Making Awkward Spaces Work

Making Awkward Spaces Work

Bright modern transitional living room with curved sofa and gallery wall

Aurora, Living Room

Making Awkward Spaces Work

Being in the design industry for over eight years, we have certainly come across our fair share of awkward spaces. One of the best parts about being a designer is working around a uniquely shaped room since they create a fun challenge, almost like a puzzle to be solved.

Keep reading below to find out how we work with tricky layouts!

Work with it Rather than Against it

When dealing with odd shapes, work with them rather than against them. Mimic the shapes of awkward spaces with similarly shaped furniture or the placement of furniture itself. A curved sofa works well in a room with a curved wall. Highlight these areas, don’t fight them; it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce accent furniture.  

In our Aurora project, the octagonal shape of the living room inspired a rounded sofa. The shape of the sofa and the wall are not the exact same but the roundness of the sofa reflects the octagonal room which is why it works. 

Awkward Spaces

Similarly, in our Esplanade project, the shape of the room dictated the furniture layout. The condo is open concept with an unbelievable view of Toronto and the windows point towards a structural column.

We wanted to emphasize the view and natural direction of the room so we designed a custom dining table in a unique, diagonal shape to bud up next to an island that waterfalls on three sides.

This allows everyone at the dining table the luxury of enjoying an amazing view of the city and provides ample circulation space around the kitchen and access to the balcony.

21-04 DP-FP

Esplanade, Floor Plan

The Esplanade-3

Esplanade, Dining Room

Similarly, in our Church project, the size and angle of the main living room were a challenge. 

We wanted a sectional to fit perfectly in this spot to create a statement when you walk in but also be functional where it felt like its own space while not feeling closed off and distant. 

Our solution was a large, plush sectional that set the tone and layout for the rest of the living room. 

The chaise acts as a subtle border dividing the spaces but has a direct path and view to the dining table and kitchen making it perfect for hosting and entertaining family and friends. 

CHURCH-RESIDENCE-12

Church, Living Room

CHURCH FLOOR PLAN

Church, Floor Plan

Size (and Functionality) Matters

An awkward layout can easily be remedied by buying furniture in appropriate sizes.

Functionality is key. It’s hard to let go of your vision if you are stuck on a particular piece that you thought would work. Don’t force it, if it feels too big for the space, it probably is. If it feels too small for the space, it probably is. 

Select furniture carefully. Look for furniture that is multi-functional. If your dining area feels tight, purchase armless dining chairs as they are less bulky. If your space cannot fit a table/desk, buy a lift-top coffee table since they sit at the right spot to enjoy a meal, or to do some work while sitting on your sofa.

Round-shaped
furniture is easier to maneuver around and is perfect for circulation.

Cozy modern contemporary living room with Eames lounge chair

Edison, Living Room

Look for opportunities to create small moments. Don’t forget about the nooks and crannies of a room since these areas can be used for functional space. A small corner can become a cozy reading area. A random niche in the wall can become a storage area or display area. An alcove can become a coffee and bar station. 

Fake it ‘till you Make it

Sometimes spaces carve themselves out naturally and sometimes you need to fake it.
Start by identifying the purpose of the room, and ask yourself questions like:

“What do I see myself doing in this space?
What is currently missing that I could incorporate?
Is this a space that requires storage?
Do I want to entertain friends in this area?”

After a quick analysis, you should be able to determine what’s needed in your space. Measure your space and put down painter’s tape to see whether some of the furniture you envision will fit. Other methods you can use include sketching your ideas or using CAD software—some of which are free to the public for small jobs. 

Create zones by anchoring. Anchoring creates cohesiveness and uses layering to achieve the desired results. Zones feel intentional when you anchor them by using area rugs, pendants, partitions, plants, and more. 

Bright airy modern contemporary interior with wooden staircase and wooden chair

Argento, Living Room

An area rug is
the base layer for anchoring and creating a zone. 

Create a center point. After analyzing your space and determining its use, create a center point and work around that. If your space is an open floor plan, start with the most dominant element or feature in the room. 

Create a visual illusion by creating balance and symmetry. Sometimes, especially in new builds, an existing junction box location for a dining table pendant is off-center from the most practical location. This creates a problem if you are placing a dining table underneath it but is an easy fix with a little bit of planning involved. 

Look for pendants with asymmetrical arms, this way the pendant branches out and your focus is not on a bulb.

Church, Dining Room

If you don’t like this style, another option is to find a pendant with a long chain, cord, or cable; this way you can swag your pendant over to the desired location. No electrical rework required! 

When in doubt, add some greenery. 
Plants are the perfect filler piece when dealing with tight corners. They bring in colour, life, and improve interior air quality. Don’t rely on plants to fill spaces, rather add them as a final touch. 

Final Thoughts

 

It can be daunting to furnish and decorate a space with an awkward layout and we hope that the tips and insight we have learned over the years have helped you. Now it’s your turn! Scour the internet for design inspiration and see what elements fit into your space—you may come across some design solutions you may have never even considered before.

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