What is negative space?
No, it's not the latest Michael Bay movie...although...it would be cool to see a whole bunch of interior designers dramatically walking away in slow motion from an exploding Kirkland's...but I digress...
No. Negative space is simply just the space in between your stuff. Your art, furnishings, etc. (Hopefully, all curated things that are meaningful to you in some way). That space where there is only wall or floor or atmosphere. And, as simple as it sounds, it's a tremendously important factor to consider when decorating your home. Otherwise what usually ends up happening, (unless you're Kelly Wearstler), is that you end up with a space more chaotic than relaxing. More anxious than peaceful.
the first step in using negative space in interior design: edit
8 times out of 10 when I am on an interior design consultation, I can solve a home owner's most immediate dilemma by putting on my editing hat (also see The 3 Biggest Home Decorating Mistakes) and suggesting removing items and decor from their home. That's it. Not replacing them, necessarily, just getting them the heck out of Dodge.
Now, this picture is from One King's Lane and it is a look. But it's definitely not using any breathing room between the furnishings and decor. There is really no negative space and there is a lot going on in this room. There are people who prefer this look (and I am not here to besmirch their taste) but it's a good example of an opposing style and what not to do if you want to use negative space for impact in your interior design...and keep your sanity. O.K., fine. Maybe a little besmirching.
The space you live in affects your mood and spirit to be sure. In that pic above, I personally would not feel very restful. Negative space in interior design is akin to meditation. You have to empty your mind sometimes. Look for the stillness. It's a beautiful thing and so is a room with some visual breaks. Some respite. If you have a room just loaded with anything wall to wall then nothing has any focus, impact or importance.
And take a look at this sitting room. Again, it's a look, but how relaxed would you feel here? Would your home feel like a sanctuary? I am guessing no for most of you and definitely no for me.
How about this room above? See how the lighting and the wall make an impact without a million different meaningless tchotchkes to distract the mind and the eye? Do you feel anxious looking at this space? Even if the styling isn't exactly to your taste, I am sure you would have a calm and restful night in this bedroom. Negative space.
So, if you find yourself feeling frantic, stressed or anxious, take a look around your home. Do you just have every square inch of the house packed with stuff with no space to think or breathe? If so, it's probable your design style is contributing (fancy scientific based article here) to that energy.
the next step to use negative space in interior design: more editing
Yeah. Just rinse and repeat. Assess. Reassess. Get rid of things. Keep the good stuff and make them shine. And breathe.
Have you utilized negative space in your home? I would love to see! Tag me on Instagram. Comments? Fire away below!