pocket doors create magic by disappearing into walls and economizing space. One minute they are here; the next, they are gone. How? Slits in the adjacent walls act as “pockets” for the doors so that, when the doors are fully opened, you don’t even know they exist. But, pull them out and they do their job and then some. Magic! The doors themselves can be innocuous, just plainly floating in and out of the wall, or they can be works of art, designed, detailed, and visually delightful.

The mahogany pocket doors in the image are composed of a mirrored pattern on one side, while its opposite side is made of sandblasted glass. You get two-for-one here because glass or mirror can be laminated to each other, creating different visual effects on opposing planes, like the sides of a coin.

Pocket doors add a decorative element when closed, and disappear into the walls when fully opened.

Don’t have enough room in your walls to build in a pair of pocket doors? How about a barn door? Built correctly and designed properly, it can create a similar effect. Here, one moment a full door slides over the opening. The next, it becomes wall, sliding over the piece of sheetrock adjacent to the opening and creating a double wall-like effect. It is deceiving in its simplicity. Like the pocket door, there is room for creativity here with decoration possible on each side. Magic or not, these two type of doors do the trick!

A barn-style door is a practical, decorative solution when the walls can’t accommodate a pocket door.


Another trick behind enlarging space is to lay wall-to-wall carpeting down throughout the major connected spaces. This makes the room feel larger and more balanced. Alternatively, do as the Europeans do—place an area rug right on top of the wall-to-wall. This serves to distinguish the highlighted area, while maintaining an even, smooth look.

The best kind of carpeting to use is a cut-and-knot style carpet. A plush, solid cut carpeting reflects footprints, whereas a cut-and-knot is flatter and thus less impressionable. It also reflects the light in an interesting way, giving a two-tone look to the floor.

The broad expanse of carpeting unifies the furnishings and enhances this room’s restful feel.


Light is one of the designer’s basic tools through which his architectural invention is reflected. Without light, neither the aesthetics nor the function of a room would be visible. When cleverly employed, light can create subtle refinements of space. Lighting can be direct and indirect, focused and ambient.

There are two types of light: natural and artificial. With artificial light, the designer or architect uses different types of illumination to create mood and purpose. Cove lighting (also called “up lighting”) and down lighting are two functional and indirect types of lighting. With down lights, light is recessed into the ceiling, casting a downward beam. When placed in a soffit, it can be a particularly useful tool for displaying art. When placed in a kitchen over the cabinets, its glow reflects the counters below. Here, it sheds light in a consistent, yet focused stream, giving the illusion of light all around. Like cove lighting, it enlightens and enhances the area.

The lighting here is tucked away in a soffit, providing a gentle, unobtrusive glow.