How room shapes up outweighs shape

June 27, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

What shape room is easiest for creating a comfortable interior design? Every time I'm asked that question -- and I'm asked it frequently -- I explain that there are just too many variables to permit a simple answer.

The opposite question, conversely, isn't nearly so hard to answer. I can say with some certainty that an elongated room is the most difficult shape to design.

But even that assertion needs to be tempered. This sort of long and narrow space can be very suitable for a multi-functional design, especially when it's possible to divide the various functions among specific areas. In those cases, an elongated shape may actually be an asset.

The photo shows such a room, which is shaped like a railroad car. Designer Bebe Winkler was up to the challenge posed by this space. She managed to include two distinct seating areas in a 20-by-14-foot area while also installing an all-convenience kitchen that's a compatible setting for both informal breakfasts and elegant dinners. The guiding principle here was to combine practicality with good contemporary design.

The designer chose a chrome silver motif with mulberry as the predominant color, accented by touches of black.

To use the space to its best advantage, both the kitchen range and the serving areas were incorporated into a free-standing, custom-designed cabinet surfaced with a mulberry-colored laminate. This island element also turns a corner to become a breakfast counter. The high bar stools under the open side of the counter are finished in black, aniline-stained wood.

All the cabinets and doors along the long storage wall are also done in mulberry laminate. Plenty of household equipment can be kept out of sight behind these simply detailed doors, which are elegantly accented with chrome pulls. Note, too, the chrome-finished pendant lighting fixture over the glass-topped dining table with a chrome-finished base.

Let's further consider the room's lighting, since that important design component is too often overlooked. Utility, task and accent lighting are all provided in this setting. Besides the pendant fixture, the room includes recessed ceiling lights, which provide both ambient and functional illumination, and fluorescent strip lighting under the cabinets, which shines directly onto the counters. Because of their separate switching, all these lights can be used independently of one another.

Off to the side, silver-finished vertical blinds cover full-length windows. When opened, this window-covering allows a maximum amount of daylight to stream into the space. At night, or whenever privacy is needed, the blinds can be closed to create an intimate atmosphere.

The overall point here is that any awkwardly shaped space can be made more attractive through a combination of simple furniture lines, color-contrasted materials and clever functional planning. In such circumstances, however, a truly smashing design will be achieved only with precise detailing and a sure understanding of style and scale. The look shown here can be emulated only by perfectionists. In a setting this sleek, there's simply no way to camouflage poorly joined surfaces or badly lacquered cabinets.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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