Using Negative (or White) Space in Home Decor Design

white space in home design

These small photos hung above a staircase will garner more notice because they’re surrounded by a lot of wall space.

In college while studying graphic design, one of the first things I learned was how to use the negative parts of a page (also referred to as white space) to draw attention to the content, be it photos or text. This is the “air” around the elements on a page. The same principle can be used when designing your home.

Less Really is More in Home Decor

Negative space allows what you have on your walls, tables, floors, and other surfaces to shine and be noticed. How you arrange your furniture is as much a function of how it is used as allowing the individual pieces to be seen. If you have a treasured antique, place it where it will be best set off and act as a conversation piece. That could be against a blank wall, for example.

A clutter of objects on tables guarantees the pieces will not be noticed, as your eyes bounce around from one to the next or you avert your gaze completely. Have a collection? Display them on a tray to cut down on the clutter. See this post for more about ordering a collection.

Walls are the ultimate place to practice negative space design in your home. Allow breathing room around photos and artwork so you’ll want to look at each rather than looking away when your eyes get overwhelmed. A gallery-type wall of artwork can be effective if it’s arranged orderly. See this post on wall arrangement for tips.

Think of white space in your home as breathing space. When you enter a room that doesn’t fill every space with something, you and your guests will feel relaxed and the things you’ve surrounded yourself with will get noticed rather than overlooked.

Follow the timeless style maven Coco Chanel  who recommended that you “…look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Take a look at your rooms: what would you remove?

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