THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Designing

At large

Six big design myths debunked (in a very small room).

(Photograph by Julia Cumes)
By Silvia Spring
August 23, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid email address
Invalid email address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

When Mary Rentschler, a designer based on Martha’s Vineyard, saw this tiny den-lounge in Edgartown, she started thinking large. “Large wallpaper, large furniture, large art,” she says. “To grow the room, the idea is to make everything more open, more generous -- not nitzy.”

In this room Rentschler designed for the island’s 2009 Decorator Showhouse (open until mid-October), she debunks some common design myths and offers her creative solutions.

Myth: White ceilings open up a room.

Trick: Strong colors, like the green designer Mary Rentschler chose for the ceiling, pull the eye up. White ceilings just get ignored. Leaving them plain means missing out on a chance to add dimension.

Myth: Clutter crowds a room.

Trick: Be strategic with your stuff. Here Rentschler uses a simple ladder to bring life to an otherwise dead corner. It doubles as a step to reach high shelves and as a place to hang a throw.

Myth: Cabinets need doors.

Trick: Removing doors and painting the inside of this cabinet a bright raspberry red helped push the space back, making it look deeper. Perching light-colored vases and a metallic Buddha inside give new height to the room.

Myth: Small prints fit small rooms.

Trick: Grander can be simpler. Whether on wallpaper or fabric, larger prints offer more space within their patterns, focusing the eye on the expanse between brushstrokes. Tiny prints have the opposite effect; save them for the dollhouse.

Myth: Your room ends at its walls.

Trick: Use the view. A show-house landscape designer positioned a sculpture in the garden so it would be centered in the window, creating a view that draws the eye outside.

Myth: Windows need curtains.

Trick: Half-shutters let in light while preserving privacy. Fabric curtains would have made this small room feel “too thinged up,” says Rentschler, especially with the bold wallpaper.

Silvia Spring is a writer in Boston. Send comments to designing@globe.com.

Martha's Vineyard designer Mary Rentschler suggests drawing the eye outside when designing a small room, such as this room in a Habitat for Humanity show house located in Edgartown. 'A stretegically placed sculpture on the lawn outside this room makes the space feel bigger,' says Rentschler. This sculpture was created by local stone sculptor, Benjamin Cabot. Martha's Vineyard designer Mary Rentschler suggests drawing the eye outside when designing a small room, such as this room in a Habitat for Humanity show house located in Edgartown. "A stretegically placed sculpture on the lawn outside this room makes the space feel bigger," says Rentschler. This sculpture was created by local stone sculptor, Benjamin Cabot. (Photograph by Julia Cumes)