Saturday, May 21, 2011

Subconscious surprise

Home design has really been fun for us precisely because we are not skilled at it.  We usually don't know in advance what any particular space will call for, but we know we can figure it out, because the old adage holds true:  where good design is concerned, we'll know it when we see it.

Quite often, the results of this fumbling-toward-artistry process are totally unpredictable, and thus provide us with the sheer joy of discovery.

Take the case of our little game table, for instance.  For months, this thing has been whispering to me that it needs something very specific on the wall above it:  three cheap back-of-the-bedroom-door mirrors lined up side by side.

What?!?  No kidding - that's what it told me it needed.  Logically, this didn't make any sense to me, but finally I succumbed yesterday and brought three door-mirrors home from the hardware store (one can always return things that do not work in a space).  They cost a whopping $9.99 apiece.
It looks a bit bizarre in isolation,
but read on.
When I first started rough-fitting these things, I said to Cayley and Lawrence, "I don't know about this... does it look too 1970's Grandma-style?  Too busy?  Do I need to return these to Lowes and get a real mirror custom cut?"

Immediately the both of them issued an emphatic NO, especially to the idea of a solid mirror.  They agreed that the space needed a series of long skinny mirrors and that a custom-sized mirror would look too chunky.

I know when I hear immediate reactions from them both like that, I have to listen, because they're onto something, even if none of us consciously realizes what that is.

And so it was.  Once I got the door-mirrors dry-fit to the wall, the subconscious integration broke through and the logical explanation hit me firmly upside the head.  At that point I asked, "Lawee, why do the three skinny mirrors look right?"  He replied, "Because they cross-reference the three windows opposite them."  And I said, "No, that's actually not the answer at all.  Look again."

Can you see the answer yet?
Lemme help ya...
The aspect ratio of the long skinny mirrors was repeated in all the inset panels of the kitchen cabinets...
...and prior to the addition of the long skinny mirrors, there was no consistency and the resulting view was improperly weighted.  The eye was not able to travel across all three walls and register spatial balance.  And if there's one thing that the subconscious brain (aka "the gut") objects to, it's discord of any kind.  So what my brain was REALLY whispering to me was, "You need to finish this array by repeating the motif."  
Inside each of our brains is a distinct separate identity who engages in a thought process completely independent of our more conscious lines of reasoning.  Those other identities are very primitive and they don't speak English, but they are extremely wise and totally aware of the world around us.  And if we listen carefully, they can tell us some surprisingly delightful stuff.

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