You might have mastered a fierce contour for your face, but have you for your room?

Today we're covering design strategies that can help you visually change the shape of your room. We talk all about some different methods for contouring your space and tips for making small spaces appear larger and more spacious.

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Cara hosts the Make Space Podcast and created Never Skip Brunch as an approachable space to empower women to DIY, tackle big projects, and design a home they love — without fear or intimidation.

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Instagram: @neverskipbrunch // ABOUT CARA 

 related episodes

Episode 005 — Lighting Basics: Choosing fixtures, planning lighting, and more

Episode 010 — Creating polished color palettes + using bold colors successfully in your space

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what i'm loving this week

Coffee scoop + clamp — This is one of those pieces that is functional and also gorgeous.

Perfect as a gift when you need that sweet spot of something unique but still appeals to a ton of people — you can't go wrong.

Also if I had a tiny house this is the exact kind of utensil I would be looking for.


stuff we just need to talk about

Brass doornobs disinfect themselves?!

Certain metals —like brass — actually sterilize themselves after a certain period of time. It's called the oligodynamic effect which is a toxic effect of metal ions on living cells like fungi, viruses, etc.

ARTICLE: The Oligodynamic Effect: How Some Metals Kill Off Bacteria

Oligodynamic metals include silver, brass and copper.

let's talk about it!

Did you know this!? Ready to swap all your doornobs for brass and invest in some real silver silverware?

Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social media



...just in case you wanna read

Cara: 00:00 You are listening to the Make Space Podcast, episode number 12

INTRO: 00:23 Welcome to make space a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home. In Cara Newhart sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin—worthy rooms. To tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor, advice to interior design, tips and tricks. These conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is the Designer and Chief Creative Enthusiast behind, Never Skip Brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like PEOPLE StyleWatch and Denver Style Magazine. As an influencer, Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, h and m, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara: 01:21 Hello, hello, and welcome back to make space. I'm your host, Cara, and today it's just us. It's just me behind the mic and we get to spend some quality alone time together talking about home design, which is, you know, my happy place. I hope it's yours too. Probably why you're here. Before we dive in to today's topic, let's cover all the things I'm supposed to tell you, which is that you should follow me on social media, on Instagram and Pinterest. Really specifically Pinterest because that's where I hoard all my good ideas like Instagram. It's kinda the best of the best, like one idea at a time. But Pinterest is where I put all of my ideas sorted onto boards for you to see and save for yourself. So if we're not Pinterest friends yet, you can find me and never skip brunch. I been some good.

Cara: 02:15 It's also, um, some really good fall decor right now. So if you've started decorating for fall because it's September and it's a socially acceptable month to be getting out your fall decor, you're gonna want to hop over to Pinterest cause I have a few really good DIYs over there. And then the second thing is please rate and review the podcast. So I know this is like one of those things where you listened to it and you're like, I'm going to do that later. And like, yeah, sure, I'll give you a review or maybe you're like, no, I don't even want to. But it's very helpful. Like it really is. It helps other people find the podcast. It lets me know like what you're enjoying specifically. Um, so I can give you guys what you need. So please take a second. Even you just scroll down to the bottom and then give some stars.

Cara: 03:03 Um, that's, that's great. Thanks for the effort. It's really all you can get out of me as a human, but if you want to leave a whole review, um, if you screenshot it before you submit it, then I will send you a free interior design project guide. So screenshot it, send it over to podcast at [inaudible] dot com and you'll get a free, um, project guide for your next interior design project, which is really, really helpful. Okay. Enough of that nonsense. Let's dive into this topic. So today we're talking about contouring your room. So just like you can use makeup and contour your face, which if you're good at it, you know, can like totally change the way your face looks. You can also do the same thing with your room. And now a lot of like everyday people are aware of this when it comes to color, like that bright colors make a space look bigger.

Cara: 03:57 Um, because that's kind of one of those design tips that's out and about floating around. But there's a lot of other like principles and strategies that you can use to contour your space. Whether that's like working with a small space, trying to make it feel bigger or whether it's like changing the look of a space. Like if you have a feature you don't like in the room, if the space is too narrow, those kinds of things. So there's a lot that goes into this. So I wanted to talk about this because we're kind of doing like a design basic series, like not really intentionally or like numbered, but you guys have been really loving the design, um, episodes. So like episode five was all about lighting, design and basics of choosing lighting, like your light fixtures and how to plan it. And then episode 10 was all about creating polished color paletts.

