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transitional space, design advice, architect on demand, advice without strings

My DIY Ally clients look to me for guidance, expertise, and design advice — I take their questions to heart. One writes: “I suddenly have the option of buying the apartment adjoining my own in NYC but the apartments are awkwardly connected at the kitchens!! I’m hoping for some advice about how we would join these two places and am concerned whether the transitional space would be so awkward that it wouldn’t be worth it.”

Once all of the pertinent information was provided, I was able to make a few suggestions. Yet, the question has been on my mind. I’ve been thinking about the task of bringing spaces together. Clearly, connecting two apartments can be accomplished with a mere door-like opening. But where’s fun in that kind of design advice?

You are building an addition. How do you create a transitional space that gives you a sense of effortless extension?

A good transitional space is a magnet, a filter, and a gateway all at once. If it were a human performing a job, it would be one of a curator. Hmmm. That’s right. A fieldtrip to Hammer Museum, The Broad, and LACMA for inspiration, ideas, and strategies is in order.

If I haven’t lost you by now, please find a summary of my discoveries and design advice below:

transitional space, design advice

Set the stage

Design advice: Design a transitional space to instill the mood by giving clues of what’s to come. Supply the context, the background, the backdrop. Entice exploration.

transitional space, design advice

Provide drama

Design advice: Captivate. Pack a punch. Play up the concept of movement in a dramatic way. Use vertical space to create a sense of mystery. Employ unexpected materials, textures, and colors; they have a profound role. Explore startling ways of introducing light sources.

transitional space, design advice

Make a statement

Design advice: Take control and give it authentic personality. A transitional space, by definition, is one that suggests a sense of movement. It draws you in. It builds anticipation. It’s uplifting. 

transitional space, design advice

Create coherence

Design advice: Edit and guide. Design a transitional space to improve the layout by connecting and linking visually with the final destination. Infuse a sense of perspective, progression, continuity. Energize the experience.


  • Mia S Kazovsky
    February 9, 2017

    I love this post. Great inspiration and advice. I love that you turn to museums for guidance, inspiration, and to get answers to your design questions. I do the same… I wonder where I get it 😉

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