Tricks of trade to create intimate space

Kim Lewis

I was beside myself this week as I attended the Michael Buble concert in Calgary. It was one of the best shows I have been to in my lifetime.

He was talking to the audience (me) and said that the trouble with a big venue is the intimacy factor. It’s hard to bring intimacy to a very large space. I thought that me sitting on stage with him would have made it far more intimate for me but that opportunity didn’t present itself.

Often we find ourselves in a space that isn’t intimate. Homes are being built on a larger scale than ever and rooflines are, well, though the roof. We are left with a large echo filled space that we are unsure how to finish and how to bring the space inward. Soaring spaces are awe inspiring and beautiful but they do need embellishment if they are going to be shown at their full potential.

When you think about spaces you have seen with cavernous interiors, what is the first thing you notice?

I notice that the ceilings are always shaped, baffled, decorated or painted. If you are going to strain your neck to look up it is worthwhile to have something to look at! North America has implemented the coffered ceilings, the open beam concept and textured ceilings as a way to help add to the effect of a high ceiling but there are other tricks of the trade you can employ to make a large space more intimate.

Creating a visual division is as easy as using paint to draw a line on the wall. You can position that line at any place on the wall to visually mark your wall height.

At our store we have warehouse ceilings which seem to go on forever. We have our walls painted a bright green and then have begun the ceiling colour a few feet down the wall to give the illusion that the walls are shorter than they are.

The overall effect brings the ceiling down into the room and makes the space look a bit more intimate.

Lighting is another way to visually pad a space. Just like baffles hanging in a hockey arena a large light fixture (even better if covered by a fabric shade) hanging low into a space over a dining room table or a kitchen island will lower the ceiling and visually draw the space inward. If you have a soaring two storey foyer in your home, look at the size of the lighting you have installed and see if it is part of the space or dangling way up out of the way.

If you have large walls due to high ceilings the fastest way to bring them into proportion is by drawing a horizontal line through the room.

Too often homeowners with shorter walls or pony walls in basements make the error of drawing a horizontal line with two colours of paint or wall paper borders – this only serves to make the room seem shorter.

Using this method on a wall which is 10 feet or taller makes sense if you want to bring the room into proportion. This trick may be used with paint, artwork, wall sculptures or well placed windows if you are building new.

Intimate interiors can be achieved in a larger space; it’s all about bringing things down to our level!

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Feel free to contact her at 343-7711 ext 227, email her at or join her facebook group called “Ask a Designer”

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