The White Stuff

Susan in snow

~ By Susan Rayner, Design Editor~

Just got back in the house after yet another round of shoveling. Looking at all that snow made me think of how we use white space in design – whether it’s graphic, website, product or interior design.  Hopefully Mother Nature will get the message that she’s given us enough white space this winter!


In even the busiest design the eye needs a place to rest.  Although you may not be familiar with this principle you’ve probably experienced it almost every day.  Our eye naturally avoids that which we find too busy or confusing and gravitates toward the pleasing and simple to digest, as in this classic Volkswagen ad.

2 VW Beetle


In an ad the text and pictures are positive space and anything without content is the white or negative space. Google knows how to focus our attention through the effective use of white space on their search page.

3 google homepage

As does the coffee company illy with their mugs.  Simple, direct, beautiful.

4 illy mug



White space doesn’t have to be white.  (I think the snow and cold has coffee on my brain!)

5 starbucks gift card



In interiors, this principle manifests as a pleasing space that we instantly feel attracted to and can quickly grasp.  Apple has definitely mastered this.

6 apple store lincolnpark

Apple store interior via

Their stores are clear and clean so you can easily find what you’re looking for and quickly interact with it.


In our homes we know we’ve reached that perfect balance of negative and positive when we feel at peace in our space.


7 R&B

Image courtesy of

 There are 6 pieces of furniture, 12 pictures and a large pendant in this relatively small Room and Board living room but it doesn’t feel cluttered because of the balance of negative and positive space.


White space wasn’t always valued.  Victorians famously crammed as much as possible into their homes, exhibiting what is called horror vaccui – literally the fear of open space.

8 Driehaus library

Image courtesy of


 At the extreme opposite is minimalism – where most of a room is open or white space.  So bare you might be afraid to set your keys on the coffee table.

9 Minimalist

Image courtesy of


But most of us are content to live somewhere in between. In that sweet spot between too much and too little that makes us feel oh-so-good to come home to.

10 transitional

Image via Photographer: Michael Partenio



Susan RaynerOwner of Susan Rayner Interiors, Susan’s aesthetic is clean and classic, whether the style is modern, traditional or somewhere in between. She is passionate about creating positive change for her clients while allowing them to control their costs. Susan has a friendly, collaborative approach that allows her clients to enjoy the design process. This ensures they will love the end result – a house they enjoy coming home to!

Visit Susan at


p.s. Susan shared her thoughts on 2014 residential interior design trends on the Power Up Living radio show. Check out the episode here.

About the author, Kelly

Kelly Galea is a creative, multi-passionate entrepreneur and luminary blessed with a unique combination of wit, grit, intellect and intuition. She helps you navigate the work-life maze of ever-shifting priorities and transform your life through holistic self-discovery techniques and immersive, fun and magical mini-quests. Working with Kelly will inspire you to unveil, express and celebrate your vital personality and lifestyle preferences to create a more harmonious life.

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