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Switch It Up

Small-Scale Room Refresher Part Two: Switch it Up

A few weeks ago I suggested that adding various pretty toss cushions to a chair or bed would be a small step toward a room refresher (see 'Pillow Punching' from May 15). This week I want to focus on another easy room fix, but one that requires a bit more effort and thought than tossing a cushion on a sofa: the furniture switch.

A lot of people keep their furniture in the same place throughout their duration at a particular home. Often this consists of couches against walls, chairs in corners, and tables in the middle. Sure, this may look great and be just fine for you, but after a while it could get boring and old. Rearranging your furniture can create a new room—without costing you a dime.

Some suggestions for furniture rearranging:

Free your walls. It’s not necessary to put your sofas against walls to furnish the perimeter of a room. This sometimes works okay, but it leaves you with all kinds of unused space in the middle. If you've got the room, consider pulling them away from the wall and creating a social area in a designated zone. Homeowners are often insecure about the backsides of their couches and feel that they need to hide them, I guess. This is usually not necessary, so pull it out and anchor it with a coffee table and reading chairs. The freed-up wall space will provide you with room for that against-the-wall-type table that you had no idea what to do with, a server or sideboard, or a large mirror.

Make your long room work for you. To furnish long rooms (15 feet or more), consider splitting it up into two separate living zones using the ‘one-third two-third rule.’ Designers suggest dividing a long room to make two-thirds of it living or social space, and the other third something else—either studying, reading or dining. Sink a small desk into the corner for a homework space, or an armchair, bookcase and lamp, and you’ve got yourself a separate reading nook. If you don’t have a formal dining room, many longer rooms can adequately accommodate a dining table and hutch in the one-third area. As opposed to making the room look chopped up, creating two zones actually provides some depth and makes the room look larger.

Consider your focal points and arrange around them. For example, if the room is used primarily as a family-TV-play-room, then your furniture may work best toward the television for ultimate movie-watching vantage. Or, if you have a fireplace (and hopefully the TV isn’t on the fireplace), then arranging your sitting area around your hearth is a good idea.

Let in light. Pull your big stuff away from windows and doors. If you’re fortunate to have nice, big windows in your home with a view, please don’t obstruct it by putting an oversized couch or table in the way (in other words, don’t take the Okanagan scenery for granted!). Take advantage of the natural light that the window or door provides and use it. Situating armchairs around a window is good, though—it gives you a nice place to sit and look out.

Keep it clutter free. (I’ve been meaning for a while to address the baskets-as-organizational tools issue for some time, and I think that when I’m through with this piece I just may do that, so stay tuned.) Yes, I know that families have lots of stuff—and often it’s important to display it in the living space—but nothing detracts from a stylish room more than clutter. Tidy it up before beginning this project and you’ll see how easy it is to move the couch away from the wall when there isn’t a (fill in the blank) in the way.

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