They’re made for stor­ing stuff but wall units can be clut­ter

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Leanne Brownoff

Dear Leanne: I have acquired a pre­vi­ously owned home and, al­though I love wood, there is more in this home than I know what to do with. Ev­ery bed­room has built-in wall units in a highly var­nished honey oak.

This is a bit over­pow­er­ing in the kids’ rooms. First, these rooms aren’t very big. Sec­ond, these open units in­vite a clut­tered look as toys and books spill out of the spa­ces. What do you sug­gest to make these rooms look and feel or­ga­nized and spa­cious?

A: I have a pic­ture of chaos and clut­ter hap­pen­ing in these rooms. Wall units are in­tended to min­i­mize this prob­lem. How­ever, in your home, the wall units seem to be the prob­lem.

Re­mem­ber that even though they are built in, you al­ways have the op­tion of re­mov­ing them. Wall units would not be struc­tural sup­ports of them­selves, so they are there for es­thetic pur­poses only.

Built-in units in bed­rooms were tra­di­tion­ally used in home de­signs in the 1980s and ’90s, but they were in­tended to be func­tional. Some­times these rooms did not have ad­e­quate closet space or a des­ig­nated work­ing area.

If you re­move these units, keep in mind the func­tion will be elim­i­nated as well. If you do keep the units, I sug­gest you ap­ply lit­tle cos­metic touches to them, so they do not be­come the main at­trac­tion when you en­ter the room.

When you are deal­ing with a smaller space, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand what can im­pact its size vis­ually. By us­ing a few tricks you can fool the eye to think a space is big­ger than it is. The thing that makes smaller spa­ces feel smaller is ex­ces­sive use of con­trast.

Your wall units are do­ing this in two ways, through colour and busy decor. Min­i­mize the colour ef­fect by paint­ing the wall units to blend into the back­ground. In other words, paint them the same colour as your walls. This will re­duce the con­trast and you will see a dif­fer­ence im­me­di­ately.

If you have swing-space and it is log­i­cal to do so, add doors to the front of the open units. Clos­ing the world off to the con­tents in­side the wall units will min­i­mize your vis­ual clut­ter.

If you have lots of cu­bi­cles, se­lect a few ran­dom spa­ces to hold a sin­gle item. Step back from time to time to see how the dis­play looks. If you can, in­cor­po­rate colours and themes from the room onto the shelves; that way the shelv­ing unit be­comes part of the room’s bal­anced decor and isn’t fight­ing for at­ten­tion.

Dear Leanne: I am de­cid­ing on the pur­chase of a new sofa and have found a mod­ern, tufted style that I love but won­der if it will get dated quickly. I don’t want to be stuck with some­thing that is so trendy it only lasts a few years.

A: No wor­ries; tuft­ing has been, and will con­tinue to be around for a long time. It may ap­pear to be trendy since it is a pop­u­lar de­sign el­e­ment that is find­ing its way into many items.

This look was in vogue in the 1920s and ’30s. Art deco styles of­ten in­cor­po­rated tuft­ing in fur­nish­ings — a per­fect ex­am­ple of easy so­phis­ti­ca­tion. When con­tem­po­rary or mod­ern de­signs are men­tioned, the im­age evoked is that of sim­ple, min­i­mal­is­tic de­sign.

The tuft­ing de­tail on a long, sleek sofa, for ex­am­ple, pro­vides vis­ual in­ter­est while stay­ing true to clas­sic con­tem­po­rary de­sign.

Art deco de­sign in­spires us to live a tai­lored, so­phis­ti­cated life. Think of glam­orous Hollywood.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

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