From the October/November 2014 Issue:

Sizing Up the Situation

    Compiled by: Mary Vinnedge |

Keep elements in proportion and make the most of the available space


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enlarge | Photo by Phillip Ennis
We explore insights into proper scaling as well as techniques for actually—or seemingly—stretching space in this collection of still-golden ideas from past issues of Design NJ and the magazine’s staff. This is the fifth installment in our 2014 series “The Takeaways.”


“Scale is the most important feature to consider in a small space,” says Helene Goodman, a member of the International Interior Design Association and owner of Helene Goodman Interior Design in Rumson. In a 13-by-13-foot show house bedroom (left), Goodman wisely kept the accessories small …
June/July 2010


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enlarge | Photo by Tim Proctor
… And when the space is big, furnishings and patterns can be scaled up. Designer Diane Burgoyne, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Diane Burgoyne Interiors in Moorestown, chose a large-scale print for the foyer walls in a new 10,000-square-foot Haddonfield home (left).
April/May 2013


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enlarge | Courtesy of Meredith Books
Designer Lynette Jennings, author of Straight Talk on Decorating, says large pieces of furniture don’t seem to occupy as much visual territory when there’s less contrast in wall color—they literally fade into the woodwork (or wallpaper or wall paint). In this example, green paint reduces the contrast between the armoire and the walls and makes it stand out less.
January 2004


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enlarge | Photo by Wing Wong
Closets No More!
When repurposing a closet, these ideas can help:

In a bathroom that replaced a closet, Gwen Nagorsky, a professional member of ASID, needed every inch so she designed this shower with doors on a track rather than a swing-out door. Nagorsky, owner of Directions in Design Inc. in Long Valley, also put the shower bench in a nook annexed from what had been attic space.
December 2012/January 2013


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enlarge | Photo by Peter Rymwid
Barbara Ostrom, a professional member of ASID and owner of Barbara Ostrom Associates in Mahwah and New York City, turned a closet into a great bookcase. Millwork enhances the metamorphosis.
October/November 2012


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enlarge | Photo by Wing Wong
Maria Bevill, an associate member of ASID and owner of Maria K. Bevill Interiors in Chester, thought a vanity would be more useful than another closet in this show house guest room. Voila: The room received a skirted makeup area that includes all-important side lighting to eliminate shadows.
October/November 2012


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enlarge | Photo by D. Randolph Foulds
In a storage-strapped bedroom like this one in Morris Township, a custom bed with drawers underneath provides a great place to stow out-of-season clothing, linens and more.
October/November 2005


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enlarge | Photo by Phillip Ennis
A harlequin pattern helps to visually expand the walls horizontally and vertically, says Katia Graytok of Katia Graytok Interiors in New York City and London.
October/November 2004


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enlarge | Photo by David Van Scott
Placing a pool table in a small space requires very careful planning. “Every wall, piece of furniture and pillar around the pool table has to be considered because players have to be able to use the pool cue from any angle,” says interior designer Hope Sferra, an allied member of ASID and owner of Hope Sferra Interiors Inc. in Summit.
August/September 2007


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enlarge | Photo by David Van Scott
Know when to skip the rug, says interior designer Miriam Ansell, an allied member of ASID, professional member of IIDA and owner of Miriam Ansell Interiors in New York City and New Hope, Pennsylvania. They chop up modest spaces, she says. Of course, the flip side is also true: A rug can make a cavernous space seem cozier.
February/March 2003


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enlarge | Photos by Marisa Pellegrini
Murphy beds (an old-fashioned idea with new importance as Baby Boomers downsize) enable small rooms to multitask. This one in a Hoboken townhome is an antique, but several companies still manufacture Murphy beds that help guest rooms coexist with other spaces such as home offices.
February/March 2011


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enlarge | Photos by Marisa Pellegrini
Live Large
Clever use of mirrors and tile seem to expand space.

Mirrors can cover an entire wall or you can just hang large framed mirrors, says Sandy LuBow, a member of IIDA and owner of Sandy LuBow Design Interiors in Moorestown.
Winter 2002

Interior designer Patti Smith of P. Smith &?Co. in Ridgewood puts the same principle to work in this bedroom with a large mirror at left in the photo.
December 2006/January 2007


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enlarge | Photo by Peter Rymwid
And here’s a glam but tiny dressing area from Ivee Fromkin, an allied member of ASID: Mirrors wrap the walls to add depth. (The cantilevered cabinetry stretches actual storage space.)
June/July 2012

Floor tiles laid on the diagonal rather than parallel to walls make rooms seem larger, says Anna Marie Fanelli of Floor & Décor in Tenafly. (This is also true of other linear-look flooring such as wood-strip floors and patterned carpeting.) The reason: The lines are the longest they can be within the room, stretching the perspective.
October/November 2004

Large tiles can help the floor of a small room look bigger because there are fewer seams to interrupt the view.
— Ren Miller, Design NJ editor


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enlarge | Photo by Patricia Burke
Wall tile with strongly horizontal lines helps “widen” this living area designed by Mary Fran Brassard, IIDA, of Brassard Design Associates in Little Silver.
June/July 2011


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enlarge | Photo by Marisa Pellegrini
Interior designer Patti Smith chose a frameless shower because it didn’t occupy as much visual space in a bathroom.
December 2006/January 2007


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enlarge | Photo by Weaver Lilley
In a small Long Beach?Island bath with a door that swings in, a serpentine vanity saves the day. Design by Jennifer Nilsen, IEI Group, Interior Designers and Architects in Philadelphia.
February/March 2012


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enlarge | Photo by David Van Scott
Half-Wall Wisdom
A half-wall preserves openness but still provides a back­drop for furniture in this room by designer Miriam Ansell.
October/November 2007


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enlarge | Photo by Patricia Burke
Designer Suzette Donleavy of Well-Designed Interiors in Rumson added a half-wall to break up the bowling-alley look of a combined living-dining area and to provide display space.
April/May 2010

Choose art that’s proportional to the room. As a rule of thumb, designer Gwen Nagorsky says the center of a picture hanging on an 8- to 9-foot-tall wall should be 60 to 63 inches off the floor. “This is a standard eye level that eliminates neck-stretching to appreciate the art,” she says. Remember that any artwork with tiny details or writing should be accessible for close-up viewing, she adds, and mirrors should hang at the same level as art.
Winter 2002

A coffered treatment helps a high ceiling seem less distant, but it can be effective in rooms with average ceiling heights also. Simply use narrower beams that extend only about 3 inches from the ceiling and then paint them a light color and the coffers a darker color to create an impression of greater depth.
January 2004

Design NJ Assistant Editor Meg Fox shares observations she learned from her experience with downsizing:
• Glass-top tables can make a small room appear more open.
• Furniture with visible legs or sofas with low arms and clean profiles take up less visual space.

Stumped about size when it’s time to pick a chandelier? Measure the width and height of the room in feet; add the numbers together and convert to inches — that’s the width for the chandelier (27 inches for a 12-by-15-foot room), says Peggy Ann Spickofsky of Lighting Expo in Wayne. When placing a chandelier over a dining table, its diameter should be half the width of the table plus 3 to 5 inches, says Cari Kornblatt of Capitol Lighting in Eatontown; the heavier-looking the chandelier, the smaller it can be, Kornblatt adds. For a foyer, Howard Astrin of House of Lights in Green Brook recommends the chandelier’s diameter be a third of the foyer’s width.
June/July 2004

To make small spaces appear larger, arrange furniture so it doesn’t block views to windows and doors, says Michael Ogan of themagazine.info.
January 2004