Our Better Angles
Changing the angle of your furniture can completely change the look of a room.
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Everyone I work with — from Matt Fox to my design team, to the production crew — says that it's "Shari's patented angle" that makes the room. Well, we all know that I haven't patented the angle, but I will say that I'm quite partial to it. An angle can completely change the way a room feels without having to add or subtract furniture or accessories.
For instance, try an angle in your living room. Start by determining the traffic pattern of the room. Do you enter from the foyer and can travel through to a dining room? That's a very common scenario. If so, consider that as a line through the room. More often than not, one side of the room ends up larger than the other, after you draw the imaginary line. The larger side is for the conversation area, and the smaller side can be a variety of things.
Let's talk about the larger conversation area first.
Generally, it's best to place a larger piece of furniture, like a sofa, in the corner. Use your imaginary line as a guide for the angle, placing the sofa parallel to the line. Then, a pair of chairs at one end of the sofa, or split and placed at either end of the sofa creates a very nice arrangement.
The area behind the sofa always becomes a challenge. It's a lot of space to leave just bare, but there are lots of options for filling it up! A couple of silk ficus trees or palms can be wonderful if they are of varying heights, and well lighted from the floor. This can create fabulous shadows on the ceiling and give the room instant atmosphere.
A good look for those trees at holiday time is to add strings of white lights. It's a nice way to spread the joy of the season throughout your home, and, I must admit, I like them all year long. Another option for behind the sofa is a long sofa table. This is practical because it can hold either one lamp at an end — or two buffet-style lamps, one at each end — to bring more warmth to the room. If the lamp is short, or too low behind the sofa, prop it up on a stack of books until it's up to the height you need. Arrange a variety of decorative items and small plants in addition to the lamp for added interest.
Another item that works well in the conversation area is an area rug. Placed on the same angle as the furniture, it reinforces the angle and directs traffic either through the room, or right to the seating. Make sure there is enough table space for lamps and accessories to make the room inviting and functional.
Now, let's consider options for the smaller side of the angled room. One living room Matt and I worked on had an antique upright piano. It was perfect for the smaller side of the room. Placed on an angle, it became a wonderful focal point. We used the top of it as a display space for a couple of antique pieces, and it was a lovely sight from the conversation area as well as the front door.
Other options include a desk or home office setup. It could be open and functioning during the week, but closed up, it becomes a nice accent in the room for entertaining. A group of bookcases lining the corner could become that library you've always wanted. Add a sofa table or small library table on an angle out in front of the shelving, and you have a great place for study. Of course, this would be a perfect position for a lovely armoire with a television hidden inside, or even a stereo system for background music.
An angled arrangement can spice up a bedroom, a dining room, even a deck or patio. It's just one of those decorating tools that don't cost a dime, and can give your room a designer slant!
(Shari Hiller writes this column with Matt Fox. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room by Room.)
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