by Claudette Rosen

What is a home?  "No, this is not a philosophical question - this article is about design, remember."

For each of us it means different things at different times in our lives.  What, however, would you like your home to be, is essentially the question?

In my opinion, interiors especially homes are personal and should reflect you; or rather what you would wish your inner sanctuary to be for you.I have always put my soul and energy into a space.I feel and become the space.  Each interior speaks to me and if it is your home, it should speak to you.  You just need to interpret it.

Space needs to move and create an energy flow - your energy, as well as having spatial elements that create interest; colour and texture are just as vital.

My design philosophy is balance, which can be achieved in every space, with every design and décor element.  As visual creatures space, dimension, colour and proportion appeal to us.  After all, we are balanced (albeit that we do not feel like that all the time).What is balance?  In design it’s the combination of co-ordination and symmetry.  Space may not be defined as imbalanced by a layperson, but rather a sense of discomfort is felt, due to the visual impact on entering the space, i.e. walking into a small, dark room with imposing stairs immediately at the entrance creates a feeling of foreboding, intrusion and claustrophobia.Likewise, glass skylights and huge windows can give a sense of being exposed and vulnerable.

Our emotions determine our experiences, which in turn influence our environment and our environment impacts on us; in every aspect of our lives in this we are affected!

Your home can be your sanctuary or your prison, your castle or your tomb.

Each space has unique qualities, and what make it unique is you.  Different design aspects speak to different people.I treat each space as an artist would a blank canvas and allow colour and texture to take on form, bearing in mind that form follows function.With the added advantage of three-dimensional elements as well as ambience created by lighting.  The mood a space imbues changes in different lighting, which I like to refer to as the fourth dimension.I enjoy creating interest on all planes of the canvas that appeal to as many of our senses as possible and evoke emotion.In so doing we connect to our environment, whether it is a commercial or intimate space - connecting is essential to well-being.

Each space has a life of its own, and although those essential elements exist, i.e. walls, floor, ceilings, doors, windows, lighting and ventilation, that is just the canvas waiting to become your masterpiece and for you to add a piece of your soul to it.

I believe we all have the ability to be creative; some of us are just scared.

‘What if it’s wrong?  ’There is no wrong, only - not as comfortable as - which refers to emotion, i.e. as a rule, curves are associated with softness and gentleness, angles with hardness and sharpness.  As much as these shapes speak to us in the way we react and feel about them in our environment, it is the same with colour.  Warm colours such as reds and oranges are associated with heat and fire, invoking agitation and aggression.Incidentally, fast-food outlets use these colours in volume to encourage patrons to eat-up and get out, making space for new customers.  Cool colours to the contrary, such as aquamarines and blues are calming and tranquil, as is water; it conjures up feelings of peaceful surrender.

How we feel (each person feels differently) and associate with these design elements is important.  Armed with this insight, it becomes less daunting to feel your space.  As much as clutter and chaos may make some people disorientated and uncomfortable, it may be homely for others.  Minimalism can feel cold and empty or organized and neat.

Again, which is correct?  That depends on you!

The most successful designs are the ones that take cognisance of the external surroundings; e.g. it is inappropriate to build a glass house in the middle of the Sahara or the Polar Regions.

When planning on designing your space or feeling it, it is important to pay attention to the architectural features e.g. is there a particular style?

Are these features pleasing to you or not, can the elements that do not feel right to you be altered?

So, how do you feel?

Answering the following questions will help you recognize what causes you dis-ease and what makes you comfortable.  Bringing you closer to your objective of knowing what works for you.  This is the information that as designers we need to establish from you our clients, before attempting to make your home work for you, so, whether you have a Decorator or Designer already, or you are attempting your own interpretation of your space, these answers will be invaluable to you.


Is your space big?

Is your space small?

Is your space dark?

Is your space light - artificial?

Is your space light - natural?

Is your space well ventilated?

Is your space badly ventilated?

Anything else to describe your space?







Are security bars visible?

Are your windows over-looking neighbours?

Do you have bay-windows?

What ‘other’ features could identify your windows?


4.1  If its dark:

4.1.1  Safe & Secure;

4.1.2  Claustrophobic;

4.1.3  Depressed & Angry;

4.1.4  Comfortable - sometimes needing more light;

4.2  Safe and secure:

4.2.1  Do you feel exposed?

4.3  If its light do you feel:

4.3.1  Exposed, everyone can ‘see you;’

4.3.2  Free and able to breath;

4.3.3  Comfortable but sometimes want to feel more intimate;


5.1  Warm colours such as - Reds, Yellows, Orange evokes what emotion?

5.1.1  Suffocation

5.1.2  Passions

5.1.3  Warmth & heat;

5.1.4  Panic - need to get away

5.1.5  Loudness;

5.2  Cool colours such as - Blue, Aqua, Violet, etc, evoke what emotion?

5.2.1  Serenity, peacefulness;

5.2.2  Coldness and isolation;

5.2.3  Silence, panic need for company;

5.2.4  Tranquillity;

Colour is a broad spectrum from example greens, can be bluish or yellowish and this evokes a different feeling - but basically, every colour will be either warm, cool or neutral such as your creams and browns.  The trick is balance and what it makes you feel.


