The Peripheral View Of Your Home

Remember wondering if your parents had eyes in the back of their heads when you were growing up because they seemed to see and know every move you made?  Actually, what they were probably doing was they were using their peripheral vision, which allowed them to see the whole picture of what was going on. We undervalue what our eyes observe peripherally so using our peripheral vision to view our homes is probably something most of us don’t think about.

The science of peripheral vision


Photo credit: Susan Muehl

The vision we use called central vision is focal point vision.  It is what you see straight on as you are looking at something.

Peripheral vision is what you see outside central vision.  It is referred to as side vision or indirect vision. In simple terms, peripheral vision is what you see to your right and to your left while you are looking straight at something.

What the peripheral tells you

Obviously, peripheral vision takes in much less detail than central vision does.  But, I believe that it is in the peripheral area of vision that we actually get a fuller picture of something for our brain to process.  That’s because peripheral vision  mentally combined with central vision helps your brain see the whole picture.

Viewing space

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Whenever I am assessing a client’s space, I use several different techniques such as the one I discuss in a recent post, View Your Home Through The Lens Of A Camera.

(Fortunately or unfortunately, I do this in every home I enter be it a family member’s, a friend’s, acquaintance’s or client’s as I obsess over detail of space constantly.)

One of the most important techniques  of assessment I use is what I call “The Peripheral Vision Test”.  I am not sure if you would ever see this technique explained in a design manual or learn it in the classroom but, intuitively I know it really gives a good picture of the area or space I am critiquing.

Why not try it yourself?

Using the technique for yourself

It is really a simple technique to use in your homespace.  You can go room by room, area by area and do this to assess how your space makes you feel.  (Remember it is what you feel that matters as you look at something.)

Here’s the how to:

Stand in the center of an area of your home.  For example, stand in your entryway.  Look straight ahead with your arms down by your sides.  What do you see?

Now, concentrate on using your side vision looking straight ahead.  What do you see?

What thought comes to your mind when you take the entire picture of this space into your mind?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is what I see pleasing to my eye?
  • Does the complete picture of what I see have a good flow?
  • Is the complete picture cohesive?
  • Does anything I see jump out at me or seem out of place?

You can repeat this vision test throughout your home.  It really tells you a lot about your space and can help you ascertain any changes you might need to make to it.

Bird's eye view

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

For example, back in the foyer test I just used – you might realize that the room colors you have in the spaces to the right and left of the entryway don’t really flow well with what color you have on the walls in the foyer because you don’t feel good vibes from what you see overall.  Or, you might realize a piece of furniture needs to be moved slightly.  It is as if you have a feeling that something is just a tad off.  Question this and figure out what changes you need to make.

Now, if you find that you are not comfortable doing this yourself or don’t trust yourself, ask a close friend or family member to do this test in your home for you.  As long as you know that you will get an honest opinion, anyone willing to concentrate and take the time necessary can do this!

Here’s to getting a passing grade on this test!  Let me know how your home stacks up.  I would love to hear from you with the results of your experience in using your peripheral vision assessment test of your home.

Remember, it is just one more interesting way to observe your most private space- the space you call HOME.

Take the test…