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Architecture Expert : Spaces for Living – Dec/Jan2017

Architecture Expert : Spaces for Living - Dec/Jan2017

Photography By Stephani Buchman

The design elements that create the perfect living room.

Most urban living room spaces involve creating the visual illusion that they are larger than they appear. By applying the right design strategies, we can make a space that is cramped feel more open. By utilizing the principles and elements of design, which include colour, light, texture and scale, we can create focal points, while increasing the appearance of length and width. Additionally, paramount to the living space is COMFORT. Living spaces should also be conducive to conversation, rest and relaxation—or catalysts for entertainment and fun.


Don’t be afraid of colour! Colour sets the mood of the room. While I typically like to design neutral spaces and add colourful accents that are easily changeable, I wouldn’t hesitate to paint a bold, colourful wall for fun. You can create a focal area through colour and have it act as a backdrop to a feature, such as a fireplace. To make a room appear larger, paint the baseboard and crown moulding the same colour as the wall.

A neutral living room with a pop of colour and built-in millwork. Photo By Sodapop Design


Mirrors extend the space and reflect light. Placing a mirror directly across from a window maximizes the light reflection and often brings a bit of nature indoors. Adding a variety of lighting is important. General ceiling lighting, decorative lights and table lamps add ambiance to a room. Consider replacing a solid exterior door with a glass one if you are short on windows.


One of the best ways to add interest to the living space is through custom millwork. This offers a unique way of storing objects, hiding televisions and housing fireplaces. It adds visual texture to a wall and gives the room organization.

Coffered ceilings are a wonderful way to make the space feel more luxurious. I suggest saving these for higher ceilings— at least nine feet and up. Working with a custom crown-moulding specialist can make this an artistic endeavour. Incorporating lighting into the moulding can make this a very distinguishing feature.

Drapes add softness to a room and extend the eye upward. I’m a big fan of linen, cotton or silk drapes. They add a natural element to the room and hang very nicely.

Mixing fabrics and patterns create excitement in the space and provide variety. Make sure fabrics complement each other through colour choice, hue and vibrancy.

Add something fun like a cowhide chair. By: Love Studio


When choosing furniture, a small room requires furniture that appears lighter and more transparent. Furniture with legs (rather than skirted) is a good choice for this. As well, some of the new acrylic or bent-glass tables can make the room seem larger. There is a variety of condo-sized furniture on the market now that are scaled to fit urban spaces. Frequently, I use oversized artwork in smaller spaces to make the walls appear larger in relation to the furniture. Adding a larger rug that the furniture can accommodate makes the room seem larger as well.


One of the best things you can do to create a lovely living space is do something unexpected. Consider using an antique as a focal piece, creating a gallery wall, adding a bold patterned chair, working with heirloom pieces, display a collection, mix lights and darks, emphasize art, build in millwork, add a window seat, incorporate a sense of history. These are all techniques that can reflect your personality and give your space the ultimate in comfort.

SOURCES MILLWORK: Colclo Custom Woodworking

Samantha Sannella