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Architects often speak about architecture in code meant for other architects. Here’s an example:

Private vs Public (space/zones/layers.) Architects like to discuss elegant solutions to this design problem as if everyone understands this is an important issue in the first place.

So, here’s what we’re talking about and why we care:

private spaces are rooms or spaces intended solely for use by those who live or work in the building while public spaces are intended for use by those who visit the building. This delineation matters (beyond the obvious physical safety reasons) because it effects a person’s perceived safety, cognitive clarity, and emotional comfort.

In a retail shop this often looks like a wall at the back with a door marked “Employees only.” In a house this balance is more delicate though.

If you enter someone’s house and are standing in front of a bedroom it’s confusing. You feel uncomfortable and wish you’d declined the invitation to visit. What follows is an awkward process of figuring out where you belong and the lay of the land.

Simply put, when public and private spaces are combined confusion is the outcome. And confused minds might panic, shut down, or become belligerent; which hinders connection, relationship, and/or business.

Hospitals offer good large-scale public examples. We’ve all visited hospitals that calmed our fears and those that sent our panic into overdrive. Part of the calm-hospital experience was knowing that you were in the right part of the hospital at the right time.

Few of us like what we don’t know. the more a place puts us at ease the easier it is to be present.

This is true at clothing stores, hospitals, and homes.

So, how might you arrange your home so as to put people at ease and benefit relationships?

You can use:

  • color — where different “zones” utilize different wall colors

  • furniture — consider arrangements and even changing styles from one area of the home to another to make it clear where everyone should gather

  • art — art tells a story and gives your guest a clue as to what you’re about  

  • practical details — an obvious place for coats, shoes, purses, etc. is calming

If you’d like even more tools to create a calm and honest home . . .