Spaces 4 Living

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

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Kitchen Design – The Basics

Before you start picking cabinet styles and colours there are a few basics that need to be addressed.

A kitchen layout

There are two design philosophies: The work triangle and work zones.

When kitchens were smaller, compact and a few dozen less small appliances, the work triangle made the space more ergonomic. With everything with a comfortable reach. The kitchen work triangle is an imaginary line drawn between three most used points in a kitchen which are the refrigerator, cooker/stove and the sink without any obstructions (i.e. table or an island). The ideal distance between points should not exceed 9′-0″.

As kitchens and appliances become larger, tasks are usually grouped or zoned. Cooking, washing and storage are the most used but it could expand to include  prep, baking, and entertaining to suit your lifestyle. When planning your kitchen, think about how you will use it. For an example, you would want to avoid walking with a boiling pot of water  across the kitchen to drain your pasta at the sink. So you place the sink close to the cooker or you could add an additional prep sink if your kitchen is large enough.

But as with most things, striking a healthy balance between both the work triangle and the work zones that suits your needs is the best solution

Standard Kitchen Layouts

Standard Kitchen Layouts with Kitchen work triangles



There are many layouts for a kitchen: Single line (with or without an island),  Galley, L-shaped, U-shaped are among the popular configurations. Fundamentally, your layout is influenced by the size and shape of your room as well as the functions that you which to incorporate.


Balham kitchen extension
Single Line Kitchen


Decatur Bungalow New Galley Kitchen
Galley Kitchen


Kitchen 2
L- Shaped Kitchen


London Townhouse
U-Shaped Kitchen


Size (or over size) of appliances and Balance

Group larger appliances to allow for a free flowing counter space. Having larger appliances dotted around the kitchen can create smaller and sometimes unusable spaces.


Add-ons and separate areas

The kitchen is also influenced by its support spaces and adjacent spaces. Thinking how they interact and potentially “free-up” some area within your new kitchen. Placing over-flow storage elsewhere in a separate pantry or adding niche spaces for bar seating.

  • island
  • peninsula
  • work/office space
  • wet/dry bar, storage
  • eat-in kitchen
  • utility room
  • pantry
  • butlers pantry
  • outside access to garden/patio
  • access to dining
  • sight lines to living spaces


Sag Harbor, NY Residence


Planning for your small appliances

One may say that “it will be fine…it’ll sort itself out” but keeping note of what you use most and when you use it, could make the morning rush a little less stressful. Grouping the coffee maker and toaster away from where you are prepping lunch boxes could relieve kitchen congestion.

Allow adequate space and height for the things you use most. If you make smoothies every day perhaps allow it to have a permanent spot. Whereas storing that stand mixer in a pantry for the occasional use will free up some counter space for your everyday activities.


Union Square Loft, New York



With the basics covered, you should start to know what layout and shape suits your needs and the existing space. Figuring out your work triangle and zones informs you where you should place your appliances. The sight lines to other rooms and adjoining utilities refine your choices. Where your appliances are should dictate where you store things ( pots, pans, spices, dish towels etc). Knowing what small appliances you use on a regular basis enables you to create activity spots to enhance the flow of the kitchen ( ie cereal dispenser or  coffee bar)

Now you are well on your way to pick colours and cabinets.  Have fun!



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Window Privacy Screens

Many of us have an existing window that needs a little help with privacy or want to block an unsightly view but still allow the sunlight to filter through.  Not all of us are keen on net/ sheer curtains. Good news, there are other options that can add a bit of flair to your room. The window screen below are a few that I found interesting.



This walk-in closet has a beautiful window treatment. It would look spectacular in a home with lots of old world character. The look can be achieved by affixing a metal screen to the exterior of the window. A variety of metals and techniques could be employed to get a style that suits you. Explore custom fit ironmongery, patina copper or laser cut aluminium.  Customisation gives you the scope to experiment with florals, geometrics, what ever your fancy. A less expensive version or installation in a rental property would be to have a printed roller sun shade. It would give the illusion of metal screen at a set distance.



This exterior mounted architectural sun shade has a similar concept as the ironwork above. The sun is filtered before it hits the glass. This contemporary piece stands proud of the wall in order to operate the windows behind.  It also is an integrated piece of the building; similar woodwork can be found wrapped around the façade at the main level and balcony railling details.



