The terms of prospect and refuse, architecturally speaking, refer to the idea of creating within the home areas which allow users to retreat to small, nest-like spaces to conduct private activities (like eating, sleeping, recovering from sickness etc.).
Paired with refuse is the idea of prospect. Prospect is created by spaces that are big, open and flooded with light, with the possibility of a grand view looking out onto sweeping landscapes. Prospect areas are usually where the more public and social activities occur (like greeting guests, throwing parties, etc).
It’s the pairing that is key, however. Just having a space that is large and bright and disproportionately large (like the “great” room found in many contemporary homes, or wall-free open floor plans) and you leave your users feeling vulnerable. With no private spaces (or refuse) viewable from this large and unnerving public space users can’t enjoy the large open, social space when they are in it.
In that same vein, only having small, cramped spaces and users will begin to feel claustrophobic and restless. No sight of beautiful views and you risk the users of the space feeling hopeless.
It is the combination, the choice of either refuse or prospect that makes one another so sweet. From the prospect you can bask in the openness and bright sunshine knowing that you have a cozy, private place to retreat. From the refuse space you can see the open space, you can observe it and the activities in it and decide, on your own terms, whether you want to leave your retreat to join the social activities taking place.
Now consider your own home. Do you have spaces within it that could be considered areas of refuse or areas of prospect? If you do, wonderful. If you don’t, what are you going to do about it?