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I am feeling better compared to last week. Not able to visualize the massing — confused by how various pitched roofs came together — I made a crude model to assist myself. And finally, I got on the right track. Big or small, the most important design rule is to pay attention to the scale and proportions of the space.

scale, proportions

In plan, I was able to maximize the existing footprint, clean up, and add a new area addressing everything my client wanted. Capitalizing on the concept of indoor-outdoor lifestyle, programmatically I achieved the following:

  • Two extra bedrooms; new master boasts a vaulted ceiling and a balcony facing the backyard with a new pool;
  • Two extra bathrooms;
  • A formal dining room with a 9-foot ceiling and a deck overlooking the backyard;
  • A double-volume living room opening to the garden.

Planning is fun. I love carving out rooms that are as efficient as possible, making use of every square inch. It’s inspiring to create spaces that multi-task, transform, and surprise by feeling significantly larger than they actually are. I strongly believe that it has to do with paying attention to scale and proportions.

This project by Estúdio BRA Arquitetura is a good example of what I delight in and strive for. It shows that a designer has to think spatially, not everything can be solved in plan.

Case in point were two pesky constraints that I had trouble wrapping my head around. They had to be dealt with in section and elevation: a matter of an attic window that couldn’t be blocked and a puzzling problem of the low ceilings in the existing house.

These issues needed to be resolved spatially. I had to make sure that the new volumes of the proposed addition work with the existing. I kept trying to visualize the building as a whole, but it was not possible to foresee all of the conditions without building a model. Thus, I just started ripping into card stock paper. One option quickly morphed into another, and then another.

A crude mock-up turned out to be a savvy tool. It allowed me to address the scale and adjust proportions.

It really helped. If I squint, I could see it. It will work—not the way I thought originally — there’s a more elegant solution. Now, I can go back to the drawing board and test it, make it precise.

scale, proportions

scale, proportions

Next, I make another model. It’s still a “ghost” or a skeleton. Very conceptual. But it’s much more tangible. I am confident that the scale is right. What do you think?

scale, proportions


  • Mia S Kazovsky
    January 13, 2018

    I agree that one of the most important things in design is “paying attention to scale and proportions.” One of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles has a massive chandelier hanging above the bar. The ceiling is not nearly high enough and the space is not nearly grandiose enough to house such a huge piece! I always think about this when dining there. Ignoring proportions really makes a space look awkward and poorly designed. The same can be said for any design. If you’re going to make such stylistic choices, they need to be offset somehow to create a balance. For example, a slouchy, oversized sweater or shirt would look better with tailored trousers or jeans than it would with big, baggy pants. I like the project that you linked, but it feels almost TOO efficient. It looks almost sterile, as though personality was sacrificed for efficiency. I really do like what you have proposed for this house! It’s very well designed: functional, marries existing and new, has a lot of personality, and will elevate the space to a 20 out of 10! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Alla DIY Ally
      January 13, 2018

      Thank you, Mia!!! I am so happy to hear that you think what I’m proposing “will elevate the space to a 20 out of 10.” I really hope so!

      • Irina Zheveleva
        February 1, 2018

        Agree with Mia’s comment, actually, always agree with Mia’s comments 🙂 Alla, you have an amazing vision of space. Saying this from my personal experience. I’m so grateful for the work you have done for me. Never could even imagine that my small messy kitchen can look so spacious and beautiful!!! Thank you very much!!!

        • Alla DIY Ally
          February 1, 2018

          Thank you, Irochka!!! So glad it worked out and very pleased that you are happy!!
          BTW, I love that you’ve been following this blog. Chmok!

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