Oh, Gentle Readers, it’s been quite a month! A fun month, but a super duper busy one. I hope you’re having a great summer so far.
We did several design presentations recently, and in two – count ’em, two! – we were faced with the same question:
In a long, narrow living room, which is better? Two sofas facing each other, or a sofa and two chairs?
Both of these clients’ houses date to the late 1800s. In the first, here’s what we needed from the living room:
- A place to watch TV
- A place to visit with friends/family
- A place to eat (the dining room was incorporated into the kitchen in a prior renovation, and the kitchen has a counter only, no table space)
- If possible, a place for coats, because there is no coat closet in the front hall. (Who knows what those Victorians’ servants did with the coats? It’s a mystery!)
The clients really wanted to flank the fireplace with 2 small sofas, so we drew that furniture plan first.
I love this look, personally. Symmetry rocks, for one thing, and I like a formal furniture arrangement. Here’s what’s going on:
Haven’t seen a TV *IN* a fireplace before? It’s catching on! Here’s the idea:
Clever, right? Obviously this works only if you don’t use your fireplace for actual fires ;) But it’s much better than putting your TV OVER the fireplace, both for neck health and visual appeal.
Admittedly, whether the TV is high or low, having sofas perpendicular to the TV is far from ideal if you’re serious TV watchers. These clients are not, though, so this arrangement could work for them. If you bring 2 dining chairs into the sofa area, you can seat six for a conversation, and this arrangement does allow for a small armoire for coats.
**SOFA + TWO CHAIRS**
This is the “2-zone” plan: we created a TV side, and a dining side.
To me, this works better. The room feels larger, you’re using every corner of it, and you have a REAL place to watch TV. AND you could squeeze 7.5-8 people into the conversation area if you bring the 2 dining chairs over and 2 skinny people squish onto the repositioned bench. We can substitute a wardrobe for the tall bookcase if the clients choose.
Which arrangement did these clients choose? They’re still thinking about it — I’ll let you know!
Another client has a house of the same vintage – late 1800s – but without a living room fireplace to contend with.
(The house actually has a separate reception room, and that’s where the fireplace is. It’s so gracious.) Anyway, here’s what THESE clients needed from THEIR living room:
- A place to work
- A place to visit with friends/family – seating is the priority
Again, the clients really wanted to see a sofa-facing-sofa scenario. There are huge doorways into this room, and 2 sofas would create a nice cozy space. So…
**SOFA + TWO CHAIRS**
These clients are going to go with the 2-sofa scenario, and we’re going to see if we can fit in a bench to give us more seating.
So is there a “better,” or even “best” way to arrange the furniture in either of these houses? I’m sure you’ve guessed that the answer is no. It all depends on what you want the room to do for you…and what drives you crazy ;)
Annie Elliott Design is based in Washington, DC, with satellite offices in St. Michaels, Maryland and in Middlebury, Vermont. Annie’s design work and insights have appeared in numerous local and national publications, including HGTV Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian Magazine.