Cara: 04:50 And I shared like a really cool hack with you guys that's just like mind-blowingly easy and so good. So those two have been like super popular. So I wanted to kind of, you guys are obviously loving this loving the design basics. So I wanted to kind of focus on this because I think like talking about scale and how to shape a space using different techniques is super, super helpful and can totally help you create spaces that look very polished very easily. And if you know anything about my design strategies, they're all about doing it yourself, doing it easily and making it look like 1 million bucks. Like I want things to be like casually effortless to put together, but then look gorgeously opulent. It's basically the whole brunch vibe is like, I'm gonna roll in at 10 not shower, but then we're going to have like all this cute food and acute restaurant.

Cara: 05:44 Like that's just my favorite combo. Anyway. Let's dive into first some of the principles that are going to help you contour your room. And then we'll do like a little example. So we'll kind of break down like a small and talk about some things you could do to contour. So number one principle is scale. So this is basically whether the room is large or small. So if you have a huge room, it can handle a larger scale. So that means like you can put larger furniture in it, it can have large patterns on the wall or on the rug. Um, etc. And then smaller rooms obviously are going to work better with a smaller scale. So smaller furniture, smaller designs when it comes to patterns, like small little polka dots versus like a huge floral wall decal kind of situation. So this is something that sounds really basic, but, um, when you go to look at rooms like, that's when you can easily identify what's wrong in this space.

Cara: 06:42 Like if the furniture's too large, the space is going to feel crowded. And I see people do this a lot with living rooms cause they buy those big old chunky couch. Um, like sectional and it just like look so big in the room and like it takes up the entire room and I mean, yeah, it's comfortable and I love myself a good sectional, but really like a smaller piece of furniture would actually make the space feel bigger. Um, so it's a principle that sounds so simple. Large Room, large scale, but people don't follow it as often as they should and that's when you can start running into problems. So for example, if you put small furniture in a big room, it's going to swallow it up and it's going to look tiny and out of place or like dinky over there in a corner. But you can also use this idea to balance a room.

Cara: 07:31 So if you have a room that is like looks bigger in one area and then it feels smaller in another, you can kind of use scale to balance it out and make it feel more cohesive. So this is not only furniture. When I say small furniture or big furniture, it's not only bigger small in the dimensions, like the height, the width, the length, but it's also small in visual weight. So for example, something like a bench that has hairpin legs, like those tiny skinny metal legs looks a lot less heavy than something with those chunky farmhouse wood legs. So it has less visual weight. So even if these pieces are the same height, the same depth, the same width, let's say they even have the exact same top, like if it's a bench and they have the same like seat and different legs, the ones that the one that has the hairpin legs is going to look visually smaller in the space versus the other ones.

Cara: 08:25 So that's when I say larger small, it's dimensions, but it's also what it looks visually, if it's visually heavy or visually light, if that makes sense. Okay. So taking this concept of scale in terms of like what to actually do in your space is you want to ask yourself, are you happy with the size of the room or do you want to make it seem larger or smaller? So for example, a large room that has a weird shape or uneven size, you can use small furniture in an where you want it to look bigger and big furniture and an area where you want it to look smaller. So when example is like say you have a living room with a vaulted ceiling and then it kind of continues into an area that has like a lower ceiling. So that's somewhere where you could, in the large area with the vaulted ceiling, you could use more large furniture.

Cara: 09:14 Once you get into the area with a shorter ceiling, you're going to be using smaller furniture that would balance out the space and help it not to feel super uneven. Um, and this is also the same with patterns and prints. So you're using prints with small motifs, are going to make the space feel smaller, large motifs, make the space feel larger. Okay. So a good example of this, and for some of you, you're just going to have to imagine this if you haven't gone, but if you've been to Disneyland and you visited Tinkerbell, which I just did with my three year old back in the spring for birthday, um, Tinkerbell's house has a ton of like large plants, but as you're standing there, like they made the plants look huge so that you would feel like a tiny ferry. Like there's giant pieces of grass. So you feel like you're a little fairy walking through like the grassy knoll.

