Which Side Are You On? Open Spaces or Cozy Nooks (& How to Design for Both)

Which Side Are You On? Open Spaces or Cozy Nooks (& How to Design for Both)

Adrienne Breaux
May 3, 2015

I hate statements that divide the entire world into two groups of people, but here I am doing it: There are two types of people — those who love the feel of wide, airy, open loft-like homes and those who prefer the comfort of compact, small cozy nooks. Here's how to tell which one you are and how to design your home (or how to fit both styles in one home if you live with a partner who's the opposite).

Why bother figuring out this design preference? Because falling into one category but living in a home that strongly fits into the other camp can cultivate strong negative emotions the longer you live in there...unless you make some design considerations.

And, it helps to know what your preference is because you might end up sharing a home with someone who's the opposite. But whether you live solo in a space that doesn't fit your preference or are sharing a space and need to figure out how to compromise, there are design tricks you can implement to cater to whatever your emotional and environmental needs are when it comes to big open spaces or cozy nooks.

Chances are you already know whether or not you love cozy nooks or nice wide spaces (you've probably had these preferences since you were kid). And sometimes, your preference changes with the seasons! But if you're unsure or are on the fence, you can look to other areas in your life for a hint.

In a restaurant, do you enjoy tasting your meals at four-tops in the middle of the dining room or do you beeline it to the farthest booth and sit facing the wall? On an airplane, do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat? Does sitting in a sports stadium make you a little nervous or hanging out in a compact elevator make you shudder a bit? Do you like working in an open bull-pen office environment, or do you prefer your private cubicle?

Once you've figured out your preference, the trick is to design a home that can cater to that need, especially if your home doesn't come that way. So if you like cozy nooks and live in a gorgeous loft, you don't have to move, you just have to figure out ways to add some nook-like spaces. Or if you live in a tiny studio and wish it was a big airy loft, you'll want to incorporate some elements so you don't go stir crazy.

Key designs for airy lovers:

  • Lots of natural light is important, so keep window treatments minimal and views maximized.
  • Employ design tricks to expand the feel of a space — like making it look like your ceiling is taller than it actually is
  • Keep furniture to a minimum and consider opting for no-frills furniture
  • Make sure your eye has a lot of negative space to rest on
  • Pay special attention to traffic flow in the space — make it easy to get around
  • Consider making furniture in your space feel as light as possible
  • Let lots of visual air flow through the space with leggy and wall-mounted furniture.

Key designs for nook nuts:

  • Corners are perfect places to create solo seating arrangements; consider placing a seat looking out of a window
  • Use design elements to divide the space into smaller zones
  • Use dark or dramatic colors to cocoon
  • Use lighting to visually create zones by directing light to and away from areas in a larger space
  • Use furniture with high backs and strong arms to make it feel like you're being hugged when you sit
  • Maximize your bed area with placement (consider placing one side next to a wall or big elements on either side) and fluffy bedding to really up the coziness factor.

Which camp do you fall into? Do you prefer really wide open spaces, or cozy nooks (or do you prefer both?)

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