Negative Space: What It is and How to Use It

Posted on: July 30th, 2018

While it may sound cliché, in design, the age-old adage ‘less is more’ is particularly powerful. Walking into a room cluttered with objects and art on every surface can feel chaotic and overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that individual pieces get lost in the noise.

Contrast that with a room that has only a few central design elements. This second room feels elegant with an easy calm. The difference between these two hypothetical rooms is what we call negative space.


What is Negative Space?

In the art world, negative space refers to the blank spaces intentionally left on a painting. In your house, negative spaces are the blank spots on a wall, empty spots on furniture or areas where you’ve chosen not to decorate. The converse of this is positive space – areas that are occupied by design elements.

By intentionally leaving things blank or open, you’re accomplishing a few aesthetic feats. First you are showing off your more interesting pieces as there is nothing else around to compete with them. Second, you are creating balance so that when you or your visitors enter a space, you are not inundated with stimuli, which ultimately can help create a sense of calm.


Why is Negative Space Important?

The most important benefit of negative space is function. A room filled to the brim with different design elements does not flow well, can become cluttered and can make it difficult for you to freely move or work in a space.

Second, a room with well-balanced negative space is more visually pleasing on a psychological level. When a person enters a room, they will automatically see the room as a whole before they see any individual design element. This allows for the coveted wow factor of an impressive room.

Last, the right balance of negative space puts your design aesthetic center stage. This allows you to show off the beauty and intrigue of each element. When everything is competing for attention, nothing is actually seen.


How Can You Create Negative Space in Your Home?

Like minimalist style, negative space is all about intention. You are carefully crafting a room to have a specific function and aesthetic without superfluous, distracting elements. Easy ways to incorporate this design aesthetic include:

  • Keeping the room clutter free
  • Considering the negative space created by your home’s architecture
  • Making clear pathways
  • Removing anything that is not cohesive
  • Letting functional elements, such as furniture, be the cornerstone of your design

Adding negative space to your home is an easy way to increase the serenity of your rooms as well as the elegance. Deliberate, intentional design is one of the best ways to show off your unique design aesthetic as well as the character of your pieces.


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