My husband (the architect) and I have been up early looking at the progress of the hall this morning over a cup of tea. Looking at the generous space of the hall has inspired me to write about proportions today.
I'm writing an article for House & Garden at the moment about a house my husband designed. The owner, a reasonably conservative accountant in his 60s, told me how he gets up every morning and walks around thinking, "I just love this house!". When I tried to pin him down about what exactly it was he liked so much, it came down to the fact that the rooms were generous, the ceilings soaring and the windows looking out to the view were huge.
One of the best renovating advice I could give to anyone is before you build something, think carefully about the proportions of each room.
When we walk into a room and think "this is a really nice space" but don't really know why, its usually because the proportions are right. Have a look at the examples above: Ralph Lauren's villa in Round Hill, Jamaica with those gorgeous high ceilings and french windows or minimalist architect John Pawson's bathroom. Both have balanced spaces, windows in the right places and a ceiling height that feels right.
Too often, people start off with a nice design but cut corners with things like ceiling height and positioning of windows, usually on the advice of the builder. Don't do it, even if your budget is strangling your better judgement because you will have to live with it for a very long time.
Who knows, living in a house with the right proportions could even be the secret to a happy life!