Tricks to Tricking Out Your Space

When we start trying to decide how to design our spaces, so many times we fall into a rabbit hole of all of the various types of materials and colors available. This feeling can be a very overwhelming to pull yourself out of, just ask all of the Pinterest bloggers - it’s like you can scroll for HOURS & HOURS with no end in sight. For the most part, we can narrow it down to a couple of general styles (s), but then the real madness begins when you try to blend them. I know the anxiety of feeling like there just has to be the one right way to design this space; believe me, I’m an interior designer ;) 


The simple truth of the matter is that, just like the Pinterest scrolling, the opportunities are endless; however, if you are feeling like the pressure is starting to overwhelm you, try following a few simple guidelines to help keep that a tiny bit more manageable.

Rule #1:
Find the right rug size.
For most of us, we have no idea where even to start when it comes to the “right” rug size. You’ll want to keep a few clues in your mind, and from that, we can build out the dimensions of the rug. Your rug should just barely sneak under a couch’s legs, enough to where you can’t see the edge of the carpet under the furniture, but also maximizing how much of the rug is interacted with and shown.

When it comes to the bed frame, these usually call for large rugs, most of which gets lost underneath the bed. Ideally, you’d like the carpet to be underneath your feet all around the bed so think of your traffic circulation into and out of bed. Keep this in mind with other items of seating furniture, like chairs or chaises, when planning how much rug you need. Most of the time, we only need the carpet to just sneak past the front set of legs, which also helps keep the rug in place if you don’t have carpet tape or a non-slip padding underneath it, but also because these items tend to sit the lowest in most spaces, chairs sometimes being the exception.

For other furniture pieces, like bookcases, dressers, TV stands, these items tend to sit higher off the ground, but also don’t require the rug to run under them. For the most part, these items stand alone because their interaction with the user is most often less frequent and housing books, artwork, pictures, and other ornamental features that add to a space without really having to touch it. 

Start playing around with the way you want that space to flow now that you have an idea of what furniture will be used in the space. Maybe there is a vital circulation path through the area that’d you like to interact with, or perhaps you want to inhabit only a portion of the room. Rugs are great solutions for this because they ground the area from the rest of the flooring sweeping throughout the space - create a unique, and more intimate environment by defining its border from the rest of the space. Now, don’t worry - patterns, materials, and colorways will keep the two parts of the area cohesive, but not every space needs to be cozy and intimate, while not all areas need to be more open and public.

There is a delicate balance you’ll find if you think about the way you use the space and how you and your guests interact with the area. Now how do we know what’s intimate enough? Well, it’s going to be relative to the scale of the room, but there a few key points you can remember to help give you a good starting point. 

Most coffee tables will lie between 15-18” comfortably from a sofa.
Most common comfortable width for moving through a space should be 36” - the latest design movement has moved to a slightly more comfortable 42”. You want at least 36” between the coffee table and the TV stand, if not more. 


Side tables should be placed approximately 4-6” away from adjacent furniture.
Safe to assume extra rug size (which can be hidden under furniture) than to go too short.
Ideally, once you take into account the dimensions of the furniture pieces and the circulation throughout the specific space, you should be able to use some good old math to help deduce down what sizes of rugs can work and which ones just simply cannot. Now picking the finish, you’re on your own! ;P

puppy mirror.gif

Rule #2:
Bathroom/ Mirror Lighting Tips
It amazes me to see still so many new development homes and condos operating under terrible lighting. This is mostly done for simple reasons like cost and ease, but people designing these types of places - usually done quickly for better turn-around time on getting their investment back once it sells - don’t think about how the end user will use the space. One of the most common areas for that is the bathroom lighting around the mirror. Arguably one of the most critical areas where we will view ourselves, and we design ourselves area’s that cast a terrible light on to us. And no, it’s more than just switching from an incandescent light bulb to an LED one. It’s about the proper height and the appropriate lighting direction. 

When it comes to lighting by the mirror, I prefer to suggest sconces on either side of the mirror or pendant light. We can control these heights so much more than an above-mirror sconce or just ambient lighting from cans and other luminarie sources. Here’s what to look for - when we are lighting our face, we want the luminaire to be right around eye level; some people like to go slightly above and some like it right at eye level. What this does is brings your lighting near your face - crazy concept right!?

Now that we have it here is where the direction of the light is essential. If we’re looking at globe lighting pendants and sconces, or where the light bulb is present and featured, this is going to be an all-directional source, so eye level is best. This will cast light upward, downward, and right at the level of your face. We want to avoid shadows and harsh, abrasive lighting cast directly on the skin. If we are looking for a pendant where the light bulb is concealed, and it directs light down & up, then we’d want to position this one just a little bit above eye level.

Think about it, if it’s right at eye level, and it's directing the light upward and downward, that leaves the middle area (your eye level/face level) missing that lighting. The upward directional lighting will help bounce lighting around the room for sure, but you may have to watch for shadow lines - this is why it might be just above eye level a few inches. 

Do not rely upon ambient lighting from recessed cans or above mirror sconce to be the best directional lighting by the mirror. They provide the right amount of light that does illuminate your face, but it’s not the most ideal. 

I hope these little tips and tricks help you worry less about the endless design directions your space wants to go in. With these in mind, it should make it easier for you to start picking some of those items out of the list and helping to narrow down your design direction. Look out for more tips here in the future!


By Jake Neidlinger