Chris Chu, Architect, This Old House

Kitchen looking toward dining room

It is an interesting phenomenon that happens on every project – no matter the size.  At various points in the construction, spaces will seem “too small”, “smaller than you thought”, “huge” and then “small” again, and finally…just right.  When you first excavate, that is if you are adding on, the hole will seem extra small because as the hole is being dug, the extra dirt is being piled right next to it, creating the illusion that the hole is incredibly small.  Fears may run rampant in your mind…did we make this too small?  should we have added a bigger area?  However, once the floor deck is in and no walls are framed yet, you stand on the deck and it seems huge!  Then when the walls are framed, it still seems pretty big, though not quite as big.  Then, when the sheathing goes up, it feels bigger again because now you have a reference point – that is the outside wall.  After insulation comes the sheet rock.  This is when it gets dark and smallish feeling, again.  The good news is: once the sheet rock is plastered, it will feel bright and spacious.  But the best part is at the end…when the actual elements are in place, for example – in a bathroom – when the vanity is in and the tub is in, and the tile – the space will feel much bigger.  This is because the eye has a point of reference for scale.  Without the details in a room, the mind’s eye thinks things are bigger than they really are because there is no reference point.