Decorating & Design

December 4, 2008

Design Around The View

Q. My living room is 14’ by 21’. There is a bay window at the south end (14’). At the north end there is a fireplace with a single door on one side and a bookshelf on the other. The west wall has a double doorway and the east wall is a 21’ long solid wall. I would like to enjoy both the great view from the bay window and the fireplace. How can the furniture be arranged so that this is possible?

— Marg Hauck

A. Two seating groupings work well in a large living area. In your situation, you are fortunate to have a large enough space to accommodate this and two focal points around which to arrange your furniture, namely the bay window and the fireplace. The location of the openings suggests that the main furniture grouping be around the bay window. This will lend itself well to being used as a socializing, TV watching, music listening area. Try grouping a two-seater sofa, armchair and table. The sofa should be placed at an angle looking toward the south-west corner. An armchair can be placed in the south-east corner and a coffee table directly in front of seating at the corresponding angle. Experiment with the angle until it looks and feels right. The entertainment unit should be placed in the south-west corner. This arrangement breaks up the long solid wall by anchoring the sofa and armchair to it, and it sets up an entertainment area that doesn’t block the view.

The second furniture grouping around the fireplace should be a smaller, quieter area for solitary pursuits. Try grouping a few chairs around a coffee table facing the fireplace. A low-level shelving unit placed behind the sofa from the bay window grouping will camouflage the back of the sofa while providing additional storage space. The chairs in this area should be easily movable so that they can be brought into the larger socializing area if required. You may also need reading lamps. To create harmony between the two areas, use the same colour palette and style in furnishings. Remember to keep traffic areas as clear as possible.