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Mindful : June 2016
going on behind them. Knowing that, I might design them a different shape of room. I might orient the kitchen table differently, so that the longer sides are in an alcove, and maybe even put the kitchen island close by, to give a sense of protection. It’s like tailoring a suit for a body rather than just putting on a sack. Another example: right now, I’m in what I call my “inner office.” It’s a room in the roof of my house, with a sloped ceiling that comes down to about three feet at the edges of the room. At the center it’s eight feet. I love it. It feels like I’m wearing a big hat. But I have worked with many clients who go nuts in this type of space because they feel cramped. I have my clients keep a little journal of places they love, memories, friends’ houses, and pictures from magazines. If you pay attention, you can learn quite a bit about what makes you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. And this becomes more important, the smaller the space. How do you see your clients’ outlook and priorities change once they move into a smaller space? When you put multiple people in a smaller space, they tend to interact more. Some of my clients get to know their families again, in a totally different way. When we’re living in a larger structure, we float away from each other. In a smaller space, gathering becomes more of a celebration. There’s not as many places to be, so you group together. I think that’s a wonderful thing about smaller structures. I know an interior designer who remod- eled his one-and-a -half-story house, and his 10-year-old daughter found that it became her friends’ favorite place to hang out. It was also the smallest. But it was really cool. It was the place with nooks and crannies, interest- ing spots to play hide and seek, and a sense of being in an adult world and a child world simultaneously. What is “breathing space,” and how can you cre- ate more breathing space in a smaller home? This is really key. And it’s counterintuitive. Breathing space is where you take a pause before you move into another space. In many older and smaller houses, you enter the front door and— bam!—you’re right in the main living space. That’s an example of no breathing space. You can feel very awkward there. → 2 3