Features: Home: Size Matters: Tips for Living Large and Small

Whether you inhabit a manse or a cottage, Philly design experts share their secrets for making the most of your rooms

4. Lighting. “With lighting, there are more chances to screw it up in a big room,” says Marcello Luzi. You want several layers: general, ambient and task. In a department store, the light is even everywhere, but a restaurant is lit at different levels. That’s how it should be in a home. And use recessed lighting sparingly; it can make the ceiling look like Swiss cheese, and cast harsh light. As an alternative, try a chandelier in a big room. It doesn’t have to be your primary light source, but when dimmed, it can warm up a space and bring your eye level down. Table lamps with glowing shades warm up rooms, too, and Rebecca Paul recommends them for maximum warmth: “With incandescent light, your eye comes down and pulls you toward the center of a room, making it seem cozier.”

5. Accessories and architectural details. When it comes to finishing large rooms, “Use scale-appropriate furnishings, art and accents,” says interior designer Donna Quinn, who founded Tall Walls, Inc., as a resource for owners of today’s bigger homes. Her website, tallwallsinc.com, contains hundreds of products, such as 40-inch-by-60-inch framed oil paintings ($500), to fill expansive walls. “Regular-sized art looks like a postage stamp on the soaring walls of today’s homes,” she says. “In terms of decorative items, use large, chunky candlesticks, big mirrors and floor vases.”

Architectural design elements can play up a room’s character. “Moldings, wainscoting, chair rails, and beamed or coffered ceilings not only add interest to a space, but they warm it up, too,” says Cyndi Haaz. For a kitchen in Warrington, her design firm dropped a soffit over the island to delineate the space, and established separate areas for eating, entertaining (a buffet and bar), working (a desk and computer), and relaxing (lounge chairs and ottoman). Another trick Haaz likes to employ is changing floor levels. “Even with eight-foot ceilings, a step-up can be used to divide various areas without the space getting muddled or confused. In a long room, it’s nice to have an area at one end of the room where you can step up, for seating next to a window or positioning a grand piano.”