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Hunched over 2-D blueprints? Lift your head and shift your perspective from being so plan-focused. Remember to design in three dimensions.

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With a knack for visual thinking, most remodelers can look at a blueprint and envision how the 3-D space will appear. But don’t depend on your mind’s eye alone, says architect Michael Klement, principal at Architectural Resource, in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“We spend a lot of time with our heads bent 90 degrees looking down on the plan,” he says. “Lift your head and separate the concept of the space from pure plan function. That’s where scale becomes important.”

There’s no magic formula, so Klement advises looking to the existing home when designing with scale in mind. “Use the experience of being in the home to see what makes sense,” he says. To create volume in a space, he suggests raising ceilings or adding step-downs. For the latter technique, use — at a minimum — two steps to ensure the level change makes a visual impact and so that no one trips. He also encourages using 3-D design software and other functions for better views of scale in a home.

“We work in a three-dimensional environment,” Klement says. “Not a day goes by that we don’t cook up a design idea and flesh it out in 3-D. It’s so informative; it gives us great feedback.”

—Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING.