Good Design Is Comfortable Design

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By Barbara Kaplan –

The single most important characteristic people tell me they want in their home is comfort, and I believe you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for the look you want. Good design comforts — but everyone has a different definition of what comfort means to them. What is warm and comfortable for you, may be very different from your neighbor’s home.

Some people choose a traditional style because they think it looks more comfortable and feels more inviting. This could be because of the softer, rounded lines of these styles and the warm texture of woods and soft fabrics. I’ve found that contemporary furniture can be comfortable, even though the materials may be hard and sleek and the fabrics plain and smooth. You just have to be willing to take the time to look for the pieces that suit your space visually as well as give you the physical comfort you need.

Some rooms require more comfort than others. A bedroom, which is meant for tranquility, especially requires a feel of comfort. A family room, where you relax and have casual entertainment, is different from a living room, where you tend to be more formal and sit up straight in a chair, which is more conducive to lively conversation.

Using heavier upholstery weight fabrics will feel softer and look more inviting on seating that you will feel under your legs and hands. Draperies can add to this feeling by using the heavier fabric there too, instead of lighter drapery fabrics, and give the design element of surprise. Either weight can add warmth by making the draperies fuller and long enough to puddle on the floor. This also adds warmth to the walls and floor, and changes the ambiance of the room.

Painting walls warm colors can change the mood of a room. Darker colors tend to calm and add warmth, while brighter colors add warmth and excitement. These background choices of colors affect the other colors you will use in the room. Contrasting colors add interest and shades of the same color are used for continuity and drama. The mood you choose depends on what you want to accomplish.

Another favorite way to add comfort is with lighting. Lamps on tables can create a cozy, intimate setting. Ceiling lights highlight floor areas, creating shadows, highlighting the important areas and creating interest. Kitchens can be warmed with lighting by emphasizing the work areas separately, leaving the floors in shadow. Since kitchens have less fabric, furniture, and walls for color and have so much hard surfaces, lighting becomes a critical design consideration both aesthetically and functionally.

Have you sat in a chair that at first feels comfortable, and after a short time you feel something is wrong and you want to get up?  That is physical comfort. On the other hand, the true test of inviting and comfortable design is the sensation you get when you walk into a room and want to sit down.

What about the discomfort when sitting at a table that is too high for you to eat, or being unable to cross your legs because the apron is too wide or you keep kicking the pedestal? When you are constantly reminded by the furniture you are using that it is in your way or not serving your needs, this is bad design. Look for the right comfort elements when buying furniture so you are not disappointed when it arrives in your home.

Good design works and is comfortable. Human beings are meant to be comfortable, so we can be happy and function with ease. Then we can appreciate the beauty around us. Mr. Marriott, of the hotel chain, has as one of his slogans, “When you are comfortable, you can do anything.” Look for comfort when designing your home, and remember, “If it feels right, it is right. “

Rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Photo credit: Sofas And Stuff via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
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