A few months ago I received a call from a young lady wanting to purchase a Casa Vilora Interiors gift certificate for her mom for Christmas. Her mom had just purchased a new home, and was a bit overwhelmed by all the projects she wanted to get done, specifically her living room.
After finally meeting with her mom last week for the initial in-home consultation, I could see why this living room was such a sore point for her.
The room is large 18′ wide by 24′ deep (roughly 450 square feet), with vaulted, beamed ceilings. It opens up to the kitchen and breakfast room and has great views of the backyard. It sounds like a really awesome space, and it is, but the dilemma is that the room had multiple focal points
The room has a very large stone fireplace that faces you as you walk in from the foyer, a TV nook that is on an adjacent wall, two large french doors on either side of the fireplace, great ceiling beams and a small doorway into the room from the foyer. Can you see why she was a bit overwhelmed? These are all great architectural elements (maybe with the exception of the small doorway), but there lies the challenge – How do you arrange furniture to take advantage of both focal points, and still make the room feel warm and welcoming?
She has a large family, so maximizing seating was high on her wish list. The fireplace doesn’t get used that much (this is Houston 🙂 ), but because of the large scale of the stone façade, which runs from floor to ceiling, and a raised hearth, we can’t just ignore its existence. Since it’s the first thing you see as you walk into the room, we needed to be intentional about the fireplace.
The room is used mainly for watching television and entertaining, so the TV wall is our main focal point
Here are a couple of scenarios that I came up with
In option 1, I am recommending bringing in a large sectional. I honestly avoid sectionals as much as possible when designing rooms. They are not as flexible as sofas and chairs. In this case a sectional works perfectly to minimize the depth of the room, while still providing tons of seating.
I also stay away from arranging a sofa or loveseat with the back facing the entrance into the room. In this scenario, the sectional is low enough to not be too much of a visual barrier, and the doorway is so small that only a small part of the back of the sectional is visible when walking into the room.
The two chairs by the fireplace, I am recommending as swivel chairs. That way they can be turned around easily to enjoy a fire (if there ever is one 🙂 )
Because of the boxy-ness of the sectional, I am recommending an oval shaped table or cocktail ottoman. A circular shape will add some visual softness.
I wish I could show pictures of the room now, but the TV wall is kind of weird, with what used to be a TV niche, that was walled over by my client. The TV wall now has two different surfaces (drywall and a heavily grained wood veneer) that need to become more cohesive. I am recommending two glass front cabinets that will help to pull things together on that wall, and add some storage to the room. There are also two small ottomans on casters placed below the wall mounted TV, that help to visually anchor the wall, and provide extra seating for the grand kids
Option 2 has the sectional replaced by a sofa and 2 chairs. In this arrangement, you are not walking into the back of a sofa. However, there is slightly less seating than the sectional option
I like this option because it has two separate seating areas -One main area in the center of the room and a smaller area near the TV wall. This is great for when they entertain
Here are some tips to keep in mind when your room has two focal points
Combine them. Placing a TV above a fireplace works for some people. Be careful that the TV isn’t hung too high. That can cause neck aches
Figure out how you will use the room and which focal point will get the most use and arrange your furniture with it as the primary focal point
Arrange the largest pieces of furniture to face the main focal point. You can draw further attention to the primary focal point, and de-emphasize the other focal point, by adding pops of color in art and accessories
If your focal point is a window, adding the right drapery fabric will draw your eye to it
Create multiple seating areas in a large room. Use the largest pieces around the main focal point, and create smaller seating arrangements. Keep proper traffic flow in mind
Try using light weight and flexible furniture, like swivel chairs and ottomans where appropriate
Your focal point can be a fireplace, windows leading out to great views, TV, an interesting architectural element or even an art piece
Make sure the scale of both focal points are consistent.
You can tie the two focal points together by finishing them in a similar manner. For example adding wood paneling to both walls like this example by Rehoboth Beach Home Builders Echelon Custom Homes
Great examples by Candice Olson
The key is to make the finished room be functional, comfortable and beautiful.
Do you have a room in your home that is really challenging to decorate? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Wishing you all a terrific Thursday!
Veronica Solomon, Casa Vilora Interiors VeronicaSolomon.com