Cara: 10:08 Um, no, but seriously like big patterns and big motifs can fit in a bigger space versus if you tried to put like a giant pattern in a small room, it's going to feel super cramped and like it can't really fit in there at all. So I don't know if that made sense or give you a good visual picture. If you're confused, just go back to the big motifs in big spaces. Stick with small motifs in small spaces, so like small patterns, smaller stripes instead of big, wide bold stripes, um, kind of thing. So that is basically the concept of scale. We are looking at whether the room is larger, small and is the furniture in scale with the room in terms of like achieving what we want. Um, visually. And then is when, when it comes to things like patterns, do those also seem in scale with the room or do they seem too big or too large where they're kind of throwing the room off and not really making it feel balanced or appropriately sized?

Cara: 11:10 So moving on, the second thing is color. So this is a little bit easier to grasp because I think it's a little more out there in terms of like everyday design tips, but dark colors are going to make things seem smaller and closer. Um, so in large rooms, a dark wall can help make the room feel smaller, more intimate and more cozy. So say like you have a giant living room. If you want to paint the walls darker, it's going to feel like a hug. It's gonna feel like it brings the walls closer to you. It feels more cozy. It doesn't feel like huge and wide open, which is something that you might be going for. For me, if I have a big space, I'm like let's it fail here. So I'm going to still paint it white and keep it airy. But um, that's a way you can use dark color.

Cara: 12:00 And then obviously late colors are going to make things seem larger and further away. So small rooms, light colors on the walls and ceiling is going to make the room feel bigger and more spacious. The basic reason for this is that light colors reflect light. So it makes it seem bigger. And then s dark colors absorb light. So it makes it feel smaller. So color is what you use to contour your room in the same sense as makeup. Like if you know, like there's highlighter and then, then there's your dark, darker color and that's how you like contour your face. Color really goes along way for contouring your room. Um, just cause it has so much influence on light, but then the other elements like really play into it. So if you're just trying to contour with color and you don't have like your scale and proportion right, then it's not gonna get you all the way there to that like polished look.

Cara: 12:57 So hopefully color makes sense. Hopefully that was something that was familiar a little bit. Now let's move on to proportion. So proportion is more about the shape of the room where scale is like size, like bigger, small proportion is like are the parts of the room in proportion like related to each other? Like do they seem like they all are the same proportion or is there a part that seems off like does the room seem too narrow? Does the ceiling seem too high? Is it like the room looks great but then this one part is like throwing everything off. So if you have a long narrow room, you can balance it out a little more with some techniques to make it feel less narrow. For example, you can paint the wall at the end of the room, a dark color. So it's going to bring it visually closer to you and then it's going to make the room look less long and narrow.

Cara: 13:51 So this is great for hallways. If you have like a really tight hallway, um, like a lot, some older homes like where the bedrooms are, the hallways feel like really small, really dark and tight. If you paint the wall at the very end, a darker color, it's going to make it feel more squared up and less like, it just extends into this endless long tunnel, um, of light at the end with like a light wall. So that's kind of like a little bit about proportion. We're looking at like all the different elements, like different walls, the ceiling and seeing like are they in proportion with each other. So then the final principle before we tie these altogether is cohesiveness. So small rooms are going to feel larger when they're more cohesive. So like not chopped up visually into little pieces. So with small rooms you really want to shoot for creating unity.

Cara: 14:45 So that means carrying the same elements through the space to create a feeling of consistency. So whether this is color or texture or floral elements like different things, you want to repeat them through the space so it feels very cohesive and it feels all pulled together. So this is something we covered in the episode all about color schemes when it comes to like repeating pops of color through this space to make it feel cohesive. This is especially important in small spaces when you really want to make it feel unified, like one space that's going to make it seem bigger versus like being all chopped up into different areas. So big rooms on the other hand, you can do the same thing. Like if you're going for a cohesive look, which is really my favorite way to style a room and designer room is, is create a space that feels very consistent.

Cara: 15:41 However, big rooms can handle diversity. Like if you want to chop it up, um, you can choose to visually break up the room into different components or different areas using variety so you don't have to have the same elements repeated. Um, throughout the space to make it feel cohesive. I think it looks better if you do, but this also has to do with like creating sub spaces within a bigger space. So what I mean by that is like maybe you have a fireplace and you have like a little seating area in front of the fireplace and then you have a TV. So then you have kind of like a, another little seating area around the TV and then maybe there's like a little table in the back. Um, so basically you can create different areas and those different areas have a different vibe, right? Like when you're sitting down in front of the fireplace, it's more of like a conversation area.

