Why not make the most of white space?

We just moved into a renovated factory and we are struggling with how to break up the space.

This all-white suite presents a peaceful contemporary setting within the historic confines of an 18th-century renovated factory.

Dear Debbie: We just moved into a renovated factory and we are struggling with how to break up the space.

Right now we don’t have much furniture. The area is small, 550 square feet with 14-feet-high ceiling, old wood floors and a large front window.

Have you any ideas? — Katerina

Dear Katerina: There are many wonderful aspects to living in these old buildings.

High ceilings offer a feeling of space even though the actual floor area is small, oversized windows allow for an abundance of light and engaging vistas.

And there is the appeal of living in a place that is rich in history.

The ongoing move to convert well-built factories to living quarters rather than tear them down has produced an exciting array of loft-style homes and boutique hotels.

The major challenge is how to design and decorate these suites so that the height of the ceilings and open space are brought into human scale.

Riva Lofts is a new hotel in Florence Italy that has captured the essence of both past history and present design.

A factory in the 1800s, then home to groups of artisans, more recently it became the studio of architect Claudio Nardi.

Nardi and his daughter Alice pooled their experiences and talents to transform the centuries old buildings into suites that are modern and welcoming.

The rooms are all white, but a thoughtful combination of palest gray plaster walls with shiny laminates and translucent fabric sheers gives an array of textural interest,

You don’t require much furniture to make your home comfortable.

The modern look today mixes different eras – a 1950s chair with a contemporary sofa and antique carpet.

Take your time and accumulate pieces that you love.

Vintage pieces keep any room from looking stark, and you can pair them with contemporary lighting to create a modern edge. Hang sheer fabric panels to divide the sleeping and living areas. It’s a simple yet luxurious solution that will bring the height more in scale.

Finish your wood floors with a white wash as seen here, or dark wood floors would build a beautiful, rich contrast.

Dear Debbie: I have a family room with a 19-foot ceiling. One wall is 14-feet wide and this is my problem.

There is a raised fireplace in the corner and a window next to that.

The rest of the room is open. There are wall sconces at the halfway point.

I am having a difficult time trying to decorate this wall.

Anything looks or seems miniscule. Do you have any suggestions? — Susan

Dear Susan: This sounds like a lovely family room, but as with the lofty space I discussed above, it is important that you address the matter of scale.

Perhaps start with the lighting; the position of the sconces doesn’t help.

Can you remove them and replace with floor lamps, which will contribute a feeling of intimacy at a friendlier level.

A good decorating trick can be applied easily with paint.

Three fat bands of horizontal stripes will keep the eye moving from left to right rather than up to the high ceiling.

Choose three shades of the same colour or similar pastels and start with the lightest on the bottom.

This way the darkest band will disappear into the ceiling.

An oversized mirror will also help the balance. You can build the frame from strips of moulding found at the lumber store.

Decorate the frame dramatically if this fits your decor.

An aged wood finish with gold or silver highlights would be spectacular.Or build long, deep book shelves on either side of the fireplace.

Set up your favourite memorabilia, but again, keep it large; big pieces of pottery, a collection of masks, candle holders, art and photography all work well.

Debbie Travis’s House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please e-mail your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com

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