If you love a space it’s most likely because it’s functional as well as beautiful. Functionality is often neglected by how a space looks. I think this is a shame. Recently I completed a project doubling the size of the kitchen from three metres to six metres which exponentially improved its functionality. So here are my thoughts on why functionality is important and tips to get it right.
A space has to work
Functionality is both a practical and conceptual application. In that it’s about how you use a space but also how it feels. How someone uses a space varies to each individual.
For example in a bedroom one person might want a minimal space with no electrical devices. Whereas another person may want a TV or yoga mat in their bedroom. Everyone is different in terms of functionality.
This is true also for how people respond to a space from an instinctive or emotional perspective. Some people love or hate a space but can’t explain why, even if the space is highly functional.
Interior design attempts to make a space work, cohesive and harmonious as well as beautiful. This is the skill and talent that goes into interior design. Creating spaces that are just beautiful is a failure of interior design if they are not functional.
Functionality is individual
While there are many commonalities between people and how they use space, everyone uses a space differently. For example I had a client who only had a bar fridge in his full sized kitchen.
For this client a bar fridge made sense from a functional perspective because he eats out a lot and doesn’t cook so doesn’t need a full sized fridge.
Whereas other clients have a lot of stuff and want floor to ceiling kitchen cabinetry to store this stuff even if they hardly use it.
Another client likes to cook Asian inspired foods therefore uses a large wok and rice cooker. The sink needs to be large enough to wash the wok (previously it wasn’t) and there needs to be enough counter space for a rice cooker (previously there wasn’t).
Personally I like to have all my oils, salt and pepper and other essentials I use on the counter all the time to avoid opening and closing cabinets. But I also like how this looks. I think this looks homely and welcoming.
But other people want their counters to be clear from clutter. Everyone is different.
Aesthetics in a space
For me in my work with clients, aesthetics comes after functionality. Once we’ve tackled the functional problems and worked on the spatial configuration or furniture plan then I start specifying furniture, furnishings, fixtures, and fittings.
While my clients are happy with how their space looks at the end of a project, they are overjoyed with how it works even more.
For one of my clients optimising functionality meant creating a breakfast counter for four to accommodate the entire family at meals time where previously the breakfast counter was only for two.
For another client their open plan apartment had three zones instead of just two. Previously they had a dining zone and TV/living zone but I created a sitting zone, away from the TV.
Creating spaces that are used for the actual focal purpose is why functionality is important in interior design. A functional space is a beautiful space.