Create Personal SpacesThe first challenge the 11 designers faced was to turn an empty Las Vegas penthouse into their own living space. They had 28 work hours over three days and a budget of $15,000 to complete the project. As one of the judges, here are my tips for some things the teams did right and wrong and how you can apply them to your space.
This bedroom admirably exemplifies some good design principles and, unfortunately, a few too many examples of over-accessorizing. Great space planning and the creation of personal space through the utilization of sheers flanking either side of each bed allow many people to inhabit a small space effectively. Christina and Adriana also effectively create balance with their color and bedding choices. The custom art above each bed demonstrates how even graphic artwork can help demarcate personal space.
Don't Over-AccessorizeThis room's good design principles begin to fall apart with the employment of way too many accessories. They don't necessarily work together to enhance the atmosphere of the room. Instead of utilizing fewer items of a larger scale, this room is full of completely unrelated items of a similar scale that litter the visual landscape and detract from the very smart and sophisticated foundation. Christina and Adriana would have faired better picking accessories in one color, varying the scale to cover larger items and editing down to allow those items they selected to make a contribution to the space.
Take In the ViewIn large part, Josh J. and Will have succeeded in allowing the focus of this room to be the amazing view of Las Vegas. Creating a great window seat to admire the vantage point lets the view take center stage. By sticking to a largely monochromatic color scheme, the team creates a sense of space by diminishing the number of visual breaks. Editing the room to allow key features to breathe and take prominence also helps this team quite a bit.
Use Lighting as ArtworkThe team made a wonderful move in the placement of individual light fixtures above each bed. The lights create the sense of personal space by claiming a ceiling area for each occupant. By selecting interesting lighting, Josh J. and Will demonstrate lighting can be both functional and artwork at the same time. A space plan that allowed a little more room between the beds would have been nice. An accessory that complemented the slanted, oval niche, rather than mimicking it, would have added another layer of elegance to the room. But, overall, this room is largely a success.
Look for Sunken TreasureThis space is a wonderful example of taking an adverse condition, like a sunken pit in the middle of your room, and making it a design feature. By sinking a large, custom-built dining table into the middle of the room, Scott and Kim succeed in creating a wonderful, intimate dining area where a large number of people can comfortably gather. Additionally, by making an interesting light fixture that starts from the table rather than the ceiling, the team creates a sculptural element that adds to the room's architecture.
Ramp It UpAdjacent to the dining area, Todd's skate ramp perfectly fills the space and activates a static area into a dynamic one, giving a non-descript zone a reason to exist.
Be InclusiveThe seating lounges across from the dining area and skate ramp allow more passive observers to still be part of the action. The team succeeded in giving the dining room and community areas purpose by showcasing their whimsical side and thinking outside the box.
Embrace Structural ElementsPlagued by impractical seating and a complete lack of editing, Josh F. and Robb fail to make a cohesive statement in their hang-out space. Although the custom-built seating echoing the floor pattern is a nice way of attempting to bring the room together, the seating ends up looking uncomfortable and impractical. By choosing a wide array of pillows in every color and pattern, the room mainly feels disjointed and unfinished. Incorporating the architecture of the columns into the design was the beginning of a smart approach toward embracing these structural elements. This could have been a real asset, but highlighting them loosely with ill-fitting fabric remnants in alternating shades of gray and purple underscored their awkwardness.
Flaunt Your CurvesJosh and Robb also suffer from the failure to edit by placing too many curves in too many directions. This ultimately takes away from the power of the curve, which can be elegant and unusual in a totally square room, but here it comes across as random and fails to highlight the beauty of the curves in the floor which, again, could be dramatic and elegant.
Define a Room's FunctionLisa's area showcases original and out-of-the-box components which, on their own, succeed admirably. The issue with this room emanates from the fact that logical space planning failed to occur to maximize the allocation of space and, therefore, the function of the area. Outside of a bench and a few side tables, this area has no clear direction. Placing a bench en route to the work space area does not maximize what could have been a very interesting area. What would work better? Check out the next photo.
Maximize PotentialThe metal roll-up door, with its unusual shape, makes a powerful design statement. Lisa could have used it as a catapult for a clean-lined discussion space that included sofas, chairs and tables for working out ideas. Another possibility would be to create a Zen-like contemplation space with elevated platforms, mats, floor pillows and a wall fountain, or even a great relaxation space with chaise lounges and daybeds surrounded by sheers for privacy. Unfortunately, Lisa failed to maximize the potential of the space by focusing on what was happening with wall surfaces and creating a series of small elements that failed to add up to a big statement.
Focus on Form and FunctionThis area had an incredible amount of built-in potential since it started out with a very nice bar, staircase and light fixture. Bars can be wonderful gathering spots where people can easily converse over refreshments and snacks. Furnishings and a surrounding layout to convert this space from beverage storage to gathering spot would have been ideal. Bar stools, a small table and maybe some lounge chairs would have injected more function into this space.
Neeraja does an excellent job of styling the bar area with elements reflective of the Las Vegas venue and certainly provides the props for making this area visually interesting. If this were to be done for a magazine shoot, this area would be a success. A beautifully styled space, however, can become a major design failure when the full functional potential of an area goes unrealized. Great design must always be the confluence of function and aesthetics. At the end of the day, function must take precedence because, as we see in this example, a bar area is merely a beverage pantry if people don't have the ability to hang out and enjoy conversation.