How do you relate to texture?  What feelings do textures evoke?Some people are tactile intolerant.  Some have to touch different surfaces and therefore are tactile.

How Do You Find …?

6.1  Rough Textures:

6.1.1  Interesting and exciting;

6.1.2  Indifferent;

6.1.3  Irritating, grating;

6.1.4  Haphazard and erratic;

6.2  Do you need to touch surfaces to feel what it’s made of:



6.3  How do you feel about Reflective Surfaces?

6.3.1  Cold

6.3.2  Sparkly 

* Glitzy

* Tacky

6.3.3  Opulent and Precise;

6.3.4  Over the top;

6.4  How do you feel about soft surfaces?Example (padded walls.)

6.4.1  Only be on furniture

6.4.2  On floors

6.4.3  On Walls

6.4.4  Wherever it works

QUESTION 7:  How do you feel about Shape?

7.1  Round or Curved:

7.1.1  Eternal;

7.1.2  No direction;

7.1.3  Safe & Feminine;

7.1.4  Indecisive;

7.1.5  Exciting and Moving;

7.2  Square or Rectangle:

7.2.1  Masculine and formal

7.2.2  Boring and predictable;

7.2.3  Hard and calculating;

7.2.4  Structural and strong;

7.2.5  Exciting;

7.3  A Triangle:

7.3.1  Exciting

7.3.2  Aggressive or angry;

7.3.3  Calculating and precise;

7.3.4  Directional - to the point;

7.3.5  Feminine;

QUESTION 8:  How do you feel about Smooth Surfaces?

8.1  Slippery;

8.2  Cold;

8.3  Clean & precise;

8.4  Nondescript and boring;

8.5  Whole and unbroken;

QUESTION 9:  How do you feel about Symmetry?

9.1  Makes you feel balanced;

9.2  Boring & predictable;

9.3  Controlled;

9.4  Irritated

QUESTION 10:  How do you feel about Asymmetrical Elements?

10.1  Exciting and unpredictable;

10.2  Balanced;

10.3  Irritated & annoyed;

10.4  Manipulated;

QUESTION 11:  In what room/space do you feel most comfortable?

11.1  Kitchen;

11.2  Bedroom;

11.3  Lounge - Living Room;

11.4  Dining Room;

11.5  Bathroom;

11.6  Outside - Garden / Patio

11.7  Entertainment;

11.8  ‘Other’ - (study, meditation)

QUESTION 12:  WHY - What emotion does this space evoke?

12.1  Security;

12.2  Freedom;

12.3  Balance;

12.4  Serenity;

12.5  All of the Above;

QUESTION 13:  In what room / space do you feel uncomfortable?

13.1  Kitchen;

13.2  Bedroom

13.3  Lounge - Living Room

13.4  Dining Room

13.5  Bathroom

13.6  Outside - Garden / Patio

13.7  Entertainment;

13.8  ‘Other’ - (study, meditation)

QUESTION 14:  WHY - What emotion does this space evoke?

14.1  Claustrophobia;

14.2  Fear;

14.3  Irritation & Anger;

14.4  Imbalance;

14.5  Insecure;

14.6  All of the above;

QUESTION 15:  What do you think the solution is?

15.1  Structural changes;

15.2  Superficial changes

15.3  Moving;

QUESTION 16:  Is it a new house?



QUESTION 17:  Are you renovating to sell?



QUESTION 18:  Are you renovating to improve your living space for yourself?



QUESTION 19:  What is your ideal budget per M²?

a)  R 1,500.00

b)  R 2,500.00

c)  R 3,500.00

d)  R 5,500.00

QUESTION 20:  Would you be purchasing new furniture?



QUESTION 21:  Would you be renovating …

a)  The entire house?

b)  Room by room?

c)  One room only?

QUESTION 22:  Does the house/space fulfil your requirements?

a)  Do you have enough rooms?

b)  Do you need more rooms?

c)  Room to grow at a later stage?

d)  Marketable for general public requirements?

e)  Other needs?

After completion of this questionnaire, you should be much closer to determining your desired requirements, needs, wants and therefore be much closer to your overall objectives.