In architecture, in-between spaces are not given much thought, most of the focus and curation is poured into the main spaces of a domicile.
Living spaces should have a flow that imparts functionality and also expresses the persona and taste of its inhabitants.
When it comes to the ideation of a new home, most owners tend to focus most of their curative efforts into the living, dining, and bedrooms.
Foyers, powder rooms, pantries, dry kitchens, hand wash areas, utility spaces, study corners, as well as walk-in closets and dressing rooms often come into consideration at the end.
Chairperson of Studio Morphogenesis Shahla Kabir opines the hardest thing about interior design is aligning the architect or designer's aesthetic talent with the wants of the client. Miscommunication is the death knell of interior design endeavours.
TBS has curated a smattering of in-between spaces that strike the perfect balance between form and function.
A foyer makes the first impression of your home, they can double both as a welcoming chamber and a great opportunity to impart the design character of your home. Foyers in smaller homes tend to feature such fixtures as shoe racks, stools, and cabinets.
Any foyer's ambiance can be improved vastly by adding warm lighting, hanging an artwork or placing a mirror for a final glance at yourself before you leave.
The latter is doubly effective as foyers generally tend to be narrow spaces and a well-placed mirror can provide a very effective illusion of spaciousness.
According to Shahla, the foyer is an introduction to the house, and as such it should give a sense of what your values and tastes are.
She also explains that a foyer is better off partitioned, thus allowing delivery people a space to hang out in, rather than just keeping them standing outside.
Co-founder of Lilium Zaima Abrar Sultana provided TBS with a brilliant example of a small and stylised foyer that was carefully curated to impart spaciousness.
She said, "The client wanted a grand entrance and a shoe cabinet that can store a lot of shoes. I made a long shoe cabinet and gave it legs so that the cabinet is lifted from the floor. This allows the eyes to travel under the cabinet and makes the space look bigger than it is."
She further explained that it also helped the furniture to look like a console table, rather than a shoe cabinet.
The positioning of the knobs in the middle of the cabinet doors also helps it look more like a console than a cabinet.
She styled it with textured wallpaper and two lamps on both sides of the cabinet, along with a runner and some accessories that match the whole vibe.
Managing Director and design partner of Studio Morphogenesis Architect Minhaz Bin Gaffar asserts that foyers are all also a great place to weave in personal items and memories.
He recalled a client who incorporated a door knocker that had been handed down in his family into his foyer space, thus giving the client a daily reminder of his mother whenever he came and went from his house.
Foyers do not have to be a cordoned-off space unto themselves. They function best as antechambers and introductory spaces to the rest of the house.
Lilium's open floor plan lends itself quite nicely to that regard and achieves it with a simple partition.
Zaima said this foyer was open and connected to the formal living room in its initial floor plan. She added a partition for many reasons.
Firstly, the segregation between the foyer and the formal living room made the space more sensible.
Secondly, the partition allowed her to add something like a window seat that can also serve as a shoe cabinet in the bottom. She also put a stylish single sofa and a table that is often required on an entrance.
The switchboard was covered with a plain gold painting that complemented the hand-painted wall art.
Moreover, the details of bevelled glasses and intricate wooden work in the partition made it look luxurious.
Powder room and wash basin
These spaces are mostly curated for guest use. As such, in smaller houses, they have a common bathroom rather than a dedicated powder room.
The main attraction of a powder room should be a well-fitted, spacious and easily maintained basin closet and a water closet (flush toilet), with special attention provided towards vanity lights for maximum cosiness.
Shahla Kabir specifically loves powder rooms and the aesthetic and creative avenues it allows both her and her clients to express themselves through.
She said, "The powder room is essentially an extension of the host's hospitality. The client can truly express themselves in this space as it is geared exclusively towards guests and visitors."
Lilium excels at seamlessly incorporating powder rooms that do not break the flow of space or clutter up your domicile.
Regarding the powder room itself, Zakia went on to explain, "The powder room was very compact in size. To make it appear spacious visually, I opted for a marble table with wooden legs for the basin to avoid a typical cabinet that would have made the space look crammed up."
She said she added a mirror on the whole of one side of the bathroom along with the basin wall and kept the other walls white.
"In spite of keeping everything simple, the addition of an antique chandelier on one corner of the basin table and the placement of the basin on the other side (instead of it being in the middle) really gives it a style statement," she added.
If you lack the space to install a proper powder room, a simple and curated wash basin can serve very well also. This is one of the more backwards interior design norms that sticks around in our culture due to the scarcity of interior space.
Zaima shared an example of enlivening a wash basin space. "A wall in a cottage-themed guest house had a basin hanging on it. To give it a quick and inexpensive facelift, we covered the tiles with a board and painted it white to match the other walls, made a table of wood with a marble countertop, and put the basin on one side."
She said they also added antique knobs on one real and one faux drawer. They further styled the space with a grey framed mirror, a sconce (a kind of light fixture), a basket to hold hand towels, a candle, and a soap dispenser. Underneath, there is a bin and a basket to catch the dirty towels.
Shahla personally does not prefer wash basins to be installed beside the dining or living areas. She raised a salient point regarding the fact that no one wants to see or hear the act of other people cleaning up.
She advises a wash basin to at least have a semi-visual partition if the space cannot be negotiated. However, the wash basin area can look beautiful by using proper lighting, mirror, overhang cabinets and nicely finished materials.
Walk-in-closet and dressing room
These spaces tend to be a very intensive interior design feat as everything needs to be drawn up and designed according to the client's needs.
So, granular details like what type of wardrobe and accessories will be stored therein must be taken into consideration for a comfortable yet calculated closet space and dressing area.
If you have a personal collection of ties, watches or even sunglasses,you can create dedicated compartments for these collections.
All of this needs to be supported with good lighting and a streamlined ventilation system that keeps out dampness and odour.
Study corner and cosy sitting area
These spaces are necessary not only for the contemplative and studious types but also for those who work from home.
If the space is available, then it should be set up beside windows to ensure natural lighting.
Otherwise, the curation of this space comes down to tasteful choices of different lighting, armchairs, bookshelves and tables, according to Shahla Kabir.
Usually, people try to make their family living area a relaxing and cosy place. However, large scale residences tend to have intermediate spaces in bedrooms - in front of internal stairs or just beside verandahs and terraces.
These spaces offer an exciting chance to design cosy sitting areas having easy chairs or divans with coffee tables and small bookshelves for the family members of different ages.
Pantry and dry kitchen
The Abiana project by Studio Morphogenesis also sports a marvellous and functional pantry add-on to their kitchen area.
Architect Minhaz explained what makes or breaks a pantry is its positioning and the service routes in and out of it.
According to him, the ideal pantry should have two entry/exit points, so as to relegate the hustle and bustle of cooking within the pantry and kitchen areas.
To put it succinctly, the pantry entry and exit should be curated in such a way that the guests never see the groceries going and only the plated food coming out from the pantry.
Nowadays, busy modern families prefer to cook in the shortest and easiest way. Therefore, studio apartments are placing open kitchens without any partitions to save space.
These kitchens are usually used as dry kitchens where extensive cooking processes would not be performed but have almost all modern technologies and options for cooking a hearty meal every day.
Its concerted thought and effort towards oft overlooked spaces that turn a house into a home.
For example many houses do not even consider a utility corner, which should be the ideal and designated space for doing laundry; the planning of an interior space cannot just be based on how your family and guests will appreciate the look and feel of the space.
Considerations towards housekeeping must be at the forefront of the planner's mind. Striking the right balance between aesthetic and function can make your home as utilitarian and expressive, as it is comfortable.