Sun Porch - A Quiet Space Sun Porch - A Quiet Space

It often happens that a home has a room such as this: a small room that's off to the side of the main spaces of the home, and which often gets overlooked by the decorator. All too often, a room such as this ends up as unused, or under-used, space; without the door through which we're looking into this room, this would really be just an extension of an upstairs hall. Installing the French doors was the first step in making this a separate space worthy of decorating.

Sometimes, an area like this becomes a clutter-magnet. It's off the beaten pathways of the house enough so that stowing a couple of cardboard cartons or the kids' hockey equipment or other overflow is easy; but quickly the room becomes the junk room that no one even wants to approach.

The solution to both these problems is to decorate the room in such a way that it can serve as a refuge from the business of the house, a place where one can sit and contemplate, or read, or, in this case, engage in a quiet game of chess. Even though the space is small, you can still get a room's-worth of use out of it.

Applying the first of the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design, function, we see the function here is to give the residents, or their guests, a private, quiet space. If this is the home of a big, busy family, it's important they have a little private space to which one can retreat. But this room could be in a more public building such as a bed and breakfast, a center for learning, or perhaps a building that's used for weekend conferences. All the more reason to provide a quiet room where conversation can be kept at a minimum and concentration at a maximum.

The sparseness of the furnishings and the room's lack of clutter make it easy to foster this kind of concentration, and allows the room to function as a chess/reading room.

The mood of the room is formal, and, as mentioned before, quiet. The formality comes from the white easy chair, the delicate curved legs of the chairs with pinstripe-upholstered seats at the chess table, the elegant candelabra, and the single potted ficus tree. The old-fashioned diamond-tile floor completes the formal mood.

Finally, the harmony of this room is part of what makes it feel so soothing. There isn't much in it, but what there is works together, and nothing seems out of place. The furnishings and flooring are not necessarily from the same era, but they're in the same style, and the simplicity of the furnishings allows the complicated pattern of the tiles to stand out in a way that brings the whole look of the room together. In terms of color, the blue of the side chair seats echoes the blue of the inlaid chess board, which then is seen in the cushion on the chair, which in turn is picked up in the flooring.

All in all, this room illustrates how you can take an otherwise over-cluttered or under-utilized small space and make the most of it, brining a bit of serenity into your busy home.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design

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