Function, without sacrificing style

Following on from my previous post I want to carry on discussing function as it’s a really important thing for me, given it’s part of who I am to always consider logic first. I’m not going to be able to stop thinking about function so instead I need to reframe the way I consider it so that style can also prosper in my home.

Function has great potential to enhance a person’s wellbeing but only if it isn’t to the detriment of cohesive style. So where can that balance be found?

Well there are different levels at which you can think about function in your home and it’s probably best to start at the high level. So, the first thing to ask yourself when you’re trying to marry function and style is “What is the overall function of this room?”. This may seem obvious but, you’re not going to fill a bedroom full of tables and chairs and then not have room for a bed or if you have a small kitchen you’re not going to put a 10 seater dining table in there which prevents you cooking when that’s the primary purpose of the space. So there are some really easy high level functional decisions that can be made pretty effortlessly with regards to a room.

The next thing to consider is how you want the room to function within it’s restrictions, e.g. size and amount of light etc. So the question to ask yourself is “What do I want to use this room for?”. For some smaller homes there will be little need for deep thinking as each room will likely already be assigned but for larger homes, where you may have multiple receptions rooms and bedrooms, you may need to think a little harder about this question. For those instances, it’s a really good thing to think about the flow of the rooms and your daily routine as well as whether the room will be used solely by you and those living in your home or whether it will also be a room used by guests. These things will help you to get the best layout of rooms, for instance you probably want the rooms to be used by guests nearer the entrance to your home or if you always cook for guests then the rooms surrounding the kitchen may be best for guest use. 

My apartment falls into the smaller home category, I have a bathroom – pretty self explanatory in its use, a master bedroom, a second bedroom and one larger room which serves as a kitchen, dining room and lounge. So for me there wasn’t too much thinking that needed to go into how I wanted to use the space. The only room that needed a little thought was the second bedroom which I decided to make into a guest bedroom with extra clothes storage for all my clothes! However that decision has ended up being a little bit tricky for me due to the fact that, as I have mentioned before, I work from home. So my kitchen/dining room/lounge now also has to serve as an office! As you can imagine it’s a pretty cramped and confused space but all of this could have been avoided if I had walked through my daily routine and really thought about where would be best for me to work, and instead of filling the second bedroom full of wardrobes and sets of drawers, I could have put a desk in there.

Now, I think the above elements are the logical thinking bit of function but what about the more emotional side of things, what about how a room feels? One of the biggest questions linked to a rooms function is “Given what this room is going to be used for, how do I want to then feel when I’m in the room?”. An easy one to answer, I believe, is a bedroom – most people, I would suggest, want their bedroom to be calming and relaxing. It’s not that often that people want to feel really pumped up or overly stimulated in the space where they’re trying to sleep. Of course everyone varies so I’d hate to say that was a definitive rule! Other rooms may need a little more consideration, so for instance an office – for some this may need to be a serene environment so that they can concentrate without distraction whereas others may want vibrant colours and lots of shapes because that may help their imagination flow.

This could just be me, but I haven’t ever taken the time to sit in an empty room and really think about how I want to feel in it before deciding what to do with it style-wise. I have always thought very unilaterally about a space, i.e. it’s a dining room so it needs a dining table – what table do I like hmmmm that one, ok that’ll do then. But actually if I thought about it more, I’d realise that I want my dining space to be a sociable and fun place where I am proud to host dinner parties for friends. I’d want the option to stay there all night and be comfortable, so maybe some soft furnishings and lamps are needed to allow for the end of the night to be relaxed. These are all of the kinds of things I had never previously thought about but which have a huge impact on the function of the room and are 100% about style too!

So the style elements to consider once you’ve decided what you want to use a room for and how you want to feel in that room are; what furniture will allow for the function to be met with the correct atmosphere, what soft furnishings are needed, what lighting is required and what’s the best colour or patterns to use to elicit the feelings you desire.

I hope this has been as useful to you as it has me. It may be that this isn’t such an issue for those who immediately go to creativity rather than function but for those who sit in my corner, of thinking logically before creatively, I hope this has offered you a way to structure your thoughts around balancing function and style!

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