We hear a lot about the Wow! factor when we talk about spaces we love and I am intrigued by this. Often what people actually mean is their surprise reaction when they come into a space which is unexpected. It’s a kind of shock which can make us feel invigorated and alive…. but this isn’t always what we want to be living with longterm.

When I think about spaces that have Wow for me – real, long lasting wow –  they are usually those that have more than just a great first impression. This is also true for projects and parts of my home that I think have worked best and give me most satisfaction. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it and so far I’ve come up with this:

Personality / style
Call it what you like, spaces work best when they are personal. This can come through the colour choices you make, the way you display art, your style of furniture. Think of it as the personality of the room – if your room or house could speak, what would it say? I’m relaxed and welcoming? I’m smart and elegant? I’m witty and fun? Sometimes a room can be extremely well put-together but lack a certain something and you will often find the answer by looking for ways to add a bit more to the unique personality. This can be tricky, after all we are swamped with a million alternatives, and I will come back to this in future posts. A room’s personality can be too overbearing – we all know people like this in real life! If this is the case you need a bit of balance with….

I use this to mean the space within and around things. The graphic designer in me thinks of it in page layout terms. For the focus of attention to stand out you need the space to let it breathe. This can be disrupted by too much ‘stuff’ – both clutter that needs some judicious editing and sometimes by too much furniture, or furniture in the wrong place.

We all like to have a purpose, but with too much going on we can get muddled. Same with rooms. Not only should the purpose be clear, but the room should allow you to use it for what you need. This can mean addressing the layout, or the lighting, but the magic ingredient is actually the consideration you put in to thinking it through. The real practicality – whether your towels are in reach as you step out of the bath, you are always losing your keys as you have nowhere to put them. Give a room the attention it deserves and it will reward you back.

When all three things overlap they create a perfect sweet spot and that is the real wow factor. It may be a bit less shouty than a feature wall or a stunning architectural feature but it’s no less powerful for that. Trying to find your own Wow will come more naturally and feel more right by applying this idea to the way you think about creating your own space; room or renovation. Hopefully you will achieve the results you want but also enjoy the process as you take time to discover what’s important to you and understand your own reactions.


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