Cara: 16:33 Maybe you're like having cocktails and talking. Um, and then over by the TV it's more of like a cozy, like maybe movie night vibe. Um, so you can, you can have these different vibes within the same space when you have a large space because a big room can handle that. So don't be afraid to create different vibes and like embrace variety to visually break things up because your big room can handle that. A small room really can't because it looks too busy. There's too much going on and you really need the unity to make a small room feel larger. So let's dive into like an example and kind of walk through all these components. Um, so like let's say you have a small room and you want it to seem bigger. So starting from the top, like what are you going to do when you're designing this space?

Cara: 17:23 What are you going to think through? So the first thing is scale. So you're gonna choose small furniture or furniture with less visual weight and then you small prints and patterns. So maybe you choose furniture that is visually lighter, like you have, um, hairpin legs on your coffee table. Maybe you're using, um, a glass top coffee table because that looks very light. It looks like air cause you can see through it versus like a heavy wooden table. Um, you're choosing smaller furniture so that the room feels spacious. There's plenty of room to move around it. Then you're choosing, um, small patterns. So little Polka dots, smaller stripes, um, just generally patterns that are small scale versus like giant stripes, giant Polka dots. Um, you don't want those larger scale patterns. So then moving on to color, you're going to choose light colors on the ceilings, walls and any large furniture pieces like couches.

Cara: 18:22 So if you have a piece of furniture that is large in the space, so this is really most applicable to like a living room with a couch or a dining room with a large table. You want that, that piece to be a light color because it's contributing a lot of color to the space. If you keep it light, it's going to keep the space feeling bigger versus going dark. It's Kinda gonna drag this visual weight down and make it seem smaller. So moving on to proportion. If your room is long and narrow, you want to make it feel more in proportion or more, um, squared up. You can use a medium tone color and paint one of the walls to bring it visually forward. You don't have to use like a super dark color to bring the wall closer, just something slightly darker. And a medium tone is a good balance because it is going to visually bring the wall closer, but it's also not too dark where it's going to like darken up the space.

Cara: 19:19 So going for a medium tone is probably a good trick. And then another trick is actually to use mirrors to open up the space visually and add, um, kind of an illusion of space. So a mirror is going to reflect and make it seem like there's more space than there is. So whether you want to do this at kind of eye level and do like a wall mere or like a Florida ceiling mere, um, you know, it's up to you. But mirrors can really help the space look bigger because it's reflecting the room and it makes it look like there's more of it. So mirrors can be a really good way to help with proportion. Um, and then finally cohesiveness. So it's a small space. We're going to opt for unity, we're going to repeat textures and repeat pops of color through this space to make it feel consistent and cohesive. So hopefully this was super helpful in terms of teaching you how to contour your space and some kind of design tricks you can use to make your space feel bigger, make it feel more balanced and more cohesive because color is one of the best tools. But other things like scale, um, are really, really good tools to, and really important to kind of complete the picture and give you the fully polished look

#OBSESSED: 20:39 hashtag obsessed

Cara: 20:43 okay. What I'm obsessed with this week is a little bit funny because it's a product that I actually sell. So part of it's like an eye roll. Like of course you love it, but no, I really do. It's a coffee clamp and a scoop all in one. So literally it's like a, a little scoop and then the handle has a clamp on it so you can clamp it on your coffee bag when you're done scooping. It's literally so cute. Like, it's one of those pieces that is totally functional and also gorgeous, which is basically what I aspire for. Every part of my house is like, I want it to serve a purpose but then be like very, very beautiful. So this I really love because it's a perfect gift, like a little bit earlier to be talking about Christmas, but it's a good gift for when you like, you need to hit that sweet spot of like something that's unique and not super boring, but it still appeals to a ton of people and it's like a hard gift to go wrong with.

Cara: 21:43 Um, because basically if you like coffee, it's like here's a very functional thing that's also very pretty and also under $10, which is great for people. You don't know that well. You don't want to invest that much money in. Okay. But also, if I had a tiny house, this is the exact kind of utensil I would need, like everywhere. Like you literally need something that can do two things in one, but it's still pretty and not boring. So not that I'm ever going to live in a tiny house. Um, actually we need someone on the podcast that lives in a tiny house because there's a lot of things I need to know, but I don't think I will. But um, yeah, I'll, I'll get their input on this coffee scoop. Anyway, the link is in the show notes. If you want to check it out. It is around 10 bucks. It's super cute. And it's one of those things that you're like, don't know you need until you see it and you're like, oh my gosh, I need it. Which is me looking at basically everything on Amazon, but moving on

WAIT, WHAT?: 22:43 Wait, What?

