by Danisha Drury
A common decorating problem is dealing with all the factors that can interfere with your ideal furniture layout. My own living room presented a challenge with its multiple entryways, large window and fireplace. There wasn’t an obvious place for a sofa that didn’t bump up against one of these elements. It took planning, but I was able to set everything up in a way that was both functional and visually appealing. There are general tips you can follow when dealing with your own awkward space.
Know Your Numbers
Nothing affects ease of movement and functionality like spacing. Measuring a room and also knowing the dimensions for the pieces you plan to add not only improve the room’s flow, but can make the space feel balanced, drawing attention away from any tricky nooks.
- Find your centre focal point by measuring the space, and then centre furniture, art and décor around that focal point.
- Allow for three to four feet for entry around furniture. Even if you have just one entry to the room, try to keep this area clear for at least three feet for passage.
- If hanging art or mirrors, always hang at eye level. If you’re planning an art wall, start with a central piece hung at eye level and work your way up, down and sideways from there.
- When hanging drapery, mount 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the floor to allow for proper draw without drag.
Furnishings that Fit
You may have to let go of some existing pieces. For the best outcome, furniture and décor should be curated to the room.
- Leggy furniture can add an airy feel, but too many legs can also look busy and overly traditional. It’s important to balance this detail.
- If a space is small, large sectionals can emphasize the size and also be difficult to navigate around.
- Sometimes it’s okay to forgo the coffee table and opt for ottomans and interesting side tables instead.
- Side tables for each seat allow guests to feel more comfortable and enjoy their nibbles or beverages close at hand.
- If you need to divide the space, try arranging a sofa, a long ottoman or even two chairs to define the living room as a separate area.
Decorate to the Space
Esthetic cohesion is one way to focus the eye and detract from a room’s awkward shape.
- To anchor the space, add a textured area carpet. It’s definitely “the bigger the better” when it comes to area carpets, as this will give the illusion of a larger footprint and will draw the eye outward (whereas a smaller carpet draws the eye inward, making the space feel smaller).
- Avoid too much of the same texture, like leather on leather. It’s better to have a variety, even if it’s tone on tone. This will add more texture variety to the room, increasing visual appeal.
- Make sure your house plants are on plastic feet or a stand so you don’t ruin your floors. Stands can be fun if you have the space, as a range of heights will also add visual interest to a room.
- When decorating built-ins, pick a décor theme that resonates with you — and stay with it, layering in consistent colours and styles. An example would be a coastal theme, which could incorporate shells, books, vases of similar colour (but different shapes and textures) and greenery. Treasures from travels can be a good jumping off point for inspiration too.
- Try to seasonally switch up décor, even if it’s just moving around the same pieces. This allows for a fresh take every three months so you don’t feel ho-hum sticking with one look.
Layer in Lighting
Gone are the days of just adding lamps. Lighting plays one of the biggest roles in our homes. It can stimulate so many moods and provide wonderful vignettes. Consider it as the final “pièce de résistance” that will make a room or area come to life.
- Upwards, downwards and sideways — that’s how I like to see lighting being used in our modern-day world.
- Add sconces to an unexpected wall.
- Place floor lights to cast cool shadows on a fireplace or feature wall.
- Use an art light over or under a favourite painting or object
FURNITURE FOR TRICKY SPACES
Here are some SPRUCE picks for adaptable pieces that work in most rooms, no matter the size or shape: