Spaces 4 Living

An Architect's Idea Book: Sharing ideas and inspiration to help create beautiful living spaces.

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Pillowscaping 101

Adding layers of texture and colour is a a great way to add interest in a space. Accent or throw pillows is the easiest and most affordable way to give your room and instant makeover. The choice and selection can be overwhelming that so many times we end up going to the shops and walk out with nothing (or the wrong one!).



How to choose throw pillows?

Size, shape, colors, patterns, the number of pillows and the overall style you are aiming for are the basic considerations you need to decide on before you go.


The size of throw pillows should primarily be determined by the size of your sofa or chair. The average size, which is between 16-18″ square. Oversize pillows (24”) create a comfy, loungey feel, but they should be reserved for really large furniture. If your sofa is compact or you need a pillow for a delicate side chair, go for smaller ones.

Choose the correct size for your seating or you will have to move them or take them off every time you want to sit comfortably.


The typical fillings for pillows are feather, foam, or a synthetic mix. Think how you’re going to use the pillows. Are they going to be used often or use them as bed decoration only? If you use them often, selecting a higher grade of pillow will withstand more frequent use. If you choose a cheaper polyester fill it will quickly look lumpy, flat and shapeless. Leave the polyester for the decorative ones.

In the shops, fluff them several times to make sure they don’t lose feathers and resume their original shapes easily.



Number of pillows

Odd or Even?  Most often an odd numbers usually work the best. But there is nothing wrong with even numbers if that is what is needed for your decor aspirations. Just vary the pattern and size for interest.


There are 4 basic types of pillow shapes to consider – bolsters, squares, rectangles and rounds. Squares support your whole body and are the most versatile.   Rectangles will support the lower back to provide better lumbar support.

Also, consider the aesthetics of you furniture. Sofas with sharp lines can be softened up a bit with round pillows, and the other way round, large squares will give a balanced look to a squishy, puffy couch.  A combination of squares, rectangles and a bolster can be a great solution.


Patterns and colors
  • If you have two pillows sitting next to each other on an item of furniture, make them different, preferably one solid and the other patterned.
  • For a large sofa, choose two solid pillows for the ends that contrast with the color of the sofa and pair each of them with a patterned pillow that pulls in the color of the furniture (or use one patterned pillows in the middle).
  • Do not be afraid to mix patterns. Just make sure most of them have at least one color in common (beside neutrals).
  • When you’re mixing different pillows, vary the scale of the patterns so that each can stand out on its own. If one pillow has a small intricate floral print, make sure the other has a large pattern or none at all.
  • If you’re buying pillows for both sofa and armchairs, consider them as a group. The pillow on a chair doesn’t have to match the pillows on the sofa, but if you care for a harmonious, polished look, try to look for features (palette, patterns, style) that could tie the pillows together.



In Summary:

  • Consider size. Standard squares (about 18 inches) nest neatly on sofas with typical dimensions. Oversize pillows (24 inches) create a more casual, loungey feel. If you have a modern sofa with a very low back, consider 16 inches.
  • Know about fill. A feather-and-down fill has more squish, and it’s also the priciest. Foam and other synthetic fills are stiffer. They hold their shape but look less lush.
  • Use an odd number of pillows. In design, odd numbers tend to be more pleasing to the eye. Try one, three, or five, depending on the size of your furniture and the look you want (one for a chair, three or five for a standard 88-inch sofa).
  • Create a mixed “pillowscape.” An easy combo: a matched pair of square solids that contrast with the color of your sofa, one oblong pillow for the center of the couch, and two interesting outliers—patterned, embellished, or oddly shaped—that reference either the color of your upholstery or the color of your solid pillows.
  • Don’t forget about texture. Tactile contrast—nubby linen against smooth leather or silk upholstery, or shiny pillows on a fuzzy couch—add warmth and offer traction, so pillows don’t slide off seats.
  • Address the whole room. Think of a living room’s pillows as a family. The pillow on a chair doesn’t have to match the group on the sofa, but if it relates in some way—palette, style—the space feels unified and polished.

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Small space/ No space for Dining

Many new homes are moving away from the traditional dining room or the room has been reclaimed for other spaces like a home office or a play room that are more attuned to how a family functions from day to day. The latter is by far a better space solution if you don’t use the dining room and it remains empty for a large part of the time.

But what can we do when we have a family gathering or dinner party?

When the weather is good, sitting outside is great for entertaining.



But when the weather is poor or getting a bit too chilly to sit outdoors, we have to get a bit more creative.

Using the bay window that has a window seat adds a few more seats much like buffet bench seating.



Shifting a table (kitchen table or a few end tables together) in front of the couch and bringing in the arm chairs adds a sense of luxury to your dinner party.



If you have a kitchen island with stools, why not have a kitchen party?


Contemporary Kitchen by London Interior Designers & Decorators Morph Interior Ltd


This remarkable table hides in plain sight…..well sort of.  Fold it up and it is out of the way until you need it again next time without infringing any floor space or bulky storage.


When it comes to entertaining friends and family ….Where there is a will there is a way.  Sometimes we just need to  take a second look and be a bit more creative with our spaces.

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Taking on “Tiny House” ideas for your own home.

The concept of Tiny House Living is becoming more and more popular. The increasing number of foreclosures and unemployment in recent years has really pushed homeowners to rethink the concept of home and its size. Most tiny homes are under 500 square feet and many have stretched this notion to 150-300 square feet house on wheels. The ideals are simple living…focusing on outdoor spaces, de-cluttering and down-sizing. Smaller housing is not just for the retirees, but for those who wish to own their home who normally couldn’t afford a house or those who feel mobility fits their life style.


Tiny houses do not imply to live without comfort, just using your space more wisely. That is a concept that we can all employ.


Vertical Space

Craftsman Basement by Seattle Architects & Building Designers Board and Vellum
Eclectic Bedroom by Somerville General Contractors Morse Constructions Inc.


Built-in floor to ceiling storage or creating a partition wall with cupboard and drawers lets you packs away all your collectibles.

Eclectic Kitchen
Traditional Kitchen by Huntington Kitchen & Bath Designers Susan Serra


Using the vertical storage in the kitchen adds a bit more visual interest as well creating more storage. Whether choosing to incorporate shelves and/or rails to display your kitchenware or you could suspend over an island   if you have the space. The wall solution is not just limited to pots and utensils, there are baskets you could add for spices, plants and even task boards.



Shallow shelving 

Contemporary Kitchen by Jackson Interior Designers & Decorators dwelling
Eclectic Bathroom
Finding extra space to store things in shallow shelves or thin concealed drawers that might be otherwise wasted.


Under the stairs

loft-staircase-storage  office-under-staircase


Using the dead space under the stairs is a great area for added storage, closet, home office or a powder room that can fit a number of storage needs and stair configurations.

Wall niche

Traditional Entry by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators Alexandra Rae Design
Modern Staircase by London Photographers David Churchill – Architectural Photographer
Modern Bathroom by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Michael Tauber Architecture
Traditional Home Theater by Peoria Design-Build Firms Dan Waibel Designer Builder


Creating a wall niche is not just reserved for the medicine cabinet.  Framing out the space to add niches for art, books, shower shelving,  or even to hide AV equipment.

Hidden storage under bulky furniture


BoConcept  (Chiva functional coffee table & Adria Nesting tables)

We’ve seen the storage in an ottomans and drawers in coffee tables, but the Chiva coffee table combines both ideas with elegance. Nesting tables are not a new concept, but them are coming back into trend. Storing tables beneath tables is a traditional and simple space saving innovation to keep.


Hidden bed


Poppi Theatre by Resource Furniture
Atoll 000 by Resource Furniture


Nothing short of amazing! I love the ideas that Resource Furniture has to offer. A twist on a murphy bed shown here is only a small sample of what they create. These beds are a vast improvement from the traditional hide-a-beds for guests in the living room. So comfy, they could be your own bed.


Dual Function and Transforming Furniture

Goliath Glass Table 
Goliath Glass by Resource Furniture

Modern console table transforms into a dining table suitable for 8 people. Incredible!


Loft Floor Space

Tiny House Floor Storage

This storage solution is not for everyone, but for the loft or attic floor especially in a mobile tiny home, this is a great idea to incorporate storage without incrouching floor space with large furniture.

If you can’t go over, go under! (the floor). Using the ceiling space between floor joists is a great spot to keep your books and trinkets.

Knee wall storage

 Traditional Hall by Chappaqua Architects & Building Designers Fivecat Studio | Architecture
Contemporary Family Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Ashley Roi Jenkins Design, LLC


Built-in storage into the knee wall maybe a great solution for hard to find furniture pieces and it keeps the floor space open.


There is always a storage solution, no matter the size of the space. Whether choosing built-in, dual function, transforming, wall space, floor space are but a few examples to use space more wisely and many more ideas out are there.



The Art of Decorating with Black


So often many fall at the wayside away from colour and slump into the unfulfilled wasteland of beige! Some are intimidated to commit to using bold and bright colours in there living spaces…so goodness knows how they would react to black. OK black is not actually a colour, but it is a bold choice.

There are ways to enrich your space, just remember a little does go a long way.


Black Doors


Black doors can help create an upscaled and elegant look,  not just for the exteriors but the interior doors as well. The vertical plane of black draws your eyes to the other black objects in the room and creates a visual balance. It also helps balance the other large black elements in the home, for example that huge 60″ television that you always dreamed of, a black leather sofa or the unlit fireplace.


Black Windows


The odd thing about black or dark window woodwork is that you look past them to the outdoors. Whereas with white, your eyes tend to fix on the white frames instead of looking beyond. Bring the outdoors inside with black, charcoal or a dark stain.


Black ceilings



Now I bet you think I have gone too far!  A black ceiling adds a completely different character as compared to the traditional white. Your eye has a tendency to look for defined details to inform it of boarders and boundaries. Therefore, if you had black or partially black walls with a black ceiling your eyes would be tricked by the size of the space…making the room feel more spacious.

On the other hand, if you were to have lighter walls and a dark ceiling, the ceiling would appear lower. This could be beneficial in a room with a high ceiling that you wanted to make it feel more cozy and intimate.


Black Floors



Black floor have a huge impact. It is a bit more of a finacial commitment than paint, but the rewards could be outstanding. It says luxury all over it. If you have a dog that sheds it maybe more of a chore to keep spotless and high shine floors show more dust so unless you enjoy sweeping every day opt for a matte or textured finish.


Black Cabinetry or Surfaces



There is one way to get your white surfaces to pop in your kitchen and that is to have black cabinets. For a  contemporary open layout this would be stunning. The black gives the modern white space living a new twist. However if you inverse the palette with white cabinets and black surfaces the same pop occurs, but with a more traditional appeal. Granted, the main influence on the contemporary vs transitional vs traditional depends upon cabinetry style and layout.


Architectural details


Why not paint the wainscoting black (charcoal is illustrated in the photograph) or the ornate frames. It gives the woodwork a new lease on life and celebrates its artistry and craftsmanship.

The key element in using black, is that it enhances the other colours in the spaces as well (in my opinion) gives a sense of solid, grounding elegance. Dare I say, its the equivalent of that “little black dress”- a staple that imbues a air of simple sophistication.


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Sunny Conservatory


Conservatory…Sun lounge…inside-outside room…Sun room, whatever you like to call it they are almost one in the same.  All are enclosed in windows, although a conservatory has the addition of a glazed roof. Not too dissimilar to a greenhouse attached to your house, but far more detail orientated.


Traditionally, a conservatory was used to house citrus fruits and tropical plants brought back to Britain from merchant traders during in the Victorian and Georgian eras. The delicate plants of India, Africa and the Far East needed shelter from the more northern climates. Nowadays, the conservatory is used as an additional room in the house.  Integrated into the whole functionality of the house a conservatory can bring the wow factor into your home.



Often used as an additional sitting area or lounges, the amount of glazing brings you closer to nature but leaving the elements at bay.



This gorgeous example of a conservatory brings an homage to the traditional grandeur that the Victorian era exuded. Used as a sheltered seating area of the deck, it creates a cascade of spaces from house to shelter to deck to garden with each step unwrapping its layers.



With a flair to the modern, this home office is inspiring. The gentle curve of the glass softens the space. The sloping glass has a filter to protect the residents as well as retractable blinds for additional shading. Most glass used in conservatories do have UV and protective coating options much like typical windows.



The fabulous monochrome kitchen takes a step back as it lets the back garden/courtyard play at the window. The sleek simplicity from head to toe just draws you in.


    Contemporary Annabelle Modern Yellow Linen 32-Inch-H Mid-Century Chair    Woven Jute Roll Up Blinds 48 Inch, Width - 48 Inches    Fiore Floral Patterned Acrylic Accent Chair



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Rustic Farmhouse Living Room

I am usually not one to like farmhouse style décor, but this living room designed by David Michael Miller Associates draws me. Perhaps it is the touch of old world charm of the exposed heavy timber, white plaster walls and European vernacular furnishings. The casual tuft of pillows on the divan, the oversized basket chandelier, the heavy stone coffee table and rustic open fire place just hit every note in nature’s hard-soft relationship.