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.