Design Delimma - The Corner

Sorry, I could not resist!

  Over the years, I have notice a few small areas which always seem to trip up clients when decorating their homes.  So, I thought I would take some time to discuss them.  First up, the corner.  Many comment on it, and others struggle with it, but may not even realize the isse.  The dilemma . . . how to deal with a corner where two simple walls meet.  No architecture to save you - just plain, empty walls.
I know, it sounds so simple and many of my clients feel silly when they mention it to me.  They say, "what do we do in the corner?"  While every space is unique (when you take into account the rooms layout, the clients furnishings and the artwork available), there are couple of general thoughts to help you tackle this spot.

For starters, you need to create a focal point on the main wall of any space - and it needs to Wow you.  This will take you farther than you can image in dealing with a tough corner.  Once that is accomplished, think about these tricks to address the corner.

Bare is not Blah

It's ok for a wall to be bare.
Do you see that empty corner? Yes, it is totally bare.  The reason it does not seem odd is because the focal points in the room are drawing your eye.

When a client asks, "What do we put on this wall?" and I say, "nothing." I can sometimes see them deflate before my very eyes.  Then, as the rest of the room begins to come together, they realize what I'm talking about and how the corner just fades away.  It has lots to do with creating the right focal points.

 This is a very hard concept for many of my clients.  I think one reason is most homeowners have entirely too much furniture, artwork,  and accessories in a space.  What you don't include in a space is just as important as what you do include.   When all the other walls are covered in artwork and furnishings, an empty wall can feel odd and unfinished.  The trick is to edit out other pieces to balance the space.  Blank walls in your rooms allow one's eye to rest and bring them back to the focal point of the space.  It's just that simple.

Another reason blank walls are difficult for clients - unlimited access to professionally photographed rooms.  Homeowners these days have more access to inspirational images than ever before.  The problem, however, is such images rarely include empty corners.  The photographs are a slice of the room which only includes the major feature wall of the space.  If you've ever been part of a photo shoot, you know what I'm talking about!  Homeowners get so used to seeing these images, it becomes difficult to translate them into their own spaces which have corners and spots that are never included in inspirational images.  Trust me, blank walls are in every well designed space.  

Think Contrast

When a blank wall just won't do it for you . . .  OK, I have a few clients (who will remain nameless) who simply can not accept a blank wall.  They insist we put something on every wall.  If you are in this category, the trick to a great corner is to mix it up.  What I mean is create contrast.

If you have an oil painting on one wall of a corner, you need to do something different on the other wall else it will not feel "right."  You simply can not continue to hit the same note and expect a different sound! Consider a mirror, architectural remnant or something framed that is not normally considered artwork.  This will allow each wall to stand on it's own and not compete.

In this image, it is a little difficult to see, but there is artwork on the back wall and an antique, weathered ladder on the left wall to create contrast.

In this image, the homeowner has used a decorative clock on the opposing wall.  This creates contrast with the traditional artwork that makes the corner work.

In this example, the mirror on the right wall contrasts the small artwork in the opposing corner.  Then on the left side, the use of the wall bracket sets the framed etching apart from the gallery wall on the far left.

Lighting can even do the trick. . .

Even an architectural piece, like these amazing shutters creates a nice contrast to artwork on the opposing wall.


I hope these simple tricks are helpful.  Now, go tackle a corner in your house - and send me some before and after pictures while you're at it.  M.


  1. You did a fantastic job of spelling this one out!

  2. Wow, that was a great post, and I know you spent a lot of time on it - so thank you for that! Each image beautifully illustrates your point, Mandi.

  3. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people overfill their walls, thinking every inch needs something. This is SUCH a great post showing why that isn't necessary!! Loved this :)

  4. Great post and some great tips for readers. Your right...a room needs a resting point. You don't want to over load the eye. There is nothing that drives me crazy than a room that makes your head spin.

  5. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  6. M. Just found you via your comment on "Sherrika's" white chalk paint all over the car post. My impression is that you and I may be her only comments that Laughed instead of commiserated. (so sick!)

    Your post here is really great! I agree that our "eye" needs a place to rest. An empty corner gives support to the feature wall - almost as a directional signal to focus us back to what is really important in the room.

    The contrasting element I would vote for is lighting. In nearly all of your example photos a scone (tasty but not what I was thinking) a sconce would be a great solution!

    We all have collected and become attached to way to much stuff - biggest influence to cover every wall and horizontal surface? Interior/antique stores. Sometimes I feel I am merchandising my own home for a tag sale.

    I'll be following you now - looking forward to reading your older posts - Cheers!

  7. Yes! Thank you for articulating this, too much stuff fusses the eye.
    It makes me think of significant silence - and of rhythm - in fact you are making me THINK!

  8. If a person takes it practically, you would think that bathroom vanities are only that, bathroom items which cater to man?s conceit, pride or .

    Modern Furniture


Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.