Positive space in interior design – what it is and 5 ways to use it for impact

What is positive space in interior design – and why consider its impact on a room’s design? Positive space is the space that is actually occupied by objects, materials, and ‘things‘, so can be a combination of your home decor elements, like furniture, artwork, accessories, and lighting. How you use this space when designing a room can determine how it feels, whether it’s cozy and embracing or sleek and minimal.

Positive space really only makes sense in the context of negative space – that is the space surrounding – or gaps between – the objects, and clever use of both works towards creating a well-balanced room, visually and atmospherically.

Here, we explain how.

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WHAT IS POSITIVE SPACE IN INTERIOR DESIGN?

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: Future/Simon Bevan)

Having an eye for positive space in rooms is just one technique interior designers use to create perfectly balanced schemes that are neither too crowded nor too minimalist.

‘In interior design, there is positive and negative space, and both play important roles when it comes to how a room’s scheme works,’ explains Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs.

Positive space is where the actual objects are; in bathrooms, it is the bath, toilet, basin, lighting, etc, while the negative space is the empty space around and in between everything else, more often than not highlighting and showcasing everything next to it.’

Embracing positive space is all about giving the pieces you choose a room to breathe and shine – for example, a shapely armchair like the one above needs (negative) space around it so that its curves can be appreciated; crowd it with other furniture, pile on throws and cushions, and its impact will be lessened.

Add throw pillows to whatever room needs an extra dose of comfy. Filled with a fluffy faux down insert, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Available in four sizes and all measurements are made without pillow insert.

<< More Throw Pillow Styles >>

HOW IS POSITIVE SPACE USED IN INTERIOR DESIGN?

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: Little Greene )

Striking a balance between positive and negative space is key to creating a well-proportioned room, ensuring it’s not too crowded but not too soulless or sparse either.

If a room is completely full of objects taking up positive space, it could lead to a cluttered feeling, so balancing the space scales is key to a visually pleasing room.

Positive space needs to be filled to a point, for reasons of functionality (everybody needs a bed, for example), but can also be used to make a statement or add character and texture with a beautiful piece.

See how to use positive space for well laid-out rooms below.

Start it from the bottom, get it here. (Okay, maybe revised Drake lyrics aren’t our thing.) What is our thing? Allowing you to express your style all over your home with a feature-worthy rug. They’re made from a woven, polyester chenille for a soft and textured look. Plus, choosing from our wide array of designs, you’re sure to find just the rug to match your decor. Available in two sizes.

<< More Rug Styles >>

1. USE POSITIVE SPACE TO ADD A MODERN FARMHOUSE FEEL TO YOUR KITCHEN

Positive space in interior design
(Image credit: The Expert / Amber Interiors)

Positive space, the space occupied by objects, is made up of things like furniture, art, and other decor elements,’ say the experts at Frontier Designs. ‘For example, modern farmhouse decor tends to be relatively balanced in spatial use, though sometimes it’s a little heavier in positive space use. Not to the point of being cluttered, but to create a cozier, homey feel. ‘

In the kitchen above, you can see how a rustic farmhouse-style kitchen island has been used in the positive space to add an earthy, warm feel, as well as cleverly serving as a dining table.

You can also add texture through positive space in your kitchen cabinets. The beautiful Sebastian Cox kitchen by deVOL below shows how a timber island and cabinetry, along with a Smeg fridge and wooden dresser, fill the positive space with functional yet organic textures, and there’s enough negative space left around them so the room doesn’t feel cluttered.

Even the dresser is filled with just the right amount of ceramics to strike the perfect balance of characterful but not overcrowded. A few decorative objects, like wooden boxes and trugs, and glass bottles, finish the look.

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: deVOL)

Take your seats. Our bar stools, made with durable steel and vegan leather, will breathe new life to any blah kitchen. Pull them up to a counter at your home bar or use them as a stylish alternative to dining room chairs.

<< More Bar Stool Styles >>

2. FILL POSITIVE SPACE WITH ONE STATEMENT PIECE FOR AN ELEGANT BATHROOM

positive space in design
(Image credit: Ripples Bathrooms Ltd )

The bathroom is often where we retreat for some essential me-time, and should be a luxurious yet tranquil sanctuary. Positive space will be filled with essential sanitaryware items like the toilet and sink, but you can also elevate these pieces. An easy way to create a beautiful bathroom is by adding an indulgent freestanding tub. Then use negative space and circulation space (that needed for navigating through the room) to keep it clean-lined and uncluttered.

Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs, says: ‘In bathroom design, positive space could be a freestanding bath which is used as a focal point of a room, but in order to showcase the bath and really create wow factor, designers will often leave space around it so as not to take focus away from the start of the show.’

The image above also shows how, if you have the height, you can add a statement chandelier to inject grandeur without taking up positive space on the floor.

Stop neglecting bathroom decor – our designer Shower Curtains bring a fresh new feel to an overlooked space. Hookless and extra-long, these bathroom curtains feature crisp and colorful prints on the front, with a white reverse side.

<< More Shower Curtain Styles >>

3. ADD COLOR IN THE DINING ROOM WITH POSITIVE SPACE

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

If you don’t want to make a statement with a bold hue all over the walls, you can use your positive space to add color to a room. Whether it’s through jewel-toned velvet dining chairs or well-placed, curated decorative objects, use your positive space to add furniture and accessories to bring life to space.

Find somewhere soft to land. Our floor cushions are the super comfy and style-forward option for the boho side of us all. They’re UV coated to protect against fading and water-resistant so you can avoid scrambling to bring them inside whenever there’s a touch of weather. Grab a few to have on hand whenever seating is hard to come by or for a fun option for kids to use out in the yard.

<< More Floor Cushion Styles >>

4.  CREATE A CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY LIVING ROOM WITH POSITIVE SPACE

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: The Expert / Kate Marker Interiors)

We love how the positive space has been filled with carefully curated pieces to create a specific design scheme in this room by Kate Marker Interiors. The coffee table in particular is given room to breathe (negative space) – and color contrast – to really make the most of its shapely form (positive space).

As experts in the field of sitting down, we thoughtfully crafted our Floor Pillows to be overstuffed, plush, and firm. These cushions never lose their shape, and the high-quality print makes sure the design stays crisp and colorful.

<< More Floor Pillow Styles >>

5. MAKE A STYLE STATEMENT USING POSITIVE SPACE WITH PATTERNED HEADBOARDS IN THE BEDROOM

Positive space in interior design
(Image credit: Kit Kemp Collection- Andrew Martin)

Take a leaf out of Kit Kemp‘s design book, and use a printed headboard to fill positive space in the bedroom for an exciting, welcoming, and bright look. You can go as bold as you like, with strong fun florals or keep the print more low-key, like the pretty Clemmie from Neptune below.

positive space in interior design
(Image credit: Neptune)

How clear you keep the negative space is up to you, but if you want the headboard to be the main focus, keeping it relatively clear is a good idea.

Our lightweight, warm Comforters induce sweet, sweet sleep – and take your bedding to the next level. Designs are printed onto the super-soft material for brilliant images and a dreamy, premium feel.

<< More Comforter Styles >> & << Duvet Covers >>

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