The Impact of Negative Space

By Kate Riley February 22, 2016

I was looking through some favorite images on Pinterest and realized that one of the reasons I found them so captivating was the designer’s attention to negative space. When we decorate we’re so tempted to fill the emptiness with furniture, art, and accents, yet often less is so much more.

Negative space is used in art and graphic design in a calculated way, the point being to use blank space to place emphasis on the highlighted subject. In interior design, the idea is very much the same; it translates to calculated restraint. Rather than filling up all the walls or corners with objects, spaces, or areas are left purposefully blank.

One effect that stems from such calculated restraint is it allows specific decor to shine. In this classic entry, using more art or furnishings or color would take away from the isolated beauty of the landscape print, the pedestal table, and the leafy branches.

 classic entry wall wainscot

cronk duch architects

Another direct result from the purposeful use of negative space is that your home will simply feel less cluttered. Walls or shelves that are too crowded can leave one feeling claustrophobic. An open bookshelf is the perfect example, certainly it can be used for its practical purpose and filled to the brim with books and accessories.

However our desire to collect, store, and display all of our things is in competition with the concept of minimalism and the serenity that stems from an uncluttered nook. See how the white space that surrounds the decor on these shelves creates a calming effect because instead of filling them completely, the designers chose negative space to surround the objects instead of more things.

white styled bookcase

house of jade

Negative space is also a great styling tool. The use of negative space in photography purposefully allows for a place of emptiness. The result? It puts the focus on the objects that are the subject of the photo shoot. Magazines love this technique because this is where they can add copy (words) in the publication to explain what’s seen in the image. Note the blank spaces in the upper right corners of both of these images.

mixed ceramics

studio moore

pearl paint colors

better homes and gardens

Using negative space in decorating gives the eye a place to rest. Instead of things everywhere, the edited decor is a breath of fresh air. It’s like that feeling we get in January from taking down all of our Christmas decorations and the subsequent sigh of relief that occurs from a space cleansed of extraneous stuff.

 charcoal paneling around fireplace

new england home mag

The impact of negative space is just something to note when decorating a room or styling a vignette. Purposeful blankness goes hand in hand with minimalism, less really can be so much more.


BOTB 2.19.16

By Kate Riley February 19, 2016

Weekend greetings friends! I was so happy to read all your comments on my previous post, I so appreciate your kindness and support. I feel reenergized having stepped away for a few days. Last night I attended an event at Sunset Magazine, one of my favorite publications, and was happy to taste some wine and tour their test and show kitchens. It’s inspiring to surround yourself with creative ideas and people!

Also I woke up to little blossoms on some of the trees in my neighborhood. It happens a little earlier for those of us in the warmer states but it’s one my favorite things, showing us that spring is on its way. This weekend it’s another round of ‘Best of the Blogosphere’, here are some favorite spaces and projects spied around the web!

Tour Kristen’s black, marble, and gold kitchen remodel at Bliss at Home, beautiful!

 bliss at home kitchen remodel


Make a DIY brass cap paper towel rod with a tutorial at Poppytalk.

 diy paper towel rod


Jenna at Rain on a Tin Roof gave a plain pair of sliding doors some pizazz with a dramatic paint treatment.

 painted sliding doors


There is a pretty teen girl’s room makeover at Four Generations One Roof.

 girls bedroom makeover


If you’d like to try you hand at tufting a sofa, Miss Mustard Seed documents all the steps for you!

 tufted sofa tutorial


Build a murphy desk like Natalie’s at A Turtle’s Life for Me (plans from Shanty to Chic) as a space saving way to add a desk with storage.

  diy murphy desk


Want to learn to crochet? This chunky blanket tutorial is written for beginners! via Make It and Love It.

 beginner crochet blanket


Craft a lucite and gold towel bar with A Beautiful Mess.

 lucite towel rod diy


Make your own berry lip stain with a step by step at Nylon.

 diy lip stain


Enjoy your weekend!