Home Design RI-MA: Floor Plans (Articulation)


Articulation in architecture as in speech means to define clearly. Spaces within a home should be clearly articulated based on function. Over the last several decades design has trended more towards open floor plans, thus allowing for lofty space with lots of light. People tend to feel more comfortable in a home where living space is clearly defined. The challenge for designers today is how to define function within an open floor plan concept. Clearly articulating between rooms such as living, family, a breakfast nook or a foyer can be tricky, especially in a smaller home.

Designers should always include furniture placed to scale within floor plans during the design phase. This makes it easier to include architectural features that clearly define area function. Afterwards interior design will be more a function of augmenting a smartly laid out interior rather than disguising ineffective space. Whenever a space looks vague or indistinguishable consider using some of the following tips:

  • Offset a breakfast nook with a bay window.
  • Accent interior walls with material changes such as brick or stone.
  • An extended arch can be used to define a dining area. Long arches look more substantial when thickened.
  • Thickened walls and columns provide a bold separation of space and a feeling of sturdiness.
  • A change in floor covering provides a more subtle indication of space change.
  • Include a gas fireplace as a focal point for a family room.
  • Vaulted ceilings and roof windows can be used to create a striking foyer. Ceiling height changes can be used anywhere to delineate a change in function.
  • Half walls are great for creating boundaries while maintaining a feeling of openness. Use 2×8 instead of 2×4 to generate mass while providing a shelf for display.
  • Consider a sunken living room or a raised foyer to add interest and definition. A raised foyer needs to be large enough to allow space for standing while opening the front door.
  • Using color and texture is an inexpensive way to distinguish between space and function.
  • Lighting provides more opportunity to provide subtle seperation between blurred lines.
  • Built-in book shelves in a quiet area can create an instant reading nook.

Articulating space in a home is like sculpting. It is the essence of architecture. Therefore lots of attention should be given to this all important topic. The time to do this is in the design phase not during construction. Articulating space need not be expensive, for example: gypsum and nails are inexpensive and can be used extensively to shape the details of articulation.

Remember: Energy Geeks has been designing and building homes in Rhode island and Massachusetts for the last twenty years.

Let the pros at Energy Geeks help you make your next project a success. Call Energy Geeks at (401)-766-1540 or contact us online to schedule your free design consultation.

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Energy geeks is a Home Performance Contractor whose primary focus is sustainability and efficiency as it pertains to energy use, water consumption, indoor air quality, land use and building design.