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How to best use empty space

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Designing the layout of any room can be a challenge, but you can master your living areas by finding just the right balance of furniture and empty space.

If there’s not enough room to move around, you’ll feel crowded and claustrophobic. Conversely, a room can feel cold and empty if it’s too sparse with furniture.

To find that visual balance, use appropriate distance between furniture, divide larger rooms with existing features and introduce appropriate lighting for your overall design.

Spacing between furniture

The amount of space you need for your home varies between each room. Your living room should have a good amount of empty space with room to move around. It should not feel cluttered with furniture and décor.

Smaller rooms may require a little more finesse, given the limited amount of space you have. Your bedroom should have enough space to easily navigate from your bed to your closets or dressers. Your dining room should have enough space to easily move to and from the table. It’s also important to have enough room to serve guests.

In any room, avoid pushing the furniture up against the walls. It creates a deep space in the middle of the room that is unfilled and unsatisfying. In a family room, it can eliminate places where couches face each other to invite conversation. Leaving some space behind furniture will look and feel better.

Dividing a room

If you’re looking to divide an open room, it can be helpful to use existing features, such as ceiling beams and half walls. The right structures can be used to your advantage as they physically divide the space in your room.

Of course, you can also use furniture and décor to divide space. When placed appropriately, a couch or sofa back with a console table can essentially turn one room into two. Use a gorgeous folding screen to split the room in an elegant fashion. Even Mother Nature can help. Tall, beautiful plants are excellent for dividing space.

Balanced lighting

Lighting is another element of your home where you must find a balance — too little and the room can be unnerving, while too many lamps in will make it look like you’re trying to start a collection. Limiting yourself to a few favourite lamps can still fill space and divide your room.

Lamps should be accompanied by different types of lighting – including accent lighting. These specialty lights can be used to draw attention to specific areas in your home and divide them. By focusing the light on different pieces of furniture and décor, you can trick the eye into thinking there is visual separation in your room. Still, it’s carefully combining ambient lighting (e.g. a chandelier) with accent lighting (overhead studio lights) and lamps that will give you the best results.

Using different types of lighting is a great way to create the illusion of a divided room, but structural features, furniture and décor are more tangible ways to achieve the results you want. At the same time, leaving adequate space between furniture is crucial to the look and feel of a room. Using empty space can be tricky, but once you find the right layout, you’ll have a less crowded (or less empty) home.