Cara: 22:52 Okay. The, wait, what for this week is that brass doorknobs disinfect themselves? I did not know this. My best friend is kind of a Germaphobe, like not all the way. She's not like weird about it, but she definitely cares about things being clean and germ-free where I just don't really care. Um, I mean, I'm not like gross about not caring. It's just that I don't like pay a lot of attention and I don't like, I'm not consciously disinfecting things all the time. I'm just kind of like, ah, I'll wash my hands, I'll do the basics. And then if I encounter germs, like it'll probably just build my immune system up, right? So anyway, that's kind of what I think about it. But certain metals such as brass actually sterilize themselves after a certain period of time. It's called the oligodynamic effect. And basically it's a toxic effect of metal ions on living cells.

Cara: 23:55 So like algae and molds and spores and fungi and viruses and other very disgusting things that make me cringe when I say them. And basically even in relatively low concentrations of the metal, it can disinfect all of these yucky things. So some oligodynamic metals are silver, brass and copper. So brass doorknobs, um, copper doorknobs disinfect themselves. So real silver silverware actually is not just for shoveling food into our face. It can actually help, um, disinfect bacteria, which is really interesting because basically silverware has been saving us from more than messy hands. It's actually been helping us, um, with hygiene. Um, yeah. So they did a study and like a copper Dorna knob within 15 minutes. The copper had already partially disinfected itself. Um, and then they checked it against like aluminum and stainless steel, which let the bacteria run wild, which I'm just thinking about like a public bathroom door knob and it's so gross, like, so gross.

Cara: 25:04 Anyway, if you're a Germaphobe, you might want to replace all your door knobs with brass because they're self disinfecting. Also. Brass is so cute. Like I'm really into the gold brass trend if you will. It's back. It's so cute. It's like metallic but also warm and it looks chic. So I would be having brass or gold anyway. But if you're on the fence, real brass or knobs can help disinfect. And then if you inherit that, um, real silver silverware also a good thing. Um, so if you're just a gross human looking for self-cleaning things, um, probably like me. Brass doorknobs are great. If you are a Germaphobe and you want your house to be as clean as possible, also great. But anyway, I thought that was really interesting because it's something I never knew and I didn't know if you guys knew and I don't even know if I said that word oligodynamic.

Cara: 25:59 That seems right. Anyway, check the show notes. I will link the articles if you want to find out more and then let me know on social what you think. Use #makespacepodcast did you already know about this because you are like really good at chemistry. This chemistry feels like chemistry. Um, or is this like a new fun fact that you are excited about? Let me know what you think Germaphobes or otherwise. I would love to know your opinions. You can slide into my dms. You can comment on the post on the show notes on the blog or you can use the listener feedback forum at never skipped brunch slash talk to tell me all your things. I love hearing from you guys. It's literally my favorite thing when I get a message and you're like, I just listened those episodes and that was so good.

Cara: 26:44 Like makes my day and if you're like, I just listened and it was terrible, I'm like, well then sorry, find another episode. Anyway, if you're implementing any of these strategies, whether it's color palettes or contouring your room or lighting, send me pictures like I want to see before and afters and I'd love to share them on social cause. I just am excited that this is helping you guys in that you are creating gorgeous spaces all by yourself with no design background like you guys are killing it and I literally love, I love it. I love seeing the before and afters, so please send them over please. Let's see. Okay, I'm going to, I'm going to go now because I need more coffee and need to let you get on with your day, but I'll see you next week and we'll talk soon.

OUTRO: 27:32 Love this episode? Leave a comment on the blog post or use #makespacepodcast to share your thoughts. If this is your first time listening in, be sure to hit that subscribe button so you can stay updated with the newest episodes. If you're a subscriber and you love the show, be sure to rate, review or screenshot and share your favorite episode on social.

p.s. This post may contain affiliate linking for your convenience. These links don’t cost extra for you to use + I always share my honest opinion.

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I'm Cara, the designer & diy queen behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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