Increasing & Diminishing The Apparent Size of a Room
In order to increase the apparent size of a room which seems to be unpleasantly small the decorator can increase the amount and intensity of the illumination; use on the walls and ceiling light grayish tints, and especially tints of the cool colors; keep the walls plain or cover them with an indistinct and relatively small pattern; use furniture relatively small, of light and slender structural parts, and so graceful in out-line as not to appear bulky, whatever its actual size; reduce the diversity of the whole decorative treatment by limiting the colors to tones of but two 01- three hues; keep the furniture in the same or closely related styles; and eliminate all superfluous detail and all sharp contrast of hue and tone.
To diminish the apparent size of a room which seems too large these processes will be reversed. Darker and less neutral tones of the warm colors can be used on the floors and walls; larger and more pronounced pattern on the background surfaces; larger and more bulky furniture and accessories; and, provided al- ways that its essential unity be not imperiled, the variety of the treatment can he increased in hue, tone, line and form.
The important decorative elements of the room must be chosen to accord with the proportions of the room. That is, they must seem to the mind to be like the room, either in physical appearance or in emotional significance. For this reason as a general rule of practice the scale of all forms-rugs, furniture, pictures, lamps, vases, textile patterns, and so forth-will be increased directly with the size of the room. Thus a large room will normally look better with a large rug than with several small rugs because of like significance, since the large room necessarily affects the mind with a sense of heaviness, immobility and permanence, while small rugs necessarily affect it with a sense of lightness, mobility and transience. Moreover, the mind is better pleased with the large rug because of its easily perceptible physical resemblance to the floor; and this sense of pleasure Increases, as in the light of our fundamental principle of putting like with like we would expect, directly with the degree of likeness in size and in shape, up to the point where these likenesses are easily but not too easily recognizable. For example, in a room fifteen by twenty feet, whose width is to its length as three is to four, the mind would demand an oblong rug, and its pleasure in such a rug, other things being equal, would increase as the proportions of the rug approached the ratio of three to four. It would not, however, accept a small rug of these proportions, as 6' x 8', 7'6" x 10', or even 9' x 12', because the edges of such a rug would lie so far from the edges of the room that the likeness in proportion could be perceived only as the result of mental effort, which is always inimical to esthetic pleasure- On the other hand, a rug 14'3" x 19' would be too nearly identical with the floor to interest the mind, which would prefer a resemblance easily recognizable but of some subtlety, such as would be afforded, let us say, by a rug 11'3" x 15'.
It is most important to note that where small rugs are used, the floor itself, and not the rugs, serves as the base of the decorative treatment, and the small rugs serve merely as ornament on that base. In this situation the floor must be toned to a depth which seems to the mind heavy enough to support the room, while the small rugs must, like all good ornament, be related to the structure by definite and easily perceptible relationships. Not only must their coloring and design harmonize with the other things in the room; their structural lines must conform to the structural lines of the room itself. That is, they must be so placed that their primary axis parallels either the primary or secondary axis of the room. To place a rug obliquely on a floor is in effect the same thing as to hang a picture or to carve the ornament of a chair back obliquely.