For many homeowners, moving from a starter house to a larger family home is part of the natural progression of life. After the hubbub of the move is over and it is time to decorate the new space, they may find that their old furniture and accessories are not quite right anymore. The problem is that those items were purchased for the scale of their previous home which means they are too small for the new space. We see this dilemma particularly in newer homes, which are built with taller ceilings, larger floor space and grand architectural details. Furniture show rooms have kept up with this design trend, but in their quest to fit the scale of a home, the scale of the human has been left behind. Finding balance between scale and comfort is the key to making the new larger home both beautiful and comfortable.
Tips for Decorating a Large Home
Create Intimate Spaces: In smaller homes, furniture arrangements tend to be oriented along the walls due to lack of open space. In a larger home, this design leaves much to be desired. There is now enough room to create floating furniture vignettes, which are actually more functional in that they allow traffic to move around rather than through the seating area. Once you begin to pull your furniture off the walls, you may find there is enough square footage to create multiple conversation vignettes in one space. You can read more about this design idea in our Designing a Living Room or Great Room article.
Embrace the Height: Larger homes need taller furniture to balance the ceiling heights and the grand architectural details. Clients of ours who moved from a nice-sized home to a grand lake house provide the perfect example of the need for this new scale. Their living room featured very tall windows overlooking the lake and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. The new scale of this home dwarfed their old furniture. To balance the proportions of the new home, we brought in taller furniture pieces, including high-backed chairs to be placed in front of the windows. At first our clients were worried that the tall chairs would block the lovely view. However, our eyes can only see so much in these large expanses and naturally move beyond the furniture to the true show stopper—the view. Once the pieces were in place, our clients were convinced that they only enhanced the lovely lake outside the windows.
Don’t Skimp on Drapery: In smaller homes with appropriately scaled windows, we work very hard to cover the least amount of window space with drapery. However, in a large home with large windows, covering the glass is not as much of a concern. Our brains can only take in so much information at once, so designing appropriately scaled drapery that covers up a bit of the expansive view does not hinder the impact of the large window. In fact, well-designed drapery will add to the drama.
Buy Custom Furniture: Working with an interior designer to create custom furniture pieces is particularly helpful when designing for a large home. The large pieces found in furniture showrooms are scaled for the space, but not the person. Many homeowners complain that off-the-floor furniture is uncomfortable, swallowing them up when they try to sit down! Choosing custom furniture allows you to move beyond fabric and style choices to crafting pieces with seat heights and depths, as well as cushion fill and detailing, that perfectly suits you and your space. At Hoskins Interior Design our furniture arrangements are individually created to suit the larger scale of the home, while including pieces that also fit the smaller-scaled person.
Don’t Forget About Lighting, Accessories and Rugs: One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make in designing for their larger-scaled home is decorating with too many little things. It is important to consider the volume of space you are trying to fill with these items. A bigger impact is made with fewer larger pieces that are in scale with their surroundings. This idea applies to lamps as well. A stout lamp may be needed to fill a corner of a room, while tall and thin candlestick lamps may be needed to compliment a large buffet. When choosing over-a-table lighting, make sure to consider its relationship to the table, the room or both. Note that appropriately sized lamps can be difficult to find in lighting showrooms and usually have to be custom ordered. For rugs, take into account the surface area of the room in which it will be placed, as well as the scale of the furniture that will sit on top of it.
When a homeowner has moved to a larger home and calls us saying their space is not quite right, it is usually a sign that scale is out of balance. Downsizing homeowners also have the same issue, and it can be difficult to find smaller-scaled furniture in the showrooms. Our designers would love to help you create a comfortable and beautiful look for your new space. Send us an email or give us call to schedule an appointment.
Wainscoting and paneling, moldings and coffered ceilings, door casings and fireplace mantles—the architectural details of your home can bring your interior design scheme to the next level. However, the key to successfully integrating architectural finishes comes from a mix of scale, balance and experience.
Buildings have styles. Just because you see a picture of another room that you like does not mean that exact look will make sense in your home. The design element choices you make for your space are not arbitrary—they are dictated by the building itself and the style direction you set. It is important to bring in architectural details that compliment your home, bringing a cohesive feel to the space. A mish mash of designs is not visually pleasing! Below we offer tips on how to include architectural details in a cohesive interior design plan.
Determine Your Style:
Whether you are building from scratch or designing for an existing space, it is important to understand the style elements of your home. For the newly-built home pictured above and below, the homeowner and the builder, Leonard Watson with Artisan Homes, brought us in to help ensure that the French country style they wanted to create was supported in all of the design elements. We worked together during the building process, adding appropriate detailing throughout the house. For example, the intricate corner moldings on the living room ceiling and the carvings in the main staircase balusters added stunning architectural elements that made sense with the rest of the home.
The exquisite carved wood and marble fireplace pictured above is another example of how understanding your style can help you make the right choices in your architectural detailing. The homeowners had chosen Leonard as their builder for his superb artisanship. His attention to detail within his portion of the project had to be reflected in our portion of the project too. Finding a wood carver these days who can support this required level of carving skills was a challenge! Fortunately we found one who could create this French country inspired mantle. We then applied two layers of marble surround that follows the flowing shape of the wood. The final product sits as a testament to craftsmanship, design and artistry in the main public area, setting the tone for the rest of the home.
Slapping up some crown molding that you found at the local big box store is not necessarily going to give you the finished look you were intending. The size of the molding will be determined by the height of your ceilings and the size of your room, windows, and doorways. The tall ceilings of today’s homes require heftier molding—not just for crown but for base moldings, and window and door casings too. The same is true for wainscoting and paneling. The size and repetition of your pattern will be determined by the length of your walls and the other architectural elements in the space such as windows and door openings. For the library pictured above, the design of the paneled walls was drawn out to ensure the style fit with windows, fireplace and doorway openings.
Keep in mind that every space is different. The moment you try a cookie-cutter approach you are undermining the point of adding architectural details! For example, say you are considering adding built-in cabinetry around a fireplace, just like you saw pictured on Houzz.com. Make the investment in hiring someone who can recreate that cabinetry in a way that is appropriate for your space, making it look natural to the scale and style of your home.
Many times homeowners are not aware of the options within interior design, and even builders can get into a rut. By including an experienced interior designer at the beginning of the project design phase, you can tap his or her wealth of knowledge, bringing some unexpected choices into the mix while ensuring everything makes sense. For the project shown above, Leonard’s design of the three-story stairwell called for dozens of sconces. The style we chose complimented the French country look of the home, and inspired Leonard to redesign the paneling around their lovely lines and back plates. And, he was able to plan the needed electrical rough-ins before the woodwork went up! By working with Leonard early in the project, we were able to elevate the look of the stairwell and provide the functionality the homeowner needed.
Architectural detailing is a large part of what makes a home beautiful. All of the elements work together to tell a story about the house itself and the people who live in it. Even if you never see all of the details at the same time, the whole space needs to make sense together. Combining style, scale and good communication between an experienced interior designer and contractor will help ensure the structural finishes you bring in will elevate the overall design of your home.