Lastly, there is the option of different glazing styles. This half clear- half sandblasted window wall brings in streams of light. It only allows a silhouette at the bottom visible to the outside.  The scenic views are unobstructed but still have the privacy where you need it.  The clean lines of the window treatment maintains overall style of bathroom. This looks can be modified with different glass types, and patterns. This look can also be achieved with a peel and stick privacy film in a variety of patterns.



There are numerous combinations that you could achieve the level of privacy that you want. The kitchen above employs both a translucent band and a planting screen. The wispy bamboo is planted within raised containers just outside of the window for maximum impact. You can mix and match any of the ideas above; whether that be with metal, wood, glass, fabric or greenery to make your space inviting.

beautiful window decorations


Kids Bedroom Ideas

Spring Break is just around the corner. What a great time to get the kids involved into spring cleaning and revamp their bedrooms.  A child’s bedroom is an important place. It is where he sleeps, plays and studies. This space is where he can develop and express his own personality.  First and most important criteria is to create storage for toys, books and clothing. Secondly, free floor space for playing and lastly as he gets older, is a seated desk area for study.

So not everyone has 9 foot ceilings, but this is an amazing space none-the-same. The custom lacquered plywood unit is a great example of using a relatively low cost material to produce a fantastic finished product. I love the built-in staircase rather than the use of a ladder. The child-size cupboard is great use of space. I like the idea of the duel function of the drawers as steps, but I could foresee the child not shutting the drawers properly and could potentially be a bit of a trip hazard. Love the idea, but kids will be kids. But you know your own children and know if they are messy or tidy at the end of the day.

The project could be a great bonding experience for the child to design their own cut out shapes, colours, and patterns with help from Mum and Dad.

Contemporary Kids by New York Interior Designers & Decorators Tamara H Design

This free standing loft bed is great for any child. Who wouldn’t love a tent canopy over their bed!! The corners of the tent are lifted by a pulley connected to the ceiling on either end of the bed for a great hidey spot. The incorporation of the bedside table/tray and magazine rack on the outside of the bedrails is necessity that is often overlooked. The storage beneath the stair tread is perfect for books, games and tubs of toys. I would suggest a non-slip applique on the treads for added grip, since socks and smooth finishes don’t really mix. The pull-out sofa bed is great for hanging out and sleep overs, but a desk space could be placed here instead if it could not be placed anywhere else. The added detail of the treed wall mural gives the room that added visual that sets his room apart from every other.

fancy wall murals

Traditional Kids by Raleigh Interior Designers & Decorators Driggs Designs

This daybed style is great for all ages. The custom plinth (can be created from modified kitchen bases) can be made to fit a single or double mattress. The built-ins add great added storage space in drawers, cupboards and shelves for an assortment of things. It also doubles as a great bonus room when they’re off to college without much alteration.

Eclectic Kids

For those creative types why not used a painted peg board to organise all their crafts and projects. The mounted cups hold pens and pencils, while other boxes and clasps hold coloured paper, ribbon and string. This set up is not limited to the bedroom, it could be suited for a family rec room or  hobby room.

Contemporary Kids by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Sarah Gunn, Interior Stylist

For the Tweens, a dedicated work desk is essential for studying. Creating a pin board is great for organising assignments. Most of the furniture you will probably have already so why not paint to refresh the old furniture, add statement pieces like a special chair and light fixture to create that uniqueness for your child and new contrasting bed sheet and curtains to complete look.


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Backyard Bistro

This tiny little spaces packs a lot of character. Kate Michels Landscape Design have the solution to the problem of how to treat that small backyard or side yard for that matter, that you didn’t know what to do with.

The privacy fence is an articulate work of art. The decorative patterning is replicated on other vertical surface for continuity within the landscaping. The effect gives a café bistro ambiance right outside your back door. The antique table and chairs are size appropriate for the allotted area, enabling enough movement within the space. The decking is laid at 45 degrees that  lends your eye to move throughout the space without creating a corridor. The space is not very wide but the direction that the deck boards are laid makes the area appear wider without foreshortening, as you would with horizontally laid boards. The concrete planters add a bit of visual bounce and softens the outdoor space with an array of greenery before focusing on the water feature at the far end.

I think this is a terrific use of space that you could enjoy. This small area has become a relaxing retreat that may have, under any other circumstance, gone without notice.