One of the reason why residential interior design and architecture is still as exciting today is because every individual and family’s lifestyle is different. Habits, size of family, individual preference of styles and convenience affects how one perceives this monster called practicality.
We define practicality with each home owner we work with but I try not to get too bogged down with it. Certain things are considered practical because of the habit that you have built up over the years and have gotten used to it.
"Humans are largely creatures of habit. Many of his activities are more or less automatic reflexes from the stimuli of his environment" - G Stanley Hall
Habits can change.
There is no right or best way of using a space. Moving forward, it is important that we either question our habits and what we think of as practical or allow room and be open to these pre-conception.
1. Dark colours make rooms smaller
While scientifically true to an extend (brighter colours reflect more light), it won’t really create the feel of a luxurious living space in a bedroom that could only fit in a single-sized bed. Using a consistent color theme works better, reducing clutter and edges.
Darker color creates more drama and focus point that may help you take your minds off the size of the room altogether (room size will remain physically the same anyway).
2. Taller ceilings are always better
There will always be this obsession for a home to be bigger, wider, taller. Unless we are building a house from scratch, there is not much ceiling height to alter or play with to begin. Once it passes the 2.7m height mark, I feel that any increase to the ceiling height (say an additional 20- 30cm) would not make as much difference as many may think.
That is why I have always opted for plaster ceiling to allow for flexibility is in lighting & fan planning and there is always a chance it will help to cover up protruding structural beams. Beams gone, no visual demarcation of an area, space looks bigger, win-win.
3. Kitchen counter should always be concrete or non timber
This idea stem from a practical point of view as there are always wear and tear in the appliance that we use that causes leakage or burns, as all moms would be agree.
However, kitchen cabinets are planned and arranged into compartments/ modules. So for me, having extra protection in the corresponding area works just as well. For example, having aluminium sheets below sink, having property protection sheet or tray below gas tanks (for users of gas hobs). Short of cleaning the kitchen by hosing down the entire area, I think we are good here.
4. I just want it simple and practical
I think this idea stems from designers who consider themselves to be more of an artist than a problem solver.
It is not a zero sum game where practicality versus aesthetics, and you need to use whether its 50-50 or 75-25. I think a space or a product, well designed, looks good because of how you use it. Heck, badly designed, it can always be ugly and impractical.
5. Full-height cabinets makes the space cram
Similar to above, where it does have to be one or the other, practical or nice. To help makes decision like these, I always as the most important question which is “do you need it (storage space)?”. If yes, we work on the aesthetics and make it look less bulky. If no, then problem solved.
Other question to instigate are: Does the budget allow it a full-height cabinet? Are you concerned about dust issues at the top of a shorter cabinet?
Being stuck at home for longer than we can remember, it may be healthy to try out new living habits (or you’re already forced into adopting some) which may include rearrangement of furnitures.
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